June 30, 2016

Customer Appreciation/Customer Joy

Our local greenhouse has a great deal.  Come buy things from us early in the season and at the end of June we will give you a percentage of what you spent back to you to get anything you missed.
It is a really fun time to purchase something completely frivolous that I wouldn't otherwise purchase. Last year it was some flowers.  This year the kids and I fell in love with this strawberry pot.  So fun to watch those berries turn red.  Summer joys!

June 29, 2016

Progress

Last week's nights were full of taking care of the chicken harvest.  This week Josh is back at working on the fort.  So far the walls are going up with talk of a roof even being on this weekend.  Josh is working until he runs out of wood and then we will reassess.  When it comes to things Josh builds you can most certainly expect things to be big.
This kids fort is turning less into a tree fort and more into a guest house.  

June 28, 2016

What You Do

Recently a friend called Josh to see if he could help them with a construction project the next day.  Josh agreed and plans were set.  

I thought about it and said, "before you go in the morning I will mix up a batch of muffins for you to take."  

Josh replied, "I was wondering what I was going to take."

I asked, "How did you know I was going to make something?"
He answered, "Because it is what you do.  You show love by giving people food and I get to be the person who is often delivering that.  It is great."

Never thought of it that way but it is true.  So if you get an item of food delivered to you via mail, left on your door step or handed to you by Josh know, you are loved.  

June 24, 2016

Homestead Update In The Land Of The Midnight Sun

It has been a very busy week on this little homestead of ours.  All of the big three have had updates.

Bees:  Last week during a routine hive check I found that my queen wasn't laying any brood (baby bees).  Thus a new queen was ordered and just arrived.  Late June is not a good time to be adding a new queen to my box but it is all I can do at this point.  Last night I located and got rid of the old queen and put the new queen cage in place.  Hopefully as the hive feeds this new queen they accept her and she gets to work, fast.

Chickens:  This area of the homesteading is why there are no pictures in this post.  I took a picture of the freezer filling up but knowing my family wouldn't like that I just thought I would leave it out.  The chickens took much of our time this week but I am so happy to report that as of last night the pen is empty and the freezer is full.  We started the summer with 47 birds and ended with 46.  A very good year indeed.  Instead of hiring a baby-sitter we have been doing all the work in the evenings after the kids have been in bed.  It has made for some super long nights but it is done and that is good.

Garden:  I am super excited to say that after the rain in the beginning of the week and the sun in the later part of the week the garden is doing great.  The box of beets on the deck weren't doing well in the cooler weather we had earlier in June so I moved it into the greenhouse.  Well, every single seed has germinated and the beets are looking great.  There are baby tomatoes on the plants and tonight for dinner we are going to be picking our first cucumber to enjoy with our meal.  Weeds are also intense and I must spend more time then I am out there.  

Summer is a busy time indeed.  So thankful for this little homestead of ours!

June 23, 2016

Summer Evenings

We are a family that doesn't go out much in the evenings.  The kids have a bed time that is on the earlier side and it is best for all when they are able to maintain that.
But there is something about summer time in Alaska.  This week is summer solstice.  Right now we have 22+ hours of sunlight a day and 24 hours of daylight.  
This is the week where the world is just itching to be played in, water to be splashed, mud to be dug, and friends to enjoy.
And we love it so much that sometimes it is 10 pm and we didn't even realize it.  Ahh, summertime in Alaska.  No lights needed and we have a long winter of darkness to be in bed.



June 22, 2016

First Harvest

Over the weekend the kids and I had our first harvest to bring in.  All of our early summer rain has meant that the rhubarb was more then ready to be picked.
Rhubarb is a great harvest because it is pretty hardy and can be taken care of by all ages.  Abigail helped me pick some of the stalks and then threw the leaves down to Naomi and Ethan who loaded it into their wheelbarrow.  
Of course all motherly warnings are thrown to the wind and one or two kids are bound to taste test this super sour fruit.
After being assured that mama would cook all of the rhubarb into things they love we were back to work.  Since daddy's big wheelbarrow was occupied with chicken materials we depended entirely on Ethan's skills with his wheelbarrow.
Abigail gave up on the helping pretty quick but Ethan and Naomi helped me through it all.  The three of us took three trips through the yard from the plants down to the big "over flow" compost bin with the leaves and a few stalks that bolted.  What helpers they were.  
Late night chopping means that we now have the first harvest in the big chest freezer.  This is bound to be a busy week for our homestead but step one is taken care of.

June 21, 2016

Homemade

Josh was blessed with a lot of homemade for father's day.  
There is nothing these kids love more then when I say, "Lets make a card for daddy."  Because Father's day is a special day he got three cards from three excited artist but in reality, daddy's lunch box is full of love art almost daily.  Preschool art, nothing these kids could be more proud of!

June 20, 2016

Father's Day 2016

Father's Day.  A day when this little family celebrates Josh and the amazing dad that he is.  We have a lot of "perfect" pictures of our family but this, why this is one of my favorites from yesterday.  Because not matter how great the picture is, the reality is Josh a dad to three very different children.  And when one is happy, one is distracted and one is in distress he is still there for all of them.
Happy father's day Josh.  God blessed me greatly when he gave me you to be the one with whom I would be on this journey of parenthood with.  

**Side note:  The day was really wonderful.  Just sometimes things are not "just right".  Ethan broke down because well, I asked him to smile for a picture instead of look for a rock on the ground.  A few seconds later he found what he was looking for and all was ok once again in the world.**

June 17, 2016

Relaxed As Can Be

Because sometimes after a long week it is nice to just sit in one's pjs, in a baby stroller, with one's feet up and read a book.
Each of us has a way that we like to kick back and relax that is for sure; but some make me laugh more then others.

June 16, 2016

I Earned That

If Abigail does all of her chores she gets a dime at the end of the day.  Honestly she probably only gets a dime three or four days a week but those coins add up.
She has recently been asking for a hula hoop.  Oh how she really wanted one.  I encouraged her to hold off buying gum or little things at the second hand store and save up for this dream.
Walking into the store with money you have earned to buy what you really, really want after working a couple months to save, priceless!

June 15, 2016

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up - A Birthday Reflection

The front of my aunt's card this year stated:  Happy 35th Birthday Kathleen (yikes!). How that one line has made me laugh.  35 years.  That is getting pretty old.  Looking around I can see it each day.  The grey in my hair, a homeowner, a mother of three, one that enjoys sitting quietly to going out to a party and the reflection of memories that come to mind.
As I stated on Monday, we celebrated my birthday once again with a camping trip to Denali and a store bought fruit tart.  My favorite of all desserts.  I thought and reflected on the "35, yikes" a lot over the weekend.  As I watched the kids pick all the berries off my birthday tart, as we gathered rocks in the gravel bars, as we hiked and climbed mountains together as a family and as I cozied up in my sleeping bag surrounded tightly by my family, I thought.  
 Years ago when asked what I would like to do when I grew up, aka finished college, my answer was to teach.  Not in a big university where I must spend a lot of time aways from students fighting for research funding.  No, in a small private school or a community college where I could share my passion for learning with students who want to learn.
 Well, this weekend I looked at my kids, I reflected on my years and I thought about my dream job.  My conclusions were that I am there.  Ok, lets be honest (because birthdays are one of those days to be really honest with one's self) parenting is hard.  I don't always love it.  The sit up straight in your chair, don't hit your sister/brother, please share, and all the rights and wrongs that need to be taught.  Nope, not my favorite thing at all.  Thus a lot of my grey hairs.
But the being there.  Each and every day being there to see my kids learn, grow and discover.  The ability to teach my kids what it means to learn and how much fun it is.
 Yeah, I do believe I have achieved my dream job.  Not much of a financial paycheck but the biggest rewards I can think of.
 I don't talk much about homeschooling on the blog, but it is something Josh and I have been considering, contemplating, praying over, talking to others about and learning about for the past three and a half years.  We have been trying to determine the best decision for our kids and our family.  Our decision to homeschool has become a huge focus in our day to day lives this past six months.  
Abigail is reading and writing and as of two weeks ago is an enrolled kindergartener in a homeschool cooperative program.  Ethan is learning to write, loves to rhyme and even though we mix up M and W, is learning his letters.  But outside of books we are hiking, exploring, touching, seeing, knowing, learning.  Over the weekend the kids learned what a braided river was by looking at it.  They saw a dall sheep and then touched their tracks in the mud.  We sat through a ranger talk all about mosquitos and Abigail can tell you about the BMW's of Denali (Bears, Moose and Wolves.)  In my life with these kids we read a lot of books but seeing the look on their faces when they see and discover is worth every bit of work.
35 years.  I am old enough to know that not all days are good days but instead that all days are opportunities.  


June 14, 2016

Age And Experience

A year ago today we headed out on our first camping trip as a family with small children.  A year ago the kids were 4 1/2, 2 1/2 and just one.  We had a new tent and a lot of excitement.  

In the past year we have gone camping as a family three separate times and also spent some time at a state cabin this past winter.
 Taking the kids back to the same campground a year later made it fun for us to see just how much age and experience has added to our camping trip.
 Last year there was a lot more fussing, confusion, and nervousness about the new surroundings.
 But this past year the kids have learned what camping is.  They are now more excited at the prospect and during.  They now anticipate the adventures, the "camp" food, and when we arrive they look forward to the freedom and exploration that comes with camping and campgrounds.  
And the best benefit of all the experience we have give the kids on camping is...they know now how to go to sleep in sleeping bags and in a tent in broad daylight.  Because come on, camping in Alaska in the summer never involves a flashlight or candle.  This ability certainly helps make the evenings of adult conversation around the campfire a little more refreshing for sure.

Camping as a family, challenging but very, very worth it!

June 13, 2016

A Family Tradition

For the second year in a row, thus now a family tradition, we took the family down to camp in Denali National Park for my birthday.
 I have so much to say about these great three days and two nights.
And so much to remember
We saw so much (this is a dall sheep if it is hard for you to make out)

 And completely enjoyed being a family away from life but together.
But now we are home.  The week is before us.  Life comes tumbling back to us as we unload wet tents, run laundry and get back to our chores.
And as one thinks maybe it is just a little too much effort to go, I pull myself up short and remember. Oh no, in fact this is what we live for.  More of our adventures tomorrow... 

(Many thanks goes out to my Aunt Debby for mailing me our campfire book.  Tears streamed down my face as I read aloud to Josh each night.  Thank you so much for a treasure to enjoy on this particular journey.)


June 10, 2016

Morning Craziness

Because with three very imaginative kids you just never know what each day will hold.
On the special day the kids made a pirate ship out of food bins, canned good and baby blankets.  Grammy suggested books be used as mast and it was a success.  Like I mentioned yesterday, this week has been super busy for us.  Looking forward to a weekend and a more relaxing week next week to see what these three minds can imagine some more.

June 9, 2016

Cooking Show - Part II

When Linda was visiting she gifted us a big container of fresh spinach after a run to sam's club.
We all love spinach but try as I might I just can't seem to eat enough of it before it starts to go bad.
Thus I looked up a recipe to make homemade spinach dip, with fresh veggies.  A lot of the recipes call for dried soup mix and frozen spinach.  After finding the recipe I needed the experience was really beautiful.
There is something about making a new recipe, and then sharing the by product with neighbor and friends, that energizes me and makes me so excited.  This has certainly been a rainy and busy week here in Fairbanks.  Who knew spinach dip would be such an emotional boost.  

June 8, 2016

It Has Started

Over the weekend Josh started the fort.
Since this is Josh you have to keep in mind that is going to not be any ordinary fort/tree house.
But as he builds the kids know they are building for them because he loves them.  It is a fun thing to see: the fort coming together, the kids working with their dad and the creation of dreams for all.

June 7, 2016

Cooking Show - Part I

We cook three meals and one snack around here everyday.  Not that big of a deal but recently I have been inspired to photograph some of the action.  Sometimes cooking is so beautiful.
It is especially fun to see the kids doing more and more of the cooking with me instead of just the licking of the spoon.  Abigail does a great job cutting things up for me.
On this day we were making homemade pizzas.  The kids love canadian bacon and mushroom but Josh had requested a chicken pesto pizza.  It turned out so beautiful.  We even used my homemade garden pesto from last summer.  It smells amazing.  Wish I could have shared!
Cooking at home.  Ordinary but still so special!




June 6, 2016

5 1/2 Years

Yesterday was Abigail's 1/2 birthday.  Just her second most favorite day of the year, after her actual birthday of course.  I mentioned earlier that the topic of Abigail's dessert is always the biggest issue.  
 Last year I surprised her with dirt pie and this year my big plan was a strawberry pie.  But since Abigail is so intense on her desserts she decided to set her mind on sand pie this year.  Sand pie is the vanilla version of dirt pie and is served with gummy fish instead of gummy worms.  
 Can I just say that I do believe the siblings love these special holidays as much as the child being honored.  A fun and special dessert and favorite meals area always big hits!
Abigail had a really great day.  She didn't have to do any chores, got a special breakfast and dinner and was able to pick out all of the books for story time.  But when asked if she liked sand pie or dirt pie better the deciding vote was dirt pie.  Hmm, next year's 1/2 dessert needs to be even better and maybe I can keep it a surprise.  Surprises always work out a little better.

Tomorrow starts a week of VBS.  Tonight she said, "Today was a great day and it just starts a whole bunch of great days too.  I just can't believe VBS is tomorrow.  This is going to be the best week ever."

June 3, 2016

All This For You

Yesterday was a fun, simple and fulfilling day for all.
 Naomi's birthday celebration actually started Monday night.  A little root beer float action kicked off this week with Grammie in attendance.
 But yesterday was the real day.  After we put Naomi down for her nap Ethan and Abigail helped me decorate for her "pup pup" party.  Thanks to great-gramme for the use of your birthday decorations.  They were loved and enjoyed once again.
 Then after nap the kids and I read stories for awhile until daddy could make it home from work.  We all wanted to be together when Naomi saw all her balloons and the party set up for just her.
 Naomi had just a few presents but they were just what she wanted.  New robeez, books, and a baby doll from people who loved her.
 A big present, wrapped in just a trash bag - this is how much energy I have about these things sometimes, was picked out at once upon a child by Ethan and Abigail.  It is a baby doll bed/changing area.  They picked it out and then together we made homemade cards for Naomi.  They were both so proud to present it to her they could barely contain themselves.  "Look Naomi, I wrote your name N-A-O-M-I and Ethan, E-T-H-A-N.  I did that just for you."  Sibling love, I love it.  (I am going to focus on that, not the squabbles that soon came over the new toy, sigh)
 For Naomi I stretched my baking skills once again and made cake pops in the appearance of puppies.  More to come on that adventure next week.  But she loved them, as did the other two!
Friends of ours contacted us earlier this week that they were getting rid of their outdoor playhouse.  Perfect timing.  Josh picked it up, we scrubbed it down and let me tell you - we have one very, very excited little birthday girl.  Even the doorbell works.  Amazing.  
Naomi, and her new baby doll she has named Laura, had the most wonderful day.  Full of phone calls from people who sang, attentive parents and siblings, stuffed puppies around her and tasty ones to eat.  We even ended the day by watching a little bit of Lady and the Tramp II where she got to see puppies running around.  Needless to say the ushering into 2 years was a fun thing for all.


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...