Monday, June 30, 2008

Single parenting

My husband left for CA for 5 weeks and I am now a single parent for a little while. I don't know how women do this permanently! I can handle them during the day, but I sure love having help putting them to bed in the evening and having a break to go shopping or take a LONG shower. I definitely need to find a good babysitter so that I can get out when needed.

A friend has given me the phone number to a girl who is looking for babysitting work (specifically looking for families with 4 or more kids whose husbands are deployed!) She is 16, a Christian, a homeschooler, and the oldest of 10 kids!! I am hoping that it pans out, because it would sure be nice to have someone I trust to leave the kids with every once in awhile. I play BUNCO once a month with some of the other wives in the unit and we have spouse's coffees every month or two also. I would like to continue to go while he's gone - for my sanity's sake :)

It is sometimes hard being so far away from family and life-long friends. I wonder what life would be like living in the same town with people I know really well. Having family get-togethers and built-in babysitters :) It is hard moving every couple of years and having to meet all new people again. Andy has decided that he will be retiring after this deployment (probably 2 yrs or less from now). That means lots of planning for the future.....but we will finally be able to settle down in one spot and I am actually looking forward to that :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer schooling

Sonne by Margrethe Hansen

I think that next summer we will either take a much shorter break, or we will do "half days". The kids have had 6 weeks off now and they keep telling me they are BORED and they are watching way too much TV. The only reasons we are taking the entire summer off is 1.I just had a baby 5 weeks ago and 2. Andy is deploying in the fall and I want to make sure that we have enough family time.

I have been kicking the kids outside everyday :) It's been in the 70s and beautiful out. I have to keep reminding them that when winter comes, they will have wished that they had spent more time out in the fresh air while they had the chance. Unfortunately, they are being eaten alive by mosquitoes and chased around (they insist they are being swarmed but I don't believe it) by some strange black flying "pincher" bugs. I'm not sure what they are exactly, but I have heard that they do bite. They play fine until a bug lands on one of them, and then they turn hysterical and want to come inside again :( I really wish they would just brush them off and keep playing....

Anyway, with all of their classes being out and them not having schoolwork to do, they seem unable to come up with fun stuff on their own. Next summer we will be sure to have a lot of outdoor freetime, but I think we will keep up with a morning school schedule - to keep us all happy :)

My Guys

Nick is sure going to miss his daddy this next year :(

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brain Pop!

My kids just love this website. We get a free membership through our correspondence school, but it would be worth the money! They offer short videos on all sorts of topics. Here is a description from their website:
BrainPOP ( is a pioneering developer of engaging, animated content that motivates and inspires children to learn. Each month, BrainPOP welcomes more than 1,000,000 visitors to its websites, reaching roughly 13,000,000 students in homes, classrooms and computer labs worldwide.
Hosted by an expressive orange robot named Moby and his teen companion Tim, BrainPOP movies cover everything from the Underground Railroad to the atomic model to Shakespeare. Interactive quizzes for assessment and enrichment materials like experiments and creative activities supplement the movies. Topics – aligned with state and national education standards and searchable by state standards – are grouped within the subjects of Science, Math, English, Social Studies, Health, Technology and Arts and Music. Our ever-expanding library currently consists of more than 600 movies for grades 3-12. Designed to spark children’s inherent curiosity, the movies are visually appealing, cleverly written and speak to kids in a voice they can relate to, but without talking down to them. All movies are closed-captioned and many are also available in Spanish at
They also now have a Brainpop Jr. for kids in K-3.

State Testing

Pencils by Frank Lloyd Wright

Ellie completed the 3rd grade Alaska state testing last month. She was a bit nervous since it was really the first formal testing she had ever taken. I knew she would do fine. She's a bright girl :) Her results came back this week and she got "advanced" in all 3 subjects (math, reading, and writing). While I really don't think standardized testing shows much of anything and it doesn't really matter how she does, I am thankful that she did well.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Moose on the Loose

Folk Moose by Warren Kimble
Folk Moose

As I was putting the girls to bed tonight, I glanced out their bedroom window. To my surprise, I saw a moose walking across our driveway and front yard. I rushed downstairs for the camera, but I wasn't quick enough! He continued on down the street. We think that there is a trail that they often used through our side yard (we have found "evidence" of them being there). Andy recently closed in the side of the yard though and they will have to find another route (there are many in the neighborhood, I'm sure!)
It must be that time of year where they're out in full force. We saw one while driving down the road yesterday also.....

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

Babar Reading by Laurent de Brunhoff
Babar Reading

2 of my children are now signed up in this program. They receive a hardback book every month until they are 5 yrs old. The best part of the program - it's free!! We have already received The Little Engine that Could and Llama, Llama Red Pajama.
Is this program available to the preschoolers in your area?
Check their website at:

My little man on his Big Wheel

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ellie is back from Horse Camp

Here is the plaque that Ellie made while at Horse Camp. She doesn't like it because she isn't smiling in the picture. She says that she had a great time though! She learned to saddle and ride a horse, learned all about horse parts, did Bible studies and memorized verses, did arts and crafts and got to stay in a cabin with a bunch of girls her age. What fun!

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Hug-A-Hero Doll

I am thinking of ordering one of these for each of the kids so that they have their own "daddy doll" to take with them, sleep with etc. while Andy is deployed. The neat thing is that he can record a message for them that goes into the doll. I think that this may help them deal with him being gone for such a long time. Has anyone else used one of these dolls during a deployment? If you would like to order one, their website is:

Update: I ordered the dolls and we love them! Check these two posts for pictures: The Hug-A-Hero Doll Part 2 and The Daddy Dolls Are Here!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I can hardly believe that she is almost a month old!! Time flies....

Money, Money, Money

Collage of One Hundred Dollar Bills by Paul Katz
Collage of One Hundred Dollar Bills

Where is all of our money going??

I filled up my gas tank last week and it came to EXACTLY $100.00. Wow, that was a shocker! It's not as if I can get a small, fuel-efficient vehicle with 5 kids. If anything, I actually need something bigger than my Expedition. We're cramped in there with all 7 of us and the double stroller. I can barely fit groceries in there!

Something always goes wrong when you buy a house. When we owned a house in Texas, the air conditioner went out and had to be completely replaced (in the middle of summer of course). Now that we live in Alaska, our boiler went out. We have already spent over $300 having things replaced on it last week (but of course they weren't the RIGHT things). Now a guy is coming today to replace a $500 part. I don't even want to know what it will come to with labor...

I had to take my vehicle in today to get a bunch of little things fixed on it. The warranty expires soon and I would hate to let it run out without getting them fixed. We are also getting a tune-up since Andy is deploying soon and I really don't want anything to go wrong with it while he's gone. I envision me stuck on the side of the road with 5 kids when it's negative 40 degrees out this winter. Doesn't sound pleasant to me :( Anyway, I don't know how much the tune-up will cost, but it has to be done....

Along with the climbing cost of gasoline is the cost of heating oil (which is how our house is heated). Last year they came and filled our tank 4 times. Each time it was an average of 320-340 gallons. The first three times I payed $900. By the time it was filled the last time, prices had climbed enough that I had to pay $1200 for the same amount. I checked the current prices, and I would be paying over $1500 for the same amount now. My tank won't have to be filled again until fall, but what if the prices go up again? As it stands now, I will be paying at least $1500 4 times next winter. YIKES! This is on top of a $170-$200 electric bill every month. I just got my electric bill today. They included an insert which explained why our bill is going up an average of $25 starting this month. Great!

I don't know how people afford to live here long term. We are military and only here for 2 more years. We get COLA to live here since it is more expensive to live up here, but it doesn't cover close to the extra money we have spent to live here. Besides the outrageous utilities, we had to completely outfit our entire family in winter clothing (we were in CA last) and we had to winterize both of our vehicles.

I have had my kids in various classes throughout the year - dance, gymanstics, swimming, girl scouts, yoga, etc. I have been lucky enough to usually be able to drop my daughter off at dance (which she had 3 nights a week) and my husband would pick her up on his way home from work. He will be deploying this fall and I will either have to run home for 30 minutes and then come back and get her, or else I will be waiting in the parking lot (with the car running in the winter). Either way, I will be eating up lots of very expensive gas. I am going to have to seriously think about what classes I am going to let them take this next school year :(

Everything is really starting to add up.........

I wish I had a green thumb...

and some more time. We moved into this house about a year ago and I have really wanted to get the greenhouse up to speed and full of plants. I would love to grow my own tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, flowers and herbs. Unfortunately, there isn't much of anything in there yet and it's already halfway through June. Last May/June I was still busy unpacking and getting the house set up. This May/June I have a newborn baby and not enough arms :)
The greenhouse is very overgrown with weeds and even little trees! It needs to be cleaned out so badly. I don't think that the last couple of owners used it much. I sure wish I were a master gardener :) I think that if I have enough time next weekend, I will try to make it to a nursery to get some transplants.... Let's see if I can actually get around to it :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Land of the Midnight Sun

Climber Watches the Midnight Sun Set from High Camp on Denali, Alaska by Bill Hatcher
Climber Watches the Midnight Sun Set from High Camp on Denali, Alaska

Living in the "Land of the Midnight Sun" has its perks: the electric bill is low (who needs lights?) and you can work or play outside until late into the night. But honestly right now it's driving me crazy. It's midnight and my 2 and 4 year olds are still awake. The sun is still up (it doesn't set until 12:39 this morning and then rises again at at 3 am) and they think they should be up also :) I have to say that even I have a hard time going to sleep at night this time of year. Something in my head just tells me that I have to be up and doing something since it's light out. Of course in the morning it's a different story. After staying up so late, all of us are exhausted in the morning and want to sleep in. I'm not quite sure what to do. I guess we'll just deal with it for the time being. This of course will all change when winter comes and we feel like hibernating again :) I should be thankful for the summer sun and the warmer weather (and I truly am!)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Catch the Genealogy Bug!

My great-grandparents - the Bergmans.

I started working on genealogy soon after my first daughter was born. I was newly separated from the Air Force and was getting used to the idea of not going to work anymore. I loved staying at home with my new baby, but I wanted something stimulating to do. Genealogy gave me the feeling that I was accomplishing something, using my brain, and doing research. I love putting all of the pieces together and solving the family history puzzles.

For those of you just starting out, a great program to use (the one I use!) is Legacy. They have 2 versions available - the standard one is free and is perfect if you are just starting out. If you get really into it, then you'll want to pay to upgrade to the deluxe edition with all of the bells and whistles.

Another "must" I think is an subsciption. It's pricey, but definitely worth it if you're using it a bunch. They have TONS of databases - including census records (actual scanned copies), military records, scanned books, and much more.

I have enjoyed being able to use our family's history in our history studies. When we talked about the Civil War, I was able to show Ellie that we had ancestors on both sides of the war. I showed her their military pension packets which contained letters they wrote and descriptions of their ailments or wounds. When studying immigration, I was able to show her when and from where her ancestors immigrated from. It has really brought history alive.

I hope that some of you consider taking the time to start your family tree and preserve your family's history for future generations. Ask questions of your elderly family members and get their stories and first-hand knowledge before they are gone. My grandmothers both died before I started my genealogical journey and there are so many things I wish I could have asked them - mysteries that I have had to try to solve on my own. Get your kids involved in the research. It could be a family project!! There are a lot of "school" lessons in genealogy research - writing letters to courthouses, interviewing family members, recording your sources, typing and data entry, learning about the history of the area your ancestors lived in - or about the migration trails they traveled. The learning never stops :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Warmer Weather

It is about 70 degrees out today and I happily kicked the kids out of the house and into the backyard for the day. They are inhaling Otter Pops and going through the sprinkler. We are enjoying being able to open up the windows and let the fresh air in the house. Now if only the mosquitoes would disappear! The kids have to be smothered in OFF spray so that they aren't eaten alive :)

Welcome Victoria Rose!!

We have a new addition to our family - a baby girl named Victoria Rose. She was 9 lbs 6 oz and 19 inches long.

I was blessed with a quick and fairly painless labor. I woke up at 7:30 in the morning and had her at 8:57. When I got to the hospital, I was already 10 cm dilated. It was strangely not nearly as painful as any of my other labors. While I was at 10 cm, I didn't feel the absolute need to push like I have before (my water didn't break).

She is a wonderful baby. She isn't fussy and only cries when she's hungry or wet. She is still sleeping most of the days away. She is such a joy!!

I am glad to be done with school and classes for the time being. It's been nice to spend time as a family and enjoy the warmer weather.