Thursday, December 31, 2020

6th Day of Christmas - Goodbye 2020

2020 ...yes, it's had hard aspects...pandemics, killer bees, aliens and all. Honestly, it has not been our hardest year. We have had wonderful joys in the midst of 2020...tonight, we gathered to say goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021. 

Before we gathered, Krista drove Michael to Anchorage for a procedure on his foot. He is now supposed to stay off it a few'll see many more sitting photos than typical of this night. 

We began with dinner. 

Followed by fierce competition....yes, the annual Gingerbread Competition. 

Girls Team!

Krista, Arielle, Olivia & Carrie (dating Cy)
and Stacia

Bella, Annie, Bre and Larissa were missed. We hope they can join us next year. 

The Boys Team 
Cy, Alex, Luke (dating Krista) Jamin & Cory 

Izaak, Gideon, and Jared were missed. Check out the plans below! Blueprints for gingerbread competition....

The work began - everyone got involved...
Even Danny played a part...

G G needed to offer his advice

Papa had the best job. 

Reno is not the typical lap dog! 

Checking out the fireworks...

But first - the family gift exchange. We draw names and exchange gifts on NYE. This frees everyone to do their own thing, or visit with in-laws on Christmas. Benny is suitably impressed with the gifts showered on him. 

The dino cup was a hit

Jamin not only got Alex a Tundra comic book, he had it signed by the author when he interviewed him for an upcoming podcast. 

Krista is told her squatty potty stool is on it's way. ::snort:: 

After gifts there was another hour of gingerbread building and then it was time for bonfire and fireworks.  Before photos - we were safe. There are adults by children - even if they are cropped out of the photos! NOTHING was catching fire in the middle of all this snow. We were also legal. Alaska allows this on New Year's Eve. 

Benny enjoyed the fireworks this year

Josiah was busy manning fireworks

Michael bundled Dad out and they came to the deck. Josiah loaded them down with Roman candles. Michael is reaching down to dad in his wheelchair. Yikes - I still think that awfully close to the top of the stairs. LOL 

Baachan's shadow

We ended our display around 11:30 p.m. so the Eagle River crew could get on the highway before midnight.  It took a bit of time to round everything up before CoRielle left for home. Where could Benny be? 

Resting with Papa. All the kids did so well tonight. 

Monday, December 28, 2020

3rd Day of Christmas - Investing in Relationships

 On the 3rd day of Christmas we took time to invest in friendships. It was good.  This Covid season can leave one feeling disconnected and isolated. In our state we are not on lock down.  We ARE to social distance (the big 3....wear a mask, wash your hands often, stay 6 feet apart). 

Krista greeted me today with the idea she would take Dad with her to get her flu shot and I would have  time to grab a minute with a friend.  Michael pointed out Krista would need to take the van. He and Stacia were heading out shopping (household gift exchange comes late for us). They dropped me at Sophia's at 12:15.  I welaxed.  My friend, Brenda, works next door. She came over on her break and we shared a cup of tea. It was the quickest 30 minutes in the week! How does time shift like that? Some moments fly by and some stretch on and on. 

Krista and Dad picked me up. Dad was happy for the outing, and really happy he talked Krista into a romp through the McDonald's drive-through. I was grateful for family that made it possible. 

This evening Caitlyn, a friend who is "going outside" for a few months, came over and played games. Unfortunately, we played Quelf. I understand some love this game! I am not one of those people. 

I didn't take one photo - but it was a good day invested in people and our relationships with them. 

Saturday, December 26, 2020

1st Day of Christmas

 Whut? Christmas was yesterday! 


Yes, it was. 

And after Christmas comes....the 12 Days of Christmas.  That period of time between Christmas and Epiphany (Jan 6th).  


The day on the liturgical church calendar when the arrival of the wise men is celebrated.  This is the day we  "aim" for a household gift exchange....which frees us up to slowly savor all the other gift giving opportunities throughout the season.  The kids do laugh about the year we didn't exchange household gifts until March! That was 2017. We just didn't feel like it that year.  

I'm quite sure there is a proper way to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas. I know there are certain focus' for each day...we simply choose to stretch out Christmas beyond the 25th. This helps us focus on the ADVENT of Jesus before Christmas and all the gift giving and such after Advent. 

We find these days to be busy...we love it.  Most family members have some time off work so we take time to reconnect at every opportunity. 

Today - the first day of Christmas - was full of visits from our kids.  Jamin stopped by when Arielle and the boys were by....Benny was quick to enlist Uncle's help in a nerf war of epic proportions. 

Jamin is never far from his mobile office! This has been a great year for his real estate business - despite Covid.  We never know when he'll have a showing out here in the Valley and pop in. We love it. 

Carrie and Olivia have been visiting family in Florida. They got back late on the 24th. Today was our first day to see them. It was fun to catch up.  Carried made up Danny time. 

Cy, Carrie and Danny

A rousing game of Dixit developed. 
Stacia, Carrie & Danny, Arielle, Benny, Livie

Nolan and Alex worked. I believe Krista spent the day with Luke. Maybe.  Michael, Dad and I "never work," however, we LOVE days off when the kids can visit. 

Not the best presentation - but Michael got a spread of smoked salmon, salmon jerky, summer sausage, cheese and crackers out!  

Thus ends Dec 26th. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Happy Christmas Eve

Having Covid and 6 weeks of quarantine put a crimp in our Christmas time table.  I went to bed knowing  TODAY I would need to pick up more stocking stuffers, finish making gifts, take said gifts around, prepare for Christmas dinner, make a Happy Birthday Jesus cake, make a stable/star and such, attend communion and a candlelight service, and care for Dad. 

Silent Night....the memories

Stacia offered to make the cake - see previous post. 

Krista called me at about 6:30 a.m. and was at Fred Meyers. She picked up the few groceries and gift items I needed. Michael got up and offered to take me to all the stores I needed to visit. I told him that was done and set him to writing cards. 

I shared the kitchen with Stacia. We love to give a small gift to friends and neighbors...covid being what it is...our plan was to give out a small Advent devotional rather than homemade things. The problem is we were locked down tight when the books arrived, and by the time we were let was so late in the year no one would have appreciated the book. We are READY for NEXT year...don't buy this book if we typically give you a gift. LOL 

Photo via google images

I took stock of what I had in my pantry and what was on the shelves locally....We decided to make a couple kinds of drink mixes and some caramel corn. Even THAT was a challenge. The original plan was to find jars, cover the lids with fabric, ribbons and labels....couldn't find jars or tins...and then I needed tea to make Chai Tea mix....and I couldn't find all the tea we needed...but we got it popcorn in the tins, less drink than planned...Michael found these containers...filled with a a bag of Double Hot Chocolate mix and Chai Tea mix, topped with a water tower ornament we purchased from Carl's Creations and they were good to go.....CARDS....lovely, meaningful ones from Michael...and the ones I did were not quite so thoughtful - but all are HEART FELT. We love the community God has led us to join. 

Michael and Dad left to deliver gifts. They managed to get most of the gifts on this side of  town done...we'll have to deliver the next town over on the 26th. 

I filled Christmas stockings and wrapped a few gifts while they were gone. We got a LOT done - the essentials. 

They got back in time for us to make it to church. Pastor and Lindsey served communion to individual families in lieu of our usual Christmas Eve service.  None of our extended family were out this year, and Nolan was working, Krista was celebrating with Luke's family...and so...we were a small group - but it was meaningful. We did miss the service with all the grands and kids out.  

We headed over to Gateway Christian Fellowship/Sophia's Cafe for their candlelight service. We sang Christmas carols, watched kids in costumes, took communion,  and sang Happy Birthday to Jesus.  It was a great way to end a busy day. 

BTW this is an odd angle of Dad. He's actually lost much weight....he is down from a size 40 to a size 36 waist....I am NOT starving him, but since he's moved here he isn't doing daily doughnuts, McDonald's Breakfasts and lunches at diners. ::snort:: Since I don't eat sugar (pre-diabetic) there are lots of sugar free options and treats for him to choose from instead of his typical doughnut. He'd lost 36 lbs before surgery and another 15 lbs after surgery. Post surgery his appetite is quite diminished. His mind TELLS him to load up, but he simply doesn't eat much. We all agree this is healthy for his blood sugars and heart,  he looks good and feels better.  It should level out soon - and if not there are always ensure shakes and fat bombs. 

Stacia is Developing Some Mad Skills Or There is FROSTING All Over My Kitchen

We've had  sheet cakes with block letters on it. There have been a couple of years I simply picked up a cake at Walmart and had them write "Happy Birthday Jesus," on top. We've had ice cream cakes  and even cupcakes, but  I am quite certain we've never had such an elaborate "Happy Birthday Jesus" cake.

Stacia volunteered to make the cake this year. I'm blown away. She combined gingerbread figures, cake, fondant, frosting and came up with this. 

Of course, BEFORE she reached this point my kitchen was COVERED with frosting...she DID clean up, but Michael stayed up and did a deep cleaning on the kitchen, picked up around the living room and told me to go get in bed. BEST Christmas gift ever. Y'all there was frosting on the back of my TOASTER. ::Snort:: 

I have learned to smile, nod, and say, "Yes, I think that will work. You can do it!," when Stacia starts talking cakes or desserts....

Sometimes, I wonder....but more often than not, things turn out great. I told her this is more a "panoramic" than a cake. The cake is the part with the stable, pig, hay bales and family....the rest is all decorated "things." 

For the past several years Stacia has wanted to own a coffee/tea shop/bakery. She envisions it being a hub of the community. Seriously, we have places like this we loved in Texas and California but they were always full of New Age/ Eastern Religion lit and advertisements. We often discussed how it would be nice to go into a spot and have our values and an entire community's values reflected and not just one slice of the community showcased....I think that was the start of her dream. 

When we moved here we discovered a church which operates in the midst of a cafe in the midst of our community. Cafe all week - and yet church all week - KWIM? We came to love it over a year ago when we began going out weekly for breakfast and study. We realized they NEVER rushed us to finish our study, the music was Christian or soothing, and we noted several other groups that come and do the same every week. 

One thing led to another and Stacia was offered a job at this cafe/church...two days a week.  Her schedule is full with Algebra 2, Chemistry, Culinary Arts AND working....but she is learning first hand what her dream may cost....she is learning skills that she thinks will complement the path she is on....

In the meantime, we are benefitting from her developing mad skills. She just started "studying" cake decorating in the past 6 months or so. I would love to find her a teacher - but haven't. We asked Autumn, the kitchen manager, at the cafe, if she gives lessons. She doesn't, but offered tips, began looking at what Stacia is doing...and those conversations led to Stacia's first job. 

If any of you are cake decorators or know someone locally who would love to meet with a homeschooler and give her lessons....please speak up! It may be summer before Stacia could fit another thing into her schedule, but we'd really like to find some real time lessons. We believe in her vision and dream. 

And, yes, she DOES love working at the Cafe. She is learning to be more out going, knows how to make fancy coffee drinks, washes lots of dishes, busses tables, takes orders and answers phones...she has been told when she is old enough they'll let her do more things. Meanwhile, she WATCHES and learns and comes home and practices. They have some great bakers at the cafe. Check out Sophia's Cafe if you haven't tried it.