Monday, October 31, 2011

A Poofy Halloween

My kids are so tough. Real Alaskans already, I’d say. Yes, it was only 7 degrees while we were trick-or-treating. And yes, Xander had managed to lose one glove in the car on the way to Ft. Greeley where we took advantage of the fact that they don’t have 2-acre yards. And Elodie completely forgot her mittens at home somehow. But we heard not one single word of complaint about cold. Even when we asked if their hands were chilly, they bravely replied, “no, I’m fine.” Besides the under-protected hands, they were pretty decked out in snow gear.

We managed to squeeze Xander’s Dash costume on top of all of his snow gear, resulting in a very poofy superhero. He decided he was Mr. Incredible rather than Dash since he was so “muscular.” Plus, when he watched The Incredibles in his costume Friday afternoon after his school Halloween party and before the church festivities, we noticed that Mirage calls Mr. Incredible, “The Fat One.” So he was the fat Mr. Incredible.

mrincredible

Elodie was a poofy princess. We tried to get that dress on over the coat, but the sleeves were too narrow for the bulk! She was a little disappointed to totally cover her dress with a coat, so she left her coat unzipped (she had a couple layers underneath) and was warm enough, according to her. I tell ya what, either she’s brave about cold or really motivated by looking good and sugar. Or maybe that whole theory about keeping your head and feet warm really is true. She had a hat and a hood on her head and wool socks and good snow boots on her feet.

ice princess

And Hazel was a poofy, pooped pig. She almost fell asleep in Dad’s arms. I was glad that I had my long underwear, wool socks, and snuggly, ear-covering fleece hat on. Aaron was wishing I had remembered to grab gloves for him before we picked him up from work!

chilly piggy

At least he had the sweet, thoughtful generosity of his daughter to warm him up. Right after receiving treats at one house, Elodie noticed that she’d gotten some of Mom and Dad’s favorites—immediately, she handed Dad a Reese’s cup and me a Kit Kat. Such a sweetie!

trick or treat gang

Hazel thought that the candy sorting was pretty fun, even though we guided her to playing with those things that she couldn’t open. I did let her have half of a whopper on the drive home. That seemed to improve her past-bedtime mood quite a bit! The kids had a blast and Aaron and I enjoyed watching the kids revel in the fun that is Halloween.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halfway

Wow, I can’t believe we’re already to the halfway point. I still don’t quite believe that baby #5 is really coming. Number 5 is a really important one; I’m M5, after all.

Since my darling sister in law posted her profile at 20 weeks, I thought I would, too, for comparison. But sorry, brothers, no girth measurement this time around.

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Hopefully, by the time March rolls around, I’ll actually believe this is real. Was I really that dependent on the visual confirmation of an ultrasound to let the reality sink in? Maybe so. This old-fashioned pregnancy experience is a new one for me. Yes, I could drive 2 hours each way and pay out of pocket for an ultrasound, but my handsome healthcare provider and I agree that it’s not necessary. Nice, but not necessary. We’ll see how long I can hold out!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A White Birthday

"I'm dreaming of a white birthday! Just like the ones I used to know!"

I used to have a fall birthday. Always did. But apparently, up here, my birthday is the first day of winter! At least this year! Yesterday we had some light snow that kinda tried to accumulate. We even made snowflakes during table time to celebrate the first snow. But the accumulation never got past a very light dusting when we went to bed. This morning, I woke up to a beautiful white birthday!
Here's Elodie with her preschool buds, Alex and Lanna. When I was thinking of what I wanted to do for Elodie for preschool in this last year she has before kindergarten, I decided I really wanted to keep her home and teach her myself. She's already a pretty good little reader so she obviously didn't need to go learn her letters, numbers, and colors, but I knew she needed kids her age to play with to hone those social skills. And to help mom, because when Xander went to school last year, she really missed her play buddy and mom often got to fill in.

I thought it would be perfect if I could find a couple other kids her age to join with her for "preschool" at our house. Having more kids helps motivate me to stay on a good schedule and actually do academic and crafty activities on a consistent basis. I started praying for the opportunity to come about. Lo and behold, a lady that Aaron works with told me that her babysitter arrangement had just fallen through for the school year. I met her kids and we decided that this would work out. She has a 9-year-old, a 4 1/2-year-old, and a 3-year-old. The oldest was being home schooled, which was kind of interesting since her mom had gone back to work, but I agreed to try it out. I helped her get caught up with math and writing, but felt like I couldn't afford to invest the time I would need to do a really good job of it, so we talked about it and just this week, she started back at public school. Now she comes home on the bus with Xander and I think the whole arrangement is better for all of us!

So that answers the question of what is going to keep us busy through the long Alaskan winter! Last night, as I was going to a Relief Society Meeting at 7:oo, it was already starting to get dark. (Today: Sunrise 8:22 am, Sunset 6:37 pm.) Yep, winter has begun! As I look out the window, the snow is still coming down and I feel a very strong urge to turn on some Christmas music. Melayna wouldn't fight the urge. Should I?

Happy Fall Y'all!

The first signs of fall were in the air around the middle of August. Patches of gold started to appear in the trees and the ground cover started to turn a beautiful, fiery red. I realized why the gorgeous fuschia flower that grows everywhere around here is called "Fireweed." The mornings had a certain fall chill, as well. I wasn't quite ready to say good-bye to "warmer" weather, but if you can't change it, embrace it, right? So we made sugar cookies spelling out "Happy Fall Y'all" to give to the neighbors and declared that even if the rest of the US was still basking in the summer sun, in Alaska, it was fall. Mid-August was also when school started, nearly completing that end-of-summer feel. The only thing that didn't quite feel like fall was that the sun still didn't set until about 10:00, and it wasn't really dark until about 11:00.

I took this picture of our backyard on September 8, when fall colors were pretty much at their peak.
By the first official day of fall, September 23, this is what our backyard looked like.

Although it kinda looked like fall was over, we still invited some friends over and had a Fun Fall Festival.
I couldn't remember the last time I had bobbed for apples, so I figured it was high time. Aaron was a bit hesitant about the pathology of a bunch of kids slobbering in a tub of water one after the other, but when I washed each apple, the tub, and put in fresh water, he was willing to get in on the fun, too.
And who wouldn't love eating a donut on a string right before dinner?

I really wanted to make a stuffed pumpkin for dinner like we did back in Colorado when we had a thriving pumpkin patch, but I didn't realize how hard it would be to get a hold of a pumpkin in rural Alaska. Instead, we had stuffed spaghetti squash for dinner, followed by apple pie ala mode. Quite autumnal. Whether it was a celebration of the beginning or the end of fall, we had a great time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bou Stew

Another way Aaron has been hoping to prepare for winter was by filling the deep freeze with wild game. Unfortunately, since we are not yet official residents, the tag for hunting a moose or caribou would be $500 on top of a $100+ hunting license, as opposed to a resident's $25 yearly hunting license and FREE tags. So I obviously had to kabash any hunting trips this season. But the executive secretary of the branch presidency, of which Aaron is the 2nd counselor, happens to hunt more caribou than their family can eat. He offered to give a caribou to anyone who would cut it up and eat it. So a couple weekends ago, Aaron got a call that Scott had a caribou ready for him if he wanted to go pick it up. Off Xander and Aaron went, happily anticipating a winter of delicious meat. They returned after a few minutes with an entire caribou carcass wrapped in a tarp in the back of the Beast. Xander declared that the drive back smelled terrible. Why do you think Aaron is pushing to get a pick-up so bad? :)

Aaron spent the next several hours butchering. It happened to be almost 60 degrees outside that day (much warmer than it had been in a while or has been since), so Aaron declared that it had to get in the freezer ASAP so as to not waste any of it. Thus, I was enlisted to put it in all in ziploc bags. Ugh. I literally dreamt about countertops covered in raw meat all night. Be grateful that I didn't take any pictures of the carcass or the process! I wish I hadn't seen it!! But, we got the job done and now have enough caribou to enjoy throughout the winter. We are very grateful since food is SO much more expensive around here.
We enjoyed a nice pot of Bou Stew on Sunday and have Caribou fajitas on the menu for later this week. Bou Chili and Bou Tacos were pretty tasty, too. I'm looking forward to trying some Thai Bou recipes, too. I bet Chinese Bou 'n' Broccoli will be as good as the Elk and Broccoli we enjoyed last winter. It'll be a tasty and filling winter. And I hear that eating meat keeps you warmer. Maybe that's why a certain vegetarian sister of mine is always so cold... :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hazel is One!


Hazel's first birthday party was just perfect. We invited some people over to stand in for grandparents and aunt/uncle/cousins, which definitely helped boost the fun level. You can't really ask a one-year-old what she wants for her birthday dinner, but potatoes and milk seem to be her favorites, so I made a creamy potato/broccoli/cauliflower soup and she loved it. Of course, what she was really looking forward to was the cake. When she saw her cake on the counter throughout the day, she would both sign "more" and say, "ma!" and occasionally really try to sweeten it up by rubbing a "please" on her chest. So when it was finally time to eat it, and we put the teddy bear's head on her tray, she was so excited she was bouncing around! She is so adorable!Xander and Elodie thoroughly enjoyed watching Hazel have her way with her cake.
Her face dive was their favorite part. You can enjoy watching it, too, right here! As you can see, Hazel LOVED the attention!
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