March 31, 2016

It Is The Hard Drive

When I was in Anchorage, on my wonderful girls weekend with Heather, our computer stopped working.  So with no computer there has been no blog posts.  But the computer is in the shop getting a new hard drive right now and blog posts will resume soon.  Thanks to Heather for filling in a few days for me.  We really did have a wonderful time together in Anchorage and the Klynstra days have been full and fun as well.  Looking forward to sharing more when I can.

March 28, 2016

Blessed, Part II



Guest Blogger, Heather Riley
Oh, Alaska---you never do want to be ‘predictable’.    Yesterday was a sunny, clear, crisp day in Anchorage.   A day where the mountains seem so large you can touch them, the sun is so bright you ‘almost’ feel annoyed, and people are busy being ‘out’.  This morning though—was such a gift AND a surprise.  When we opened the curtains, we were met with huge, fluffy, beautiful winter wonderland snow!  We could not have been happier!  Kathleen and I have never been ones to ‘stay in’ because of a little snow.  Instead, we headed out for a morning walk (that lasted about 3.5 hours) with a couple of ‘to do’ things.  We strolled, laughed, and pretty much ended up walking miles that morning (often in circles) but honestly, IT WAS WONDERFUL!!! 

Along the way we enjoyed several different places, some old and familiar and some new.  We came across the Anchorage Light Speed Planet walk (http://anchorageplanetwalk.org/) and stopped for a few photo opps as we orbited around some of our plants.



We also enjoyed a few other photo opps too!


We spent some time at the 5th Avenue Mall—which sounds very fancy.  It makes me laugh because neither of us are ‘shoppers’.  Your perspective of ‘shopping’ though changes when it is FUN—full of conversation, laughter, stories, and walking.  We find that while we are so thankful to be alone together (without having to supervise children running through a department store) we tend to THINK of those that we love when shopping.  We looked at things for our kids and husbands—and brought them back some goodies.  I should mention both Kathleen and I found our Easter dresses too J

One of my favorite parts about the weekend was the freedom we had to just RELAX.  We took a NAP in the middle of the day (because we felt like it).  We also just lounged around and caught up with photo books from our families.  That to me was such treasured time.  The TV was off and we just enjoyed the moment.  Dinner was a continuation of our Olive Garden night.  SO YUMMY and so comfy to just eat on a couch in pajamas whenever we wanted!  We finished off the evening by learning that these two mommas ARE NOT capable of shopping 'late'.  We stopped at JoAnn's and then Kohl's but were too tired by 9pm to continue on!  I will laugh about this for years to come.

 As our final day approached, we both were sad to part.  The roads were looking a little unpredictable for Kathleen’s drive (Anchorage had received about seven to nine inches of snow on Saturday) and we knew it was best for her to get on her way.  We were all smiles and KNOW that God will be bring us back together soon (next time with the kiddos!!!). 




So why the word ‘blessed’ in the title?  Not only are we best friends, but sisters in Christ.  The sister I never had!  It was the type of weekend where we got to sit and just talk—to understand and appreciate the woman, wife, and mother each of us has grown to become.  Lastly, but most importantly, it was weekend that was full of happiness and contentment of just being around each other…..

Blessed, Part I

Guest Blogger, Heather Riley

Blessed—
1.        Having a sacred nature: connected with God
2.       Very welcome, pleasant, or appreciated
3.       Blissfully happy or contented

This past weekend was a very special one.   It had been two and half years since I’ve seen my best friend.  In a state where I feel like I grew up (into an adult), started living my dreams, and became a Mrs. and a momma to be---I also met the most special friend I have ever had:  Kathleen.   This past weekend, our amazing husbands rearranged their busy work schedules so that two mommas could have some much needed time away, and more importantly, time TOGETHER.  As I think back on our time, the word ‘blessed’ is one that continues to ring in my ear. 

A total of 613 miles one way had to be traveled in order for this to happen.  Kathleen started her morning at 2am and began to drive 7 hours south.   She was greeted by clear, cold skies, and the northern lights to guide her.   I started my morning hours later and hopped on a plane leaving Kodiak Island to get to Anchorage.  In true Kathleen ‘planner’ mode, she arrived exactly at the time my plane landed and we were all smiles and hugs!!!!!  When you have such a deep friendship with someone, time just stops when you are together.  For us—it was like we had just seen each other yesterday. 
We had lots to catch up and talk about, shopping to do, projects to sew and knit, adventures to begin!   



First stop was Earthquake Park, a trail built around an area shaped by the 1964 earthquake (and a place Kathleen has ALWAYS wanted to explore).  The trail has interpretive signs retelling the history of the quake and the devastation that followed.  It also provided amazing views (on a clear, sunny day) of downtown Anchorage and its mountainous backdrop.  What beautiful scenery we enjoyed while walking together in the fresh, cold air sharing life together—in person.

Despite the change of scenery from the outdoors to the indoors for the rest of the day (including a wonderful lunch, visit to Target, Lowes, and our hotel) the day continued to get better and better.  Time......uninterrupted, focused time, is such a sweet thing!  That afternoon and evening we had a few more things on our ‘agenda’: naps, sewing, and supper.  Kathleen is a very gifted sewer (as you all know) and really helped me with my latest sewing project.  With her help, we finished a dress and had it in the mail the next morning!  This was a project that left both of us happy and thankful for the ways we spent our time.


Lastly, we were able to pay a visit to the Olive Garden.  It was already 7:30pm and we were just walking in.  For mommies of 6 combined littles (all 5 and under) eating this late is UNHEARD OF!  I think we even forgot that people actually do this!  We enjoyed AMAZING salad and pasta and most importantly conversation (and people watching too).  Our first day together could not have gone any better!!!  We continued to thank the Lord and our husbands for this time.  The best part: we still had TWO more days! 

  

March 23, 2016

The Promise

The other day we had fresh snow fall during the night and into the morning.  It is a sure sign of the end of winter when it starts to snow a bit here.  The warming of the air enough for our dry air to release that fresh powder.  But it does mess with one's thoughts on the coming spring and summer for sure.  
And as the kids put on their winter gear, right after breakfast, to go play in their fresh and clean playground; I had a photo shoot with my newest little promises.
These little seeds chose that day of fresh snow to be the first sprouts out of the dirt.  Reaching up out of the warm soil into a day of winter but with the promise of summer.  God's blessings to us of the hope for tomorrow.


March 22, 2016

Why I Bother

Last week I finished up our 2015 photobook.  It will be a wonderful addition to our family memory logs.  But as I work on it, and then pay for it, I wonder why sometimes.  It takes a lot of work.
But then I am reminded first thing the next morning of how fun it is for little people to get to hold a book of their own pictures in their hands.  In this digital world it is still important to let little people be reminded of their own stories.  How fun it is to see them laugh at their own faces and be reminded of the treasure that their life has been.  Potty seats in the background and all.  This, my dears, is our real life.

March 21, 2016

My Little Rockhounds

Where pictures are coming in from around the country of spring, mud, blossoms and more, we here in Fairbanks are still covered in snow.  We even were given extra dustings of fresh powder this week.  Just a way for mother nature to tell us that no matter what we might think, spring never ever comes early to Alaska.  

As much as we love winter it has been funny to see how much the kids are dying to see all of the world they love that lies UNDER all the snow.  The other morning I found Abigail carefully carrying around a rock that she has saved from the driveway from last summer.  We got in a long discussion about that rock, there was a fight amongst siblings as to just who could hold the precious rock and then an expedition - in snow gear- was conducted to find more rocks.
 Alas after a lot of digging in the snow and at the ice covered driveway the kids had to settle with the few pebbles they could scrounge up in the dirt right outside the basement door.  Those few rocks that are exposed in the frozen dirt because of the deck that protects the door from snow.
 And all of this was done before 8 am.  So that morning after breakfast the kids set to work with basins of warm water and old toothbrushes scrubbing and polishing those treasured rocks.
And after all that morning scrubbing the rocks were stored in Abigail's box of "her favorite thing."
Besides providing the warm water and toothbrushes I was a bystander in most of this whole process.  Not much else makes this geologist mama's heart giggle inside as such an ordeal as this.  What a great group of geologist I am raising these days.  And yes, Abigail does fix her own hair.  More pink the better.  (and Ethan was part of the process, just on the record that boy takes forever to make his bed.  Thus he missed the picture portion of this adventure.  Don't worry, he was soon down and whereas the girls kept the scrubbing water in the sink - he managed to soak the kitchen.  To Ethan no adventure is fun without a mess.)


March 18, 2016

Moving Right Along

In a guest room update I am excited to report the amazing progress being made.  Josh is doing a great job.
 This week not only have we hosted dinner for friends two different nights, seen Josh working extra long days at work but we are also seeing such progress in the guest room. 
 The murphy bed unit has been assembled, installed and mounted to the wall.  Whoo hoo.  It is amazing how little space a big old queen size bed take up when it is up against a wall.  
And even with that accomplished Josh isn't slowing down at all.  The day after the murphy bed was put into place Josh was right to work putting the bookshelves together.  There is a shelf unit on each side of the bed as well as over the top.  This is the largest stand along woodworking project to date and the way Josh is keeping track of all dimensions, pieces that go here and there is amazing to see.  The work never stops.

Our first guest to enjoy the renovated guest room do arrive in a week.  The clock is ticking and a lot is set to happen.


March 17, 2016

The Luck Of The Irish

Oh how we love St. Patricks day.  
And since we don't have a shamrock cookie cutter we often resort to making green sheep.  The Irish are know for their sheep, right?
May the luck of the Irish be with you today!


March 16, 2016

I Will Grow Tomorrow

Abigail was going to bed awhile ago and stopped short.  Looking at me with her hands on those tiny hips she declared, "Mama, I just really need a new nightgown." 
 A few weeks later and I was able to get time in my sewing room enough to present Abigail with her new gown.  Since it is March and the fabric is warm I decided to make the gown a size big enough to fit her next winter as well as these end of winter nights.
But alas when she tried her new gown on the next morning it was so very big on my small girl.  I sighed and started looking at where I could give it a tuck here and a smaller seam there.  But then Abigail stopped me and said, "Mama, you don't need to change it.  I love my new gown.  I just might be bigger tomorrow anyway."

Oh my dear, I do hope you don't grow that fast any time soon!

**the making of this nightgown is dedicated to my mother.  She is the one who made me a gown of my very own later in life when I was bigger.  Thus there was plenty of fabric from my old gown to cut up and then repurpose into this new gown for Abigail.  I love how things go on.  Who would have thought almost twenty years ago when you made me a nightgown you were giving me what I needed for your very own granddaughter so many years later.  Yes we all grow up don't we.  I just wish my three would just slow it down a little bit.**




March 14, 2016

Oh Those Memories

This past weekend I started our 2015 photobook. 
  Each year I like to make one book of selected pictures and have it all together rather then a photobook for just this or that occasion.
 This year I actually sat at the table and said to Josh, "I don't know if I really want to do our 2015 book because really, nothing happened much in 2015."
 Well, a few hours later I was downloading over 400 pictures into shutterfly for the book and I was so full of all the things we DID do in 2015.
 And I was also reminded of just why I take the time to make these books.
Memories are just so much fun!

March 11, 2016

Progress

This week has seen a lot of progress in the guest room renovations.  
 First all of the pieces of wood were moved inside.  With everything there the murphy bed frame started to take shape.  
Step by step it has been assembled until last night when Josh was able to put on the first coat of polyurethane, the sealant.  Alas now that house stinks but it means that after sanding and another painted coat tonight there might be a bed put up against the wall by tomorrow.  Maybe wishful thinking from this non-woodworker bystander but it certainly does seem to be going together nicely.  More updates to come. 

March 10, 2016

The Family That Works Together...

I remember my brother dreading the day when the log trucks would bring the firewood to our childhood home in New York.  All those hours of splitting wood laid before him and was never something he enjoyed.  

But now as a parent of kids who live in a home heated by firewood, I understand a lot more.
 Josh might have cut those trees down last week but it takes an entire family to keep the yard cleaned, the wood stacked, and our little homestead going.
The kids just might think it is the worst thing ever, but at the end of the day Abigail shows me her muscles and how strong she is getting.  She loves to tell me how she helped daddy with the wood and how thankful she is to be in a warm home.  

We are a family and we all do our part.  For a sticker on a chore chart or in order to know that at the end of the day the kids are provided for.  This is what being a family together is all about.

March 9, 2016

6 Months Later

Yesterday was a special day in our home for our little man.  Half-Birthdays.  An event only the five of us really care about but a fun way to make the days special.
 Gifts are never a part of half birthdays.  But not having to do one's chores and getting to pick what is cooked for dinner is.  At 3 1/2 Ethan choose homemade mac n' cheese, steamed broccoli and strawberries.  The stores were all out of strawberries so we settled for cantaloupe instead (something never purchased here in Alaska).
For half birthday desserts I try and make it special without making a cake (Abigail and Naomi's real birthdays and half birthdays are three days apart twice a year.  Cake twice a week is way too much.)  So for this event Ethan picked root beer floats.  Abigail was so excited she kept saying, "Oh, Ethan thank you so much for having a half birthday today."  

Happy 3 1/2 to my little Ethan.  What a journey you are taking us on.  We are so very happy you are part of our family and we are along for the ride.

March 8, 2016

Thoughts On Taxes

Every summer when our property assessment comes in the mail from the borough I sigh.  More taxes to pay.  And really, how does a house that doesn't change go down in value but the taxes always go up? I don't know but I do know come September those taxes are due to the borough and that is what we have to do.
 But you know what, as much as I sigh at that bill I try to never complain.  
 Instead I think of all the visits the kids and I make to the library and how I feel safe at night knowing the fire department is on call.
 I am confident that Josh is going to be able to get to work in the morning because the roads have been maintained
 and I take advantage of getting to hold my daughter's hand as we skate the new 1/2 mile ice skating loop at Tanana Lakes.
No, paying one's taxes is never a fun thing.  Yet, knowing you live in a community that puts those taxes to work, so that our family can go out and have fun in the March sunshine, is a wonderful thing indeed.

March 7, 2016

The Chance To Ask

The following is a conversation I was able to have with Abigail the other day:

Me:  "Abigail, I got the chance to go talk to a man today who is going to help me out when we start homeschool next year.  He is going to help me pick out curriculum, which are books that will help me teach you."

Abigail:  "Like how to read?"

Me:  "Yes, we will always read books but is there anything you really want to learn about?"

Abigail:  "Humm, I would like to learn about:

-Why it hurts butterflies if you touch their wings.
-How ants work, not the fire ant like at grandmas though. (me: like watch an ant farm?) 
- How grass grows and if I plant an acorn will a palm tree grow?
- About the body and why my heart beats fast when I jump on the trampoline."

Me:  "Yes, those are all science things.  I would love to discover and teach you those things.  Do you want to learn about different paints too?"

Abigail:  "Oh yes, but you see I am already an artist!"
This homeschool things is certainly going to be fun.

March 4, 2016

In The Middle Of It


What a day today was.  Not a day I had planned at all but one that makes me happy for bed time and chance to start with a fresh slate tomorrow.  We ended back up at the clinic today, alone with three kids that didn't want to be there.  That was all before a fall occurred, 10 minutes after we had left the clinic, which caused teeth to be pushed through a lip.  Maybe I should have gone back to the clinic for stitches but I didn't, we went home.  Home to motrin, a soft dinner and bed time that we all needed.

But this wasn't what I meant to talk about in the post today.  Today was supposed to be the day I shared with you the exciting news that Josh is in the middle of his next big project.  If you know Josh, you know that when he has wood in his hands he is happy and focused.  When that phone call came in Tuesday night that the wood had finally arrived in town he jumped up and ran out the door faster then he ever did for all our trips to the hospital for the kids to be born.  The wait for that wood has been killing him.  Lots of fire wood has been split, stacked and is now drying because of the delay but finally the wood is here and the plans are being put into action.  

As I write this post he is outside cutting, cutting, cutting.  So many pieces he tells me.  So much ripping, routing, measuring and rounding that must take place before anything can even think of coming inside for piecing together.  But I am patient.  I miss my husband when he is in the middle of a project but at the same time I love seeing his face at this time.  There is really nothing like the joy on his face when he is in the middle of what he loves and does best - builds and designs.  

March 3, 2016

I Look Pretty

After Ethan we thought we were finished having children for awhile so all of the baby gear and clothes were given away.  Then we found out we were expecting our extra surprise of Naomi.  At that point Abigail was two and wearing size 2T/24 month clothes.  From there on every item was saved for our next little lady.
And now it is so fun to look back at this picture taken for Popeye of the little outfit he bought and mailed to Abigail.
Because now it is being worn once again.

Thanks Popeye we are loving it still!

March 2, 2016

The Tree That Wouldn't Give

The other day Josh noticed one of our tall birch trees was dying and in the process of leaning towards our power pole.  Thus began the beginning of what we thought would be an easy task but alas was anything but.  

You see that tree needed to be cut and aimed to fall away from the power pole which meant two other smaller trees had to fall as well.  Josh tied ropes to all three trees and the work began.  Josh cuts the tree while I pull the lead rope helping the trees fall in the direction we want them to go.  These birch trees are pretty tall.  One tree came down, then the next.  

Feeling successful we moved on to the big tree that was our original goal.  I pulled, Josh cut.  I pulled and Josh cut.  I pulled and Josh cut.  We hooks ratchet straps and pulled, then another strap and another rope.  This tree was going no where.
In the end Josh called a good friend of ours who has cut trees as a profession and knows his way around stubborn trees.  He and Josh strung up another rope higher up (we are up to three ropes pulling and rachetted to other trees at this point.)
Then they pulled and pulled and pulled.  The tree is completely cut through the whole time, it was just leaning down hill and all the ropes were the only thing preventing it from falling into the power line.  
When the guys were unsuccessful a pully system was set up and the truck was brought in.
In the end man won but that tree did not go down easy.  Biggest process we have ever had to endure with all the trees we have cut on our land so far.  Cutting a tree down normal and simply is pretty boring but as this process progressed the kids were more and more interested.  There were a lot of shouts of timber in hopes that this could help daddy's process.  Biggest evening entertainment we have had in awhile.  Yeah for hard work, good friends to call and trucks with a lot of horse power.  

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...