January 31, 2017

A Mid-Winter Visit

Last week was a fun and busy one for this little household.  My mother (Texas) and sister and niece (New Jersey) all came for a visit.  They braved the cold, the dark, the snow and more to venture north in January.  Not for the weather of course but for us.  
Family, that wonderful and special bond that means you put up with just about anything to be together.  With this baby boy on his way I am not traveling with the kids this winter and it was super special for my family to say, "that is ok, we will just come to you."  Their visit didn't provide the southern sunshine like we are used to but their week with us was certainly a bright spot in our winter darkness this year!

January 27, 2017

Teammates

The kids have gotten old enough that when they play I will sometimes hear the girls tell Ethan, "This is just for girls."  He always turns away so rejected and sad.
So you can imagine who is super excited that our ultrasound yesterday confirmed there is another little boy joining our family this year.
The playing field will soon be even.  How excited we all are.

January 26, 2017

Focused

The other day I asked Naomi to help me color the back of a few cards I was mailing.
This free and creative drawing is one of her favorite.
She was so focused in fact that she worked right through lunch time.
What a good little co-worker I have on by my side.

January 25, 2017

Perfect - For Just A Second

I worry about posting a homeschool picture like this since it is so rare that they are all happily sitting together. Abigail being willing to entertain all with a story is also unique.  
  These are my favorite type of days.

January 24, 2017

Part One To Organization

I once heard that no homeschool house had too many books, just not enough bookshelves.  Even with our beautiful murphy bed and bookshelf combo in the school room we needed a little more space.  Thus Josh's new project.
This is part one of the two part shelving unit he is building for us.  This tall unit is for the kids' activities, manipulatives, toys and more.  The next unit will be more for books, binders and more.  The wood has had to be special ordered and the crazy winter has delayed arrival.  But come Friday Josh will be building again!  Updates soon.

January 23, 2017

Snow Days

Snow days - winter days.
Parent advantage to homeschool - snow days don't close down schools
Student disadvantage - snow days don't close down schools
But it is fun to play in for recess.  

January 20, 2017

A Fresh Look

Something about these post-Christmas, dark and cold winter days that brings out the itch in me to have some change.  We have changed our bathroom, Abigail's special place, reorganized my laundry room, added to our school room and so much more.  Drawers are being cleaned out, closets sorted, kids clothes switched up and more.
The other day it was time to switch out the pictures on our wall.  I love decorating our house with pictures of our life.  Usually I will add and change an 8x10 a couple times a year but this past year's pics were good and we have been busy.  How fun to print a few images and change up the looks on our walls.  Spring in Alaska is full of planting, outdoor chores, return of sunlight.  I am sure there will be spring cleaning in there too.  But spring isn't the time for indoor change, or summer or fall.  Those are busy outdoor seasons.  This wintertime.  Yeah.  Life inside these walls adapts to some shifts and changes and makes us all enjoy the long months ahead until outdoor life calls our names again.

January 19, 2017

These Days Remind Us We Live In The Arctic

That cold weather snap I blogged about last week wasn't just smoke in mirrors but has come to fruition.  Lucky for the kids and me all activities up until today have been cancelled and thus we have been tucked in at home.  I remember working before kids and driving in at -65 and let me tell you, no matter of cabin fever makes me wish for that.  What a good husband I have who goes day after day without complaint.  The folks here in Fairbanks call these -50 degree days flat tire days since as you drive, no matter how warm your car is, your tires are frozen with a flat spot where they had been parked.  Makes the drive very bumpy indeed!
 But here at home life has been good.  The kids are reminded of why we must wear socks (floors are so cold even with the wood stove in the basement) and stay inside.  Instead of snow forts outside we are busy building them inside.  Tuesday the kids declared that no matter the outside weather, it was summer inside, and they were  going camping.  Plastic bowls and cups from the kitchen made up the camp kitchen where a lot of cakes were made, the table was transformed to a tent and the blankets covered the ground and kept them all warm while being called the "grass" as well.
 And since -50 is too cold for kids to play outside it is hard to have a few days of not having that fresh feeling.  So the kids put on boots and gloves and I filled a bin with snow for indoor play.  A hour of snow play while staying warm.  Best part I was able to read to them and knit all the while feeling contently cozy as well.
Yesterday when the temps dropped below -50 we took boiling water out and threw it in the air to watch it freeze instantly.  It was fun for me but the kids didn't really grasp it all.  Pictures of this event were difficult to obtain since most of the tossing was done my me.  But it did get us outside for 5 minutes, was something new and helped us celebrate the small excitements of getting to experience these days.

One thing to note is that I have loved homeschooling this week.  Public schools never close due to the cold.  The buses will call it quits if the ice fog gets too thick but the school itself doesn't close at this temp and thus school is running normal this week.  Letting my kids stay in warm, cozy clothes and all learning done at home these days has been especially rewarding to us all.  Today is gymnastics class and there is still no word if it has been canceled yet or not.  We might be venturing out today but really, if we don't that will be fine with me!

January 18, 2017

Lets Make This Work

I don't know how time has passed so quickly but it has.  I realized the other day that we gave Abigail her special place just shy of three years ago.  What a wonderful place it has been for her.  On days when she looks at me and asks for her own bedroom I remind her that mama and daddy do all they can and right now she has a special place and for that we can be thankful for.  This past fall her folding closet door broke and Josh took the time and put in a "real" door.  As of right now she still doesn't have a door knob but that is really because of our decision, she knows no better.
But still, something needed to change in her special place.  Keeping her area clean was one problem and finding the right place to play.  She has space on a small built in box that is part of the house and on top of her red dresser to play.  Both of those areas really aren't all she needs and thus the toys and play move to the floor.

I find as a mom that this house is in constant motion.  Changing a room, closet, bathroom, cabinet, file folder, bookshelf and more all the time.  Realizing something doesn't work or that it really could work better.  This issue with Abigail's space has been building for sometime but a possible answer came to me Sunday.  So this week Abigail was set with the job to empty her special place so daddy could get in and work a little magic.
When I put her special place together years ago I found the perfect little pink polka dotted chair at a garage sale.  I envisioned hours of sitting, looking through books, playing and more.  Really the chair has been used to stand on, store things on and loose things in.  Thus the chair was moved out and Josh used that space to put in a few shelves. 
The top shelf will now be used for her special collection of little critters.  She can spread them out and have room to play with them without them falling all over the floor.

The middle shelf was given a file holder which now holds her small collection of special books.  By putting these upright, instead of in a stack, there is room for her pony collection and prize toys.

The bottom area fits Anna's cradle and can be used for other storage.
Granted I put all of this back together last night, minus setting up her critters, so I know it will all change when she gets in there herself but for now I am pleased.  Right now there is more space to play, more availability to see her toys, and set things right.  

And one of the best parts, the chair got moved to next to the bookshelf in the kids' room and all of them love it and are using it all the time now.  Sometimes realizing that a small change can make it all work better is the best idea of all.

January 17, 2017

Happy Light

Right now we are in the dark days of winter.  You know a month ago was the same amount of daylight as today but January is always harder.  Darker, no christmas lights, much colder and the prospect of spring just seems far away.  But knowledge is power and with that we make these dark days work until the sun comes back.
Vitamin D supplements for everyone, exercise every day!!, as much fresh air as we can get on these -30 days, loud music for dancing and of course - every single meal is accompanied by our happy light.  A small light that puts out natural light.  The other day the kids were so excited because even though the sun doesn't come up until 10:30 am the sky was coming out of the pitch, pitch dark around 9:20am.  Each second, minute and hour matters to us in the north.  Sun and light - how we love you so.

January 16, 2017

Mama Sat Down

Last fall when Abigail started school I found the only way I could really pull this off was to have solo, one on one time with just her.  I would find activities in another room for the other two or wait and do school when Josh was home.  This worked for a time.

As the days went by I hated more and more that I had to push two of my kids away in order to achieve our homeschool goals with one child.  I know as the kids get older and they all have work to do things will be different but for now this is where we are at.  

As this winter progresses I see more and more of school with Abigail while Naomi colors next to me and at our feet Ethan plays with legos.  Sometimes they wander off and play and more focused time comes in but as a mom I am sure being forced into the lessons of how to be patient and balance, balance, balance.
Well, the other day while Abigail was doing math I realized this would be a good time to work on making her next set of spanish flashcards.  Well, whenever mama sits down it draws a crowd.  I don't often get to take pictures during school because we are busy but this day I had the chance to set back a moment and snap a shot of what life looks like for us a lot.  Crowded, messy, busy, lots of different tasks but ultimately - together.

January 13, 2017

I Can Draw Circles

Art class.  Such a fun time, and not always just for Abigail.  Josh has gotten so good and keeping all of our little artists happy.  At 2 1/2 Naomi's specialties is circles.  She loves them and in her mind they combine to form so much.  Ethan's favorite image is that of a snow machine (he draws them, paints them and even built one into his gingerbread house last month.)  Abigail, she is still in love with butterflies although a recent discovery in how to draw stars has made hearts and stars boarder most pieces of art.  
Art time, keeps us on our toes for sure.


January 12, 2017

What Timing

We have had an interesting few weeks.  Warmer winter weather and a lot of snow brought to our yard.  What a fun place for us to enjoy, play and snow machine in.  Yet just as we are about to welcome some southern guests next week, an epic cold snap is about to arrive as well.  What timing.
The wood stove will be roaring for sure!

January 11, 2017

Disappeared

Most days none of my kids nap.  But some days are harder to achieve this then others for a two year old who is just growing out of them.  Since Naomi's crib has been converted into a toddler bed she has pretty easy access to getting in and out of bed herself.  It is so precious to me that on days when she will get so mad at me over something and I place her in time out to relax she will disappear...
to this.

This little girl of mine knows just what she needs to calm down and see the world a little brighter.

January 10, 2017

Cooking Lessons

For her birthday Abigail got a few new cookbooks.  Cooking with Abigail is nothing new but new recipes always bring excitement.
 And so to go with her school work, she and I have set out to cook something together once a week.  A fun project as her reading and math skills are getting better all the time.
But at the rate we are going this girl is only interested in cooking desserts.  Going to have to make a rule about that one!  Maybe a main dish can come in every few weeks at least.

January 9, 2017

Spy Games

So I mentioned awhile back about how the kids love to play "spies".  The rules to the games are pretty sketchy to me but number one rule is apparel:  you wear dark clothes and your shirt has to be on backwards (no logo showing).  Playing spies has become such a popular thing that this has moved beyond just the big kids and Naomi now also plays spy.  She doesn't get the dark clothes memo but by having me help her turn her shirt around she feels like part of the crowd.
When my brother found out about these games he and my sister in law were entertained.  Thus for Abigail's birthday and then again for Christmas the kids have gotten spy toys.  Special watches (that have motion activated alarms, my brother must hate me!), walkie talkies and books on spy play.  Yes, the rules are a little unclear but I do know I am often the one being spied upon and the kids all love it.

Now they just need to learn that the walkie talkies work best when they don't stand next to each other, haha.

January 6, 2017

Changes Are Afoot

Last week this is what our bathroom looked like.  Well, it did have a shower curtain hiding the tub and mirror over the sink just before this image.  I wasn't fast enough in taking our before picture.
 But that was all about to change.
 This week has found Josh and I burning the night oil getting things spruced up.  The bottom line is home repairs done mostly when the kids are in bed take longer then starting right when one gets home from work.  But the work does get done!
 And while the work in the bathroom was done this is what the school room across the all looked like.  All with the toilet sitting in pieces in the hall.  So this past week we haven't had a bathroom to use on the main floor or a school room.
But progress, that is happening.  Yeah.  The bathroom should be done tonight, Abigail's special place door has been replaced and the trim finally painted and touched up and, to add to the fun, we are switching our house to mostly LED lights this week too.  Lets just say washing all of the light fixture covers and sconces has reminded me that this project should never wait for spring cleaning.  That is when our sun is returning.  This winter, these long dark days, yes that is when I need fresh, clean and bright lights in every room!!

Long tiring days are here when projects are before us but good chances are happening.  That makes it worth it all.

January 5, 2017

Welcome To The Village

When Abigail was little we found her a preschool doll house at a garage sale, she loved it.  When she got older my brother gave her a more grown up model and Naomi inherited the original.  Last year my brother gave Ethan a "boy dollhouse" in the form of a fire house.  All together it is great fun and I call the whole set up "the village."  But when not played with, the pieces start to wander all over the place.  

Therefore last spring I called a break on dollhouses and set them all aside.  Well this winter the kids have been begging for them back.  So after the Christmas tree was taken down the "village" was brought back out once again.
I can not even begin to describe how many hours these three have played around this table.  Yeah for the return of the "village".  

January 4, 2017

Looking Forward To Fake

The years that Josh and I have lived in this house have always seen use wandering into the woods in December and finding our christmas tree.  The top 10 feet of a 30 foot tree or a small charlie brown tree.  Either way each year has had an adventure, a memory and a story.
But oh those little Alaskan trees that come in frozen and dry out so very, very fast.
The pile of needle clean up, this year it was a little overwhelming.  I have to admit that for the first time ever I am crying defeat.  I can't promise what will happen next year but I am certainly feeling the need for a fake tree coming to our house sooner or later.  We can always make memories playing hide and seek in the woods on a different day.

January 3, 2017

I Just Need To Draw

The other day Naomi came to me and said, "Mama, can I please have paper?  I just need to draw."
Love it!!

January 2, 2017

Goals for 2017

As in the past, I have written out my goals for the new year on the blog.  I then have the chance to look back at them through the year and see just where I was in my year, if my goals are the same, and if I am accomplishing what I had set out to do. In this past I have always said, "I am happy to do this again."  This year I don't feel like I have many goals and wonder if it is worth keeping up this tradition.  But then I remind myself that a few goals are better then none.

Kathleen’s Goals for 2017
(In no particular order)

When I am tired life is harder.  I aim this year to try and remove as much extra from my life so that I am able to focus on what is important and have the energy to enjoy life.  

Ethan is interested in little league.  This would be his first team event.  I want to look into this and make it possible for him this summer.

Continue with homeschool and remember our reasoning for this decision and the goals we have for our children's education.

We are going to team raise chickens with a friend this year.  Work honestly with our friends and see how this new plan works.

The plan is to expand the garden.  Goal - make sure the voles don't eat our vegetables before we do.

I handle pregnancy well but am very aware that postpartum is a very hard time for me.  After our little baby is born I want to get outside into the sun, accept help when offered, rest when I can and relax in my expectations all so that this can be the best postpartum recovery yet.

There is talk of a family event occurring in September.  I would love to travel to this special occasion with the kids.  The timing, planning and all that has to go with that.  Accomplishing that would mean a lot to me.

We know that the appearance of biking, camping, hiking and all will look a little different with a baby due in the summer but we don't want to give up this positive trend we have worked into the past few years.  Maybe Josh taking the kids camping without me or just day outings are a thought.  More cabin use over a tent, hikes that work for all abilities (thus needing to carry just the baby and not Naomi too), and going to places where all the kids can bike on their own so that I am needed less to pull.  We don't know what exactly 2017 will hold for this new adaption to the family but we do aim to keep up what we love.

Continue loving the life we have all while aiming to meet my first goal of the year!