Thursday, January 18, 2018

Mom's "Last" Gift to Michael

My mom was a gift giver. Gifts were her love language - gifts and cards. She loved wrapping them as well. She planned all year long for Christmas. She often bought things at end of the year sales and held them for the following year.

Now that we are in a home where we are fairly certain we'll stay - in other words there won't be surprise orders to move and we aren't living in an RV - we find ourselves seeing great merit in squirreling things away for a later date. I bought a ton of wrapping paper for .61 a roll. Our immediate family of five, hasn't had Christmas yet, but we have plenty of paper for when we do. LOL

We all got Christmas gifts from Mom on Christmas day. Even though she was fighting with cancer, she was determined to get the gifts mailed to Alaska. She didn't make it, but I was able to bring the gifts back with me - we love Alaska Air Club 49!!!! None of us had the money, the time, or the heart to do a lot of shopping....but we had Mom's gifts. I'll post more about that's still a surreal time for me.

Years ago, mom discovered that Michael and a couple of our kids loved puzzles. Each year she worked to find one more difficult or unique than the year before. This was her final gift to Michael....
Dakota, Bre and Gideon watch as Michael is introduced to this year's challenge

This is an AMAZING puzzle. It's in the shape of a leaf....there are NO straight edges....not one. In case that wouldn't be hard enough many of the pieces were odd shapes...a cat, a moon, a sun, a get the idea. Izaak brought a card table in and he, Jamin, Nolan and Michael set to work it.  

After the first night, Nolan and Michael did most the work on the puzzle. 

Krista and I covered it in Modge Podge....OF COURSE we would save the last puzzle mom gave Michael...Michael is holding the EXTRA puzzle piece they found in the box! LOL

We have several puzzles we're ready to hang on the wall in the game room/family room, which right now is more like CoRielle's living room.....

Ginger Gherkin Celebrates with BreZaak

The first Mr. Gingerbread Post of 2018.

Hi, I'm Gingerbread Gherkin aka, Mr. Gingerbread, or Gingerbread man. This is my first week to be hosted by the Gherkin MEN.  There was a lot of excitement this afternoon.

BreZaak and kids took me in to the big house, where Mom and Dad G live, along with Nolan, Alex, Stacia, CoRielle and Benny.  I guess Mom and Dad G can't get the moving bug out of their systems. We found Mom G busy rearranging the "nook" so it will hold a desk and printer. Dad G was setting up new equipment in the office.  She didn't notice us come in.
Izaak mumbled, "I quit my job today."

"Really?" Mom G graciously responded.


Now, Izaak makes a mean pizza, but he's qualified for much more than making pizzas. However, this is  the work God gave him to do and he'd kept his hand to the plow so to speak. Mom G was puzzled as to why he'd quit now.

She glanced at Bre and Izaak, they had solemn faces,  and gently asked, "Why?"

With a gleam in his eye, Izaak announced, "Because I HAVE ANOTHER JOB!"

They've been praying and fasting around here for jobs for all.....

Mom G screamed! She laughed. She yelled for Dad G and stomped her foot so he would hear her in the office below.

Dad G bounded up the stairs into the nook, thinking she'd caught something on fire or the new stove had malfunctioned. Izaak proceeded to delightedly proclaim the news of his new employment to Dad G, as well.

Dad G did a happy dance when he heard the news.

This is a miracle. Izaak interviewed back in December for the job. First they told him they'd decided not to give him the job. Then they called him and said they'd prayed about it and decided to have him go ahead and put his background check in the system. It took much longer than expected to hear back, but he got the call today.  Izaak was pretty sure they'd turn him down after the background check. He's been scrupulously honest at each job interview, several have thought it wouldn't be a problem, only to have corporate offices rescind the job offer.

Izaak is the newest Substance Abuse Counselor for Set Free Alaska. They are a Christian treatment center that uses a mind-body-spirit approach to recovery.  We (Mom and Dad G and me) have long known God was going to redeem Izaak's past and use it in his future.

Mom and Dad G are so proud of Izaak. The past six months have not gone as planned; yet he was faithful during the wait.

And here are a couple of pictures of Gideon 2 days short of 8 months. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Gingerbread Competition Winner

We have a winner! Facebook Poll seems the way to go. There were 95 votes and the winners took 69% of the vote.

Mr Gingerbread Man will be going home with :::drum roll::::: The BOYS team this year!  Last year he drove RV,s went to the CA coast, OR, CO, Mexico, moved to Alaska and welcomed new grand gherkins. I look forward to following his exploits this year.

Now that the voting is over, I can share photos of the works in progress. For pictures of the finished product, click here. 

It is only right to mention the girls had some extra challenges this year. First, their team has shrunk. Mom, Lorri and even Mom G had been past participants and weren't here this year. Seconly, they had some darling two-legged challenges this year.  At any given time someone was off feeding a baby, or calming a baby....but such lovely distractions. I was impressed with what they got done. They opted not to mix the teams. LOL
Bennie's first New Years Eve 

Bella was the cutest little distraction. She calmly ate the snowmen as fast as Arielle made them. LOL
Who? ME? 
Psst - Did it make a difference not to know which team made which village? I don't know.....

For more gingerbread readings - click the label in the sidebar and check out the past winners.

Past year's competitions and winners:
2013 Competition - Men won with their Town square complete with a clock tower.

2014 Competition - Women won with their sweet Chapel; Men's Night Before Christmas disqualified them according to judge Michael.

2015 Competition - Women won with Mad Hatter's Tea Party over the Men's rendition of Santa's Village.

2016  Competition - Women won with their  "Portrait of  2016."

2017 Competition - Men won with their "Alaskan Getaway" - this was inspired by their favorite hike/fishing getaway - Redshirt. Note the red shirt in the canoe. 

Sunday, January 07, 2018

2017 Annual Gherkins Gingerbread Competition

The most anticipated New Year's Eve activity around our home is the Annual Gherkins Gingerbread Competition. This year was no different.

The prize of this competition is the right to host this  "Gingerbread Gherkin" for 2018. The winners will take photos of his adventures, mail him to one another and I'll post him on the blog and on our Courageous Joy Facebook page. He'll rejoin us next New Year's Eve. This year Gingerbread Gherkin went to CA, CO, Mexico and places in between. He planted trees, helped pack houses, played with kids in Mexico, and moved to Alaska. He's looking forward to another full year.

Stacia and Nolan served as team captains again this year. Each team was provided the same gingerbread kit, spatulas, bowls, spoons, and $20 to shop for anything else they may want. Each team also got a challenge item or two.

We have noted that most of the contestants friends will vote on Facebook and not on a blog official this year will take place on our Facebook Page - Courageous Joy.

To keep everything scrupulously unbiased, we will no longer designate "Girls Team" and "Boys Team" until after a winner is declared. Entries are presented in alphabetical order.

Team A presents "An Alaskan Getaway". In this entry a Gherkin favorite getaway is recreated with gingerbread, frosting and graham crackers. 

Nestled around the lake is a Forest Service cabin and outhouse. 
Note the smoke from the chimney

Note the campfire and wood pile

A canoe on the lake - little figure is wearing a red shirt
 Forest trail dusted with snow

Note the dock for canoes

Team B presents us with "The Snowman's Lodge."  A winter wonderland we'd love to visit.
Note the hanging snowflake mobile

Candycanes make up the fence and ladder

Note Santa's Slide....

Perimeter fence - igloo and snowmen in the foreground

I'm running late on posting this and promised to do it TONIGHT. The rush/ Various ones would like to take the Gingerbread Gherkin on adventures.  The poll is pinned to the TOP of the  Courageous Joy Facebook page; voting ends Friday, 12 Jan at 9:00 p.m. AKST.

Past year's competitions and winners:
2013 Competition - Men won with their Town square complete with a clock tower.

2014 Competition - Women won with their sweet Chapel; Men's Night Before Christmas disqualified them according to judge Michael.

2015 Competition - Women won with Mad Hatter's Tea Party over the Men's rendition of Santa's Village.

2016  Competition - Women won with their  "Portrait of  2016."

Sonora Hot Dogs

Sweet! Krista asked if she could fund and fix tonight's Sunday Family Dinner. I was game. She fixed Sonora (as in Sonora, Mexico) hot dogs for us. She shared her memories of the stand near the orphanage where she lived last spring.

See that dog in the foreground and the suspicious looking bacon wrapped around it? That's my vegan dog and bacon. I discovered that it tastes much better if it's grilled with the real thing - in the bacon grease. LOL Yes, I'm aware it's not vegan if it's covered in bacon grease.

Maybe you don't know what a Sonora Hog Dog is either?  Hot Dogs are wrapped in bacon and grilled with onions. A Hoagie bun gets a layer of may, then the bacon wrapped dog, grilled onions, jalepenos, cheese sauce from a jar, and chili beans.

We ended the night with games and conversation. 

Sunday Afternoon Walk

Today, after church and lunch, we met the Eagle River Group at Reflections Lake.  We discovered while Krista was here that we don't all fit in the Jeep. Arielle came out with CoRielle and Bennett. BreZaak and kids stayed home.  This was Bennett's first family Alaskan hike!  It was a bit crisp - 20*, but beautiful and well worth a bit of cold.

It made me laugh to see the life jackets still hanging by the frozen lake with the warning that state law requires you wear one on the lake. I confess - we went out on the solidly frozen lake without a life vest.

We discovered that lakes seem to become dog parks in the winter around here. LOL

Michael & I
Krista, Alex, Nolan 

With two of gals - Krista and Larissa
Cory (Bennie in his coat), Arielle and Stacia


 The Gang - Cy was in Seattle
Michael, Bennie/Cory, Alex, Nolan, Jared,
Krista (batman pjs), Jamin, Arielle, Stacia, Rissa 

It was a gorgeous walk. On the way home, we stopped at the Matsu River  (or maybe it's the Knick) for a few more photos.