May 31, 2017

Heading South

Last week, the kids went to a birthday party.  Part of the grab bags at the end were some new sunglasses.  
On one of last week's cold and rainy days these two optimists didn't dwell on the cold.  Nope, instead they hopped on the train that their brother build, put on their sunglasses and declared to the engineer that this train just had to take them to Florida!
Because, even if our summer has been cool and cloudy there has to be sunshine somewhere.  No place better to look then the sunshine state, right??

May 30, 2017

Group Effort

Preparing for a first baby can be a very quiet event.  A husband and wife quietly putting together a nursery, a crib, a theme and more. Waiting for that first baby.  

Preparing for a sibling, now that is a different event all together.  One thing is for sure, our kids are super excited to meet baby Zachary.  We are busy with life and the baby is growing as needed so up until now there haven't been very many baby changes at home.  But now we are on the home stretch that is changing a little.  The kids can't help but get involved and over joyed with each change.

Josh has been super busy with work and yard projects but I have had plenty of help.  The quiet husband and wife preparing has looked more like a three ring circus of fun, and it is helping the kids count down the days until their brother finally arrives.
 Up until last Friday we had a hospital bag that had started to be packed and that was about it.  But with this crew we are one step closer to baby.  Ethan was in charge of assembly and all of the screws and screwdrivers in assembling our family baby cradle.  
 Then the girls stepped in and took their job of oiling down the cradle with lemon oil very seriously.  Naomi can point to each point she freshened up with pride.  
The mattress cover and bumper pads originally sewn for Abigail, and used for all four, were put into place.  We did find the baby his own mobile the other day and we all agree it looks great.  Each day all three kids come in and look at the baby cradle and declare that it is perfect and they can't wait to see how much Zachary loves it.  

A baby cradle originally put together for my brother 40 1/2 years ago is all shined up and ready for its 7th baby.  This makes us pretty pleased indeed.

May 29, 2017

A Day By The River

Happy Memorial Day to all.  How thankful we are to each and every person this nation has lost to bring us freedom to live such abundant and free lives!  This memorial day (or mario day as Ethan keeps calling it) we will be spending at home.  This pregnancy is coming to an end and the more days I have at home the better!
But two weeks, on Mother's day, we spent a day by the river.
It was a great day of no chores, no phones, no obligations except to spend 5 hours looking at rocks, throwing rocks in the river, playing, warming by a camp fire and laughing.
Days like today when I am home I wonder if it would be better to be out for another adventure before the baby.  These family days in the woods are so much fun.
But each day has its purpose.  Today a little more work will be done on the garden.  An infant carseat and pack n' play will be scrubbed down and dried on the deck.  This little boy will enjoy a normal bedtime as that will change with the start of baseball season tomorrow!  
Yes, this memorial day we will talk to the kids about the sacrifice made for our country.  We will stay home and be a family and finish things that need to be done.  But really I do believe my heart will be in the woods, with the family, and my dear mama who was with us just two weeks ago.  There will be many more adventures in our future when this little boy is here and enjoying life with us!

May 26, 2017

Friday Garden Update

What a rollercoaster of a week this has been for our weather.  We went from the end of spring, to early summer and now, with frost predicted for tonight, back to winter.  Boohoo for us.
 This picture was taken last Sunday.  Josh had finished putting the fence up on Saturday.  Sunday after church he raked out all of the beds.  Then we laid down the black plastic and we were ready for planting.  That night I started in.  Sun on my back I transplanted our pumpkins, zucchini and cauliflower plants.  Fairbanks has an unspoken rule that you don't plant before June 1st.  But we have a baby coming and the weather has been beautiful and well, I was ready.  Monday it rained but even still, I managed to get most of the broccoli in.  Tuesday saw the rest of our little broccoli plants settled into the soft soil.  

That night the temperatures dropped.
Tuesday night saw me up pacing at night staring out the window.  I talked to Josh of my new plan on Wednesday.  We bought a large piece of plastic and made the garden itself into a mini greenhouse, at least for a few days.  Josh has been working his long days so Wednesday night at 10:30 saw us outside in the rain working to protect these little baby of plants.  Lucky for us they are super low profile right now so I am not worried too much about crushing them with the plastic as I am about saving them from the cold.  

Next Friday's update should be interesting...

May 25, 2017

The Craving Is Real

When I was pregnant with Naomi, I craved snow.  I was surprised that most of this past winter went by and I was able to walk by piles of snow and felt no urgency to take a bite.  Well, that changed around March.  Something in my vitamins, my hormones or what, but this pregnancy became crazy snow craving once again.  This is a fine craving to have when you live in Alaska in the winter, but as the sun came out in May and the snow melted away I am finding myself at a loss.  

With Naomi, Josh actually froze buckets of snow for me in the freezer.  He offered this time, many times, but I always answered, "No, because I really don't want to have this craving anymore and if there is no snow maybe it will go away."  What a fool I was.
People really wonder about this silly craving/pica and if it is real.  Let me tell you it is.  Not a day goes by that when I think of snow my mouth automatically starts to salivate - I kid you not!  And no snow in the yard, on the street or anywhere.  It is killing me.  

With that I go back to this picture over and over and over again.  My dear husband on our anniversary trip.  Since we went down into the Alaska range there were patches of snow here and there.  Giving in to my pleading as we passed snow area after snow area, he pulled the truck over and hiked into the hills to get me some.  Oh, how wonderful it tasted.  I ate and ate and ate for the whole 30 minutes remaining to our destination.  Upon our arrival I was on the verge of hypothermia and thus spent the first 40 minutes in a hot shower warming up.  But oh that taste, I couldn't get enough.
Two days later, on Mother's day, we went out to a campground and there I discovered a large section of river ice.  Not snow or that wonderful taste, but a good alternative to what I craved.  Desperate I kicked at it and Josh, once again, saved the day by coming with a hammer to break me off a chunk.  

Why am I writing this huge, long blog post about a snow craving?  Well, because no matter what I am doing I think of it.  Those last two days of snow and river ice that I have had.  I tried to dig into a melting gravel pit of snow at Home Depot last week but let me tell you, it wasn't really worth it.  Too covered in mud.  

I know from my experience with Naomi, that once this baby is born the craving will leave.  Oh, I need it too.  How I long for a craving that can be bought at a store.  Pickles anyone?  Nope here at this house it is snow.  Good old snow with a little dirt in it and no birch seeds.  That is what comes to mind first thing in the morning and last at night.  Strange I know but well, it is where we are at!  

May 24, 2017

Those Special Moments

One of those little trials of being pregnant, and not sure of Josh's schedule, is evening plans are often hard to set into place.  A party, picnic, outing or more have to be pretty flexible.  I can do most of what is needed all day but my energy falters when it comes to adding on evening activities without Josh.  He loves to be apart of all our plans but sometimes work changes at the last moment and he isn't able to come.
 Thus making one of the fun parts of my mother's trip being that an evening out could be put into place and I knew I would have help and company.  Lucky for all of us the truck was packed, kids were loaded and we were about to start the engine when Josh got home.  Because even if an outing is planned without him, it is always better with him!
 Since mother's last summer visit two years ago we have discovered a great little campground not all that far away from our house to the north.  A fun place to visit before camping season actually starts and we have most of the place to ourselves.
 Olnes Pond Campground is a sweet little place, tucked away but fun for all.  We pulled out all the kids bikes and they were able to bike around the pond while mother and I walked and Josh rested with the fire.  Serving my family a picnic meal, outside, away from home and chores and in the fresh air really puts me into my happy place.  Adding mother in as our guest just made the evening better!
 Chicken salad on a camp plate, rediscovering what outside biking means, finding little patches of ice to help satisfy my snow craving, and super stale marshmallows leftover from last year's camp season filled our evening.
 The pond was still frozen, the trees still didn't have leaves and the air was crisp but evidence of beauty outside is around whenever someone looks.  Abigail was super excited to start up her tradition of always decorating our picnic tables with the beautiful bits of nature she can find.
 The chores at home make up a long list of things we need to do.  Yet even still, spending time as a family out having fun beats it all. 

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


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.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Years ago my mother bought the kids a bear that reads them The Night Before Christmas.   It is a favorite every year to everyone, but Josh....