Sunday, December 20, 2009
Last night was majestical…there is no word in the English language that articulates what I experienced. So, my husband came up with: ‘majestical’.
At 6:00 pm we received a call that a friend was stuck on our hill in his suburban, with our 16 foot trailer attached. He decided to return the trailer as a bad storm was beginning. Half-way up the hill he started careening backward. He ended up ditching the trailer and then jack-knifing his suburban. Jeff and Leif went down to pull him out.
As I finish off dinner the power kept flashing off and on. The “snow globe” snow that had fallen softly throughout the afternoon turned to a torrential down pour of snow that was rapidly accumulating on the power lines. I was warming some mushroom chicken that I had cooked the previous day, praying the power stayed on long enough.
The chicken, by the way, was a home-grown, Cornish-cross hen raised by our friends, the Cress’. When Sarah and Jesse “off-ed” the 22 meat chickens they raised this summer, we helped out and in return they gifted us some dead fowl. Jeff helped slaughter, dip and pluck and I helped with the inside cleaning and wrapping. I couldn’t eat chicken for a couple of moons and now that I am feeling better about poultry, I decided to give it a go. Killing, preparing and cooking a chicken not purchased in a store is a new experience for this city-reared girl, but it turned out great! I brined the bird overnight in a salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper solution. I then cut it up (also news on this front: I finally figured out how to cut out that piece that has the wish bone in it. My Gran always fried this piece and it was my favorite. For years I have been trying to figure out how she cut the breast in such a way to get a piece with the wish bone intact…I finally did it!), browned it, and baked it in a mushroom gravy.
When Jeff walked in the door at 6:30, and thankfully sat down to his hot supper, the power went out and stayed out. We ate a romantic meal by candle light and then listened to daddy read Kipling’s, The Jungle Books. It was a great evening spent together without electricity and all of the distractions that come with it.
Shortly after 9:00 pm the power came back on. We put the boys to bed and the snow was continuing to fall. At this point it looked like we had at least six inches of snow fall. Jeff went to work at the station and I settled in for the night. A few hours later, he bounded into the bedroom and said, “You have got to come outside!”
He took me outside to see the most beautiful sight I have yet to see in Alaska. It was a perfectly still full moon night. The wind had lain down and a foot deep, blanket of snow shrouded everything. The snow was soft, voluminous and cloud like. The trees looked like a huge vat of icing had been poured on them. Some of them were so heavy with snow their smaller limbs were breaking. After the raucous storm the world had fallen completely silent. The moon light was bright enough to read by. The blue moon light reflected off of the newly fallen snow to create an ethereal world of winter wonder…it was ‘majestical’. The sight was so spell binding that neither of us could speak for nearly ten full minutes. We stood there and whispered in hushed tones about the beauty we beheld. About the time Jeff turned to head back to work, we looked up to see a cow moose not twenty yards away. She stood soundless and stalwart, staring us down. Looking at us with knowing eyes she seemed to question whether we could truly appreciate the world in which she lives.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
"The Fam at Thanksgiving"
In three-year-old vernacular, “wife in Awaska is pretty funny…”
As I write, “snow globe” snow falls gently outside. Winter is here. The studded tires* are installed on the truck. The skis, snow machine, and sleds are dusted off and at the ready. My husband had to plow our road for the first time today.
I love winter time. Once the snow piles up, Alaska is a pretty fun…and funny place to live. It never fails to bowl me over at how industrious Alaskans are in the winter. Summers may be filled with fishing, gardening, canning, and hunting, but winters are far from sedate. When I want to crawl in for a long winter’s nap and “layer up” with chocolate cake every day, these crazy folks are rearing and ready!
The day after Thanksgiving we went up to Kenai to catch their winter carnival. The Cress family invited us to attend with them. They told us we needed to get our parking place early for the light parade. At 6:00 we lined up with well over 200 cars to watch as Christmas-lit floats drove by slowly at 6:30. As we waited I marveled at the families lining the street. We warm-blooded Texans were waiting in the truck, meanwhile the crazy ones stood, sipping hot cocoa and watching their kids throw snowballs at each other. From young to old, entire families clad in all manner of cold-weather gear stood outside awaiting the parade.
"Leif and friends at Thanksgiving..."
The first to come down the street was the high school band. They oom-pah-pahed with great effort and sounded pretty good…at least well enough to send me mentally on vacation to a Friday night football game. (Hmmm...I used to think I was cold at some of those games.) While watching them shuffle past in their plumed hats and unprotected ears, I thought of many family members and friends alike that bemoaned their marching days.
“These kids are hosses,” Jeff said!
I tend to agree. We watched as they marched a good two miles, lips pressed against freezing cold instruments, in their uniforms, without coats.
After the parade, we drove over to the baseball field to watch the fire works; again, more waiting with the Alaskans playing out in the snow and the Texans in the truck. When we got there the Cresses joined up with their extended family. Jesse (dad Cress) came over to our truck and invited Jeff to go have a “fireball”. Where we come from fireballs are hot, cinnamon flavored jaw breakers. However, in Alaska the word “fire ball” actually involves fire and a ball. I looked over and saw a group of men huddled in a dark circle, with a flame that kept leaping up from among them. Occasionally, the flame would die out only to be re-lit and tossed about again. A few minutes later, Jeff runs back to the truck stating, “I think I caught Craig’s beard on fire!”
As he explained they were tossing a lit, tennis ball soaked in lighter fluid. The key was to keep the ball moving around the circle as long as it would stay lit; kind of like hackey-sack, only with fire…and a little stupidity. Luckily, the children were at a safe distance eating snow and playing in the sub-zero temperatures.
The night ended with an amazing fire work display. I love fire works…they are my favorite. You can’t watch fire works without smiling. It is impossible. Try it. These were especially good and especially close. It felt like we were right under them. I didn’t realize how much I had missed a good firework show.
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday after Thanksgiving. I like Thanksgiving because it is all of the food and fellowship without the stress of presents. I like the Fourth of July because it is all of the food and explosives!
However, the Fourth of July is rather anticlimactic here because the sun never goes down, thus no fireworks (or ones that you can see, anyway). Kenai saves their display for the day after Thanksgiving and New Years. We will most definitely be back again. Leif has yet to stop talking about his fun day. Maybe, next time I’ll remember the hot cocoa and brave the elements like one of the crazy folks.
You know it is chilly when the poor dog's toy freezes up into a block of ice.
*Studded tires are siped, all-weather tires, covered in 200 1/8" steel, studs.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
You know winter is upon you when you have to put on the fleece-lined car seat cover. The high for yesterday was 9. I think we might break double digits today, though.
Nate is now among the mobile ankle biters. He is crawling! Backwards. He can really move across a room...just in reverse. If you give him lots of encouragement he will take a few paces forward, stop, and then go into a three point stance and try to stand up.
This is his preferred way of sucking his pacifier. Why stay with the status quo? Upside down, backwards...it's just the way he rolls.
He is also eating like a little bear. He loves carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, peaches, apple sauce, and pears. I noticed he was getting a little "yellow" around the gills, so I started trying to incorporate more green into his diet via some strained peas. Bless his heart, he gagged. I can't blame him. I don't like peas either! Mash them up and it makes them even more gross. I am going to try green beans today. Wish us luck!
Friday, November 13, 2009
Look closely and you can see the foot print...
The other night I was sitting in the recliner talking with my husband about the day’s events. As I glanced over at the end table between us I noticed a thin layer of dust in the lamp light. "Well," I thought, "another task to add to tomorrow’s list”.
However, as I listened to Jeff I noticed an impression in the dust. It was a foot print…a rather small foot print…and the toes were pointed toward the window. It dawned on me that it was our three-year-old, Leif’s foot print. Suddenly the irksome dust turned into a memory recording medium.
I considered how such a foot print could have been made. I remembered the previous day’s excitement at daddy’s arrival from work. Leif was in the kitchen playing as I prepared supper. Upon hearing our truck pull into the drive he ran into the living room and leaped up onto the end table to peer out of the window. Jeff opened the front door to Leif’s squeals of delight and a hearty, “Welcome home, Daddy!”
It is an awesome blessing to have a three year old to show me life through his perspective. At his eye level the world looks different. A daddy coming home is the equivalent to winning the Publisher’s Clearing House. The arrival of winter’s first snow, gives you a reason to dance. Time spent wrestling with your parents after dinner is better than a day at an amusement park. A bed-time story is more exciting than a trip to the movie theater. A bowl of ice cream is a complete escape, a new toy a marvelous delight. A kind word of encouragement is not only heard but it is taken to heart and recorded in the annals of his mind, and displayed in the ear to ear expression of emotion on his face.
Tubula Rasa…blank slate. We all start out this way. We come from our mother’s wombs meeting life with awe and wonder. Somewhere along the way we become jaded and affected. We are hurt and wounded by other’s words. We are tempted, enticed and lured away by our own desires. Where do those desires come from? We are not born with a sinful nature, yet as our exposure to this fallen world lengthens day by day, so does our aptitude to sin. Somewhat like the chances of skin cancer increase with every bad sunburn. Like the Roman writer so aptly says,
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Thanks be to Jesus. He had that three-year-old perspective of life and urged others to have it as well. He said that, “whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” It is by him and through him that we can regain this child like perspective. We can once again meet this life with awe and wonder.
Jeff reminds me often that God gave us parents to rear us and children to finish the job. I know he is right when I am taught such a beautiful lesson as this.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
His family was doing some winter supply shopping when I met him in front of a Walmart.
As he was scampering toward the store front I heard his mom say, “Leif, let’s skip!”
He turned his cute little face up and said, “I can’t.”
Thinking that she might instruct him on how to skip they stopped short, but Leif’s masculinity is already in place as he firmly replied, “Momma, boys run.”
After a chuckle I followed him into the store and we sat down at the McDonalds while his dad went to be fitted for glasses.
Dressed like a little Gap model, he was wearing hiking boots, blue cords, a hooded sweater and a lined green canvas vest with a ball cap perched on his cute little crew cut.
“May we get started?” I asked. “What do you normally eat for lunch?”
“I like ham, cheese, ginger, and eggs,” he responded.
“Oh, you are on the protein-ginger diet?” I ask.
Not gaining a response I pressed on with, “What is your favorite thing to eat these days?”
“Hamburgers!” he yelled. I guess that is why we are at a McDonalds. His mom says he is allowed a piece of crystallized ginger if he eats all of his lunch. He gets ginger in place of candy. He thinks it is a real treat evidently. I turn the conversation to something any kid would like to talk about: toys.
“Leif, tell me about your favorite toys,” I said.
“I like trains,” He states. “James, Percy and Thomas.” I thought he looked like a Thomas-the-train fan.
"Reading to Red"
“What is your favorite place to play?” I ask.
“Auden and Brahm’s,” he replies. I had heard that he was still close with his friend since the cradle, Auden Cress. A loyal friend, she is five months his senior and Brahm his junior just having turned two.
“Who is your best friend?” I ask.
“Jaylee,” He responds. When pressed as to why, he says that she reads to him and plays with him and his toys. Jaylee Poindexter, age 8 just spent two weeks with Leif. Her family came to Anchor Point to vacation and for her dad to teach a gospel meeting and preacher’s conference. I can tell they made a bond for life.
“Your mom tells me you are reading some words and love to have books read to you. What is your favorite book?” I ask next.
“Polar Express,” he replies. I spy a knowing grin on his mom’s face that says, ‘Yes, we read the Polar Express year round.’ This boy really is crazy about trains.
Seeing that Leif’s attention is waning, I bring the conversation around to the upcoming Halloween holiday. “If you could dress up as anyone or anything what would you be, Leif?” I ask.
He ponders this question for a moment and then confidently says, “Jesus!”
It is good to know his hero is the one and only Savior of the free world. His mom says that he actually is going to be a farmer and his little brother, Nate is going to dress up as an ear of corn. They have a friend’s party to attend and then will go to a neighbor’s house for dinner.
Leif and his mom graciously thanked me for the interview and departed. I told them the pleasure was all mine.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
On a walk home from the Firth's last week, we spotted this rainbow behind the antennas...what a beautiful reminder of God's promises.
Leif recently picked out this outfit, put it on all by himself and even buttoned his own buttons. He was so excited...and so was momma!
Nate and Jaylee Poindexter
Friday, September 11, 2009
For those of you that don’t know we lost our dog Link. Last fall while we were gone to Texas and Madagascar respectively, Link decided to heed the call of the wild. Interestingly, Link came into our lives seven years ago about the time I started asking to have children. Initially Jeff thought he could stave off the ticking of the biological clock by giving me a puppy to look after. Many years and two kids later, Link decided to leave. After a lengthy period of mourning we decided that it was time to get a new dog. This decision also came due in large part to Leif acting like a puppy. He started getting bowls out of the cabinet and asking for his juice to be put on the floor so he could lap it up. The first few times this was cute…then it got plain weird. He began talking about dogs and puppies incessantly. Things got so bad we had to cut him off from watching Clifford.
Danny and Gail Presley, our good friends knew we were looking for a dog. They have quite a menagerie themselves, made up of schnauzers, cows, horses, Australian shepherds, chickens, and a few cats. So, when Gail called me from Anchorage saying she had found us a dog I wasn’t as skeptical as I normally would have been. This is my first dog that someone else has picked out. She said over the phone that her daughter, who works at an animal shelter, had a four month old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix female. I asked Jeff what he thought and the next thing I knew we had dog being delivered via Danny’s airplane in a few days time.
As soon as Leif heard we were getting a dog he fell deathly silent and looked down at the floor. His dad didn’t know what to make of this. Leif looked up and had tears in his eyes as he said, “Really?” Then a grin the size of Alaska spread across his face. “That’s awesome!” he exclaimed. This of course made us cry as well.
Then the name game began. Leif wanted to name the dog Clifford when he overheard his daddy talking to Gail on the phone. Gail told us she was red, blonde and white. Leif heard ‘red’ and thought he was getting a big red dog that needed to be named Clifford. It took us a while to explain that our dog was going to be a girl and Clifford was a boy’s name. He then wanted to name the dog, ‘Auden’ after his best friend. It took some convincing but we finally settled on just plain, ‘Red’.
Red ended up being too big to fit in the plane so her arrival was delayed a few days, but when she finally arrived Leif was ecstatic. He brought her in the house and showed her around. After a few minutes of running and chasing, Leif stopped and breathlessly exclaimed to the dog, “Red, I wuuuuv you!”
She is a great dog. Aside from the normal jumping up, she is pretty gentle with the boys. Very smart and attentive…I think she speaks English. When kenneled she initially began to whine, so I told her, “Red, we aren’t going to whine.” She gave one last whimper and then stopped. The other night she began barking so I let her out. She was barking because she heard a new vehicle in the driveway. She stood guard on the front porch while looking out at Jeff in the plow truck. “That is your daddy, no need to bark,” I told her. She immediately settled down and started wagging her tail.
Like adding the perfect garnish to make a dish complete, so is having a dog for a young family. Red is just the garnish we needed to make life pleasant. Not to mention, she makes me feel less outnumbered.
Thursday, September 03, 2009
For those that know me well, know that I like to hunt. Since my career as a momma began, hunting has taken a short hiatus, except for the occasional evening dove hunt when in Texas. The main reason for the hiatus is due to the nature of hunting big game in Alaska. Here hunting moose typically involves a week at what people call “moose camp”. One gets to moose camp by many hours atop a four-wheeler or horse. This is quite impossible with an infant. However, who needs a week at moose camp with a 30.06 when you can easily off one with an F250?
Last night as I was driving home from the movies I noticed that it was the time of day when moose might be out. It was dusky dark (about 9:30 pm). Just as I flipped on my high beams I saw a wall of hide ahead of me. A large cow and her two yearling twins were crossing the road at a quick clip. I jammed on the brakes sending my bowl of left over popcorn flying (at the movie theater here you bring your own bowl and they fill it up for a dollar, needless to say you end up with ample left over popcorn). I swerved and missed the momma and the first calf. I nailed the third one square in the back right hind quarter. This yearling calf’s back was a few inches taller than the hood of our F250. Luckily the west Texas manufactured “cow catcher” of a grill saved both me and the truck.
I pulled over and looking into my rear view mirror noticed that the calf’s back was broken, but it was struggling to get up with its front legs. In a panic I called Jeff to see where the “truck pistol” was. Unfortunately, he had taken it out. He told me to call the troopers. When I called the troopers the dispatcher first asked if I was okay and then if the animal was still alive. I said ‘yes’ and that an angry looking cow was standing sentry by the road. I have heard of irate momma cows charging both man and vehicle in defense of a dying calf. I wasn’t about to get out of the truck alone. She asked if I could “dispatch the animal and drag it off of the road.” “Dispatch!” I thought… is she really asking me to shoot this calf? What kind of back woods crazy place do I live in?!!! As she is giving me instructions I look in the rearview mirror and the poor thing has finally expired. I tell her, “No need, it just died.” “Well, then please drag the moose off of the road, set a flare out and we will call the next person on the road kill list. What mile are you at?” she asks. “Here is your case number for you to fill out your participant accident form,” she informs me. I grab a napkin and write down the case number.
I hang up and notice I am shaking. How am I going to drag this 200 lb. “baby” off of the road I think to myself? About then I see car headlights approaching from the rear and the south bound lane. The car pulls up behind me and a lady about my age gets out. “You okay?” she asks. About then the other car has pulled over and a man is getting out. The gal informs me she is an EMT and he is a first responder. We get some rope and they drag the calf off the road while I get the flare. I slay my first moose and take off for home in a matter of minutes.
The very large pipe bumper and grill were completely bent back unto the hood of the truck, but the truck runs fine (I never get the courage to go over 45 mph) as I complete my journey home. The next day Jeff uses a neighbor’s bull dozer to put the bumper back in place. The only damage was a superficial 2 inch crinkle in the hood, some cracked plastic on the grill, and a serious decrease in the blood lust that once defined me. I don’t know if it is having two babies of my own or the fact that I annihilated a goofy yet beautiful animal with a two ton truck, but I cried the whole way home with only the conciliation of the momma having had twins.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The other night Jeff went to Kenai to pick up my dad and granddad from the airport. Unfortunately, their plane was delayed and they didn't end up getting into Kenai until 10:45 pm and Anchor Point until 12:20 am.
Generally speaking daddy is an essential ingredient to our bedtime routine. Typically we wind the evening down around 8:45 and end the day with what we call "home church". Home church began as practice runs for Leif to get the hang of sitting still at actual worship. What began as a teaching tool has now become an essential end to the day. We sing a few songs, read some scripture and then have a prayer. It isn't complicated, but it is really special. Leif occasionally gives us a sermon (as seen in the picture) and usually prays.
The night of craziness began during home church. Since dad wasn't around it was just Leif and I along with Nate. Being the multi-tasking mom that I am I was nursing while singing. Leif didn't like having my attention divided and began asking to nurse himself. I am sure there are many moms that have had a similar discussion with their three year old...this was my first. I tried distracting him with a story from his bible...that didn't work. I tried singing his favorite song...that didn't work. I offered chocolate milk...didn't work. He was becoming more insistent as I was becoming more exasperated. Finally, I told him that big boys with teeth get to chew gum and he could have a piece of gum right before bed. He thought that was pretty cool.
After a few minutes of minty chewing I finally got him into bed and went back to our living room to finish nursing. I hear Leif's door open and then the linen closet door open right outside his bedroom. "You get back in that bed!" I boomed back to the rear of the house. I didn't hear any more. Around 11 pm I went through the hallway to my bedroom and heard Leif still up. The little stinker had opened the linen closet door so that I couldn't see light coming from the crack in his door. I rush into his room and found a blood shot, bleary eyed three year old listlessly playing with toys on his bed. "I scited (excited) to see Pop Pop, momma," he said as I put him back to bed, turned off the light and waited another hour until Jeff returned with dad (aka Pop Pop) and granddad.
Well after midnight after everyone is settled in for the night I lay down next to Jeff and who do I hear, but Leif still awake. Jeff gets out of bed and goes to deal with the energizer bunny we have for a son. The next thing I hear is uproarious laughter coming from the next room. I run in and find Jeff bent over laughing as Leif is sitting on the edge of his bed with his palms upturned on his lap. I notice his hands are white and think, "what is going on..." as he lifts his red, blinking eyes upward. He has covered every exposed surface in Boudreaux's Butt Paste zinc oxide. He looks like a NYC street performer at the end of a very long day of miming. His hair is covered in white zinc oxide and poking out in all directions like Calvin ready for his school picture. His face, neck and hands are completely white. He looks at us with utter desperation and a look that says, "this stuff just won't rub in!"
All you can do in a situation such as this is laugh. He said, "Momma I need soap..." "Ya' think so, son?!!!" I wanted to say. Needless to say, we wiped him down and got him in bed around 1:30 am. The next morning he was exhausted but no worse for wear, and he finally got to see his Pop Pop.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
My gran used to say that if you were feeling down it was a good idea to take stock of your blessings. I am not feeling particularly down, but rather blessed. I thought I might share a few with you...
I am blessed to be the mother of two beautiful boys. I love raising them and training them. At times this can be a trialsome chore, but at the end of the day a true blessing.
I love being at home with them and participating in every facet of their lives. I am thankful my husband affords me this opportunity.
I am blessed to have a husband that is a great daddy. He loves being a father and considers it to be both a fun and high calling. He is so good at patiently teaching Leif. He loves to have Leif participate in what he is doing, whether it is fixing something around the house or an outside chore.
I am blessed by the many green tomatoes on the vine at my bedroom window. I have been working on these tomatoes since April. I believe we have eaten a total of ten. As you can see the vine is nearly to the ceiling. Here in Alaska home grown tomatoes are so difficult to grow Guy Clark might die of a stroke from a lack of lycopene if he had to live here. I can't wait to bite into number eleven!
I am blessed by family, both those adopted and bloodkin. Since the birth of the baby, we have had an influx of visitors. It is a real pleasure to entertain those that you love. My mom came for the birth and the following week, Jeff's parents after that for two weeks and then my sister for three weeks. My mom came again for a month and my dad and granddad are about to visit for two weeks. They say that in Alaska you have two seasons: Winter and Company.
I am blessed by Winter....just kidding. Actually, I do love winters here. The snow transforms our world into wonderland of fun and beauty. It will be neat to introduce Nate to snow. Leif loves riding the snow machine with his daddy, sledding and building snow men. I am looking forward to getting out the skis and exploring the muskegs.
Yesterday my mom was leaving after a month long stay. In an effort to send her off right, I made her a fancy halibut lunch. The recipe calls for marinating the halibut steaks in white wine and then dredging them in Italian bread crumbs. You place the breaded halibut in a casserole dish and schemer a yummy mixture of sour cream, butter, mayonnaise, scallions, garlic and cayenne pepper over the whole dish. Bake it and then serve it with angel hair pasta .... it tastes pretty good.
As I went to retrieve my large container of bread crumbs from the back of a lower cabinet (that is latched with a childproof latch), I was met with quite a surprise as I opened the container. Inside I had about two cups of bread crumbs with a small red and white bobber and a whiffle golf ball sitting on top. I couldn't help but laugh. How my three year old got into the "child proof" cabinet I will never know, but also quite remarkable is why he thought I needed a bobber and a whiffle golf ball?!
I love having boys! They are so awesome! This small gift reminded me yet again how much I have to be thankful for. Leif and Nate are growing like the beautiful fire weed that covers my back yard. Each day is filled with new discoveries as they blossom and grow. Just this morning we spent time at an imaginary pool made of blue blankets on the floor. Leif put his swim suit on over his sweats and grabbed his pool toys. After a while he grew tired of swimming and decided that his pool float was really a boat on the bay. He fished for salmon and halibut for over an hour (with yet another bobber fastened to an undone and partially limp balloon animal). Life doesn't get much better.