October 20, 2017

Love This

Whenever people said their kids play games together, without the parents, I always would look at them with wonder.  I couldn't imagine the day when my kids would play a board game on their own.  Let me say folks, it is slowly arriving to this house.  I think part of the issue is Abigail doesn't love board games.  So as the oldest she isn't inclined to seek them out on their own.  Ethan on the other hand would spend all day, every day, playing a game.  Now that Naomi is getting old enough to join him these two are finding their way in the worlds of games without a parent.
No, the rules aren't always followed but you know what - that is OK.  Sibling game time, it is here.

October 19, 2017

Colors Of Fall

The snow may be here to stay in Fairbanks.  Sledding, snow gear and car ice scrapers have resumed this week.  But before we were covered in white, we celebrated fall a little bit.
The kids and I spent one afternoon getting "lost" in the woods for a couple hours.  Abigail kept trying to go home by herself as the walk went on and on but she didn't know the way.  The powers of parenthood and what we do to encourage our kids to find joy in the outdoors.  It wasn't all complaining as we did spend the two hours looking at, and collecting, our favorite leaves and colors of fall.
Once home we soaked our leaves in glycerin for a couple days to help them retain their color and flexibility.  Then we made a mobile out of a great stick Ethan carried home from our walk.  Hard to take a picture of something in a window but it does help us remember what leaves falling looked like as the outside world turns white.

October 18, 2017

Aunts Are The Best

A little video from our time in New York with Aunt Hillary.  Sometimes aunts do things that mama's would never do.

No one was permanently hurt in the making of this film.

October 17, 2017

Science Time - Dirty Hands

The other day, after being in town all day, I had the kids rub their hands on a piece of bread as a little science experiment.  
A week later we discovered who had the dirtiest hands and the answer sort of surprised us all.

Science is so fun, and a little gross at times too.

October 16, 2017

Columbus Day

Four weeks of studying the life of Columbus ended perfectly with last Monday, Columbus Day.  In that four weeks we had learned where he was born, what his father did, how he was ship wrecked, his life with his son, how he studied maps, astronomy, and geography, his search for someone to fund his journey, his 7 year wait for the funding, and of his four journeys across the Atlantic ocean.

After all that study I am not sure how much the kids really were going to remember.  So I decided to make Columbus day a fun day to help our memories.
Part of the celebration started early with our friend Jessica.  She came with all of the art supplies and made ships and spanish crowns with the kids to be worn at our dinner.  What an amazing friend she is.  She is so talented. 
We cooked all traditional spanish foods.
And invited a crowd to join us.  

Columbus Day 2017 - Spanish food, 3 boats as the center piece and good friends.  So fun to celebrate someone who was willing to take a chance to do something when no-one else believed he could.

October 13, 2017

4 Months

Last Sunday our little man turned 4 months old.  This has arrived along with a ton of milestones for him.  It seems he was watching the calendar because as soon as he turned 4 months he hit a growth spurt, became more aware of his surroundings, has started grabbing for toys, found his feet, and loves to babble and giggle.
I held off posting this 4 month picture until I had his statistics.  Yesterday was his well child check.  At 4 months and 4 days:
Weight: 15 lb and 1 oz (45%)
Height: 24.5" (45%)
Head: 44cm (99%) 

Yes, I do believe there are brains in that head!  How we love this little boy.  So many changes, adventures and milestones are before him.  But today, we hold him close!

October 11, 2017

More Wall Space

This summer I mentioned that one of our windows had a crack.  
 During the sunny days of summer Josh took the window out, framed up the wall and resided the outside of the house.  The inside, that could wait a little longer until Josh had time.
 Slowly the work was accomplished and soon the wall looked like this.  While we were gone on our trip Josh was going to finish it all up.
But we came home early and Josh worked a lot of hours.  Thankfully I can now tell you that the wall looks like this.  Such a difference and improvement.  It is nice to have a wall for a table or couch without blocking the window.  The window still has tools on the raw window frame but trim will come.  At least the drop cloths are picked up for now!!  Josh works so hard and so many hours in the summer.  House projects just have to wait for the winter months ahead.

October 10, 2017

We Have Found What Works

Audio books.  This girl loves them!  

October 9, 2017

Still Fresh

I have more September photos and events to blog about but want to take a quick minute today to marvel at these October pictures.
 I cannot believe that we are still getting fresh vegetables from the garden.  The snow might come this week but as of yet, a big freeze has yet to occur.  In all my years of gardening here in Alaska by October the garden is pulled and shut down for the year.  This year there is no need to pull and preserve the carrots and beets.
Nope, we are just pulling them and eating them fresh whenever we want.  They go great with the few tomatoes I am getting from the wilted plants in the greenhouse.  "Pull all garden plants" has been on the to do list for weeks now.  Yet it is hard to pull something that is still producing.  I know winter will come sometime soon, for now I am enjoying this last bit of summer that has stretched into a late fall.

October 6, 2017

Science and Art

This week a friend asked me how school was going.
 I was very pleased to be able to answer, "really well!"  This is not always the case and so my quick response made me stop and think about how life is going right now that makes it such a positive answer.  The kids still fuss and fight, Josh is still working a lot, I am still tired and balancing the needs of a newborn.
 Then I realized I am enjoying school more with the kids because we are doing a lot more of the "fun" school things.  Our schedule is pretty open and I find we have 4 mornings as week at home.  We are busy in town some afternoons and one morning but with a lot of mornings at home comes more time for the "fun" stuff.  Math, reading why those are necessary evils in the kids minds.  But this year we are fitting in art, spanish, history and science experiments frequently each week.
I look at friends that have their kids out a lot more and wonder if I am making the right call.  But I know I can't do it all and as I watch the kids enjoying science experiments each week, I realize a more relaxed schedule right now is fun for all.

First two pictures are the kids discovering liquids with different densities. 
Last picture is of art class where the kids drew on sandpaper and the image was then ironed onto another paper transferring the image.

October 5, 2017

Best Gift Ever

It is always fun for this geologist when my son gets a rock for his birthday.
 A rock from my dearest friend who knows me and knows that pulling my rock hammer out of storage makes for one great day.
 A gift that involves a talk on this history of volcanoes, lava, gas bubbles, evaporation and all of kids pounding and swinging rock hammers.
Geodes for the win.

October 4, 2017

A Love Of Reading

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 
— Emilie Buchwald

October 3, 2017

If Only You Could See It!

The return of darkness to Alaska has brought back the season for Northern lights.
Someday I will take better pictures but really, no matter what image I capture, it can't compare to the real thing.  Amazing beauty in the night sky!

October 2, 2017

A New Look

We have known for awhile that Naomi was in need of a haircut.  Yet her hair is so light and wispy.  I just wasn't confident enough to cut it like I have Abigail's thicker hair.
 As a result our Naomi has never had a haircut.  Josh started cutting Abigail's bangs early and we quickly learned that was a mistake.  Thus we have let Naomi's hair just do its thing.  
 Lucky for us I have a friend who used to be a hairdresser.  She was over the other day and in just a few minutes helped me out!
 The results are perfect.  Look at my grownup girl.  

September 29, 2017

Happy Friday

The days are long but the years are short!!
Next time I blog it will be October.  My oh my, where has this year gone?

September 28, 2017

A Gift of Taste

As things turned out, I didn't get to see much of my parents at all on our trip.  That was going to be for Florida.  This is the one hard part to accept.  But while we were playing in NJ they headed north to revisit the north country where I grew up in NY.  
The morning we left we got to see them a few short hours.  It was then they presented us with a huge bushel of early Macintosh apples from the orchard just down the road from my childhood home.  Oh what a taste, NOTHING compares.  So we filled half of one of my suitcase and those precious NY apples came home with us.  We are blessed to get "local" apples from Washington and Oregon State here in Alaska but for this NY girl, they will always be found just a little bit lacking.  Tastebuds certainly do bring back the memories of years gone by.  

September 27, 2017

It Was Possible

This post wraps up all I have to say about our big fall trip to the east.  It was such a good trip.  Yes, it was cut short by hurricane Irma and that is sad, so very sad.  Yet here at home we can dwell on what we missed or we can be thankful for what we had.  This crew is holding tight to thankful.  Hindsight is always 20/20 and when I look back on our days I am so very thankful we lived each and every one to the fullest.  We didn't sit around waiting for what was to come but grasped and enjoyed the people, places, things and events of each day.
All of that was possible due to my amazing sister that hosted us, cooked for us, cleaned our clothes, took us places, and asked what our wish list was and than made it come.  With each additional child we have chosen to add to our family, I have realized the less we are able to visit people.  What is crazy fun and normal life for us here at home isn't so wonderful to put upon someone else's home.  For my sister to make it possible to bring 4 little people into her home was so gracious of her.   
We showed up to a pack n' play, special kid requested food in the fridge, food for my diet, special soap for the baby's bath, diapers, events planned and all prepared.  A few days before we left for NJ I received a text from my sister that said, "I am so excited you are coming.  I can't wait to take care of you."  You know, as a mom I am always taking care of everyone.  To hear that someone was gearing up to take care of me, well it makes this mama want to cry.  

It is good to be home now.  Our days are full.  School is busy.  Fall is about over and winter is coming.  Our trip is a memory but one we talk about, laugh about and love remembering.  Just what all good trips should be.

September 26, 2017

Klynstra Kids In NYC

On our last day in New Jersey we woke to rain and my sister with a day off to spend with us.  We brainstormed a few ideas and landed on taking the kids into NYC to the museum of Natural History.
The great part of choosing the museum is that you take the train from New Jersey into Penn station switch to the the subway which takes us right to the door of museum.  A lot of underground travel but no above ground traffic to deal with.
We  went the day before school started in New York and New Jersey so to say the museum was crowded is an understatement but regardless, it was so much fun.
With so many exhibits we had to choose wisely as to where to go.  We picked dinosaurs first!!  And like our visit to the Statue of Liberty the day before, education went to the wind.  The trip itself was the education.  The kids didn't need to hear me talking when they had so much to see, touch and take in.
Because not only was the museum educational but the entire day.  Taking five kids and two adults on trains, subways, escalators, elevators and through tunnels is no easy task.  How lucky we were to have my sister along as a guide.  It was also fun for the kids to see how Aunt Hillary goes to work in the city three days a week.
A busy day in the city results in tired kids on the subway.  I have so many memories of visiting cities with my parents as a child and the exhausted feelings as we would ride the subways back to our hotels each night.  A city is so much fun but it is certainly nice to come home to the country!  Actually, as a result of our trip Ethan has now started to describe areas we go as country, town or city.  Once you have seen a place like NYC a town like Fairbanks doesn't seem like much but we are glad to call it home.

September 25, 2017

A Visit With Lady Liberty

High on my "east coast wish list" was time to take the kids to the statue of liberty. 
After returning to NJ from our weekend of family in Rochester, there was time for an adventure.
I took the kids from the NJ side of the river we got to see great views of the NYC skyline while enjoying our ferry rides.
This picture is for my uncle Jay who introduced the kids to Doritos on this trip.  It wasn't a hard sell, they loved them!
The kids and I had such a good day together.  There was so much I wished to teach them while we were on our visits to Ellis Island but I quickly realized this was a look and see sort of day.  A time for the kids to soak up all that was there and we would learn more at home on another quiet day.  There is so much a small mind can take in.  But we did it, we touched, listened, saw and put our feet right where millions of immigrants passed by.  
And after our Ellis Island visit we loaded onto the ferry once more for Liberty Island.
And once again we touched, marveled, learned, explored and climbed those steps!
They might not remember being there someday but I took a lot of pictures.  Showing the kids their world is one of my greatest joys.  90 degrees, alone with four kids, wearing the baby most of the day and in the crowds.  You know, it really was a great day.  A homeschool field trip day for the books!
And to finish off the day, I took the kids to my favorite restaurant on the East Coast.  Sharing things with the kids that were special to me when I was a kid.  Oh so fun!  Yeah for Friendly's restaurant and the sweet waitress who made this the best experience ever for the kids.  Wish we had a great place like this in Alaska, we might actually take the kids out to eat once in awhile.
Liberty, freedom, joy, exploration and a promise of hope and life's chances for all the tomorrows we have.  Our Lady Liberty shared her true meaning with all of my kids and I am thankful.  To see my kids walk where their great-great-grandmother walked as a little girl from Italy makes me lost for words.  How thankful I am to raise these kids in America.

September 21, 2017

Family Time

The entire trip to the east was planned for time with family.  
 Family I love and family who had yet to meet my kids.
As a parent there is so much joy in seeing people I love, love my kids. 
 And at the same time I get to watch my kids fall in love with this extended family of mine.
 We might live in Alaska but these kids are loved for just being part of this crazy crew.  What a blessing family is!
And a great-uncle who buys ice cream and lets you enter into the great family tradition of the chunky monkey ice cream passing.  Well, that is a memory that will live on forever as a reminder of how fun family reunions can be!

September 20, 2017

Hidden Treasures

When I travel I love to visit the museums, the statues, and the "known landmarks" of a city.  But my favorite things to find are parts of a town that are special to the people who live in that town.
 One of those parts of Fairport, NY is the public library.  My cousin sent me in this direction our first morning and I am so grateful.  My kids had so much fun.  Their library is above and beyond any I had been to.
The rest of our weekend in NY would find life busy, full of family, events and places to be but this first morning found us completely content.  Exploring, enjoying and being in a new place with treasures to find.