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Here in Yakutat, Alaska there are only 2 seasons. Winter and Winter-Extreme! The first day of Spring Break, I woke up to a blizzard. Blowing snow for 3 days! I couldn’t tell you how glad I was to see that it was snowing that morning because the temperature the week before had ranged from 4° to 12° and snow meant the house would stay warm and snug. Hooray for snow!

Thursday afternoon the sun has finally made it through the cloud cover. The sky is a beautiful blue. So fresh and clean…However, I’m really looking forward to the “real” Spring…

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. We love to celebrate this holiday! It’s one of my favorites. Today I found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to live on a farm in Ireland and grow my own potatoes and butter the fresh eggs that come straight from my free-range chickens…sigh… sounds like a lovely life.

Anyway, only 2 years ago, did I discover that we love corned beef! I don’t know how we never had this dish before! It’s amazing. I just followed the directions on the package and put it all in the slow cooker. Viola! Dinner is served.

This year, I found a new recipe that is a little more involved but sounded amazing! I decided to make two (one of each) just in case someone would rather have the “old” recipe. And, because we are having company over for dinner, I looked for special desserts to go with our meal. Anyone know if truffles are an authentic Irish tradition? Because, that’s what I’m making. Real Irish Cream truffles!

I found the recipe for these killer truffles over at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen  It was one of those amazing Pinterest gems I discovered when I was browsing for Irish meals.20170318_162424[1]

Oh yeah! So easy to make but they had to be refrigerated over night (or until firm). Thankfully, I read that the night before and even though I didn’t put them together until the next morning, they still turned out KILLER.

Key ingredient: Homemade Irish Cream  – Which I also found the recipe for over at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen She’s got a plethora of other recipes to try, I plan on testing them out for myself…later… after I finish a few more bites of truffle. hehe

 

 

 

 

New Year’s day has come and gone and I didn’t even give a thought to resolutions. In fact, I didn’t even think of them until some one mentioned theirs several weeks later. I figured it was too late for me to do anything about it then anyway, so I was off the hook… Seriously. Who else is with me, raise your hand!

I later came to the realization that changing your life can happen any time. Just ask a newly expecting mom. THAT literally happens over night! Ok, off track… back to me.

About 2 months ago (middle of January), I was getting frustrated with my slow weight loss and very bored. We have an old Gazelle Freestyle Elite that someone passed down to us and I had been using it in the evenings while Tim read to the kids from “Narnia”. In the past, Tim and I would watch Stargate SG:1 while I ran on my elliptical for 45 min. That is how I lost the extra weight after my previous pregnancies. I thought I could replace the elliptical with this Gazelle, but so far, it wasn’t working very well. If Tim didn’t read I didn’t want to exercise, and sometimes I was just too tired to do it. Other times, Tim was too tired to read. So I did the only logical thing I could do. I complained. “I want to watch Stargate again. I miss it. Waaaaaaaa. Waaaa. Waaaa. Waaaa.” Tim missed it too. We checked out the full 5 season series on Amazon. $50. Not bad! Still, Tim wasn’t in a hurry to slap down $50 for entertainment when we had other more important things to spend our money on…. like, food..?

I came up with a plan!  How about I contract to lose 10 lbs. and he will buy me Stargate Atlantis – the complete series?! Yes! Brilliant! But I wouldn’t stop there, I would lose 10 more lbs. before we can start watching it! And then of course 10 more WHILE we’re watching it! (who could say no to that, right?) I know it’s a little crazy to contract to lose weight for something. Let’s face it, I do have the extra 30 lbs. to lose, but the thing is, I’ve tried it before. Nothing makes me lose weight. Not a new dress. Not a vacation to the Caribbean. BUT, this. This WAS something I really wanted. I could lose weight for this. So we made a deal!

After a few more attempts at trying the Gazelle in the evenings and being unsuccessful, I knew I had to think of something else. I had lost 4 lbs. and then stopped. Don’t get me wrong, losing 4 lbs. is a success, but that is where I stayed…Stargate Atlantis was getting further and further out of reach as the price changed on Amazon from day to day… (I know because I was checking it daily.)

Then, one afternoon I remembered my excitement when I had joined in a Zumba class. It had been so much fun I instantly loved it. Previously, I had been intimidated to order a dvd because I thought it would be too fast for me and I wouldn’t be able to keep up. This time I would be smart about it. I decided to order the Slim Down Zumba kit, plus also an instructional dvd (which turned out to be unnecessary because the kit came with another version of the same thing) that taught the essential dance moves and featured the creator of Zumba. I thought it would be fun. And maybe I could do it a couple of times a week. I fell in love with the dvds immediately. Almost as much as the live class I previously experienced! I took the instructional dvd to my sister’s house and the kids joined she and I for a dance party! Whoo! Do I need to say it was really fun? … It was really fun.

So, I started the Zumba Slim Down program and lost 16lbs. I’m on the 4th week of it and I can’t believe the results. Unfortunately, I neglected to take that first picture… you know the one I mean.. the one that shows how out of shape you are and that you use for reference when you are feeling like results are slow and you can’t tell if it’s working.. yeah, that picture. I am so bummed now because I have only a handful of pictures of me since I gave birth to Little T and none of them are of me in a sports bra holding the latest edition of USA TODAY. Grrrr…. I probably could get enough of the awkward ones and make a collage so that I can at least see a difference in my face. Or my left arm in this picture! …or my right ankle in that one…(Must remember to take actual “Before” pictures)

Here is my forged collage: Before (Still pregnant) After (Bad lighting) Total loss from first picture to second picture is 52lbs. (That is mostly baby weight – but it still counts! haha!)

 

 

May 7, 2016

It has been raining for many, many days. I’ve lost count of how many. Today the clouds were empty for about 3 hours. Thinking this was day with promise, Tim and I went to the Yakutat Lodge out at the airport for breakfast. We put the windows down in the car and enjoyed the clear air.

The waiter wore a ball cap, his long hair in a ponytail and a fuzzy beard. Pure Alaskan stereotype. We were served water in a glass not much bigger than a shot glass and only because we asked for some. He grabbed the pitcher that had been sitting at a table that he had been wiping down after the previous guests and poured our cups full with that. (Can you see me, wide-eyed, biting my lips?) There was no escaping the two T.V.’s that were visible no matter where you sat in the whole room. They were playing a show where home videos of people who randomly got hurt were replayed for laughs. They were funny and very distracting. I tried very hard to look at my plate and try and think of what I wanted to say. This was supposed to be a date after all. We left soon after eating and I was disappointed that we didn’t have a good conversation over the meal as usual. To make up for it, we decided to take the kids out to the beach and enjoy the mostly cloudy, not rainy weather. I imagined shovels and beach blankets, laughter and running. Today we would forget the chores and responsibilities of indoor Saturday life to bbq our food on an open fire on the beach. YES!

However, the dump run came first. (Tim takes the trash out on Saturdays because it’s closed by the time he gets home during the week… and we really need him to do this! …bears are attracted to garbage)

Wouldn’t you know it, by the time he got back it had begun raining again. This whole week has been like this. Rain, sun, rain. A continual battle of the perfect timing of a no-fail plan against the fickle weather. I plan to take pictures of the wild berry bushes that are in full bloom growing behind our shop and around the edges of our house. I plan to visit with my neighbor over a cup of hot carmel macchiato on a front porch swing. My plans need good weather. Or a good overhanging roof.

I like planning. I enjoy goal setting…  I plan. Unsuccessfully.

This was not an usual occurrence before we moved here. In fact, since moving here I have begun to realize that planning requires more and more from me in every occasion. I can’t forget one detail. The I’m-not-worried-about-it approach that a lot of locals exude is becoming more and more favorable to me than stressing because I forgot to buy safety pins and/or clothes pins while I was in Juneau and no one has any to use for the Gender Reveal Party I hosted. Oh! And none of the stores in town carry them! (Thankfully, tape was ready at hand and was used after a little person suggested it…now why didn’t I think of that?) *Remember to breathe*

It has taken me until today to figure out something very important and that will be useful to me in everyday Yakutat life. Don’t make plans. Seize the day! Or in this case, the moment. Every day is a gift and it’s so important not to misuse or abuse the gift. Even a rainy day is special to God. Spend it doing what matters. With others who matter.

I guess I’ll make some cookies and invite my children to play a board game at the table with me… Wait. Just as I typed those last couple of sentences the sun popped out! Better take advantage and hit the beach! No plans here. I’m seizing the day!

Clam Digging

On a certain Saturday afternoon that Tim was feeling adventurous, he packed up all the kids (with the exception of Lottie who was taking a nap), a 5 gallon bucket, a shovel, and the dog and headed out to a well-known clam-infested beach. He had made plans earlier in the week with a friend of his to meet and see how the clam digging is done.

I’m going to skip the “how-to” on this part because I wasn’t there and just go on to the part where everyone came back home soaked up to the waist, covered in sand, and grinning from ear to ear. Yes, they went out at low tide. Apparently, it was more fun to the kids (and the dog) to run into the ocean than it was to dig clams. Tim was the only one not soaking and he carried the bounty of fresh clams soaking in the same salt water he found them in.

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I don’t have many pictures of this, but they stick out their “tongues” into the water. The kids would pick them up and pull them out of the water. They would suck in their “tongues” and shut their shell quickly. All the extra water would shoot out like a water gun. My kids enjoyed this part and would laugh when they were squirted in the face. It quickly turned into a game of trying to get the clams to squirt while aiming at someone else. The house was filled with laughter until bedtime.

We left the clams in the bucket of saltwater until Sunday afternoon when Tim was feeling ambitious enough to cook them up all by himself. I relaxed on the couch after my first morning of teaching Sunday school (in Yakutat) and provided moral support.

First he cut the clam shells apart.

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Rinsed out the sand

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Prepped them with garlic powder
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We did try the recommended egg and crushed crackers first, but it was gross. Thankfully I remembered my mom saying that when she has escargot it was smothered in butter and garlic, so we tried that. Much better!

Then, turned them upside down and placed them carefully into a fry pan with a lovely layer of melted butter

We (I did one time) watched them until the water on the shell dried and they turned slightly white. That meant they were done. Tim took them out of the pan and we all tried one. The kids took plenty of video of their grossed out faces eating a cooked clam.

I loved the chewy clams in clam chowder otherwise I probably would have been grossed out by the whole process and not have been able to eat one. When it was my turn, I tried it and the buttery garlic flavor was delicious! I ate several. The only problem was that they were very chewy and it took a long time to chew them well. We also found out later that you are supposed to cut off the tongues
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(Doesn’t that look Gooooooood???? Yeah, not so much… But it tastes delightful!)

But we didn’t know, so we didn’t. No one noticed anything weird. Maybe next time we will try that bit and see if it’s better. J

Have you ever watched that movie musical by Rogers and Hammerstein with the Clam Bake in it? The one where the whole town is going. Oh, why can’t I think of the name? I only saw it once as a kid… anyway, I thought the Clam Bake looked like so much fun and I wanted to go too. Now I can have my own Clam Bake anytime!

 

March 9, 2016

Looking forward to my second trip to Juneau with Ann! That’s coming up next week. I will get to see my baby for the first time on ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. I am meeting with my current direct-entry midwife and also a CNM. My day is going to be pretty full. I don’t know how I’ll squeeze in any shopping. I am anticipating being worn out completely…

Our first appointments were a blast! We stayed in a comfy hotel, watched “Fixer-Upper” on cable, ordered room service, and did a lot of shopping! I felt like a teenager and even jumped on the bed (which wasn’t as springy as I had anticipated)!

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Being silly with my sis!

 

This time I plan to get a pedicure. All the chlorinated water has dried out my skin and my feet are scratchy (GROSS)…So you know, I can justify that expenditure! It’s for my health! ;P

Next week is also Spring Break. So… Our 6 kids will be holding down the fort while both parents are gone for the day. Tim will be home for lunch to check on them. He’s confident that they will do fine. I agree, as long as they watch TV or go to the park.

I am planning to have a little party with them when I get back. They deserve a celebration day. I’m not sure what we’ll do yet. Maybe go to the beach? Blow up some balloons. Root beer floats. Cake. It would be so cool if Yakutat had a bowling alley… sigh. Oh well. We make our own fun!

 

Hey there! I know it’s been a while, but it’s been very hectic and stressful here and very hard to think of nice things to say… this was originally supposed to be a February post, but it’s now made it to March without being posted. It is NOW time. J

God is so good! His mercies are new EVERY morning. I have some good news to share:

We are pleased to announce that baby #7 is on his/her way! And as you can imagine, all of the things that go with expecting a little one, during the first trimester, has been taking it’s toll…

This week has been pretty trying. I have spent a lot of time sleeping or sitting on the couch watching DORA with Lottie. The castle is a little un-kept right now… (I will leave the details of that to your imagination).

Today, at some point I will drag myself over to Ann’s house to make a few phone calls and get my first out-of-town doctor appointment. I will have to get on the airplane and fly to my appointments! Can you imagine that? …I’m sorry, I am just amazed at how this certain aspect of life will change everything for our family. (I will share more about that later) Ann has graciously offered to come with me to my first appointment, show me around Juneau, and get me started. I am so grateful for her help!

I haven’t mentioned before, but she is also expecting! She’s due 6 weeks before I am. (I am betting she’s having a boy. Just to shake things up!)

If we haven’t learned to juggle by now, is there any hope? Tim started his new job at the fuel company two weeks ago. He will be leaving town to take tests for a CDL and certain endorsements next week. I was really concerned about this at first, mainly because I was under the impression that he would be gone 6 weeks or more and I didn’t want to be “left” here where I know no one and have no resources available. Thankfully, my heart has been put at ease. He only has to be gone a couple of days. I am usually selfish about his time. This is no different. For one thing, he has been making me breakfast in the morning to settle my stomach before I get out of bed. This morning especially, it made all the difference. From laying around all day to up and at ’em! …I’m not in a big hurry to give him up! I NEED him. I have considered, of course, talking Chelsie into setting her own alarm to get up and make me breakfast before I even open my eyes so that I won’t be sick all day… yeah, that was just a passing thought. At almost 13 she’s not in any hurry to get out of bed, EVER. So I haven’t bothered asking. And just so you know, crackers at the side of my bed don’t work. It’s gotta be MEAT! Like over medium eggs and corn bread muffins. Bacon is a plus, but mostly I just need the eggs. Yesterday, I ate four! That’s more than double what I usually can eat. I was so hungry! Tim makes the best eggs and bacon breakfast I have ever had.

I have heard that a lot of women get sick at the smell of eggs in their first trimester… not the case with me. I have also been craving red meat, especially hamburgers! The other day, I wanted pickled asparagus! YUM! Neither of the two stores in town carry it, so I bought a jar of baby dills instead. I feel strange having cravings this early in pregnancy. Doesn’t that usually start in the second trimester?

Okay, so… here is a big problem. I have no maternity clothes here. They are all in storage back in Washington. In my last pregnancy, I started wearing maternity clothes by week 6 because, well… I was growing! Only my belly though, and it got bigger than it ever had with any of the others. My shirts were NOT long enough! I am two days away from the 6 week point. I am crossing my fingers that I can stay the same size until I can get my clothes from storage or some new stuff… I doubt it though, I have been eating every 2 hours and sleeping a lot. So far, so good!

 

IMG_0947Yakutat is a coastal village, population 650 according to the 2010 census, (that number has since declined considerably). It’s #7 in the world for surfing with several beaches to choose from for a day of fun.

Here are some things that are worth mentioning. I will probably have more as time goes on, but for now…

Driving: Everyone waves. Everyone. To everyone, whether you know them or not. Locals will even wave in the pitch dark. If you don’t wave, you don’t belong. And that is that. (We are still getting used to this and when Tim was questioned by Chelsie why he had not waved in the pitch dark he responded with, “I waved in my heart.”)

I occasionally get the peace sign or a hand wag, but for the most part it‘s 4 fingers straight up off the top of the wheel. This is hard to get used to because I felt comfortable with hand positioning at the bottom of the wheel near 5 and 7. I am now forced to keep both hands as close to the noon position as possible. Luckily, there isn’t far to drive. Ever.

Beaches: Just at the edge of the woods the sand becomes very fine and feels good to walk on with your bare feet. The ocean washes over the sand beautifully and draws up shells, drift wood and (if you’re lucky) sea glass. Once we found an old lantern.
The weather is often better out at the beach. Usually on a cloudy day, the beach holds a break in the clouds for the sun to shine through. But not always! The storm seems a more beautiful scene at the beach and we like to go out just to watch the waves build and break across the sand. The summer we stayed here, we drove out to Cannon Beach during a storm. I couldn’t wait to see the ocean! I wanted to know if it really was different in a storm or if the movies just made it look like a troubled emotion for effect. It didn’t disappoint me. It was very intense and I was glad we had the safety of the sandy shore to stand upon.

The wind is more intense at the beach as well and a warm jacket is good to have on hand even on a sunny summer day. Once I was told about a friend’s daughter who caught her long hair on fire when the wind blew it into the driftwood campfire. I am sure that was quite the experience, but I wasn’t there at the time. I saw the hair cut afterwards. Yikes! Lesson learned. Have the presence of mind to keep your hair up (if it’s long) when at the beach!

Popularity: We are the first family to move to Yakutat in some time. The reports of how often people move out is alarming. The last family moved out of town because Boys Basketball was terminated. The determining factor being that there weren’t enough boys with passing grades to make a full team.
There are two schools and a handful of very talented teachers. Most of the grades are combined reminding me of the private schools from “our old town”. Friendly and close-knit.

Water: The city owns two wells, although I am not sure if both are in working order. The water smells very strongly of chlorine and has even burned our noses when holding a glass up to our mouths to take a drink. After a shower, my skin is dried out, my hair smells like I’ve been at the community pool and is even starting to turn red at the roots! We were given a brand new Brita, which we use to filter all our drinking water. Berky was recommended as the water filter brand of choice among the locals and I’ve set a goal to own the largest one.
On the upside, I don’t have to add any bleach to the rinse water while doing dishes or laundry, it already has plenty!
Fishing: I wouldn’t do Yakutat justice if I didn’t mention it’s fishing industry. Fishing is Yakutat’s economic foundation. Most of the population are fishermen. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t fish. Some have jobs within the community and fish on the side. Others do what they want with their time and fish when it’s “worth it”. Hunting and trapping are also a big part of living off the land.

All these things are part of daily life in rural Alaska. It’s a blessing to be a part of such an experience.