Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tis the Month for Moose!

Look at those children through the window!
I'm just a curious little baby moose...

Who's in back of me taking pictures, I wonder?

My, but these branches are good...

Look at the frost on my eyelashes, well, at least I think I have eyelashes,
 I could be wrong, but they sure look like that to me.

Am I related to the horse in any possible way?

The ever watchful eye of the Mama moose just across the way.
Can you believe it?!  Another mama and baby moose came by the cabin today!  They didn't stay near as long as the other week, but made their appearance none the less.  It's only minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit today and the sun is out!  We feel that spring is coming.... possibly not until the end of April, but after a lot of dark cold days it really does feel like spring, as crazy at that sounds.  I hope people are not getting tired of all these moose pictures....

Saturday, January 28, 2012

40 Below Wintertime Activities

Ready, aim, fire and watch out for the jumping dog!

Rubber bands, sticks and an arrow are all you need to make a crossbow.

Checking the tension...
What do people do at 40 below when outside activity is severely restricted?  They make things like crossbows and dig into the pot and pan cupboard of course!
Soup anyone?

Mama's cutie pie

Last night, upon turning my back in the kitchen for a brief few minutes, my two-year old had cleaned out the entire pot and pan cupboard! I had the best soup ladled into my hands and tasted quite a few wonderful entrees from such a wee one. Then big sister came in and they really went to town cooking up all sorts of lovely dishes. It enabled me to finish some kitchen chores, as well as being able to hand out two damp clothes in which to dust the crumbs out of the empty cupboard. They didn't even know they were working! This activity kept them busy for at least 30 minutes and when they were done, they put everything away neatly and clean to boot!

Preschoolers just need to be occupied. They really like to sort and clean.  We should make good use out of these curiosities and make some great memories while we're at it.
Trying on Arctic "bunny boots" for size
 The girls have recently decided to start a pillow making business.  They made a cart load of pillows in such a short amount of time, that we had to put a cap on the output!
How much more will fit?

I love sewing!
 Wintertime is the time we sew.  When I went up to the cabin loft I found all three girls busy.  The older two even had a place all set up for the youngest, who is now four.  She was busy poking stuffing in a pillowcase for them.  Everyone was happily creating in their free time.
Be careful with that socket Daddy!
Daddy and son, going about their typical after hour job of more remodeling.  Don't worry, this picture was posed.  A few minutes earlier, however, was another story.... I was in the kitchen and heard a loud thud.  Whenever I hear these noises and know my husband is working on something, I try to stay calm and then say, "Is everything all right?"  I judge by how he says, "Yep!"  If it sounds strained and airy I come running.  If it's spoken with the normal nonchalant and confident firmness I go about my business.   Nothing like a good dose of electricity to speed up the heart and finish the job.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Subzero Heating Tips

Cabin Sweet Cabin
Exhaust from our Stove coming from a small hole in the side of the cabin
Under the eaves the moisture collects...
Major heat loss collecting under neath the outside beam
Do you feel like you're in an ice cave yet?
Winter stalactites and stalagmites from a hole in the eaves where two roofs join
Our water supply with heat trace tape
Notice how well insulated the lowly outhouse is? It has no heat.
Someone asked how we heat our home in Winter up here.  It inspired me to post this blog.  It's a challenge to find ways to better insulate our cabin.  Even a pin sized hole lets in an amazing amount of cold.  When it is really cold, like minus 35 or 40F the locks and doorhandles will transfer frost through to the inside.  Little circles of frost come through on the screws of any electrical outlets located on outside walls.  The inside of our log cabin has thick sheets of blue Styrofoam with pine boards over the top.  There is also a small amount of insulation between every log as well. We don't need to decorate with spray snow in our windows because we get the real thing! 

We heat our cabin with a Toyo Stove which runs on a #1 grade diesel fuel oil delivered by the fuel truck once a month. We also heat with a plug in oil filled heater in the Kitchen and upstairs in the kids room. Our wintertime fuel bill is around $300 and our electric bill last month was $400.

We are always finding places to poke in more insulation and always have a can of spray foam handy.  The first winter I had frost on one of my inside cupboards in the kitchen that was on an outside wall.  Spray foam works great for those places that are hard to reach.  We recently added a dryer, praise God for that, I'll never take for granted being able to do laundry at home!  However, when we opened part of a wall in order to check the main electric wire from outside to inside, it was encased in an inch of frost inside the wall.  My husband wrapped it in insulation.  The cold travels right in on anything metal.  Even our dryer vent has to be plugged with insulation when it is not in use.  If a load gets done and I forget to take it out, it freezes. 

There are so many little things to think of in this cold weather.  Our water supply has to be heated and plumbed in through the middle of the ceiling and never an outside wall.  Even the bathtub drain line has to have heat tape wrapped around it.  Speaking of our drain line, that also is encased in spray foam.  Heat tape is described by my husband as, "an electrical current converted to heat energy encased in a rubber or metal housing.  Plug it into a 110 and it heats up!"

One last tip, never, never touch the outside door knob with a wet hand!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Third Day Baby and Mama Moose Out the Window!!!

Can you spot the two moose?
Mama wants to leave, baby is curious and wants to stay.
How tall can this moose reach?

9 feet into the branches where the moose was reaching to eat...

Measuring the clothes line at 5 feet...
 It's hard to capture the greatness and heigth of the moose.  We decided to go out and take measurements after they were gone.  This mama moose must have been over 7 feet tall!  The window of our cabin is not at ground level.  We are up about 5 or 6 feet off the ground on that side, so the clothesline and moose picture is taken at that angle.  It is just so amazing standing out there where that moose stood, realizing how big it was!  We were so excited we were shaking.  I could never be a hunter.  I would never be able to be still enough to take aim.  This is our third day in a row of having moose wander through our property!  They hang out for three or four days at a time when they pass through our neck of the woods.  We are so blessed to have seen and experienced this!
In my excitement to take pictures and chase moose, I can't find my other glove...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mama Moose pays a Visit

Have you seen my baby moose?
 Yesterday we saw the baby, today my oldest son spotted what we're sure is the Mother.  You can tell  not only by the fact that she's more than twice the size of her baby, but she has no extra fuzzy fur on her neck.  Scroll down to see a closer picture of the hair tuft under her chin too.  The baby doesn't have this either.  It is so hard to capture the size of these magnificent animals.  I am more than twice the distance from her than I was from her baby yesterday so she doesn't really appear that big in comparison, but they stand as tall as a pickup truck.  They are as wide as a fat cow but taller like a horse.  The mother was much more wary than her baby.  She kept looking at us and didn't stay too long and really kept her distance from our property and dog.  There's a reason Mother's have earned the right to tell their children what to do... they have the experience of having lived life much longer and have seen the dangers they want to prevent in their own children's lives.  There's a great analogy here.
We're so glad we're this far away from the Mama Moose....

Look under my chin and you'll see a long tuft of hair.

What the rest of the children do when Mom's out hunting for moose pictures...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Moose in our Front Yard!

Nothing like a crunchy twig in the middle of Winter... yum, yum
I'm just a baby moose looking for food.
I wish this dog would quit yapping at me.
I wish this moose would get out of my territory.
O.K.  You win.  You are just to big and don't even notice me!
Look at this fuzzy fur!

I'm going to lunge at the yapping dog in exactly 0.5 seconds...

Please don't go, don't you want to play?
We had quite the excitement today, with a baby moose in our yard!  They are the size of a horse even though they really are just a baby.  They are not afraid of anything, unlike deer.  We were out on the deck snapping pictures, hollering and whistling at our barking dog and the moose didn't even care.  It just kept on munching and meandering through our front and side yard and then out to the back forest.  It lunged twice at the dog out of annoyance, or at least it appeared that way to us.  The dog finally quit barking when he realized it wasn't  doing very much.  It's minus 18 F today and I was worried about the camera freezing up.  We snapped 50 some pictures and are just in awe of this creature that God made...

I was recently mocked about my beliefs in the Bible and the account of Noah's flood.  I'm getting used to being mocked, by the way, and it really isn't so bad.  I'm feeling a bit like that Baby Moose I guess.   I know how God made me and why He made me and I understand what my role in society is.  I don't have to fear the barking dogs...

Anyhow, back to the account of Noah:  As a creationist, I believe it was possible that all of the existing animals did fit on that ark.  Like kinds come from like kinds.  Anyone who has studied about the genetic code knows how much information and how many possible variations within like kinds exist!  It's amazing.  Just study this moose and tell me if you cannot help making comparisons to the horse or the donkey or other such creatures designed by the same Maker.  It's so incredible to realize that thousands of years ago during the flood of Noah, there in the animals of the ark, lay enough genetic information to produce all the variations and adaptions we see today. 

But don't get me started on this, I'll be typing all day.  Enjoy the moose pictures and bring your praises to the right place:  The Throne of God and the Creator of the Universe Himself.  Do you realize you have the ability through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to be able to even come to God in this way?  Completely crazy to some, and wonderfully amazing to others!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Harvesting Snow

Big Sister brings in two mini mugs of snow...

My lips are cold...
There isn't much to harvest in the Winter months up here other than snow, snow, and more snow.  We saw a Mama Moose and her baby eating twigs along side of the road a few days ago.  This is their Winter diet.  The rabbits gnaw on twigs as well.  We, on the other hand, have wonderful city sized grocery stores to buy our produce from!  The greens are looking so green these days!  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Enlarged Heart for the New Year

The Sun at 12:00 noon in December 2011, taken from my deck. 
This is as high as the sun gets in December.
"I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." Psalm 119:32

Our hearts have been enlarged this past year and a half.  We've been through some very trying times learning to survive the hardships of a severe climate and a new community after a strange move.  We have been challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Spiritually we have soared.  We've come together as a family should and functioned like a team.  We have come to an understanding that every one of us in this little Gerhardt family unit is valuable.  Each one, even the littlest, is of extreme importance in making this family work, and function, and love and laugh and live together in victory.  It's so amazing and so imperfect and so wildly crazy at times, but in our weakness, God shows himself so strong!  His power to love and forgive and work with us over and over and over again is beyond reason!

We stand here now, with our hearts thoroughly enlarged for the work that God has been preparing us to do in Fairbanks, Alaska.  I never would have chose this city or location.  All my precious extended family lives in the beautiful lush and prosperous Willamette Valley:  Enjoying fresh fruit year round and each other's wonderful company, I might add.

I'm a country girl that despises city life.  I don't like life in the fast lane and the only shopping I really like to do involves the grocery, fabric, and second hand store when necessary.  I don't like anything that a city has to offer besides the convenience of ready to eat chocolate and fresh produce in the middle of Winter.  I like being at home with my family and neighbors; except that my neighbors in Fairbanks want to be left alone.  My home is not exactly a comforting place and I now go to the city several times a week.  I fight traffic and hoards of people in the grocery store and long lines at the post office and every where else I go.  I am not anywhere near my dream location.  (Which doesn't even exist now, I might add.) 

SO what am I doing here?  I'm here because God has placed a burden equally on not only my husbands shoulders, but my own.  Fairbanks has many hurting people dwelling in it without Jesus Christ.  Fairbanks has 21 public elementary schools and the surrounding population is 80,000.  There is not one club in any of the schools.  There is not any club well established that operates year round with full support from community and churches.  Many people aren't even aware of C.E.F. and what it can do for its community. 

There's a huge military presence due to several large bases and much of the population comes and goes.  For the population that does remain, life is difficult.  Winter's are long, there's a lot of tiredness, and depression.  People here need to live for something greater then themselves and their own desires.  Little children are fast growing up without hearing the gospel, let alone a Bible story and applicable lesson to their daily life.  The need here is so great! 

Pray with Mike and I and our family that God would use us and those around us and the local committee to really pull together as a team and get the work growing and useful to this community.  Our vision is to see the work of CEF thrive, not just barely survive.  It's possible with a united team effort.  We need families to catch the vision of ministering to other families.  We need to wake up and use our resources diligently and with discipline because time is short.  Each of us has been given something.  I often feel inadequate because I do not bring in an income.  However, I can write.  I can host, yes, even with a lowly outhouse and unfinished cabin.  I can pray.  I can encourage.  I can e-mail, make phone calls, and write more letter's to the editor.   First and foremost, I must be noble and right in my duties as Wife and Mother before I can attempt anything else.  I don't have to be perfect, thank the LORD!  I just need to be committed and do my best at these things that God sets in my path. 

What a long written piece.... it's my enlarged heart.  I lay it open, because I want people to see the truth about where I'm at.  I hope to inspire others to get involved with CEF because it's so simple and easy to do and the need here in Fairbanks is so great.

I know a lot of people are reading this who don't live in Fairbanks.  Perhaps there's a local CEF work that you could get involved in.  They need you and your family to get the job done.  It's time we pull together to reach children that may not hear about Jesus any other way!

This is my prayer and hope for the new Year.  It's big, but not impossible.  We just need to take the next logical step of obedience.  Who walks with me?  Do I walk alone?  Sometimes.  Do I get carried in the arms of Jesus?  Yes, all the time.  Why would I want it any other way? 

Hop in, if you're not already there.  Jesus' arms are for eternity and His strength never ends and His love never subsides and His forgiveness is all powerful and lasts forever.  Why not let him be your all in all today?