Last night we were up, up, up with this little man.  
He's teething. And screaming.  
I'm whining. And yawning. 
Together we are quite the pair.

But I am pressing ever onward.  Starting this morning with school for the twins.  They are learning so much, I am nearly moved to tears each day during our academic time.  

They are reading letters on cereal boxes and asking how to spell things so they can label their drawings.  They have mastered colors and shapes, and after we finish up the alphabet (we are on V!) we will concentrate on letter sounds.  I'd also like to introduce patterns. And some sight words.

I'm just so excited, dang it! I have a list a mile long of exciting new concepts and topics I want to teach them.  In fact, we used some of Josh's collected Scholastic points (bonus of being a teacher!) to buy books on geology, planets and an entire calendar packet (days, weeks, months) that I can't wait to use!

Imagining next school year, complete with calendar time and separate periods for different subjects, makes me about as happy as buying new school supplies!!!

This morning when it was just Wyatt with me downstairs I happened on Joyce Meyer's Enjoying Everyday Life. I watched for just a few minutes, and I swear she was talking to me.  She talked about duty. About our everyday duties. She said you don't always want to do those duties, or feel appreciated once you've done them, but they are yours to carry out.  

It really hit home for me.  My life as a stay-at-home mom can easily become monotonous, and I don't always want to carry out the duties that are mine to complete.  But if I can own them, and know that completing them is for the benefit of my family, they become easier to bear.  Doing the laundry turns into a labor of love, and making dinner becomes a way to nurture them.

{This moonrise had me gearing up the kids to run outside and capture it on camera}
This got me thinking about my duties.  And this morning when Josh came downstairs in fancy clothes because he didn't have any more jeans, I committed to taking my duties (like, um... doing our laundry) a little more seriously.  

I always feel like I have a lot of plates in the air, and while one of those plates was an exercise commitment  other plates had to be set aside. I am adjusting, shuffling and choosing what gets my focus.  Now it will be: school for the twins, consistent discipline, dinner each night, and household chores (namely laundry and dishes, but also cleaning).

It is easy to see these duties as a ball and chain that hold me forever captive, but I don't see it that way.  With the two year anniversary of my SAHM-hood approaching, I find myself looking ever backward to where I have come from. 

I know that being home is a privilege.  
Raising these boys is a blessing.  
Caring for my family is an honor.

For I, too, believe that:
"The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home."

For a peek at Wyatt's twin, be sure to head over to my sister's blog today.
Holy hilarious!!!


in good spirits

 Today was a good day.  A very good day.  I woke up and sent my husband to work in severe weather, the wind sounding like a jet outside our bedroom window all night long, and then snuggled with my baby boy on the couch while we watched Super Why collect Super letters.  I listened as the twins shouted out letters that just six months ago, they didn't know and felt proud of myself.
I taught them that.

I sent Josh happily on his way to work (despite the weather) because Randy is back in town, which means Josh isn't the principal anymore, which means I have my husband back and my children will have their father back.  

It is stressful when he's top dog.  He has to be available all hours, and works super long days, which means that I, in turn, work super long days. Despite the happy send off and the good day, I couldn't help feeling a bit bummed.

I am going to admit something here. 
Those who read my Babyham Blessings blog already know it.

I failed.

 I set a goal, and I didn't reach it. 

And I haven't figured out yet what I have learned from this, but Barb Miller, who has a heart that beats in tune with mine, inspired me onward.  She reminded me:

"Grace doesn't take away all of our problems, but they no longer define us."

And tonight, I've decided that I may have failed, but I am not a failure.

I did eight hundred things right the last three days. And while working out is not one of them, I am still worthy. I still have value.  I still can claim success... in other areas at least.

I colored with Jack tonight, showing him how to draw snakes and tigers and monkeys for his jungle picture.  I cut all three boys hair (while I was here by myself) and they look oh-so handsome.  I made tacos for my husband for dinner, and changed all the sheets in the house.

 I tidied the playroom, wiped down the kitchen table and folded blankets.  I did pre-school with the twins, where they showed me the numbers they know, wrote V's until their hands hurt, and Jack showed me he could write "SUN" all by himself.  I spelled C-U-N-N-I-N-G-H-A-M over and over so they could practice their middle last name, and also spelled M-O-V-I-E for Logan so he could know how to say it to me without Wyatt knowing what we're talking about.  I cleaned glasses, calmed tempers and disciplined behavior.

I enjoyed chicken salad with the lettuce & tomatoes Josh found at the store on Sunday (!!!) while reading The Hunger Games (!!!), and finally printed pictures to send to my grandma with the new ink refills that came. 

There is much left to do: cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping upstairs, updating the boys' memory calendars, redoing my phone book and finishing my frozen Span Alaska order... But for today, I got a lot done.  And most importantly, I was a good mom.  I maintained my temper, enjoyed snuggles and made time for them.

And because of that, it was a good day.
Even if I didn't do my workout.

"Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

I think I forget sometimes that what I do here matters.  It often takes reading something like this to remind me.  I am grateful for such reminders, because being a mom is hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Being isolated in the middle of nowhere is hard.  Taking care of littles is hard.

It's important to remember that it won't always be like this.
Someday working out won't be such a challenge time-wise.
Someday getting enough sleep won't be a constant battle.
Someday making time for me won't feel as selfish.

But for now, I am going to do what I need to do to take care of these wonderful little boys.  If that means working out, great, but if it doesn't, I am not going to beat myself up about it.


not even cold

 This morning we bundled up the troops and headed to the school for Saturday Social.  After layering our boys (shirts, sweaters, coats; jeans, snow pants, boots; gloves, hats, coats; and finally scarves) we headed out to a gorgeous, albeit cold day in the Yukon Delta.  It was -20, with no wind.  Jack and Logan both pulled their scarves off declaring, "It's not even cold, mom!"

Josh lead us over to the school, carrying our 35 pound baby and once we reached his classroom we took off all our gear.  We have it down to a science now.  The twins put their individual gear on their own chairs so we aren't having to check sizes or anything when we're trying to get ready to go back home again.

Once we were all out of our snow gear, and the boys had put on the shoes Josh keeps in his classroom for their visits, we headed into the gym where all kinds of raucous screaming and game playing began. After being cooped up in our house all week, it is so good to see them RUN.

{The frozen Yukon River}
After about an hour of running them ragged, we knew it was time to go.  Just as we were heading down the hall to leave, Josh got a call (he's playing principal this weekend while ours is away) and he had to go unload freight for the school's kitchen while I was left to gear up all three boys by myself.


Wyatt was NOT in the best of spirits. The poor kid HATES his snow gear.

Logan was trying to play Lego's instead of getting his gear on.

And Jack was drinking water from the water fountain like it was going out of style,
and making a righteous mess while he was at it.

I finally got them all geared up, and Josh walked in the door.
I laughed at the timing, and we marched down the hall.

Once outside the boys started climbing around on the snow,
slipping on the patches of ice, and squinting at the rising sun.
{It was noon.}

It was so beautiful, and I was so happy to not be in my house,
that I asked Josh to snap some pictures for me.

 Earlier this week Josh texted me:

"I love you so much today.  
Thank you for being so supportive of what we are doing here.  
It means a lot that you let me do a job I love.  
I know it will be crazy next year with me back in school, 
but our lives will be better because of it.  
I love you so much."

Sometimes raising three kids on the tundra in the middle of nowhere is challenging.
Sometimes not having real creamer for my coffee is irritating.
Sometimes not being with my extended family is heartbreaking.

But having that guy by my side, having him there through it all, is inspiring.

I texted this back:

"I am happy to support you in following your dreams.  
You make me proud.  
Next year will be nuts, but time has proven we can do hard things.  
Nothing was as bad as being apart.  
And even that just made us stronger.  
It is all worth it to make a brighter future for our family.  
I am so happy to be here by your side."

And with his hand in mine,
I'm not even cold.


happiness, haircuts & helpers

We are working on some financial matters right now. Getting ducks in a row... things of that sort. I will be sharing more about that later. But right now, it has been stressing me out hard core.

So I have been searching out even the tiniest things that bring me happiness.
One of those {big} things is this guy...
Since posting about not being his favorite, things have improved.  He asks "Up?" more often, with his hands lifted to me.  He will bring me books, "Read? Read please?" with those baby blues sparkling.  And at nap time he talks me through our routine. "Fan on.  Sit.  Taggie and binky.  Mama sing. Songs. Boat," as I turn on the fan, sit in the rocker, give him his taggie and binky and begin to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat".  I adore that time each afternoon. The twins cozy downstairs watching an episode of The Magic School Bus, and Wyatt and I snuggled close together in the rocker, enjoying a lullaby.  
Only once I feel the full weight of him relaxed against me do I dare stand and place him  in his crib. Honestly, most days, I stay there rocking him long after he's drifted off to sleep. I will close my eyes and pray, there in my sanctuary, or I will study him... His long black eyelashes resting on his pink cheeks or his pudgy fingers gripping the ducky ribbon on his beloved taggie.  Everything about him, my baby, seems magical.

I mentioned in a previous post that we would be switching to two baths. One for the twins, and one for Wyatt, as our three boys were quickly outgrowing our tub.  I have been able to bathe Wyatt independently a handful of times since, and I have to say, I am so glad we made the switch.  He loves bath time, loves to play and splash and try to swim.  And I enjoy the slower pace that a bath of one allows.

My favorite time with Wyatt, aside from nap time, is the mornings.  We wake up, come downstairs and I turn on the lamp.  He looks at me, blinking rapidly and says, "Too bright" through the binky clinched in his sweet white teeth.  Then he will sit contentedly in my lap, rubbing the ribbons on his taggie and suck-suck-sucking away at his binky, his head laid back, relaxed, while we watch a cartoon or two with his brothers.  It is bliss.

This guy also brings me such happiness.  He has finally learned the entire alphabet, and the look in his eyes as he told me each letter this morning was priceless.  I love his love of learning.  I also love the big brother he has become in the last year and a half. He was made for this job.  He is sweet, patient and an amazing teacher.  He anticipates Wyatt's needs and never gets mad at him.  He will walk by and kiss him, or invite him to join whatever he's up to.  

Two weeks ago I started having "Special Time" with each of the boys each day.  Some days I forget, or run out of time, but the goal is to spend ten minutes with each boy everyday. During that time, they don't have to share me with their siblings or the household chores.  I am completely theirs. We tend to read or play games, like Candy Land.  Well, about two days after I started Special Time with them, Jack began Special Time with Wyatt, where he will take Wyatt in to the playroom, help him sit up on one of the bean bags, and will use his Tag Reader to read stories with Wyatt, who adores the Tag Readers.  That time is sacred to Jack, and he gets very upset if it's interrupted. 

This boy is also one of my smile makers. He will hug me spontaneously, or rub my back (a bit aggressively, usually) and ask, "Does this feel good, mom?"  He is smart and silly and passionate.  This passion can be positive or negative.  He loves puzzles, and this passion for puzzles gives him the focus he needs to finish them.  He also loves to play guys, and this passion for guys makes him a raging lunatic when Wyatt steals one.  But once the tide of anger washes over him, he also has an amazing capacity for sadness.  He will apologize, with tears in his eyes, for yelling or hitting or stomping.  It's a process.  

But this last week I have noticed a big change in him. Instead of getting so angry, he's been much more calm.  He will talk to me about what's making him upset.  It's inspiring to me that all our effort is paying off, and he's using his words to express a whole range of emotions.  

Three nights ago he came flying into our room, "Jack's throwing up!"  Josh flew down the hall to find Jack coughing in bed (not puking, thank God!) and while he was checking on Jack I talked to Logan.  Logan wiped his hand across his forehead and in mock relief said, "Phew! That was close!"  I tucked him back in, thanking him for worrying about his brother, and assuring him he did the right thing.

Two nights ago he came in, near midnight, drunk with sleep, and whispered to me that he had had a bad dream, a really scary one, about a bad Narnia.  I scooped him up into my warm sheets and told him that dreams are just imaginary.  I took him to the bathroom first, then wrapped him up in the quilt my grandmother made me when I was just his age, and told him that it would keep all the bad dreams away.  Then I prayed a whisper of a prayer in his ear as he drifted off.

When he woke up in the morning he said to me excitedly, "Mom! The blanket worked! I didn't have any more bad dreams!!!"  

These boys also have a naughty streak, which, luckily, I tend to have a pretty good humor about.  Last week they were upstairs in my room, playing and jumping around, when it got all too quiet. I headed upstairs and Jack said, "We're not doing anything," which means they were totally doing something.

When I got to my room, I could smell grapefruit really strong in the air, almost suffocating.  I opened the window and asked what they had done.  Jack produced the bottle of body spray that had been on my night stand.  "We were cleaning, mom," he explained, pointing to my picture frames, "See? We cleaned it?"  They had used the body spray like Windex, spraying it on all the picture frames in my room, and since it smelled good, they had also sprayed it on our bedspread and curtains.  When I asked what they used to "clean" Jack responded with a smile, "Our shirts," like it was the most brilliant solution ever.  Sure enough he smelled like grapefruit all over his belly.

At this point, Logan was in the bathroom going potty,
 so I followed to check on him and he said to me,
"That stuff tastes yucky."

"Oh, Logan! You tasted it?!?"
"Yes.  Jack tried it first, and said it was awful..."

"Oh, yeah, I bet it is. What did he do?"
"Well, then he drank some water. Lots of water."
"And he told you it was gross?"

"Yes, but I tried it anyway because I didn't believe him... He was right. It was awful!" he waited a beat and then added, "We also cleaned our glasses with it.  We sprayed them like this," and he imitated spraying grapefruit body spray on his glasses while they were on.his.face.

"You cleaned them on your face?!? 
Honey, only mommy can clean your glasses, okay?"
For the rest of the day we talked about grown up things, and cleaning things, and how all of them are to be used under adult supervision only.  And yesterday I reorganized my cleaning supplies so they are safely tucked out of reach of my boys, and I did the same thing with our medications.
sigh {with a smile}
Those boys.

 My hair was getting really long and stringy, and was taking too long to dry each morning.  It just felt yucky and unhealthy, and with five months to go before I hit civilization, I decided to ask Josh if he would cut it for me.
In return, Josh wanted his haircut. 
I have to say, for a couple of amateurs, we did pretty well!

In addition to "helping clean", the twins love to help cook.  Jack is especially keen on getting involved in the kitchen, which makes me happy.  This day, we were making our new favorite recipe for Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies.  

I think the real reason they like to help is that I give them a spoonful of brown sugar when we're done adding it to the dough!

I have been really struggling this week to just be happy.  My to-do list feels heavy, the gravity of our finances is overwhelming and today through Tuesday, Josh will be filing in for the principal while ours is gone for training.  Anywhere else that would mean an extended day during the workweek.  For us, here in rural Alaska, it means he will be on call each evening and all weekend, making airport runs as necessary and being available to the needs of the school and staff as they come up, no matter the hour.  A little more scooped onto mama's already full plate.

Luckily I have these little guys to help me keep on keepin' on.
They are what it's all about.


so you had a bad day...

I absolutely love magazine articles that tell me what to do.  
That have five or seven or ten convenient things that can help me 
organize my life, lose weight or get happy.

This is my list of bad day blues fighters:

Colbie Caillat, JoDee Messina or One Direction (yes, You Don't Know You're Beautiful can turn my day around!) all put a little skip in my step.  And if we turn it into a "dance party" with the kids... even better!

Curling up with my boys to watch a movie, or planting myself on the rug in their playroom to build Legos helps me be present and not let my {constant} worries get the best of me. Getting out the Play-Doh or jumping on the bed with them are also tried and true smile creators.  Practicing being in the moment with them, and enjoying it is always better than crossing something off my to-do list.

Sometimes the complete opposite of throwing the to-do list out helps.  If I accomplish some things that have been weighing on me, I often feel quite accomplished, and free to enjoy the rest of the day without that nagging feeling.

Call a friend and tell them you're having a rough day.  I find the hardest part of this is dialing.  Once the person (for me, it's usually my mom, sister or grandma) answers, I feel instantly loved... supported... better.

Watching The Office every night is an important part of my mental health regimen  It sounds like I am joking, but this is no laughing matter. Okay, actually it is a laughing matter. But I'm serious!  Laughing for an hour each night with Josh after our boys are asleep is good for my soul!

Sometimes I will sit down to write about one thing, and will find myself on a completely different topic. This has often helped me pinpoint what exactly is bringing me down. Journaling about it, feeling my feelings and acknowledging that those emotions exist helps me to move on with my day.

Just jotting down a few notes in my prayer journal about what I am thankful for can really give me some perspective.  Healthy kids, morning sunrises, food to eat, and my warm cup of coffee are simple things that I can have gratitude for.

What is your list of sure fire bad day blues fighters?  
Please share with me in the comments below.  


It's what's for dinner

Since moving to Alaska I have increased the number of dinner dishes I make.  Actually, scratch that.  I have dinner dishes now that I make. In Washington, I made Stouffers Lasgna, and sometimes spaghetti.  And by made, I mean, I heated them up.

(milk chocolate chips cookies)
I have always had a knack for baking. Or at least the desire to eat the goods I baked.  Cookies, brownies, muffins and eventually bread were pretty easy for me to make.

(a gift from Martha- fresh canned alaska king salmon)
(Bread crumbs, egg, salt & pepper = awesome salmon patties!)

(golden brown & delicious!)
 But meals, especially with meat, have been a bit of a struggle.  Just one year into my rural adventure, and I have gotten far more confident in the kitchen.  I put on my {adorable} apron and get to work!

(moose chili in the crockpot with homemade cornbread on the side)
Dinners we enjoy include:
  • Moose pot roast (crockpot!) with potatoes and carrots
  • Moose chili (crockpot!) with corn bread made from scratch
  • homemade lasagna with sauce made from scratch
  • enchiladas with homemade tortillas
  • chicken, rice & brocolli
  • Bachelor porkchops
  • Golden mushroom soup patties
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy
  • Tacos
  • Spaghetti with sausage
  • Omelets
  • chocolate chip pancakes
  • Alaska King Salmon patties
  • Lemon/mayonnaise Salmon

(pizza night)
Josh's specialties include:
  • homemade pizza
  • homemade tortillas
  • Moose burgers
  • french toast with homemade bread
  • homemade macaroni & cheese and ham

Baked goods I have recently learned to make/tried my hand at include:
  • Milk chocolate chip cookies
  • Maple bars
  • Fudge
  • Hello Dolly's
  • Cinnamon rolls
  • caramel apples
  • Special K bars

(chicken & dumplings, complete with homemade gravy!)
For lunch around here, we keep it simple:
  • hot dogs
  • chicken nuggets 
  • cheese or chicken & cheese quesadillas
  • Box mac n cheese
  • corn dogs
  • Ravioli
  • Tuna melts
  • Salami, pepperoni & cheese sandwiches

Some people asked about milk.  We use powdered milk.  We order it in huge boxes from Amazon and make 4 quarts every two or three days.  We tried shelf milk, which is pasteurized in a way that allows it to be stored in the pantry until it is opened, but we found the flavor and cost didn't fit our family.  The boys don't mind the powdered milk at all.  The only thing that bothers me is that the calcium is less than regular milk offers.  This is what inspired me to breastfeed Wyatt as long as I did.  We try to make sure the boys get lots of calcium from other things, mostly cheese, that we have on hand.  They also take multi-vitamins with extra calcium to be sure they are getting enough for strong bones.
We miss dairy probably the most.  Whip cream, sour cream, cream cheese, yogurt, eggs, cream and coffee creamer.  The boys miss ice cream.  Occasionally these items will show up at the co-op, but it's hit and miss.

Someone else asked about growing an indoor garden or indoor herbs.  A fellow teacher last year grew herbs in her house, but I haven't heard of anyone growing anything else indoors.  I don't know much about gardening at all, so I am not sure what all that would entail.  But if I could grow tomatoes, I would be one happy girl!
I am very excited with how far I've come.  Between figuring out grocery shopping, collecting recipes and trying my hand at new foods, I am a new woman in the kitchen! I can't wait to make some of my new dishes for my family and friends when I'm home this summer!