March 31, 2017

Endless

Waking up the last week of March to negative temperatures can really be discouraging.  When people ask when the baby is due and I answer, this summer, but winter never seems to end - that is kind of discouraging too.  Winter and pregnancy - both have a way of going on longer then we desire.
But taking a break to soak up some vitamin D on the deck when the afternoon sun warms the deck to 20 degrees, now that is a little bit of hope.  I am, without any sadness, waving good-bye to this last day of March.  I am ready for a new month, a new season and new days; no matter what they bring.

March 30, 2017

Sister

This was the week of Easter last year.  I splurged in 2016 and found the girl matching dresses.  It is hard to do now that they are in different size ranges, according to the design world.  But with Easter and my Grandma's big birthday in April of '16 it was a lucky find.
Well in sorting the kids clothes over the weekend I discovered that Abigail's still fits but Naomi's was on its last days.  So last Sunday my girls dressed up in matching outfits one last time (for these dresses at least).  I love seeing the girls match.  
But most importantly I love just seeing these girls grow together, love each other, depend on each other, be there for each other and just over all - learn the fine art of being a sister.  Nothing is more special.  

March 29, 2017

Cooking

Last Friday our church hosted a passover dinner.  I volunteered to help with the cooking.  Thus I woke up from my days in bed to lots of ingredients on the counter.  
All hands were on deck for sure!  We managed to crank out a hundred servings of both Matzo toffee and Meringue cookies.  Proud of my church and all the work and volunteers that went into this event but when it was all over I wasn't sad!  (on a side note, if anyone is ever in this place, kids are great matzo cracker crushers!)


March 28, 2017

District

Abigail and her search to understand wild rabbits went on to district this past week.  Due to my migraine Josh, Ethan and Naomi were with Abigail instead of me.  It worked out well since I was the one that got to enjoy the first fair with her earlier this month.  The district fair was huge with a couple hundred projects on display.  Abigail's project was the third one in from the door, a perfect spot for easy access and viewing.
When she came home that night I asked how her talk with the judge went and she said, "Mama, I rocked it."  Last November when I considered having Abigail start into this project my biggest concern is that she is shy when talking to strangers and is asked questions.  I see now that having her pick a topic she loved and having her invest so much of her time and effort into the project gave her the courage and confidence to share her project with others.  She received first place once again but regardless of the color of her ribbon Josh and I are so proud.  Hard work is never something that disappoints!

**On a side note, anyone else so happy with a judge who gets down on a student's level to ask questions.  Thank you to this lady I never met but will always be thankful for.  Your interest in what my daughter loved has made a difference!** 

March 27, 2017

Get Well

Last week I had one of the most dreaded parts of pregnancy, one of my migraines.  When not pregnant I deal with these weekly but can take medicine.  While pregnant I am blessed not to get them as frequent but, when they do come, there is nothing I can do to make it go away.  The lay in bed waiting for it to be over can seem endless to say the least.
But Josh took off work and ran the house, friends helped, offices gracefully canceled appointments and the kids colored, drew and decorated my room to bring me back to health.  The kids were given 5 minute visiting rights during the days I was in bed and each visit included little gifts, pictures and usually one of their stuffed animals to keep me comfortable and happy.  It wasn't a pleasant time but I was certainly loved!

March 24, 2017

Comes Back Around

When I was a child, my mother found my father sitting in a pile of puzzle pieces.  I had taken it upon myself that evening to dump out every single wooden puzzle we had and he was trying to put them all back together.

Well, I have heard that when you are a parent you learn all the pain your parents went through, personally.  We had friends over for dinner the other night and Naomi was super happy in the school room.  When Josh went to check on her we found that she had used that uninterrupted time to dump out every single wood puzzle, card game, dice game, shape game, magnet game and more into one big bin.
Yes, it is true.  You don't know what it is like to be a parent until you are one!  Many thanks to my parents for letting me make it to adulthood so I could experience this wonderful lesson.


March 23, 2017

Inspired

Josh took the kids out on a snow machine ride the other day.  The second they got home these two ran for paper and pencils.  They had seen a rabbit and couldn't wait to write it down!  Now Abigail has done this before but this "writing a story" was new for Ethan, and he was so excited!  Letter by letter he slowly wrote out his two sentences with dedication and focus.
Workbooks, curriculum and assignments all have their place in school and life I know.  Yet, nature inspired stories from seeing, touching and experiencing - those are our favorite. 

March 22, 2017

That Favorite Time

I mentioned last week that we have pushed bedtime back a little.  Oh the return of the sunshine, even if it is still so cold!, has been wonderful.  This extra time at the end of our day - it is becoming my favorite.  Not each evening lets me have one on one time but I try.  I try to put the dinner dishes aside and find the one child who is close by and we enjoy something together.  The other night it was Naomi hanging around so while we colored together I asked her some questions and want to remember her answers.
Naomi at 2 1/2:
What is your favorite things to do? - play with her grocery cart, go to the children's museum and go get things (shopping) at Fred Meyer.
What is your favorite food - dog food ("really Naomi, dog food?"), ok no I guess it is ice cream
What made you happy today? - Going to see the play at the children's museum ("what about the play?"), the bangs ("what about the bangs?") the bangs! ("well, ok")
Are you my buddy? - No I am a girl, the new baby will be a buddy
What will you call the new baby? - Jumper, blah ("really? What will I call him?") Zachary ("But you will call him jumper, blah?") No, hehe, I will call him Zachary too.
Will you take care of the baby? - Oh, yes and if I go out  snow machining I know the way home and will show him.  
As I sit here late at night remembering that 1/2 hour with this girl I smile.  I don't remember all I asked or all she said but hold on to the connection that the time brought.  Life is so busy, days go by full and fast; I am thankful for these moments.


March 21, 2017

Family Stories

Every family has their stories.  That time the kids were left somewhere, or someone hurt that person, or the school project that went wrong.  Regardless of the topic, those stories are woven into the family and told and retold over and over to friends, future spouses, and to each other.  

Last week we got to add one of those classic stories to this generation of our family.

Ethan and Abigail went outside to play.  Two minutes later Josh and I were getting our gear on ourselves and Naomi when Abigail came running back inside covered in blood and screaming.  It seems that Ethan was swinging a stick and smashed her in the face and her tooth had been completely knocked out.  Fat lip, covered in blood and screaming we didn't get the full story but went into response mode.  

All was cleaned up, the tooth was found from the snow in the driveway, talk of the tooth fairy coming that night was encouraging and inspection of the now other loose teeth in her mouth were noted.  The next day the other top front tooth that was 80% knocked out was removed and in the course of one day my little girl went to a big girl singing "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."
As days pass more has been added to the story.  How maybe Abigail wasn't so innocent in the whole deal as it appeared initially.  But as family stories go the details will get fuzzy and blurred overtime.  The one thing that will remain will be the conversation starter, "remember that time that Ethan smashed Abigail in the face with a huge stick and knocked out her front teeth."  Oh, yeah, family stories are unique to each of family but then that is what makes us all special.

March 20, 2017

Spring Break

Last night I talked through with Josh all we have going on this week.  Awana, district science fair, doctor appointments, mooseketeers, gymnastics and more.  So busy.  The week after, not so much but this week we are going to be in for it.  But last week, ahh last week was spring break for the public school kids.  This meant that everything was canceled, and that I rejoiced.  We left the house one morning to go to town.  Otherwise we were home!  I told Abigail that since everything was canceled it was a week to focus on school.  At first this didn't sound super pleasant to her but really it was perfect.  Time to do math and then play, lots of art projects and lessons, a whole spanish unit was covered because we had the time to work day after day on each step.  It was good!  
And when you are home for day after day there is time for the extras that we all love.  Like the day I declared leftovers for dinner and thus all our time in the kitchen could be cooking lessons one-on-one.  Ethan started the day with homemade chocolate pudding.
Naomi was super excited about cracking eggs into cookie dough with me.
And since we don't have a 4-leaf clover cookie cutter, or green food coloring - opps, we made green sprinkled sheep dogs and sheep for St. Patrick's day.  The Irish are shepherds right?  Went with my theme of shepard's pie and green milk for dinner on St. Patty's day.

Abigail, how in the world did I not get a picture of you cooking that day?  But I promise it was a three for three day - amazing.  Abigail rounded out the day with making Hot fudge sundae cake.  The promise of fresh cake made eating leftovers a little more enjoyable for the kids!

Yes, being out and about to all good things are fun.  We learn, we grown, we see friends, and we get things done.  But a week where we are given the green light to just be, that is the best!


March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's day.
May luck, joy, love and lots of green fill your day!

March 16, 2017

Up A Little Later

With the arrival of daylight savings, the return of the spring, and the realization that the kids are a little older...a shift is taking place.  For years we have eaten dinner and then put the kids right to bed.  But as we move into this new season a change is needed.  After dinner time is becoming more and more a time of contented play.  A little school work one on one, an art project or two, the start of a family movie or a game is taken on.  Time when we are full, content, all together and relaxed.
No, this slight shift of a half hour later in bedtime hasn't made any different with wake up time but it has been good for us all.  A little more time to be together, that is never something we mind at all.

March 15, 2017

Planting And Prayers

Over the weekend I planted the first of our 2017 garden seeds.  Tucking little tomato and cucumber seeds into soil is always a huge leap of faith each year.  Faith that the water, sun and soil will provide what that little seed has waited for and plants will grow.  

This time of year is cold in Alaska.  The sun is returning so there is the thought of spring and warmth but it is all a tease.  -20 greets us most mornings when we wake up and more snow falls by each afternoon.  Snow tunnels, shoveling, scrapping ice and navigating slippery walks are so boring and common.  Talk of the elusive spring fills talks between friends.  The kids beg not to need their gloves and hats and then regret those decisions right away.  

But spring and summer are coming!  We have faith that this will happen.  To do list and supplies lists fill the "non-craft" side of our fridge.  Any extra cash is being tucked into envelopes for dirt, fence, gravel, and outdoor wood projects.  The snow is deep but faith is strong that the sun will be stronger then the cold and melting will happen.
And with all this comes the promise of our baby boy.  He is with me always, kicking and nudging me to remind me that with summer he will come too.  I tucked these seeds into the soil the other day and prayed over the garden we will have, the summer we will have, the baby's arrival, the shift and change our family will experience, the joys, the hardships, the projects, our focus and all of the promises God has for us.  Gardening and pregnancy, situations where faith and a trust in God's plans for our lives are so evident to me.  Days go by, will we be ready for all that is to come??



March 14, 2017

On The Road

Our library has a great system with our local University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaskan Museum.  They have a single family pass that can be checked out for a two week period.  It isn't something advertised so, it has to be an item I remember to ask about.  Once in a rare while I am lucky enough to find it "checked in" when I ask.  Last week was one of those lucky times.
 Thus, the kids and I took homeschool on the road last Wednesday for some fun.  It is really a wonderful museum and I love seeing how much more grown up the kids are each time we get to go.
There are kids activities but a lot of big kid/big people learning goes on too.  It is fun for me to see how their interests and questions grow with each time we visit.
The morning of our outing I was tired and really considered just returning the pass and staying home. There would be no harm done, right?  But after a few hours of this crew exploring, learning, touching, and loving I am so happy we made a day of it.  What fun we have together!


March 13, 2017

Pet Sitting

We have been pet sitting for the past few weeks.  The kids have always wanted a pet.  I am finding that having a guinea pig on loan is the best way to go.  Not only can my friends leave the state for a month without worrying about their pet, my kids get to enjoy the love and work of a pet with no long term commitment. 

And they do love him!  Sparky lives in the laundry room so most of his days are quiet, even in our busy house.  We feed him lots of kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps and we are learning what he loves.  When the kids play in the basement we often let him out to explore and play along.  He isn't too adventuresome but that works for us. 
Pet on loan.  This might be one of the best ideas ever!

March 10, 2017

What It Takes

Days are busy and so often chores and parenting go all day and into the night.  This isn't a problem, or a pity party, just part of how things go these days.  But sometimes this pregnant mama needs to slow down.  The problem is not much keeps my mind off the to do list and I am up and going again.
Well the other day I didn't feel good.  I took a long rest and then really wanted to rejoin the family (all of whom were in the basement playing with Josh's legos) but knew I wasn't up for the chores that I would face.  So when I wandered downstairs I brought with me a puzzle.  An adult puzzle!!  Something of the likes haven't been seen around here for a long time.  Over the course of the week ahead I would go to the basement when the kids played and work on a piece here and there.  In the evenings Josh would find me lost for a hour or two putting this picture or that together.  Really it was a wonderful world to step into here and there.  As I finished it up I declared that not another can come out for a long time as it makes me a very distracted mother.  Josh disagrees and thought my time was rest was good.  So maybe I will let me strong will hold out for a day or two and then another puzzle just might find its way to the table.  We will see.

One fun side note:  Abigail isn't one that loves puzzles, she never really has.  Ethan loves them!  He would help me with the big puzzle and even fit a few pieces correctly, how happy he was.  But more often and not if I sat down to work a little on it he would run to his puzzle pile, bring one back and work on it next to me.  Hey, if the kids learn from example then maybe me getting lost into the distracting world of Charles Wysocki isn't such a bad idea. 

March 9, 2017

Special Days

Yesterday was one of those randomly special days at our house.  A day that is a necessary part of getting us through these days in March where it seems spring will never come.  (Call me fussy but I am tired of waking up to -30 temps.) 
 It also was a holiday for us that meant Abigail's weekly cooking lesson could involve a new dessert, she was pleased!
 This little boy of our is officially 4 1/2.  How we love the silly, relaxed and fun traditions we have of celebrating 1/2 birthdays.  This is really the first time he anticipated this day.  Still working out all the kinks I did have to go behind him and let a few people know that yesterday wasn't his actual "birthday" but a 1/2 birthday instead.
 A day of his choice in the three meals of the day, a little outings and no chores to do.  Something that helps get through the long year until the big day each September.  The kids favorite part is where I sit at dinner and remind them of Ethan's birth, his arrival home for the first time, how we celebrated each of his birthdays and all the things he can do and has learned since his actual 4th birthday.  
My favorite parts of the day were when asked that each person say something special about Ethan, Abigail said, "He is my best friend."

And when putting out the specially requested warm milk and cinnamon rolls for breakfast Naomi said, (with her finger wiggling over the food) "Can I please have some real breakfast mama.  I don't eat this stuff."  

Happy 1/2 birthday to our little man.  How we love him so.

March 8, 2017

Alaskan Winters

Something about being at a cabin in the woods.  The feeling of just being part of the world.  No forecasts could be checked for weather.  We just took what we could with what we got each day we were out there!
 Which, lucky for us, meant a lot of clear nights and AMAZING northern lights.  Amazing!  We got the kids up and out of their sleeping bags to enjoy it one of the nights.  Someday they will thank us; last week they just fussed at the cold.  But how breath taking the dance was.  How I wish I could take better pictures.
 And after those starry nights with almost no moon, we were greeted by clear and sunny days.
 No matter the amount of sunshine, the days don't really warm up.  Cold weather kept us in most of each day but not ALL day.  Sledding, adventures looking for animal tracks, finding wood to harvest the ever hungry wood stove, and the longing for crisp and fresh air took us outside.
 Bubbles were a perfect activity since the temperatures were cold enough to freeze the bubbles whenever the kids tried to touch them.  No matter how long I would blow bubbles for the kids it never got old.  
Cold days at the cabin were certainly a mark on this year's trip.  Last year at the same cabin just two weeks later in March and we had 40 degree days and a fear that there wouldn't be enough snow to run the snow machine out with our gear.  This year the snow is more than abundant and our fear was that the snow machine wouldn't start because the temperatures the morning we woke up to leave was -45.  Lucky for us the temp warmed up to -36 as we headed out but those cold temps weren't so good for the car and truck at the trailhead.  The kids and I stayed in the warm cabin while Josh took the first load of gear out to the truck and to check on the vehicles.  He then took the snow machine down the road to a lodge were he found an old and disgruntled man to come jump both of our vehicles.  With them both finally running Josh came back for the kids and me.  No walking the 3.2 miles out at these temps.  We loaded the kids in tons of snow gear and blankets and rode out on the sled.  A cold trip with the breeze but much faster than little legs.  

Ahh, Alaska's weather - a reminder that it is never something to be taken for granted or predicted.  We have to instead always try and be prepared for just about anything.


March 7, 2017

A Step Away

Last week this little family got the chance to step away.   Oh how we love the chances we get to go out to the State of Alaska Public use cabins.
Not quite as luxurious as a hotel would be but much more set apart.  3.2 miles in from the trailhead that was 60 miles from town.  Time set apart from busy lives to connect together.
 I love how bringing the kids to the different cabins this past year have brought them enough memories and experiences that a few loose traditions have developed.  Mama always has new and fun activities to do around the table in the morning while the fire warms up the wood walls and daddy sleeps a little more.  I love seeing the kids in their "cabin" pjs.
 Special (vitamin C) drinks and easy to preheat meals made on the stove.  It seems that soup made at home, frozen and warmed in our dutch oven has become the traditional first night meal.  Perfect for warming little bodies that have trudged in on the cold winter trails.
Window clings, honestly.  If anyone needs a good idea for an one or two day activity this is it.  Ethan loves to rip the gel clings up which is why I save these for just cabin days and don't bother with them at home.  

But mostly the family time.  Reading kids magazines before putting them in the wood box for fire starter.  Coloring together, laughing, telling stories, talking over plans for the future and the most fun - finally coming up with a name all 5 of us agree on for our new baby boy.  Just goes to show that internet searches and time thinking solo doesn't always work.  Sometimes the best answers are found in the quiet of the woods when we have stepped away from the world.

March 6, 2017

2017 Science Fair

Saturday was the big day.
The 2017 Homeschool Science Fair.  We took advantage of it being a Saturday and only Abigail and I headed out in the morning.  Between set up time, then judging time and finally the group presentation, it was going to be a long day.  
After months of deciding on a topic, doing her research, writing out her findings, drawing and coloring her bunny and putting it together we were finally ready.
Her diorama built with Grandma and her rabbit pelt from grandpa added so much to her project.  
She did a great job talking to the judges and explaining all that she learned.  Her project got a first place win (based on three levels of achievement possible) and she was one of the projects chosen to go on to the district science fair in a few weeks.  Going on to district means cleaning up our heavily examined diorama a little and making sure we don't forget our speech but all in all it will be fun for her.  The day on Saturday was so fun for her since it was a chance to show off all of her hard work as well as see the work that her friends have been going through as well.  A great time with friends, learning and growing.

March 3, 2017

That Mess Of A Corner

I have a shelf that is the back of the kitchen and looks out into the living room.  It was a way to use the space when putting in a corner into the kitchen cabinets years ago.  Well that cabinet is sort of a disaster.  It is used for our town lunch box, picnic tupperware, candles, and more randomly used but wanted items.  The top drawer is used to hold the kids coloring books and they are into to it all the time.  I called that cabinet my bomb area.  It was always a mess and I was always in a hurry when I needed the items or put them away.  

Honestly, there are never enough time in each day to get done what needs done, let alone the extras, it seems.
So recently Josh came up with an idea.  He took the doors off the cabinet and added three sturdy drawers in their place.  It is so much easier to organize things into drawers instead of stacking things into a big space.
He then reattached the drawers to the bottom drawer and created a great masterpiece of a space.  What was once a disaster has now been organized into reasonable space. 

All of these house projects are just what this nesting mama, who can't prepare a place for the baby, needs.  Makes me so happy to know that in a few months when I am stuck sitting and nursing a baby for hours I will look around and see completed projects instead of just a to do list.  That brings peace and contentment for sure.  

March 2, 2017

Mission Control

A year ago we talked about changing up our brown and teal bathroom.  Not sure what to change it to we started with a new shower curtain.  
From there we decided to go with Mission Control grey for the walls and white towels to accent.

We repainted the ceiling, walls and trim.  A process but in the grand scheme of changing things it was pretty basic.  But what a wonderful change it was.
This picture is hard since the light of the window darkened everything, but it is fresh new look.  Feels good!