January 29, 2016

This Is Happening

It has been a busy, tiring, long and full of trying to be patient all day long, every day sort of week.  We started potty training Naomi this week.  I don't care how many children you potty train, it isn't fun to do it ever, ever, ever.
But she is doing well.  We are doing ok.  The big kids are going stir crazy since we don't leave the house, ever, when potty training.  But the weekend is here.  Two parents means one of us can stay with the growing girl while the other can take the big kids ice skating.  We have been missing some great ice skating days this week.  Soon this process will be behind us but for now, here we are.

January 28, 2016

And Then There Were Three

Having three kids means that there is a steady stream of hand me downs going around.  The kids don't mind, things are reused and all is well.  But sometimes Naomi needs a little something new, just for her.  So where Abigail told me she might need an apron that is a little newer and then she could give Naomi her old one I decided not this time.
Nope, this time Naomi was getting her very own mama made apron.  When it comes to something I can make from this and that I have on hand I jump at the occasion.
And cooking with these three in their own personalized mama made aprons makes me smile.  Cooking with three little ones is chaos but hey, at least they all look the part.  Now it is time to make the mess, oh I mean sweets.

January 27, 2016

What Fun I Choose

We are so thankful for thread here in town.  A place where we can go check out toys, supplies and learning things to enjoy.  And after I go and spend a long time picking out the perfect bin for the kids to play with it is so rewarding to see...
that Naomi likes to play with just the bins.
At least Ethan finds the toys inside the bin exciting.  You just never know...

January 26, 2016

When You Live In This Town

Every town has their specialties.  Things that they are known for.  Our town, I feel like, is known for a lot.  But one of the big ones is dog mushing.  
We as a family don't personally dog mush but are lucky enough to be surrounded by those that do.  And live where we can go to talks about dog mushing.  The kind of talks where the musher is happy to let the kids touch the dog, the gear and everything else she brings.
Winter in Alaska can be fun, dog mushing is fun, and living here where we learn about it is fun too.

January 25, 2016

Thought On Growing Up

 I am someone who likes order in the house, at the end of the days the toys put in a toy box, and the childhood litter of crayons, bikes, toys, books and dolls set away when I can.  But recently I have had many situations where I am struck with how old the kids are getting and just how fast their childhoods are going by. 
Those moments of clarity have helped me loosen a little where I need too.  When the tree was taken down a few weeks ago in its place the baby area of the living room was created.  A baby stroller, three plastic drawers for doll clothes, cradles, a doll highchair and all.  All of these lovely items that I would really, really love to tuck into a room off to the side.  But you know what, toys tucked away aren't enjoyed.  Kids like to be where the mama and family are and I am not spending my days in the corner of the guest room or basement.  I realize that some day my kids won't want to be near me.  They will want to go off on their own like most kids do.  They will stretch their wings, search out their independence and tuck what is dear to them away from the rest of us.  But today I can be thankful that isn't today.
And these are the thoughts and memories I have to hold onto dearly as I see the living room once again explode.  Yes, the kids will have it picked up by nightfall but there is no way shape or form that my house will look like a model home at all.  With the doll area by the stairs and the village (an area of Abigail's, Naomi's and Ethan's doll houses and fire station) next to the couch our home is very much a home of toddlers and preschoolers.  But when I think of today I think of now and try to be thankful for what this mess tells me.  It shows me that my kids are here, in the middle of everything playing, they are also playing with the doll clothes my grandma made me as a child (so fun to see things come back to life 30 years later), and they are playing together with each other and with me.  Sometimes I dream about setting things right and them staying that way.  No little person spilling milk on the just cleaned floor, tearing the couch cushions apart for a fort, toys staying in the assigned bin or basket - played with and then returned.  But that would mean my kids were grown up and gone.  That is not something I look forward too at all.  So for now the mess will come and go.  I might just be found sorting the doll clothes into the appropriate bins and redressing the cabbage patch dolls after the kids are in bed but you know what, that is my way to being in the moment and having a little bit of order at the same time.  For now that works.  And the kids like to think that the cabbage patch dolls have parties at night and that is why they look different each morning.  I do make sure they are tucked into their cradles, call me obsessive I just can't help it.  Each doll needs to be in place.

January 22, 2016

Color Time Fun

This winter in Fairbanks has been the most mild of any I have experienced in my 13 winters in Alaska.  Because of that the kids and I are outside for hours each day.  Some toys are there to play with but mainly the snow itself is our entertainment.  That and I like to walk - the kids not so much - but I do so we do!

Recently I heard of a fun idea for snow play.  I thought I would share so that others looking for fun ways to keep our children happy outside could enjoy as well.
It is very simple.  A spray bottle, food coloring and water.
The kids love to paint but really paint inside with all three is kind of a disaster these days.  
But "painting" the snow outside has been a huge success.  Especially with my little artist.  Abigail loves to run out with the bottles each day and make new creations all over the yard.
So here is a YEAH for another activity win.  Snow time fun plus color.  Makes for lots of outdoor fun, except when the bottles freeze up.  But hey they thaw and we can play again tomorrow - right!

January 21, 2016

Morning Hours

Someone recently asked me what I do all day, if I had a schedule, and how I get things done.  I have contemplated this for quite some time and each time it comes to mind I laugh.  I feel like with kids I can have a running To Do list at all times but really it isn't about me and what I do.  I have four people at home each day, four attitudes, four feelings, four people's health and everything can change on who is sleepy or hungry at any moment.  There are days I "go to town" for story hour, museum play, mooseketeers or ballet but when we can just stay home we do.  But staying home doesn't mean things are slow and relaxed.  Kind of the opposite really.
Because we never know just what is going to come up, who is going to want to do what, what friend might come over, how long we will play outside or what chores there are to do.
I snapped these pictures the other day as I thought about my mornings.  Days with little kids are fun, busy, and unpredictable.  They just might include, like this day did, a batch of muffins and coloring all before 6:30 am.  Because when we wake up and those little feet hit the ground they do with speed, excitement, goals and imaginations running wild.  My to do list is always there but who knows just what tomorrow will hold!

January 20, 2016

List Temptations

When I can't sleep at night I browse other blogs.  Two weeks ago it seemed like so many of them were filled with people's top book lists for 2015.  I love a good book.  I can't resist a title suggestion so I pulled out pen and paper and started writing them down.  Since then my evenings and the kids rest times have been full.  
I look this picture last week and, except for still reading Bo at Ballard Creek to the kids, all of the books have been read and the stack of books by my bed looks a little different but just as tall.  Last night I just finished Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  SO good.  I love when I get to read a good book.  Now I just need to see which book on the list the library has next.  Any other suggestions for me?

A few of my favorites in the past few weeks:
Dear Mr. Knightly 
The war that saved my life
Below Stairs
Big Little Lies
Bright Valley Of Love
Blue Shoe
We are reading through the Caroline series with the kids (Laura Ingalls' mother's books.  So good as well)  Bo is our lunch time book.  I am enjoying that too.

I did get to visit the library yesterday as well.  The seven books I brought home for me are bound to hold one or more treasures.  Oh for more time and energy to read, that is today's wish!

January 19, 2016

Volume Wars

When we traveled to Texas in November my mother gave me the old story books on records from my childhood.  I brought them home, excited to share them with the kids, and realized I now needed to buy the kids a record player.  This purchase is hands down the best thing I have brought into this house in the past year.  It is used daily, completely at the kids disposal and loved.  I didn't love the idea of the kids scratching up the books since those are pretty special to me so I set out to find records that I could be a little more relaxed about.  

I found the perfect pile of records at a second hand store for a quarter a piece.  Ever since then we have daily volume wars.  
Sometimes is starts out simple.  Abigail puts on a record.  Ethan doesn't want to listen to that one so he pulls out the key board.  Naomi just wants to play a different game so she starts the barn magnet going and soon the house is full of noise.  

Then Abigail gets mad that the others are playing music and Ethan is begging for his turn to pick a record and Naomi cries because she wants her cup.

Soon Ethan is singing a made up song and Abigail is upset because he is too loud that she can't hear her music (have I mentioned that the records I found so cheap are all pretty bad seventies music and classical/operas.  Not my top choice to listen to but the music is in their hands to control and thus they love it).
And as they fight they seem to work it out and soon one is spinning, the other is kicking up their legs and the third is bouncing around to the beat.  Sometimes they forget what they are fighting about and all wander away to play somewhere else and I am left with music at top volume as I am just trying to clean or cook in the kitchen.  And you know what.  As I watch the kids learn to pick and choose what music they want, how to share and balance I find myself loving these silly volume wars.  It speaks to me of where I am at right now, where the kids are at, the growing and learning that is going on and the chaos of raising my crew.  Just know that if you call they house there might be some random italian opera singer going at it in the background and I might not be able to hear anything you say.  But there is no doubt in my mind that our house is alive.

January 18, 2016

For Two Boys

When Ethan I went shopping for Josh's Christmas gift he had in mind that he wanted to buy daddy a basketball.  Why I basketball I have no idea.  I don't think Ethan even knows exactly what a basketball looks like.  But he was so sure of it that I took him down the sporting goods aisle to find that much desired ball.  Instead Ethan feel in love with something else.
When he came upon the table top foosball table he feel in love.  He turned to me with these big three year old eyes of wonder and said, "Mama, this is a game for two boys to play.  I can play this with daddy anytime we want."  Well, how do you say no to that.  Josh therefore received a table top foosball table for Christmas.  My two boys love it.

January 15, 2016

Tea Time

Our schedule has shifted this winter.  Gone is the 10:30 lunch and the need for a snack/tea time at one.  Now we eat at 11:30/12 and we do very small snacks at 2 if at all and are then ready for dinner. 
 But the other day was a little different and there was a lot of joy when I declared that today would be a tea party day.
Tea and snacks helps to make any day great.  (please don't mind Naomi's shirt - this was the day she found a black permanent marker when I was putting laundry away.  What an active toddler she is these days and sometimes the reason we have to make the days special.  Find joy in the hard times.  She now points to every marker that comes across her path with a firm, NO NO.  ) 
Tea time can be fancy at a table and all or tea time can be relaxed and take place right in the middle of the kitchen floor.  We have found that no matter what snacks are involved, which flavor of tea is chosen, or what dishes are used - tea time is always fun.

January 14, 2016

Those Warm And Cozy Feelings

Winter, dark, cold and long days.  Ahh winter.  A great time to draw in but a time when we all dream of summer.  No one in my house likes butternut squash soup but me.  On really cold and long days I fight the blues away by putting together a batch.  The sight of brightly colored roasted vegetables really lifts one's spirits.  Add to it the taste and smells and one's favorite soup does have a way of turning the day around.
It is also fun when I know I can't eat the entire pot and so I texted some friends to see who else would like that warm and cozy feelings.  Delivering any food is fun but containers of my favorite soup in the winter to three houses was certainly fun for me.  Sharing the love to friends of mine who don't often take the time to make something just for us, when no one else likes it, is fun to do!

January 13, 2016

Fixes From Modern Medicine

The Lord has blessed us with healthy kids.  But every once in awhile something will come up that needs to be taken care of.  During Ethan's 3 year well child visit in September one such issue came up.  It resulted in a check with the primary doctor, then a specialist and then a quick visit down to Anchorage for out patient surgery.  
 So the past few days daddy has been home taking care of the girls and Ethan I flew down to Anchorage to get things fixed.  It was a relatively routine out-patient surgery but since it was the first time I have had to kiss my child as he was taken away it was very hard on me.  But Ethan was a trouper.  He had the one on one attention from mama and from Grammie who came into town to give us support as well.  We spent a lot of time figuring out dr. office activities, finding ways to keep an active 3-year old still so he could be in quiet places or recover.
No surgery ever is fun but Ethan certainly felt love from his family who cares, prayers that covered him, a stuffed bear from Grandpa and lots of posters hanging around his bed when we finally made it home last night.  Being healthy is great!  But when it is needed I am certainly thankful for the great people in the health care world who take care of us!

January 11, 2016

Dance Party

The other dayI was instructed to come to the "stage" to see a show.  Notice the line of magnets separating me from the performers?
what a show it was. Full of costumes, a slightly drawn out and hard to follow story line and dance.
I really loved it and cannot wait for the next big production.

January 8, 2016

Good To The Last Drop

That home grown honey of ours is so very, very good.  So much that when the jar is too empty to scrap with a spoon, you just make tea in the jar to get each and every last drop.
And then you go to the pantry to get another jar.  We are so thankful for last summer's bees!

January 7, 2016

Special Powers

The imagination and dress up levels have been extremely high the past few weeks.  Maybe it is being home so much with activities on break for the holidays.  Or it could be the winter time keeps us indoors for longer periods in the mornings, more time for story lines to develope.  Another thought is it could be the ages.  Ethan has been getting in trouble recently because it takes FOREVER to do anything.  Ethan, please get dressed and make your bed.  He shows up a hour later.  He is dressed and bed is made but what did he do with the other 55 minutes of that hour?  His imagination is the answer.  This kid has grown to have quite the list of stories, scenarios,  dreams and missions that is so special and unique to our 3 year old boy. 
The other day Abigail and Naomi were princesses and Ethan was their good prince.  But as Ethan's imagination has grown it has caused some friction with Abigail's story lines.  Because as they were prancing around prince and princesses Ethan declared he needed his "special powers."  He ran to get the headband my parents had sent him for Christmas.  With that he was off.  Running around, fighting evil, flying so fast we "couldn't see him zooming by" all to the tune of his sister saying.  Oh but we were supposed to be going to the ball.
Yesterday morning found Abigail dressing her doll Anna up as baby Jesus.  The other dolls, Abigail and Naomi were wrapped in receiving blankets to represent the angels.  I was given a blanket for my head and instructed to sit next to Jesus and sing Christmas songs because I filled the role of Mary.  Ethan, our trusted Joseph (or sometimes shepherd) came on the scene as Ship Captain Jake.  Oh the sibling fights that result, ha ha.  But ship captain Jake he was and he paid his respects most humbly to the Baby Jesus but back to his boat (an overturned stool stuffed with a pillow) he did go as soon as he could.  Yes, imagination is quite the thing.  Takes you on wild adventures, turns your family into travel companions, creates large monsters in the deep, dark woods, and makes every day at our house pretty unpredictable to say the least. 

January 6, 2016

A Little More Christmas

In going through the last few weeks of pictures I came upon these few.  I know we are now almost two weeks past Christmas but these are so special to me I had to put them in.
 Last year after christmas I had found gingerbread man kits on clearance and tucked them aside for awhile.  
On Christmas Eve we pulled them out to all enjoy.  I learned the horrible mistake of only buying two.  Last December I didn't think of my 6 month old decorating a cookie.  Needless to say my 18 1/2 month old was very disappointed in this fact.   But getting to enjoy a few gum drops for each cookie did lighten the mood.
Abigail dreams of making gingerbread men to eat.  After one bite she changes her mind and just picks off the candy.  Someday I will need to teach these kids what good homemade gingerbread tastes like and how good it can be without all of the frosting.

January 5, 2016

The Love Of A Mama

On Sunday I arrived at church, a new one to us and one we are still getting to know people at I might add, with bright nail polish and a handmade name tag.  If you know me at all you know I don't wear nail polish, ever.  If I do it is on my feet and it is much more maroon in color then bright pink.  As for my name, well outside of the house I am more often called Kathleen, not Mama.

But you know what, Abigail picked out and bought that nail polish for me for Christmas.  She also was so excited that SHE came up with the idea of a name tag for church.  She created it on Monday and then talked about it each day until Sunday.  These are those situations where a mother hopes a child will forget this wonderful creation so I don't have to actually wear it.  Did not happen in this case.   
Sunday came and I wore my name tag with bright colored nails into church, through the service and the entire way home.  Because really at the end of the day being proud of my daughter and showing her I love her is a lot more important then trying to impress people I don't even know.  (side note:  I do discourage Abigail from fixing my hair to go to town.  That activity is currently for just "home" days.  Someday she will understand.)

January 4, 2016

The New With The Old

Ethan playing with his new bulldozer (or snow plow as he likes to call it) with the construction men Josh played with 30 years ago.  Watching my kids enjoy toys from our childhood always brings a smile to my face.  

January 1, 2016

Goals for 2016

As in the past, I have written out my goals for the new year on the blog.  I then have the chance to look back at them through the year and see just where I was in my year, if my goals were the same, and if I was accomplishing what I had set out to do. I am happy to do this again.

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.

Start homeschool kindergarden for Abigail in the fall.

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.

Pay off our truck and start saving for our next big financial dreams.

Get out and camp/bike/hike as a family in new places this summer.

Go spend time in Alaska's public use cabins.

Meet my new niece and support my sister as she enters motherhood in whatever why she needs.

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.

Potty train Naomi.  No diapers - what a thought.

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.

Ethan can write his name but ABC's need some work.  Be intentional about preschool / sit down work with him.

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.

Tree Disaster of 2017

We had quite the tree drama this year.  After years and years of real trees from the woods I was done with the needles.  DONE.  Last year A...