Saturday, November 30, 2019

Post Thanksgiving Surprises & More

Snow had been predicted for Thanksgiving....nope. We were out taking care of chickens and Bunny in shirtsleeves. Benny joined us.....

Alex had to be at work at 0600. I took him to work and had several hours of a very quiet house in which to work on retreat prep. I've got four sessions roughed out - one to go.

Michael finished assembling the divider for the upcoming Colony Christmas float our church,  is entering. He began putting primer on it....

Krista spent time prepping and polishing a sermon. She also pulled out the bed-frame we purchased for Dad this summer. He moved his fancy select number queen bed up...she's been on the single mattress. The frame fits under Stacia's loft bed.

Stacia and Krista sorted through the church's costumes in preparation for the Colony Christmas float. She also played Christmas decorating elf and helped me put more touches around.....I will share photos when I feel like we're finished.

I'm not sure what Nolan did....he had the day off and it involved sleeping late, reading....he DID pick up Alex at 2:30 p.m. and brought home Papa Murphy's to treat us.

Dad is a bit disoriented as I took over his spot for the Christmas tree. He called Will and joked, "You won't believe my daughter is kicking me out for a tree....well she's moving my recliner."

He is reading through Michael's collection of Patrick McManus - an outdoor humorist from Idaho (Dad's home state).  He spent much of the day in the rocker in the kitchen, chuckling and sharing stories with me as I decorated and then worked on Turkey broth.

In the midst of decorating madness I found Christmas cards from six years ago. There is no date on them....I seriously began to wonder if anyone would notice if we mailed out old cards....

Yesterday morning Benny sweetly greeted me with a bit of prompting and this question, "Baachan can I have puppy?" 

Michael has instituted a "no dog" rule, which I agreed to abide by for a year before asking to re-evaluate.  BUT  CoRielle are moving in a few weeks, have been looking, and found one they wanted to go visit. Michael agreed Benny should have a puppy. Cory  and Michael have both voiced concern I will get attached and begin pestering Michael for a puppy. Who me????

The highlight of the day...a SURPRISE because after I ahhed over her sister, Cory pulled her from his jacket! TWO Golden Retriever/Husky mix puppies. 
Kimber is Cory's choice
Cory & Arielle with the puppies they each selected. 
Probably Kimber and Penny
 As a child, Stacia loved our Fisher Price Nativity. It didn't take Benny any time to find it, and begin playing with it. Alex used to put dinosaurs in the creche. The llama from another set became a permanent fixture.....and now I keep it low for the grands.  We were sad to note the angel no longer sings atop the roof....she buzzes. ::sigh::  I don't know that we can fix her. 

While all played Farkle, I finished processing and began canning Turkey broth. We are OUT of home canned broth and I have been looking forward to restocking the shelves.  The first batch is finished. 

I'll close this post-Thanksgiving post with puppy photos from Cory and Arielle. 

All tired out!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday Shopping, Decorating, Building, Watching Kids

I don't do Black Friday.

However, I woke up at 0500 and I KNEW that Freddie's had a buy one get one free sale on Fisher Price and games...I was awake anyway.

No one else was up.

I headed for Freddie's at 0515. It was the quietest I've seen the store in a long time. I enjoyed it. I wandered the aisles. They had 50% off of Christmas decorations. I got stocking stuffers at 50% off. I got 60% off other items....and spent $40 on toys so I earned free gift cards....and grabbed a sugar free skinny chai latte on my way home.

I walked in relaxed, smiling and enjoying my drink.

Arielle, Krista and Stacia wanted to head back out. I jumped in the shower while Arielle got Benny ready and we headed back to Freddie's. It seems most drive to Wasilla or Anchorage for Black Friday and I'm sure THOSE spots were crazy....I like relaxing deals with few people. LOL

Benny  was quite happy to have "My Baachan, my CoCo, my Yay ya, my mommy" all in the care. He scored a POLICE CAR when we arrived at Freddies!

Someone (Arielle cough cough) insisted that horrendous Christmas sweaters are great to wear. They were 60% off and I could almost envision wearing my gingerbread leggings with my over-sized ugly Christmas sweater - somewhere. 

Cory met up with Arielle and Benny on a break. They managed to buy his Christmas gifts....and Krista bought all she needed for the nephews and nieces. 

Arielle headed over to the house to work on projects.  Among other things she painted interior doors. Cory got home from work around 3:30 p.m. (went in at 0300) and he and Benny headed over to their house too. 

Krista, Stacia and I began Christmas decorating. Stacia and I had to leave before things were all in place and the boxes back in the garage...but the Krista and Stacia got the tree up. 

I KNOW this is a fire hazard...but when it's 47* in NOVEMBER we aren't burning wood, ANYWAY. I've always dreamed of stockings hung with care off a hearth.....until our winter finds its way back from Arizona.....
The generic clearance is for those not living in the home, but here on Christmas...
Michael and Alex cut out, and began building, the partition for our upcoming Christmas float. 

Stacia and I headed over to BreZaak's to watch the kids while Bre and Izaak went to Alive Alaska. 

Michael headed to CoRielle's to help Cory with projects. He put in some baseboard, installed a bathroom vanity and it's plumbing and I'm not sure what else. 

At some point Arielle brought Benny over to play so she could get things done at a quicker pace. We fed the kids dinner, played with numerous toys and watched some rather inane children's programming. ::snort:: 

Cory discovered split pipe which necessitated another Lowe's trip. They picked up Benny for another fun-filled trip to Lowes. 

By now he knows his way around Lowes - photo from Arielle

Bella fell asleep at 9 p.m. Gideon wasn't nearly ready for sleep. Bre arrived home, we said goodbye and stopped to check on the work crew next door.
Benny was excited to stop working and show off the progress. "Baachan, my Papa WORK." 

"Baachan Daddy Cory WORKING." 
Photo via Arielle

"Yay ya - my wall!" He loves his green wall. He's obviously been observing the work carefully. He grabbed a piece of scrap lumber and showed me how to turn it into trim. 
Note the paint on his bum.

As we left he was sweeping the kitchen. 

Arielle said they were taking guesses on when they'll be moving in. I guessed by next weekend....after seeing all they've done and all they have left to may be a couple of weeks...but they are making good progress. Cory put in 12 hours at work and then another 6 or 7 at the house. It looks like a HOUSE now. 

I think there is very little Benny likes better than "working" with Cory. The work is paying off. 
Working together - Great fun. Via Arielle.

Izaak stopped by when he got home to see how all was going. It was fun to hear his report on the evening's church service. I'll have to get a post together about Alive Alaska. I've not been to a service, but the reports are exciting from those who have been able to attend. 

Stacia and I arrived home around 10:30 p.m. Michael followed about 30 minutes later and CoRielle and Benny were later still. 

I'm not sure how Cory is still functioning. 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

My day began "bright" and early, as it did for many of you. I had already spent TWO DAYS in preparation for this ONE MEAL....I knew I'd need an early start to get everything done at the right time. 

I was a tad bit anxious about how I would lift the 24 lb bird out of the brine. My shoulder is still on "light duty." The "big rooster, as Benny calls it,  needed to be rinsed, dried, rubbed and then moved to the slow cooker. I needed it in the cooker by 0700 and no one was up.  The perfect soloution staggered up the stairs at 0630 in the form of Alex.

Arielle and Krista came in and joined the some point I broke away to work out and take a shower. 

We have used this simple tablecloth for Thanksgiving for over 25 has a few gravy stains...but it's special to us because of the signatures which have been collected year after year from our Thanksgiving Dinner guests. It's always fun to spread it out - and it always leads to reflection. 

We smiled and laughed as we shared memories of family like friends and lonely airmen from year's past. It was a perfect tribute to find our Mom's glad they were with us this one year....the same year that Izaak and Dakota joined.....

It is sobering to see kids' preschool signatures and realize they are now in high school or graduated....and now we add hand prints and signatures from new grand kids and son in laws....

I set up appetizers in time for our lunch.....and then brought them back out for the evening.

Pigs in a Blanket - Jamin's offering - requested yearly

Michael, Dad, and the boys checked out the Black Friday sales. Michael decided none are worth the drive to Anchorage. LOL

Here are some of the dinner grows as requests are made....many of these things only show up at holiday dinners....and then we have dairy allergies and diabetics to account for...which leads to say 2 kinds of potatoes, varied desserts etc..... Cory brought ham...yummm.....he spent the morning and this evening over working on the house..... 

Circling around the buffet line....

Our sweet Bella

Benny was the first to the dinner table. LOL 

It's still new enough to thrill us to have so many family members to celebrating together. JaRissa weren't able to be here....the other 8 Gherkins and their families were here.....and Michael, me, and Dad.

Dad (GG) and Benny make a phone call. 

Dad was remembering this is the second Thanksgiving without Mom....and how she loved to put on Thanksgiving dinner. I was pulling out her and Mom G's dishes...the memories flowed. Dad made my day when he came to me and said, "Your Mom worried about who would take care of me when she died, but she didn't need to worry. You are taking good care of me."  I am so impressed with the courage dad has shown to leave his church, friends and life in Eugene to move to Alaska with us. We are thankful to have him settling in to our crazy life.

I forgot to get a photo of the dessert table. It was excessive....4 sugar free options....cookies, candy, truffles (4 kinds), 3 pies, 2 kinds of WW mini-cheesecakes....
Peppermint, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Toffee, Lemon truffles

Stacia suggested I take a photo of her piece of Apple Pie - so I did. Totally sugar free. 

The pies, with the exception of the chocolate pecan pie were sugar free. Pecan is the one dad wants most - though he requested chocolate and it was sugar free. I couldn't think of a way to do pecan without sugar. I am going to look into a sugar free Karo syrup sub and play with it.

WW sugar free, mini-cheesecakes.....with non WW toppings for those who choose.

 I couldn't resist this family gift.  The kids are famous for "Gherkin house rules." Monopoly is especially long and complicated...with contracts and rights of passage and on and on.  We told the kids we had found a board game with the Gherkin House Rules. It's the cheater version of Monopoly.
Nolan collects Monopolies and has several versions
Michael suggested Farkle...but I was too tired to move and several others felt the same. We visited in the living room.   These 3 embarked on a game of Risk....Benny and Dad were helpful encouragers. 
I believe Nolan won
*Annie and Gideon WERE  here....I was simply so busy I didn't capture photos of everyone. We didn't SEE Annie - she slept through the whole dinner/afternoon.

WOW - Check this out!

Um....where did I go???? 

There is no doubt our fall schedule - out of the home five nights a week; something scheduled six days a week is busy - but we were handling it well...and it's easing up already. (This week we finished pre-marital counseling with a lovely young now we have commitments four nights of the week....its the start of margin).

BUT....the reason for the absence of posts has more to do with the incredibly SLOW laptop I took Stacia 30 minutes to simply sign on to her Facebook page!!!! It took about 20 minutes to turn the computer on. Things would go missing. Grrr.....and yet....I kept posting.....

UNTIL I injured my shoulder about 4 weeks ago. I couldn't type or text....or really sit still even. I hadn't been in pain that required movement since labor 14 years ago.  I went to the doctor and was given a shot and muscle relaxants and told to alternate a couple of anti-inflammatory meds around the clock. The drugs made me sleep and I slept the first week away. I felt a bit better by the second week, but still couldn't type and was doing all I could to simply complete school and prep for Bible study, attend pre-marital sessions.....I felt good this Monday and had a doctor appointment. I avoided a shot as I could do everything requested of me in the exam....but after all the manipulations, I couldn't sleep again Monday night.....and was back taking 800 mg of Ibuprofen every 8 hours..... I also can't SLEEP for more than a couple of hours before the pain wakes me up....but THAT is MUCH better than the past 3 weeks when I couldn't lie on either my side, or my back, without pain. I've been sleeping in "my" recliner in the nook (Mom's old recliner that Dad brought up).....streaming Netflix and reading to get my mind off pain.  This is week four - and I am still in pain....but it's more of a dull ache. I have been told to go back on the meds if it hurts and to avail myself of a hot tub - which I don't have. ::snort::

Injury, slow motivation to be online. 

Michael had an appointment in Anchorage on Wednesday.  I stayed home as I was doing some serious Thanksgiving prep. He came home with TWO gifts.....

LOOK at this thing. It has a GOLD lid....and it is fast. Michael told me it would be the fastest computer I've ever used...and it is.  I was NOT expecting a Cadillac of laptops - I'm used to the Pinto of laptops. It's an I7 HP Specter. It SINGS....I've been told it has plenty of space for graphics and will be fast for editing videos too. It seems some would like me to get the YouTube Channel running again.....It took hours to edit video each night and I wasn't very good at it....but maybe I will agree to a weekly update. We'll see....first I have to transfer everything from the slow computer and return it to IDEA (Our home school charter program).  The speed amazes me! Our computers were very fast in Japan. We can't get those Internet speeds in the states (at least as civilians).....even with our sluggish Internet up here under the mountain.....this is as fast as our computer in Japan - maybe faster.

He also came home with THIS - a total surprise.  The color printer has been down for months and Michael was researching buying a new print head or a different printer. It made it difficult to work on graphics for women's ministry AND impossible to print photos for his sister....
This is a Color Laser printer/copier/scanner. 

Michael found a great "Early Black Friday" sale.....and both were significantly under normal retail prices....the laptop costs nearly 3x what I've spent on the laptops I've previously purchased.....but oh, how it sings! 

I'm motivated to work on the computer.....but first....I will work on RETREAT SESSIONS..... I don't think I've shared  I will be traveling to Mt Hermon Retreat Center to speak at the Travis AFB PWOC retreat the end of January. The computer has been so slow I've been handwriting my session notes. It's been frustrating to come back and not be able to ready what I'd prepared.....because when I get on a roll I write too fast to be legible. I'm set now. I thought I'd be escaping from the snow when I flew to snow here. I GUESS I NEED TO MOVE TO ARIZONA!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Before There Is Thanksgiving There is the Great Cranberry Hunt of 2019

MONDAY - I PLANNED to  do our Thanksgiving shopping, and then make truffles, snack mix, cookies and cheese cake.

In reality, I spent considerable getting Dad set up for Medicare. We still have to find a licensed insurance agent to buy a supplement, but his meds will be covered under D and that's the cheapest option for him. Unfortunately, we discovered there is NOTHING like medicare advantage in Alaska. NONE of the options cover dental and vision and we'll have to pay that out of pocket. OUCH.... We were both a bit bummed and sober when we left the office. Dad suggested a sandwich and soup at Sophia's.  PERFECT.

We came home, I got dinner, Michael and I went to the church to meet with a darling couple about to become Mr. & Mrs.

TUESDAY. I woke determined to get the shopping done. I was there bright and early...and stayed for 3 hours.  I was not able to pick up Dad's meds or cranberries.
Ready to get home and begin baking - Note the absence of snow!
 Stacia, Dad, Arielle and Benny were on hand to unload the van.
"Heavy, Baachan, heavy!"

We checked back at Freddies for meds and cranberries at 2 p.m. The truck with the cranberries was predicted to be in. It wasn't. We did get one med. Evidently, they called Dad about the other med. I need to hunt down the message.

Stacia and I got busy and made brownie bites and the inside of truffles.  That's all we got done  before I needed to get working on dinner and out the door for Gather Bible Study.

I checked Freddies after Bible study. 9:49 p.m. and I scored cranberries. I bought 5 lbs. I will NOT be caught without cranberries again. I may even sell baggies of cranberries to those who didn't have the foresight to buy extra for Christmas dinner. ::snort::

WEDNESDAY. Stacia and I managed to work in time for our Brave study.  We like going to Sophia's....Michael had an appointment in Anchorage. We decided I would stay home so Stacia and I could focus on getting as much of the cooking as possible done before Thursday.

We covered truffles in chocolate....these were not sugar free. We made 4 kinds before deciding we did not have time to make the other 2 kinds.

crunchy peanut butter toffee truffles
Krista got home from work and made a cheese ball. She asked what else she could help with - I promptly set her to making two mini-cheese cake recipes I adapted from WW. I made them SF so Dad and I can eat them. The jury is still out on the WW version of  chocolate cheesecake,  but I LOVE the vanilla cheesecake. I chopped up some sugar free chocolate and added it.  I plan to use this recipe in the future and add cocoa to make sugar free mini chocolate mint cheesecakes.

Arielle and Benny came up to keep us company....and to help. Here, Benny and I whip cream - which we mixed with sugar free Lily's chocolate to make a reduced calorie mousse. We used this for Michael's pie....and as a side dish. We've since discovered how to turn it into a out world.

Arielle prepped sugar free apple pie filling while I made pie crusts and cut out shapes for the top of one.  I made the Chocolate Pecan pie filling and we assembled pies. I want to figure out how to make a sugar free pecan pie....suggestions? Dad loves pecan pie.
Chocolate pecan and Apple pies

Dad called Mikhail and Elizabeth (our nephew and niece).....Benny was happy to take a break with GG....for just a minute.

Michael got home from Anchorage and was FULL of surprises.....a new computer and printer. He had agreed to take care of the brine for the turkey as my shoulder protests at 24lbs....getting better all the time...but I was told to try to rest it and proceed to light duty....I'm trying to listen. I do NOT want to end up going up the pain scale again. I don't pick up Benny or Gideon.....I don't pick up roasters with 24 lb turkeys in them.

Benny was QUITE interested in this process. He and Dad came over to observe/help. 

Such a persistent helper.


And there the turkey goes for 12 hours.