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.

Riding Lessons With Grandpa Horsman

One of the many fun things we did while G&G Horsman were here was riding lessons. My kids LOVE riding (several REALLY love it) and wish they had the opportunity more often. I grew up riding from the time I was three, and it's kinda sad to me that it's such a "treat" when they do get to ride, when, for my siblings and me, it was more of a responsibility! I feel like I've got those annoying "city kids" who used to come visit the barn at the camps where we lived. We always felt kinda sorry for them. BUT...the cost of owning a horse in Alaska does NOT appeal to me, so for now, it really is a "treat" for once in awhile.

Thanks for the lessons, Grandpa!!!! And thanks for loaning Destiny, Uncle Nate!!