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Preview: James & Andrea

James & Andrea

Updated: 2018-03-05T10:35:40.404-09:00


Clara Turns 3!


This poor, neglected blog!  Of course life has gone on whether I document it or not: birthdays, holidays, events, and just boring old life.  Here are a few pictures from Clara’s birthday back in February. On Clara’s 3rd birthday, we were excited to celebrate with her, but found it a little tricky because we’ve been on a strict diet recently (GAPS, in case you are wondering).  My goal for her birthday was to be able to say, “YES!” to Clara when she has been so good about things for the many, many times I have to say No.  So every treat or sweet thing you see is my experimenting with things to give Clara a very special birthday. On February 8, the 3 anniversary of Clara’s birth, we packed up a special picnic lunch and joined Daddy at his office in Palmer.  This was literally the second time the girls and I had ever been there.  It was a lot of fun. A few days later, we celebrated with Grandma Kuenning, as February 8 is her birthday too. On Saturday, we planned for a party at our house for the Smith’s to celebrate with us. I was so proud of all the food.  Grandpapa and Granny brought helium to blow up balloons with. The Pinterest inspired Cake turned out very cute as well.   I even made the center layer ice cream!  Although, the frosting left something to be desired (I think I have finally made strides in that department—just in time for Lydia’s birthday!). Clara and her cousin Niqui enjoyed playing with “ice cream” and had a little impromptu tea party on the floor. Lydia thought this was all very fun as well. Now we just get to adjust to life with a three year old! [...]



I am not sure why this was never published, but here are a few photos of my girls during Lydia’s first few months with us. [...]

The Birth of Lydia Grace


I love birth stories. I’ve read hundreds of them and enjoy every single detail that the mother feels comfortable sharing. You may not. Consider this fair warning that you may learn more about me or our birth than you wanted to know. For others like me, ENJOY! :) It is only by the grace of God that I can tell you this story. I have been so blessed by the birth of Clara. Her life brings me joy every single day I am blessed to share with her, but her birth story has been a struggle for me. After wanting and trying so hard for a natural birth, the long, unproductive labor and transfer to the hospital for a medicated birth was disappointing, to put it mildly. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God that it was such a blessed experience overall, that my baby arrived safely, and there were no long term repercussions of doing what we had to do, but deep in my heart, I felt like I had failed at birth, and I had no idea why. So, from before the moment I knew that another baby was on the way, I had been praying, thinking, analyzing, reading, struggling over my next birth. I shed many tears over wonderful books like Birthing From Within and while delving into the heart of things with my wonderful midwife. I prepared my mind to welcome, accept, embrace the pain of labor. I decided to ignore my labor as long as possible. I read affirmations like “I can do this” “My body was made to have babies” and so on. I prepared to drink red raspberry tea and take calcium and magnesium to help my uterus work effectively. Most importantly, James and I gave my labor and birth over to God and asked for His will to be done. I knew His will and my will are NOT the same, and over and over we verbally and mentally accepted whatever He knew we needed. So, five days overdue, on June 10th, James, Clara, Titus, and I went on a walk—with our umbrellas, as it was sprinkling. Mostly we were on a traffic engineer’s errand to see if our neighborhood connected to a certain cross street, so we walked a pretty decent distance. Once we returned, my big, pregnant body was exhausted, so I settled into a recliner and read books to Clara while James put dinner together. I was feeling all kinds of weird sensations as my big baby was wiggling all over inside me and my body was doing some of the mild contracting that it had been off and on for the past few weeks. After dinner, I felt the contractions strengthening slightly and picking up, so I did some light straightening. The house didn’t need much as I had been in major nesting mode since April. :) I timed a few contractions and found them to be about 2.5 minutes apart and a minute long. I called the midwife to give her a heads up about 11 or so. She encouraged me to take a hot bath or shower and lay down to get some rest. I took a hot shower, but laying down was uncomfortable so I told James to get some sleep and I retired to the living room. I labored through the night in the green recliner and on the labor ball. I was very chilled. I tried to drink the raspberry tea and the contractions got so intense, that I backed off. I did drink a wonderful “laborade” and took my calcium and magnesium. The contractions were pretty consistent a 6 minutes apart and 1 minute long. I read blogs online and tried to get an idea of what the symptoms and stages of labor were. I read a really neat article on assessing the dilation of a laboring woman without an internal check. I also read other women’s birth stories. When James asked me why, later, I said it was comforting to know that no mater what, all labors had an end! I was not in extreme pain, although I did have to focus and breath through those later in the night. I was calm and positive and doing a lot of praying. I knew I probably wasn’t very far along, but I was okay with the journey my body was taking. The room was dimly lit by the “midnight sun”. We closed the blinds and curtains, though, and left a small light on over the sink. It was cozy. At[...]

Lydia Grace Plays with Toys


I can’t believe Lydia is almost 10 weeks old and I have barely posted any pictures of her.   I thought that having two children under the age of three would be difficult, and I discovered that I was right!  There isn’t a lot of extra time for a *cough* perfectionist *cough* to post witty, creative blog posts.  But I want you to know, I’m really loving being a mother to BOTH Clara and Lydia.  They are two sweet, loving, beautiful girls and the rewards of being their mother just compound daily.  So here is a regular, run-of-the-mill blog post of pictures I took today while watching Lydia play with some toys for the first time.  If I get lots of comments, I will try to do this again really soon. I’m sorry it’s so many pictures of the same thing, but I’m her mama!  I can’t stop looking at her and I think she’s pretty cute!  Here she is in motion! Lydia moves her hands to shake her rattle, but she can’t stop looking at mama! [...]

It’s a Girl!


On June 11, 2011 God blessed us with the safe delivery of Lydia Grace Smith.  She weighed 9 lbs. 12 oz. and measured 21 inches long. It’s been a fun adjustment for our family of three to be a family of four! Clara LOVES being a big sister! Daddy got something MUCH better than a tie for Father’s Day! It is so much fun getting to know our new girl! [...]

Guess What Our Baby Is!



In honor of being one month from our due date, we'd like you to help answer a big question that is still on our minds:

Are we having a GIRL . . .

Or a BOY?

We don't know!

So, if you remember with Clara, we asked everyone to guess our baby's gender, when they will arrive, and how big they will be. All you need to do is go to this website, enter the game name JojoSmith and then fill your guess!

I hope everyone will participate. It was a lot of fun last time. We even gave out a prize! :)

We bought a house today!



We bought our first house today! I can hardly believe it. Our nomadic life has ended and we are now settling into a place to call home where our children and pug dog can play.  We also joined the ranks of those who have a mortgage and the responsibility of house repair and upkeep.  But I think after all the frustrations of renting for 5 years, we’re ready for this new challenge.   I wish we could show you a picture of our blue farmhouse style home with a wrap around porch and a fenced yard on a corner lot, but alas, I am only “with it” enough to share this good news with you all! 

All I can say is I am so thankful to be so blessed to have been able to buy a home for our family to grow in before our baby comes.  I hope to be able to share pictures soon.  I can’t wait to get a little girls room painted for Clara, settle into my kitchen, and set up a little nursery!  My nesting instinct is in full swing; I just pray I have the energy and ability to do as much as possible in the next two months.

Write and let me know if you would like our new address, but we are official Palmer residents now!  Old hat for James, first time for me (a Wasilla Gal).  We are excited!  Sometimes in the long, difficult process of home buying we thought we’d never make it here.  Thanks for sharing in our joy!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

We’re Expecting . . . A Baby!



Yes, God has blessed us again with the hopes and dreams of a little baby coming into our lives! 

We (okay, mostly Andrea) are 14 weeks pregnant now, happily over most of the first trimester queasies and uncertainty and into the second trimester of bliss and watching for the baby bump to grow (so we can put all of those cute maternity clothes to use!).


Our due date is in early June, a happy time for an Alaska baby to be born (no blizzard worries or cold car seats—for a while).  We are working with our wonderful midwife and hoping for a home birth this time!  The only hitch is, we’re not exactly sure where “home” will be, as our current housing situation is temporary (you’re welcome to pray about that!)


We’re so thankful that Clara will be a big sister.  She doesn’t really understand what is going on right now, but she is happily involved with her baby dolls and is fascinated by any baby (i.e. child under the age of three) within any distance.


Anyway!  We’re excited to be able to share the good news with you and ask that you’ll keep our little munchkin in your prayers. Thank you!

Adventures in Toddlerhood


So this morning was eventful.  Life has gotten interesting around our house.  Our 21-month-old recently has learned how to flush toilets, open round door handles, lock door handles, along with getting into everything she can reach.  Oh, and now she carries around a little step stool to get into MORE stuff that she can't reach.  Anyway.  It's been a crazy couple of days.  I keep reminding myself, "She's a toddler, she's a toddler." but I am going a little bonkers. So this morning, after my Clara had eaten her breakfast, while she was puttering around with her toys and things, I took the dog out on a leash around the front yard.  Recently, she cries when I do this, but since there is six inches of snow outside, and I don't want to bundle her especially or have her run out on her bare feet, I closed the door behind me, and since she was happily doing her thing so I wasn't terribly worried.  When I heard her at the door though, I remembered, "Uh-oh, she can turn the lock in the door handle, and I don't have my keys." So I went back quickly, but it was too late.  She had locked me out of the house.  I knocked on the door and asked her to "Turn it, Sweetie" but she kept saying, "Huh?" and turning the door handle.  I stood there and kept turning the door handle and hearing her turn the door handle.  Finally, I dashed over to our neighbor lady and knocked on the door.  She didn't have her hearing aid so it took a really long time for her to come to the door and when she did, she didn't understand my frantic words.  Finally, she got her hearing aid and let me use her rotary phone (it made me feel like was in Russia again waiting for the little click clicks on the line).  I called everyone:   James (who's cell phone went straight to the answering machine so I knew it was dead), my MIL (who works at a bank down the road--I forgot it was Veteran's Day), my Mother (who is 40 miles away but might have some advice), my Dad's cell, my parents' second phone line, and TWO locksmiths and NO ONE ANSWERED!  Okay, one locksmith answered, but gave me a 2 hour wait.  So I called 911.  They said they would send an officer, but he would have no resource but to break the door down.  .  I told them I would wait on my own front porch and headed home, Titus still in tow.   When I got to my own front door, it opened as smooth as butter.  She had UNlocked it while I was at the neighbors.  She had also started my front loading washing machine with a pair of mittens in it.  I quickly got my phone to call 911 again to cancel the emergency and MY phone was dead!  Good grief!  I got enough juice in to call and cancel my emergency, but a patrol car drove by a few minutes later anyway.  I was so thankful that my ordeal ended without breaking my door down, but OH MY GOODNESS.  I was so stressed out!  What a morning!  I am taking my keys with me when ever I step foot out of my house OR CAR after this!   Thank God He took care of all of us this morning!    [...]



In our travel experience, along with seeing new sites and having adventures, we got to stay in hotels, use elevators, use unfamiliar car, cribs, and car seat.  Clara was great rolling with the experience.  She slept in the car, cribs, and stroller, learned how to push the right buttons on an elevator, and explored each new place with interest and enthusiasm.  It was a lot more fun having her along. Here Clara is taking her Daddy’s place just minutes after he got up to do something else. “Okay, let’s go!  What shoe?  I don’t need a shoe!” This photo makes me think of little orphan babies.  :(  So glad she’s ours! “Daddy!  Daddy, Daddy!” Of course, this was before she knew the difference in our names.  She could have easily been saying, “Mama!” But we knew what she meant. Because we couldn’t get the seat snug enough rear facing (as we have it at home) Clara got to be forward facing for the first time in her life!  Wheee!   Clara is not the biggest fan of strollers, but she did well on this trip.  We sure did use the sunscreen we bought on the first day of vacation!  Also hats!  Also, I loved putting her in little short sleeved tops and dresses and not having to cover them up with a sweater. :)  We all got our vitamin D on this trip! Waiting for the elevator! Also, she was in disposable diapers for the trip, so I dressed her in jeans once for fun.  Uh, they came to a bad end.  This is just a few hours before she gagged on something, and completely threw up all over herself and the (borrowed) car seat.  We had no idea where we were, we were meeting someone to leave on a plane in a little over an hour, and we were looking everywhere for a Whole Foods store to visit before we flew out! Well, we pulled into a parking lot, stripped the baby, put the clothes in a Ziplock bag in an outer pocket of my suitcase, cleaned up the baby, and then began baby wiping the car seat with all our might!   It cleaned up pretty well, but we put some paper down for her to sit on and apologized to the car seat owners later.  We still did find the Whole Foods! Clara thought this was pretty fun.     Clara’s a good traveler!  [...]

Clara Goes to the Zoo


I am so far behind in blogging.  I apologize, but I have to share these darling pictures we took back in August of Clara visiting the Denver Zoo.  Maybe I’ll get on top of things and catch up to the present, but don’t count on it! :) * * * What does an Elephant say, Clara? This picture was taken with no zoom.  Yikes, Bear.  You stay there!       My favorite people with my favorite zoo animals.  Aw.  Clara is two seconds from conking out.  Oh well, we enjoyed the rest of the zoo without her. :)   You do not want to know what a hippo uses for toilet paper.  Eww! Don’t these guys look like they are business men waiting for taxis or something? My favorite moment of the day!  I could have cried watching the baby giraffe nursing.  :) And Clara woke up just in time to go inside the fish and reptile house.  She’s so much fun! [...]

Our (not so) Water Baby


In Colorado, we had the opportunity to swim at our hotel in Denver and at Glenwood Hot Springs, a special resort made with a huge beautiful pool.  Clara doesn’t care much for water, so we weren’t sure how she’d react. This is us a year ago (Sept 2009) swimming in the Aspen Hotel swimming pool in Soldotna.  She wasn’t quite sure what to think, but not exactly protesting.     But here she was at the hotel in Denver, VERY sure what she thought about it—”Get me OUT OF HERE, Mom!”  (Shows you how often I get new swimsuits. :)  I think I definitely need a new one.  The spandex is starting to become transparent—Oops!) But we had one more chance at the Glenwood Hot Springs pool.  They had a lovely warm swimming pool and a soothing hot pool and an unheated baby pool that was so shallow as to be quickly warmed by the sun. Clara seemed to think that was a little better. This is how she spent most of the time at the pool, in my arms hanging on for dear life. But the next day, at the baby pool, things were a little better.   The baby pool even had a fountain in it and was mostly deserted.    We can tell when Clara is nervous, she will totally clam up and not say a word.  The first night, it took her to being on the elevator (she likes to punch the buttons) to warm up and start talking again.  This time, she was happy just being by the side of the pool.  We decided that we just need to go swimming more often as a family to get her used to water being fun.  She sure is cute, though and the sky was so blue!  What a nice last day in Colorado. [...]

Clara goes to Sonic


We had fun on our recent trip visiting restaurants that we don’t have in Alaska.  It wasn’t as much fun trying eat there dairy free (no cream pie milkshakes for me!), but it was a special treat for our family.

Here is Clara appreciating part of my fruit slushy:

The HAIR Post


This is us.  (Aww!) And a good picture of my hair length over my shoulders BEFORE Colorado. This is me (and Clara) and a picture of my hair in back.  What a mane!  It would be hardly bearable in a different climate! And here, ta-da!, is my hair AFTER Great Clips.  She took my mane and evened it and layered it, and my hair looks healthy and happily curled up without all the weight pulling it down!  Notice, I’m not even wearing hair clips!   Here is an attempt to show the back of my head.  Notice that I’m tilting my head back and my hair barely comes to my elbow.  This is huge for me! :)  I think  I got at least 5 inches off at the longest.  I am so glad I had a woman who knew what she was doing and really did a good job.  I looked and asked around for someone recommended by others, but I finally had to just go some place for the sake of time (and a babysitter).  I was blessed to find “Roxy.”  I even left my coupon for a Great Clips $9.99 haircut at home.  I really didn’t want a $9.99 value haircut, I wanted a $40 hair cut, just cheaper!  I really think I got a good one!  I think in the future, I will use the coupon, and give a better tip.  She did a GOOD job. :)   Here is my hair in Denver. It responded a little differently, but was still fun and bouncy. And THIS was the reason why I did it! I loved having my hair up like this! I made that flower myself out of a glue gun and some scraps from Clara’s dress—the night before the wedding!  I’m crazy! Ah.  Princess for a day. And I think I like my everyday look too.  It’s still considered long, James likes it, I don’t feel like my hair’s all gone, but it looks and feels healthy, light, and bouncy.   I won’t think about the fact that it will probably take 5 years to grow it all out again.  Oh, and a weird fact (since I’m still talking  about my hair), I learned, once the heavy weight was gone, that a few strands of my hair refuse to curl naturally!  I wet them, I gel them, I twirl them, nothing.  So I give in and quickly curling iron those strands after showering and they stay long enough.  I wonder though if they’ve always been that way or has giving birth or some other trauma made my hair straight!  Weird.  Something to think about. :) [...]

Being the Bridesmaid (Matron—Whatever!)


This last weekend, I had the honor to do something I’ve never done before . . . stand up in front at a wedding and participate in someone else’s wedding.  It was an honor to be asked by my cousin and pen-pal from girlhood years, Kara Kuenning, to be a part of her wedding party, and I said yes right away. There were lots of jokes flying around, but Kara was no “bride-zilla.” We chose our own dresses, shoes, hairstyles, etc. with the bride asking that we wear black and have some sort of “watermelon pink” accessory.  The rest of the “Esther-like” beauty treatments were optional.  I ordered a lovely dress I saw online, and Aspen helped me alter it to fit better.   I bravely went to Great Clips and had several inches and layers cut into my long hair (I am glad I did).   For my birthday, James got me my first Bare Minerals make up (I love it!).  And I painstakingly picked out a pair of dressy black sandals (which I think I will probably never wear again.)  Of course, the biggest part of all of this was the plane ticket south and packing my husband and daughter along.  It was a lot.  And it was all for me!  I felt bad that while the other bridesmaids were throwing showers and shopping for dresses together, I was up in Alaska infrequently emailing the busy bride to pester her for more specifics! When finally I landed in Denver, I hit the ground running I nursed my baby and kissed her good-bye while she and her daddy went to do Lego stuff and watch baseball.  I was getting my nails done with the bridal party!  It was hard on both Clara and I to be apart for so long.  But I had the benefit of really getting to know the bridal party.   The nails took nearly 8 hours for everyone and we sat in a tiny room talking and sharing stories.  I tried hard to stay fully awake after a red-eye flight where I only slept about 20 minutes total.  I don’t have any pictures, because James had the camera, but I met the groom (not getting his nails done, of course), his mother and sister, another bridesmaid, and became reacquainted with Kara, her mother, and her two sisters.   Afterword, we went to a little French cafe where I tried hard not to face-dive into the soup, then back to my dad’s first cousin John’s house where I collapsed into bed and knew nothing until sleepy baby arms found mine, and we snuggled through the night. The next day, Saturday, we slept as much as possible.  At the rehearsal, Mom and James kept Clara interested in things while we walked through the wedding processional.  As James said, I was stung on the hand by an aggressive little creature, but ice really helped and the sting didn’t last long.  Ouch! After this, we went to a little pizza place for dinner.  Complicating everything, I am not able to eat wheat or dairy (essentially) right now.  That pretty much eliminates pizza!  Thankfully, I was able to eat as much salad as I could hold and the kind waitress brought me a plate of chicken to add a bit of protein, so I was fine.  Traveling with food limitations isn’t fun! Clara was so good!  Everywhere we went people wanted to talk to her and touch her and ask her things, she was a little trooper through it all.  I was very thankful for my mother and James while my time and attention was so divided with the wedding preparations.  She was tired, off her schedule, and seemed like she might not be feeling well, but she smiled and talked and explored her world interested in every little thing. Finally, it was the big day.  After church, James dropped me off at [...]

Our First Three Days in Colorado


(As Posted by James on Facebook)   Right after getting off the plane on Friday we went for a super exclusive tour of the game developer studios for Lego-Universe, but we signed an agreement saying we wouldn't take pictures. Just imagine, so many Legos. Like you dream that you are in a warehouse full of Legos and you are drowning, and then you wake up and you are actually in a giant warehouse drowning in Legos. That's how it was. But from there we went to a baseball game. And they allowed pictures. Robert caught a baseball with his bare hands during practice. The ball actually has "Practice Ball" printed on it. I assume the balls they hit at the actual game have "Ebay price $1,000" printed on them. He caught the ball when it bounced out of the glove of a kid sitting in front of us. We felt bad that the kid lost his chance for a ball, but the next time that same batter came up on rotation, he hit one right to the kid, and this time he caught it. The funnest part of live baseball is heckling the outfielders during practice. America's favorite pastime: Heckling. Clara loved the baseball game. So, exciting.   There is nothing unusual about this picture. The wedding rehearsal was so fast. Clara hardly had time to run three circles around the old Manor house and it's grounds with dad chasing after her with a camera. During the rehearsal one of these stung Andrea on the hand. Either the bees or the sunflower, we can't be sure, because she never saw it. She just screeched in mid practice and started dancing. Everyone thought to themselves, "Who invited the dancing Alaskan girl?" Thankfully, no one was stung by bees the following day. However, there was more than a weddings fair share of shrieking and dancing. Oh my goodness.   I'm glad Clara had a good hat to wear. It was so hot. She sits down in her car seat and say "Hot! Hot!" and we say, "Oh, is it hot?" and she nods her head and goes to sleep.   During the rehearsal, Clara defeated her uncles Adam and Isaac in a pinecone fight, with the help of her daddy. Pinecone fights are like snowball fights. Only the snowballs have a bunch of knives hidden in them. Isaac beat the chef at a thumb war at the rehearsal dinner, which was held at a little pizza place. After the rehearsal dinner, The Kuennings and Andrea and I went to Bill Kuenning's house to make a recorded history. Bill set up high quality audio equipment and recorded the family discussing stories and singing songs. Clara made animal noises, and then everyone had to repeat them, because that is just something that happens I guess. I think more people should record their families telling stories. Andrea, Clara and I stayed Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with her cousin John Kuenning. They were amazing. Best free bed and breakfast in Colorado. Clara especially loved using a spoon. Spoons are so trendy. Spoons and iPods are top notch technology in Clara's opinion. On Sunday morning we visited the Bear Valley Church of Christ. And of course Robert and Carol meet up with a friend of theirs that stayed with them 30 years ago in Germany. It doesn't matter where you go, and how big the congregation is. Someone always knows someone else from somewhere. The wedding was outside. Very hot. Lots of rabbits all over. The sun was right in Robert's eyes and it was hard for him to read anything. He did a fantastic job though. I don't have pictures of the actual ceremony, because I was taking pictures with Robert's camera, but it was very smooth. I'm a guy though. Smooth is like the best possible description of a[...]

We finally bought a car seat!



We now own the Britax Roundabout 50 in Pistachio (beautiful tan color with light green dots). I’ve been eyeing it for sometime, but last week I saw it was on sale at Amazon! The seat is like the original Roundabout except for being more adjustable in the seat, and giving Clara 10 lbs and 10 inches more to grow before needing to upgrade to a booster. It could have comfortably held her since birth, since it starts a 5 lbs, but we appreciated our Graco SafeSeat for it’s comfort and convenience many times. We haven’t tried this one out yet in a car, but I think it is going to be a winner.


We are seriously considering buying a second car seat for the other car. We drive both regularly (we aren’t a mini-van family quite yet, my car is more roomy, his gets better gas mileage), and this seat will be difficult to move back and forth. Anyone think we should go for the “Cowmooflage” version? I think it would look terrific against the Saturn’s black interior. :)


Win a Car Seat


Here I go again! Trying so hard to win a car seat. We REALLY need one--actually two, which makes things worse. I am just so scared to take the plunge. I guess I am probably WAY over thinking things, but we can't go much longer. Clara is almost at the height limit for our car seat.

So, for the next few hours, head on over to My Wee View to enter this great giveaway to win one of these:
(image) You can also link with the button on the side of my blog. Thanks!

Blueberry Smoothie Mornings


Clara and I have been enjoying smoothies several mornings a week.  I try to pack it full of the good stuff: frozen berries and bananas, milk, yogurt, cinnamon, coconut oil, and (recently) this good stuff.  Clara eats it up.  Literally.  She has gotten to be quite a pro with the straw, and she is over her aversion to cold things (she likes sucking on ice chips now!).  My only difficulty is that this meal requires constant monitoring (Does anyone know of a sippy made of safe materials that would allow thick fluids through the straw?).  Thankfully, Clara is a dainty eater anyway.  Yes, she can make a mess, but she tends to do so in a very lady-like manner. :)                Yum.  A nutritious and delicious way to start our day! [...]

In Tribute


. . . to the last birthday balloon. It remained on the ceiling for six weeks straight! Wow. This past week, it slowly fell and is now a static-charged-dust collecting-hair ball and will soon meet it’s demise at my hand. But wow. I am honoring this simple, inexpensive little luxury for giving my daughter so much pleasure.


The ironic thing is, when James went to pick the balloon bouquet up before the party, there was a mix up, and he was sent home with the balloons without paying for them (James made another small purchase and so didn’t notice the discrepancy). So, our little scrupulous family made sure to return to the store and pay for them (there wasn’t even an order slip hanging around, and I had to tell them how much we owed them!). Still, that was the best birthday present we could have gotten her, and like Abraham and David both said, “It isn’t much of a present if you didn’t pay for it” (my words, not theirs), so I’m glad we did. :)

Officially a Toddler


Clara has been taking a step or two for a while now, but she has been totally resistant to the idea that she would give up this lovely mode of transportation called crawling for the scary, tottering, high-up-in-the-air thing called walking.  Family tried again and again to get her to walk, but she stood her ground—on hands and knees!  Even 10 month old Mollie stood her up and took off on foot while 13 month old Clara determined not to take big risks (totally a girl like her own Mama!).

Until this past week, we’ll just say the 16th, when Clara was one year, one month, one week, and one day old (ha!), Clara decided to give walking a chance.  She walked to Mama, Daddy, Grandma, Granddaddy, Uncle Isaac, Uncle Adam, Titus, and nowhere in particular.  Then, the day after at church (St. Patrick’s Day) she showed her stuff and toddled all over the place, joining the little ones playing.  Wow.  I could’ve bust my buttons with pride!  But oh, my little girl is growing up!

So, today, I did my best to catch my little “toddler” in action, and this is what I got:

Very Good News


Have you heard the good news? We, created by God, are so loved by Him, that He sent his only son, Jesus, to come to earth and be the perfect sacrifice. Jesus died to erase the sins of mankind forever if we choose to obey Him by being baptized and following after Him. You probably have heard it. Even typing it, I struggled to not yawn at the cliché wording. But it’s GOOD NEWS. I forget how good sometimes. Well, Sunday, I was reminded loud and clear when my little brother became my little brother—forever and ever and ever.Isaac decided to put on Christ in baptism, Sunday afternoon February 28, 2010. Thankfully, James and Mom both had cameras to capture what we saw. It is so amazing that the baby brother that I witnessed the birth of, December 1, 1997, who I snuggled and rocked and sang to and love to pieces, I got to see being born a second time as my spiritual brother. I’m going to make myself cry! : )“Isaac do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” “Yes.” While Isaac was getting ready. We sang some songs. “I have decided to follow Jesus” and “I’ve Been Redeemed” were two of them. I loved that Isaac’s young friend, Riley Scott, lead one of them. There were still a lot of people there. It was so exciting to see a young person choose to follow God for himself. Then it was time for the baptism. Here we were afterwards, singing and praying with our new brother (Clara was hanging out with Auntie Aspen). At home (we spent the afternoon with my family), James showed Isaac the special features of his new Thomson Chain Reference NASV. The report is that Isaac has barely put his Bible down since his baptism. I am so proud of him and love his enthusiasm and sincerity. And of course, no one can pull a camera out without pointing it at Clara. So here she is having commandeered Grandma’s apple and marked it up with her little teeth. Aww! : ) Clara watched her Uncle Isaac’s baptism with interest and curiosity. Someday, we will explain what it all means to her. I pray most fervently that someday her Daddy will be able to baptize her the way my Dad baptized my brother. Thank you, Isaac for being a good example and for choosing Christ.[...]

Fresh Farm Veggies


This is 1/2 of a CSA share that I received last July! We ate so well last summer!I just received an email from Spring Creek Farm saying that they still have CSA openings for this summer! If you don’t have an opportunity to grow a garden and live in the Anchorage or Valley area, please consider this! It is such a wonderful resource. Here is the information from the email: Spring Creek Farm 6404 N Lossing Road Palmer, AK 99645What is Spring Creek Farm?We are a 4 year old micro-farm providing naturally raised produce and pork in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley on Alaska Pacific University's Kellogg Campus.What is a CSA?CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Local food lovers pay the farmer up front at the beginning of the season in exchange for a weekly basket of vegetables grown on the farm.What’s in the CSA basket? It will provide a week’s worth of vegetables for 4 people for about 19 weeks. Depending on time of the season, it will include lettuce, radishes, Asian greens, carrots, beets, peas, squash, tomatoes, and the like.What are my options?Full Share: $555Salad Share: $135Pig Share: selling halves and wholes for about $5/lb hanging weightWhere and when do I pick up my basket? There are pick up locations in Palmer and Anchorage on Monday afternoons May 31st to October 4th.How do I sign up? Contact Mimi Rooney at 907-746-2795 or email at mrooney at alaskapacific dot edu (replace the “at” and “dot with appropriate symbols—this is to thwart spammers)* * *We have bought into this CSA for two summers now and have loved it. Each weekly share comes with a newsletter and recipes that use the organic, locally grown veggies in creative and delicious ways. There are two pick up points--one in Palmer (at the farm) and one in Anchorage (at APU). The cost for a full share is $555, but both years James and I split a share with a friend, 50-50, and had to work hard to eat all the vegetables. I have to say, it has challenged me as a cook, but just last week I pulled out my arugula pesto from the freezer that I made fresh last summer (their recipe) and made Chicken Pesto Pizza, and I was thankful all over again for fresh summer bounty. I hope the farm always sells out of their shares! I am so thankful that we have something like this available in Alaska! Oh, and if you sign up, let me know. We can swap recipes and ideas and marvel over the delicious goodies together![...]

Britax Advocate CS Car Seat Giveaway



I am so hoping to win a car seat, and this one is a goodie! I love Britax. They are comfortable, secure, and very safe! Go on over to Baby Good Buys to enter. Plus, they have a simple form to fill out to enter the giveaway that is nice and streamlined. Have fun!

Update: I’m sorry! I should have posted that the giveaway was ending Friday. If you are interested in a Britax, this is a very good price for a Marathon, and it has free shipping! Other patterns are also on sale. I hope this helps!

Clara eats Oatmeal with a Spoon


Clara got several spoons for her birthday, so the day after her birthday, I decided to let her use it on my favorite breakfast: soaked oatmeal loaded with raisins, cranberries, raw milk, coconut oil, and cinnamon.


She did so well. I was proud of her for trying so hard. She knew what it was for and tried to make it work.


She would start to go for the oatmeal with her fingers, then stop herself and pick up her spoon. She tried one end of the spoon and then the other.

(image) In the end, she decided that the easiest way was to hand the spoon to Mama. : ) I was so proud of her.


Titus is enjoying the process of Clara learning to eat on her own too. : )