May 23, 2017

Lonely Hours

I don't have a lot to say today.  This week is a little cooler and rainy.  Makes me realize how much energy I get from the sun.  Josh is into his summer schedule at work.  How we love those winter work weeks of 40 hours and daddy home in the afternoon.  But alas spring and summer sampling events have started and for a chemist that is the reason for most of what he does.  
It does make me realize how much I look forward to seeing him and talking to him at the end of the day.  I am thankful for the week mother was here.  Made those days go by without being lonely.  Hard to think of someone lonely all the while being surrounded by little people who are talkative and loving and loud but it happens.  We fill our days with each other, friends, visits and more but does make family time all the more special.  Last week we just sort of ran off the adrenaline of my mother's visit.  This week I think on it and wish it was coming up instead of ending.  Good visits are like that and I am thankful.

May 22, 2017

Planter Box Complete

The last post on our new rhubarb planter box was a little lacking.  Due to all our summer fun and work I haven't had a chance to share, not only the finished box, but the fact that it is now full of rhubarb.
 The key to transplanting rhubarb is to move it before it really starts to bud.  The plant goes through enough stress in the move.  My mother is an excellent plant transplanter.  She holds none of the unknown, tentative, I am going to destroy this plant mentality that I have.  So happy she was here to help me out.  We dug up, chopped up and moved huge chunks of rhubarb from its old home into its new home.  The split up pieces ended up being plentiful enough that we went from three plants to four and even had enough to share with a friend to start her rhubarb garden.
And since then the great summer weather we have been having has taken care of the rest.  One thing rhubarb needs is lots of water.  I learned this the hard way after the one dry summer we had.  Usually we get enough rain that it takes care of itself but on the drier days we need to help it out a little.  Lucky for me the new planter box is high enough off the ground that little people don't walk through it.  But it is also low enough that one of the new chores for the kids is that they get to fill a bucket with water from the greenhouse and then water our newly growing plants.  A great chore and activity that is fun, because really anything that involves water is fun.

Two weeks in and the rhubarb is budding and looking great.  We won't get huge plants this year but that is to be expected.  So excited for our new yard change and progress.

May 19, 2017

Friday - 2017 Garden Update

When my mom was visiting last week we did a lot of preparing to garden planting.  But even with the early summer feel to the air it wasn't time to plant just yet.  Her last day was Monday and she took the time before her flight left to help me move all of my starts out of the house, down the deck steps, out into the greenhouse and then completely cleaned up my living room.  What a job that was, I am so thankful for her help!  As she departed she mentioned that she always did love those "Friday garden updates" on the blog.  

So with that intro we start into this year's garden season and a return of the garden progress each Friday.  
 With all of the plant starts in the greenhouse, I saw no reason not to get the cucumbers and tomatoes into their soil since the greenhouse was their last stop.  So Tuesday I tilled and fertilized all of the planter boxes and slowly filled up each one.  The tomatoes and cucumber plants are now all set into place.  I also filled one box with parsley seed and the other with basil.  Yeah for next year's pesto ingredients!  

The soil in the greenhouse is so dry after freezing all winter and then drying out in the spring sun.  No watering means dry and rock hard planter boxes to dig and till up by hand.  The main advantage is that this type of planting doesn't involve me on my knees, yeah for that.  Although a big yuck for all the black dirt I have been blowing out of my nose ever since from that dry dust, ha ha.
 Also on Tuesday we received our next big step in getting the outdoor garden ready.  A dump load of fresh new gardening dirt.  Oh what a fun day it is when a dump truck comes to visit.  The kids have talked about it ever since.  And a fresh pile of soft and fertile soil.  Ethan has gotten in trouble ever since because no matter what I do, I can't seem to keep him out of it.  Nothing, and I mean Nothing, is more fun in his mind than that is.  Josh and I look at all this nice new dirt being compacted and spread around the driveway and don't get that excited.  Oh the everlasting problem of adult responsibilities vs. a child's joy and imagination.  As disappointed as Ethan is, I am going to win out on this one though!  That dirt is next fall's vegetables.  Someday he will understand.  I will just have to put "taking Ethan to sand dunes for reckless jumping" on the family to do list for his childhood.
And this is a picture of this year's garden as of last night.  If you have followed the blog for long you know we are expanding the garden this year.  Adding about 1/2 as much more area to plant in.  Last fall Josh pulled all the fence out in preparation.  He also cut and removed as much of the grass sod as he could from the area in front of the preexisting garden.  Now that we are into the replanting mode he has spent the early part of the week building up the retaining wall another railroad tie higher.  On Wednesday I laid a thick layer of newspaper and thin layer of dirt all over the new growing area.  We find the paper helps keep weeds down and also composts over the years.  With this pregnant belly of mine the work went very slow and took all day.  Yet my little bit of progress did mean that Josh could come home to ground ready to be covered and filled in.  The past few nights have seen Josh throwing shovel full of dirt up into the garden and pushing huge wheel barrow loads up and in over and over and over again.  I know he is out there just wishing he had heavy machinery that could do the job in seconds.

The plan for tonight and this weekend is intense but if I share it all now what joy will anyone find in next Friday's garden update??  The baby is coming soon - our 2017 garden is top priority around here!

May 18, 2017

Summer Fun

There are a lot of parts of summer that just aren't fun.  Like when mama is very concerned about getting the garden planted before a baby.  The past few days have been intense and busy work.  The kids and I are outside ALL day but mama isn't necessarily playing with the kids.  A hard combo.  We are all doing fine and I promise that it is just garden week and really, this has to be done!!
 But when Grandma was here last week.  Well that was a different story.  Even if mama had something to do the kids still got lots of attention.
 One very fun thing was to treat grandma to a tea party in the tree house.  The house was built last summer when Grandma couldn't visit and during her January visit, well it was just cold.
Old cranberries, grass, fake food and pretend tea.  Grandma enjoyed each "mouthful".  I love seeing the joy on the kids faces as I write this post because it reminds me of where we will be next week (me playing with the kids again) - after this garden is put in.  A time for everything, hard as that might be.

May 17, 2017

Where I Stand

Ahh Summer.  This wonderful time of year when the chore list is long and we are thankful that we have a daddy made playground in our side yard.  Ethan's big accomplishment of the year is learning to pump on his swing solo - wonderful!!  He and Abigail swing half of everyday.  
And with that what I hear from my little miss is, "Please mama push me, push me, push me."  So where the swings don't really let me get more projects done, it does let me spend time with the kids.  Swing set conversations are the most hilarious by far!

May 16, 2017

11 Years

Last Saturday Josh and I celebrated 11 years of marriage.  With grandma in town we were able to slip away for a wonderfully restful 24 hours.
How truly blessed I am that God brought this man into my life.  Honestly, it can only be the Lord that makes each year better than the last.  What a wonderful journey we are on together.

May 15, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

I have been away from the blog for longer than I think I ever have been.  Life has been so busy and full with a wonderful guest in town that time on the computer has just not been important.  Tonight I downloaded over 300 pictures.  What a fun week we have had.
 Lots of time as a family and the chance to celebrate mother's day with my four great kids and my husband who made the day so special.
And extra icing on the cake was my mother by my side.  It has been 11 years since we have celebrated mother's day in person together.  What a special year this will always be.
Time to celebrate with my children that have made me a mother and with my mother who has taught me what to do.  

May 9, 2017

Progress

Part of building a big planter box is filling it.  When you get something as big as we are looking at it can mean a whole lot of dirt.  Now we could have put something low to the ground but honestly it is easier to have it high - plus this planter box seconds as a fence for the yard.  Thus it is several feet high, lots of dirt.
So to help combat this we have worked to fill about half of the box with rocks and gravel.  Going out and finding rocks and gravel can be a big job but also a perfect one to involve little people in.  The family that works on yard projects together all enjoy the lawn more later on.  At least that can be the hope, right?

May 8, 2017

What Was, What Will Be

Well everyone, I have news.  The projects of the summer have finally begun.  We officially have moved past the planning, talking and preparation stages into the hours of work.  Well, Josh has.  
Project #1:  Our center planter box/weed area has been an area of discussion for sometime.  The decision this year is to pull the rhubarb plants out (the only good thing growing here) and take out the planter area all together.
So before the rhubarb starts sprouting for the year it has to be moved.  Josh has taken down the birch fence that once ran along the edge of the grass area (aka the fence that protects our well cap from delivery trucks) and is replacing it with a large and established planter box.  In it we will plant not only the rhubarb but hopefully strawberries as well.  We have always wanted to do strawberries but really don't want them in the main garden where they can take over.  Growing in and around rhubarb plants works much better.
And when daddy has a project to work on nothing else is as much fun as watching.  Josh gets lots of company, "help" and interference these days.  

Summer 2017 has begun.

May 5, 2017

Look, We Can Make Mud

Can I just say that watching the kids play for hours with an old pot, shovel, and mud puddles makes me smile so big.
Favorite activity - mixing the few patches of dry dirt we have with water and making more mud.  Their minds certainly work differently than mine but hey, that is part of the joy of having the imagination of a child.

I will just be over here smiling as I listen to their play all the while washing more laundry.  I wasn't kidding when I wrote Monday's post!

May 4, 2017

Unknown Preparation

As a geologist I am inclined towards the earth and the non-living parts of it.  Certainly dynamic, but non-living.  My mother, she leans much more towards the biology and living end of the science world.  The flowers, trees and bushes around her house are full, well thought out, cared for, attended too and admired.  When I was a child she would take us on expeditions where we would pick armfuls of flowers, dig up shrubs, work at pruning bushes and more for hours.  I loved being with my mother and would always go along but honestly, these were never my favorite things.
But God has blessed me with a daughter who is growing up to be very much like her grandma.  Right now our world is still very grey, brown and bland.  Yet, as we wait for the leaves on the birch trees to start budding we do get to enjoy the first signs of spring growth - the pussy willows.  Abigail is completely enthralled.  She begged me for days to go on an expedition with her to find pussy willows to cut and fill our home with.  Busy with other things I put her off for a few days but seeing her real "need" for this we headed out one day, just the two of us.  Our big adventure took us no more then 1 1/2 miles from our home but together we drove all along the roads and than ventured into a near by gravel pit to find the much longed for pussy willow branches.  Since moose also love these treats we had to bend a lot of very tall willow trees to clip a few twigs here and there.  But together we filled a vase with pussy willows and my daughter glowed.  I didn't mention to her any of my childhood thoughts as we ventured out together, this was her trip not mine, but my mind was full the whole time.  Laughing at myself and at how God prepares us for things when we don't even know it.  I know how to look, cut and bring home a whole lot of lovely living nature from the days I spent watching my mother gather and enjoy.  Maybe all those years ago I wasn't completely engaged in what we were doing but I was learning.  How very blessed I am to have the knowledge to teach Abigail and see her enjoy the things that she loves so much.  Plus I am pretty lucky that my mother is usually available to answer a text question or two if I have forgotten just the best way to proceed.    

May 3, 2017

Craft Season

It is so much easier for me to say "yes" to the kids when they ask for crafts when the work all takes place outside.  The other day there was a request for painting.  Painting inside with walls, carpet, walking to the bathroom and more is just too hard to manage with three kids.  Josh does it, me - well I am not as inclined.  Painting on the deck where a bucket of water can wash away anything dropped or splattered - perfect.
There are so many, many reasons we love the deck days of summer.  Additional craft time is certainly near the top of the list.

May 2, 2017

Now That Looks Better

Last month I planted our tomato and cucumber starts.  They have been growing great but honestly, the presence of just 2 1/2 flats was pretty pitiful when you think of the size and extent of our garden.  It is always a good feeling when the week of "a lot of planting" occurs and things start to look a little more rounded out.
Last week saw the addition of 72 broccoli, 48 cauliflower (a combo of cheddar and purple), 8 pumpkin and 6 zucchini starter seeds being planted.  The peas and bean will be started in egg cartons in the greenhouse within the next 10 days or so but for now, our indoor nursery is looking good.  

May 1, 2017

Tis The Season

Some people in Alaska don't call spring "spring".  Instead they call this time of year "break-up" as the ice and snow piles break apart.  The combination of snow melting away and living on land that is mostly not established into a lawn means a lot of mud.  So for me, I just might call this season "laundry time".
This time of the year is really wonderful.  I love how the kids and I spend hours upon hours outside.  Temperatures above freezing but still very few mosquitos to bother our play.  If only I didn't have to cook I could be outside more!  As a result, the end of every single day finds me with a dirty clothes hamper at the door.  The kids strip each and every piece of clothing off before entering and walking through the house.  With the presence of puddles, Ethan actually performs this ritual 2-3 times a day.

Each night I program a load of laundry to be finished as we wake in the morning.  If I miss one or two days I really am overwhelmed!!  But I do love how all those loads of clothes now dry on the lines outside instead of in.  The long daylight hours mean the electric company doesn't see us using our lights but we most certainly are using the washer and the boot drier.  How thankful I am for our trusted boot drier.  Letting the kids get soaked in puddles every day and then having all they need to start fresh and dry the next morning to enjoy life once again!  Spring, Break-up, Mud Season or Laundry time.  Doesn't matter what it is called - we are there and we are loving it.

April 28, 2017

Discoveries

It is so fun to see the daylight hours stretch out longer and longer.  To feel the sun warm our skin more and more.  To be outside, comfortably, for more hours upon hours each day.
And fun to hear shouts of joy from the kids when they discover things that the snow slowly uncovers.  The other day it was the sandbox, still full of random pots and pans left over from last fall's play season.  These crazy kids played in the box for hours.  Our little sandbox that was originally built for one 16 month old is really becoming too small for three growing kids.  Yet regardless, these three didn't bat an eye at the cramped conditions.  Only joy has been found in old toys refound! 

April 27, 2017

The Season Begins

The end of last week brought our new summer hive of bees.  
Since I am not really in the position to be stung, or even wear the bee coat, Josh has graciously step up to take on this job until the baby arrives.  A pretty big deal since Josh would really rather be anywhere else than surrounded by thousands of bees each time he opens the hive.
And since Josh needed a little help with establishing the hive, the kids and I took on the role of baby-sitters for our neighbor's great-granddaughter.  He helped Josh and we helped him by watching the baby he takes care of.  It was so fun to see how the balance of four kids was for part of a day.  Bottom line, when I brought out the "baby" toys the kids were really more interested in those than the baby herself.  Adding a baby of our own soon should bring an interesting dynamic for sure.

April 26, 2017

School Time Chores Live On

She might be homeschooled but there are just some school chores a student can't avoid.
Cleaning out the chalkboard eraser.  A much loved and hated job for all students, mine included.  At least in our small classroom there is only one chalkboard and one eraser.  


April 25, 2017

Watching Snow Melt

Poor Josh.  This springtime season is so hard on him.  The to do list for the summer is so long and he is as prepared as he can be.  Cut lists for wood, price lists from different stores for the wood, tools set aside and then the waiting begins.  Watching snow melt, never a fun activity when you want the ground to be thawed and ready to work.  Each day finds him outside throwing snow out of piles to melt faster, using an ax to chop frozen dirt and prying railroad ties off of each other where they have been frozen together.
Come July we will be so tired of all the projects but this waiting and anticipating period - so hard on the patience for sure.


April 24, 2017

Easter Egg Hunt - Alaskan Style

I am not sure how I missed posting these pictures last week when I talked about Easter.  But regardless, I don't want to miss out remembering these smiling faces last Sunday.
Three years ago I took the kids to one of the many Easter egg hunts in town and was traumatized by the craziness, pushing, noise, grabbing and dashing that occurred.   The kids were too and we came out of the situation with panicked looks and one egg.  
Since then we decided that conducting our own hunt, in our own yard, for our own kids was the best way to do it.  Slow, calm, fun and full of laughter.  
One jelly bean every few colored eggs, hidden in and amongst the white snow and white birch trees make for a burst of spring time color.
The kids love it, Josh and I love it.  It is a fun tradition, even if Easter sunday is cloudy and 34 degrees.  Childhood memories and experiences - always trying to keep them simple and fun.

April 21, 2017

Right Where You Are

I love that our school room/toy room/guest room is right off the kitchen.  If it were in the basement or upstairs I really do believe it would ever be used.  But being as it is right there, near the hub of all life's business, it is always busy as we are all in and out of it together.  (Love that it is close enough to hear a pot of water boil or the oven beep.)  But really, sometimes that is even too far away.
I snapped this picture the other day when I was working on cooking something that involved hot oil, thus no kids being invited to come join in.  I might be just one wall away from the school room but that wasn't close enough.  Spanish books, puzzles, letter writing, picture drawing, dancing and acrobats all occur in the kitchen when that is where mama is.  I often wish our house was laid out in a manner that I could fit a kitchen table IN the kitchen since even the other side of the raised bar is too far away.  Josh always laughs at this because when he is alone with the kids he says he often has to go looking for them.  They scatter.  But how blessed, and honestly tired, I am that where I am - there too will be the kids.  Thus I need to find more outdoor projects to do as I wait for the snow to melt because it is too nice this week for these kids to be in!!  Garden days are coming.


April 20, 2017

Safety First

When it comes to spring in Alaska, break-up and melting, we each approach the change of weather in a slightly different way.
This girl ventured out to puddle jump with her safety goggles on.  I guess it is good since we never know just how far that mud will fly!

April 19, 2017

For The Baby

Each week that goes by is one that is closer to our time of meeting our new little man.  We are all so excited.  There are so many things that really need to be done.  Several of those projects are in the laundry room.  I found myself in there the other day determined to clean it up so that I could sew the bibs, fix the elastic on cloth diapers and fix a bumper pad that really need to be accomplished.  Yet instead I found myself pausing when I found my big spool of rope, uncovering my machine of all necessary mending and pulling out some of this and that variegated thread just asking to be used up.  
What a peaceful project it was to sew a few little baskets to sit on Zachary's changing table.  A place for his hairbrush, onesies, diaper pin or lotion.  A little something just for him.  Oh I still have the other projects to do but now the days are getting sunny and it is getting oh so hard to make myself go into my dark laundry room to accomplish them.  Maybe one of these evenings I will feel inspired.  But for now Zachary does have one thing to his name, even if no changing table is even assigned to him yet.  There is still time, excited as we might be, plenty of time. 

April 18, 2017

Something New

I saw a picture awhile back of a fun Easter idea and decided to go for it.
Josh took Ethan with him to our church's men's breakfast on Saturday so it was a perfect time to do something special with "just the girls".  
We spent our time making an "empty tomb" cake.  Using just things we had on hand (thus the yellow and green jelly beans.  We at least picked out all pink, purple and blue ones).
It was a fun thing to do and gave us time to talk about how we get to celebrate an empty tomb on Easter.
Our civil war play mobile soldiers might not look like Roman centurions but regardless the story doesn't change.  What a wonderful promise it is to us all.  The tomb is empty and Jesus conquered death.



April 17, 2017

Easter 2017

 What a wonderful day we had.  So much to rejoice in and celebrate.  God's promise fulfilled, the promise of life reborn and the reminder of a God who loves.
Best day of the year by far!

April 14, 2017

Colors Of Easter

This has been a fun year for Easter for us.  Abigail, and mostly Ethan, are really starting to "get" the importance of this holiday.  I love when we can move beyond jelly beans and baskets to purpose and understanding.  Not that the candy and baskets aren't super fun to enjoy as well but grasping the gift of Life and salvation - amazing.
 Miss Naomi of course keeps us grounded and helps us to remember that even though the big kids get it, most holidays are still "new" each year to her.  When I mentioned this week we were going to dye eggs Abigail and Ethan cheered.  Naomi answered, "why?"
 And so we were able to take her on the journey of just why we dye eggs.  How we cook them first, how we prepare the dye and how the colors of spring come out on each pretty egg shell.
 One thing about dying eggs with kids, they don't absorb the color fast enough!  So yeah for coloring the eggs first.  I mostly helped Naomi with her name, flowers, faces and more.  Ethan was intent on only using a white crayon so it would appear like magic and Abigail set out to create a different story on each egg.
All in all it was a wonderful time and I have to admit, an activity I love to enjoy on the deck.  At almost 3 I hope that Naomi is able to tuck this memory into her mind so that next year she can join in the anticipation of all this Easter season brings.  Jesus is risen, He is risen indeed.

April 13, 2017

Lunch Time

Cooking with Abigail, apart from her creating desserts, can be a slight challenge since all she really longs for are the sweets.  But in weeks past she has made a dinner of beans and rice by herself and lunch for herself and her siblings. 
 When I tell her that on such a such day she is going to be the cook, what would she like to make, she often wants to go complicated.  It is good for me, and her, to realize some meals can be good and easy and at 6 that is really where we should be at anyway.
I love these lessons.  How to use a knife, read a cookbook, prepare a meal in plenty of time before everyone is starving, and feeling proud of what is placed on the table.  What a good little student I have.  

April 12, 2017

Girls' Weekend 2017

Heather and I met while we were both attending UAF.  I married an Alaskan man and built a house in Fairbanks.  She married an Army man who moved her away.  In the 6 1/2 years we have not lived in the same town we have done everything we can to connect.  While she lived in Washington, I would make multi-city plan tickets and visit on my way to or from Fairbanks and Austin, Texas.  But then her husband switched to the Coast Guard from Army life and they moved to North Carolina and try as we might, we couldn't get together.  Last year they moved to Kodiak, Alaska (an island in the Aleutian Island chain of Alaska).  She arrived in February and we had our first girls' weekend in March.  The kids and I ventured down to Kodiak last July.  But since then I have become pregnant with my number 4 and she has HAD her number 4.  It was time to get together once again.
Last Friday I drove to Anchorage and she, and her precious baby Abigail who just turned 4 months old, flew from Kodiak to Anchorage.  We met and had three wonderful days together.  We got outside, we shopped, we relaxed, we wandered, we talked and talked and talked and ate great food.  How thankful we are to our husbands who gave us this time and for God who has kept our friendship strong and healthy through all these years.  We might live far away from each other but we do live in the same state, for now.  It is something we are both excited about and won't take for granted ever.  How fun it was for us to both have one little baby to attend to and open days of uninterrupted conversations.  Girls' weekend, what a blessing indeed!


April 11, 2017

Love

How thankful I am for many things in life; Josh being at the top of the list.  I am just getting back into the swing of things today after stepping away all weekend to have a girls weekend in Anchorage with my best friend from Kodiak, AK.  
This man took care of the kids, house, life and chores while I rested, talked and rejuvenated.  What a blessing to be so supported and loved.

April 10, 2017

2016 Harvest When The Time Is Right

Last summer was busy, as they all seem to be.  Camping, chickens, playgrounds, sunshine, travel, gardening, harvesting and more.  Summer in Alaska is a precious and short time.  Thus when the raspberries were picked there really wasn't too much time for jam during that busy season.  
 But the other day I opened the last of the older jars of jam and I knew there would be a need for a new batch soon.  
 That and a new season of picking, harvesting, and summer sun will be upon us before we know it and this year we get to add a new baby to the mix.
So the other day I defrosted last year's raspberry pickings and mixed up a double batch of jam for us to enjoy.
Jam days in the off season are good for a lot of reasons.  A little taste of summer when the world outside is still white is pretty fun indeed.  Spreading the work out does helps with the busy summer days.  A spring time pantry is full of empty jars.  It is certainly fun to see fresh and clean jars full and ready to use.  Plus a spring cleaning of our freezer for all 2017 has in-store makes this jam day a good day here!