Sunday, November 29, 2015


We may be far away from most of our family, but we feel very blessed to have the family that we do, clear up here in Alaska. Kenny's brother Andy and his family live in Anchorage, and my cousin Carmin also lives in Anchorage. We're very close with both families and absolutely loved having them all here for a Thanksgiving feast. Andy and Shalee came on Wednesday night and stayed a couple nights, leaving Friday morning after breakfast. The kids were in heaven with so many cousins to play with. After the big meal they even acted out a play for us that they wrote, directed, and organized 100% on their own. They even had a tech guy, David, in charge of the lights. He would turn the lights off in between all the scenes as they changed props and actors. It was hilarious. Kenny recorded the whole thing on his phone which I was so glad about. 

My heart is very full and we have so very much to be thankful for. God is so good to us and pours out bounteous blessings that I certainly don't deserve. We did our thankful tree this month, but I don't think I did a very good job this year of teaching/stressing the importance of the "Thanksgiving story" and the origins of this great country. I was too concerned with cleaning the home in preparation, and should've been more focused on the reason for the holiday. I'll do better next year. I did have the kids memorize a couple of poems this past month (and part of October too) that have been fun. I'll write them at the end to remember what they did, and in case anyone else is wanting a good poem for their own kids to recite.


Be Thankful

Be thankful for the morning sun that makes your soul delight,
Be thankful for the countless stars that glorify the night.
Be thankful for the smell of spring and each new baby sound,
Be thankful for the crisp new snow that warms the frozen ground.
Be thankful for the breath of life that gave us mortal birth,
Be thankful for the countless things that bless us here on earth.
Be thankful for the living God and for His blessed Son,
Be thankful, oh! be thankful, for all that they have done.

Mr. Turkey

Good morning Mr. Turkey, I've come to talk to you.
But you're so big and gobbly! You kind of scare me too.
I have something to tell you, that I think you'd like to hear,
It's just like this, Mr. Turkey, Thanksgiving's awfully near.
It surely comes tomorrow, that's what my mother said
And if you're here tomorrow, Mr. Turkey you'll be dead!
It makes me feel real sorry, what I heard my mother say
So I came right out to tell you, "MR. TURKEY RUN AWAY!"

Sunday, November 15, 2015

5 Things

1. Winter is here! It got pretty darn cold this week. We had a really good snow last Sunday and Monday was the perfect snow day. I took the kids sledding, and we came home and had hot chocolate. Then it just dropped into the single digits and negative temps and it's been too cold to be out for long. There's ice along the insides of our windows when we lift the blinds up, and the back sliding door is always frozen shut and only Kenny and I can open it now. I have realized something though...I rarely check my weather app anymore. When we first moved here (okay probably the first two years at least) I was always checking the weather. It was some weird thing where I had to know exactly how many degrees it was and what the forecast was, when the sun would rise and set, etc. The temperature and amount of sun outside was a big deal, and has been a huge adjustment for me. But I was happy to realize this week that it's pretty rare I even look at it anymore. If someone mentions we're about to get a lot of snow, I might look it up. But the good news is I'm not so obsessed anymore. Life goes on regardless of the temperature or sunshine, and I'm a really slow learner but I'm getting it. 

 2. This weekend we decided to tackle the game room closet! We got rid of two garbage sacks worth of toys and such and nothing feels better than a newly-organized closet! :) This one gets way out of control, super fast. Here's what we do with toys now: they ALL stay locked up in the closet! Otherwise, I simply cannot keep up with all the clutter underfoot. So if they kids want to play with something, I unlock it and we get it out. Some people simplify by getting rid of all of their toys. But here's the thing, we live in Alaska, and we homeschool, so we are home a lot with "indoor play" weather. So I do need and want them to have a variety of fun things to keep them occupied. I just don't want them to have full access to everything we own at all hours of the day. So this solution has worked quite well. It keep the house manageable. There's still clothes and books and a million papers to clean up every day, so we just don't have to add "toys" to the list. (We got very blessed with 4 bedrooms, each with their own walk-in closet. This is the 4th room that has a couch and the TV in it, and is left open for playing. All the toys stay in the closet.)

3. Briggs is 15 months old as of Thursday! If you'd like to know my favorite thing to do 3 times a day, it's cleaning him up after meals....
He's a pretty standard 15 month old--extremely independent and wants to do everything himself even if he can't. He tries to climb everything and gets hurt all the time and makes huge messes wherever he goes and gets into everything and clings to my legs and has started throwing tantrums and melts my heart with his cuteness and love. He willingly puts his hand in when we do our family cheer each night and tries to be a part of everything. He insists on climbing up on the folding chairs to color at the homeschool desk just like his sisters, and often folds himself up in them. He raises his hands up high and shouts "yay" in lieu of "Amen" at the end of every prayer. He plays with the dog and it's pretty hilarious to watch the two of them go back and forth. Briggs throws a ball, Cato runs to get it, then Briggs goes after him to get the ball back by scaring the dog away. Repeat.
On Friday he was walking around with a metal spoon and tripped and fell, jabbing the spoon in his mouth, between his teeth and upper lip. I didn't see it happen, so I didn't know where he had hurt himself at first. I ran around the corner when I heard him fall, and there was just so much blood coming out of his mouth and he wouldn't let me get a good look anyway. I was so terrified I couldn't tell how bad it was or where it was coming from. Kenny was at the store with the other kids so it was just me freaking out alone. Thankfully it wasn't terribly serious. He had a fat lip for a couple days though. He and Kelsey also have been sick and throwing up/diarrhea this weekend. Super fun. I swear. We went like years without anyone throwing up ever. This winter all of the sudden, it's been so bad and I don't even know why. I will definitely be picking up some probiotics tomorrow and pumping them all full!

4. I took Ty, Bryn, and Madi to see the local high school play, Bye Bye Birdie. It was a really cute performance, and fun to take the kids. They kept asking if it was "real" or not. We didn't know beforehand, but there were 4 young men from our ward who were involved with it (either playing music or acting) so it was fun to see their families there too.

5. On Friday I drove into Anchorage and went to the temple and Costco, and hurried home. That night was our ward Fall Festival. They had a fun cake competition where all the dads and their sons baked and decorated cakes, and those were also the desserts for the night. There were a lot of fun cakes displayed! Kenny and Ty didn't do a whole lot of decorating, but they made a butter cake with a layer of brownies in between. It looked cool once you cut into it, and tasted good too. Unfortunately, they didn't win any awards which made Ty kind of disappointed, but it was still a fun night.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Business as usual

Monday: We've had some sicknesses coming and going in our family, which is pretty typical of this time of year. But still never any fun. I was sick for a good 10 days, and being the kind wife that I am I shared my germs with Kenny and he was sick too. Nothing terrible, just an annoying cold and cough. That was all going on while Briggs was teething and I was night-training Kelsey so I think that's why it took me longer to recover. Just never enough sleep or rest. But I was finally feeling better this week. Madison got sick randomly and was throwing up during the night (last Sunday). It was a long night that led to a rough Monday. But we all survived. We got lots of new snow and it always takes at least one good snow day to remind everyone not to be a total idiot on the road. Unfortunately it took Kenny's bus about 4 hours to get into town on Mon. morning. And Tyler's piano teacher couldn't make it out here either because it was so bad. Only she forgot to call us so we showed up expecting her...and anyway. Long day but Kenny helped me put up our garland and pretty lights wrapped around the banisters so that made me happy. OH and got our Thankful tree up on Nov. 1st and that's always a fun tradition.
Can you spot Cato?

Tuesday we were in and out all day long and never rested. Tyler had Field School, straight to Bryn's violin lesson. Came home and did math and reading, then quickly ate lunch and went to the church for a presidency meeting. The kids always like playing in the gym while we talk. Left straight from there and drove to Palmer again to pick up Tyler. The only good thing about those long drives is I get to listen to more lectures for my online classes and help the time pass. I just love them and I'm so grateful to live in a time with incredible technology. We were home for one hour before we had to turn around and take Bryn to dance class. Waited there for her for an hour and picked up pizza on the way home. Scarfed it down quickly then got online for my book club chat about Laddie, the book we read this month. I really loved the book and always love the great discussions with those ladies. It's especially fun that my sister, Steph, is in there too. Kenny came home sometime during then and had the kids change their clothes. I got off and we left to go to tithing settlement at the church at 7:45. Came home and put the kids to bed a little late. Did the dishes and finished the night reading Little Women until I couldn't keep my eyes open.

Wednesday: Madison threw up again during the night (What?! Why?!) but it was a nice excuse to have her and Kelsey stay home from their dance class that morning. It was so nice to not have to go anywhere until Ty's cello lesson at 2:00. We baked muffins and read, the kids all did beautiful artwork and writing. It was just a good, slow, much-needed morning. I picked up my new glasses and some cookies for that night while Ty was at his lesson. That night we went to the church for cub scouts. They had a fun Lego derby where they all built their own cars out of legos, and then stuck them onto some wheels and raced them! They were all so proud of their cars. Towards the end somebody took off Tyler's front wheels (without asking) and borrowed them, so when he went to race his wheels were gone. He borrowed someone else's for the race, but they weren't on straight and his car was super slow and wobbly after that. He was pretty bummed about the whole thing and I don't blame him. It's too bad it happened but he wouldn't have won a prize or anything. Overall I think he still had a fun time.

Thursday: As usual we had CC from 9-1. Briggs napped a long time which was so good because I had so much to do. Ran to the grocery store (Ty stayed home while Briggs napped) to grab a few things. Then came home and didn't stop cooking and cleaning for the rest of the evening. I made a big pan of cookie bars and a triple batch of a pasta dish. We delivered dinner to 2 other families that night. One just had a baby, the other just lost her husband. I was able to be "in class" (listening in) while we ate and drove around delivering food. I'm taking an online class through Latter-Day Learning. It's called "Principles and Practices of Successful Homeschools" and I'm really loving it so far. I enjoy being able to glean a little bit of Diann Jeppson's wisdom (she's the teacher). Kenny came home, I changed into church clothes and went to the church for a stake auxiliary training at 7. It was a good evening and I love the women I work with in Primary. They're becoming good friends, and I'm learning.

Friday: We woke up to a 4.5 earthquake around 5:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep after that. we've had a lot of earthquakes since living here and every time it happens, and then it's over without any real danger or damage. It always makes me first of all so grateful, and second I rack my brain with the "what if". What if it had been a big huge earthquake? How would I respond? What would we do, where would we go? How would I get all my children and keep us all safe? All those questions.
 I really love Fridays because we have absolutely nothing scheduled that day and it's really nice. We did normal school stuff and I decided to go ahead and schedule my  hair cut since it has been over a year since I've had anything done to my hair and I just couldn't take the split ends any longer. It was so unhealthy and gross. So we drove into Anchorage and picked up Kenny, grabbed some dinner and I dropped them off at Andy and Shalee's while I went and got my hair trimmed. They had a fun movie night together and we came right home.

Saturday: Pancake breakfast, Kenny and Ty left at 9 a.m. to go do service projects and were pretty much gone until 2 or 3. I stayed home and cleaned the whole house with the girls. I bribed them with donuts if they did a good job helping me, and they did. We got all the bedrooms and bathrooms done, swept and mopped the whole downstairs and had it looking good. I really love our house, but it sure is a lot of square footage to keep clean! That night we had the missionaries over for dinner and they brought a 17 year old kid with them who just moved here from Mississippi. After they left we put the kids to bed and I went to the church and put names on all the seats for the primary program today.

Sunday: We finally had the primary program we've all been working on for so many weeks. It went well and they all did great. Madison was making me have to hide my face because I was giggling at her and her enthusiastic (LOUD) singing! She was giving every song all the gusto she had and it was so funny. Sometimes she can be very shy, but she was definitely not shy today. Glad to have that done. It's been a nice, relaxing Sunday evening. We did a google hangout (chat) with some of my family. Then we had a family time drawing/reading. I read aloud to them while everyone else drew a picture of a farm scene. We read, Homesick by Jean Fritz, and actually finished it up tonight! We had started it a while back, then stopped to read The Wind in the Willows because it was a library book and had to be returned sooner. Once we had finished that we picked Homesick back up. Both good reads.

My mom would always pull the chairs out and make a "train" when she mopped the floor and we loved to play on the chairs. Now I do it for my own kids and it's always fun to hear their little imaginations on the bus, or airplane, or train, or whatever the chairs happen to be.

 This was one day we were having reading time and everyone was reading so nicely and quietly (even though the house was a mess, don't mind that but know that it usually looks that way during the school day). About 2 minutes after I took this picture I realized that neither Briggs nor Cato was in the room anymore. I walked around the corner to figure out what they were up to. Cato had pooped in the hallway and Briggs was over there flipping it around all over the place, and had poop on his pants and hands! It was disgusting. So much fun having a puppy and a toddler at the same time, right? (I hope you picked up on my intense sarcasm.) Good moments end so soon. haha.

This was from a couple weeks ago but I just think it's so cute how I often find them all 3 together.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Halloween Week

Above: having fun at the park this week. It's getting pretty cold now! It's snowed a few times this week, including right now. Before, just having fun at home. The kids gathered rocks and dirt, and sticks to make a base for their flag. Trying to get better at watercolors.

HALLOWEEN: We did not spend a single dollar on costumes this year, which I was glad about. It's no secret that Halloween is my least favorite holiday. Kenny and I have talked about not celebrating it at all, but recognize that it is fun for the kids. I see the value just in the traditions of it, but I don't make it a very big deal. In fact, I know our kids would love if I would get way more into it....maybe next year ;). We dug through the big costume bin and let the two younger girls pick out what they wanted. Kelsey, of course, was a ballerina. Madison decided on a cowgirl (stick horse and all!). Kenny made Brynlee's robot costume, and helped Tyler with being Hawkeye. He used some of our recyclables in the garage and duct tape to make a little holder for all his arrows (I'm sure there's a proper word for that but I don't know it). Briggs unfortunately didn't get a costume because he's not old enough to care, so we didn't bother with it. :) On Halloween day, I took Tyler and Brynlee to the movie theater to see the movie Goosebumps. It was a fun little show to take them to, and Brynlee sat on my lap most of the show because she was scared :). It was a fun little outing. That night we had a trunk or treat at the church. It was 30 degrees, and the kids were so cold they said they couldn't hardly hold their candy bags open anymore. haha. Poor things. It didn't last too long, and then we came home to finish trick or treating on our own street. I just took the older three while Kenny answered the door here at home with the two littles. It was nice and simple. They all used the darling Halloween pillowcases that my mom sent them. They've been sleeping with them on their pillows all month, and then they used them to collect candy :). 

 I had to post a few more of Kelsey just because she was cracking me up. She's such a cutie. Kelsey got to pick out a toy at the store this week for doing so well at not peeing at night. Hooray for no pull-ups!!