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Archive for the ‘Alaska Life’ Category

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

 

 

 

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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!

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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Part 4 – Welcome to Alaska

Upon arriving in Anchorage for our short layover we found our next gate quickly then grabbed a bite to eat from the in-airport McDonalds. The kids ran about and stretched their legs. During the long (4 hours, if I remember correctly) flight it was a challenge to keep Lottie contained. She was a good girl though and didn’t cry as much as she had while waiting in the security line. I had been able to give her a little something for her cough and she went to sleep the last half hour of the flight. We welcomed the break and didn’t try too hard to keep the kids sitting.

When I turned on my cell phone I received a text from my sister. Her husband had found us a house! I was blown away by the Lord’s timing and provision. “…never too little with too late.” rang in my ears.

Our arrival in Yakutat was joyous and rainy! It was dark and pouring down rain like nothing we would ever see in Ephrata, Washington. There were huge puddles everywhere and we had to walk from the plane to the airport completely exposed to the weather. I suddenly became aware that none of us were prepared with proper foot attire. All the kids trailed through the same deep puddle and I grabbed Lottie before she was able to follow suit. I am sure it would have come up far above the tops of her fancy little boots. The airport was well lit and warm inside. Holding a few employees and the happy faces of my sweet sister and her entire family.

Nick and Ann have 5 children. They are around the same ages as my kids and the youngest 2 are twins. All girls except one! (Just like us)

We talked excitedly and waited for our luggage. I didn’t feel tired anymore. A surge of adrenaline pumped through my tired body. I kept looking around to make sure I had every head accounted for. Seeing Tim talking excitedly and laughing I began to wonder what the plan was. What was the next step? Tim repeated that only 15 pieces of luggage came through. I assumed he would take care of it and I began ushering children through another door to the where 3 vehicles were waiting to take us “home”. We split up into the 3 trucks, pairing my kids with excited cousins and helpful friends. Not a sad face was seen…and then, Lottie was poopy. We held our noses the entire drive into town. I had the presence of mind to put her in a pull-up for the trip. I didn’t suppose either of us would remember to take her potty before it was too late and it saved us from carrying around wet clothing in the diaper bag.

The tiny cabin was warm and we were informed that one of the brothers had been there that morning to build a fire in the woodstove and had kept it roaring all day. It was so pleasant to know how much everyone cared. The guys unloaded all three truck-fulls of luggage and I scurried around looking for the one with Lottie’s belongings inside. It quickly became obvious that I wasn’t finding what I needed. Ann suggested I use some of hers at her house… Back into the crowded trucks!

A hospitable host, Ann served us deep fried fresh halibut over rice. It was the most delicious food we had tasted in days! Except for the last dinner with my parents, our recent menu for the last week and a half had consisted mostly of donuts, frozen pizza, hot pockets, and McDonalds. The food was well appreciated.

All eleven children enjoyed playing together until it was time to go. Then outside to the slushy ground and pouring rain weather we trudged once again, feeling the warmth of being very welcome indeed.

 

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