Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Own Circus

My sweet husband has been teasing me about running a circus around here. So I guess by teaching my mini, Mukluk, more tricks I am only giving him more reasons to do so! Even so, its been really fun, and a great thing to do with my girls. We have all learned a lot, and hope to learn more along the way.

Here is Mukluk's latest trick. I want to get them all on video so I can record his (and our) progress for Penelope's 4-H project journal. (It was 40 degrees out, very unusual for us, so my Alaskan girl was perfectly happy to be in shorts..silly girl)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Its Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas

I love the days and weeks leading up to Christmas! I think it came way too fast this year, as I was still enjoying the process of getting ready. Some favorite moments from this year:

* listening to Josh Groban's Silent Night, while sipping cocoa and writing cards
* Watching the puppy try to figure out what a Christmas tree is all about
* Seeing the girls make their gingerbread houses
* Homemade eggnog milkshakes!
* our annual tradition, watching Charlie Brown's Christmas
* Making homemade fudge for friends and neighbors
* Sneaking around while planning gifts
* seeing the girls giggle and tell secrets
* hot buttered rum made by my sweetie, then sitting together by the fire
* driving around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
* getting cards in the mail, and putting them all up in our dining room! Love it!
* putting up my Willow Tree nativity set
* decorating the house with some of my favorite snowman things
* looking at all of our own cards from Christmas pasts, and scrapbooks too

Penguin enjoying the Christmas tree

some of our cards..we like to put them up by the hidden light panels in our dining room

our advent calendar
a fun snowman throw I found at the thrift store!!

I like non-traditional colors, and look for alternatives to red and green. I love my door wreath.

this Victorian santa is over four feet tall, he is a favorite around here, and the first piece of decor that we put up.

I strung our previous years' photo cards, in order, to this year's card (on right)

our "door" which is actually a tall wooden photo album, full of past Christmas photos

We love Alaskan ornaments, such as these moose and our funny whales..

My grandma Margaret, and my mother in law, Sue, both loved Raggedy Ann dolls. Grandma Sue has a sweet collection of the dolls, vintage cuties. Grandma Margaret made dolls each year, making a total of 50-70 to give to each granddaughter in the family. Raggedy Ann dolls have a lot of meaning to all of us, so this ornament holds great memories.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Clicker Training our Mini

We have had SO much fun clicker training our miniature horse, Mukluk. He loves to learn tricks and is very smart, and easy to teach. We use Nilla Wafers for a treat, and he will do anything for him. Watch the video: This trick took about ten minutes to teach, from start to finished voice command.

We used this trick for a 4-H presentation, for our horse club, and everyone liked it. So, we are doing a mini clinic with our horse club and their horses, on Clicker Training, right after Christmas. We are excited about teaching it and seeing everyone's ideas!

A few Clicker Training tips:

1. Start with a treat they love. If they will sniff it and walk away, its the wrong treat. :)

2. Use a high rate of reward-click and treat, click and treat, click and treat, until they know a click will always be followed by a treat.

3. Once they know what the clicker is, choose a trick or behavior to do. Its best to start with something they already do naturally, such as pawing the ground or tossing the head.

4. Reward for the slightest indication of what you want. Then ask for more and more until you have exactly what you wanted.

5. Have fun!! You can use Clicker Training for dogs, horses, etc. Its easy and fun!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Don't Moose Around

There is a joke in Alaska, about never seeing enough pictures of moose in the newspaper. If the news is slow, and they don't have any other ideas, you will always see a moose on the front page! Moose in yards, moose by cars, moose with other moose, baby moose, mama moose, papa moose, moose heads, moose hineys, moose running, scooting, waving, and sailboating! Well, you get the ideas.

Anyway, all my Alaskan friends will say "so what? another moose pic?" when I post this. But I have always been fond of moose (you know this if you have followed this blog awhile..remember the ka-YUTE baby moose?) and I just never get tired of them. We see them just about every day, but I rarely stop to take a picture.

This guy made me laugh though, with his funny whitewashed face. And when I pulled over the car, instead of running into the wintery wood, he turned to face me and posed.

Goodbye funny fella. Maybe you will be on the front page of the news when I get it tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

I don't have much time to post, Christmas is almost upon us..and I am trying to keep the kids focused on school for one more week (while visions of sugarplums dance in their heads..hee hee) so we can be at a great stopping place in our unit studies.

We went out tree hunting yesterday, and I could not resist some winter pictures. Our weather has been unusual lately, in that we have had heavy fog trapping cold air in the woods, and causing frost build-up on the trees. We also have not had any new snow, to cover up the frost or cause the trees to droop. Then, the temps have been low, around ten degrees, so that made the sky very VERY blue! So beautiful. All of that delicate frost elegantly adorning our trees. I'm an Alaskan-born girl, and after living here my whole life, I still never tire of our scenery.

Its truly like walking in a winter wonderland.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

That was Then, This is Now

That was then. Fun!
This is now. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Turkey, Some Cousins, & a Trivial Pursuit Victory

I have been thinking about it, and I think the best thing about Thanksgiving this year was when we were preparing for it. My girls were SO darn sweet about not wanting me to "do too much". They put on their favorite aprons and dove in! We were going to my folk's house for the big family dinner, so we only had to bring a few dishes to contribute.

We made 24 Hour Salad, 10 lbs of mashed potatoes, and Penelope made a big beautiful layered banana pudding. Chena peeled a mountain of potatoes, then whipped them up in our Kitchen Aid. Gotta love that thing. I sure do. We listened to Christmas CDs and danced around the kitchen together. I'm so lucky to have my kooky twosome.

We had lots of fun this year, even with a few changes from our normal family members who attend. My Dad was in Michigan deer hunting, a gift for his birthday, and my brother Rich was at work on the North Slope. His wife and two kids didn't come, as they went to her parents' there were some people missing. My son Lex is in S Korea in the Air Force. But we had some special guests too. My sister's two young foster children were there with us, so we had some extras. We all love them and consider ourselves blessed with extra kiddos!

After dinner, the gals challenged the guys to a rousing game of Trivial Pursuit. Only it wasn't too rousing, because we started trouncing them immediately, and they all acted bored to hide their pouting. My poor husband would have rather had his fingernails pulled out one by one, than play a family board game, but he was a good sport and managed not to fall asleep. Of course we won, and we girls tried not to look too smug.

The girls hung out with their cousins, while they all tried to figure out "who got who" for our annual Christmas drawing (they each draw one name, and only buy a gift for that one cousin..but its a secret..or supposed to be). Then they watched the movie "Up" in the playroom, and a few went downstairs to play fuseball.

My Mom was leaving early the next day to go join Dad in Michigan, so we were lucky enough to divide up all the leftovers, and even got a whole pie to take home!

On Black Friday I hopped out of bed early ( hopped=dragged in a loopy fashion) to pick up my sister and head to town to catch the sales. I'm real thankful for free coffee at the stores, it was the only thing that got me through the first five or six hours. Its all fun though. Can't tell you what I bought here, (shhhhh) but I was able to find some great deals!

Friday night was fireworks at our annual Christmas Comes to the Kenai parade and festivities. Everyone goes to it, so we always see tons of family and friends.

Lots of nieces, nephews, cousins and second cousins watching the display in the sky!

I call this one "The Dying Jellyfish".

"OOOOOOOOOOOOOH" you could hear the kids say....