Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas At Last!

The children's favorite part of Christmas morning is opening their stockings.

Daddy got a Bible this Christmas to replace his duct tapped one.


Dining princes! 
(Yes, our littlest boy got a doll for Christmas from his older sister.)

"Room shoes" from our friends, Kunami, Hayate, and Riku who live in Japan!

Little ones inspecting their new "room shoes" quite closely!
 The children were so excited to receive a package all the way from Japan and having met this family personally and had them over for a meal and card games while living in Oregon has been the best experience.  The little boys were so lively and the Mother so sweet and we had fun playing with them in the cul-de-sac and backyard play structure.  Even though it happened years ago, all my children, except the "aka chung" remember.  Kunami taught us a few words of Japanese and I always remember that "aka chung" means red faced one, or baby.  I'm not sure if I am spelling it right....  We still have a box that she made to teach us the letter sounds.  We'll never part with it because it reminds us of that special family.
First attempt to dress himself without help...
I know this photo doesn't really fit the Christmas theme but I snapped it this morning as it was so cute!

How to Chop down a Christmas Tree

First you go on a hike in your backyard...

After locating, take some before and after shots...

Chop high in order to attain the most bushy part of the scrawny Spruce Tree...

Chop at two different angles....

Give the tree a gentle push...

Christmas tree conquered!

A Job well done!

Don't forget to take your hound dog for protection from wild animals!

The face of a snow digging dog!
My twelve-year old son and nine-year old daughter chose our Christmas tree this year.  It took longer to find and agree on which tree than the actual chopping down part.  They hauled it in and set it up and all the children decorated it with past ornaments they had made and a few store bought ones too. 

Such fun and all I had to do was sit back and observe with joy the teamwork in which my children operate together.  It's truly amazing!  I'm so blessed to have the joy of the Lord in my home surrounding my family. 

We love to be together and I'm just realizing that the point of homeschooling is about the richness of relationships.  We have all day, every day to enjoy one an other's company.  We teach our children, as parents, right from wrong.  We teach proper from improper.  We make judgement calls all day long for the good of them and for the glory of God.  In it, we lose our self centeredness.

It is very difficult to remain selfish when surrounded by such noble duties as diaper changing, potty training, cooking three meals a day, cleaning a home, organizing a schedule, handing out chores, teaching obedience, training in character, taking excursions to the emergency room in subzero temperatures, with snow falling at night, taking a once a week trip to town to do all the shopping with all the little ones in tow and not eating dinner until we get home, staying up late and getting up early and sometimes being awake every few hours at night when someone is sick, cleaning the house, minus the toilet, that is. 

The list could go on and on...  It is still possible to be selfish even amongst all these noble duties, that require patience and rest.  The moments and days that I practice the habit of having a thankful, joyful attitude I soar!  The days that I choose to practice a "poor me, I have it so hard attitude," I am frustrated.  Why would I ever choose the "poor me" attitude?  It's self centered.  So easy to do and it's the default mode.  Practicing thankfulness and joy is a sacrifice and is effort.  However, the more I practice, the easier it gets!  Sleep helps tremendously!  So does a good healthy diet of real food and spiritual food in the form of Scripture.  And let us not forget to cover it all in prayer all the time! 

Did I leave out exercise?  That's hard to do in freezing cold temperatures but let's not forget the value of climbing steep stairs and running through the house and around and around the living room... possibly not mannerly, but of extreme importance to maintain sanity!

Surely, I neglected to also mention chocolate and caffeine, the two main reasons to save the planet...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Tea in Subzero Temperatures

Contemplating the joys of tea...

Learning the art of pinky lifting...

I do it too!

What a good boy I am!

I'm a lady too!
It's actually been quite warm, for Fairbanks, Alaska.  It has been above zero for almost a whole week!  It actually feels rather balmy out compared to almost minus 40! 

This is our first official tea party with Great Grandma's and Great Auntie's teacups since we've arrived in Alaska.   I know I can hear some of you shaking your heads about letting little ones use such antiques but it is only once in a great while and they try to be so careful and important as they value such delicate pieces of china.  We did give Baby a modern cup, just in case.  Glad we did, as he tipped it upside down upon his head and laughed in glee!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Smiling Faces, Snowy Places

Big sissy reading...

Almost a white out!

Not white enough!

Thinking Outside the Box for an Eternity

Shape sorting in a profitable way...

Problem solving in a real world...

The Gerhardt Family Preschool
I post these pictures as proof that thinking outside the box has its benefits....  We had a wonderful time occupying our pre-readers by sorting out two messy drawers.  It kept their attention for at least a full 20 minutes which is a long time for a three year old and baby brother.  Enough time for the older children to finish their math in semi quietness....  My 22 month old boy sorted and stacked an entire tea box full of post it notes!  We sorted miscellaneous clothespins, note cards, rulers, pencils, tape, tacks, paper clips, etc.  We had a blast!

Let's not limit what our children can do to help!  When we work, so should they.  When they are ready for a break, we should take one too!  We enjoy every moment we get to spend teaching and training them as we walk, as we rise up, as we rest, just like the Old Testament says!  It doesn't say it is always easy.  It doesn't say we will always like it.  It does say it is the right way to train children.  It never says to give them up to a humanistic system for the better part of their days as they become educated and immersed in another way of thinking, contrary to Scripture.  Homeschooling is difficult and not for the faint of heart.  Being obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in the 21st Century is not easy but so rewarding.  My life here on earth is so short in comparison with eternity.  When my sights are lifted to the face of Jesus, I can do anything with the strength that He provides.  When my eyes look downward at my surroundings, I freak out.  I drown in fear and confusion just like Peter sinking in the waves.  

Christianity is real.  Jesus Christ is really God.  Hell exists.  God's wrath is eminent.  His forgiveness stands.  How do I know? 

Do I need an archaeologist to prove it?  No.  Do I need the evidence of a scientist?  No.  Do I need permission from the government?  No.  Do I need the advice of the medical field?  No.  What do I need to prove that my faith is real along with millions of other lives, past and present that have also believed?

I stand.  Even if I am alone, I stand.  In the wake of bitterness, hurt, frustration, exhaustion, loneliness, and whatever other negative pressures and feelings surrounding me, I stand.  Not by my own will, but His alone.  Not only am I standing, I am peaceful.  I am happy.  I am able to forgive and be forgiven.  I rejoice in everything, even hardship.  I am running this race to the finish line.  Forgive me if I do not glance in your direction, I am using every last ounce of my strength to finish well, and finish strong.  All of my being strains as I see the line in my sight...

A Carrot Eating Dog and Children Hard at Work

How many more do I have to peel?

Not a peel goes to waste...
 We made homemade pizza last night, like every Friday night.  Everybody pitches in... even little Elsie peeling carrots with the help of big brother and his hound dog.  Our other children chop pineapple, slice olives, decorate the pizza, etc.  The hardest part is waiting for the pizza's to cook.

After pizza we clean up and everyone brings their sleeping bag and pillow to the living room for a sleepover and a family movie.  My kids really look forward to this evening of fun at the end of their work week. 

With a big family to feed and educate and clean up after, it truly is a work week for all involved, even the wee little ones.  My children are very happy with work and usually look forward to learning and love to just be together as a family.  They fight on occasion, they grumble once in awhile, but for the most part they have learned their duties and pitch in to help.  I am so blessed to have all five of them in my keeping and care.  I am thankful to the Lord that He has chosen me to Mother his precious little ones.  What an honor regardless of what others may say!
The guinea pigs GREEN jungle...
Why is this picture in here?  The little ones thought they'd help feed sister's guinea pigs and dumped a huge sack of lettuce.... HELPING, as they say.... it was so funny because everyone was so busy helping and hard at work and everyone benefited, even the wee pigs!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Joys of Thanksgiving

Putting the extra leaf in the table...

Building a choo choo train with the chairs...

A feast with family and friends...

Bible, prayer, and sharing of thanks...
 Thanks giving was commanded in the Old Testament... it is still a command from the New Testament  to:  ..."in all things, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus...."  The pilgrims were just obeying the commands of their God as we obey the commands of the same God today.  It's just pretty neat that we have a legal holiday set aside just in case we forget!  I'm thinking that every month we should celebrate because we do forget rather quickly to be thankful in everything!
A trip outside at more than minus 20 to get some sledding in...

The day after Thanksgiving sale of flannel fabric...
 The older girls and I braved Black Friday at Jo-Ann's Fabric and came home with three bolts of flannel and then some.  They were selling an entire bolt for $12.00.  Everyone is getting new flannel clothing for Christmas.  Baby decided it made a great nest to nap in...
This is where I'll nap today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Alaskan Entertainment

Icicle burglar

Showing off the prize!

Enjoying the noonday sun

Mama's Alaskan Head Gear

Baby's head gear:  sister's swim goggles

Peeling logs with a draw knife

This is hard work!

It takes two to hold the log down... thanks sister!
The winter is really here with close to a foot of snow and sub zero temperatures... we still go outside, it's just that we don't last as long on the really cold days.  The sun just peeps through the trees now.  It gets light around 9:00ish in the morning and gets dark around 4:30ish.  Already the sun seems far away...

Monday, November 7, 2011

Reach for the Globe!

Why do we say, "reach for the stars" when we all know good and well that we never will!  Anyone else out there tired of reaching for the unreachable stars?  I sure am.  I'm just going to settle for enjoying the view and getting on with enjoying my life here on the planet Earth.  Don't get me wrong, now, it's great to be reaching and growing and striving for positive change.... it's just that we can't get obsessed with it and miss the point of just enjoying the moment.  Every moment we have with each other as human beings should be cherished!  Don't wait for the dream vacation or the trip to the zoo or a fancy date to start enjoying one another.  Enjoy one another as you do the dishes and as you clean up and as you walk along the road and as you rise up and so forth in daily work and daily play and daily life....  How wonderful and fun and exciting life could really be if we just simply embraced all the  moments that we had with one another.  Even the hard ones, the lonely ones, the tired ones, the trying ones, the ones that maybe we'd like to forget...  well, I'm on another rabbit trail...

Back to questioning the wisdom of the phrase, "reach for the stars"...
I say, the stars reach us!  The light from the closest stars you see left four years ago to get to your eye.  I have great news!  No more reaching for the stars!  They come to you!  And even more amazing then this is that God created the stars on the fourth day of creation, fully functional!  Fully able to penetrate how ever many light years away in one breath!  How could the earth possibly have been created in six literal days?  How could the entire Universe run and function on such exact laws that nothing runs amiss?  How could man not see the power and might of His loving Creator displayed in such detail in these last days with all the technology at his disposal?!  How is it that we miss so much yet have so many answers?   

Every new home school year brings a new verse on which I must focus.  This year it is found in Joshua 1:9 and says, "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest."  There is no where that man goes that God has not been there already!  I love it! 

Give up reaching for the stars and GO FOR THE GLOBE!  Everyone needs to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ...  the work is done!  Spread the news.  We don't have to be good.  We don't have to earn God's favor.  Jesus death, shed blood, and resurrection is enough.  We are co-heirs with Jesus.  This is awesome and worth shouting from the mountaintops or from my computer if that's all I've got.

Good Thing We Like Snow!

Viewing the driveway from just off the front deck...
 P.S.  Don't ever take a road trip through Northern B.C. , The Yukon Territory or Alaska during the month of October!  We made it, frozen pillows and blankets stuck to the windows!  The front cab of the pickup was toasty but the camper was basically an overgrown ice cube!  At one point, for several hours nearing the Alaskan border, we had the heater turned up all the way to 90 degrees and it was still so cold that you could see your breath!  We had the best fun anyway!  I played a game of battleship with my 12 year old son that I'll never forget!  Sailing over frost heaves in the road while trying to get our numb fingers to push in the travel size pegs was hilarious!  We haven't laughed that long and that much in a long time.  It did help that we had chocolate handy as well!  So by the time we made it home, we were so happy to be just HOME!!!  We made it in five days from Monmouth, Oregon.  By the time we got home, the entire plumbing system was completely frozen.  It's a long story, better told by my husband...
Can you see me Mommy?

How long am I going to have to pose?

Anyone for a ride?
It is beautiful out today!  It's been snowing steady for the past day and night.  This morning we measured the snow.  Six inches!  It's so light and fluffy, almost like sand.  The kids are loving it!  I take the two littlest ones out everyday for 30 minutes to an hour if it's not to cold.  Usually baby gets towed around, much to his delight, by his three year old sister who enjoys it as well.  The older kids last much longer and go out any chance they can.  I know the excitement of fresh snow will eventually wear off around January and February...  but until then, it is great fun! 

Everything is so soft and pure and quiet.  There's hardly a breath of breeze and every tree and bush is covered in puffy white.   Even the night snow is gorgeous!  Daddy put in a motion sensor light a few days ago off the back porch.  It is a wonderful sight to see the diamond like snowflakes gently swirling to the ground.  You could just imagine as you look up against the black night sky that it's diamond dust, a little chilly that is, being sprinkled down all over you.