Friday, May 30

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama

Thursday, May 29

Book Review--Beautiful on the Mountain

Beautiful on the Mountain
by Jeannie Light

Wow.  It's been a while since I have been so totally captivated by a book, a non-fiction book no less!  This is an amazingly heartwarming and inspiring story of a woman who listened to God's call and let it shape her life.  His path led her to places she never imagined going and circumstances she never imagined being a part of, but each experience enriched her life and helped her draw her community closer together.  

If we each gave our lives over to God even a fraction of the way that Ms. Light has, imagine the beautiful world we would be living in.  In this book she eloquently shares her ups and downs with the people that made up the tapestry of her life during this time period.  I cannot imagine how someone could read this book and not be touched both by her story and by God's own hand in her life.  He would like to hold each of our hands in that same way!

Thank you to Tyndale for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.  

Wednesday, May 28

Summer Vacation So Far

This is our first week of summer vacay and we're settling in quite nicely.  It's always a bit bumpy going from the structure of school to the much more laid back structure of home.  Sure, we have a rhythm to our days, but it's not at the same level as classroom routines for sure.

Here are a few moments from the week so far.  It {finally!} rained, so we've spent lots of time inside this week.  We desperately needed the rain to dampen some wildfires burning around our state and to get some of the pollen out of the air.  It's been a very dry and allergy-inducing spring.

We made some cookies for a friend...

Saw some pollen puddle art after the first rain...

Played with our science kit...

Made soup and bread bowls...

Had 'quiet' time where sometimes a certain 7 year old still falls asleep...

And made these fun owls following this method...

Next week we start soccer in Girdwood, so we'll be on the go a bit more.  With any luck we'll be able to take our bikes with us and ride around Girdwood a bit.  Fingers crossed!

Monday, May 26

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of those days that is designated a holiday that doesn't really feel like one.  When you think about the roots of Memorial Day (to remember service men and women who have died in the line of duty) calling it a holiday seems to detract from the meaning and the intentions behind it. So...having said all of that I'll tell you how we tried to spend our Memorial Day weekend...exercising those freedoms service men and women have and continue to protect.

No photos, but we started on Sunday by going to church.  We have come to truly enjoy what our little church has become.  It is such a good fit for us right now...good people and good fellowship.

Later on Sunday we took a little boat ride out to Blackstone Bay. 

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery...

Today we went kayaking...

This was where we stopped and had lunch.  Then we turned around and headed back in.  It was a perfect day for a paddle.  Cool and no wind at all.  After our paddle we headed out to exercise our right to bear arms.  The girls practiced with dad's BB gun...

And I fired my new gun I got from my daddy.  Looks like my form needs a little work...

Steaks for dinner and rain in our forecast...we're happy campers!  We desperately need the rain and we're hoping it helps out our friends to the south who are dealing with the terrible Funny River Fire.  Wildfires are natural but it is so scary at the same time. 

Friday, May 23

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, May 21


I am in a funk today.  Grumpy at people in general.  Easily annoyed.  Frustrated.  I don't like feeling this way.  When I feel this way I want to quit everything, tell everyone 'no' and run away.  I don't though.  Usually I buoy myself up with positive self-talk, chocolate, and quotes that speak to me.  This time though, I'm thinking about why.  Here's what I have figured out.  I'm a feeler.  I feel everything for everyone.  I carry burdens for people and I have a strong sense of right and wrong.  When people hurt me or frustrate me or things don't go quite the way I think they should I'm OK.  Except when those things start to all pile up at one time...then I get into a funk.  The worst part is my (very human) tendency to assign blame for my funk to others.  "If *they* would just...",  "If *she* would stop....", and similar statements run through my mind.  Yesterday I happened upon this article that someone shared on Facebook and since then I have spent a lot of time thinking about this.  Two quotes stood out to me from the article.  The first, "The truth is that people are not actually toxic. What is toxic is your reaction to them." is almost enough to stop me in my cranky thoughts path.  Wait!  It's so much easier (not to mention more comfortable) to blame *them*.  The trouble with blaming though, is that it limits our ability to change the circumstances.  When we accept the responsibility for our reaction to the circumstances that are making us unhappy, then we empower ourselves to change those reactions.  As the author put it, "You have to teach people how to get along with you..."  This little snippet has given me great hope today!  Of course I do!  How to people know they've offended me/annoyed me/irritated me if I don't let them know?  It doesn't have to be confrontational, but I can kindly set some limits on what people say to me and ask of me.  I can choose to be honored to be asked (even if I politely decline) rather than annoyed that I'm feeling imposed upon. 

All of this makes me think about this great little video that was popular last fall.  Watch it.

This is Water from Patrick Buckley on Vimeo.

Monday, May 19


Look what I got in the mail today!

One night last week I was looking for something else on EBay and came across this.  I couldn't help myself!  The postmistress and I dated the picture to sometime pre-1950 as there is no Buckner Building, Whittier Manor, or Hodge Building (now BTI).  Construction on the Buckner Building began in 1948.  Construction on the Hodge Building began in 1953 and the Whittier Manor was privately built around that same time.  Pretty neat, huh?

So far as I can tell, the postcard reads:

Feb. 11, 1959

Dear Mr. Rantanen

Many thanks for the letter and cards just recieved.  Was very much surprised to see how many castles and costumes (?) were entriely new to me, especially of british (sic) castles.  From your list I will certainly be able to find a number.  Will write later.

(A. Scheuner)

A little Googling turned up that Mr. Scheuner lived in California around this time period.  He was a member of Company F, 7th Infantry (p.163) during WWI, and died in California in 1983.  I didn't have as much luck with Mr. Rantanen.  I will have to keep on looking!  This kind of thing is so fun...makes me want to join!

Friday, May 16

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, May 14

Cultural Heritage Week

The girls and I just returned from Peksulineq aka Cultural Heritage Week.  What a great experience!  The week was started as a two day festival back in 1994 by the teacher at the Tatitlek Community School. Since then it has grown and changed into a week-long celebration organized by the Copper Mountain Foundation which is a nonprofit set up by the Tatitlek Corporation.  It was truly an amazing experience for both kids and adults!

The village of Tatitlek has about 50 year-round residents...during Cultural Heritage Week (CHW) roughly another 150 people are added to that number.  As you can imagine, a town of 50 does not really have room to quadruple their population, but regardless they open their doors and invite family and friends to stay with them.  They open their IRA Council building and allow people to sleep on the floor of the big rooms.  They open their clinic and allow folks to sleep on the floor of the big waiting room.  They open their school and welcome people into their classrooms and library to sleep for the week.  Last, but certainly far from the least, they open their school kitchen and kitchens across the village to feed everyone.  A van leaves with crockpots and foil trays full of food every morning, distributing them to ovens around town. The same van collects them every evening and returns them to the school to feed everyone.  A massive undertaking to say the least!

Older kiddos rotate through six 1 hour classes during the day, learning different crafts and skills from volunteers.  The younger kiddos stay in one class during the days, doing crafts, learning stories, walking the beach, learning NYO skills (Native Youth Olympics) and traditional songs and dances.  Evenings offer a bit of free time and then some group time with guest speakers, performers, a talent show and the week wraps up with a dance.

The experiences that my kids had were too numerous to list here. They tried new foods (seal, porpoise skin, porpoise meat, salmon eggs), made new friends, learned traditional songs and dances, experienced village life and so much more!

The trip started on a Sunday morning.  The boat left Whittier at 11am and two and a half hours later we had arrived in Tatitlek.  Things kicked off that night with a bonfire on the beach.  At some point that evening a major water line in the village also broke, but we didn't know that until the next morning.  We woke up Monday morning to no water and soon found ourselves without electricity as well.  The power line was inadvertently cut while folks were digging out the water line.  By Monday night things were patched back together though, and it was fairly smooth sailing from there!  Our group slept in the school library all week and we arrived home around 1pm on Saturday. 

A few of my favorite pictures from the week...

Sunday afternoon

fast friends on the way to the bonfire Sunday night

Kelsey tries kayaking Monday night

Stacy tries kayaking Monday night

dancing performance on Monday night

subsistence education, skinning a sea lion

Mama kayaking on Friday morning

Add caption

Stacy snoozing on the way to Tatitlek
Stacy snoozing on the way home from Tatitlek

Tuesday, May 13

Book Review--For Such a Time

For Such a Time
by Kate Breslin

This is Breslin's first novel and I have to say she's earned a spot on my 'must read' authors list.  Breslin develops her characters well.  So well that I felt I might know Hadassah Benjamin if I bumped into her on the street.  In Hadassah, Breslin has created a character who is so real that readers can't help but fall in love with her and root for her when times get tough in this book.

Set in 1944 in Czchoslovakia, the story explores many of the heavy issues of the time while also highlighting God's presence and goodness, even in hard times.  Hadassah finds herself spared some dire consequences as a result of her looks, but she still must stand by and watch her own people suffer.  Finally she can hide no longer and we find out what a strong woman Hadassah is.  I truly recommend this book!

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255. 

Sunday, May 11


It seems like forever ago already, but really it was just a week ago that I was in Valdez.  We have had a marathon of a couple of weeks here.  Scott flew out on a midnight flight on April 24 to take care of some city business in Bellingham and Anacortes.  He also visited friends in Gig Harbor and friends & family in Battle Ground and Washougal over the weekend.  He arrived back in Anchorage the afternoon of April 29.  I flew out that evening to Valdez for several days of meetings and flew home the evening of May 2.  We celebrated Scott's birthday on May 3 and the girls and I packed for a week of school floor camping.  Scott took his mom to the airport on the morning of May 4 and the girls and I left on a boat later that morning.  We arrived home yesterday afternoon around 1.  Whew.  So for the first time since April 24 we have all been home in the same house for almost 24 hours now!  Yipee!

So Valdez.  The kids and I visited Valdez a few years ago in the fall with Scott's mom.  We had a lovely trip, but the girls were small and were not able to walk long distances.  This time I was solo and had a rigorous meeting schedule, but was able to explore a bit.  It was a beautiful flight in...once it finally took off!  I actually spent longer driving to the airport than I did in the air.  I also spent more time waiting at the airport for my delayed flight than I did in the air!  I was one of the lucky ones who got my baggage that same night though, so I will not complain.  Apparently folks on our flight had lots of heavy luggage because they had to pull 18 bags.  From a flight with only 37 seats, that's a fairly high percentage!  Here are some glaciers from the sky...

Just for fun I took this picture of the baggage claim area of the Valdez airport...

That belt looks longer in the picture than it is in real life.  It made me would probably be just as fast if they drove the trailer up and you just grabbed your bags off it it...or if you just grabbed them from the conveyor as they unloaded them from the plane!

Our meeting group also got to tour the Valdez Marine Terminal where oil tankers are loaded with crude oil from the north slope from the Alyeska pipeline.  Here's an iPhone panoramic shot from the pavilion on the hill above the terminal.  It was a very informative tour...there is so much that goes on there!

One of the highlights of the trip was my visit to their museum.  You know me...I love museums!  Valdez's museum covers their early history, earth quake history, and oil spill history.  I really learned a lot touring the facility...and came home with some new books, too!

The day I left it was 70 degrees.  In May!  Practically unheard of around here!!

Flying home was just as pretty!  It was a great time I meet with this group we'll be in Homer in September.  That promises to be beautiful!

20 Questions for a 7 Year Old

1.  How old are you?
2.  Who is your best friend?
     Nicole, Destiny, Trinity, Alesha, Chelsey, Sophia

3.  What is your favorite thing to do?
     make new friends

4.  What is your favorite color?
     blue, yellow, and orange

5.  What is your favorite food?
     salad, hamburgers

6.  What do you like to do with your family?
     have fun

7.  What is your favorite toy?
     my My Life doll

8.  What do you want to be when you grow up?
     a mom

9.  What makes you happy?
     seeing my family

10.  What makes you sad?
     when people have to go home

11.  What is your favorite show to watch?
    Curious George, Sofia the First, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Doc McStuffins

12.  What is your favorite book?
    The Green Book of Beginner Books, Half Magic, Bad Beginnings

13.  What do you love to learn about?

14.  What is the best part of your birthday?
     seeing people have fun

15.  Where do you like to go?

16.  Who is your teacher?
    Mrs. C

17.  What is your favorite treat?
     going to the Lazy Otter

18.  What do you think about before you fall asleep?
     what I'm going to be when I grow up

19.  If you could meet someone famous who would it be?
    Dr. Seuss

20.  What kind of cake did you have this year?

The answers on her 6th birthday
The answers on her 5th birthday


This little lady turned 7!!

Leading up to and following her birthday was a flurry of activity around here!  She wanted the movie "Frozen" to be the theme of her celebration, so we did.  That cake is the snowman from the movie, Olaf. 

She opened presents on her birthday, got a birthday song at school and had a special snack of strawberries.  Here she is opening her present from Olaf pillowcase!

Her party was the following Saturday...

We painted, frosted cupcakes, played with snow play dough, cut out paper Olafs and played some other snow and ice themed games.  Stacy was happy, so I consider the celebration a success!  That evening she invited some family friends over for dinner.  Kelsey made some spaghetti sauce and Stacy made a cake.  She had gotten the cake mix and frosting as a birthday gift and was eager to cook it up!  I should have taken a picture of it after we cut into was two different colored layers!

It was pretty delicious!  Happy Birthday, Stacy!