Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Fun

Church this morning.

Lunch with BreZaak, Donna, Krista and us. Unfortunately, I never remember to take photos.

We came home and Stacia made a couple of pot pies while Krista and I made cookies. No, we weren't peckish. Alex and Michael (more driving practice) drove to the next town to deliver a meal to a sweet friend's family who had surgery on Friday.

I set out munchies and we played "the game" - Farkle.  THIS is one of many reasons I'm excited about our multi-generational nest! I never had the opportunity to know any of my great-grandparents.  It's been a rich season having our kids, our grandkids, and dad living under our roof.  We had heard of such families - dear friends have multi-generational homes, Michael was raised in one, as was Cory - but we didn't see it with the military lifestyle.

 Dad invited Benny to roll for him.

Benny has a unique roll  - his whole body gets into the action. 

Earlier in the day I happened on GG reading his paper - check out all the dinosaurs with him....on the arms of the chair, his knee, his shoe....::snort:: 

CoRielle will be moving to their new home within a month or two....but the chance for Benny, Bella, Gideon, and Annnie to get to know their GG is priceless! What a blessing. I know without a doubt, he is blessed by their presence as well.

We consider ourselves lucky to have Dad moving into our home. We are thrilled we are "retired" and have the ability to stay in one place and have Dad join us. It's such a great time for our kids to deepen a relationship with dad as well.

Through the past few challenging years - when deeply desired dreams were denied - we continued to believe there was a reason. We would eventually see why we weren't allowed to be missionaries in Japan.  I am not sure this is "all," but this is one very special reason we can find joy in being denied our dream - we've been given another we'd not even considered wishing for.  God is always good. 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Alaska Zoo Trip

Our church planned a trip to the zoo today....then there was talk of un-planning it as everyone was busy. Stacia and I talked with Arielle and decided to go early in the morning anyway. This would work better with Benny's nap and my driving time. I tend to get tired in the afternoon and want to nap. ::snort::  It was 50% off day at the zoo - a deal too good to pass by.

In the end BreZaak and Donna met up with Pastor and family at the zoo at the planned time. We crossed paths and got to share hugs on the run.
Harper, Sydney and Bella - photo via Lindsey 
The GPS took us to the BACK of the zoo - but after we figured that out - we were fine. It turns out zoo memberships were also 50% off. If we go one time we will have paid our price for the membership - so yes, we are now members of the Alaska Zoo.

Benny had no clue what he was about to see. Here he is at the first exhibit - the Polar Bear.
Fun Times
 Another Girls Day plus 1. 
Arielle, Stacia, Benny and Me
 So much to see...

Benny got real excited about the antlers! "Cor, My daddy," he squealed. 

We haven't been to this zoo in 15 years and they have gotten many new animals. While we still had quite a few animals we could see in our yard (Moose, lynx, owl, porcupine) there were many we do NOT see in our yard...polar bears, brown bears, camels and tigers come to mind. LOL 
Beautiful tigers
Seeing how big the claws on the brown bear are gave us a bit of a start. 

Napping happened on the way home. 

You can't make a person nap...but I'm firm believer of putting one's feet up, grabbing a book, and resting mid-afternoon, for children and adults. I did just that when we got home.

I heard squealing and Krista told me Benny was under the deck spraying up and people who came outside. I got wet to grab this photo. πŸ˜€

Michael and Alex did some driving instruction....and cut down another spruce tree.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Stacia has a Birthday

It is nearly impossible to believe our baby - OUR BABY - is FOURTEEN and entering HIGH SCHOOL. 😏 We have four short years of homeschooling left. We have NEVER started school before her birthday - it just seems it should be a holiday. 

Stacia asked for Yakisoba for dinner. This is a favorite of hers - not so much with the men-folk.  I stopped at the commissary and picked up ingredients we can't find locally. We were able to use carrots, cauliflower and broccoli from the garden.  It looked yummy.....but um...when Krista doesn't add Sriracha sauce one KNOWS it's spicy! 

We gave it a valiant effort. We tried all the "cut the heat" tricks any of us had heard...we drank milk, plugged our noses and at pickles with it. I finally mixed mine with mashed potatoes and that tamed the heat a bit. Our lips burned. Krista said it was just a step below ghost peppers.  I served it on paper plates. I am NOT making this up. When we moved the plates it had taken the varnish off the table.

I have promised to make it again - and to be SURE to cut the heat! LOL

Josiah and Jamin came over after dinner. Bre, Donna and the kids came over. The S's came upstairs for dessert and cards.
Auntie and Sweet Bella
Cory has two short weeks left until he is FINISHED with his college degree! We're proud of all the hard work he's put in to make this happen. It would have been easy to  be derailed with the move, Benny joining their family,  and his full-time job. He often has to stay downstairs and "focus" - but he joined us for Stacia's birthday and it made just that much more special of an event. Benny was impressed Daddy can make noise with his noise maker. Benny can't. 

Unfortunately, the cake photos were blurry. Michael made a yummy Mint Moose Track ice cream cake....and then we moved the fun outside. Adults played disc golf  or visited, while the kids enjoyed the play structure.
Oops - Gideon is tough

Note I have added a bit of a padding at the bottom of the kami-kazi slide. 

It remains a blast to give Stacia gifts.  Alex got her more pieces for looms. 

 CoRielle and Nolan get her a DVD which should be here soon....and we've been warned we'll have to expect a Descendants marathon.

Krista gave her a DQ card and Gpa gave her a bit of spending money.

She had requested an adult Bible. Specifically, she asked for one with adult language rather than a 3rd grade reading ability. (Did I mention we are shocked she's going into HIGH SCHOOL? She's our baby.) Um - that would be New American (high school level). She was happy with her engraved name on the front. 

It was a fun day of reflection and celebration for the blessing Stacia is to our family.

Berry Picking with the Girls

We've been wanting to go blueberry picking. I had scheduled an event for the women's ministry at church - but it was the week school began and many of our ladies were  back at work. It didn't happen. TODAY is Stacia's birthday. Krista had to work and Bre had other plans; but  Arielle, Stacia and I decided to make this happen. Stacia wanted to do it for her birthday - a free gift we could give her - time.  It was "Girl's Day plus 1."

Stacia and I were sure to grab the bear spray. Unfortunately, neither of us realized we couldn't wear the can without a belt.😜 It may have been a bit more effective if we'd worn belts. We tried to post the name of the trail and where we were for safety reasons - but it didn't post until we were out of the mountains. ::snort::

Arielle brought Cory's gun. She wasn't 100% sure how to wear it - but we were happy to have a back up if the spray didn't work and back up was needed. Yes, she knows how to shoot. 

We GREATLY over-estimated how many berries we would get! ::snort:: We got about a quart all together.  Once we figured out the bushes on the ground were berry bushes - we set to work.

Benny did not understand why we'd put "boo barrys" in the container rather than eating them. LOL 

"The hills are alive...with the sound" 

It was a beautiful day to be out in nature. It was quiet and we had to remind ourselves to make noise....When we worked up the rise to the point where we no longer had a sweeping view of the mountain - we left. It was eerie not to be able to scan far for bears. 

Iconic Alaskan Photos....Benny on her back and a gun on her front.

This was our maiden voyage with Benny's new car seat. Arielle had assured us it would make it easy to take Benny on adventures in my van. It did. 

We couldn't help noticing that the Fireweed is blooming out. 

When we were done picking we set out to find a fun place to eat our lunch. We usually stop at Gold Mint Trailhead and it's nice....but we drove on to Government Peak Trailhead this time. I think I liked it even better. It was a very easy walk down to the water.
14 years old today! 

We ate, visited, threw rocks, and played pooh sticks. 

Before any of us were quite ready - it was time to head back to town. We had birthday prep to finish. It was a great day. I think we need to have more outings like this.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Well-Lived Summer Day

Summer evenings* are made for campfires. We set around the fire until after midnight with sweet friends last night. Tonight - it's a family circle around the fire. Cory is just 2 weeks away from finishing his degree and is pushing to finish, Dad decided he wanted to turn in early tonight (he was out until 8:45 p.m. last night).  We LOVED nightly campfires when we lived full-time in our RV. This is a habit we have worked to carry over into our stationary lifestyle. It is FINE if everyone simply reads at the campfire...some nights we talk, or read a chapter of Patrick McManus....tonight we relaxed.
Michael, Stacia, Nolan, Krista, Alex

We don't have s'mores EVERY night, but I have converted a tool box to a "s'more kit" and it IS always ready to go. πŸ˜‰

Of course, relaxing around the fire is much more satisfying if one has been productive during the day.

I mailed off packages....and had a 2 hour ILP (Individual Learning Plan) meeting with our contact teacher at IDEA,  the charter school where our children are registered.  She loved the kids' plans....she knows our family and we truly like each other. She is a Pastor's wife and I keep thinking it would be fun to visit their church - but I haven't found a week where I want to miss our church. ::snort::  She said there will be no problem waiving the extra credits Stacia is taking as she knows we will do what we say we will do, and  she has seen how we are working to keep Stacia engaged and challenged. She had suggestions for Alex which I think will prove to be beneficial as we steer him towards his future. Specifically, she helped me create a much stronger "Career Prep" credit for him than the Sonlight texts I had....we'll incorporate local and state resources. She also explained  he qualifies for the Alaska Performance Scholarship and can use the money  for Voc Tech classes. As we talked, I realized Ales hasn't taken Ramsey's Foundation of Personal Finances - a requirement to graduate from our home school.  I mentioned we'd be working on that on the side and she suggested we incorporate it with the Sonlight Economics course to make it a full credit course.

And then....we simply talked. We shared about her recent visit home and my summer....and what it is like to be a woman in your 50's with parents aging and grandblessings thrilling....and to do it all from, and in, Alaska.

I stopped at Lowes for marking paint, peat moss and lime. Gardening and timber felling.... LOL I made a final stop before coming home for Dad's paper.

The front of our place is wonderfully private in the spring/summer/fall. It's very public in the winter when the cottonwood and birch trees lose their leaves.  It's a forest - and we're always working to keep the cottonwood from taking over.....

Michael and Alex went into this mess and cleared out Cottonwood. They left a a one deep stand between our home and the clearing. 
So handy to have these two in our midst
They planted four evergreens. It's a start. We'll leave the cottonwood as these grow...and then remove some of the Cottonwood to gain a bit more yard once the new ones provide privacy.  Once again, thinking in terms of years from now is an oddity for us - and we're enjoying it. We have the time to change this. 

Dad likes to come out and do what he can - always providing encouragement, and a few jokes, along the way. 
Michael, Dad and Alex 
THIS is the squash which grew from our secondary compost pile. This gives me great hope for my lasagna's taken over the area to the north of the garden which I hadn't weeded or planted. 

We aren't sure what it is. Arielle and I have talked about it and we both had spaghetti and butternut squash seeds we threw in the compost....maybe it will be one of those? Regardless, we have a lot of blossoms on it.... What do you think?

This tells me our compost is not heating up enough to really "compost" and that it IS providing enough nutrients to grow things...more than our soil. LOL  I have not been able to use the compost we started last year....we aren't adding to it any longer and I hope to be able to use it next year. I think it will just take longer for it to "cook" due to the cold winters.

I'm doing my best to awaken a love of growing things in the next generation. 
Bachan - look! 

 We have cauliflower! 

We have both red and green cabbage. It's amazing how much better it looks without moose eating the center out of them. LOL 

The bed is terribly over-crowded. I pulled off the lower leaves and put another green layer on the lasagna bed. I don't have any more "frames" for a bed...and the guys are busy with trees, so won't be making more beds. I think I'll stake out a few more beds so I can utilize our grass clippings, barnyard litter, and fall leaves. 

This is kale AFTER I've harvested 7 quarts. I think I'm going to harvest it all before we leave for OR and freeze it. I suspect more will grow while we are gone and we'll have plenty fresh when we return. 

We are getting lots of broccoli. 

We had another night of yummy veggies from the garden...zucchini, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots....garnished with fresh basil....

Um....I tried to show him the goals for disc golf...but he thinks the goal is to throw the disc through the trees. Come to think of it, he has observed such playing. LOL 

My heart! Benny's new pose when he knows I'm going to take a photo. 

Playing with Mom is always more fun than playing with anyone else! 

It was a fun day.....and while I don't want to concede fall's arrival - I am looking forward to many fall evenings around the campfire. LOL

*Summer Evenings - it's getting dusky at 9 p.m. now, and it doesn't get light until 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. We have a few leaves on the ground, and the trees are starting to turn golden....fall is certainly on it's way...but for now, my calendar still says this is summer!