Friday, September 25, 2015

Gingey's Adventures on the Alcan

Slipping through the border

Burwash landing

Watson Lake signpost forest,
Can you spot "Gingey"?

Hopping a board for a ride...

Pioneer Ranch Camp's moose head....
Gingey is a sneaky little bread, popping up in the most unexpected places...we only wish we had more time to write... alas, you'll have to hear more about his adventures in a children's book to come....

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Gingerbread Has Arrived


The Alaskan Ginger Bread Being…
He smells so good...

Length:  10.5 inches

Weight:  a few ounces

Name:  Gingey Gerhardt

 Heralded by the first few snowflakes of the season, “Gingey” arrived fresh out of Grandma Lynn’s oven. 

He jumped right onto the oven door when we weren't looking...
Having spent weeks being formed in the imagination of our minds and hearts, he sprang into existence on our kitchen table. 

Snipping some pretty red ribbon...
Now it happened in this way….I raised my camera to capture the process of creation and my screen was dark and formless. 

The lens cap was still firmly snapped in place.

“Let there be light,” I shouted playfully.  And this is what I saw:

Yes, that's a square gingerbread in the background formed by none other than fireball himself
Other gingerbread’s were being made as well.  However we already had a plan and design for this particular gingerbread that lay in front of us.  It wasn’t because it was any better than the others or wasn’t equal.  I simply had a specific purpose in mind for it to fill. 

I traced around a large cookie cutter placed on the bottom of a cardboard box.  I picked up a pair of scissors and trimmed the edges.  My daughter became anxious about how much I was doing and wondered if I would remember my promise of allowing her to help.

I assured her, “Don’t worry, you can help. I need to do this part because the cardboard is difficult to turn and cut.  You may pick the buttons for his eyes,” I said. 

They were chosen.  My daughter began snipping bits of red ribbon for his mouth. 

“It seems rather stiff; maybe we should use yarn instead?” I questioned. 

It was clear however, that she wanted to use her own bits of ribbon and I helped her glue them to his face.  I tried to talk her into a nose, but she was sure that the gingerbread did not have a need for one.  She was right; it looked funny, so we skipped the nose. 

I turned my back for a second and suddenly heard the snap of a permanent marker lid.  Every mother knows that warning sound… and the familiar smell of danger.

I said, “Waaaiiiit!”  With marker hovering, she said, “BUT he’s MY gingerbread and you said I could help decorate.”

“Yes, I did say that you could help decorate, but no, he doesn’t belong to you.  This gingerbread creation is something Mama thought up and I’m giving you the honor of helping me.” 

Together we decided where to draw the buttons and how many.  She happily drew them in place.

The gingerbread looked simple, well rounded and tasty.  Everything a good Alaskan gingerbread man should be…

Yet as soon as he was taken from the oven he wanted to do things his own way.  He leaped off the pan.  He ran and hid all around Grandma Lynn’s house.
He felt at home here...another oven above the stone fireplace

Grandma Lynn gently lifting him down from his precarious perch...

It wasn't long before we found him trying the handle of the old-fashioned fridge...

He leapt up to the window before we could catch him...

Running across a bench at the table...

He made a flying leap to what he thought was a safe place... getting back to his roots
Soon he escaped out the front door where he hitched a ride back home with us.  We had to stop for a load of water on the way home like many Alaskans do… here he is helping.

I'll help hold the hose...
Just like stopping for gas, except a whole lot cheaper
I’m sure this tasty gingerbread won’t last long.  We must catch him first.  We’ve already heard his little chant, “Run, Run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m headed down the Alcan!”

We’ll be following his adventures and posting his guest story on our blog for the next few weeks.  Stay tuned for more, “Adventures with Gingey….”

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Handy Homeschooling Tips

Binders make great places to store art and school work...
 Earlier in August I had grand plans to start official school early.... I know because these photos were dated Aug. 5th.  Where did the time go?  And what is official school?  Perhaps I should just call it "work at the table time" because somehow that always feels official.  This year 2-year old sissy made her own binder because she wants to do "school" just like the big kids.
Indoor Recess gets creative...bowling with a giant package of paper towels...

Love all things "Melissa and Doug" brand..
 My Mother-in-Law sent a bunch of these sturdy plastic educational place mats up in a package this year and they are wonderful tools to use when teaching or reviewing numbers and skip counting.
End of the hallway "school" storage...
 Keeping all of your items clearly labeled really helps.  If you have toddlers in the house, put drawers up and out of reach.  Soooooo much less temptation and eaiser to put things back at eye level for older kids.
The central hub...
 So over the years I have found that keeping a whole lot of people working together is a full time job requiring management skills.  Other then trying to remember to laugh and smile more, a home management binder is a must.  I always have some sort of planner each year but this year I printed one off one for free at

I love having one binder to grab and go anywhere in the house and beyond and have everything at my fingertips.  I know, I should have a smart phone to do it all for me, but I'm a tactile learner and need to flip pages and write things with a real pencil and hear the sound.  It sounds like I'm getting something done other than just winning the "cleaner upper pick-up after everyone" award.

My Office in a Box
Did I blog about this already?  This has been so handy while living daily life with nursing baby, reading to little ones, putting out fires, etc.  I store my home management binder in here along with my Bible, a current book I'm reading, a magazine article, Thank-you cards to write, a blank notebook and pen, an advertisement or whatever is currently floating around and doesn't have a home... this could get dangerous.

So when I get a moment to nurse baby I grab one thing out of that basket to work on.  I always know that I have a place to store my planning calendar, ideas that pop into my head, Christmas list plans, things to write about, school goals for the kids, doctors and dentists numbers, etc.  It's just so handy and so small that it makes me feel that life is under control because it all fits into that tiny little box. 

So, the reality, of course is life is so huge and wonderful and amazing and scary all at the same time that I need to know it can all be put away and dealt with another time, perhaps tomorrow if it's getting to late, or the next hour after little ones are down for nap, or maybe in 20 min. after we go for a walk, or when I can think straight when other people are out for their walks.....

I posted a page here Overwhelmed Offices?  It's got a photo of our dry erase board and blank wall calendar.  Yes, I keep one calendar blank just so I can look at it and breathe....empty spaces make me feel like everything is going to be OK when life gets crazy.  I'm not sure why but I need to look at one nice calendar with nothing at all written in the squares.  It reminds me that life is wide open waiting to be filled and to be careful about what I fill it with.

I am trying to show how and not show off...this just works for me.  I try to glean from others and implement new ideas and strategies to running my home more efficiently.  Some days I feel like I've really got it together and other days.... WHAT AM I DOING? rings through my brain.

Then I remember I'm just walking the path God has set before me.  I don't walk alone.  When I rest in His peace I enjoy everything, even the business of being available to so many human souls at the same time.  When I fret and become impatient, I loose that joyfulness and become edgy and irritable.

Oh that I could stay teachable all my life... oh that my children would forever learn new things....and that through it all we could be tenderhearted, loving, and forgiving one another daily.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Color Me Birch Beautiful

Looking up hill towards the greenhouse...

Yellow leaved splendor...

Breathtaking, golden and lacy delicate

Our mini mountain view framed by birches...

Our trusty watchdog gazing out on yon birch forest..
I tried to capture the beauty of this birch wood forest that surrounds our home.  Impossible.  It was a perfectly cool and crisp day; the warmth of golden sunshine streaming through the trees.... I silently walked snapping a multitude of pictures. 

I worshipped my Creator who designed such splendor and beauty.  He is amazing.  The depth and layers and colors are beyond describing.  When the breezes gently swirled, the leaves fluttered upon the rocky driveway. 

I tried to remember the science behind why and how leaves change color but somehow it didn't matter anymore.  I didn't care as I was lost in this breathtaking beauty all around me. 

The moment is gone, it is now dark and late and my memory fails me once more... but the questions and curiosity remain... we will read and learn again about the amazing transformation of plants and animals when undergoing a seasonal change. 

There's a time for research and there's a time for rest.  I'm so glad there's time for both.
Moose Hunting Territory...

Many Hands Make Light Work

Bringing in the harvest...

Carrot anyone?
 Last week we drove out to help our friends with harvesting some of their garden and butchering 12 of their chickens.  They are real Alaskan homesteaders and have an amazing story of how they met and have worked their land.  They even have an underground barn for their goats.  They are producing an incredible amount of food off their land as well.

Dunk, dip, and throw on the Barbeque...
 Just a joke... the barbeque happened to be in the picture and was not really used at all that day. 
Biology class 101...

Homesteading Mama with an iron stomach...

Finally... the last chicken!
What a joy to be able to work and help one another out.  In return they filled up the back of our suburban with garden produce and fresh meat.  It was such a good experience for all of us to spend a day with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. 

When we get to know one another outside of the church setting it helps us to understand and appreciate one another.  It helps us to see what life is like in someone else's shoes.  It helps us to know how to uphold one another in prayer.  It builds friendships and makes memories and grows our faith in the Lord.  What a wonderful blessing to be part of the body of Jesus Christ here on earth!

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Gingerbread Man Travels the Alcan

Would you like a copy of our story?  We’ll be traveling the Alcan for the umpteenth time in a few weeks… yes, we’re taking the Gingerbread Man with us on our adventure along with all seven children.  Hopefully we’ll live to tell about it. 

If you’d like to read our self-published children’s book (unless we can find a publisher crazy enough or willing to take us on) guaranteed to be filled with fun, laughter, probably a few tears and great photos of our trip down the Alaskan-Canadian highway, reserve your copy today…

Why the Gingerbread Man?  He’s cute, he’s edible, and he doesn’t take up much space…

How shall we bake him? And with what ingredients shall he be created? And where will we bake him?  Will he really come alive and can we talk him into coming with us?  These are questions which we hope to answer in the coming weeks and post his birth or should we say, Bake Announcement, online. 

 We hope to fund this trip in this lighthearted way as well as give you something in return, our story in book form.  Is anyone interested?  Tell your friends and have them tell their friends.  Some of you will be in this book depending on where you live along the way and whether or not I can talk you into permission to photograph.
More to come...


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ode to Fireball

A rare quiet moment for "Fireball"
I went to the grocery store today with my 5 1/2 year old little boy, lovingly nicknamed "fireball".  I'd never considered the grocery store an adventurous place.... until today.  Sure glad I had on my high top leather hiking boots. Are "high tops" still a word today? 

Anyways,  it saved my ankle from being broken... just my calf was smashed, yes by the grocery cart driven by my dear boy.  The only thing I remember him saying after he rammed the back of my leg was, "THAT was scary." 

No, he didn't say "excuse me, I'm so sorry, are you O.K.?"  He didn't really even feel that bad about it... but he never did it again and the entire rest of the trip he insisted he be right beside me instead.  Safer for the both of us. 

It didn't stop him from doing wheelies, luckily BEFORE the eggs were put in.  It didn't stop him from swerving sideways, or skidding to a halt.  When he jerked the front to see what would happen and the only thing that fell were the bottles of milk, he was satisfied. 

I'm not sure why a little boy must know the answer to the law of "for every action there's an opposite and equal reaction."  BUT  he tests it everyday!  Surely once or twice is enough?

He is such a unique individual!  I love him for being him. 

I honestly had the most memorable and fun shopping trip of my life, ever, with this little boy of mine.  I'm beginning to understand that he's much happier being in charge of something, such as a grocery cart.  He enjoyed finding things to put in the cart to help me out. 

You might be wondering why I allowed him to push the cart in the first place?  I had wee little baby brother in my arms.  He doesn't like his car seat and rarely falls asleep in it.  So I explained to fireball that he had an important job to do and he did it.  I could tell he felt very proud to be depended upon in this way.

When we finally made it alive to the front of the checkout lane, he loaded up all my groceries without being asked twice and I had the nicest visit with a new Mom right behind me. 

Oh, I remember the days... looking back at those little baby pictures of my fireball, just tonight and realizing that I had NO IDEA what was coming.  How does God do it?  How is it possible to wrap up such might and power in a little package?

After my grocery trip adventure, we were driving home and out of the blue, fireball who's sitting right beside me in the front of the suburban says, "Mama.... you're a good Mama."  Oh, my heart sang!  No reward could have been sweeter. 

I'm learning to cherish each of my children for the way God created them.  He does have a plan, purpose and design in mind for them.  I'm his handpicked woman for the job.  As much as we feel like we fail and as many times as we feel successful, it comes with the job.  It means we're human and we're parents. 

"Fireball.... you're a good fireball and I love you." 

Why did the moose cross the road?

Why did the Moose cross the road?.
Does anyone have an answer for this?  Leave me a note in the comments if you do...  The only thing we could think of was that the fireweed is more purple on the other side?

On our way to friends house this moose trotted across the road in front of us.  We spent a long weekend visiting friends and helping out with their building projects.... Building Alaskan Home from Scratch
This is NOT our friends home from scratch....
This is our friends other work project....  they were able to jointly acquire the above home after it sat some time vacant.  The previous owners built it and the roof caved in under the snow load not to mention a whole lot of other things that went wrong... you can read about it here Collapse of Alaskan Home 

As we hiked around it and through it looking at all the debris I couldn't help but think of the Bible verse about a "House divided will not stand."  The mother had left in a hurry with her children, there was still a jar of peanut butter on the counter and dishes in the sink.  All her household food storage sat in containers on shelves and their food supply for a year remained. 

Videos, books, kids drawings lay strewn about, including photo's, clothes, toiletries, dishes, and games.  It was so eerie to realize that everything we lay up for ourselves is just that.  It's just stuff.  It's also who we are and who we aspire to be.  BUT  we do leave it all behind.  This mother just had enough one day and walked away from it all.

It is sad but understandable.  Sometimes we can build empires around ourselves.... we have some great ideals and wonderful aspirations.  However, our dreams can also lead us astray.  Leading self sufficient lives can be lonely.  We can do it all and be left feeling very empty.  There is no such thing as perfect living and we were meant to live together, in fellowship with the body of Jesus Christ, his Church.  So, let's remember in this day and age to get together and help one another, encourage one another, and hold one another up in prayer, all the more as we see the Day approaching of the Lord's return.