December 30, 2016

A Year In Review - 2016

I am a goal setter, just something I have always done and will continue to do each year.  Not so much resolutions but things that I want to work each day to accept, change, improve, achieve and aim for throughout the year.  Looking back on those goals and evaluation how I did is part of goal setting.  Here is how 2016 went.

Kathleen’s Goals for 2016
(In no particular order)
Raise my own hive of bees.  Super nervous/scared about this but want to give it a try.
In the end my neighbor still helped me a lot in the process and where I really wanted to go at it solo it was nice to have help.  Especially when my queen failed at her job and we had to get another as soon as possible, which still takes a long time for Alaska.

Start homeschool kindergarden for Abigail in the fall.
What a journey this has been so far, one I am so thankful we are on.  Oh, there are certainly days but the joy it is to work with her, see her learn, watch our family grow together from this time together, and see myself change from August until now in how I teach - All good things.
Where I am stronger going into 2016 then I was in 2015 I am not necessarily healthier.  I would like to work on this and run the Midnight Sun Run during summer solstice this year.
This year was a good year for me to own a treadmill.  Things went beautifully for the first 9 months of the year.  Distance and speed increasing as needed.  I haven't been sure how to answer this goal but since most know already...we are expecting our number 4 come June.  So in September I got super sick and came out of that time pregnant and so tired.  Since then the running hasn't been as consistent.  There are still walks to the mailbox and busyness to parenting but as I advance into my second trimester I do hope some of my energy can return, without the aid of coffee that is.

Pay off our truck and start saving for our next big financial dreams.
We did this!!!  Last January we sent in our final truck payment and it felt so good.  We then picked up with house projects that had been on the sidelines, just as the murphy bed and boiler room fixes.  Then with the news of our growing family, and our aging Jeep, we purchased a mini van in November.  Love that we accomplished this goal for 2016 but it does look like we have a new goal in front of us for 2017.

Get out and camp/bike/hike as a family in new places this summer.
I am so happy this is a yes.  Camping here in town, enjoying evening dinners and campfires locally with friends, Tangle lakes and even going back to Denali.  These were such fun and memorable trips.
Go spend time in Alaska's public use cabins.
All of us are so happy we have discovered the use and joy of Alaska's public use cabins.  Not in the market to own a cabin or RV right now, these cabins help us to get out an enjoy our great state especially not in the summer.  Lower Angel Creek Cabin last March and then Fielding Lake this November were both such fun trips.  Not a public use cabin but a rented one is Tolovana as well.  Josh and his dad got the chance to go back out to that cabin and the hot springs earlier this month.  Such a fun place to visit.
Meet my new niece and support my sister as she enters motherhood in whatever why she needs.
It is amazing to me that my niece is already 10 months old.  What a wonderfully happy little girl she is.  I will always be thankful for that week I was able to spend with her, and my sister, last March.  A week where my crew stayed home and I was just the sister and aunt I needed to be.
Josh would like to get involved in a local Folk School here in Fairbanks.  I would like to support him in this even if it takes him away from home more.
Last spring Josh worked the entire semester at the Folk School.  He went every Thursday evening for a couple hours and worked as an assistant teacher to a young woodworking class.  This isn't something Josh has continued to pursue this fall but is a job he enjoyed.  We are happy he had the chance to get to know the folks who work at the school and was learned how their program works.

Potty train Naomi.  No diapers - what a thought.
Almost a year ago in early January I developed a cold which made it hard to sleep congested.  Due to that cold I weaned Naomi of her last morning nursings and that was that.  Two weeks later, mid-January, we realized that now that she was all grown up potty training was next.  I am happy to say that it has been almost a year since we have had diapers in this house.  More will come in June but I will take another 6 months without!

My best friend who now lives in North Carolina is moving back to Alaska.  Granted she is moving 750 miles away, but we are so excited to be in the same state again.  This year I want to be intentional about connecting with her, as much as possible.  750 miles (on road and ferry - she is moving to an island) is far but a lot closer then North Carolina.
Our July trip to Kodiak, Alaska was certainly wonderful, challenging, memorable and worth it.  From the ferry ride with the kids, watching our kids play together and enjoying day adventures.  We loved that trip even when all my kids, plus myself, getting hand, foot and mouth disease (terrible).  It certainly was a trip!  But the good always out ways in the bad when it comes to connecting with someone you love.
Ethan can write his name but ABC's need some work.  Be intentional about preschool / sit down work with him.
I love this goal that was written 12 months ago simply for the reason to remind me of how far I have grown.  My views on preschool change more and more the longer I parent, the more I watch my children and the way things roll at our house.  The more I am with these kids the more I fall in love with the way they play.  Oh, Ethan knows his letters, numbers, basic math, cutting, drawing, stories, some history and of course geology (he is the first to point out a nice looking outcrop whenever we go out for road trips).  But the more I get into this homeschooling world the more I remind myself that this little man of mine has a year and a half before he starts kindergarten (and no, just because I am homeschooling I am not going to slip by the rule of being 5 on Sep. 1st.  instead I am going to give this boy all the time he needs and thus give him another year of play.)  The real world will come soon.  Today I will read to him, build legos with him, watch him paint snow machines and hear his stories of how he is going to build a blue car someday that will be as big as Alaska!  Yes, sit down work is good and we get there but as we grow I am reminded of how important what we are doing today is.
Last summer Josh and I wrote out family goals.  The top of the list was to be intentional and dynamic with the kids, our marriage, our faith and our lives.  We found this is very wonderful and tiring at the same time.  But regardless we want to hold fast to this as the umbrella goal going into 2016 in all we do.
Sometimes Josh and I look at each other and say...if, if, if.  Then I try and stop us and remind us that instead of if we could travel, if we could explore, if we had time off, if, if, if lets look at this.  This chance to ice skate, hike, camp, explore, invent, create, grow, observe and love.  At the end of 2016 I feel like I can say, yes we did.  Within our means, within our limits, within our skills, abilities and desires we lived this year fully.  I am thankful for each day God has granted us for this!

December 29, 2016

Celebrating Christmas

Early Christmas morning when the kids wake up I hurry downstairs to see if Santa has arrived.  I start a fire, plug in the trees, and pop the cinnamon rolls into the oven to bake.
 I always love the chance to look around quickly one more time at the magic of it all.
 But it has to be quick since waiting on the stairs is the crew.  Oh, how they are waiting.  So excited.
 Gifts from Santa, grandparents, and family were soon to be discovered.
But the best part is that the new treasures were enjoyed along the way.  I love this quick picture of Abigail.  After opening her stocking and learning that she had new pens and a new notepad she just had to stop and write a thank you note to Santa.  That was kind of the rhythm of the day.  My favorite part was that after Abigail opened bubble bath we all stopped so she could go take a bath!
I am happy for these few pictures because they were all I got.  Something about the flow of the day didn't really call for being behind a camera but instead being right there with the people I loved.

December 28, 2016

Christmas Eve

Ahh, Christmas Eve.  The best day of the year in terms of anticipation and magical wonder.
 I love this picture of Ethan, admiring the tree.  Each ornament holds a story and all month the kids liked to hear about each one.
 And after playing all day and watching mama cook and cook and cook we bath, dress up after the sun has gone down and then enjoy a big dinner together.  Soon we bundle up and head to church to celebrate with our Fairbanks family.  
 Coming home to Christmas pjs and writing letters to santa.
 We are in our second year of our family tradition of ending Christmas eve by toasting to Christmas with homemade egg nog.  So rich and creamy it fills those excited bellies and helps them sleep the whole night through.
The house, and the kids, were ready for Santa to arrive.  Oh yes, Christmas Eve is a magical night for sure.

December 27, 2016


I didn't feel very good a few days last week and as a result I missed the chance to blog about a few before Christmas happenings.
 One that is always fun to remember, cookie decorating.  This year I wised up and knew that organizing the decorating without Josh for three would require a little more forethought(last year all Naomi did was lick a spoon.  1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years old is a big difference, especially in Christmas participation.)
 So this time I made the dough beforehand, rolled it out and cut the cookies solo, then called the kids to the counter when they each had a tray to decorate.  We decorate before baking and thus don't need frosting.  Still a mama balancing it all I turned my back on Naomi for a second and this little girl ate pieces from about 5 of the raw cookies off her sheet.  Yeah for cookie dough!!!
But besides the laugh that brought the rest of the event went smoothly.  Abigail my artist was in heaven making special designs, Ethan mostly at the toppings and Naomi covered her cookies until you could barely see the tops.  They were all so proud.  

The big problem is once the cookies are made they are hard to keep around.  Last week we made a second batch to ensure that there would be enough for santa.  My kids didn't mind at all the "chore" of decorating once again.  The second batch I dyed green.  Perfect for trees but a little funny for candy canes.  The kids are already talking about when we make cut outs for valentine's day.  Oh the fun of childhood joys.

December 26, 2016

Christmas 2016

A season full of anticipation, a day full of fun and a family full of memories.
Christmas 2016 was by far my favorite yet.  How thankful I am for God's many blessings.

December 23, 2016

Klynstra Christmas Pageant

The other day I was working upstairs on cleaning, cooking, and such when I got a call from the kids in the basement.  Mama, it is time for the show, the Christmas Pageant show.  With no help from me, but a lot of direction from Abigail, the kids had put together quite the operation.
 Downstairs I was greeted first by a wise women.  She was all dressed for her part and even was carrying her gift, a purple cup to give to the baby Jesus.
 Here are her fellow wisemen.  They were dressed up very well for their big presentation to the baby king.
 And of course we can't forget baby Jesus himself.
 After a lot of fussing Abigail decided that Naomi would be better as Joseph instead of as a fourth wisemen.  So quick outfit change for her.  Ethan meanwhile was given the role of the donkey.  His main part was to run around and bleat out goat noises.  Regardless of his important role he quickly tired of this and started causing destruction which caused him to be sent away to cool off.  Abigail gave herself the role of Mary.
I add this last picture of the wisemen because I love the gifts that they each have to give.  The doll in the blue dress has a baby bottle, the stuffed bunny has a my little pony and doll in the pink dress and hat is presenting a hair brush.  Very thought out gifts indeed.

In the end there was a lot of preparations in the costumes without a lot of thought put into the actual script but I told the story while my Mary and Joseph stood and smiled at me.  The whole thing left me smiling, laughing and enjoying the joy this season brings.

December 22, 2016

All Because Of Him

 This week people often reflect on Christmas but at this house there is so much more.  Oh, we have our tree up, presents tucked aside, Caroling services, nativity pageants and more going on but today, today is special just be itself.  Yesterday everyone in Fairbanks cheered as we watched the coming and the going of the shortest day of the year.  So to a lot of our neighbors today is celebrated because today we start to gain back daylight.  But in our house, today we celebrate Josh.  
There are a lot of very loved men in this world but I do believe not very many of them would able to measure up to the amount that this man means to all of us in our home.  To Josh his birthday is something that could slide by but the kids and I kind of throw a fuss over that idea.  You see when a dad and husband are so loved it is hard to do anything but celebrate them on their special day in our own down to earth way.
So Happy Birthday to Josh today!  You will be showered with gifts picked out by giggling kids, hand made cards, lots of hugs and tickles and maybe you will be as lucky as to score a game of hide and seek in the dark.  May the shouts of joy as your car comes home from work always remind you of how very loved you are, every day of the year!

December 19, 2016

Celebrating Sunlight

In Alaska, especially central and northern Alaska where we are, we get as close to lovers of the sun as any place I have lived.  In the summer we have week long festivals celebrating the fact that our sun never sets and that daylight fills our days and nights.  This time of year we are on the flip side.  We have so very LITTLE sun but we love to celebrate Solstice when the 6 month sun decline turned around and our days start getting longer. 
I have often mentioned that we don't have fireworks for the 4th of July.  It isn't dark and there is always a forest fire hazard related.  Instead our borough pulls out all the stops to celebrate our winter solstice.  Since this occurs on Wednesday this year we celebrated over the weekend with the festivities.   No fireworks in July for us but lots in December.  
This year was actually the best I have seen.  Not only was the display full and long but the weather was perfect.  You see over the weekend the lower 48 suffered from the cold snap we have been dealing with for awhile and we got a breath of warm air.  We peaked out at 8 degrees over the weekend and as a result of warming up so much (-20's and -30's a week ago), we got a ton of snow.  Well, a ton of snow for Fairbanks but still.  How fun that it was about 5 degrees for the fireworks and thus the kids weren't cold.  We had them bundled, they played in the snow, we laughed at the fireworks and we all sang Jingle Bells all the way back to the car.

-20's does provide a crisper picture of the fireworks but this night was perfect for us.  As we shook the snow off our coats and loaded back up for the drive home I mentioned to Josh Christmas gets better and better as the kids get older.  Abigail knows the songs, the kids get excited about the traditions, they are becoming participants instead of just spectators and it is so wonderful to see.  6, 4, and 2.  These are great years for the holidays for sure.

December 16, 2016

Christmas Is All Around

When I scheduled our trip last June, December sounded like a fine time to be gone.  The week before we left, not so much.  We had just wrapped up Abigail's birthday, needed to decorate for Christmas, there were parties, friends, concerts and more going on.  Why did I think mid-December was a good time to be gone?
But you know what, it was a lot of fun to be in a big city during the holidays.  There were decorations everywhere!!  Macy's windows were covered in wreathes and displays.  The big bay bridges were covered in lights and the city hummed with visitors, shoppers, and their annual Santa clause convention while we were there.  Nothing like seeing thousands of santa look a likes while visit a new city.
 The lights in particular were so much fun.  The buildings were covered, the trees and bridges were sparkling.  Staying out late wasn't hard when everything was bright and christmas must came from every corner.  Even the cable car drivers rang their bells at intersections to christmas carols.  
To be in warm weather and witness to beautiful lights everywhere certainly helped to bring a peaceful feeling of Christmas.  Nothing like getting to enjoy all the decoration without being in charge of the work to make it that way, being able to gaze at all of the pretty displays but not having the need to shop in any of the fancy stores and singing along to the Christmas carols without worrying who might care - because after 10 years your husband just laughs at the joy on your face as you sing.  Yes, time at home was busy and it might have been a silly time to leave but not at all a silly time to relax.  The next week of christmas ahead of us looks much more shiny and bright to this rested mama for sure.

December 15, 2016

Being The Tourist

It was very fun to be the tourist for a few days in a city where we knew no one.  Our trip to San Francisco was one where no expectations were set except to relax.
 And while we were not rushed in what we did, we certainly didn't sit around and do nothing.  Josh's favorite day of our trip was the day we visited two of San Francisco's famous art museums.  An art lover his whole life Josh had seen most art in books.  It was so fun for me to watch him as he walked the halls of the museum studying piece after piece.  Then when he came to two original works of art from his favorite artist, Salvador Dali, well he was pretty much in heaven.
 We both loved the cable cars.  Before our trip I had purchased a CityPass for both of us.  It was entrance into a bunch of famous attractions but also included all of the use of public transportation we desired besides the subway.  It was so fun for us to have no worries about hopping on and off the cable cars at whim.  Daytime and nighttime we rode the cars looking at apartments, seeing the city lights and gazing at all of the christmas trees in people's apartments.  The buses were fine and got us where we needed to go but the cable cars, riding outside with the wind in our faces, that was the best.
 The passes we bought can be used for 7 days.  We were in the city for 3.  So we kept busy.  After the day of two art museums we headed to the pier for a boat tour around the bay.  The history of the golden gate bridge, the city, alcatraz, Angel island and more filled our morning.
 Then in the afternoon we wandered through the Bay area's aquarium where we saw so much.  Since having kids when we visit these types of attractions the intent is to help the child learn.  I love to teach my kids but it was certainly fun to go and experience for my experience alone.  We dodged a lot of school field trips for sure!
People gazing, architect admiring, new to us history learning and memory making all while relaxing, that is what our weekend was full of. 

December 14, 2016

Remembering How We Started

Last May, Josh and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  At the time life was busy and we stopped one day, looked at each other and said, "We really need to do something special this year.  10 years is a big deal and we need to celebrate that, sometime."  So then and there we decided that sometime during this year, we would do something special.
 The two biggest obstacles we faced were the kids and finding the right time.  The right time for Josh to get off work and for someone to come watch our crew.  My in-laws heard of our plan and stepped up to say that they could come watch the kids for us when we went away.  The second weekend in December worked for jobs, jury duty, and my mother-law's teaching aerobics schedule.  There we go, kids and time were chosen.  Now we needed to just pick a destination.  A place not too far (we only had a long weekend) but with fun things to do.  A place warmer and brighter then dark Fairbanks in December and a time we had never been to before, together.
 Putting all of those components together in our think brains and we came up with San Francisco.  A city that we could fly down to in 8 hours, or 12 with delays but hey we weren't in a hurry.  A city that did not require a car rental, had a lot to see, Josh had never been there and my one visit was for a conference - not play.  
Yesterday we got home.  I have a lot of pictures to download and process.  Today was full of cleaning, story hour, helping the kids, laundry, getting the meals on the table and putting life back into order with dr. appointments, christmas cookie dough, scheduling visits for the kids with the friends and more.  But the past four days, why that was a different story.  For the past four days I was just a wife, in a big and fun city, with my best friend.  We laughed, stayed up late, did so much, ate out and didn't cook a single meal.  We were spontaneous and relaxed.  

We love our life but to step away for a few days and remembering who we were before kids, jobs, and this little homestead we are building was so good for both of us.  How thankful I am for that time!

December 13, 2016

Getting In The Spirit

The other day we took the kids to Santa train at Pioneer park.
A fun tradition where the train pulls the kids through the decorated park one day in December.  Of course this day happened to be a super cold one.  Lucky for us after the train ride the kids were given a cup of hot chocolate to enjoy.
Add that to some festive face painting and well...
you could say the kids were starting to feel the full effect of the joy the Christmas season can bring.

December 12, 2016

New Medium

Art class with daddy last week lead to a new medium for Abigail.
She learned about how ancient cities would carve images into their stone walls, stone buildings and streets.  Creating art into the mud, rock and clay of the cities.
Of course knowing our girl, she carved a butterfly.  Next week she will paint it and we will hang it on our wall.  So fun to learn something new, especially if you can in a ballerina dress.

December 9, 2016

It is Beginning To Look - Oh Wait, Not Yet

Last Sunday we went out and found our tree.  Certainly an Alaskan tree at 10 feet tall but a trunk only 1 1/2" wide.  It was before Abigail's birthday but we figured it was our best bet at getting one in the daylight.  Darkness is so intense this time of year.  For Monday we covered the tree in birthday balloons.  Perfect, right.  Monday balloons and then Tuesday lights.  But then life happened.
The kids keep seeing Christmas lights on all of the houses in town and ask why we don't have ours up.  It will come, it will come.  I keep reminding them that in Little house on the prairie they put their tree up on just Christmas Eve.  Going with that time scale I still have two week to get my act together, right??

December 8, 2016

2 1/2

Last Friday wasn't just any old day at our house.  It was Naomi's 1/2 birthday.  We keep 1/2 birthdays pretty simple but there is the recognition, ability to choose dinner, no chores to do and a special dessert with of course a lot of singing happy 1/2 birthday to you all day long.
Naomi is a typical 2 year old these days and likes to express herself by turning down food at the table, suddenly not knowing how to put on her own bib, finding the act of washing her hands temper tantrum material and such.  But when she was asked what she wanted for dinner she didn't have trouble making the decision to have grapes on the top of her list.  So last Friday this family ate grapes and tacos.  A favorite for all.
For her special dessert I made brownie cupcakes, cut them in half and added a layer of ice cream before putting them all outside at -20 to freeze together once again.  The brownie ice cream sandwiches were a hit to all, except maybe our resident 2 year old.  But even though she only wanted to lick out the ice cream she did love being sung too.  2 year olds often don't know what they want but attention is certainly the top of their yes list!

This little 1/2 birthday led to a lot of confusion on Monday when we suddenly celebrated Abigail instead of Naomi but understanding will come.  Regardless of why, it is always fun to be celebrated.  1/2 birthdays are the perfect occasion to remind our kids that they are special to us all the time.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Years ago my mother bought the kids a bear that reads them The Night Before Christmas.   It is a favorite every year to everyone, but Josh....