Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Solstice 2018

The shortest day of the year. This has always been a fact - but it hasn't been a THING until this year.  The dark has not bothered me living in Alaska, the summers with 20 hours of sunlight and 4 hours of dusk have had more of an effect on me, than the dark winters.
10:15 a.m. - sun rising
This year, however,  I HAVE CHICKENS! I know  they will be happier when the weather is warmer and the days are brighter.  I've been checking for frostbite, shoveling their yard, chipping ice from the inside of the coop....and I've been SHOCKED their egg production has not abated. Several have reminded me  we were almost to the darkest day of the year and THEN it will begin to get lighter.....
16 eggs from 16 girls today! Champs. 

They DO appreciate us shoveling  and spreading shavings
Winter Solstice....where we reside, in South Central Alaska, means sunrise at 10:16 and sunset at 3:35 p.m. today.  5 hours and 19 minutes of sunlight. The chart I am checking  doesn't show measurable difference for a week - but in a week we will supposedly have SIX - 6! more minutes of sun a day! Six more minutes!!!!  For the first time in my life, I feel like CELEBRATING Winter Solstice.
Yes, Michael left the leaning tree for me as it's emotional to get rid of it-
but I am fairly sure its charted for firewood for next year. 

This is how we filled the shortest day in the year. We visited a bit....

...and introduced Benny to the stash of Christmas reading under the tree. 

 "See, Auntie? That's the outside. Mommy takes me out there every day. It used to be warm and green.....but now it's white and if we don't hurry it will be dark and we won't see the moose and lynx. Hurry, it will get dark soon. Let's go." 

Yuuki has discovered the tree skirt. She has a perfectly fine, fluffy, fleece blanket....she drags it to the wood-stove to wrap up....and when she leaves the wood-stove, she sneaks under the tree to wrap up in the tree skirt. She's not done this in previous years. 

We aren't feeling Christmas stress. We have our family gift exchange on Dec 31st at our New Year's shindig....and our "immediate family"  exchange (as in those still living at home) won't happen until Epiphany. No stress - just prepping to celebrate Jesus' birthday. That means I DO need to consider a menu....and there is great discussion in our home about what sort of birthday cake Jesus likes best. It seems he does NOT like the typical green, red, dark, white cake others make....and I've been informed it would be heresy for me to make a Devil's Food Cake. It seems this is a debate only HE can settle....does he prefer an Extreme Moose Track ice cream cake or a Andes Chocolate cheesecake.  We may have to research the biblical practice of drawing lots to settle this one...but it best be soon so baking/assembling can commence!

There will be a family dinner and celebration on the 25th - and it has been decided -  along with the "Jesus stocking," - Christmas stockings will be opened at that time. Stacia has a project which will require TIME and so she, Krista, Arielle, Benny and I headed out to the stores. We thought Joann's would be dead as most would have bought materials for projects much sooner. Nope. Folks wait until the end. She and I picked up supplies and will sneak secret sewing time between now and New Year's Eve.

Where better to head for stocking stuffers than Walmart?  Last year everyone got several gift cards....$15 - 25 for 17 people adds up. I had also bought at Bed Bath Beyond, Ulta and Sportsman Warehouse. I agreed our expenditures were excessive for stockings and set out to fill stockings in a way that will leave a bit more padding in the budget AFTER Christmas. ::snort:: I think I managed it for $17.64  per stocking this year. That's less than just ONE gift card per person.  SCORE
Speaking of scoring - the last cart at Walmart 
 We headed home to meet up with the guys and Jamin for Pizza and games - it IS Friday. I was surprised by this package from one of my sweet gals in Japan. Thank you, Hope.

Real Ramen - sorta....and fun flavored Kitsu Katsu...and a beautiful pendant from Nozomi. 

I have wanted a piece of jewelry from Nozomi since I first heard of their project. I didn't get around to buying one for myself before we left Japan, and hadn't looked into buying any online. This is a ministry which employs women in Ishinomaki, an area greatly affected by the tsunami of 2011.  Nozomi means hope in Japanese, this ministry/company seeks to see and share "Beauty in Brokenness". They make jewelry from the broken pieces of pottery which littered the landscape after the tsunami. Each piece is named, by the creator, in honor of a woman in her life. They are beautiful - and the in brokenness - redemption - restoration....shouts hope to my spirit and soul. What a beautiful surprise!

I didn't grab any photos of us playing Uno...or Jamin....but here are a few of a "riddle game" Krista tried to share with us.

Benny was more interested in the bells than in solving the riddle. 

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