Saturday, January 29, 2022

Routines - Part 2

Fridays mean Bible study with Stacia. We discussed Mark 9 - 14 today. We'll have one more week in Mark and then we are also going to work through The Hard Good by Lisa Whittle.  We debated what to do this morning. It's still DARK outside these mornings so climbing to the top of a mountain for a study isn't as appealing as it is in June. In the end we went to our favorite spot.  The plan was for me to go inside and order, bring the food out to the car and we'd study in the car....

The ladies at Sophia's are so nice. Audrey actually insisted on bringing our food and drinks out to the car. 

Car selfies are challenging

We had a window we needed to hit today. We came home, helped with Grandpa's morning routine, let the chickens out, picked up Allie and were at the hair salon when they opened. 

We left the salon and dropped Allie off for lunch with her uncle. I raced Stacia home for Japanese tutoring. Stacia is now going to meet with her Japanese sensei twice a week. Today was the first Friday.  I ran back to town and had time to pick up meds for Dad and read a chapter in the parking lot before Allie walked outside. 

We had planned to go out with Arielle, but the timing was simply too tight. Michael and Alex went out for their study. They talked about the Ark of the Covenant. We spent the afternoon schooling. This is what couch school looked like today. The girls are writing, I was on the other couch finishing this week's reading from Wuthering Heights. 

Millie's hair is starting to grow out...she was happy to laze around with us this afternoon. 

We begin every week thinking we will have people over Friday night. Lately, we are dragging by Friday morning and are happy we can crash in the afternoon.  We enjoyed our Pizza and watched Godzilla vs. Kong. 

Grandpa is still not feeling well. He doesn't have a fever or covid. He didn't throw up today, but is WEAK, sleeping all day and nauseated. We're pushing fluids, the BRAT diet, and lots of sleep. Nolan has cold symptoms. Stacia is still battling her cough. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Routines with Allie! Meeting one on one and studying together with Allie and Stacia are highlights of the week. Allie and I hadn't made it to our regular spot since BEFORE CHRISTMAS. It felt good to be back into a routine.  We discussed principles of reconciliation from the book of Philemon and wrapped up our nearly yearlong focus on forgiveness.  The girls have decided they want to study the same topic our local women's group is discussing, Allie and I will probably begin it early. 

The unexpected always intersects with routine around here. Grandpa has an odd bug. He began throwing up late Wednesday. He does not have a fever, doesn't have Covid...simply tired and throwing up...Much of the day focused around making sure he was doing o.k. and isolated. My kids will tell you I'm a big believer in isolation to ensure these bugs don't cycle through the family....alas, it happens. LOL Allie had a 2–3-day bug last week. I'm hoping this is also quick for Grandpa. 

Michael was finally able to get back to seeing the chiropractor.... scheduled for the next 5 weeks. This is just me, I'm sure there are reasons, but I don't understand why the VA doesn't start the re-approval process before the end of these 12 approved visits. LOL 

Nolan was working, Dad isn't eating...the rest of us decided to work on clearing out leftovers. 

We finished Jericho and I'm sad. I want more. Not sure what we'll watch now. What are some of your favorite series to watch? 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

SNOW, Lettuce, Friends, Games

 Our heat wave is over! It snowed all day. Things are MUCH prettier in the winter than in break-up. I'm content to wait for our muddy season. We got 8 inches of snow today. 

There is no longer a shortage of lettuce in our home! 💕 I had really missed lettuce when we ran out a week ago...and not being able to find any in town was alarming. I wanted to be sure to get lettuce from Organic Grown Company, so I put my name on 3 different green splits. My thinking was ONE of them would surely fill up and be ordered. All 3 filled. I ended up with nearly a case of this Red Butter Leaf lettuce. It lasts well and is yummy...18 heads. I guess someone else wanted 6 heads. 

The romaine split came through too....6 heads of Romaine.  Not to worry - I have passed out several heads to others already.  I also received 3 bunches of chard. 

Yes, today was Wholesome Food Co-op. Once again, I FORGOT to put together my Azure order in time, and I was late to join splits so ended up with a LOT of vegetables and only apples for fruit this go around. But we have FRESH, organic, yummy veggies. 

I got home a bit late today as I needed to wait for the Shift 3 leader to pass on some info.  

I was very proud with myself for driving through fog and blowing snow, on ice across to the next town. When we moved up here, I would not have driven myself. Conquering fears...building resiliency one adventure at a time. 

I was glad to have put a roast in the slow cooker early this morning.  

Stacia was thrilled to have her first Covid test. NOT.  It was negative - as we expected it to be - but we try to be responsible citizens. snort:: Stacia gets croup at least once a year. The cough is distinctive, think barking seal.  We don't plan for her to go out but knew others would be less concerned about Allie and I going out if we knew she had a negative test. She's a good sport. 
Father daughter bonding at its best! 

I had just enough time to put away produce (with the girls' help), change clothes and meet a friend for dinner. I wouldn't have made it if we hadn't changed location.😏  I believe this was my first dinner at Turkey Red.  It seemed to be a good place for both Keto and a Medeteranean eaters.  I ordered Moussaka and it was AMAZING.  This is the only photo I took, and it was so I could check specials at the table. 😁

I was happy to find people up when I got home. Stacia gave Nolan a couple of Exit/Escape Room games for Christmas. Nolan is nearing the end of this semester and I came home to four of my people around the table playing a game. They did escape. 

This day began at 0400 and by the time Michael and I were done talking and closing down the day it was 0200 of Wednesday. I think we put all we could into this day. 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Royally Spoiled

I have been royally spoiled by my family.  My love tank is full. 

I turned 58 today. This is a great day. Somehow, I thought I WAS already 58. 😂Fifty-eight was hard and full of unexpected twists and turns but it was a GREAT year too...and now I get to have ANOTHER 58th year.... though I've been told it's the first day of my 59th year, and so begins the age confusion thing again. ::snort:: 

I know I was frustrating family as they asked what I WANTED; I honestly didn't want anything.  I did finally tell them I would like a full day without cooking! We talked about tea too - but in the end decided that may be too much to pull off. 

Allie got up and made breakfast for Grandpa while I helped him with his morning routine.  SCORE. 

Monday's are respite care and I didn't have to cook lunch. SCORE TWO.   Arielle and the boys came over before Michael was fully ready to leave the house. Benny loves coming over and they often arrive a bit early. THIS time he brought me a wonderful "Baachan TIGER" card. Yep - I have been recently called a Mama Bear and now I'm also a Baachan Tiger. I think that is nearly as honorable of a title.  I opened the door and he yelled, "Baachan! Do you know it's your BIRTHDAY?!?" 

Danny has learned a new trick he was happy to share with his adoring fans! I love this photo which Arielle captured. 

Go Danny, Go! 

They had made a few yummy shortbread-like cookies...Benny and I sat right now and had tea.  SCORE THREE. He likes the Sleepy Time tea, "but it doesn't make me sleep."  We left as they talked about finishing school, playing a new game with GG and play dough. 

Michael and I took groceries to Bre. We had lunch, cancelled a gym membership, visited Target and got gas. It was all good. We had planned to go to the Salt Cave, but I forgot the certificate. 

We came home to Birthday decorations and Benny yelling SURPRISE. 

I received marco polos, texts and phone calls from our elder crew of Gherkins. SCORE FOUR. 

I went and took a NAP while Stacia and Allie made Veggie Pot Pie (from scratch) for dinner. It was wonderful.  SCORE FIVE. 

After dinner they gave me gifts. Millie really wanted into my new bag from Stacia. 

As sick as she's been, Stacia took time to make me a yummy cake. She was not happy with the way the stencil worked but the taste couldn't be beat! It was her signature chocolate cake with a layer of peanut butter between the chocolate layers.  Y'all!  SCORE SIX. 
The dirty secret is I sent four pieces home with CoRielle this morning. We don't like having left-over desserts around here. Grandpa cannot resist and we don't like telling him no. 

Four years of being meticulous about my HER (healthy eating range) and I decided to simply eat today. I tracked it all, but I had what I WANTED at Red Robin, and I also had a small piece of cake and ice cream - real ice cream. Michael sweetly asked, "Would you like Keto ice cream?"  He was surprised when I said, "Not tonight."  I usually don't make a birthday exception. It was yummy. 

We watched an episode of Jericho after which the girls and Grandpa went to bed. I blogged as Michael is editing a family book he has been writing. I can't wait to get our copy. 

What was in that bag Millie was so interested in? My birthday haul. This and some insanely pretty flowers and details are being worked out for a night out with friends at the THEATER - like a murder mystery play....

Yeah, I know.  Some of you don't approve of my murder mystery thing. I like mysteries. 

I'm reading serious books Frankenstein, Emma, and Wuthering Heights. ::snort::  

No, serious, Christian leadership and self-help books. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

One Busy Week in January

 It's been a week far too busy to sit and blog nightly.  

The most personally significant event this week happens to involve ME and a CARWASH. Many of you know I trend to claustrophobia. I have made the last year - what I thought was my 58th year - a year of conquering fears. I got my ears pierced. I spoke at several retreats. I bought a monthly pass at the carwash and have been going in alone and together a LOT.  There was a time in the beginning when I told Stacia, "I'm going to roll down the window." All in all, I've improved. The weather was warm, and the car was filthy with all the muddy splashing water. I dropped into the car wash. I lined up on the tracks and didn't panic. Score. I got about 1/2 way into the car wash and the CAR STOPPED MOVING!   WHUT? Nothing. We just stopped. I sat there trying to figure out if I should open the door and get out or put the car in gear...and then a LOUD, obnoxious alarm went off. I figured it would be safest to stay right where I was, and someone would fix the situation. They did. I haven't gone back again. I should. 

The week began with Stacia and Allie babysitting - (Monday the 17th). Unfortunately, the children turned out to have colds. The girls came home and immediately changed clothes, took showers, gargled with sanitizer...but alas, Stacia woke up with the start of a nasty cold on Tuesday.  By Thursday Allie was feeling ill too. They are both well on the way to normal now (Monday - the 24th).  I am seriously thinking a health questionnaire for families they are going to sit for may be in order.  Maybe take our own thermometer and scan heads when entering. ::snort:: 

Dad saw the eye doctor this week. Everything looks good, though I need to track down his OR optometrist for records. 

In a show of the VA's vast efficiency, they've approved Michael for 12 more visits to the chiropractor/massage. Seriously - we are all trying to avoid back surgery. His doc told him to do this weekly and put off surgery as long as he can.  They approve 1 - 3 months at a time...Meanwhile, Michal waits in pain for approval for another 12 visits.  They are down to a 2 week wait, that is MUCH better. We are thankful this is staving off back surgery. 

The girls and I had Bible study.  I had a haircut. Nolan put in significant time towards his current college semester. Alex studied for an employment test.  

Michael and I rescheduled our planned for Hawaii trip.  We are thinking next January, or February will fit our dynamic schedule better. 

Bre and babies have covid. We hadn't seen them the week prior to them testing positive.   

All the older Gherkins stayed away this weekend. This is good as Stacia sounded nasty. Our church cancelled the weekend service as several families had tested positive.  This all added up to a very relaxed weekend.  It turned into a few days of refreshment and renewal. I made a few trips delivering groceries and at home covid tests.  

The weather has been WARM all week.... in the mid - high 40's.  There has been talk of an early breakup, Michael is consistently warning us the weather will get cold again. Meanwhile, snow is melting, berms are's been raining, temps are well below freezing at night, so driveways and parking lots look like ice rinks...

Here are a few glimpses into the week. Nolan works a LOT of hours, significantly more than 40 hours a week on a typical basis. He is also taking 21 credits this semester. He got firm about having his days off. We love knowing he will be home Monday and Tuesday...we don't see him until dinner - but it's nice. Here he fell asleep with Millie while waiting for dinner. 

The girls purchased bed sets - this is quite significant.  Allie didn't think she needed anything other than a sleeping bag when she moved in. We gave her a bed. We told her we'd buy sheets and comforter, but she really was most comfortable in her sleeping bag. Around Christmas she began talking about getting a bed set...and Stacia decided it was time to turn in her Hello Kitty fuzzy blanket too. They set out to find something coordinating they both liked. This Paris/travel theme checked the boxes for both of them and they ended up purchasing matching sets. Next up is painting an accent wall. 
Stacia's side

Allie's side

OH - before we went shopping for bed sets, we picked up Arielle and went to the MOVIE THEATER. I haven't been in a theater in two years. We went to Sing 2.   There were very few people in the theater, and we had significantly more than 6 feet of space between us and anyone outside of our household.  We met Krista and Brittany for a trip to ColdStone. We had planned dinner, but our choice of restaurant was closed due to wind damage. 

Supply Chain disruption...I will admit the past week was a challenge. Usually, if there isn't fresh, I go with frozen...but this day when I hit Walmart fresh, frozen and canned were all scarce. 

I am VERY happy for the things we have put away...and determined to grow and can more this summer. I was pretty proud of this was all caught or grown/canned by us.....far from sustainable and independent of the supply chain...but we are taking baby steps.  I would like to figure out a good storage system around here for food and get quite a bigger working pantry set up. 

Sunrise at 9:18 a.m. 

Enjoying the warmth

The chickens enjoy the warmth too! 

Unfortunately, this one is ill. Vets in Alaska don't see chickens. We turned our kitchen into a chicken hospital. She was wheezing. Michael found her under the Rabbit hutch. He brought her inside.  By Wednesday night she was gasping with each breath. We thought this would be her last night. 
Doesn't EVERYONE blow dry chickens? 

As a last measure Michael turned her upside down and held her by her legs. I KNOW this isn't great chicken rearing practice - but we were desperate. Goodness! Fluid and mucus poured out of her beak...and she is now living on top of my freezer in the garage. She's eating again and sounds great. 

I took the Christmas decor down this week. I left the snowmen up - because winter is far from over. I also left the tree up. Michael had suggested a winter themed tree.  In the end, we switched over to Valentine's Day. I am brainstorming an Iditarod theme for March...all suggestions will be entertained. We should be into brighter mornings and afternoons by the end of March. Last year we took Christmas down by Lent, I'm way ahead of the game this year. 

When it's this dark in the mornings - anything that brings cheer stays up.  The lights on houses and businesses stay up until the last dog reaches Nome....our tree will be up at least that long. 

I think the upcoming week will be a bit slower. Then FEBRUARY with five birthdays (or maybe six) and two anniversaries and Valentine's Day. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Allie Did a Thing

Stacia, Allie and I went out after church to see Sing 2. 

We hopped over to Walmart and looked for bedding and then....

This happened and it was great fun. There was minimal anxiety and lots of laughter. Krista and Brittany met us for the big event after which we went out for ice cream. We had planned dinner, but things were closed up. 

There is no going back after the first one is done! Krista and Brittany bought Allie some earrings...actually I think we all ended up with at least one new pair. 

Yeah, we look a bit nutsy...but Allie says this is a photo that shows her really hey...crazy happy it works.  Allie loves this photo and so I'm publishing it...I had whispered something in her ear and she was gruntled (it's a word, look it up). 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday Adventure

Jamin invited Stacia to go cross country skiing a few weeks back. We were in the midst of the New Year's storm when the date for their planned outing arrived. 
📷by Stacia

It's been a long time since any of us have gone cross country skiing. The last skiing, I remember is around the golf course on Misawa Air Base, Japan and along the coastline in Misawa.  

Allie isn't quite up to a sport which may include falling. One of us needed to stay home with Grandpa so I sat this one out and Michael went with the kids. 
📷by Stacia

Michael said it was nice to be out there. 
📷by Stacia

📷by Stacia

While they skied, we at home had our own visitors. Cy, Carrie, Livie and her cousins, Etta and Ellie, came by. It's always nice to catch up with CyRi.  They are looking for a home to buy preferably in Eagle River where their church is. This is a tough time to be a buyer in Alaska. Prayers are always appreciated. 
Etta and Allie - 📷by Carrie

The skiers arrived home in time to visit for an hour or so. Stacia and the girls made and decorated cupcakes which we were happy to send to Anchorage. 
Arch Angel Trail 

I must admit seeing the photos and hearing the stories of fun has motivated me to keep looking for ski gear on the for-sale lists. 

Table conversation was silly tonight. The "Would You Rather" box was sitting out and we began asking each other questions and discussing the answers. This was as much fun, or more, as playing the game by the rules.  Grandpa may have thought we were making up questions because he came up with a great one. 

"Would you rather have a check for $10,000 or a $1,000 in cash?"  This led to the typical conversation about a bird in hand, BUT also to the concept of integrity. There are some people I would take a large check from in the blink of an eye and others I would certainly not trust with a check of any amount. Integrity matters. 

The girls, Grandpa, Michael and I ended the evening watching several more episodes of Jericho. 

Friday, January 14, 2022

That First Week BACK after the Holidays

Whew. Some weeks feel like a well-choreographed dance. This week felt like a Jumanji vine grabbed us by the ankles and pulled us up and down mountains and through the jungle until it deposited in a heap at the edge of a waterfall. 

Sunday - it was great to be back at church! Allie was ill one week, church wasn't scheduled one week, then cancelled the next week due to the New Year's storm... there was talk about what to do THIS Sunday as the ice and wind were horrendous and the sander fell through....

As seen on Facebook

It was good to be together and helping each other across the ice rink provided fun memories.  The worship was sweet and the message both challenging and comforting...Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God. 

Monday - Grandpa had a dental cleaning. Arielle and the boys came over a bit later than usual to play with Grandpa. Michael and I went out for lunch and then to Lowe's to pick up Michael's Christmas gift. Unfortunately, only one of his gifts are in stock. We hadn't taken into account what a winter storm would do to the supply of propane heaters. LOL 

The girls are back to school this week! Nolan is racing to the completion of another semester of college. We ended the night playing Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza. 

Tuesday - This previously blogged day was filled with school, volunteering for the food co-op and our household gift exchange. Grandpa was out again to do some shopping.  It was suggested we have some folks over for games on Friday night. 

Wednesday - Grandpa had yet another dental appointment. We have a system at the dentists and physical therapists. I go out to the parking lot and enjoy some quiet. They call me when he is done. Something happened and I looked up to see Dad walking across the parking lot. The appointment was supposed to take 90 minutes and be a fitting for a lower plate. It was done in about 30 minutes and Grandpa said they filled a couple of teeth. ::snort:: I think I'm going to have to stay inside in the future. 

Stacia had fun playing with her new blow torch - does it have a fancy kitchen name? She melted sugar on top of the cupcakes she made for youth group. 
Burn, baby burn!

Youth group and ladies Bible study started back up this evening. Grandpa's fourth day out in a row. I'm realizing we may all be worn down by Friday and since Saturday - Tuesday of next week also look to be busy...we decide to make Friday night a quieter at home night. 

Thursday - Allie visited the surgeon and we got back to our weekly Bible study.  Allie is all cleared for normal life with the exception of lifting and such for another few weeks. It appears this grumpy appendix was at the root of many of the health issues Allie has had. It's wonderful to see her feeling better. 

A couple of packages arrived for Stacia. Millie and Michael are on hand to check out the air brushing set...and she is making plans for my birthday cake. I've heard meringue (to use the torch) and stencils and air brushed will be fun to see what she settles on creating.  It was about at this point I realized we should have celebrated Annie and my birthdays last Saturday at the Family's Gift Exchange.  Oops - I think we'll just roll them into February's five birthdays. 

Friday - I took Stacia to her nanny gig early in the morning (usually happens on Thursdays). Rather than running errands, I came home and got the girl's first semester grades and 2nd quarter work samples submitted.  I had just enough time to complete the task before heading out to pick up Stacia. Grandpa was STILL in bed when I left at 11 a.m. I had checked on him several times; it appears he just needed to catch up on his missing naps. 

Stacia and I resumed our weekly Bible study.  Since we were meeting on a Friday lunch instead of Thursday breakfast we opted for Hungarian Soup at Vagabonds. YUMM.  Alex and Michael resumed their study. 

The girls wrapped up school. I sat down in the nook and began to work on our bills, Grandpa's bills, balanced all accounts, took care of a bit of correspondence. I didn't come up until the pizza was ready. 

Sometime during the afternoon, I realized it was a good thing we had not invited others over this evening. We were scheduled to be facilitating another parenting retreat for JBER this weekend. They ran into a snafu with the venue and the time has been changed. I am so glad we didn't end this busy week with a 3-day parenting retreat. 

How did we end the week? VERY thankful for Friday! Michael, Alex and Grandpa were not up for games. The girls and I, however, tried a new game, "Would You Rather?"  This was one of the thrift store finds Allie and I made. 

It was actually pretty fun. We migrated to the living room and watched a couple of episodes of Jericho with Michael and Grandpa. *I* stayed awake until 11 p.m. watching with everyone. I want to figure out some of the subplots! 

I am careful to schedule Grandpa's outings in the afternoons.  This week we ended up with several appointments for him as the offices kept calling wanting to fill slots. I am going to be more careful about not agreeing to more than two outside engagements for him. He misses his naps.   Somehow it just became busier than expected. 

It's 4:44 a.m. on Saturday and I'm blogging instead of sleeping. We cannot figure out WHY Grandpa wakes up early every Saturday, it's my one opportunity to sleep in. I would like to figure this out. Maybe he's allergic to pizza. I think he's soundly back to sleep. I'm going to see if I can catch another hour or two of sleep. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2021 Household Gift Exchange

We did it!  Finally. Tonight, we celebrated our 2021 Household Gift Exchange (as opposed to the Family Gift Exchange on Saturday).  

Aunt Mary sent 2 local monopoly versions 

It took a bit of time for things to fall into place this year. LOL  And, yes, there was noise in the backfield up to the last minutes. 

Michael drove me to Wholesome Food Co-op, and then took Grandpa out shopping. We had made the offer several times before, but Dad had never wanted to go out. I guess he realized this was IT.  

Extra yumminess @ wholesale

We had a small produce order to sort and the Azure order didn't ship.  I was done and out of there by 3 p.m. Michael suggested we pick up my new glasses on the way home. I went with a big frame for more "in focus viewing area," this pair is MAGNETIC so I can pop on a sunglass and still be able to see.  I was "sold" on a special coating that was supposed to deal with glare and nighttime driving. I don't think I'll get that again. I don't see much of a difference. They didn't have a lot of selection of the magnetic frames.... but I'm happy with these. 

We had just unloaded food when the boys LEFT. What? I was rushing to get dinner done on time so we could open gifts and they left. ::snort:: Um...they had to go buy gifts. LOL The girls and I went out to share some produce. A neighbor came over and helped with our driveway.  

Oranges the size of softballs

Grandpa was set up to wrap gifts. Michael had mercy on him. 

The guys got home. The girls and I got dinner on the table.  And FINALLY, we made it work. Here are a few glimpses of the evening. 

A baby Yoda shirt from Stacia

A couple of Exit Escape Room Games - from Stacia

Millie was DETERMINED to get baby Yoda

It was a delayed kind of Christmas for Stacia. We looked EVERYWHERE local and couldn't find what we wanted for her in the state of Alaska. In the end we ordered a cake decorating Air Brush set and some Cake decorating stencils online.  
Such excitement over a piece of paper

Allie's big, comfy sweater

Yes, there were other gifts and many more photos, but this is enough to catch the spirit. It was fun to finally bless each other - lots of love, laughter and hoots.