Sunday, August 31, 2008

A weekend FULL of friends!

Our very good friend and former student Donna returned to Fairbanks to go back to school at UAF. She just lacks a few hours being a sophomore and is working on a degree in Inupait, but is thinking about changing to math.

We were all thrilled for her to be back in town. Zoe wanted to take her our only sunflower that had bloomed from the garden, we put it in a plastic bottle, wrapped it with some tissue, tied it with raffia, and added a small card. I think Donna liked it and I know it will add some brightness to her dorm room when she moves in on Sunday.

After we picked her up we headed to HOT LICKS a local ice cream store for a yummy treat!

It was the second time we've been there without daddy, so he just may get us, but with the long weekend I am sure we might be able to get him to take us again! Donna enjoyed some strawberry ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle cone, while Jake and I got a sugar cone dipped in chocolate. Ben and Zoe both loved their Hawaiian Ice. I don't think you can get anything BAD there, so far everything I have tried has been pretty tasty! We have to enjoy it while we can, because they close for the winter soon.
The kids just love playing on the FunTime Park located near there. There are plenty of swings for sharing with friends,

and a merry-go-round that can spin unbelievably fast...sometimes a little TOO fast after a big ice cream cone! On one end of the park there is a small community garden and they planted corn and it's taller than me! What a wonderful way to spend a Friday afternoon with a friend!

On Saturday we all headed off to Jake's football game and boy was it a good one. The Saints were down 0-16 in the first half, but then came back to win the game 19-13. It was a pretty exciting game.After the game we headed to Pioneer Park to enjoy a picnic lunch with our friend Marty-O. She had driven up from Anchorage to show a visitor the sites in Fairbanks. The world is SO small at times, Marty was staying with her friend Mindy, who told her about this nice family she met at a birthday party. They had three kids, and lived in the bush for 11 years. Marty asked Mindy what their name was and it turns out...that family was us....too funny! It was nice to share a picnic lunch with all of those ladies and boy do they know how to pack a picnic! They had some yummy liver loaf, a creamy spinach dip, a fizzy pomegranate drink, and a delicious creamy fruit salad! We added some tuna salad, salmon dip, and watermelon. It was another beautiful sunny, just right for sitting at a picnic table, sharing our knitting, and visiting with Marty and Mindy, while David took the kids to play miniature golf and Judy played tourist at the local gift shops.

You might think that our weekend was quite complete, but Katie will be in town today to start school at UAF. I couldn't be more proud of my two former students, going to school and being all grown up. You might think it makes me feel old, but actually it's just super gratifying to know they are making decisions that will give them an abundance of life choices!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crazy First Day of School

Today was Benjamin's first day of kindergarten at Barnette Magnet School and Zoe's first day of pre-school at Joy Elementary. This was a little crazy for the mama, cause Ben's day began at 8:15 and Zoe was suppose to be at her school at 8:30 and there is at least a 10 minute drive across town(yes, I know this is laughable for some...10 minutes to get across town). I just HAD to get some pictures of Ben with his teacher and outside the school, so this made us a wee bit late to Zoe's school, but Mrs. Jeanie, her teacher said not to worry!

Ben had a great day reading of course The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn and then getting to make his own special kissing hand. His teacher also introduced them to sign language and the calendar. They also got to listen to a book on tape! Ben said the best thing about his day was playing inside, but there were things that were "off limits" today, but they would be available on another day. He also gets to take snack next week and bring special items from home in a "sound bag". His teacher will send a bag home with a letter on it and we will search the house to find objects that begin with that letter. What a great way to get families involved in their children's learning!

Zoe actually RAN all the way down the sidewalk to get to her classroom! She was SO excited to be in school like her big brothers. And the minute she hit the classroom she pulled out her journal from last year. Her teacher loved seeing her drawings, squiggles, and letter writing.

Zoe got to use the white board to draw pictures and write her name, play princess, kitchen, read a story, and play outside on the playground. She can't wait to go back tomorrow! Jake is also LOVING his teacher, who happen to tell me today that she felt pretty lucky to have such a great kid in her classroom. In the afternoons, Jake has what Barnette refers to as explorations, kids get to choose classes based on their interests after they complete their morning of core subjects. This quarter Jake has "On Stage", "Danger Class for Boys" and "Wagons Ho". The "Danger" class is based on ideas from this book,
which is a must if you have a kids who likes to experiment, and read! Jake's year is off to a great start! He is even getting comfortable with the idea of "performing" in front of others in his "On Stage" class.

After all of the kids were safely at school, I calmly walked back to the truck, started the engine and let out a long loud YYYAAAAHHHHOOO, two hours of me time! I happily drove to Barnes & Noble, got a non-fat mocha and settled myself by the fireplace with knitting needles in hand. So mama got to relax and just LOVED the first day of school too!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Night in

Ok, I know it's been a while since I made a post, but if you lived in Fairbanks and had experienced 40 below winters......and you had beautiful 75 degree weather, with blue cloudless skies for the past week, trust me you wouldn't spend the time inside blogging either!

This is the first week of school for some of the family. David started a week ago, Jake is at his new school, Barnette Magnet, and Ben got a peek at his kindergarten classroom, while we visited with his teacher, during his testing. Her classroom is FULL with 21 students and no full-time aide. Yikers, looks like I will be doing some volunteer work in his classroom to help out. Zoe dropped in to meet her pre-school teacher at Joy, yes she's headed to Daddy's school three days a week to be in their program. Everyone has been pretty excited with new school backpacks from L.L. Bean, school shoes, and supplies. All starting out their first week with BIG smiles! School is back in session for everyone except me.....I'm feeling a little left out!

So I thought what better way to spend a Friday night, but at the house cooking out, drinking Mojitos on the deck with some great grilled food and a beautiful salad filled with bounty, collected by Jake, from our garden! I discovered this Best Ever Mojito recipe for the drinks. Unlike the perfect housewife I didn't have a drink ready to slip into my husband's hand when he arrived home from work. I just happened to go outside to play and look around in the garden and I just couldn't go back in the house, literally I couldn't go inside, it was THAT BEAUTIFUL outside! But shortly after he arrived we were ready to relax on the deck, sip our tasty drinks, and talk about his first week at school, which went VERY well!

While we swigged our beverages, David started the charcoal, and then decided to hang out in the yard tossing the football around with Jake and Zoe while we waited for the coals to get ready.

I worked on getting the corn ready, we like to shuck the corn, but you can also leave them on, rub it with a little butter and sprinkle it with Cavender's Greek Seasoning, before wrapping it in foil and setting it on the top rack to cook. I also cut up the chicken, and marinated it in some teriyaki sauce, and prepared a salad with veggies from the garden, no the cherry tomatoes aren't from our bounty, ours aren't quite ready yet.

While everything was cookin' on the grill Daddy and Jake discussed creating a new cartoon character. Jake says that I am not at liberty to revel the name, 'cause it's top secret and someone might take his idea.

Anyway, this conversation lead to drawing the character....thank goodness for the internet, David just downloaded a "How to draw a Super Hero" and the kids were all busy with their new creations, giving everyone in the family specific powers and abilities. And while the kids were busy at the table sketching, creating, and sharing their ideas, the daddy and I goofed around taking ghostly pictures by using the refection in our windows. Click the picture if you would like to see it enlarged.

And when the food was all ready, we set the picnic table outside and sat down for a much anticipated family dinner. Sometimes a Friday "night-in" can just what a busy family needs to reconnect and enjoy each other!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Finally the rain stopped and you would think that I would have had PLENTY of time to blog on all those rainy summer days, but alas our days have been busy with SO many activities:David's 38th birthday::walking the bike path::sitting on the porch knitting::Ben's flag football games::Jake's Rook football games::playing games(our new favorite is Loot, thanks Rohnan and Keegan)::back to work for David::keeping Blake::dinner party with friends::cookout with snores::knitting Olympics::watching the Olympics(yes we got a small TV, no cable)::bouncing on the trampoline::gardening::enjoying blueberry treats(ice cream and blueberry pancakes)::knit night::playing golf::trying a new restaurant Phad Thai::playing faries/Polly Pocket::dressing up and of course all of the other household chores and such.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Blueberries, Blueberries Everywhere and Every One to EAT!

That's right the rains finally stopped, after the Tanana, Salcha, and Chena Rivers flooded. Leaving many people stranded and unable to get in or out of their homes for a few days, but I was glad to see the waters finally recede and the sun come out to dry things up. Luckily we didn't have any problems due to the flood waters. Of course after two weeks of kids running around the house, playing board games and watching videos we were all VERY happy to get outside. David and I had a feeling that there might just be some blueberries ready for picking up at Murphy Dome, so into the truck we packed our rain gear, extra fleece(it's been a pretty cold summer, even by Alaskan standards), snacks, water, and of course berry buckets, AKA: yogurt or ice cream containers.....there was one thing we forgot...the camera...oops. We headed to SUBWAY where we picked up a few foot-long sandwiches and headed for the hills.A short drive later and we were walking out of the squishy tundra, smelling Labrador tea that conjured up memories of days spent on the Seward Peninsula where we first fell in love with blueberry picking. That is right just like in this book,

Check out Ann Dixon's book
we are a family who LOVES to pick blueberries! I can't actually remember a summer or fall when we didn't go out to "roam mossy hummocks" in search of these tiny blue treasures. This year we were all able to walk in our own two rubber boots, no one needed to be amaaqtuq or carried and there was no fussing, whining or crying about eating Mom and Dad's berries. Everyone was able to pick their own!!! While we were picking we sang song like The Supreme's Stop in the Name of Love, changing the words just a bit to meet our needs and it went something like this, "Stop in the name of blueberries, before you squish it's juice....walk on oooveeerrr, walk aroooouuunndd.
Many scat discoveries were made. We found moose, bear and what we were pretty sure was dog poop. Colorful tundra flowers bloomed everywhere and of course there were blackberries and cranberries, but they didn't seem to attract our attention as much as the other berries. We even found a couple of aqpiks better known as salmon berries. Of course there were "old blueberry stories" told by Jake about him picking blueberries from Rich's bucket, having picnics on the tundra, and picking WAY past bedtime, 'cause who can resist those LONG Alaskan days.
Ben was labeled the Blueberry Buzzard because he would circle and circle until you stopped to pick and then rush in to eat your bounty, but no one really minded, they would just move on to another patch. We were all "counting our blueberries before they were picked" and dreaming about all of the things we would make with our booty, blueberry pancakes, muffins, waffles, blueberry sausage casserole, blueberry ice cream, blueberry crisp, blueberry pie, blueberries in our yogurt, cereal....OK OK you get the idea. All in all it was a wonderful family outing, one of those "best days" that you remember for years to come and tell stories about during next years blueberry picking outing!