Friday, August 15, 2008

12 Amazing Years...

Last Sunday, August 10th, Jeremy and I celebrated our 12th year of marriage. What a journey. God did such an incredible thing in putting the two of us together. The better I get to know both Jeremy and myself, the more clear it becomes that we are so good for each other.
We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant on Saturday, then we all spent Sunday together working outside around the house. We rewarded ourselves with a nice fire and S'more making until "way past bedtime o'clock".

The kids are learning the fine art of LIGHTLY TOASTING marshmallows, instead of turning them into little charcoal briquettes.

Anna's Alphabet

What would my kids do without each other? This morning, while I was scraping the peeling paint off the porch so I could REpaint...again (ugg...) Ryley coached Anna through as she wrote the whole alphabet for the first time ever.

The Honest Tooth

Here's Isaac's latest Lego creation. Lego building must be contagious, as the love for Legos has trickled on down the line of my boys. Notice that all his bottom teeth are in place yesterday morning when this picture was taken.
Later the same day, Isaac lost his VERY first tooth! And the Tooth Fairy even remembered to "pay" a visit last night!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Peek at our Morning

The sun is slowly being consumed by clouds. And it's kinda chilly outside. The kids were out all morning and because they were playing in the water while the sun WAS shining, they got cold. Now they're inside and were begging me to let them watch a movie. Jeremy signed up for Netflix, so the next in our queue came last week in the mail. I'm very strict with multi-media around here, so typically they can watch one movie per week, usually during a pizza-movie night. But that's the trouble with Netflix. We're paying the same price no matter how many we watch, so I think I'm gonna un-subscribe. Whatever. The point of this post was to mention that my kids are inside on an August morning, watching Snowball Express.


Well, it appears I'm on a roll with this blog-updating thing. Finally. So grab a cup-o'-joe and settle in.
Here's something random I thought I share as I just hung up with a telemarketer. Or a political call. Or whatever.
I had some fun with these fellas last winter. Even though I'm on that National Do Not Call List, (what a joke) I somehow still get a lot of these annoying calls.

First, I tried the method invented by Jerry Seinfeld.

Caller: Hello. May I please speak with Mrs. Coke?
Me: Actually, I'm not available right now. Why don't you give me your number and I'll call
you back when it's more convenient for me.
Caller: Long, uncomfortable pause
Me: What? You don't want to be bothered at home during dinner? Well, now you know how I
feel! Hang Up

That was fun for awhile, but eventually got boring.

So my dad told me that if one punches the # sign on the phone repeatedly, it scrambles the system from the call center. Don't know if it's true or not, but I enjoyed taking out my frustration that way for a time.

Then I had an epiphany. Now my favorite thing to do it this:
Caller: Hello. Is Mrs. Coke there?
Me: Yes. Just a minute, please.

At this point, I take the phone into my bedroom, lay it on the bed, shut the door, and walk away, snickering at my infantile sense of humor.
One time, I kept going back in and checking , and the caller stayed on the line for 12 min. racking up their company's phone bill. Tee Hee.

You'd think that by now, I'd be red-flagged on their call list or something, but guess not. So now I find myself secretly desiring to receive telemarketer calls. Cheap entertainment, I guess.


I've been trying to stream-line the baking around here. Gluten free baking is much more involved than the standard wheat-flour baking, so with so many of us having to eat gluten free now, instead of just Josiah, (who has been the lone Celiac member of our family for six years now), I've had to do a bit of adjusting.

And pouting.

And crying.

Not because I can no longer eat gluten, but because, as the mama and everything else around here, I do most of the work. (Of course, all of this is possible because of my incredibly hard-working hunny, who also pitches in around the house a lot.) And my work load has increased exponentially of late. And I spent a bit of time reminding God of all I already do, and questioning Him as to why that is not enough. Okay, I'll spare you the other gory details...

Jeremy has been encouraging me to spend money, if necessary, to make this lot in life a bit easier. So I did. First I bought the Pampered Chef Stoneware Loaf Pans that I've been wanting for forever. The loaves turned out like this:

This may not look like a big deal to anyone who's never baked gluten free, but my dear little Josiah was thrilled with the sheer size of this relatively massive loaf of goodness. My biggest challenge in gf baking has been in getting the loaf to rise properly, then to not sink while in the oven. But, still, with all the bread being consumed around here, and with all the work that makes gf baking so much more involved than standard baking, I have been spending way too much time in the kitchen.

Enter: the new bread maker.

After much research and reading of reviews, I am now the proud owner of the Breadman Pro TR875. Finally acquiring it is a long and drawn-out story, so I'll not share, but suffice it to say that the whole process invoked yet again, more tears. it is, and today I make the Maiden Baking. Or is it a Virgin Baking? Either way, I'll post some pictures if it actually turns out and I'm not in my safe crying place on the floor beside my bed...

Update: Well, I don't want to be less than optimistic, but I am, after all, a realist. Not a pessimist, a realist. So that just means I call 'em as I see 'em. And to be perfectly honest, while I'm not beside my bed crying, I am disappointed. This bread did not turn out well. I had to dig the paddle out from the bottom of the loaf, and when I picked it back up to stand and cool, the sides had sunken in. I guess I have a bit of tweaking to do to the recipe. Gee, I wouldn't want ANYTHING to be too easy.

"Summer" Days

If you live in Alaska, you know why I titled the post this way!

We've made the best of this crummy summer by blowing off whatever responsibilities we have whenever the sun actually shines. (Which it has been doing for two days in a row, so far, as it is only morning on the second sunny day.)

On July 4th, we went to a party at the home of some friends. The kids had the opportunity to recite (in front of an audience, finally, as usually it's just Jeremy and me that they perform for!) some excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. They each had their own part, and some were quite lengthy. As their mama, I must admit that I felt quite patriotic and even choked up to listen to the excitement, nervousness, and passion I heard in their voices. Ryley and Josiah are really beginning to understand and appreciate what it means to be patriotic. That was such an honor, and in the "audience" were even some real politicians! By the way, this day turned out to be one of the most summer-like day in the whole season. It was beautiful!

The other day Ryley and Josiah had some friends spend the night. The next day, they made an Alaskan Slip-N-Slide out of a couple of tarps anchored with rocks and logs. It actually worked quite well, and they had a blast.
Anna learned to ride a two-wheeler this summer, all by herself. One day, I did a double -take as I glanced out the window to see her ride by on our gravel driveway on Isaac's bike. (Hers, of course, still had training wheels.) I ran outside (to find out just what she thought she was doing) in time to see her take a jump that the boys had made!! YIKES! She is actually more daring than one or two of my boys. And she's really tough. It takes a lot of pain before she cries, and she's not one to quit even after a road rash!
SO....we took a LONG bike ride up at Eklutna the other day, and no one whined once. We rode probably at least 10 miles (thanks to the mile markers, I know this) with some stops for snacks and to play in the lake. We also parked and hiked down to the raging creek that dumps into the lake and everyone enjoyed getting wet. The only injury was when we were on a high bank above the "beach" and Anna's bike caught a rock. It catapulted her over the edge and she really would have had quite a serious situation if it weren't for the only tree on that stretch of the path, which "caught" her. When I heard her cry and caught up to her, I found her all tangled up in her bike and the branches of the tree. The only real evidence were some scratches on her face where the helmet didn't protect. The boys commented that they were glad that tree was there, and I agreed. The only thing that would have improved that day was if Jeremy could have been with us.
Jeremy went dipnetting in Chitna this year, as he does every year, and he had a very successful trip, even though he didn't limit-out. The run was quite low this year, and many guys got skunked, so I didn't complain when he brought home his 26. Usually I put up about 40 fish, some are frozen as fillets and I do a lot of canning with the rest. This year, we bought a Food Saver and filleted about half and smoked the other half. The smoking was a SUCCESS, as I am quite picky about the saltiness/sweetness ratio, and also the consistency of the fish. In fact, the guys at work keep asking him to bring in some more smoked to share. (I think I'm gonna have to get mean in order to keep much in my freezer.)
Jeremy's "trophy" was a 65 lb. King. The way he described landing the monster was hilarious. I so wish I could have seen it. The "hog" wouldn't die. He had to sit on it and said he probably looked like he was Bronc riding. The thing was trying to buck him off, and apparently he had to get quite violent before it would finally die. But he is delicious and well worth the wrestling match. Jeremy was happy to have his four wheeler this year. (He got a great deal on a once-used King Quad earlier this summer.) He also dipped a 40 lb. King, which is equally as tasty. All four of my kids love salmon, so we really do eat a lot of it. I decided last night that our smoked salmon this year is among my favorite foods.

Baseball season has come to a close and now we're on to football. This is Ryley's second year, and although I think his coach this year is immature (he got on Ryley's case about missing practice the day we went to Eklutna and has since made fun of him about going on a "little bike ride with the family") and seems to believe that if it's not football, it's a waste of time, he isn't too horrible and Ryley is learning a lot and having a great time. Although I love watching the boys enjoy the sports they've chosen, and the confidence they gain, I must admit that I'll be thrilled when fall rolls in and we have our lengthy-relaxed-cozy-bookreading evenings back. That's one reason that I do so embrace fall.

We hiked the Butte (we went the "easy" way this time) only once this summer. When we got to the top, we spent several hours there, eating lunch and playing all over the mountain side. I took my current read, and spent the time dodging grasshoppers and swiping them off my book as I laid on the blanket and tried to concentrate.

Yesterday, we went up to Hatchers to check on the blueberries. We also hiked around a bit, ate lunch (most of which we'd packed, then accidentally left behind), and played in the icy-cold creek. Well, actually, I didn't. It was chilly and windy up there, so I stayed on the shore and was the cheerleader when the kids all made it across a still, fairly deep and wide and very cold section to get to the other side and check out some stuff they were curious about. Anna had to cross in her panties and tee shirt, as she was short enough that her capris would have been soaked. Isaac should have, as well, but even though we were the only ones there, he was too embarrassed. So he just soaked his pants, instead. Ryley always soaks everything, no matter what precaution is taken, so he rode home in his boxers. Josiah, my meticulous one, was just fine and only a bit damp until his relentless brothers couldn't stand to see him dry and proceeded to splash water and throw mud at him. Who would we become, without each other?

Happy 11th Birthday, Ryley!

Man, does time fly. July 16th, my little Ryley turned 11. His feet are bigger than mine. His hands are wider than mine. When I do laundry, I have to pay attention so I stack his jeans and shirts in HIS stack, and not mine. But I can STILL run faster and beat him in an arm wrestle. For now.

We had fun on his big day. He invited six friends over for the day and we set up a shooting range in our backyard. They shot BB guns, Airsoft guns, and bows. When that got old, they rounded everyone up for a game of Backyard Baseball.