Sunday, October 25, 2009

Happy Sadness

We are down to the last day or two here in our home. We will officially begin residing full-time at our property on Monday. Tonight is the last night we'll be sleeping here. While we are very excited, this whole experience is bitter-sweet.
As a child living with my parents, we moved a lot. They are missionaries, and although we never lived in any foreign country (they now reside in Canada), we lived in many different houses. I could never get too attached to one location, because the location constantly changed.

Fast forward to my life now, with my own family, and I've been privileged to experience the opposite of all that, having lived in our little home for 10 years now. Wowzers. It has been so good for me to have security and enjoy making our house a home. (Thanks, Jeremy.)
(This is our bedroom, after the crawl space, aka black hole, was unloaded.)
(This is our new bedroom, in the camper.)

We have brought three babies home here and have made countless memories. I never want to be wrapped up in temporal things, but I must admit to myself: moving out of this house is hard.

Our renters will move in on Nov. 1st, so I'm planning on having all next week to clean and make ready their new residence. We will be moving into a pull-behind camper and we'll be living between that and the cabin. Our plan is to live there until we complete our basement. We have finished the footers and slab (pictures to follow in another post), and our next step is to build and pour the walls. Then we'll build a temporary roof over all, with materials we can reuse in the Spring, and move in. Our generator system is on its way to Anchorage, and our wood-burning boiler furnace will make its way down from Fairbanks this week.
In the Spring, we'll begin construction on our log home.

Last night was fun for our family. We originally planned on staying in the camper at the property last night, but things changed and we were here, but without our beds, etc. because we had mostly "moved out". So we went camping in our house. The kids had lots of fun playing with whatever scraps they could find on the floor where the couches used to sit. Anna set up shop and the younger three played "store" while Ryley and Jeremy were at Home Depot. Josiah and Isaac were the customers, and they paid for random store stuff with coins they found laying around. When they were bored of shopping, Anna hired them as plumbers to fix things in her store.

After dinner, they built forts in the living room and slept in sleeping bags.We'll miss our home. And we will enjoy our last night here. "The last time always seems so sad, but it isn't really. The end of one thing is only the beginning of another." -Laura Ingalls Wilder, in These Happy Golden Years

Specialization is for Insects

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Working the Land

I'm on a quest to do a bit of updating. We've been working on the property to make it as ready as possible for our moving in full-time (which will officially happen this coming weekend).

One of our first tasks this fall was the setting of the water tank. We have a very fast moving, fairly wide creek running almost through the middle of our 20 acres. We will be using this as our water source. Well-drilling is a bit risky (as it is everywhere), mostly because not much has been done in the area. We know that the creek never freezes up, and the water is of high quality.
Of course, there are many variables one has to consider when using surface water, so we will be filtering it as though everything is wrong with it. On any given day, a moose could die and land in the creek above our property; parasites could come and go; the possibilities are many. We bought a 300 gallon tank, scooped out an area in the creek, thereby widening it, diverted the water over to that area, and set the tank (to the sides of which holes had been drilled, thereby letting water swirl in and out, so as never to be stagnant). This sounds easier than it was, by the way.
Jeremy built a "power house" around the tank. It is heavily insulated and built upon concrete pilings we made. This power house will not only house the water tank and pump, but also the generator, batteries, and inverter. (We will power the house with this system). In every season but winter, we will also set up a hydro system which will be set just below this power house. The water will then generate power, filling up the batteries, instead of the generator, which will run off diesel.

Are you still reading? Have I bored you yet? Next up was the running of the water line. We have 500 feet from the creek where the power house is up to the house site. We dug a trench down that distance, between 8 and 10 feet deep. Little by little we'd dig, Jeremy running the excavator, while I placed the line down deep. Along with the water line, we ran some electrical wire which will carry power up to the house from the power house. This was a tedious job, as a big percentage of our soil is actually sand. The sides caved in many times.

After the work of the trench digging was done, I had a chance to play on the equipment. On the property was an old outhouse which needed to be buried. I got to dig the hole, knock the outhouse in it, smash it down to pieces, and bury it.
Anna was fighting a bit of sickness during this particular weekend. She spent a lot of time in the cabin coloring and reading books on the bed.

My Boys

Life has been incredibly busy around here. I thought I'd post some various pictures of the boys, giving you a glimpse into their daily lives.

Ryley got braces and other dental "appliances" recently. After the pain of day 2 passed, there isn't much to complain about, except for the fact that it's hard for both of us to remember that he's now supposed to brush after every meal.
Isaac unearthed the face paints. We also found out that he's a bit allergic to whatever toxin is in them. He broke out in quite a rash that lasted for about a week after finally washing the paint off.
Although not too huge a fan of grapes, Josiah recently found a reason to eat them. There is an unlimited amount of faces a boy can make with the help of but a few grapes. And I have LOTS of pictures to prove it. They have titled this look "The Camel" after a recent trip to the zoo. Several weeks ago, Josiah and Isaac caught this spawning salmon in the creek. After a full summer of catching minnows, this big boy caused quite a stir in our little world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss

This afternoon, during Quiet Time, Isaac requested that I read Horton Hears a Who, by Dr. Seuss. I have always loved that book, mostly for its overt pro-life message. Today as I read, however, I noticed yet another message with which I agree. As is the case with all classics, I learned something new as I read it. Allow me to share a part with you.

The Mayor of the speck, in an effort to prove to the Wickersham brothers and their gang that "we are here", had required all townspeople to make as much noise as possible. He then found one Who who wasn't doing his part. The Mayor scooped him up and took him to the Eiffelberg Tower.

"'This', cried the Mayor, 'is your town's darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
To come to the aid of their country!' he said.
'We've GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!'

"Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, 'YOPP!'

"And that Yopp...
That one small, extra Yopp put it over!"...

This epiphany is important because it reminds me and encourages me during this point in history in which we now find our United States of America. No voice is too small. It takes unity and every single conservative Christian citizen in America to stand up and shout, making his voice and convictions heard.

"So open your mouth, lad. For every voice counts!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Happy Hunters

Jeremy had the opportunity to go sheep hunting just before we left for our trip. He had a great four days with his buddy Zach, and brought home a beautiful Dall Sheep. Of course, the story to go along with the pictures is pretty amazing, but I won't try to retell it here. Maybe one day Jeremy will get on the blog and tell it himself (but somehow I doubt it;-)
The meat is delicious and I can't wait until the taxidermist finishes the head!
Photos by Zach Keller

Monday, September 14, 2009


I have way too much to get done to justify sitting at the computer playing on the blog. But it's been so long since I've updated it, and I'm afraid people will give up on reading or even checking in on The Coke Connection. I thought I'd give a "quick" update.
We just returned from a 8 day trip to Illinois for Jeremy's oldest brother's wedding. Jeremy was a groomsman, Anna was the flower girl, Isaac was the ring bearer (even though he didn't bear any rings...just a "slippery pillow"), and Ryley and Josiah were candle lighters. I sat on the pew wearing the supportive and somewhat emotional mom-face. They were all just amazingly cute and I was so proud. I loved it when, for a moment during the ceremony at communion time, they all came and sat with me. Then everyone in the church knew those amazing people belonged to me. The highlight of the entire trip, according to Anna, was when she and Daddy got to dance together at the wedding reception. As there were photographers everywhere taking tons of pictures, I didn't snap any. I couldn't focus the camera anyway, because of the tears blurring my vision and mascara. I WILL be ordering some from the pros, though. It was such an emotional and beautiful thing.
To celebrate the birthdays this year, Grandma and Grandpa Coke took us to Six Flags Great America, close to Chicago. As it turned out, the day we went the park was closed to a private event. That event happened to be Homeschool Day, so we were treated to non-existent lines at the rides, a great atmosphere, and a discounted ticket price! All my kiddos went on real roller coasters and although we all felt queasy on and off all day, no one got sick. Jeremy and I even went on the Super Drop, where we rode 277 ft. straight up and were held there for what seemed like forever, then we free fell all the way down. I think the adrenaline is still coursing through my veins. The grandkids have amazing pull, as they were able to convince Gma and Gpa to go on lots of rides with them. Jeremy's younger brother Jon was also able to go. Ryley and Josiah enjoyed going on the crazy rides with him.We were so thankful to be able to spend a good amount of time with Jeremy's Uncle Mike, Aunt Linda, and cousin Marissa. In the picture below are, l to r, Linda, new sister-in-law Megan, and Marissa.We also spent some time with my grandparents. The kids lit up the faces of folks at the nursing home where Gpa Jacobson lives. Gma and I spent time going through pictures, doing a bit of shopping, going out for a "ladies lunch" with Anna and Mom Coke, and taking Gma through her first ever automatic car wash.

And somehow, in the middle of the trip to the apple orchard, visits with relatives, an afternoon of swimming, and all the rest, the brothers were able to carve out some "down-time" and play video games together.

Now, I better get back to work. We have decided to rent out our house for the time being, and we have people lined up to move in Nov. 1st. All we have to do now is get our property ready for us, pack up the house we've lived in for 10 years, and move out!

Monday, August 10, 2009

"13 Happy Years"

Today is our 13th Anniversary! This morning as Josiah was praying over breakfast, he thanked Jesus "that mom and dad have been married for 13 happy years now". What a blessing it is to hear our children acknowledge the importance of and their thankfulness for our happily wedded life. Thanks for a bunch of amazing years, Jeremy!! I LOVE YOU!
(Anna took both the above picture of the two of us, and the header photo. Both were taken in Halibut Cove. The header picture was intended to capture the eagle in the tree to the right of Ryley's shoe.)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The Horsman Family came over last night to celebrate Ryley's birthday. Uncle Nate picked out the perfect shirt for a 12 year old boy. See the look of sheer joy on his face?
Josiah suggested that the kids decorate their own cupcakes, which was quite fun. Thanks for coming over, Horsmans! We love you!

Fishin' with Friends

This past weekend found us on the Kenai with our good friends, the DeLongs. They, like us, have three boys and one that order. We were also married on the same day in the same year. So naturally, we've become friends. ;-) They invited us along to go dipnetting, where they don't camp. I wondered why a camping-loving family would choose to get a room instead of pitching a tent. I soon found out their reason. (We've never dipnetted there before; Jeremy has always gone to Chitna to get our limit of salmon.) Boy was it an experience. I was astounded by the vast amount of people camping out on the beach. There were thousands of tents, vehicles, four wheelers and people lined up on the beach. Both sides of the river were crowded with people out in the water, shoulder to shoulder, trying their luck.

The kids had a great time building sand castles decorated with fish heads while we cheered on the dipnetting dads.

We shared adjoining rooms both nights. The second night, Chris and Karla tried out their new airbed. Here the kids sat, waiting for the evening's entertainment and the big unveiling of the bed...

Thanks, DeLongs, for a fun-filled family weekend!
We stopped by a good kid-fishing spot on our way home. The light drizzle was nothing but a mere annoyance, and the slight breeze had us looking forward to calling it quits to eat a picnic lunch in the truck with the heat on full blast. After cleaning up and stopping in town for a Blizzard to-go, we were on the road again for our long, cozy drive home.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ryley's 12!!!

We celebrated Ryley's 12th birthday last Thursday. We are so proud of him as he begins the transition to young adult-hood. We Love You Ryley-Boy!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Gluten Free Goodness

We have been gluten free around here for almost eight years, since Josiah was diagnosed with Celiac Disease as a toddler. There are now four of us who have to avoid gluten, but the other three of us were just diagnosed about a year ago, so although we're excited about cold cereal, none of us is more excited than Josiah.
Cold cereal would not make an appearance at my house any more often even if we could eat gluten, because of its lack of nutrition (might as well just eat half a dozen cookies to break the fast ) and exorbitant price, but we're thrilled to have more choices for an occasional easy, quick breakfast (so we can then fry up some eggs about an hour later because we're starving due to the lack of protein at breakfast, therefore extending our breakfast hour almost up until lunchtime).
I had to snap this picture showing Josiah's excitement, although I've always chosen not to make a big deal out of the dietary differences. Years ago I was asked by the specialist in Anchorage to start a gluten free support group here in the Valley. I declined. I inwardly cringe when people refer to Josiah's food as "special", as in, "No, Johnny, you can't have any of those cookies. Those are Josiah's special cookies. Here, have some of these [not-so-special] cookies." Last time I checked, cookies are special just for being cookies! In an effort to make a gluten free kid not feel unusual, well meaning people make him feel "special" instead. Just like those "special" Olympians. Food is food! There is a magazine out there which is filled with great information, but I absolutely refuse to subscribe because of the victim-like mindset obvious in the title, Living Without. We don't "live without", we live with! The amount of creativity and new grains introduced to our family's meals after Josiah's diagnosis has been nothing but a joy! (Okay, sometimes it's not so joyful, as I've been through frustrating times with baking. But my baking skills sure have been challenged and refined.)
Don't get me wrong; I don't advocate being in denial. I have always tried to validate frustration (either within my kiddos or myself). But after we've had a few minutes feeling sorry for ourselves, we take the Pollyanna approach and remember that if we have to have a disease, this is definitely is the one to have. And if they still feel bummed, I can remind them that it could be worse. They could be without gluten and dairy, like their mother...;-)

3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th of July

We celebrated the 4th in a fun way this year. The Murphys, my sister and her family, came down to Wasilla from their new home of Fairbanks to camp out at our property with us. We set up camp on Thursday evening and came home Sunday afternoon. On the 4th, Nate (brother)and his family came out to have fun with us. The kids all had a great time. They played in the creek on and off all day. They caught fish, dared each other to sit down "all the way", and of course, threw rocks. Quaid and Roanen especially enjoyed that part! The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We skipped the Wasilla 4th Parade this year in favor of having one of our own. The kids got started working on putting it together after breakfast and the event took place about 3, when the Horsmans arrived. At the end, we spectators threw candy at the participants! Here is Isaac, in his "army guy hat".

We were saturated with smoke and the dirt was well glued to faces via marshmallow residue, although it sure was nice having the creek there for those brave (crazy?) enough to wash off in it. Here Brendon helps Roanen roast marshmallows.

Thanks, family, for helping us break in our new property! We enjoyed having all of you there. And a double-thanks to Jeremy, Brendon and Ryley for getting the outhouse built! It's got to be one of the nicest outhouses in town.
Ruth and Nate
The kiddos and their catch. Farthest on the right are Kaylie and Jacob, Ruth's kids.

"The Mama", the elusive fish they finally caught

My Little Helper

This morning after Anna woke up, she came and asked me if I was going to make my bed soon. I usually do that right after I get up, but today I was too intentional on updating my journal first. When I walked into my room, here's what I saw! Not only had Anna made my bed for me, but she'd also picked flowers to lay on it, and written little letters to both "Daddy" and "Mama".

Monday, June 29, 2009


Look what I woke up to this morning! At 6:30, when I walked into the dining room, I was greeted by this cheery sight. Jeremy must have picked them early this morning before leaving for work. What a sweet, thoughtful guy I'm blessed with!!