Tuesday, November 30, 2021

A Bit of This and That


Dad slept in this morning and I savored time with my tea, the Word and a quiet house. It was a gift. 

Michael made an unscheduled drive to Anchorage for a root canal. His tooth pain should let up soon. 

The girls and Nolan kept pushing with school. 

Our contact teacher called to go over the girls' ILPs. Stacia's was pretty straight-forward.  Allie's took a surprising turn. Alaska offers a state scholarship to students who make a certain score on the SAT, and who take an academic path to college, this is known as the APS.  Some months ago Allie discussed her post-secondary prep with our contact teacher. She said the APS was out of Allie's range. As Allie wanted the door to college open, we told our contact teacher we would focus on making the strongest transcript possible for college applications and scholarships. We added classes to Allie's course load last year. She took a full load this summer. We have all worked HARD. Last week, I left a message reporting Allie has already done more than a year's worth of foreign language work and I'd like to add another credit of foreign language for her spring semester. This is all documented through the company offering the classes/credits.   I am sure she can complete another credit by spring. This will give Allie 3 foreign language credits on her transcript.  In the process of confirming coursework, we realized Allie has gotten very close to being able to qualify for the APS. She is only short math credits.  We have gotten everything else done.  We KNOW she can finish the Algebra 1 she is working on. We took a couple days to discuss and to realistically consider options...we'll move one of her AP courses to a typical high school course which will give her more time to focus on math, we're already working on several of her spring courses and can finish them up fairly easily...we're going to PUSH. It still feels a bit out of reach, but we needed a new goal to focus on, and if she doesn't earn the 2 extra math credits, she'll still be ahead of where she was projected to be. ::snort:: If she qualifies for the APS it will be an answer to prayer for scholarships.  

All that brain work took up the rest of our day, in fact our contact teacher called back with more ideas as we sat down to dinner. 

Monday, November 29, 2021

Magnificent Monday

Michael had to drive to Anchorage and wait at the VA dental clinic to be seen - stand by. He got in. They confirmed he needs a root canal, which I suspect he needed 6 months ago when he first began having pain in the tooth...but 2 crowns later and he'll have a root canal "soon." The clinic that does those will call tomorrow to schedule. I do feel for him, and yet, he DID enjoy lunch with Josiah in town. 

Meanwhile, Nolan had the day off and watched Grandpa so I could keep a date with my friend, Lindsey. She picked me up at one. We grabbed hot drinks at a coffee shack and drove over to see their new home. She promised I'd be back in an hour...and I was...though we sat in the driveway for quite a bit longer. I savored our time to catch up and connect. So much is going on in their lives...vacation, a new house, new job responsibilities....

We opted for a YOYO dinner - you're on your own. It was fun to discuss a favorite Christmas memory as we ate together. We naturally moved into looking at the name of Jesus from our devotional book. It worked well to just grab a few minutes at the end of dinner. I moved the wreath to the table and we'll see if that continues to work well. 

Totally staged photo! 

Alex disappeared and the rest of us ended the night fulfilling that age old Gherkin Christmas tradition - we watched the Muppet Carol. Still one of my favorite movies! It's worth it to track down an unedited version. 
Not a great photo

But, better than this one. 

Look what came in the mail for me! My 2022 Faithful Life Planner...

The first layout reminds me it's time to be praying about the upcoming year. I do love a new year, new month, new week, new day. LOL 

Finally, a few shots from Krista and Luke (KrUke) from the past couple of days. They continue to keep busy adjusting to marriage and their new jobs. They love to spend time together outdoors. Luke has had a snow machine and bought Krista one too. 
📷 KrUke

📷 KrUke

And since I seem to be making it a theme to share a glimpse of Christmas at the various Gherkins...here is a shot of Luke and Krista's tree. 
Cat in the Hat comes to Christmas
📷 KrUke

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Advent - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Advent - the most wonderful time of the year.  Our Advent candle journey isn't meant to begin until 1 Dec, but since Advent began TODAY, we'll simply let it sit in the first spot for a bit longer than 24 hours. We are a smaller group than in year's past, but starting an Advent devotional has the same thrill it used to have when all the kids were little and we'd read children's books at night. 

I spent some time this morning checking out our Advent Index.  I created the index in 2008, it is still a good way to think through what we want to do this year, and to remember the fun things we did when the house was full of kids.   We took time after our Advent devotional reading tonight to discuss activities we'd like to enjoy this season and acts of kindness we can spread. Michael and I will be coming up with a Scavenger/Advent Calendar thing in the next couple of days. 

Michael is having horrible tooth pain and went to bed.  The girls and I watched ANOTHER Netflix Christmas movie. 

Does anyone have any INSIGHT to share on this graphic? I mean -10 IS -10. What's with the "feels like" temp? What DOES -27 feel like anyway?  Yes, I WAS up at 4:48 a.m. trying to get the nerve up to deal with the animals before Grandpa needed to be getting up and ready for church.  I realize the days are getting darker. Sunrise today was 9:44 and sunset was 3:49. 

CyRi won the Christmas decor award for "first tree up" this year....They had it up before they left on their cruise. It was either early November or late October.  We applaud anything that helps one cheerfully embrace the encroaching winter season. LOL  


 And look what was going on at CoRielle's. 

📷 CoRielle

Ok, THIS is hilarious. I love Benny's growing sense of humor. You may recognize the big, gold "1" from Papa's birthday...
📷 CoRielle

It's been a great day...and it's time to join everyone else and head to bed. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Small Business Saturday

I think we are very nearly real Alaskans...we've been citizens since 2003....and have been in residence for seven years  (Alaska was our home state through our military career, we did NOT take the PFD all those years and when we moved up at retirement had to establish residency). TODAY, we went shopping DOWNTOWN...walking up and down main street in -2* weather...and commented how glad we are it warmed up for Small Business Saturday.  Other years it was simply too cold to consider venturing out - though the temps were warmer than today. LOL 

Stacia, Allie, Arielle, De'Etta

Michael and Cory are the champs of this story. Arielle commented how nice it was to have a whole afternoon out...I concur!  Michael and Cory stayed home, with their attention focused on others, so we could go out. We found some stocking stuffers, gifts for grands (two left to go), and some odds and ends. We really want to shop small this year, and as much as possible I'd like to keep our dollars in our small town. Unfortunately, we DON'T have a Lowes here and  I will have to leave our small town to find a gift for Michael. ::snort::  Ah well...it was fun to get out and find what we could. The girls are doing great with their lists!  

By now most of our friends know we usually don't have an extended family gift exchange until New Year's Eve and we don't do a Household Exchange until after that - usually Jan 6th.  Our focus is usually on acts of kindness, giving to various projects, service etc...and we'll do that this year...BUT,  Carrie and KrUke can't be here for New Year's Eve. We've moved the extended family exchange and gingerbread competition to ::drum roll:: Christmas Day.  We still won't have everyone here, but most.   That means we need to get the extended shopping done in a timely manner. We'll still have the after Christmas sales for the household exchange, though supply chain being what it is, it is iffy to wait. 

Krista bought these for the girls...

Which allows me to say, "Our girls wear steel-toed-combat boots!" I even have a pair...

Arielle and I noticed the girls were looking a bit "done" after about five shops.  We were too, to tell the truth. There were a LOT of people in small spaces. I had planned to take everyone to lunch. This is an "thing" I used to do when all the kids were home to avoid being accused of shoplifting when taking 9 kids Christmas shopping (Yes, I have stories). I'd take one at a time and they'd get all their shopping done and we'd have lunch out.  It allowed for personal connection in a busy season.  There aren't many kids at home to need this any longer. Last year, I began the tradition with the grands. Benny and I went out to buy gifts for his parents, caught breakfast, and then went back to our home to wrap presents. I took a happy, tired boy home with surprises to put under their tree.  He and I are looking for a "Baachan date" in the upcoming month. Last year was crazy with covid and BreZaak's kids weren't able to schedule dates. I was THRILLED to get to take the 3 girls out shopping and to lunch today. Sometimes one just needs to be a "child" again and be spoiled by Mom. 

We went to a new cafe as our old standby was closed. 

Bistro Red Beet specializes in yummy, clean, organic, local, fresh, sustainable food. They are known for gathering and foraging for seasonal dishes. Everything (even ketchup and mustard) are made from scratch.  We opted for different entrees and shared: We had potato nachos, Brussel Sprout, Cranberry in a balsamic glaze sandwich, a veggie melt and a turkey burger. All were good. I was hoping for something sweet made with Stevia. I was disappointed, but that was the only disappointment of the day. ::grin::

Friday, November 26, 2021

It's TIME!

Finally. It's TIME....No, not time for Black Friday shopping. While we all LOVE a good deal, none of us felt like rushing out the door this morning to SHOP.  It's TIME....time to take down the fall decor and put up the Christmas/Winter decor. I usually keep the wintery/snowmen hidden until after Christmas, but we decided to go for it today and put everything out. When we put up the fall tree, we chose the decor with an eye to easily changing the focus. This morning the girls were quick to pull the leaves and pine cones off the tree and add strands of wooden beads and ribbons. We aren't totally happy with it yet. 

Nolan had to work. Michael and Alex pulled box after box off the shelves in the garage and brought them inside. They left for their weekly Bible study. Grandpa was occupied with his paper, phone calls, and nap.   The tree was up...the girls and I decided to take a bit of time and savor the day. It had potential to be a relaxing day with no school or outside "musts" to worry about.   The day called for an impromptu tea time in front of the Christmas tree. 

Michael and Alex found us snuggling on the couch when they returned home. We were much too content to move on with the "to do" list. We opted to continue snuggling while watching a Netflix Christmas movie.  I believe it's the break our hearts, AND bodies, needed. 

The movie ended, we grabbed left overs and then the girls, once again, motivated me to get going on decorating...it is after all tradition. I find myself missing Mom greatly and appreciate the girls' company. Allie tackled the trunk at the top of the stairs. 

Stacia set up the nativity for the grands to play with under the tree. 

We added a few big balls to the tree...still contemplating the tree. We decided we want simple and we aren't going to pull out the ornaments this year. We want something a bit different. Michael told us he is fine with whatever we wanted to do. 

Benny's going to be excited the bucket of snowballs are out again

The girls were so much help! I was still pondering how to utilize the space atop the step tonsu when I sent the girls off to bed. Its configuration is different, no stair steps this year for separate nativities to sit on.  In the end the typewriter is just too big and bulky to move far. Nolan came home and said he liked it...the angels were writing the message to proclaim. LOL I think I'd be happier if I can find a spot for the typewriter and give it a Christmas look - AWAY from the nativity. I'll keep looking around....

I'll get more pictures in the upcoming days. There is a lot of box clutter at this point. We'll move the boxes back to the garage tomorrow. OH - in all the shuffling we FOUND the pictures and the Adventure Awaits sign that went missing over a year ago. LOL 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

It's the People

 It was sweet to meet with all those who were within driving distance. We were able to chat with JaRissa. In the end, it's all about the people.  As we twenty-three gathered around the table Michael led us in a discussion of what we were thankful for...and again, it's the people. After we ate and played games, there were CAKES. Lots of cakes. God has been so very faithful to us. It was good to gather with hearts of gratitude and remember. 

CyRi showed up first - around 11:30 or so. They've been in the Caribbean for a few weeks (maybe only 2) but it was good to see them! Cy went to work blowing up balloons and Carrie jumped into the kitchen fray.  CoRielle showed up about an hour later. Cory fixed a delicious turkey and brought his signature Almond Roca dish - and more. I lost track of who was arriving when at this point. 

It was so sweet to spend time with this little gal. She's grown so much this year. 

Annie (BreZaak's) LOVES her jerky 

RISK - always somewhere in the mix  - Michael & Jamin

It was a BLESSING to have Nolan and Alex home for Thanksgiving. McDonald's chose to close for Thanksgiving. Would you BELIEVE people were calling the store on Wednesday to COMPLAIN that McDonald's would be closed? Buy your hamburger a day early. 
Danny & Nolan

A quick look out the window showed there was fun inside. 

This tradition continues...decades ago I purchased a cheap white tablecloth and had our Thanksgiving guests sign it.  It's fun to look back at it and see family,  airmen, friends, fellow members of the chaplain corp...years when Michael was missing, years when new ones were added - those are the best. This year the boys and Allie signed for the first time. 

Once grandpa found his chair he was happy to have all the activity swirling around him. 
KrUke brought a Burrito toss game...

It involved cards, burrito brawls and burrito wars. Arielle and Nolan are about to get into a brawl here and Danny seems unsure about finding himself on the outside of the circle. 
Arielle, Cory, Stacia, Allie, Danny, Nolan, Krista, Livie

Bre planned some fun crafts for the kids. 

They moved the Burrito Brawl to the table. Here Bella assists Nolan and the burrito was flung across the room at them by Allie.

Birthday Boys and their smash cakes. 

I tried to get a shot with all the grands, but I'm missing one in each shot....this is the closest...Gideon's provile is at Bre's elbox, Jojo, Bella, Annile, Livie, Danny and Benny. 

Benny offers helpful tips to Brother on how to EAT it. 

I think the fondant's texture confused the boys.....Danny got a finger off the handprint....

...and began dipping it into the cake and licking off the crumbs. 

Meanwhile, Jojo GROWLED when the others touched his cake. LOL  He figured it out! 

Benny and Gideon try to show Jojo how to do the cake thing....

Next up was Benny's rocket/ planet cake...this is the back side...

Coolest ever! Planets INSIDE the cake. 

Finally, Papa had his 61st birthday cake....an ice cream cake with several different flavors. 

The pig hat finally appeared. LOL 

Checking back in with the babies and they have figured out the cake thing....they simply had to drill down past the fondant. 

At some point during the day the helium balloons ended up in the ceiling fan. I was happy to leave them up there with the mistletoe from last Christmas....but Josiah and Benny helped Michael get it down before they went home. 

I'm told we watched a bit of netflix after everyone had gone home...but I was dead to the world and roused myself only enough to stumble off to bed. 

 This time of the year still makes me miss Mom G, Dad G and Mom badly.  I know Dad was also missing her. We were especially mindful of sister in laws who both lost dear ones last month. Something amazing happened this year...our gathering number grew. I was busily planning for the typical 15 we have when we have our monthly family gatherings....Arielle pointed out there would be 25 people. In the end there were 23 people around the table, on the floor, in and out of the house. We didn't gather for Thanksgiving in 2020.... The growth of this year's gathering is a visual of the year we've had. A year of births, weddings and life lived together.