Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Party time!

What a bunch of goofy kids! It was time for our annual Christmas party with the Beachy, Miller, and Veldstra gang. We take a couch picture every is so fun to see how much the kids have grown...goodness won't be long before we have more than a couch full, but more like a living room full of teenagers!
The kids went sledding and snowmachining despite the really cold temperatures. By the afternoon it had warmed up to just above 0 so they could last outside even longer without freezing fingers and toes! While the kids were playing the moms got a chance to visit for a few hours to catch up! It was declared a fun day by all!

Freezin' cold

and then some! We have been waking to really cold temperatures every morning this week. It has been -15F in the morning and gets up to 0F at the warmest time of the day. We normally don't have temperatures quite this cold, and thankfully it probably won't last too long...but while it is here we are very thankful for a warm house and a furnace that keeps us warm. The sky is a brilliant blue every day and we watch the sun just barely come up over the horizon, make a small arc, and then dip back down again. We are gaining sunlight every day now, but only by small increments. The last two years at this time of year we were packing our bags and heading for a warmer climate, but not yet this year. The winters in Alaska get long and cold, but I guess we will just enjoy it for now anyway!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas morning!

I always feel like a kid again at Christmas time as I am often the one awake early waiting for morning to appear, but apparently I must be finally outgrowing that as my kids are now waking long before me!! Last year they surprised us as waiters and waitresses with coffee in bed and Christmas carols on the piano, so they must have decided that couldn't be out done this year! At 6:30 I could hear rustling downstairs but didn't go in search of the noise and just closed my eyes...found out later they were hiding our(mom and dad's) presents and we had to go find them!

At 7:45 the kids appeared upstairs in our room and crashed on our bed ready for our Christmas morning tradition of digging in our stockings on mom and dad's bed. I love stuffing their stockings with amazing little's always a challenge to find little inexpensive things to fill the stockings. Then we ate breakfast before opening the rest of the gifts under the tree......Alyssum was so excited to get her first American Girl doll! She decided to name her Molly and loves to dress her each day and get her ready for bed every night. Grandma also helped out with the dolls wardrobe by making pj's and buying a Christmas dress....Ethan is our tool man...he loves working with his hands and creating things out of wood. This year he got these grommets and a hand drill to use in his many projects!
...Ann Marie enjoys the American Girl dolls as well...she loves to create new hairstyles and sew clothes. The sewing machine has been busy since Christmas with the sounds of making doll clothes. Tyler had also gotten Ann Marie a yard of fabric to make clothes for her doll, so she is making dresses for all the girls! Ann Marie also got LOTS of new books to read, so in between the sewing we can find her curled up with a new book!!
...Tyler has a collection of John Deere equipment and we can often hear his motor running as he drives his treasured equipment, so we added another piece to his collection.
...Kailee also loved her new doll and named her Elizabeth. Along with dressing her doll and combing her hair she is also devouring a new series of books about the historical American dolls.
...And then there is our boy who loves to dress-up! Ethan gave Adams this knight's dress-up set, so now we have a sword bearing boy running around the house everyday! He loves to use his imagination and dress as the part he is playing.

We had a fun Christmas morning with the kids of giving and receiving!

Christmas Eve...

...we spend with the Veldstra gang at Opa and Oma's house. We enjoy getting together with Steve's family and sharing in the Christmas Eve traditions. We were missing a few family members this year, but still enjoyed our time together. Lots of kiddos makes for a very busy house as we eat and open gifts, but it also makes for lots of laughter and fun!
Ann Marie, Ethan, Tyler, and Kailee played Christmas carols for all of us, and then the kids also recited Luke 2:1-20 and A Visit from St. Nicholas. They enjoy being able to share what they have learned in school and gives them an opportunity to get in a recital on the piano.

Kailee loved her new Leatherman knives!! She was so excited because we told her she could have a knife when she turned 8...she will be 8 in a couple weeks!

Alyssum and Anneka are the bestest of cousin friends...they enjoy playing together and often getting the same gifts at Christmas time. They are both 6 and soon to be 7!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


...our Alaskan tree! Kind of like a Charlie Brown tree, but maybe not quite so sparse! The kids really wanted a "real" tree this year...its been lots of years since we made the trek in the woods for that elusive perfect tree...several years ago we purchased a perfect fake tree and that has been the tradition for a number of years. So Steve went tree hunting and hiking with the kids and they found a good tree.

After the lights were strung on the tree we set to work stringing popcorn and cranberries...this has become a Christmas tradition. Several long strands later the tree was complete and then we set to work hanging the ornaments. I started a tradition when Ethan was born to purchase ornaments for my kids every year...well almost every year. They each have quite a collection growing, although I took a break from buying o
rnaments for everyone the last several years and just got ones for Ann Marie and Adams, hoping to catch them up a bit. This year I think we have more ornaments than tree, and we actually had to limit the amount of ornaments...the branches were starting to sag! Especially the branches that Adams hung ALL of his ornaments!

We all had fun decorating the tree this we decorate
d we wondered what next year will hold and where our tree hunting and decorating traditions will find us?!


...but amazingly beautiful...Homer, Alaska!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The holidays are upon us, what a busy time of year! I love the holiday season with all the anticipation of time with family, laughter, and cheer.

We spent Thanksgiving with Steve's family and enjoyed the day with family. It was a nice relaxing day of eating turkey, playing games, watching movies, and visiting. We also enjoyed the long weekend and used the time to catch up on stuff around the house as well as just relaxing.

Steve and the kids joined their efforts and made our yard bright with lights in trees and garland on the fence. We are loving the savings of using LED lights this year...our electric bill will not be outrageous with all the lights! On Saturday Ann Marie, Kailee, Alyssum, and I pulled out the Christmas boxes and got busy with decorating. I love to create an atmosphere of holiday cheer! This coming weekend we hope to go in search of the "perfect tree" for our house. We haven't gotten a real tree in a long time and the kids decided they wanted to go looking for a tee this year.

There are several more inches of snow on the ground and now the kid's snowmachine is out and making laps around the yard. They have all decided that sledding once the sun goes down is alot of fun! Ethan and Tyler strung a string of lights down the sledding hill for late afternoon sledding enjoyment. Since the sun barely gets above the horizen for these long days of winter the kids have to find some way to enjoy the darkness. The coldness of winter doesn't seem to bother them much and they spend several hours outside everyday finding plenty to feed their imaginations. They watch the thermometer like a hawk, hoping that it won't rise about 32 degrees so that the snow will stay around for their enjoyment each day. Funny kids!!

We are continuing on with our school each day, but somedays we all have a hard time focusing when we are anticipating the holidays and Christmas vacation! Steve's Christmas Decor season is winding down and we are looking forward to seeing him more around the house. He has had a season better than he was expecting and ws able to keep three employees very busy. We are all looking forward to a time of rest and family fun!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Reading a book puts a thought into a child's head and they start digging in their banks to see if they can come up with enough money to purchase the desired item. This past week we have been reading Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary, in the book Henry gets a silver dollar for his birthday from his grandpa. One day as he was at the pet store getting dog food for Ribsy there was a special on guppies with bowl, plant, and food for $ .79! When we finished the chapter my kids decided they certainly needed a fish too! I told them they could have goldfish, but they needed to use their own money, and it would cost more than $.79!!

They put their money together and decided they had enough, especially since we found a couple large vases at Salvation Army that would work just fine for fish bowls. Steve took the kids to Wagon Wheel to make their purchases and came home to put the fish in their new homes. So we now have new center pieces on our table! The kids had fun getting to copy something they read in a book and using thier imaginations!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter Fun!

With several more inches of snow the kids have spent hours and hours sledding down our hill and being pulled behind the 4wheeler on a sled! Many trips up and down the hill wears them out sufficiently but they have so much fun in the process.

Snowboarding is also great fun and is more of a challenge than sledding since the object is to see if they can actually stay standing all the way to the bottom of the hill. I usually hear the reports of who made it all the way down at the end of the day!

The kids also spend many hours riding around the yard behind the 4-wheeler on a sled. I remember spending plenty of hours doing the same thing when I was a young girl! Oh, the sore behinds from being pulled over rocks poking through the driveway, but nothing stopped us from zipping around the yard, flying around corners, and leaping over the snow berms behind the 4-wheeler.

The temperatures dipped to 1 degree this morning at our house. We could feel the added chill in the house this morning and put on extra sweaters as we began our school day. No matter how cold it is outside the sun eventually warms the house as it comes up. The clear blue skies on a crispy cold day are amazingly beautiful!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Another year...

...older! Today I celebrated my 35th birthday...goodness when did I get that old?!? I'm not saying I'm old, but I still think of myself as a 20 something, but then I look at my teenage kids and I am quickly reminded that several years have passed since then. Tonight as I was celebrating with family and friends I was remembering when my mom turned 35...I must have thrown a party for her or something because I seem to remember it quite well. Since I can remember when my mom turned 35, how could I be that age now?? Amazing how time flies and it can seem like only yesterday when we were that young.

I enjoyed my rather quiet day of not doing much. The kids spent a better half of the day outside playing in their fort and ice skating. They all look forward to Saturday so much when they can sleep in and after the house gets a thorough cleaning, they can play outside to their hearts content. With so many hands the house work is light and we can manage to get the house cleaned from top to bottom in a couple hours, then everyone has the rest of the day to do as they please. Five of the six kids are most interested in spending the time outdoors...they love the great outdoors and the freedom that comes with that. Steve, Ann Marie, and I usually find something to busy ourselves with inside, whether it be sewing, knitting, catching up on emails or bills, or baking. But no one is in any hurry and we just get to enjoy the day.

I couldn't think of a better day than a not-busy Saturday to celebrate my birthday!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pumpkin Apple Butter

Our project this week was to make pumpkin apple butter from several fresh pumpkins and fresh apples. It has been several years since I've made pumpkin apple butter, but it was a favorite around here. We don't grow pumpkins in our garden, but take advantage of the cheap ones around fall time. It is alot of work to cook and puree pumpkin, but is so worth the effort as we enjoy various favorite recipes. My mom came over and Ann Marie and I joined the fun of cooking and putting jam in jars. My mom also brought over some berries and berry juice that she had in her freezer for quite sometime...that sure makes good jam! It was a good home ec project for Ann Marie and we got our shelves full of homemade jam and pumpkin apple butter.

More skating...

What a skating party! We had an impromptu skating party last Saturday as friends decided our pond looked like lots of fun! It was a beautiful sunny day and perfect for hours of skating. The four oldest boys found plenty of games to play and spent four hours on the ice...with blisters to show for it the next day! The younger kids didn't spend quite so many hours on the ice, but still had plenty of fun.

There are several pictures here that show off Steve's artist eye. The culvert is the water source for our backyard pond and is a beautiful waterfall of frozen ice in the winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ice skating

Our summer pond for rafting has now turned into a winter wonderland of ice! The pond finally reached the required thickness for skating after the past several days of single digit temps! This morning during recess the kids got down our large box of ice skates and then after school we dug through the box to find each child's correct size. We have an amazing amount of skates in various sizes...we love garage sale and Salvation Army skates!! The only problem we are having so far in finding skates is getting a pair that fits an African's flat foot! They just don't seem to make any that are comfortable for Ann Marie's feet. She tried some hockey skates today, but they didn't last long...I guess we will just keep looking.

The kids all enjoy ice skating so much and are all getting quite good at it. It is great to
have a pond just through the woods that they can skate on to their hearts content! I grew up just 1/4 mile down the road and we also had a pond to skate on. I always dreamed of someday being a figure skater...never quite reached my dream, but sure had lots of fun spending many hours on the ice. I still love to lace up my white figure skates and wow the kids with a twirl or two around the ice. Amazing after all these years that it only takes a couple times around the ice to be comfortable on my skates once again.

We are looking forward to many days spent on the ice this winter...making wonderful family memories!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Adams birthday!

Our little boy is 6! And he's not so little anymore! Adams had a fun birthday celebrating with family and friends. He is so excited about his new bow & arrow set, horses and knights, and wild animals fun box! Sounds like we got a "wild boy" on our hands!!

Catching Up!

Wow, I sure do have some catching up to do! Can't believe it has been almost a month since I wrote on here last...where did the time go?! We have been busy, that I do know! So I will attempt to give a run-down of the last month without writing a book!

Right at the beginning of October we were surprised with our first snowfall! We were all hoping that since we had such a cold summer that maybe we would be blessed with a warm fall
and a slow start to winter...but alas no such luck! We even got snow that stuck around for a day or two. We don't have any snow today, but it has sure been cold. The temps haven't gotten above freezing for the last several days. Ethan regularly checks the depth of the ice on our pond...he can hardly wait for the ice to be thick enough to go ice skating! With the first snowfall out comes the boxes of hats and gloves, winter boots and snow pants, and winter coats. Takes us quite awhile to find what fits this year and make a list of the things we will need. Looking through the boxes is like looking for treasures!

Ethan's birthday was October 2 and he turned 13...oh my, can't believe he is a teenager! He was most excited about the fact that now he only has one more year until he can get his driver's permit...yikes! Ethan and Tyler got to celebrate their birthdays with their friends Brandon and Jordan last month by having a camp out. It was a cold night, but they had fun building a fire and watching the sparks dance in the dark. (In the Alaskan summers we don't get to enjoy the camp fire in the dark!) In the morning they cooked their own breakfast outside despite the cold. What a bunch of true Alaskan boys!

Last week Steve and I had the privilege of attending a workshop at ECHO in Fort Meyers, Florida. The workshop was about community development in both health and agriculture for use in overseas missions. It was an incredibly full week of classes each day from 8-5 with fellowship and homework each evening with our class of 12. The other participants are also headed out to the mission field around the world. It was a great week of connecting with other people who are also pursuing God's call on their lives to take the Gospel to unreached people of the world. We learned so much from our teacher, Dr. Daniel Fountain who was a missionary in the Congo for over 30 years. God has taught him so much and he has an amazing wealth of information that needs to be taught to every missionary. We came away from our week challenged and encouraged! This is our class with Dr. Fountain...
Another wonderful aspect of this trip was that we got to be in Florida and enjoy the warm sun! We did spend the majority of our days inside in the classroom, but it sure was glorious to step outside in the morning to walk to class in the morning warmth. We spent several hours each afternoon walking around the ECHO farm and learning about different agriculture ideas for both rural and urban areas. We learned so much and can't wait to get the opportunity to use what we learned!

After our week of classes we spent Saturday just relaxing and driving back up to Orlando for our flight home on Sunday. We stopped along the way and hiked around a national park and just enjoyed the sunshine. One evening we did get to go to the beach with our classmates. We had a fun picnic dinner on the beach and enjoyed watching the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean.

The kids had a good week at home with Steve's mom staying caught up on school. Doesn't sound like they ran her too ragged! No, actually we heard lots of good reports of how much fun they were having, and all I've heard since we got home is, "...but that's the way Oma did it!" We arrived home on Monday and dove right back into school and work...phew what alot of work!