September 30, 2016

The Alaskan Life

When we cleaned up the garden a few weeks ago we left the beets and carrots still in the ground.  As a root vegetable it wasn't as urgent to get them out and we had a lot going on.  On the same day of pulling the garden Josh pulled down the garden fence.  The plan is to expand the garden next year and give me almost 2/3rds more space to grow food in.  The main process of adding the raised beds will occur before the ground is completely thawed in the spring so getting the fence posts out now is super important.
 And the next few times the kids played outside the only place in the entire yard they wanted to play in was the garden.  The small section of our land that is off limits to them all summer long we suddenly opened and to them that was like giving them a bucket of candy.  
 But then it didn't take long for the word to get out that the fence was down.  Something about this amazing act of removing a barrier!  Our local mama moose and her two kids showed up and helped us with the last of the garden clean up.  All the tops of the beets and carrots were eaten up in no time.
What an Alaskan problem, haha.

September 29, 2016

Farm Life

Last week the kids and I were able to go on a little field trip with our Mooseketeers group.
 It just so happened to be the coldest, rainiest and windiest day we have had yet this fall.  But regardless, the kids did have fun.
 We wandered around a local farm and the kids learned how plants grow, the kids already knew most of those answers.
 Even though we have a big garden, bees and chickens I don't think the kids realize other people don't live like that.  So all the kids in the group learned.  And even though it was cold the kids loved getting to pull and pick vegetables to eat and give to the animals.
The animals, now that is what we are missing at our little homestead.  After the visit Abigail informed me that she just has to have something soft and cuddly.  It is essential.  Try and I might to explain that raising three kids at their ages is enough of a chore she doesn't understand how I can't see this critical importance.  She stated to me the other day, "Mama, I love horses and need a horse.  If I can't have one I just have to have a bunny rabbit."  Oh my dear, in all due time I promise.  

September 28, 2016

Fall 2016

Yesterday morning it snowed.  Not a snow that stuck but definitely snow.  Tis' the season.  Lucky for us we had the chance to snap our fall picture two weeks ago, back when it was still fall not the beginning of winter.
I love pictures that can be used to compare.  Here are links 2015 and 2014 if you are interested.  My oh my, how these kids are growing up.


September 27, 2016

Field Trip Into Fairbanks' History

The other day the kids and I wanted to get out of the house.  I had been so sick and needing to just the basics each day that, even though I didn't feel too much better, we all needed a change.  School has been going well but I wanted to fit a few field trips in before winter came and this seemed like a good day to do it.  After rest time the kids and I headed out about 10 miles away from home to the Felix Pedro monument.  
Felix Pedro, the first to discover and claim gold in the Fairbanks area in 1902 thus starting the great Fairbanks Gold Rush.  On this afternoon the kids learned about what a monument was, who Felix was, saw pictures of original Fairbanks, and learned about how people and supplies were transported in 1902 before trains were brought in.  There was even information to share with them about how new methods of gold extraction were discovered since so much of the gold was frozen into permafrost.  
After our little journey down history lane, we walked across the street to Pedro Creek where that first gold was discovered and we all played in the water for a hour.  I dream big dreams of showing the kids the world someday but days like this help remind me that so often there is so much to enjoy and learn in our very own backyards.  

September 26, 2016

The Perfect Help

After the big garden clean out my kitchen was left with the last bits.  The remaining zucchini lingered for several days until the fruit flies started to make their presence a little too known.  Even though I wasn't feeling my best it was time to preserve the last of this harvest.  When it comes to kitchen chores each child loves and is fascinated by different things.  Ethan, he loves to watch me grate just about anything.  This day, I let him help.
This boy of mine, who rarely just smiles at a camera anymore, loved his job in the kitchen.  We ended up shredding16 cups of zucchini that day.  He didn't do it all but he was a big help!  When daddy came home that night Ethan was very excited to inform him of his new achievement.  Grating - so fun for a four year old and, much to a mama's delight, safer than knives.

September 23, 2016

Art With Daddy

Homeschool is going well here at this house.  Josh and I, as well as Abigail, are still all pleased with how things are going and that is a good thing to write as we are about two months in.  All of the kids and I "do school" mostly in the morning, but sometimes into the afternoons.  We work on writing, reading, math, spanish, learning about the world and such.  Art, we leave that up to daddy.
 And what a good artist, daddy and teacher he is.  Since he is incharge of art class it is mostly on the weekends and in the evenings.  Usually I will pull Ethan and Naomi away to something else and the two can have class.  But sometimes an art project outside of the "teaching book" will come to Josh's mind and sometimes that means everyone can join in.
 Josh read a library book to the kids the other day where all of the illustrations were made of trash.  Pieces of trash put together to make up the pictures for the story.  He loved the idea.
So with labels off cans, egg cartons, beads, buttons, scraps of cardboard, and so much more, the kids created art.  I love that I am not part of art time.  I come and admire.  I help with supplies.  I encourage.  But that is where Josh and the kids go from and I get to sit back and smile.  Art with daddy, always fun.

September 22, 2016

That's A Wrap For 2016

According to the calendar it just might be the beginning of Autumn but here in Fairbanks we have just about wrapped up summer and fall.
 A week and a half ago the kids helped us with the big overhaul day.  Naomi was a big "help" in getting the leaves mowed up with her mower, just like daddy.
 And Ethan didn't shy away from the garden chores even when the plants we were composting became larger then his wheel barrow.
 And as more and more zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower plants were pulled we discovered more and more pumpkins.  So fun.
 As I cleaned the garden out the kids mostly followed me around waiting for the broccoli bits, carrots, peas and occasional green beans to munch on.  Abigail was the lucky one and found the one green bean that was hidden by a pumpkin vine.  The seeds inside were big enough to plant for next year but she enjoyed the treat regardless.
Some of the garden was a success and some not so much but all of our pumpkins certainly are fun.  They are now inside growing orange and helping decorate for fall even as the temperatures drop each day.  

September 21, 2016

I Am Loved

My mother taught me to keep a folder in my office called, "I am loved."  A folder where special letters, notes and pieces of encouragement are kept for those days when I just might feel Not so loved.  Abigail has never needed me to pass on this wisdom.  This girl has kept every single letter, note, card and bit of love.
If you are one of the many people who have written to our girl know that each letter is loved, read over and over, and kept "forever".

September 20, 2016

Unique

I love when all of the art supplies are the same, the work sample is the same and the instruction is the same.
Yet I am presented with three very different results.  I love how the kids get along but I love most how they are unique.

Unique

I love when all of the art supplies are the same, the work sample is the same and the instruction is the same.
Yet I am presented with three very different results.  I love how the kids get along but I love most how they are unique.

September 19, 2016

Heading Out

The weather forecast is calling for possible snow today.  Sigh.
With that in mind I look back to our family adventure over Labor day weekend.
A day when the sun was high, the wind steady enough to blow away the bugs, and the fall colors were out.
Josh was away at work so much that a day with daddy, and being a complete family, just called for a hike.
Proud of these kids and the six miles Abigail and Ethan managed, the time together, the beauty of Alaska and the fun we can have.  Snow, oh it will come someday.  Maybe today or maybe tomorrow. For now I think of our fun outdoor times and look forward to what next adventure we can go on no matter the temperatures.

September 16, 2016

Contained and Content

One of the hardest parts of homeschooling is keeping Naomi and Ethan happy.  Working with Abigail, I can do that all day.  Making sure my other two don't feel neglected or pushed away, a daily challenge.  Keeping these two little people happy is something that I have to change and adapt to each day depending on their moods, how they are interacting together, what time of day we are doing school and more.
But the best situation I have found is to bring the kid's pool inside to the living room, fill it with a toy of some sort (legos, marbles, cars, blocks, and more) and ask that they stay in the pool with the toys.  This plan doesn't always work but it is successful more times then not.  One the kids are contained, two the toys are contained and three the clean up is easy.  I make sure and clean up the toy as soon as school is done and thus leaving a little bit of longing for those small manipulative toys until the next day of school.  Balance - that is what we are figuring out here. 

September 15, 2016

Slightly Sweet and Slightly Tart

We came back from our camping trip to Tangled Lakes with more then dirty laundry.
The berry picking there was over the top wonderful.  The four gallons of blueberries went right to the freezer but the cranberries needed some immediate attention.  
Canning up 24 cups of cranberries into cranberry sauce on my first day back from camping isn't necessarily advised but is just what might have happened.  We are finding a lot of cranberry friendly meals on our tables of late.  With this much goodness we can't just wait around until Thanksgiving.  

September 14, 2016

Observation of All Surroundings

One of the lessons Josh has been working with Abigail on in Art class is learning to observe the main object in a piece of art but also what the artist has surrounded the picture with as well.
Where I am NOT the art teacher here I do like when Josh gives me a run down of the class so that I can enforce the lesson through what we do each day Josh is at work.  Observing the swing set in the yard but also the trees, grass, neighbors and such is what we are going for.  Basic but the important start to seeing the whole picture.
All that being said, the kids and I have started to observe more and more in our yard.  A bug on the rock, a spiderweb on the garden fence and much the the kids delight - a grouse on a tree branch.  We came home from town about two weeks ago to a pair of grouse on a downed tree branch right by the driveway.  I ran inside to get my camera and Abigail's sketch pad and before we knew it the birds had flown.
But walking slowly and quietly the four of us crept through the yard and observed them for quite some time.  Abigail plopped right now and sketched them as soon as paper and pencil were provided.  A new favorite pastime for her.  Drawing what I see.  I love being reminded to see the details in life.  Not the sketch artist myself I take this lesson to a whole new philosophical level but love being reminded I am never too old to learn.

September 13, 2016

On Turning 4

Last Thursday this family celebrated Ethan with a robot party.
 It was a fun party full of play in the tree fort, piles of fall leaves to jump in, cake, a craft and a robot piƱata. 
 Finding a craft for boys can sometimes be hard but when it comes to robots we just went with what Ethan loves.  A cardboard box and crayons to make lots of buttons.  
And then for the little girls that weren't too interested in boxes, robot coloring sheets made them happy as well.
 Our mr. robot cake, covered in candy controls, was a big hit and each of the kids got the chance to pick which "button" they wished to eat.
 But the very best part of the party was how happy this little man was.  
 At the end of the day, after the friends all go, it is this little family that loved celebrating our boy and we all had so much fun.
 Marking how fast we grow and remembering where we have come.  That is always how we like to end our birthdays.
And just for fun.  

September 12, 2016

Observation

Last week as we ended Ethan's birthday party I finally gave in to my body that had been fighting me for several days.  This mama was sick.  The kids and I plowed through Friday but by the time Josh came home I was just about done.  Fever, cough, migraines and plain old exhaustion.  
A lot has still happened, I have a birthday party to post and remember and thoughts to share but mostly I have kept those to myself for now.  I have spent a lot of this weekend alternating between a chair, small activity, a bed, small activity and then a chair once again just observing my family.  From this weekend I will always remember my beautiful, round faced 2 year old coming up to me after coming home from church.  She was so excited to see me out of bed that she hugged me while declaring, "You all better?" over and over.  Maybe not 100% but mama is on the mend.  May the kids take it easy on me this week until things are back to normal.

September 8, 2016

Happy Birthday To My Little Man

Ethan Hamilton, today you are four years old.
 And just like that I stop.  I stop and stare at your picture.  That smile, those eyes and nose.  How is it that I am so blessed to be called your mother?  Three times a year I write these birthday posts and they don't get any easier as you get older.  It amazes me that you are ours.  How is it God thought us lucky enough to have you?  How is that baby boy who came out blue and scared us from second one the jumping little man?  Oh, there were certainly days when you were two and even the first part of last year where we came head to head and I didn't know if you would ever be happy in our family.  We still have those days from time to time but let me tell you, 3 1/2 on has really be wonderful.  I love that hand of yours in mine.  I love how no matter how distracted you are by play you stop and say, "I love you."
 You are surrounded by sisters but certainly my little boy.  As you grow older this becomes more and more evident in all you do.  You are made special and grow just along the lines of how you need to grow.  (by the way, remember how much you loved these tiger pants and wore them ALL the time until you ripped holes in them.  Yeah I love that memory and glad I have photo documentation of you in them on your 3rd birthday.)
 And just like those pants, you have grown, stretched and burst through this past year.  Three really was the end of toddler years and four is now a full blown preschooler.  But can I just say how much I LOVE that you are a September baby and you get to wait two more years until school starts?  I have so many people asking me if you are starting preschool and where we do learn together I love watching you play.  You learn so much through your play.  Coloring, pencils, and workbooks?  Those are much too boring for this little mind right now.  Time for that later.
 You love the outdoors.  You love the snow.  You LOVE snow machines, 4-wheelers, your scooter bike, cars (especially blue ones.  Mama when I grow up I am going to have a blue house, a blue race car and a blue truck.) and mud!
 You adore legos, marbles, blocks, and balls but not necessarily for building.  You love to sort them, organize them, rearrange them.  (note Ethan isn't building at the museum in this picture but rather taking the blocks apart and putting them into the right color piles).  I often think I have found the perfect toy/activity until I see you perfectly content going over and beyond what instructions ever say to do.  Rules, way too boring!  
 For statistics sake your growth is right on track.  Yesterday I went with you to your well child visit.  
Weight:  38.6 lbs (50%)
Height:  40 5/8" (50%)

Your iron levels are a little of a concern but after your mama and your sister's blood work I am not too worried.  We will just wait and see what comes next time we check.
 I interviewed you the other day.  Here are a few of your questions and answers:

Favorite Color?  Blue
Favorite Story?  Demolition
What do you want to be when you grow up? A fireman, a daddy and a plane driver
 Favorite Toy?  My squeeze spiderman because his arm goes up and down.
Favorite thing to do?  Play
 Favorite thing to eat?  Zucchini tutor tots (why you might ask?  Well, at the moment that is what was in front of him and well, he liked them.  Are they his favorite ever?  Well I could be a prideful mother and state, YES zucchini is my four year old's favorite food, but no.  The bottom line is Ethan loves to eat.  I am told most frequently that I am a great cook and he loves what I make him.  If a plate of pasta had been in front of him for dinner I am sure that might have been his answer.  Picking his favorite food for a birthday dinner was a hard one indeed.  In the end I am surprising him and he is pretty content with that.)
 Ethan you can be a boy who is very quiet about your destruction.  One minute I think you are playing well and the next something is shredded, mashed or you are covered in blue marker.  You keep me on my toes for sure.
 Ethan you love to help.  You feel too grown up to hold my hand across a parking lot or on the road but if I ask for protection, you are there in an instant.  
 You LOVE to be the family clown and love making people laugh.  Where Abigail can be a little shy you will walk right up to people, say hi and start to show off your latest antics regardless of if it is welcomed or not.
 What is your favorite fruit?  Strawberries, mandarine oranges, watermelon (and pretty much the list can go on and on.  He LOVES fruit)
What is your favorite dessert?  Old McDonald's ice cream
 Who are your friends?  Noah, Abigail, Naomi, Molly, Jacob, and Joel
 You love your sisters.  Oh, you certainly love your time away from them and just with a parent but they are your best friends every day.  The most popular game in this house is Mama, Daddy and Baby.  Different people take different roles frequently.
 As I mentioned I love that your days are full of play.  Homeschool with Abigail is great and you do your 5 minutes of calendar time with us each day very well.  But then you are ready to head out.  Wiggle, throw, jump and play.  Those are what fuel you right now.
 Each day I met by Super Ethan.  He will come (the bandana over the face is the mask) and save the day from Giants, monsters, and bad guys alike.  When present he is super helpful, protective and can run REALLY, REALLY fast.  Pants are usually present but not always necessary.  Cape - A must!
I have to say my little man I love this right here.  This start of 4.  This new year ahead holds so much.  This year you will be a cubby at AWANA.  You will start to do more chores and grow as a member of the family.  Four will be a time of more understand and I pray, more love.  You are probably going to break away from your sisters more towards other little boys and you will also help to be the glue that holds my three together.  The Lord has blessed us greatly with you and you are loved!

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...