Wednesday, August 27, 2008


...a precious treasure!

Many kinds of fruits grow upon the tree of life, but none so sweet as friendship. ~Lucy Larcom

We said good bye to our dear friends this week as they are now traveling back to the Philippines. We had a great time with them this summer, sharing lots of fun adventures and laughter. Our house seems far too quiet and empty with only 8 of us around instead of 17!

Thought I might share a few pictures from the last week they were here...

Tyler and Sam always having fun...Alyssum and Meghan our two girlie girls who love to have their hair done the sam
e every day!

Always enough kids around for an impromptu game of duck-duck-goose! The boys love to camp out any chance they can get! Not sure how much sleep they actually get, but that's what summer is all about...right?!?Joe and Tonia having fun!Ready, aim, fire...not sure I would want to be the object on the other side of the certainly wouldn't have a chance against this crew!Levi and Ethan whittling away on their sticks...Levi just had to come sit beside Ethan and join in the fun!Joziah and Tyler celebrate their birthdays together and they are both turning 10 this year!
A friend is dearer than the light of heaven; for it would be better for us that the sun were extinguished than that we should be without friends. ~Saint ChrysostomWe love you guys and you are surely missed!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rain, sunshine, crab, camping...ah, summer!

After our two weeks of sun I guess it was time for a little bit of rain...not sure any of us thought so, but someone must have needed it. What do you do with 13 kids when it is raining all week? Well, for awhile it works to play Legos, games, dolls, cars and trucks, coloring, reading...but when they start getting too rowdy then they get sent outside despite the weather! An hour in the rain and they are generally ready to come back in to play quietly, well at least some of them!

By the way...the Germains have returned from their time in Juneau and I think they must have brought the rain back with them! I know they would have preferred the rain stay there and the sunshine stay here! Oh well... So we are enjoying our last two weeks with them before they get back on the plane for the Philippines. Can't believe their time in Alaska is coming to an end...summer's just fly by too quickly! So despite the rainy we had last week we managed to find plenty to do...

Steve and I with kids went to a CCS school reunion on Wednesday night, Thursday night, and was fun catching up with friends from our school days at CCS. The school is no longer open, but both Steve and I attended from grade school through high school graduation. Steve was the first graduate of CCS and that was 20 years ago! Ethan also attended CCS for three years until the school closed. Ethan was one of the few second generation CCS students. Thursday night was basketball in the gym, so we loaded up the bus with all 13 kids and took them there for a chance to run around inside instead of in the rain! Saturday was a BBQ over at the homestead and then the kids got to do some playing and fishing at the river...thankfully it turned out to be a nice day without any wet stuff!

Saturday evening Steve, Joe and 7 kids went out on the boat with my dad to pick crab pots...they had quite the fun adventure learning about picking crab pots. Crabbing is open in Kachemak Bay for subsistence, so you just have to get a permit and know someone with a boat! The pots had quite a few treasures, but not too many that were keepers. They ended up with five crabs that were the right size so we had a delicious dinner of crab...only a little for everyone, but we certainly enjoyed it!

On Sunday our kids had their program at church to end the summer before the fall schedule starts. The kids all did great singing and saying their verses! The Germains headed up the road to Nikiski to speak at a church that they attended when they lived there. They were back in time for our Sunday Nite BBQ...we had a beautiful day without rain even though a few dark clouds were threatening to let loose, but the bugs sure were out in force! Even several coats of Off! still didn't detour those pesky bugs and soon they drove us indoors! But we still had a fun evening of visiting and kids playing.

This week so far has been nice, and no rain!! Today was beautiful and of those days you just feel like sitting on the lawn and soaking it in! Joe and Steve took the kids over to the river last night to camp out since it was such a nice day, and Jen, Ann Marie, Meghan, Levi, and I went over until bed time then came home. Steve had to go to work this morning, but Joe spent the morning at the river with the kids letting them play and play...they had so much fun...the river sure can provide endless hours of adventure! Jen did some packing while the house was quiet and I took care of a bunch of vegetables that needed to be put in the freezer. It's always so satisfying to be filling the freezer for winter! Now we just gotta find a moose since hunting season opened today!?!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday Nite BBQ

We have continued our tradition of Sunday evening BBQ's this summer. We love the time around the fire pit and in our yard with family and friends. Lots of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, s'mores, and lots more yummy food! Despite the rather cold summer we have still had plenty of visitors to our yard for our Sunday evening tradition. The kids have so much fun running and playing in the yard with the many friends that come over to join us.

This Sunday we celebrated Damon Weisser's (Aaron and Jenny's son) birthday. He is a big 3 year old and all BOY as he ran around the yard with his pocket full of bugs and pirate gear on! Aaron made an amazing truck cake that the kids all loved! We had a yard full of little kiddos...I think someone counted 15 kids from 3-7 and that doesn't include a couple babies and several older kids!!

So what do you do with a whole bunch of have relay races! Theresa organized relay races and had the kids running up and down the yard backwards, in gunny sacks, as wheelbarrows.... That would wear us parents out that's for sure, but doesn't seem to phase the kids one bit...they get done racing and go find more running activities! Kids have an amazing amount of energy and I am so thankful for our 5 acres for them to run and explore!!

Our Sunday nite BBQ's will continue at least until the end of the month or until it just gets too cold to enjoy sitting outside. We are always sad when the summer comes to an end for so many reasons, but definitely one of the highlights of summer is our BBQ's and so with the end of summer comes an end to BBQ's as well...just gotta figure out how to have 'em inside?!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More Summer....

So I'm pretty sure we just had our second week of summer...will it continue into yet another week??!! We sure are hoping so!! We had a few days of rain, but overall the week was warm and sunny. The kids actually got to wear shorts this week and got out the sprinkler and the squirt guns for some water play. It just hadn't been warm enough prior to this week to even consider shorts or water fun in the yard. Brrrr....

Ethan found this frog in our yard this week...not unusual as we find many frogs over the summer that wander up from the pond, but this one was considerably larger than any we have found in the past. The kids enjoyed it for awhile and then decided to return it to its home down by the pond.

We harvested some garden vegetables and put a whole bunch of kale in the freezer for this winter. We love to make a yummy African dish out of our Alaskan kale...who would have ever thought!? (Several years ago Ann Marie thought the kale looked very similar to cassava so we tried it in a cassava recipe and it tasted great!) We also harvested some cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, and we got a few red tomatoes too! Harvest time is the best!

I spent several half days in the dentist office with all the kids...we got to watch several movies and play games while we waited for each child to be done. No one had anything major to be fixed, but it just takes time when kids are getting teeth cleaned, x-rays, sealants, and a couple cavities filled and then you times it by 6!! We got most of it done this week with only one more appointment next week. We are good until next year!

The kids have continued with piano through the summer so we got lessons in this week out at the Beachy's...last one before school starts for everyone. We won't start quite as early as everyone else on August 20, but soon thereafter. Ann Marie, Ethan, and Tyler all play the piano and enjoy it most of the time. Kailee will start lessons this fall and she is really looking forward to it. She already gets on the piano to "practice" when she can!

We ended our week with several more BBQ's and picnics...the first was on Friday night ove
r at the Engebretsen homestead(my mom and dad's place). It was an impromptu picnic by the river with a hike down the river and a little fishing thrown in just for fun! We all had lots of fun hiking the trail by the river and Grandpa and the kids hide in the bushes to see how many unsuspecting hikers they can scare with bear growls along the way. Bear and moose tracks are always fun to see in the mud by the river. We ended our evening with s'mores by the river and didn't get home until 11! That's what summer in Alaska is all about!

Saturday Steve's brother Jason and his kids came over for the day and it turned out to be a beautiful warm sunny day so everyone spent the day outside. The kids ran and played until they were all worn out! Steve worked on a few projects in the yard while keeping an eye on kids. For the evening we had a Veldstra family BBQ to celebrate Rebekah's birthday(Jason's daughter)...she is in the picture with Alyssum on the swing. The kids all enjoyed many adventures on the boat and I'm sure will be back for more next time!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Week of Summer

After our rainy weekend of camping we woke Monday morning to beautiful blue skies and a hint of warmth in the air...could summer finally be here? It appeared so as each day the temperature rose to above 60! (gotta love Alaska as we think a 70 degree day is a scorcher!) So we spent many hours in our yard this week just enjoying the sunshine.

When we left Hidden Lake the Germains continued on to Seward to visit with friends and speak at the church, then they spent a day in Anchorage with family, and caught a flight to Juneau with Joe's mom to spend several weeks with family and friends. They will be back next week for their last two weeks in Alaska before they head back to their home in the Philippines. We have so enjoyed our time with them...spending time enjoying summer in Alaska together...letting the kids and run and play in our yard...and enjoying many adventures together.

My sister, Kristen, c
ame this direction following camping and so we got to enjoy her company for a few days. She came over several times and the kids sufficiently wore her out with games of freeze tag and kick ball. We also enjoyed a picnic lunch on the lawn and just laying on the lawn soaking in the Alaskan sun!

Since the sun was out and we could actually sit outside in the evening we enjoyed several picnics in our yard this week...gotta take advantage of summer when it is here! Steve's birthday was on Tuesday(he's getting awfully close to 40!!) and his mom and dad came to celebrate with us...we had fresh red salmon on the grill.

We had a busy weekend in the sun...Saturday we made our way out to the Jones' ranch for a family rodeo and fundraiser for Bill and Stephanie who are attending school in California. We didn't participate, but had so much fun watching the horses and riders. We have been out there several times this summer and the kids love getting to ride the horses and watch the other people practice their skills of barrels and pole bending. Sunday morning Steve and I were both teaching in Kid's church...Steve was teaching on the Holy Spirit coming at Pentecost...Ann Marie was his helper by talking to the kids in a different language. Steve always has so much fun teaching the Bible to the kids and making it come alive in a whole new way! I was doing crafts with the kids and Ethan performed his skit and led his crew of kids through each classroom. Our Sunday mornings in the summer are always busy, but so much fun.

After church we participated in the Walk for Life for the Pregnancy Care Center. We had gotten a few pledges for the 2mile walk, but more than anything just wanted to show our support for Life. There was about 130 walkers from various churches around Homer.

We came home and rested briefly before friends and family arrived for our Sunday evening BBQ. It was a nice evening even though the sun was not shining. We love our Sunday evening time with family and friends and are always sad when the summer comes to an end.

Monday morning seemed to be the end of our week of was raining, but was actually a nice break and we felt like we could relax and get other needed things done! We are off and running though with several dentist appointments this week, piano lessons, grocery shopping, and finishing ordering school starts soon!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Hidden Lake

We once again made our annual end of July trek to Hidden Lake for a long weekend of camping fun! It was a little cold and rainy, but fun and beautiful despite the weather. We drove up on Thursday afternoon loaded down with 17 sleeping bags, 17 pillows, 17 backpacks, 34 pairs of shoes(which is how many shoes??), 9 bikes and helmets, 2 rubber rafts with oars and life jackets, 2 tents, 1 pop-up trailer, several blue tarps, plenty of food, lots of laugher, and a whole bunch of people!! And all that equals a whole lot of FUN!! That was only for the 17 people that came from our total we had 18 kids and 12 adults for our camping party for the weekend!

Thursday afternoon we spent the time setting up camp, in the rain, and then getting dinner for our wet crew. My dad arrived with a tarp big enough to cover an acre or two so once that was up we had a dry place to hang out next to the fire. That dry area became our cooking, eating, visiting, drying out, and just hanging out area.

Friday morning we woke to no rain and what looked to be a possibly dry day! We made a big bowl of pancake batter and fried pancakes over the fire and Steve fried up about 4lbs of bacon...we always get our bacon fix for the year when we go camping! The kids were ready to go down to the lake so we got rafts aired up and swimsuits on to go check out the lake. Last year it was a very warm day and the kids had so much fun swimming and pla
ying in the lake, but this year didn't look to be quite so warm. But I'm not sure with kids that it really matters how warm it is, they still have plenty of fun! The older kids took turns rowing the boats and giving younger kids rides and while they waited for rides they played in the shallow warmer water. After several hours of water play then it was time for lunch and a little quiet time. Quiet time didn't last for long then it was back to riding the bikes again...I forgot to mention that the kids make lap after lap on their bikes through the campground and they have so much fun! We are always amazed that the bikes can provide so much entertainment for so many hours. We also got in a game of kick-ball in the afternoon before it was time to start dinner.

Sometimes it feels like all we do is fix a meal, eat, clean up, and then it is time to do it all over again when we are out camping...but what more is there to do?!

Saturday was more of the same...playing in the lake, lots of bike riding, more eating, visiting around the campfire, and then we also went on a hike. My mom and dad had breakfast duty and stirred us up an amazing breakfast of scrambled eggs and english muffins. No one went away hungry, that's for sure! Hidden Lake campground has several nice trails to go hiking on and we usually try to go on at least one hike with everyone. We are always on the lookout for bears and especially this year since there have been several in the campground, but with our noisy bunch I 'm not sure a bear would even want to get close! Saturday evening we celebrated my dad's, Steve's, and Samking's birthdays...we had apple pies cooked over the fire to celebrate.

Sunday morning we woke to rain and it had been raining most of the night. My mom and dad made breakfast again...yummy blueberry or chocolate chip pancakes and several more pounds of bacon! After our late morning breakfast we began the packing up and cleaning up process. Lots of wet gear and stinky, smokey clothes, but we managed to get it all back together and shoved into vehicles for the ride home.

We were a bunch of tired campers, but we had alot of fun...the best part is just getting to "hang out" with family and friends and enjoy the great outdoors.