October 31, 2016

Halloween 2016

Halloween, it has arrived.   
 Last Tuesday I left the house with with wonder woman, spiderman and super Naomi.
 Friday came and I found myself with a gymnast, a train engineer and a "Naomi in a dress".  (How she described herself when people asked just who she was)
It has been an exciting week for the kids.  Carnivals and parties to enjoy.  Today they get to dress up and go to a puppet show story hour at the library.  Just who will I be leaving the house with, now that is a mystery until the very last minute.  These kids love the chance to dress up in whatever feels "right."  This mama, well I am looking forward to normal clothes tomorrow.  Let the fun go on for one more day!

October 28, 2016

Pumpkin Harvest

Last night was pumpkin night at the Klynstra house.  At the end of our garden season we had 6 pumpkins ripening in our windows.  By last night only one had a bad spot to cut out.
 So this year we had three for the kids to carve and three to clean, cut and roast for winter baking and enjoying.  Josh helped by doing the gut removal from the three for cooking.
 And the kids dug into their assigned pumpkins.  Last year my friend told me of the idea that instead of cutting the top off the pumpkins, you cut the bottom off and then just set them over the candle.  Since these three pumpkins grew a little funny, and thus had knobs at the bottoms, this was the year to try out the cut the bottom method. 
 The kids cleaned, the kids came up with their face designed and the kids carved.  (The big reveal will come on Halloween)  It was a fun time.
And in the kitchen the work goes on.  6 pans of pumpkin has been roasted and one pie and four loaves of pumpkin goodness have been made.  Here is to a winter of pumpkin goods ahead of us.

October 27, 2016

Disappointments That Weren't Minded Too Much

So the disappointments of Saturday started out simply with a cake mix.  Josh was home for the first time in four weeks for a normal Saturday.  We were all so very, very happy about that.
 I was starting the oven for Josh's lunch and decided to mix up a cake mix.  Seeing how I hadn't made a layered cake since last February I decided to make two rounds and decorate it, just because.  
 About this time I heard of the Alaska Federation of Natives were putting off fireworks that night.  We are pretty much a bedtime family but it sounded fun.  We hadn't seen fireworks since last new years eve and it wasn't -20, worth the effort.  Josh and I both called the visitors center and confirmed, at two different times, the location and time.  What a family outing this was going to be.  With fireworks on the brain I made my batch of frosting and we went with the theme.  What a joy for me to decorate a cake with no birthday person to surprise or disappoint.  Sort of a relief from the mama's point of view.
 The kids LOVED it.  Cake decorating with mama is so much fun.  And since we were all staying up late, extra sugar couldn't hurt too much.  
Even though bedtime is at 7 we headed to town at 9.  Fireworks were supposed to go off at 9:30.  We found a great spot.  Put up camp chairs, wrapped up the kids with tons of blankets.  Then we waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally at 9:52 we packed up and headed home.  To tell you the truth the kids were just enjoying the adventure but I was pretty disappointed.  As we got home around 10:15 we heard the fireworks go off for about four minutes as we hurried the kids inside to bed.  

Family outings, always an adventure but not something we were expecting this night at all.  When asked, the kids do say they went to see the fireworks but they just didn't get to actually see any.  To them it was an adventure with nothing much missed.  We aren't sure why the fireworks were 45 minutes late but winter solstice and new year's eve are just a few months away.  We will enjoy them then.  And maybe another cake will need to be made.

October 26, 2016

Art Class

Josh has been super busy with work so art has been mostly with mama.  Not so much a lesson but I do provide kindergarten and preschool art - crayons, they are my friends.  But over the weekend Josh was home and thus he and Abigail set out to have art class.
 They talked about how before photography people used to have to be outside to paint things in the right perspective or have people pose for hours or just paint still live.  Since photography one can take a picture and then learn to paint and draw it, lighting, angles and all at home later on.  Abigail looked through our books and decided to color and paint a picture of a fawn hiding in the grass.
Ethan is not our child that is all that interested in coloring and drawing but something about this picture was super exciting to him.  He chose a book on underwater animals and this boy started and couldn't stop.  He drew sharks, fish, coral and more.  It reminded me that sometimes we might want to write, sing, draw or dance but someone needs to just give us an idea first.  

This little art project might have been just one in Abigail and Josh's art book but I have a feeling this is something the kids and I can continue to do in the days ahead.  It is so fun to see the kids creating.

October 25, 2016

Important Decisions

As much as I, as an adult, might not like Halloween these kids love it.  And the decision of what these kids get to be is a big one they take very seriously.
 Last year Abigail knew for 5 months that she wanted to be strawberry shortcake.  Thus I invested in a costume for her.  But this year, the decisions aren't that easy or defined and thus the kids get to choose from their dress up drawer.  And before you feel sorry that I don't go out and buy my kids costumes, know that my kids have a very, very full and fun dress up drawer.
 And the ideas coming out of their drawer are so fun.  Ethan is pretty sure he wants to be spiderman (third year in a row, he loves it!).  But a fireman spiderman could work since hey, Halloween means you an be anything right!
The girls, they are having a harder time with their decisions.  So far Abigail is going between the tooth fairy and wonder woman, but little red riding hood is still in the running.  Naomi, she is a wild card.  Mostly declaring she is going to be super Naomi but a fire girl, spiderman, or many more possibilities.  One thing she is sure is that she doesn't want to be a princess, ballerina or barbie.  All of these statements make me laugh and drive Abigail crazy.  Two sisters who love each other but can be very different indeed.  With an Awana carnival tonight, mooseketeer party Friday and then Halloween next Monday the decisions are STILL being made.  The end result should be fun.

October 24, 2016

In Defense

The other day I helped the kids make shields.  Made from pieces of cardboard and rubber bands these shield were to help fight the "monsters" of the house.  
Stickers were brought out and images of super heroes, dragons, knights and armor soon covered the shields.  All was well and good in the house until suddenly one of the kids became the monster and this mama said nope.
So my valiant fighters were dressed in gear and sent outside to protect the house and fort from these dreadful monsters.  Unfortunately it was a cold day, even if it was just before the snow arrived.  The monsters were not fought for long, how we do miss our warm summer days.  But the swords and shields have been set aside and will be used once again to protect all we love. 

October 21, 2016


We are so in love with our school room/guest room/toy room, and of late, dance room.  The little cd player was originally purchased for the use of Abigail listening to audio books while she practices her handwriting.  She loves this time and it helps her focus so much better on what is in front of her.  (Aka a lot less doodling).  Recently I introduced the kids to the music cds at the library.  Thankfully they moved them from the adult cd section right to the children's room.  Each week when we go to pick up books the kids now get to also pick up music.  Disney, kids rhymes, old dance tunes (YMCA has suddenly become popular to my three), and more fills this house at all hours.  

School desk pushed aside, guest bed tucked up in the murphy bed our of the way and toy stored.  This room is just what we need for the long winter days ahead.

October 19, 2016

Tastes of Summer Go On

The weather here is cold.  Majority of our days, and all of our nights, are below freezing.  The river has floating ice and yesterday I saw kids ice skating.  The funny thing is we don't have snow.  Instead we have super dry air.  So dry in fact that I read Juneau, Alaska has beaten out Fairbanks for having snow first in over 70 years.  

And with the lack of snow comes the kids question of is it fall or is it winter?  The temperatures certainly mean hats, gloves, boots and coats but to Ethan he isn't convinced.  If there is no snow on the ground then running free in a summer fleece is all he needs.  I do believe I need to hide that coat!
But regardless of the weather outside, and the fact that we haven't had a garden in over a month, we are still eating fresh inside.  Most meals at our house are accompanied by beets and carrots cooked slowly all day in the crock pot.  And no matter how many times I put this dish on the table I love to hear the kids exclaim, "Yeah, we love beets."  No matter the weather, that makes me feel like a pretty happy mama indeed.  Soon our fresh food stash will be gone and we will dig into the set aside freezer and canned goods but for now, this keeps summer going inside a little bit longer.

October 18, 2016

Almost 6

Whenever Abigail sees someone outside of the house, known to her or stranger, she is quick to say, "I am almost 6."  Oh it saddens me, please my girl stay 5 longer.  Months longer.  Years longer.  5 has been wonderful and even though I have a few more months to hold on to it I am not ready to let it go.
 But getting older is coming.  A desire to parent her siblings, cook meals, be in charge.  These things fuel my girl.  And with all this mental growth her little being is growing too.  This girl right now doesn't have one but three loose teeth.  The first day we discovered this I will be honest, I cried.  These sweet little teeth will be gone before we know it.
This mama might be holding back but I can tell you of one happy girl that can't wait for her first visit from the elusive tooth fairy.  It will be here before we know it.

**And happy Alaska Day to all of my fellow Alaskans and state employees.  Enjoy your much deserved day off!**

October 17, 2016

The Season

Right now I am in a season of hard.  I have been sick to slightly sick for over a month.  The weather has turned cold, enough for snow gear but no actual snow to enjoy.  The day to day activities have moved inside.  My kids are busy taking turns being sick.  School is going well but no matter the field trips and fun sometimes my girl just don't WANT to do school and well, it has begun.  Ethan acted out yesterday when he was out of my care and why is it siblings fight?  
How I love these kids and how gray tomorrow looks at the moment.  This is a season, I know.  When a mama is down the kids get down and well, Daddy working overtime and busy on the job right now doesn't help a ton.  Josh was able to be home a few mid-day hours on Sat. and Sunday and we actually sat on the couch and had a conversation for the first time in what felt like weeks.  A conversation that was more then the laundry list of what you HAVE to know to keep this family going.  But sampling should wrap up for him soon.  Something new will be discovered in school that makes us smile.  Antibiotics will kick in and my sleepless little one will start to be rested and well.  Snow will come and with it the outside world will be interesting once again.

But for today, here we are.  Just getting through another season.  Not very blog worth but honest.  Today, that is the best I can do.

October 13, 2016

His Space

Since all three kids share a room I try and find ways to give them special places in the house just for them.  Nooks here and there.  Years ago Abigail got her special place, the closet of the guest room.  Ethan was given a special box on the toy shelf full of just his things.  But I have been looking and looking for a place to give him.  
For his 4th birthday we gave him a work bench.  Josh then cleaned out the area by the wood stove.  The gate to the wood stove keeps out unwanted sisters, when he wants, and gives him a place to go and work on his tools, just like daddy.  It isn't a room of his own but this little place has become Ethan's special place and he is very pleased indeed.  (Since by the wood stove shirts are optional for him, like daddy.  Their work location has a issue with overheating in the winter months;-)

October 12, 2016

Childhood Memories

I grew up in New York.  Northern New York, apple country.  Growing up we could go down to the orchard most of the year and buy a bushel of Macintosh apples for very little money.  Apple salads, fruit salads, apple pies, apple crips, fresh, baked, and applesauce.  We ate, and loved, it all.  Since moving to Alaska I have eaten Rainer, pink lady, fuji, gala, red delicious, honey crisp and more but I have not had a macintosh apple in years.
The other day, at the very bottom, of the discount bin I saw an apple that gave me pause.  I picked it up, looked at the sticker and gave a huge shout for joy.  In my hand was an organic macintosh apple from Canada.  (I grew up so close to Canada it kind of felt like these were the very apples that grew down the road from my house as a child.)  I was maybe making a bit of a scene, even for me.  I texted my sister and mother right away.  These apples, after 14 years!  The crispness, the taste, the look, the click of the knife as it cuts through the tough skin but the super smooth flesh.  That pure whiteness of the inside of a mac.  Nothing like it folks, nothing.  With one little apple I was back in NY, a young girl and sitting down to a bowl of apple sauce over a pork chop in my mother's kitchen decorated with strawberries.  

So I gathered up my apples and joyfully brought them home.  I went right to work cutting them up and making an apple pie.  Then I let the family each have a small piece and then maybe, just maybe, I kept it tucked away and enjoyed each bite of my childhood memories in the days to follow.  You might laugh but to me macintosh apples were the essence of growing up.  In this big wide world of being a grownup and living a life of responsibilities it was really great to take a bite and be carefree once again.

October 11, 2016

Super Kids

Years ago I sewed a super cape for my niece, then a couple years later my nephew.  Lucky for me all those years ago I was just getting into sewing and bought way too much fabric for that one, then second, cape.  This perfect weight for flowing and hanging fabric lives on.  Four years ago Abigail got her super Abigail cape.  Then two years ago it was Ethan's turn.
The kids wear these capes quite frequently.  I love it.  In other capes they are spiderman, batman or such.  But these mama made caps make them into Super Abigail and Super Ethan.  Naomi loves to play along and loves to call herself Super Naomi but at the same time she is trying to borrow one of the other kids caps to do this.  Ahh, that third child - someone is being left out problem.
The other day the super powers were in full force and surprisingly I didn't have a million things on my plate.  I stopped, pulled out that pile of well used fabric and took inventory.  But alas, those completely overly large fabric pieces of 9 years ago had gotten small.  I was going to have to work a little magic for our Naomi.  I am always thankful for my serger but it is times like this that it saves the day.  Not enough fabric for one cape, I can piece two pieces together and make this work.
Like most two year olds Noami isn't too sure of her cape.  She still prefers to wear Ethan or Abigail's but it is slowly growing on her.  Being super is pretty hard work, it is good to be outfitted in just the right things to make super turn out to be super wonderful.

October 10, 2016

Harvest Continues

The garden was pulled weeks ago but the work inside continues.  We always keep our beets and carrots fresh for quite sometime each fall.  But then the day comes when the work must be done.  Cleaning, chopping and blanching carrots for the freezer.  Those things happened here at our house last week.
Most of the purple carrots are still fresh and we enjoy eating those, because hey - eating purple things is fun for kids!  The regular old orange carrots were all processed.  Another little bit of summer tucked away for the winter months ahead.

October 7, 2016

Learning To Give

One program the kids and I like to be involved in is the backpacks for foster kids.
We fill a backpack with clothes, games, toys, books, crayons, hair brushes, toothpaste, shampoo and a pillowcase.  All the things that a child going into a new home might need and then take with them on their journey.  Each of my kids help me to fill a bag appropriate to the age that they are, thus relating a little bit to the child in need.  This is our second year in giving bags and the kids are really getting into it.  The part that stood out this year is the conversation we had before the delivery.
Teaching the kids what a foster child is and why they have been taken from their home is hard for this age to understand.  As gentle as I can I explain that some mommy and daddies can't take care of the kids so the kids are taken away to live somewhere else.  Abigail turns to me and in a shocked voice says, "you mean we pack backpacks for kids who have been kidnapped?"  

So understanding might not be there completely.  Hopefully the lesson of generosity is at least being learned.

October 6, 2016

One On One

Last week Josh drove to Soldtona to visit his parents for a few days.  He took Ethan and Abigail with him.  That left me home with just one child, something that hasn't happened in four years since Ethan was born.
This girl and I had a few great days.  She could "help" me cook with no fighting over who could lick the spoon.
She took a long nap the first day and even went out to Women's dinner with me that night.  We brought the "golden snitch" cake pops for the Harry potter themed dinner.
She enjoyed a lot of water exploration those few days.  Something about one child making a mess is so much more manageable then three kids making a mess.
All meals of the day were really simple.  No fighting conversation and simple meals that one particular child likes.  
And while most of the family was gone I reorganized summer clothes to winter, completely changed up the school room and moved the basement around as well.  Naomi was my happy and constant companion.  When we were changing the clothes around she found my bra and was so excited to create a baby carrier for Laura out of it.  

How wonderful it was to see that white truck pull back into the driveway and to have our family complete.  But those few days were special.  One-on-one time, always a good thing for mamas and children a like.

October 5, 2016

Hanging On

A couple weeks ago Abigail had a friend who's birthday party was at a local climbing wall gym.  Now there is a climbing wall in our basement and one at our children's museum but those are pretty basic.  This was going to be her first time in climbing shoes, taller walls (but no harnesses, this is more of a bouldering location), and lots of holds to choose from.
I was at this party with a lot of 5 year old mothers that were all a little besides themselves watching their kids on the wall.  But our Abigail, she didn't disappoint.  This girl is her father's daughter for sure; 1/2 monkey.
And after a hour or so her little arms and legs couldn't take anymore.  What a fun thing this was for her and just something that she and Josh can enjoy together this winter.  We will see but one thing is for sure, this girl is brave and strong!

October 4, 2016

That Autumn Look

When the pumpkins, and a few plants, are pulled out of the garden they are most certainly not ripe yet.  But thanks to our beautiful big windows and plenty of fall sunshine, plus the heat from the wood stove, those pumpkins grow orange before our eyes.  Since this picture was taken all but one of the pumpkins that were green or yellow have ripped into orange and the plants are thriving.  
Fall decorations that are the best and easiest I can find!

October 3, 2016

A Lesson On Perspective

Josh came home the other day on a more normal time than we often see in the summer/fall.  With a hour or so before dinner I asked if he would like to give Abigail an art lesson.  The thought sounded good to him but he needed to take her to a river.  The one he had in mind was just a short drive away and then a little walk.  Time with daddy is always a special thing so the younger two kids weren't too keen on seeing him drive away with Abigail after just getting home.  So with a few minutes to prep dinner we all loaded up in the car and headed out on a spontaneous family adventure.  
At the river Josh and Abigail spent the time they needed on learning the art of drawing pictures through different perspectives.  
The other two kids and I spent our time climbing the hills around the Great Alaskan Pipeline and throwing rocks into the stream.  It was relaxing, spontaneous, and made dinner just a little bit late.  Overall, one of my favorite kind of outings!

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...