Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chia Seed

I recently received a big shipment of chia seed. It's been hard to find locally, so I ordered a bunch. It's $14/lb. and if anyone would like to purchase some, just let me know.
I still don't know how to say "click here" and it'll send you to a previous post, but if you scroll down quite a way, you'll find a previous post about chia seeds. Or email me and I'll give more info. on the many benefits of and ways to use chia.

White Elephant, Revealed

Awhile back I posted about a White Elephant party we attended. After getting a bit of response from several people, I must say that I don't feel as out of it as before. I thought I'd 'missed the memo' on the W.E. thing somewhere along the way. At the most recent party before Christmas, we were instructed to bring W.E. gifts for the kids and adults. So I scanned my home for nice but gently used items to 're gift', as I thought that was the point. I even raided my gift box of generic but new stuff and wrapped some up, thinking maybe we'd have the nicest W.E. presents to be had. But I was wrong. Very wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.
There were 32 kids' gifts. Every single one was something new. Ryley wrapped toilet paper. It was, of course, new. But because it was a Boy Scout party I let him choose what to take. Now I wish we'd stuffed a $10 bill in the core because it would've been so perfect. Thankfully I'd coached my kids on W.E. etiquette on the way there and they knew they weren't supposed to tell anyone what they brought. So as everyone was demanding to know who brought the t.p. I held my breath and wondered if my kids were listening and if they'd feel like obeying under pressure. They did awesome for a really long time. At the end, the question of the t.p. was raised again. As the laughter died down and everyone finally gave up on ever knowing, Isaac blurted out, "Ryley brought it!" He even jumped up and pointed his finger at Ryley. Everyone else was sitting. Ryley's face turned bright red and he did just as I was willing him to do: he denied it.
Anna chose to unwrap the gift she brought. Guess she didn't quite get it. Or maybe she did.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

After Eleven-and-a-Half Years, It Happened!

I read a whole book today. Really. Seriously. I am the mother of four and I actually read a book in one day. Not in a week, by spending a half-hour a day in five minute segments. I read for about 45 min. this morning. Then at about 1:30 Jeremy took the boys up to the cabin to do some stuff there. Anna and I cozied up on the couch as soon as they left. She grabbed a stack of books and I grabbed mine. I read two or three to her, then she "read" to herself for a while. Eventually she drifted off to sleep because after having a friend over to spend the night last night and not going to sleep 'til 11:30, she was wiped out. I read, uninterrupted from 2:00 until 4:30 and finished the book! Don't get me wrong, I loved having babies and toddlers for the years that I did, but while I've had a hard time being done with that phase of life, I've been looking for the bright side and trying to really enjoy where I am now. It's a contentment issue, I believe. And today was another reminder that having older kiddos is tons of fun.
Now I'm gonna go make pizza for dinner. When my guys get back from doing their guy-stuff, I'll be just pulling it from the oven. Then we'll have spritzers with our pizza and probably stay up way too late, again, playing games.
We went up to Hatcher's Pass Friday to do some sledding/snowboarding/snowshoeing. (Ryley did the boarding. He got a new one for Christmas. The kids also got snowshoes for Christmas.) It was super cold, about six degrees with a slight-yet-bitter breeze blowing, so we only stayed about an hour and a half, but it was fun.

Then on Saturday Jeremy and Ryley went to an orienteering event for Boy Scouts and Josiah and Isaac went along. They had a great time and learned a lot. It was super windy and cold, but because they're such tough guys (and because I packed piping hot soup and cocoa in thermoses:) they were fine.

Christmas Traditions

We had such a sweet, meaningful Christmas. As per tradition for our family, we spent Christmas Eve afternoon with some friends who always have a Christmas Eve Open House. I told them that I don't know what we'll do if they ever stop, as they have become tradition for us! Then we came home and began preparing our hearts and our meal. We always spend the eve of Christmas reflecting on the "true meaning of Christmas", the coming of Christ as a perfect little baby, fully God and fully man. Over the years, I've found it so hard to reflect and concentrate on this on Christmas day, with the Santa stuff, opening of presents, cookies, etc. Yet I don't want to quit with those more material traditions, as they're so much fun. So we developed the idea of having a very meaningful evening the night before, leaving out all the commercialism. We have a meal of Alaska King Crab. (yummy! It's the only time of the year we eat crab, and boy do we indulge!!) We light candles, get dressed up and enjoy our time together as a family. We talk about Christ, both when he was on earth, and now, personally, in our lives. After dinner we pull out all the yummy Christmas cookies and sit down around the Christmas tree (this year we even had a fire in the fireplace!) and Jeremy reads the Christmas story.
At the end of the evening the kids get to open one present (it's always jammies, so that Christmas morning pictures are of them in new festive duds!). Then they set out a plate of cookies for Santa, including a carrot for Rudolph, and they write their letters. Right before bed they take their stockings and set them at the ends of their beds.
This year Anna wanted to write her own letter and not be lumped in with the boys. Notice the "E" in "Dear"? I love how all my kids have added tons of horizontal lines coming out from the vertical line in the capitol "E". I think they've each done this when they've first learned to write.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slap Fight

Have ya ever had a slap fight? I haven't. Probably 'cause I'm not a boy. This afternoon, as Anna was blissfully rearranging her kitchen area, the boys were blazing through the scene "wearing their chests" (as they used to call it when they went shirtless) and slapping the daylights out of each other. And they were laughing. Not just giggling, but belly-laughing. I don't get it.

Christmas Baking

We're almost done with our Christmas baking around here. I say "we", but really it's pretty much me who does the baking. 'Cuz I'm the mom. And that's what moms do. But the kiddos love to do the decorating of the cut-out sugar cookies.


Anna had her friend Avery over the other day when she was feeling particularly outnumbered by the three boys and an extra friend who was here for the day. I love these pictures of the two of them doing each other's hair and coloring pictures together. So sweet.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Don't Let Your Young Kids Read This

We've had "the talk" with our older boys in recent years. Well, not really "THE talk" (Jeremy's had that one with only Ryley so far), but just "the talk"...the one about Santa. Of course, we've mentioned to the boys that while they now know the truth, some kids don't quite yet (including their little sister and sometimes their little brother, depending on the day). Yesterday I realized that Josiah either missed the memo or decided it was his job to set the world straight concerning Santa. He is my most serious and intense child, so I can't say this exchange really surprised me. I watched a friend's son (a buddy of Isaac's) for the day while she went to Anchorage for a pre-natal appointment. At one point of the day, Luke and Josiah were playing Legos at the same time. Luke was chatting away as they built and mentioned that he sure hoped Santa would bring him some of his own Legos on Christmas morning. "Well, Luke, ya know Santa's actually just your mom," said Josiah. "Huh? Santa's not my mom,"replied Luke, indignantly. I was just around the corner and sensed some drama on its way, so I hollered, "Josiah! Santa's not Luke's mom!" I was totally caught off guard and I didn't want to lie to either of the boys! I had to think fast. "She doesn't look anything like him!!" Luke's response has had me chuckling ever since yesterday afternoon and I don't think any comic could have had such perfect timing, inflection in his voice and punch line. Luke muttered under his breath, "Yeah. She's just pregnant, that's all."

Monday, December 15, 2008


The kiddos asked if they could take some pictures the other day. Here's what we ended up with: Josiah mastered the art of taking a picture of himself. See how hard he's concentrating?

Ryley snapped a shot of the Dutch Babies I made for breakfast.

Isaac snuck into Anna's room and caught her napping yesterday. He especially liked the fact that she made herself a bed on the floor right by her new snowman nightlight.

White Elephant

Would someone please tell me what "White Elephant" at Christmas time means? I THOUGHT I knew, after attending so many over the years, until last night when I participated in one.

I remember well the first White Elephant party I attended as a child. I was probably seven or eight. It was at Timber-Lee Christian Center in Wisconsin where we lived for about eight years. When we finally reached the pre-determined age, the adult staff let us kids join.
I remember what building at camp we had the party. I remember that there were some weird gifts. And I remember that although I really wanted to choose the big box, I actually chose the tiny gift (because some kind soul told me that "good things come in small packages", and also I didn't want to appear as greedy as I actually was, considering this was my debut). When I ripped off the paper, I was rewarded for my selflessness by finding a pantyhose "egg" holding a $10 bill. WOWZERS!! Ten whole dollars all for myself!!
Alas, it wasn't long before the rules of the W.E. were engaged, and someone stole it from me.
And after the party, Ellie Haroldson tried to help my mom by getting us kids all bundled up for the walk home. She held up my snowsuit and called me over to her, interrupting the twirling I was doing in my beautiful Christmas dress. "Hmp!" I thought, "How could she? An adult...interrupting a child's all important play time? The nerve!!" So, I looked over at her as she called, "Sarah, come get your snowsuit on", and said, "No." Well, Ellie Haroldson was a great, patient lady and didn't paddle my behind on the spot, as I deserved. But I assume that she did talk to my mom about it later. Because the very next morning, I found myself sitting on the edge of my mom and dad's waterbed dialing Ellie's home phone number. I was shaking so much that it was hard to get the numbers all dialed, but eventually I did and the phone rang...and rang...and rang. It seemed like an eternity before she finally answered. And I apologized for my behaviour the previous night. I asked her forgiveness, which she graciously gave. What a great and memorable lesson that was. Thanks, mom, for making me do that incredibly hard thing. And I actually believe now, as a mama myself, that it hurt you more than it hurt me.

Anyway, I was wondering about the general population's view of the White Elephant gift exchange. Not so much the part about the rules, as the gift part. After I get some feedback, I'll post my reason for asking.

Christmas Tree Hunting

We went Christmas tree hunting with our dear friends the Kellers recently. We thought it would be fun to go together and at the same time, show them our newly purchased property. The kids piled on the snow machine sled that we hooked up to the four wheeler and Jane and I drove them down the 1/2 mile trail to the cabin. Everyone enjoyed hiking around in search of the perfect tree, and for the first time ever, we rested assured that the tree we chose and chopped down actually belonged to us and was ours for the taking. The guys didn't have to look over their shoulders while starting up the chainsaw. (If I knew how to really use this computer, I'd have a word to click, like "click here" which would take you my post from last year about bringing home the Christmas tree. Then that last sentence would make more sense...) We Love Ya, Kellers!!
Here's a picture of the finished product. But I know NOTHING about cameras and taking pictures. I really wanted a shot of the tree all lit up, but when I used the flash, it lit the room up so that one couldn't even see the lights on the tree. So I tried several different settings and this is the best I could do.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Was That a Compliment??

Just now as the boys were deep cleaning their rooms, I waltzed past through the dining room belting out part of a Christmas song in an annoying, opera voice. I heard Isaac remark to Josiah, "Gee...I didn't know mom could sing in that voice." To which Josiah replied, in his matter-of-fact dry-humor way, "Yeah, well mom's a lady of weird talents." I could picture them both looking at each other, shrugging their shoulders, and continuing their cleaning.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Here Ya Go, Aunt Ruthie. Here's Isaac with Chest Hair and Everything

My sister has been begging for a video of a kid or two. I've never posted one before because it takes so stinkin' long for them to load, whether I'm trying to post one, or watch one. But tonight as we were getting teeth brushed and jammies on anticipating our evening reading time, Isaac bolted out of his bedroom ready to perform. I grabbed the video camera and here's what we got.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Cozy Morning

We skipped church today. We're saying it was because Anna has a nasty cough, and Ryley's starting in with it, too. But really it's mostly because we had some friends over last night and we didn't get to bed until 12:30. And we're actually too old for that kind of nonsense. (But boy was it worth it. We had a great visit!) And we didn't want to wake the kids up early to get ready for church after being up so late last night.
So Jeremy read to the boys all morning from J.R.R. Tolkien's humble little "devotional" called The Lord of the Rings. Ever heard of it? ;-) Jeremy's been reading it to the boys every chance he gets, and he started at our late 9:30 oatmeal breakfast and just wrapped it up at noon. Ryley and Josiah are really into it, but Isaac and Anna prefer to play with the Thomas Trains or Legos while they listen. They're picking up what they can.
Now the boys are headed out to do a bit of sledding in the beautiful light fluffy fresh snow. Here's a shot of it out the front door, for those not lucky enough to live in Alaska on such a perfect winter day (that's you, Ruth in Alabama!)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Crazy Cousins

Quiad cleaning my whipping cream beater.

Roanen strutted around for quite a while in these Mr. Potato Head glasses.

Since Quaid got the beater and Roanen got the mixing spoon to lick, so as not to be left out, Isaac chose to use the only utensil available...his fingers.

Caring, Loving and Sharing

Uncle Jeremy comforts Avelyn and her little troubled tummy.
The sweet girl cousins enjoy mothering their babies.

Josiah bundles Anna up before they head out for some sled rides behind the four wheeler.

Thanksgiving Fun

We have so many things to be thankful for. At the top of the list is family. We had such a fun day yesterday, with the Horsman family arriving around 11:00 (right guys? Was it about 11?) for appetizers of deep fried halibut and shrimp, a beautiful veggie tray provided by Elizabeth,oranges, dry roasted almonds, crackers and cheese. Unfortunately, our timing was off this year and the turkey was done early, so our appetizer time ran right up to dinner time and the kids weren't really hungry for the real meal. Neither were the adults. So we ended up with lots of leftovers. Which is actually kinda great, because meal making for the next couple of days will be really easy! Thanks for your company yesterday, Horsmans!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How Do You Like Them Apples?

We've been baking up a storm around here today, in prep. for tomorrow. The kids always love assisting me in the kitchen when I let them. This afternoon I've tried to slow down enough to let them take turns being my sidekick, and I loved coming to the realization that they are actually getting to be quite helpful. Josiah started out peeling apples for me (a job which I've always abhorred), then when his hands began cramping up he passed the task off to Ryley. Look how talented my eldest son is!! Pretty soon and he'll be able peel the whole darn thing in one continuous strip! Little do they know that I'll be calling on their talents again tomorrow when it's potato-peeling time!

Thanksgiving Preparations

The other day my boys were online looking for fun Thanksgiving crafts to do with the cousins on Turkey day. They came across these on I think I'll use them as place markers, slipping a piece of paper with each person's name and setting it beside the plate at the Thanksgiving table. We had a hard time finding pine cones that weren't disgustingly drenched with cinnamon scent. (I'm sure you know the ones. They're the pine cones you smell before you see.) We finally came upon these at Target, and by comparison with the others, they're not too bad. They do have a subtle cinnamon scent, but it's manageable. I was at one store asking for help finding them, and when she realized she couldn't help me, the sales lady inquired as to why I didn't just pick them up off the ground this fall before it snowed. Apparently she hasn't lived here long enough to notice that if a tree does have pine cones, they're painfully tiny.

And here's a whole gaggle of them. A dozen actually.

"All men who have turned out worth anything have had the cheif hand in their own education." -Sir Walter Scott

Isaac has been having such fun learning to write, read, and "sound stuff out". For a friend's birthday last weekend, he decorated his own wrapping paper and wrapped the gift himself (with my help on the ribbon...)
This is learning at its best. A "teacher's" role in interest-based learning is just basically being available to help a kid who already naturally wants to learn. If raised and "taught" properly, a child will almost always have a desire to learn. This is not unusual in lower/elementary grades, but unfortunately, by middle or at the latest high school, most students don't enjoy "learning" or "education" and end up indifferent or uninterested, only going through the motions to do what's required of them by outside influences. A high school student who has been given the privilege of the freedom to self-educate since babyhood will most often excel much more than his typical "conveyor belt" publicly educated peers. Think about it: I cannot force anyone else to learn anymore than I can force a child to be potty trained. I'm sure most of us have experienced potty training before. It can be exasperating, mostly because we know that our hands are pretty much tied. The game is all about making our two year old think that we're in control, but we're not. No matter what we do, there is no way to make them go potty when and where we want them to. We can inspire them, though. We can make it lots of fun, giving rewards when they do what we want, and making things uncomfortable for them when they don't. Well, I could go on and on, and basically write a whole article here, but I don't want to bore anyone, or lose people's interest!
Being an inspiration is one of the most important jobs of a mentor/teacher/mother...It also happens to be one of the toughest jobs.
Albert Einstein once said, "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
P.P. ('Post Post' haha!) The "thing" up in the corner of the picture is Isaac's gluten free chocolate cake to take to the party. (My sister mentioned that I should clarify that for inquiring minds who might wonder.) The joy of being gluten free is that we celebrate in a big way every birthday party we're invited to, as I have to bake a cake so my kid has a piece to eat there, leaving the rest of the family with almost a whole cake to enjoy.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

We're Thankful

I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving sneaks up and surprises me every year. But not this year. No way. I'm onto the calendar now, and this time I was determined to be prepared. So this week we started reading the Thanksgiving story and studying about those pilgrims and their trials and joys here in the New World. This morning we made our traditional "thankfulness wreaths". I'm not real creative; this is the same craft we've done every Thanksgiving since Ryley was a baby. But it's fun to see their hands grow, along with their handwriting and the depth and details of their thankfulness.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For The Love Of Books

Tonight, after dinner, after wrapping up various "school" projects from the day, after tooth-brushing was done and jammies were changed into, Jeremy and I were discussing important matters (such as just how many guns a conservative Alaskan family should have in their home), the children were patiently waiting for evening reading time. As we were deep in conversation, over the din of dinner dishes being done and a lively conversation, I heard a sweet sound which just warms a mama's heart. I peeked around the corner of the kitchen and this is what I saw: All the kids were cuddled up together listening to Josiah read. Call me overly sentimental, but my eyes got a bit misty and my day felt complete and successful.

Slumber(less) Party

This past weekend Jeremy and Ryley went on a Boy Scout Winter Camp out, at which my little boy slept in a snow cave made by his own (warmly gloved) hands. We at home decided that those two shouldn't be the only ones having such a fun time with absolutely no quality sleep. No sir. So we planned a fun Friday night together, enjoying snacks and staying up way past bedtime. When it was finally time to "hit the rack", we made beds in my room. The kids turned on my lamp and spent some time reading and (mostly) giggling until I went in to declare "lights out" and told them to go to sleep. They seemed to be sleeping pretty well by the time I jumped into my jammies and joined them. Unfortunately, I took some herbs before bed which I usually take earlier in the day and found my self rendered sleepless. Combine that with the fact that my kids are not quiet sleepers, and I had a recipe for disaster. There's a strange phenomenon that I've noticed over the years whenever the kids stay in our room (whether we're on vacation together, or just if someone's been throwing up and they're sleeping on our floor). Just like when they were newborns, I am acutely aware of their sleep phases. When they wake up for a second in the night, I find myself almost mysteriously wide awake and alert. I ended up taking them back to their rooms, one-by-one, at various points of the night. When they were relaying the events of the weekend to Jeremy and Ryley upon their return on Sunday, Anna informed them that "we had a slumber party in mom's room. Then she kicked us out."

Anna's First Do-It-Herself Hair-Do

Anna proudly paraded out of her room the other morning, and right smack into the middle of the gathering of the boys and me as we were working on a project. She commanded such attention with her presence. Right away we noticed her usual attire of the spectacular dress-up gown she was wearing, but then she turned around. And what did our eyes behold but Anna's first EVER hair do that she'd carefully coiffed all by herself.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Social Organizer

Isaac takes after Jeremy in many ways. Just like his dad used to do, Isaac often requests that we invite certain people over to the house. Jeremy's mom says that little Jeremy used to ask after church, "Mom, who's comin' over for dinner today?... No one? What? We'll let's invite..." And off he'd scoot to invite someone, ANYone, over for dinner.
Recently, Isaac's been requesting to have the Palins over for a meal with us. Heck, he reasons, they have to eat anyway, right? Might as well be with us! We do have several "connections" with them, as several friends are friends with them, or at least Sarah's parents. Given that tiny thread of hope by a friend who said, "I could hook you up", Isaac has not let up on this idea. I keep "poo pooing" his grand scheme and this morning when he asked again, I let him down with the information that she's out of state. "What?" he exclaimed. "She was JUST HERE the other day! Where has she gone now??"

Words of Wisdom from Little House Series

We're reading Little House on Rocky Ridge right now, the story of a grown-up and married Laura Ingalls Wilder, her husband, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose as they settle in Missouri. In light of our national economic disaster, I found it very well timed that we encountered Papa's (Almanzo) wisdom and understanding of the U.S. treasury. Allow me to share:

"Finally, Mama and Papa finished talking and Rose could ask, 'What's a Panic?'
'Well, that's what happens when folks run out of money,' said Papa.
'Couldn't they make some more?' Rose asked.
Both Mama and Papa chuckled. 'Some politicians in Washington think so,' said Papa. 'But no, Rose. You cannot make more money like more flapjacks. It must be earned. And it must be worth something. A piece of paper isn't really money until there's gold in the U.S. treasury to back it up.'"

Almost prophetic words of wisdom. If only the "politicians in Washington" would have some common "cents" like Almanzo Wilder!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fun at the Land, and I'm Getting Old

Yesterday was so much fun. We were able to show off our land to some dear friends, Cody and Nikki. We crossed the creek and hiked up to the potential house site, played King of the Mountain (at least, Cody and the kids did!) and hiked up to the BIG tree that must be hundreds of years old. (The guys' hands could hardly touch!) Oh, and check out that ginormous burl on THIS tree! (below)

Then our friend Tom, from whom we bought the land, came over for a delicious dinner of gluten-free-battered-and-deep-fried halibut (Jeremy created the recipe and I'm so impressed every time he treats us with that!), Grilled Salmon, Spinach Salad, Rice, and Rhubarb/Blueberry Crisp with Yogurt. His manners finally got the better of him when, at 11 he could ignore Jeremy's and my yawning no more and our long conversation in front of the fire, sipping tea, came to a close.

You're by now, no doubt, wondering what all this has to do with my getting old. While Jeremy was frying halibut, he implored me to run up to the "little store" by our house (which now has a liquor store) and buy him a bit of beer. For the first time in my life...I didn't get carded.