Monday, November 28, 2011

Special Thanks on this Thanksgiving weekend.

I have pondered how to best share this story and feel that I must share it with you.It is quite a miracle and a great way to celebrate a Thanksgiving weekend.

This story began a long time ago.

Jari's family moved here from Finland when he was but a year old. They were assisted in coming to America by his maternal aunt, Martta. Martta was always a large piece of their lives and passed away from cancer several years ago. Even most of my side of the family has met Martta as she had been to visit in our home numerous times.

Jari had a cousin, Martta's son, who had passed away as well and his children were lost to this side of the family. About six years ago, I spend a lot of time trying to find them and every road came to a dead end. It was just not meant to be at that time in our lives.

In the past several weeks the family has been contacted by a gentlemen named Bob. He is no relation to the family at all, but was looking for his boyhood friend ... who happened to be Jari's first cousin. Bob has the great fortune of living on the east coast, where they all lived at one time, and has access to resources that are difficult for us to touch being so far away.

In his journey to find his friend, who he found was deceased, he made an astounding discovery. Martta also had another son. We may never know all the pieces of this story and why things went the way they did but the second son, Geoff, was placed for adoption at birth. He was raised by a very loving family for whom we are extremely grateful and thankful. I can't imagine what a person goes through when they start the journey to find their "birth" family. Adoption records were sealed and although he spent much in the way of time and energy, he was unable to discover anything to help him in his quest. Until recently. Bob, through some chance of fate, shares the same last name as Geoff's birth mother did although they are no relation. Bob shared the same last name as his best friend when they were growing up together, something they often marveled over. At some point Geoff learned the name of his birth mother, knew he had a brother and just recently contacted Bob in hopes that he was finding his brother. What he found instead was a gentlemen who was willing to help him find the links he had been searching for. For Bob had already been talking to the rest of the "birth family" in the past several weeks.

This past weekend we received an e-mail that gave the Marjanen family a nephew. Gave them a cousin. Telephone calls were made back and forth while we waited to see a picture of our newly found cousin. We now have a face to put with a name and are most anxious to meet him someday soon. He is anxious to meet his kin as well. Facebook has allowed us to share pictures of his birth mother. Someday, over a cup of coffee, we hope to share the pieces of her life that we knew with the son who was never able to meet her.

Along the way we have also found one of those cousins for whom I searched 6 years ago. We are hopeful that at some point we can meet them as well.

Over the weekend while we were quickly learning all sorts of new things, I had to really marvel at what a miracle it all is. Quite often I have to say I've been a member of the Instant Gratification Society in my life. Just as often I have heard, "All in God's time." This weekend was His time. For it didn't matter how much one would have wanted it before, it was not meant to be. The treasure was waiting for when the time was right. We are thrilled.

I am quite confident that we will meet Geoff before too long. I hope we can also meet Bob someday. Several weeks ago he was a complete stranger, unknown to any of us. He set out to find a friend ... and then to help one. He has brought so much joy to so many lives.

We can simply give thanks.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Thanksiving full of reasons to be thankful.

Dining outdoors.
Delicous goodies.
Palm fronds swaying in the breeze under skies that shifted between clouds and sunshine.
Bare feet in green grass.
Hands that can play a game.
Family to play with.
Newborn smells and snuggles.
Duke ... our crumb cleaner ... who loves to eat ice.
Jenny who had Sonic ice ... not intended for Duke!
Brian who adds a touch of wit to our days.
Kierstyn who has a bit of a competitve spirit.
Trina who was content to just sit and watch.
Taryn who is just all around sweet.
Natasha, whose immediate family is not close by, but who now lives close to us.

Funny moments that make us laugh.
Thankful that we were able to enjoy the company of four of our children today.
We missed Brock, who is in Minnesota, but were able to chat many times by phone today.
Thankful for daughters who are also sisters.
Thankful for my wonderful husband.

God has richly blessed our lives.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Motivation Monday

Mighty nice to have the day week off!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Salmon Success

I found a WalMart! One I can find things in. One that has things. Like good canning jars.
I am over the moon. (Maybe that is a slight exaggeration ... but I'm nearly there.)
Saturday activity over here included this new little gadget that enables us to can things outside.
It will also allow us to deep fry things outdoors.
Maybe we'll finally try deep frying some halibut.
I have deep fried absolutely nothing inside my house for years.

We hauled down a little less than 50 pounds of salmon with us. The good stuff. :)
Much of the salmon was frozen in the Ziploc variety of vacuum seal bags.
Last year I really don't remember a problem with them. This year we have a problem.
Maybe we've moved the fish too many times and handled the bags a little more than they liked.
Either way, some of the fish needed to be canned before it was no good anymore.

We got it done while enjoying the beautiful 70 degree day outside today. Pure delightful especially when you hear temps from places in Alaska ... like Fairbanks. Yoikers but it is downright chilly there.

Then we moved on to juicing green stuff.

We tried 1 bunch of kale, 4 stalks of celery, 2 cucumbers and 2 granny smith apples.
Then I made sure it was equally divided.
If I'm going to drink this .... so is Jari.
No cheating going on here!
It was downright nasty.
The kind where you are sorely tempted to plug your nose and gulp it down.
I skipped the nose plugging and tried the chugging.
Even that didn't do it!
It went down the hatch .... barely.
To be perfectly honest, if I had to live on it I would undoubtedly develop a taste for it.
The thought of living on it makes me have pangs of starvation.
The resulting full stomach was nothing like the fruit drink.
This one had me inhaling a bowl of potato chips an hour later.
So much for that idea!
I'll do it again tomorrow tho'. What else am I going to do with all that kale in the fridge?
The apples ... a pie would work right fine.
The cucumbers ... maybe on a sandwich or just plain.
The kale? I'm going to be juicing ... and drinking.

After having Dean & Keilah with family over this late afternoon, and dinner, they headed on to the next house. Super fun to have them over. I took a video on my phone of the activity going on over here and forgot to stop recording at the length where I could still send it off the phone. Went too long and now I can't. It was good giggles.

After they left I realized what day today is.
Yes, I know it is Saturday.
The date?
The 19th.
That means tomorrow is the 20th and there is a bake sale at church.
And I signed up to bring something.
And I forgot.
Until 7pm Saturday night when I'm down to 1 cup of sugar in the house.
I'm baking .....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Turning new leaves ...

or maybe we're just trying to find spring in what seems like fall.I'm talking about the act of aging.
We aren't getting any younger around here.
Neither are you and it makes me feel a wee bit better. (grins)
What is it that makes a person start to take notice of life and the way they feel?
Makes one want to have a little more energy in their day? Feel a little better?
I'm not ready to make a lifestyle change that won't be with me forever.
I'm not really intersted in fad food changes or life changes that come and go. I hope that won't be me.
In the past few weeks, Jari and I have been on sort of journey of health exploration.
We all know what is "suppose to" be good for us. That basic food group thing. Everything in moderation. Exercise. Yadada.
I'm not good at any of it. Especially the exercise category. I am not going to be a fitness guru. Ever. Should that unlikely thing happen ... do something like slap me. I'm serious.
We are going to try some new things around here. I'm not sure the kids will be on board with it ...
but you never know!
The beginning of this week I ordered a juicer. Last night when I came home it was sitting in that beautiful Amazon[dot]com box outside the door. I went with a less expensive juicer than the one I saw being used on the highly motivating Fat Sick and Nearly Dead that we were led to. (Absolutely fascinating by the way!) This one was rated well wherever I looked and will do the job. Should this end up being a passing fancy .... at least I won't have spent oodles of money. It did lie about one thing. An apple does not fit in the chute unless you're using little things you picked off your own tree.

This morning I juiced fruit. I am not crazy about eating fruit and vegies. I like some of them, but to sit down and eat a bowl or plate of fruit for me is near torture. Anything laced with or coated in sugar? Bring it on! Not fruit. Today I tried. 2 good size apples, 2 pears and probably 2 cups of red grapes went through the juicer. Then I proceeded to drink all of it ... and felt like I had just downed Thanksgiving dinner. Full to the point of needing a nap and taking one out in the sun! Full for HOURS ... most of the day. I won't do that again! Tomorrow I'm sharing with Jari and we can both be stuffed.

Tomorrow I'm also going green vegie shopping. I have never eaten a piece of kale in my life. I'm telling you .... I'm a little selective in my vegie eating. I thought I was doing good with craving green beans several years ago. I'm still not ready for beets. Maybe I'll drink them instead.
I am cooking dinner tomorrow. I'll continue doing that. Otherwise, we're juicing breakfast and lunch.
Don't let that scare you away from visiting us. I still have eggs and bacon in the fridge. And .... I'll still make you the world's greatest pancakes topped with fruit, syrup and whipping cream.
I might just drink my fruit while you eat the rest.

Thanks to my friend Ronda, who was willing to join me this morning, we took a "stroll" up a wee little hill. In the scheme of mountain hikes, it is a stroll. For me who doesn't do any wee mountain strolling, it was a great accomplishment to 1) get shoes on feet, 2) get out the door and 3) walk outdoors and enjoy it! I've been getting a little frustrated with myself. The weather is beautiful. The wind isn't howling. I don't need hat/mitts/boots. Why is it so hard to get into a routine of just getting out there?! I'm planning on this becoming a routine as well, although it might involve some serious self talk ... or a like minded person who is motivating.

All in all ... it was a grand day.

This evening we had visitors!
We were blessed with a new nephew on Wednesday. Dustyn Ray is a first boy in a family that has 6 girls. God figured they were ready for a boy and blessed Frans & Jenny with a strapping healthy one.
This picture was taken at the hospital Thursday evening.

Photo courtes of i-phone.

Tonight he came over to visit with part of his family.
I hope salmon chowder doesn't make him cranky and he lets his mommy sleep tonite.

In other exciting news ....

Alyx got 2 jobs today!

She will be doing in home care 2 days a week and working at a convenience store up the street the other 5 days. She's going to be a mighty busy girl for a while! Congratulations!!

I mowed the lawn today and wondered why I couldn't just shove all that wet grass through my juicer. I could drink for a week! We sort of overseeded and have a barely cuttable hay field growing. I have to figure out how to change the sprinklers so they quit watering it twice a day. Looks good though!

It is getting downright close to being Saturday morning.
The girls are off and running, Jari has gone to sleep and the house is nice and quiet (because the klunky dryer finished its thing). The windows are open and I'm hoping the temp in here is below 70 in the morning. A sweatshirt would feel kinda good!

Have a safe and happy weekend!

oh. my. gosh.
Duke just started up some little barking in his sleep. I wonder what he is dreaming about.
Fred? Dog bones? Moose? Oreo?
His barks sound like little puppy yelps.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I tell you ... it's a wonderful week!

... and it's only Tuesday!
Monday I was working in Tempe and spied this view on my way home.
I don't dare haul a camera with me to work anymore, but I couldn't believe my eyes!
I've never seen corn growing on the reservation.
I'm back to work. I secured a prn/pool position and was looking at working 2 days a week.
However, knowing how those things work ... there is never a guarantee.
You're the first to be axed off the schedule if the census plummets or the "normal" folks
arent' taking time off. Today I was offered a benefited part time position!! Yippee!!
I'm doing okay with the early mornings and managing to get to work on time.
I also found something fun today. I can do my phone chats to other places on my drive home.
Catches people at a decent time of the day .. perfect!
For now my life looks like it will involve working three days a week ... some shorter than others.
Still time to refinish furniture and maybe try my hand at that crochet hook again.

Maybe I'll even remember my own glasses on Thursday and won't have to wear the Target dollar cheaters that I found in the car.
Thank goodness they were there ... I'd not have seen a thing today!

Alyx has an interview tomorrow ... send up a little prayer for her and cross your fingers!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

In with some ... out with others

I managed it! My eyeballs were open at shortly after 4:00 a.m. Friday. I would have never thought it possible. That is a totally unacceptable hour to be getting up for work ... unless you consider the traffic at that hour. It is absolutely delightful. As in nearly non existent. I got to work nice and early, having the opportunity to sit in the parking lot for about 30 minutes. Back in Alaska, I spent many of my short morning drives to work doing a 10 minute phone chat with someone. Time zones worked well for that. Not anymore. I can't call anyone in Alaska at 3:30 in the morning. Well, I suppose I could. They probably wouldn't appreciate it. Minnesota is nearly the same thing. So it goes. I sat in the dark car with a well lit cell phone finding something to do. Kind of makes you feel like you're sitting in a fish bowl ... in a bowl of piranhas. Not the most comfortable feeling in the world. As I was assured many times during orientation by security and others, the hospital is not exactly in a great part of town. The day went well and I'm looking foward to next week!

Jari and Alyx went up to Colorado Thursday morning and came home Friday evening. One of those flying (in the truck) trips and on a mission. They helped move the rest of Juha and Annette's to Prescott! Thursday evening I cleaned the garage. It doesn't really matter how much a person tries to pare down their worldly goods ... they still exist and get shuffled all the time.

There really was an ulterior motive for getting this done. I really wasn't bored or anything. I cleared a spot for a treadmill that was coming home in the load from Colorado. Today it is in its spot and I am hopeful that it gets as much walking time as everyone thinks it will!

Friday morning I hit this dresser. No, I really didn't hit it. The girls were busy cleaning out their bedrooms. I actually have bags of clothes for donation!! Yippee!! This dresser is going in Anna's room and it needed a little facelift. This is one of those pieces that Jari brought home right before we moved. Not a sturdy thing, but functional with some fun looking form.

 It is now shiny black. The drawer pulls on the dresser aren't the metal they appear to be. They're cheap plastic stuff. Now I'm trying to find new handles. Must need a trip to Ikea, because finding 4 inch drawer pulls isn't as easy as I thought it would be.

After this one is in place, I think (as far as I can remember) I have two pieces left to do. Smaller projects and super fun. Good thing I know where that sander is!

Scored at a few yard sales this morning. Scrubs from one of them and Western garb at another. I've been wearing surgical department scrubs for the past 4 years. Gosh, I miss those things. Peel them off and toss them in the laundry basket when you leave for the day. Show up in the morning and pick a pair. Depending on how much you ate the nite/week/month before, you chose a larger size. Mighty convenient. That convenience has gone out the window ... and I now get to launder (and purchase) my own. Today's find helped out a bit in that area!

Tonight we are attending a Western Dinner Fundraiser ... in western dress. Those not dressed in western garb will be penalized.  I think we're good to go. It promises to be a super fun evening! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Nearly a week?! An entire week?!

What on earth have I been doing????
Well ... I tried crocheting some more foot things and ended up starting a scarf instead.
I'll wait on the slippers for some other time in my life.

I've wrapped Christmas gifts. Wrapped! (That means that first I had to create.) Anna walked into my closet today and found my stash. Ooh La La. I've been having fun. I'm not done, but the big things are done and wrapped. Tags ... ribbon and all. I might be done by Thanksgiving for the first time ever in my life.

Today Jari is doing much better. I really need to get copies of medical files from different places and have a file cabinet for them. He had two massages last week and saw the chiropractor twice. Our guess is stress. Stress can do such unseemly things to a person. So many physiological symptoms that can get to the point of totally debilitating (sp?). Through the miracle of Young Living's Essential Oils and a combination of other things ... I think we're on the road to being back to the normal energy levels and feeling well. Thank God. Now I could really use a massage ...

The weekend brought a houseful of giggling girls to celebrate Anna's birthday.
(We're msising one in this picture. She was probably doing her hair or something like that.)
Oh, I love it. The giggling and laughter. Let it always be that way. Anna turned 17 last week. I can't hardly believe it myself. How can that be? Where has the time gone and what have we done with all of it?

She's already got the itch to be out on her own in a place filled with friends. I'm probably not going to have her laughing in my house for too many more sleeps. I'll enjoy them while I can.

Then again .... once she moves out I may have this back again.
We sold the Tahoe when we left Alaska. Jari found a screaming deal on this Chevy Classic. I'm not a fan of riding so low to the ground, but I'm getting use to it. I also love the way it whips a u-ball in the middle of nearly anywhere. And that is saying nothing of the gas mileage. Not so hot in town with the air conditioner running, but we manage to put on mega miles. 30 mpg on the trip to Flagstaff when we went. Not bad! I'll ride the pavement for that! We've added a few things like new brakes, rotars, tires and tint. I'm hoping it lasts long enough so I don't have share another vehicle with my offspring.

After a very refreshing weekend at Bible Camp, we started our Monday.
It has been 2 months since I worked. To be perfectly honest, last week I was ready to head back to work. I have projects. I have LOTS and LOTS of projects. They aren't all done, but when I can spend several hours in the morning doing digital scrapbooking ... it might be time to add a little work to my week. I had days where I felt like I got nothing done. I should have run to visit somewhere, but I'm a creature of homebody habit. Not always a good thing, but I did get some scrapbooking done!
Today I started orientation at St Lukes. I've been down there, downtown, several times and at the most, it has taken me 20 minutes to get there. I left in what I thought was plenty of time today, 45 minutes early. And then I ran into a nasty bit of traffic.
 I could have screeched! Then, I'm nearly to the hospital and I get to wait for a school bus that looked to be picking up an entire busload of kids at one stop.

Stress? I was getting there. Even worse was the fact that I was missing the breakfast they were offering of cheese danishes and coffee. That was enough to get my blood pressure up. I made it. I survived the day of hospital policies and one corporate plan after another for one thing or another. In nursing school I learned to sleep with my eyes open. I tried that today, but it has been too long. Either I've forgotten how, or my eyelids have aged and won't stay up there on their own. 3 1/2 more days of this torture this week. Next week I get to start the fun stuff .... and have days off to play.

I came home to our eldest daughter sleeping in the extra bedroom. She made it! It was a table full of giggling girls at dinner ... each voice outdoing the other. Now she gets to start the job hunt that is so much fun!

We've had a decent amount of rain over the weekend. Enough to make the block fences wet by morning.
The weather has cooled off to the point where I actually closed a few of the windows for the night. Getting up the 67 degrees in the house on Sunday morning did that one.
I hauled out a pile of blankets for when we gather out on the patio in the evenings ... dodging sprinklers and watching the grass grow.
I think I like it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Easy Dinner Nite

This was one of those clipped out of a magazine recipes. I wasn't sure I'd ever use it, but tonite I tried it. I'll recommend it as a once in a while as long as you doctor it up a bit.

Beef Taco Skillet

1 lb ground beef (or whichever critter is filling your freezer)
1 can (10-3/4 oz) Campbells Condensed Tomato Soup
1/2 cup Pace Chunky Salsa
1/2 cup watter
6 flour tortillas (6"), cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cook beef in skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to seaparate meat. Pour off fat.
Stir in soup, salsa, water and tortillas in skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cook 5 min. Stir. Top with cheese.

Cooks note: I added black beans to the mix and then topped it all with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream. It isn't spicey at all, so if you need some zip to your food .... find something to add. Wish I had guacamole in the fridge today as that would have been a good addition. While this isn't a dish that I would make once a week, it'll work for a real quick dinner. Make it real fast by having your meat already browned and frozen in the freezer. (I'm not adhering to the nutritional loss of precooked and frozen meat. I just go for convenience.)

Happy dining!