Christmas in September?

Yesterday we had our 2nd annual Christmas gift family name drawing. Until a couple of years ago Scott and I picked out the gifts for our kids. However, as the kids grew older they expressed a desire to be involved in the gift giving.  With 8 kids, having everyone trying to get gives for everyone else would be difficult and expensive. So last year we tried doing a name drawing and it was a wonderful success.

Kara’s first attempt to paint a cake. I hope she practices this some more.

Whose name will I get this year?

The little ones were very excited about the gifts.

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Looking out my window… sunshine and a light breeze.  We’ve gotten a good bit of rain the last few days, so it’s nice to see the sun again. While we have been getting a fair number of warm sunny days, the fact that we never put away our winter clothes is a testimony to the overall cool, wet summer we’ve been having.

I am thinking… it’s cute how Elaina asks to ‘watch the radio’ when she wants to watch a movie.

I am thankful… for Matthew getting his first regular job outside the home.

I am creating … ummm… definitely suffering from MPD (multiple project disorder) right now, but I am really enjoying the opportunity to sew and be creative.

Trying adding some scrubby yarn to the dish cloth I’m crocheting.

Excited and a little intrepid about finally putting to use the Guayabera shirt pattern for Scott that I bought a long time ago.

I am hearing… 12:15 – the low rumble of the water heater, the faint sounds of the younger kids watching a Veggie Tales movie; 2pm – the dryer running, boys talking loudly and the vacuum running as they work on cleaning up the craft area.

I am reading… Up From Slavery.  It’s the next on my (extremely long) list of books to pre/re-read for the kids’ school literature. We finally sat down and came up with lists of books we want them to read each year through jr. high/high school.  It seems like a lot when I see them all together, but we’ve got good readers and want them to be well read. These pics are just some of the books we chose.


In the kitchen… some minor demolition (removal of the wall oven and the old icky trash compactor) in preparation for a new stove and some more counter space. I am sooo excited!!!

A before pic of the old cooktop.

An empty hole where the wall oven was.

The amount of gunk we found underneath the trash compactor was appalling. It took a lot of scrubbing to get it cleaned up.

In the garden… the strawberries have been prolific this year and we picked enough to enjoy with breakfast.  The zucchini also started producing.  I was worried our make-shift greenhouse wouldn’t hold in enough heat for them, especially with our cooler summer, but they are doing quite well.

Pretty chive blossom.


In the schoolroom… gearing up for school starting full force the beginning of August.  After having a couple weeks with no school at all, we’ve continued working on math and science through the summer and the added in history recently to sort of ease into the school year.  It has been nice having more time to do experiments and it will be even nicer to have less schoolwork to do during hockey season this next year.

Our science focus this year is chemistry.

A moment from my life…

Thomas loves brushing his teeth. He also loves knowing the sign for it so I can understand him when he asks.

Elaina has learned to make circles.

Gabe lost his first tooth!



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Kara’s Birthday

She really is 14 and not 4. We need a new number 1 candle.

For her birthday she requested we pull out the ice cream maker (first time since moving here). Purple: mint chocolate chip Blue: orange Green: strawberry Orange: vanilla

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Looking out my window… gorgeous sunshine that actually feels warm!  The kids have actually complained about the sunshine being ‘hot’.  ‘Yes, isn’t it great!’  Yet even after a few days of temps into the 70s there are still some stubborn snow piles hanging around.

I am thinking… about how to expand the garden, about curriculum for next year, and about what exercises I need to do to heal my diastasis recti and start getting back in shape.

I am thankful… that there aren’t (yet) very many mosquitos and the kids are enjoying spending a good part of their days outside.

The reason I don’t grow flowers – this is Thomas and Elaina’s dirt (as opposed to the garden which is Mommy’s dirt).

I am creating … a shirt from some fabric that was passed on to me.  I am excited, but nervous about how it will turn out. I don’t have a lot of experience with knits and have been researching like crazy to learn how to get the look I want and do it right.

I am hearing… 12:45pm- birds singing and kids playing outside the open window, both the washer and dryer running; 6pm – Gabe reading the latest story from his reading curriculum to Scott, the littles talking about the signs (Baby Signing Time) they are learning while Lydia sets the table for supper.

In the kitchen… my wonderful husband knows my weakness for strawberries and couldn’t resist bringing home a container of them when he went shopping.  So this morning’s breakfast was strawberry shortcake. Yum!

In the schoolroom… the kids were excited that the Covid restrictions were relaxed in time for them to attend Horsemanship Camp this last week. They had already decided to do things differently this year and have one-day camps instead of overnights, so the kids will be going again for another day later this month.

Around the house… thanks to Matthew’s help I am getting close to having the compost pile/bin moved.  When we first arrived here (in the fall) I threw together some pallets to make a compost bin in what seemed a reasonable place near the current garden beds. It wasn’t until later I discovered that part of the yard floods in the spring. This year I actually had to wade through water to get to the compost bin. So, it is being moved to another location near to where I am hoping to put in a new garden space.

A moment from my life… while outside with Elaina the sun went behind a cloud. She asked me, “Why did the light turn off?”

Exploring a ‘fort’ we found on one of our walks.




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Looking out my window… the sunshine is breaking through the clouds and there’s a new layer of snow on the ground. We’re definitely enjoying the longer daylight hours. What a difference it makes having it already light out when getting up in the morning.

I am thinking… how different weather can be from one year to the next. At this time last year, the snow was almost gone and the kids were splashing in puddles.  This year we still have quite a bit of snow left and although we’re getting a good number of days of temps above freezing, there are just as many that are still on the cold side.

I am thankful… God’s sovereignty.

I am creating finished… my cross-stitch nativity figures. It’s taken 15-16 (?) years; I honestly don’t remember exactly when I started working on this project. I usually rediscovered it around Christmas time and worked on it for a few months before setting it aside in favor of other projects.  This year when I pulled it out to work on I realized there was only one figure left to cross-stitch. So, I determined to finally finish it and didn’t put it aside when the holiday season was over.

I am hearing… 2:30 – water dripping off the roof and the boys riding the snowmachine (have the front door open to air things out).

In the schoolroom… being homeschoolers means the bulk of our schooling hasn’t changed any due to Covid19 restrictions. There are changes though, like no STEM classes for Ben or Paper Circuitry/Robotics classes for Caleb. Lydia’s special ed teacher is checking in with her via computer and Matthew will be doing his ETT Trek class and Spanish tutoring on the computer as well.

Around the house… Scott got the storage room cleaned up and a couple tables set up for the older kids to work on their Craftsman crates and other crafts.

A moment from my life…


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Looking out my window… our winter moose friend is back.  Elaina was quite enthralled watching it out the window.

I am thinking… Elaina is in the full throes of the Terrible Twos.  If she isn’t getting in trouble, she’s throwing a fit for not getting her way. Sigh. This too shall pass.

I am thankful… for the safety Scott and Caleb had driving to and from Caleb’s hockey tournament last weekend (they took 2nd place) and praying for more of the same for this weekend’s tournament.

One of my favorite things… sunshine! We are up to 6 hours of daylight now. More if you count the twilight (which I definitely do).

I am hearing… 11:45 – the microwave running as kids find lunch.

In the schoolroom… one of Matthew’s biology experiments has been to grow mushrooms. They didn’t quite turn out like expected, but it was fun to watch them grow.

Around the house… we’ve added a member to our family. For Christmas Matthew received a litter box and other items for taking care of a cat and this week the kitten we had arranged for was ready.

Matthew has named him Clue.

A moment from my life…

The kids are all enjoying the balance boards we got for them for Christmas.


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Looking out my window… a frigid day makes for some pretty ice fog as the sun slowly rises. It was -47oF when we got up this morning.

I am thinking… It may be super cold, but life goes on. Caleb leaves this morning for a hockey tournament in Big Lake.  Matthew walked over to the school for his Trek class this morning. Scott will be taking a break every couple hours at work to start the car and warm it up again. Tomorrow the Copper Basin 300 dogsled race will be starting out front of the KCAM studios.

I am thankful… for a warm house and the thick plastic over the dining room windows providing that extra barrier between us and the cold. I’m also thankful that our van’s battery died last weekend while we were in town (with warmer temps) rather than this weekend and for a warm garage for Scott to work in when making sure the van is ready for these low temps.

Putting cardboard in to keep the engine warmer.

One of my favorite things… the white chocolate truffles in my Christmas stocking.

I am hearing… 10:30 – the dryer running, a few kids playing Mobi

In the schoolroom… the transition back to school after a two week break has gone fairly smoothly this week.

A moment from my life…


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Matthew’s B-day

This awesome teenager turned 17!

The third year in a row he’s asked for red velvet cake. I think we know what his favorite is.


He wanted something a little more stylish than a backpack for carrying his school supplies for Trek or Spanish class.

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Gabe’s Birthday

He wanted green cupcakes so that his imaginary pet dragon could have poison affect when attacking enemies. LOL

His brother gave him a duct tape sword with scabbard he had made.

His big birthday wish was for a fishing game.

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Lydia’s Birthday

Happy 15th (wait, that can’t be right! yep, 15 years already) to our beautiful daughter Lydia!



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