Friday, January 18, 2019

The Dead of Winter

The dead of winter is finally upon us. Is it the dark days? The frost inside the screen door?  The need to start ones care 10 minutes before jumping into it? The scraping of windshields with credit cards? The sub zero temps? 


Tonight, at dinner, we ate the LAST Yukon Gold from our garden! It wasn't the biggest, but it was sweet and it was the very last. Alex had the honor.....
A glorious moment
We didn't grow many things well this year. Zucchinni and Yukon Gold's were the exceptions. I have lots of garden space. We've run out o potatoes early. We'll plant more next year.  These babies grew right in the midst of all the nasty chickweed. Why mess with peppers, tomatoes, and corn that won't grow???? 

We'll stick with the Yukon Golds and baby reds..... But, for now, I'm content to observe the garden plot under a thick blanket of snow...and the occasional moose, or two, or three, that arrogantly tromp across the plot.

I thought we had coyotes when I went to feed chickens yesterday. I heard a  howling....and every dog in the neighborhood answered back. It continued for as long as I was outside.  Michael thinks it was a wolf. I guess we don't have coyotes.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Kids Meet Annalise

I went over to BreZaak's this morning so Izaak could take Bella to meet Annalise. It was love at first sight. 

 She's going to be a good big sister. 

Gideon and I played and danced at home. He's a sweet and loving little man. 

I was making lunch and turned to find this! Something about this anti-climbing system didn't work as expected. What a character. 

Izaak spent the afternoon with the kids and I came home to tend to cleaning and prepping some food for Life Group. We had dinner and then Stacia and I went back to watch Gideon and Bella, while Izaak went to bring BreAnne and Annalise home.  Josiah and Larissa (Jared's wife) dropped by to meet Annalise. We played with the kids, visited and waited. 

Gideon was "running," while Larissa held him - it was hilarious but my phone didn't quite catch it. 

Finally, we heard the car in the driveway. Gideon was entranced with the baby. This picture seems symbolic as Annalise calmly sleeps, and the other two swirl around her. LOL 

His first really good look. He was ready to get her out of the car seat. 

"Baby, Baby"

Bella brought Bre over to introduce her to Annalise. It was crazy cute.

"Mama, this is baby." 

We had always had our newborns bring gifts to the older kids. BreZaak carried on the tradition. The kids were happy to get a tea set and a tool set/train engine. 

The picture of an experienced dad

 Auntie Riss and Annalise

Larissa face timed Jared so he could meet the new one too. 

Uncle Jamin and Annalise

Josiah had gotten into a "bit of a mess" at work today. He opted not to get close to Annalise tonight. It was an exciting day for BreZaak. How fun to be in town and get to share the day with them. I even got photos of Jamin and Rissa meeting Annalise.  Being together is well worth the annual winter adventure. 

Life is good in Alaska.

It was a long day for a little girl. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

We Meet Annalise

Meet Annalise Rae Lynn - the newest member of the Alaskan Gherkins*. She was born at 10:48 p.m.  Annalise weighed in at 7 lbs 1 oz and was 20.5 inches long.  Annalise is named for her great-great grandmother and her two grandmothers.
Rae is my middle name. I'm thrilled to have a
namesake in the bunch. LOL 

The Story: 

I was, literally, picking up my bag to head for Bible study (Tuesday), when my phone rang.

"My water just broke," Bre said.

I know one usually has 12 hours before birth when this happens, but I strongly suspected this would not be Bre's case.  She wasn't feeling contractions, but they wanted her at the hospital ASAP.  Michael and Stacia headed to BreZaak's to wait for Izaak to get home and to watch Bella and Gideon.

After study, I headed to BreZaak's for the evening and Michael went home. The kids had a fairly restless evening. They are too young at 2 and 1 to understand all the hubbub - but mom was excited, Dad was excited, and they were GONE. Auntie and Gemma were spending the night. Cuddling with them was priceless.

Stacia summed the evening up well, "I've slept better on AIRPLANES." ::Snort::  She texted Nolan bright and early and asked him to bring us some breakfast. He made a run to McDonalds and gladly joined us.  What a rock star of a brother. Bella was happy to see, "Oh No!" (Uncle Nolan)
Bella and Oh No. 

Meanwhile, at the hospital, they began meds for Strep, checked Bre and waited. Izaak reported and Bre confirmed,  once she felt contractions it was 45 minutes until Annalise was in their arms. When your labors progress like THIS, it doesn't make any sense at all, in an Alaskan winter, to hang out at home until one feels contractions.

Izaak came home to shower and see the kids this morning. Stacia and I ran home. We needed to help Michael return the car we've been borrowing, and then we all stopped by to see Bre and Annalise. A note here - we LOVE the local birthing unit. It's beautiful. The staff is friendly and the traffic is slow inside the unit. It's much more restful than any hospital I've been in. We are thankful BreZaak were able to deliver out here and didn't have to make the winter run to Anchorage.

She's gorgeous! She was soon to learn the immutable truth all other Gherkins have learned....when you see a great light, Gemma is around.
Our first look 
 Yes, I did ace everyone out! I called first dibs. 

Michael was close behind....

Resting peacefully in Papa's arms
 Auntie brought the two blankets she made to the hospital. 
Auntie Stacia and Annalise

Annalise decides to check out Auntie

Uncle Alex with Annalise

Everyone needs an "Oh No" in their life. 
Uncle Nolan and Annalise

Stacia and I went back to BreZaak's. Izaak had to run by work and take care of a bit of paperwork and then back to the hospital. The birthing center treats new parents to a steak and shrimp dinner. He reports it is fantastic.

Around 8 p.m., Stacia and I came home and went straight to bed!

*Gherkins - (In case you're new to our idiosyncrasies) Gherkin is used on this blog to describe any descendant from Michael and De'Etta. Michael's forebears were pickle makers in the old country. While Annalise is not one of OUR children, she IS one of our descendants. Thus, you can be a D or an S and still be a Gherkin.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

He got the Wrong Impression

Michael has become a Craig's List ultra user. We don't buy a THING without checking Craig's List and the local buy/sell list. We've purchased wood stoves, rims, cords of wood, chain saw, utility trailer and most recently a GMC Sierra Truck. Josiah has purchased set nets, snow machines, and a trailer... We've had really good experiences. We're conscientious. If we plan to bargain we ask them if they are open to negotiating right from the start. We told the truck owner we'd want him to take it to our mechanic before we met him. In other words, we don't surprise the sellers. We've been told by several it's a pleasure to do business with us.

However, our last sale was odd. The man seemed nervous. We thought maybe it was because he was from Ireland and wasn't used to Craig's List?  After a couple of trips to Anchorage to check things out, we were ready to close the deal. We told him we'd meet him on Tuesday morning with a cashier's check. He didn't want to do that. He insisted on meeting us at the bank and watching the transaction for the cashier's check. He didn't want us to give him a ride back home or to his work, he took a cab, instead. We got the feeling he thought we were shady and was nervous about us... We couldn't figure it out.

Then... we laughed! I think he got the wrong impression. I think he thought we were hippies or drug dealers.  I wonder if we should let him know we are both licensed pastors?

Michael bought me a car! A sporty mini-van. I drove a 15 passenger van for decades while dreaming of a sporty mini-van. I've dreamed of a mini-van since 1994 when we traded in the panel-sided station wagon and got our first 15 pass van.   We outgrew the mini-vans before we purchased one.

We opted to buy the Jeep Liberty instead of a van a year and a half ago as we needed something we could tow with the RV. I love the Liberty. HOWEVER, in a year we've had to put 4K in repairs into it. We think the head gasket will be going out within a year. We are  no longer living in the RV and traveling. We have 3 big adult-sized kids who haven't complained about cramming into the back of the Liberty (they rock),  but I dreamed of a car with room for us to take grandblessings or guests with us on adventures. The Jeep will be a nice starter car for Nolan. He won't mind repairing it as it was free. He's saving up for a car. We just didn't like paying a good price for it AND putting in repairs, only to know it will need more soon. LOL
At the bank. He was so nervous, he made me nervous and
I snapped his photo from across the room - in case....
We are a Dave Ramsey family. We have been for decades now. We decided when the house sold in CA, we'd take some of the proceeds and buy a "family car." Our mechanic told us to look for a Toyota Sienna AWD or Honda Odyssey AWD/4WD.  This after we'd brought numerous cars to him to check out - he didn't like any of them. We had a budget for the car. Michael decided he needed a truck. We hoped to find a nice van and a beater truck. He found the truck first, and it wasn't the big 6-seater, but it wasn't a beater either.  We were offered another van, but Michael had found this one. It's the mileage we wanted (older than we expected but low miles), and it has all sorts of perks we have never had. It came in $10k less than the first vans we were looking at mostly the same mileage. We purchased both vehicles for less than we set aside....score!

I drove it home from Anchorage - directly to the DMV. It's got some dings....but our mechanic (Jeremiah at Reformed Auto) says it's an excellent van.  There are so many buttons on it,  I'm intimidated. I was happy to see which direction I was driving (NE), what the temp was outside  (10*), but the backup camera could distract me to the point of an accident if I'm not more careful.

It made me smile to come out of  Freddies and see it sitting there. 

It has invisible plastic shields on the front and back - which I thought were terrible scratches. LOL 

The sellers had always got it serviced at the dealer in Anchorage, and we have all the records. We also have a couple of you know how nice this will be up here??????

It has phone buttons, mics, all sorts of things happen with the heaters, mirrors and seats... I think I may need to read the manual.  I was sad it wasn't red. The first one Michael found was red. Less miles, newer, front wheel drive and a lot more money. We listened to the mechanic and went with the AWD, low mileage and big money savings. We need to replace the windshield - but I think that's an annual thing up here. I'm not sure the BEST time to replace it. It also needs a new tail light assembly....

I feel like I am awash in a sea of Air Force Blue (not my color). Both of CoRielle's cars are blue. The truck is blue....and now my car is blue.....but the TITLE says it's green! I'm hoping...just maybe....when I wash and wax will look more green than blue?  I'm really hoping there wasn't a different reason the seller was nervous.

I think I'm the only car in Alaska with an IRE sticker on the back windshield. We wondered if it meant the seller had anger management problems. He told us it's an Ireland sticker.

It was a red-letter day. A new van, a new grandblessing, and a fun Bible study. What do you think? Does it look green to you? If you're local, when do YOU replace cracked windshields?

Monday, January 14, 2019


YIKES! It's the 14th of the month! How did THAT sneak up on me? I woke this morning with the realization I'd not entered expenses, balanced the account, nor paid bills. However, the kids' work samples and grades are due tomorrow and I want them done TODAY.

TODAY is Dad Earl's 102nd birthday (though he's celebrating in heaven). Bre is due to have our sweet one at any time. I think if I take care of the work samples and finances today, I am available to go watch Bella and Gideon at a moment's notice.

Number one on the agenda was to send in work samples. I was making good time and done before noon.

Next on the agenda, pay became apparent several bills were due TODAY.  We also have books at the library that needed to be picked up TODAY.

Stacia and I ran to the bank, post office, dentist, MTA , library, and Enstar.....My word - I had the funniest experience at MTA involving a room full of seasoned citizens and the need for them to take a class on live streaming  in order to enjoy their "new cable."  "Something is wrong with this world if a man has to take a class just to watch T.V."

On the way home we stopped at Three Bears for a few groceries to tide us over until I can carve out time for the monthly grocery trip.

Three bears is an uniquely Alaskan store. They sell big sides of meat cut to your specifications,  all kinds of traps, as well as bread, nails and peanut butter.  They sell some Kirkland brand things....a bit marked up. However, there is no annual fee and one doesn't have to drive to Anchorage to shop. 

We got everything done, had a bit of Mom/Daughter time in the mix, and got home in time to make dinner.  I think we are ready to settle in for the baby wait. 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A Full Sunday

We ended the evening at home with the kids, and the Eagle River Contingent (Josiah, Jamin and Larissa). You know it's a good game of Egyptian rat when the first aid kit is pulled out. 

You may remember Jared went to Juneau for what was thought to be a 3 week stint. He has been told to expect to be in Juneau for the entire legislative session. It will be 90-120 days. This reminds me of short notice deployment orders - back in the day - before deployments went to 190 - 200 - 400 days. Jared is learning much. This is a great opportunity for him. We were thrilled Larissa came out to spend the afternoon with us. We are praying for both of them as they face new challenges in the upcoming months. 

But before the games.....there was church....

Sweet Daisy is 2 1/2 months old and so expressive! Michael still has the "touch" with the young ones at church. 

Nolan met us for lunch, and then we headed home to meet up with the Eagle River Contingent.

Cory has been given a promotion! Yay Cory! The promotion comes with a raise and the designation of "full time." He's been working full time, but was hired as part time.  We love to watch God work out the details of his plans for the Gherkins. Cory and Arielle are working hard to finish up college. While Cory worked on school, Benny and Arielle came up to visit.  It's been fun to have a little one to play with the nativity this year.

Michael and I ducked out for a bit to go to a house warming for a young friend. Of COURSE, this would be the only picture I took of the event. ::snort:: It was yummy tea. Her home is beautiful, and it was pure joy to be part of blessing her home and thanking God for his guidance in her life.

 Back at home we played with boxes, face timed Jared, visited, and played games. 
Uncle Cy has ideas with the box....Benny approved ideas! 
 It was predictable. With all the new toys in the house, the box at the end of the hallway was destined to be the favorite toy. 
Uncle Jamin took over the plane rides
It was a full day. We continue to wait with BreZaak for the arrival of their new little blessing.

*Note it is my goal to get the Christmas decor down this week.....but things happen.