Sunday, February 27, 2022

LOOK Who Is Here!

I have a bad habit of running around without a coat when it hits 20* which sometimes leads to sniffles.  I came down with a bit of congestion on Saturday. I stayed home as it seems the loving thing to do with so many worried about the big C.  Michael, the kids and Grandpa went to church. Can you IMAGINE? While I know many would give anything to have a home as bustling as ours, for just this morning, I totally enjoyed the call bells, no laundry, no noise at all. Blessed silence. I had home church - and it was good. 

I was refreshed and READY for all the people who popped up the rest of the day. 

Josiah and Livie met Michael and the girls for lunch. They actually showed up here at home before the rest of the gang. It was nice to spend an hour or so catching up.  Their inspection and appraisal are complete, with no hiccups! I think they're right on track to close in a couple of weeks on their darling home. 

Allie and I had a zoom with her ASL mentor. She is working one on one in order to pass the Sign Language Proficiency Exam. This is a hoop Allie needs to jump through on her way to her future.  I am AMAZED how God is placing the right people in our path at just the right time. I wasn't happy with the suggested ASL course last summer and went in search of other options. We took a chance on one others recommended. Everyone I met had used it for elementary, no one for high school. In the midst of completing not only the course I signed her up for, but three others, Allie caught the eye of some folks placed fairly prominently in the local deaf community. They are excited to help Allie prepare for her future. During the zoom I was told if we joined a different charter school, we would get a $4200 allotment for Stacia next year. We currently get $2400. I'm not sure if we'll switch. Things to think about. 

Look who also showed up? 

WHAT? Jared is here? Yes, Jared is up this week for his job. He will be spending the time in Eagle River with Jamin, but Jamin is in Florida and so we got him for tonight. Krista picked him up and brought him out, so we got a bit of connecting time with her as well.  

Bre and the kids called and asked if they could come over tonight. OF COURSE.  Laughing, games, talking, ice cream - all the fun. It was good. 

Annie (3) ran right to Jared. She gives the BEST hugs (below). Jared had asked Bella how old she is now, "Almost six." 

Annie jumped into Jared's arms and said, "I'm almost 6!" 

Three? Almost six? It does go in the blink of an eye!

 It turned into a great day! The first day of a new week! 

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Worth Waiting For

Some things are worth putting in the lock box....and some things are worth the wait.  I came home Tuesday with Girl Scout cookies. I confessed to eating a BOX of them on the way home. That is not acceptable for a pre-diabetic.  I handed Michael the remaining boxes and told him I was no good on my own. 

This worked. Stacia was eager to try the new kind...brownie/Caramel....only 9 minutes to go! LOL 

Crafting with Baachan - Sorta

 One thing led to another, as it often does. I had been thinking about the need to run to the next town over to buy some crafting supplies. I didn't really want to leave the house.  I pulled out some crocheted snowflakes I purchased on 75% clearance last month and wasn't 100% happy with them. I remembered the big roll of newsprint Michael had gotten for us when we picked up rolls for the grands....

Millie had to get in the middle of my project. 

I set Stacia to work cutting, cutting, cutting. 

Allie made these snowflakes and then cut it into 3 strands. 

Did you guess what we made? An Iditarod Tree. March means the Iditarod. Our outside Christmas lights will be up until the last dog reaches Nome.  Bre and Arielle both took their trees down in the last week or so. I heard regret and so resisted taking mine down. LOL  It was covered with buffalo check burlap and red we contemplated what our March tree should look like we settled on the Iditarod over St. Patrick's Day. 

Cutest tree topper yet

Working on this brought home all the school supplies we gave away when we thought we were moving to Japan. I could sure use a nice laminator now! 

We aren't sure if this will be the last tree of the year...spring arrives on March 20th....maybe we'll take the tree down when the last dog reaches Nome....and put it up again in the fall. LOL 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Moving Forward as We Look Back

Our weather has warmed up! We are in the 30's and 40's this week. The girls enjoyed lunch on the deck. The sad reality about warm temps and rain is this is the season of ICE which will soon turn to mud...but then comes SUMMER...after break-up.  

It was a blessing to have CyRi visit - all THREE members of CyRi. We love visiting with Josiah and Livie, but Carrie has been working a lot of weekends.  They came out for lunch Saturday (the 19th). Carrie had to work that evening, and we surely appreciate the effort she made to come visit. They are in the process of purchasing a lovely home in Eagle River.  I didn't take a single picture. 

We enjoy our winter routine. The girls spend an hour or two most afternoons writing. Both are working on ambitious projects. Stacia is nearing the end of her novel and is a bit sad to bring it to its conclusion. She is mapping out the 2nd book in the series now. Millie is happy to have the girls in the living room. So am I. I have been reminding everyone summer is coming, and when it arrives, they will be outside working in the yard...for now, we write and read and play board games. 

The cups of hot chocolate are getting quite fancy. This cuppa was spectacular but melted a bit before I grabbed my phone. 

Let's! The girls, Michael and I played board games. We tried a new one called This, That and Everything.  We opted to simply quiz each other rather than play a "game." 

The girls were happy to attend youth group in person this week. I was thrilled to be back with women face to face. Our first local discussion from The Hard Good went well. The girls (and Bible Babes) and I are now halfway through the study and still finding it applicable in unexpected ways. 

Allie spent some time working with Lady, BreZaak's German Shepherd, this week. 

The girls have created action plans from their Career and College planning class. Michael and I are going over them with each girl. Allie is closer to college than Stacia by a year. We've spent some time exploring college programs. Allie took her first college tour this week (virtual as the campus is not nearby).  I sure wish all these virtual options had been available when I was a senior in Manila exploring options in America. We are in the midst of evaluating various ASL/Interpreter programs. Beyond the action plan, both girls are preparing to conduct interviews with those who currently work in the career fields they are considering. 

We also "watched" Lost. We tend to fast forward through intense spots and have skipped a couple of entire episodes. However, we are enjoying it - and enjoying the conversations which spring from it. I simply plug my ears and close my eyes for the more intense scenes. When the recliners are pulled around, we know it's time to watch an episode. This week we set the "rule" that no episode may begin after 8:15 p.m. 
Yes, I DO still have a tree up! 

Into every life a few rotten lemons must come. I've been thinking about spoilage as I volunteer at co-op. Note how spoilage spreads through contact. This seems to illustrate the age-old admonition, "Do not be misled, bad company corrupts good character." 1 Cor 15:33 (NIV) Of course there is room for being salt and light IN the world, but I have learned it pays to give attention to Scripture.  I'm still pondering this as well as the needs in our community and researching what we may be able to do to impact this same community. 

No, we did not pay for this box of lemons. These came this way from Wholesome Food Co-op, and we received a refund for them.

I made up a couple of boxes of produce to deliver to CoRielle and BreZaak. I'd share with other Gherkins, but they don't live nearby. Of course, delivering produce has the added bonus of visiting these darling grandblessings.  While at CoRielle's, I worked on a painting project with Benny. 

A day later I collected hugs and snuggles from Gideon and Annie at BreZaak's. 

The kids were happy to display a bit of their schoolwork.  They are doing so well this year. 

Is it springtime in your area? The hint of spring has arrived. I'm not totally convinced winter is done with us. We don't really do spring in Alaska; we do break-up.  The packed snow in our driveway has turned to ICE.  Michael cuts channels across the way to get the water to flow, he also sprinkles gravel, ashes and sand on the's a mess!

I've learned a new tip. I carry a little bucket of sand and gravel and throw it in front of me as I walk up the driveway or around the chicken yard. The chicken yard is a sloppy mess right now. There are still a few feet of snow over most of it; the part under the roof is muddy (as snow melts and runs into the spot), and the walk into and out of the yard is pure ice...You simply haven't felt an adrenaline rush until you've slid a few feet with fresh eggs in your hands. 

Spring cleaning involves a bit of snow. 
Alex beats the rug from their room 

The week has been filled with subtle pranks. It's the Gherkin way of TP' began with a stack of paper left on the back of the toilet by one of the girls after cleaning the bathroom. Then "someone" stacked them in a different spot in the bathroom. This has gone on for weeks. It was noted NOLAN was the someone messing with the TP pyramid.  One morning they were stacked on a little table outside the bathroom. WHAT? A traveling TP pyramid?  Here, the girls "TP" the guys' room...I caught them in the act when I went down to see how that college prep stuff was going. ::snort:: 

Nolan retaliated by stacking the TP on the chair lift. Unfortunately, Michael didn't realize what was going on and took the TP hostage - he moved it to our bathroom. He thought it simply was waiting to go up the stairs. This was a fair assumption.  We are all on the edge of our seats to see where it will turn up next. 

I discovered 1/4 case of green beans was more than we would eat in two weeks. I took some to both girls and decided to can the rest. I got 6 pts of organic green beans on the shelves. We can enjoy them without binging on them in one week. 

Six pints does not fill up the canner. I added 10 pts of rice...all now cooked and canned.  Why? Well, it IS handy to add to soups or stir fries. I've also discovered it's a time saver for camping meals...simply make the Chicken Divan or Hawaiian Chicken to serve over the rice.  I've been meaning to open a jar and try to make some rice balls. I have molds but don't have sticky rice. This is a bit sticky. 

In other news, Stacia is now having two tutoring sessions a week with her Japanese teacher. One of Stacia's personal goals is to be able to quickly hear and respond conversationally in Japanese. Allie will shortly begin tutoring with her ASL teacher who is an ASL Interpreter.  Allie has finished 3 years of high school level ASL and a class on Deaf Culture this school year.  The plan with one-on-one tutoring is to help accelerate her march to fluency and passing various competencies she will need for future college programs. It will also help her move into "flowing in ASL."  Her teacher has noted her most recent videos are starting to show the flow.  This is the moment when an interpreter is thinking and signing ASL rather than translating English into ASL.  The way I understand it, when one speaks ASL, one speaks in meanings rather than strict word-for-word translation. 

Dad had a TIA (mini-stroke) after I blogged last Friday. This led to a few days of craziness, but he has mostly regained the ground he lost. He is doing well and looking forward to church on Sunday. 

Nolan's work schedule has changed from closing to openings! He is working the same number of hours, but we see him much more. I think the closing may be easier with his college schedule. In any event, it has been wonderful to have everyone home for dinner all week. 

Alex has decided he wants to continue working while he works towards his next goals.  He called his supervisor and asked to begin working again and is back on early mornings this week. 

Another busy week is concluding.  I've only to make a pot of smoky salmon chowder and then slide into the weekend. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Our Golden Child

...the one where Nolan is deemed to be our Golden Child.

The girls have been working through Sonlight Curriculum's Career and College Planning kit as we explore options for their future. Larry Burkett's, "Finding the Career that Fits You," and Lee Binz', "The Home Scholar's Guide to College Admission and Scholarships" form the foundation of this 1/2 credit course. Michael and I have been impressed by the solid info provided.  As we look ahead to the SAT we discussed adding College Prep Genius to the mix. College Prep Genius was the foundation of Nolan's "Post-Secondary Prep" credit. As we all talked around the table last week, we realized there are solid test taking strategies Nolan learned from College Prep Genius which continue to benefit him. The girls' course is more well-rounded but adding this aspect will make it even stronger. The ILP I'd written included SAT prep in the description so it would be easy to add College Prep.  They are both finishing other course work; it seemed doable to add this to their school load.

 In our February discussion with our IDEA contact teacher, she brought up adding College Prep Genius for the girls. Confirmation. We set about adding this to their workload, never guessing it would result in Nolan being titled the "Golden Child."
Golden Child of the Week 

Years back I handed the link to Nolan. He registered, downloaded the material, and completed the course. He remembers enough of the course to motivate us to use it again. We switched to the Sonlight course with Alex as the focus is more on exploring the student's strengths, interests, personality and matching that to various careers, than simply taking the SAT. It is from a solid Christian perspective and so we, rather than IDEA, purchased it.  I added the previous bit lest one thinks IDEA paid for Christian curriculum. ::snort:: 

We were homeschooling more kids when Nolan took College Prep Genius. This year we are down to 2 students. I have been investing more time in the career/college prep process with the girls. Wednesday afternoon found both girls upstairs with their laptops. I gave them the link and instructed them to register for College Prep Genius. 

I swear the devil entered their laptops. TWO HOURS LATER we finally had both girls registered, paid for and we fully expected to cruise through the course.  Stacia made a witty quip about 12 hours of school. I apologized for adding 2 hours to the day but expressed puzzlement as "Nolan simply registered," and we have no memory of a 2 hour ordeal. 
Totally staged photo of Stacia and Allie

Today, it was time to begin the program. Stacia came upstairs and complained she couldn't find the lessons. I helped her find her starting spot. I also discussed with Nolan his memories of the course. 

Allie came up later and commented there were 13 videos in lesson 1 and she needed to print some booklets. 

Stacia came up and informed me she needed to print out a workbook. 

At dinner College Prep came up. Allie said she spent three hours on lesson 1. Stacia spent two hours on the same material. A bit of motherly investigating revealed Stacia realized she could take the quizzes and skipped the later videos. Um...the course's purpose IS to teach one how to quickly navigate the SAT. We couldn't fault her strategy, though Allie was slightly indignant. ::snort:: 

At this point we were all laughing. I AGAIN noted I was surprised this was so hard. NOLAN simply registered himself and took the course. He read the booklets in his ereader. I didn't remember grousing, 15 books to print, or hours long sessions. 

Allie quipped, "NOLAN is the Golden child."  ::snort::

I responded, "He is certainly the Golden child of the week." One thing led to another, and we officially awarded Nolan the title. There is talk of adding a section to the downstairs bulletin board to honor the child of the week. We laughed until we cried. 

In the process we remembered Nolan had a LIGHT senior year. When we registered with IDEA, we were told he had too many credits. He was missing health and Alaska history and had to take a senior year rather than graduating early. We added in the college prep and a couple of business courses.  He did a lesson a WEEK rather than a lesson a day. He never complained about the pace, I assumed the course was set up by days...I think we have the kinks worked out now. 

Shew. The challenge was unexpected, but it led to merriment and lively dinner talk around the table! 

Friday, February 18, 2022

This Week...

 As is my practice I pause this Friday to consider the week we've just lived. What are the highlights which we haven't recorded?

Tuesday was a first for Allie, a well-child doctor visit. We had seen Nicole, our NP, post-surgery.  She suggested we schedule a non-acute visit for Allie before she turns 18. It was a fun visit and Allie checks out for her 17 yo well child visit.  LOL  

Wednesday the oven-repairman came again. We have waited WEEKS for this part which was to fix everything. The part number on our current oven and the new part are the SAME but this part was made for a different stove. The oven is still not fixed. It's a down draft. The problem is Whirlpool made it, but because it has a Kenmore face plate, they won't stand behind it or even discuss repair options... Sears conveniently closed their appliance repair line when covid hit.  We won't be buying Kenmore again. We began looking for another stove/oven. We found a Kitchen Aide stove...we need a specific size as it's inset into our counter, and it needs to be a down draft. The Kitchen Aide looks exactly like the one we have...another one made by Whirlpool but with a different face plate.  We aren't feeling the love. This thing is only 3 years old. The only options are this model made by Whirlpool (tagged various names) and a Jen Aire. OR we can skip the down draft, but we'd have to hang an exhaust hood from the ceiling, which would mean changing lights and it would give the kitchen a totally different feel. Not sure what to do. We have been dealing with this since October. We have talked about a kitchen update, new counters and sink, save the cupboards and drawers. Maybe it's time to do it...

The girls both created college board accounts and registered for the next SAT.  Tis the season for practice tests, personality questionnaires, DISC assessments and career interviews.  We have been receiving college info since last summer for Stacia, and now Allie is getting inquiries as well. Both are enjoying the process of exploring future possibilities.  Allie is seriously considering a Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language & Interpreting. She is an excellent writer, and we see writing, as well as ministering to at risk children and animal training in her future. At this point she thinks the interpreting will be the funding source and the other things will be background activity. Stacia has talked of owning a cafe as a platform for ministry for years. She is in her 4th year of Japanese and meets twice a week with Kim Sensei. She is pulled equally to both Japan and a cafe - who knows? She is researching her options...culinary school? College? Just buying a food truck and starting? Funding college with a food truck. She is also a great writer. We are currently reading a novel as she writes it... LOL 

Bible study is always timely - but this week it was good to have time set aside to talk with each girl...and for part of the study to focus in on God's purpose for our lives. I couldn't help but think back to my senior year in Manila. There were so many decisions and back then the church was big at warning us to find the PERFECT vs. permissive will of God. That's a lot of stress for an 18 yo.  It was good to share lessons learned and listen to their thoughts as they process upcoming choices. 

I made our reservations for dip netting 2022. They are so booked we only will stay four nights this year, but we really didn't WANT to stay five nights anyway. 

We've been eating well...lots of colorful produce...ORANGE cauliflower, PURPLE brussel sprouts, and potatoes that are RED and PURPLE inside. Spring colors? 

We've been under a winter advisory. We do not typically get weather days off in Alaska. However, 2022 is coming in like a LION. We had the big windstorm - complete with missing power for a couple of days, followed by a good-sized snow/ice storm....and now kids have been out of school as it's warming up and we have ICE and rain and snow and more ice.... it's a mess. This morning it was like driving through a giant slushy resting on an ice rink. I drove in it yesterday and today.  That's a huge change from our first year when Michael had to drive me everywhere. LOL The van handles ice much better than the jeep did.  Stacia and I had a good laugh this morning. Typically, Alaskan drivers don't let the weather bother them out here on the hwy we take into town. Today, at 7:30 a.m., they were creeping along at 35 mph.

Some have asked how much snow we's melting.... but we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground. I am nowhere NEAR being able to get into the garden or discovering shoots of green in the yard.  I need to make myself walk out through the snow and grab a photo of the clotheslines nearly resting atop the snow. LOL 

That's about it for the week. We have been having many thoughts and discussions on how we impact a community...The chapel was an integral part of the community we lived in, hosting resiliency events, family fun days, events for deployed spouses, tire changes for deployed spouses etc.  We knew our community; knew it's needs and were integrally involved in meeting those needs. It was natural to meet those who did not share our faith at work, while out serving with the chapel etc. We don't work outside our home now. There aren't a lot of natural outreaches for us to join. Maybe in the civilian world this is more individual driven than faith community driven. We have been researching local options to impact our community...beyond what we are already doing. We are fine with this being organic, but if opportunities aren't as readily available through say "the chapel," we need to figure out how to find the opportunities to serve as individuals. 

We have struck up a relationship with a gentleman who called Michael today to discuss faith. He's Bahai. I look forward to more conversations. We just need more encounters like this...more chances to go into our world. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

38 Years - No Way Home


It's Valentine's Day and that means Michael and I are celebrating thirty-eight years of marriage. Thirty-eight years of doing life side by side, while together and while apart.  We've certainly not done every right, but we have known where to run and how to apologize when we mess up. Of course, this is also Valentine's Day. We had great plans for a few surprises, but we didn't quite pull them off. We'll tuck the plans away for either later in the month or next year. LOL  

The girls had given the boys a "sibling date" for their birthdays. The girls were taking them to the movie of their choice and out to dinner. They went to see "No Way Home" - Spiderman.  I'm woefully uninformed of the intricacies of the movie, but they seemed to enjoy it.  I told them they were welcome to go out for dinner, but I had a couple of pizzas downstairs already. We tend to avoid going out on our anniversary because it tends to be very crowded and noisy. We can get crowds and noise at home. 

Alex, Nolan, Allie, Stacia - 📷via Stacia

A funny thing happened when the "kids" went on their sibling date. Grandpa took a nap. The house was QUIET...and Michael and I had the rare experience of being alone at home. ::snort:: 

Perfect Valentines/Anniversary....time alone, time with kids, easy dinner and a touch of sweet.  Nolan is back to working six days a week. We were happy his day off landed on a day when he could celebrate with the rest of the world. LOL

As a side note:  Dad asked me today (2-16) if I thought his "problems" could be from eating those 3 little kisses. I told him it was probably all the cake and ice cream he chose to eat during birthday week, and Saturday and Sunday when kids were here....topped with the 3 little kisses. LOL  

Sunday, February 13, 2022

February Birthday Celebration

 There's a whole lotta cake at our house today! 

It turns out Livie doesn't like Cookies and Cream over Moosetrack ice cream.  Ah well, one can never make too much ice cream cake.  I could swear someone in February requested Cookies and Cream last year. Stacia's cakes were a hit too. We have a bit of the 6-inch cake left - and tomorrow IS Valentine's Day. 

Josiah and Liv (Carrie was working), Bre and kids, CoRielle and Jamin joined us to celebrate February's birthdays.  

Our Birthday Gang - minus Nolan (23) and plus Annie and Gideon
Cy (33), Alex (20), Livie - center (9), Jamin (31)

It was good to sit and visit together. Yes, there was much running around the circle and indoor snowball fighting.... I was sad I didn't get better pictures of the kids, but really this blur of a boy sums it all up quite nicely. 

After everyone but Jamin had headed home we sat around and talked a bit more. Jamin is our real estate pro - he is currently tied for number one spot of pending sales in Keller William (for this quarter maybe?). That is HUGE considering he is one man, and her team has 20 - 30 agents under her. I can't quite fathom how many hours he is putting in finding homes for folks. Anyway, I mentioned maybe we should look for a home with a better set up for the kids during winter gatherings. Jamin told us to sit tight. He's right - summer will come and this is a great place for summer/fall gatherings...just a bit tough that the adults seating area surrounds the kid's racetrack. LOL 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Birthday Week

Here are a few glimpses into this week at home. We are all feeling wonderful this week. We realized we are probably a bit more conscientious than most about staying home until all lingering cold symptoms are gone...and maybe we will evaluate this in the future.  Poor Stacia has missed 4 weeks of youth group due a lingering cough. This week both women's Bible study and youth group were cancelled due to ongoing members' health issues.  The girls sent out a group chat and invited other youth group members to connect on zoom. This was a great solution, we are proud of them. 

We felt quite well enough to go INSIDE for Bible studies this week. The restaurant agreed we should come inside rather than eat in the parking lot as we did last week. ::snort::   For the next 6 weeks (at least) the girls, Bible Babes and our local women's study will all be working through the same material. Bible Babes and the girls and I began working through it this week. 
Thursday with Allie

Friday with Stacia

I have a perpetual box collecting items for donation as we declutter. The girls filled two bags during our self-imposed-stay-at-home period. It felt good to get the boxes and bags delivered to Bishop's Attic.

Millie can always be counted on to entertain.

I have made two ice cream cakes this week. Stacia had baked cakes and today she decorated a cake for the brothers and one for Livie....

Michael and Dad went to their monthly men's breakfast. I took care of outside chores and then.....

The house was magically quiet, and I had no responsibilities to tend to. I set in Michael's recliner,  watched the snow fall outside, while my favorite blend of oil* diffused...the windows, the tree, the was magical. I finished Wuthering Heights. 

Some have asked about our indoor snowball fights...This little kit was a gift Mom purchased for me at a thrift store year's ago. It was simply a cute snowman decoration until Benny turned it into a great winter diversion. 

I texted the girls and asked if they were up for an adventure when the men got home. They were. We visited the library and one of our favorite coffee haunts for drinks and sandwiches. Then, it was time to conquer Stacia's shopping reluctance and buy her a couple of pairs of jeans. Allie found some cool boots. 

This guy made our day...just chilling in the neighborhood. 

We spent the remainder of the week watching shows, movies, making dinner....and it will soon be time to begin another week.  This was birthday week. A week we look forward too, but sort of dread. Having outside events cancelled did help. We had four birthdays this week. In the upcoming week we'll have 3 anniversaries and another birthday to celebrate. Februarys are a mad rush in our family. 

*Arctic Heat - a combination of Lavendar, Birch, Peppermint, Rosemary and Ginger oils picked up at our local Kroger chain.