Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First Egg!

 A shot hubby messaged me this morning....our second egg!

 The girls on their resting place when being moved from outside to the garage....the baby gate.

The golden egg...our first egg after a long, long wait!

I can answer the age old question what comes first the chicken or the egg?

Actually what comes first is 235 days of work and hoping. We brought our chickens home when they were one day old. We had them sit in their warm brooder for 6 weeks, feeding and nurturing them to be strong enough to go outside. Since this past winter was the snowiest in history of Anchorage it took forever for the snow to melt and the back yard to be chicken friendly. 

We spent time getting the chicks used to the dogs, baby and us. They were named and fed the best organic food we could find.

They were bought treats and a chicken toy. They moved outside after 8 weeks full time to their McMansion in the back yard, a lovely cap cod style chicken hutch. Hubby soon began improvements with water system and food system that is genius and allows us to feed them through a chimney that will make easy access even when several feet of snow blanket the back yard.

He then heated the water system, raised the level of the hutch so that we could do a deep litter which eliminates all smells. I brought home hay to use for Ocoee's birthday party and then we used it to insulate the house and make a soft place for the girls to rest. Chickens love hay.

I spent all summer trying to keep the chickens off my deck, out of my garden and away from my flowers and lettuce. I failed lots. I yelled more.

Still after all this work....no eggs.

It has been winter for a long time already in Anchorage. We have had weeks of below zero weather. We have plan B for the girls which involves a huge dog kennel in the garage for the really cold nights. Anything below zero and they are inside the garage. 

The girls even learned to walk in the snow.....which they thought was really crazy the first few inches but are now legitimate Alaskan chickens and wade through with no issues.

Hubby would take them fresh water each day since theirs froze and even prepare them a hot water bottle to warm them up. We installed a thermostat we could monitor the temperature of the coop from inside.

And we waited.

Dates we predicted past. 

We made new predictions. These too passed. I considered a light. Hubby was firm that a light was unneeded stress on these poor, poor chickens.

I sighed.

And then Sunday we found our first egg. We are sure it was Eli that laid it since she is the biggest and bossiest. The first girl to show signs of broodiness (chicken speak for hormonal).

And this morning there was another golden egg.

We ate the first one last night on our weekly egg night. A simple meal of homemade caesar salad, egg sandwiches and roasted potatoes was made celebratory by our first egg and a nice bottle of Pinot Noir. The egg had the oranges yolk and tasted divine.

We joked that these are very expensive eggs, and it will take years to make this hobby/project/experiment pay for itself. The girls are part of our odd little family now and I am thrilled they are laying eggs. They have passed the dogs in rank of productiveness.


Friday, December 14, 2012

We need change! NOW!

As a teacher and parent I am grieving for the families in Connecticut today. I took my students on a field trip today for a performance of dance by a high school. We were surrounded by Elementary students who also were attending. I sat choked up, crying, seeing the joy of these young innocent kids.


I have no answers. This has happened too often.

I remember Von Maur and the feelings of that day flood back. People I worked with and knew died at the hands of another crazy gunman.

It has to stop. We need change.

I hope our government can be strong enough to change gun control laws and that the people of this country can see the wisdom in more control of these deadly weapons.

I can't wait for school to be over and have my baby in my arms, so I can finally breathe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Advent calendar for toddlers

For Christmas this year I have been very aware of the traditions we are forming now we have Ocoee in our lives. We have some from our childhood and some that are unique to just us.

One that we just started was an advent calendar. Since Ocoee is too young for treats or small toys (she would eat them!) I decided on an ornament a day idea.

These are not normal ornaments. These are handmade felt ornaments that she places on her very own felt christmas tree. I saw the idea on pininterest and loved it. I went to the fabric store, bought my material and got to work.

Well let's just stay my stunning lack of craft skills are shining in this project. The tree is crooked and strange looking and the best I could do for ornaments were roundish ornaments and an odd candy came in red only. Stripes are beyond me. My snowflake looks like Swiss cheese.

Other than the ugliness factor it is a hit! She says tree, tree. Well I think that is what she is saying anyway and we pick her new ornament from her advent calendar each day. The tree is stapled to the hall wall so it is hidden from offending visitors but is perfect for her to play with. She likes to pat the wall over and over. The best part is ripping all the ornaments off.

We are missing a few ornaments that I think our dog Brodie might have eaten. Otherwise Ocoee could care less that my crafting skills are a hot mess.

I may redo next year with really sharp scissors and some patterns, maybe a glue gun and less wine. Or maybe I will reuse this one because one thing about tradition is that it doesn't have to be pretty to be special.

Also about 8 inches of fresh snow and our chickens have even begun to get used to it and wade through!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Some things are special

So I haven't blogged lately and I wanted to put this out there in the blog world.....I keep some things special, for just Ocoee. A good friend gave me a notebook when Ocoee was born. In this notebook I write letters to Ocoee.

These are special letters. Thoughts for only her eyes to read. I will give it to her one day when she is older and I hope it is special, meaningful and important to her. As much as I love documenting online for the world, friends and family to read, I also need this special outlet for my secret mommy thoughts, feeling, fears and hopes.

Since I currently know 11 people who are pregnant and expecting in the next few months, maybe this will make a good present to other moms....a special place to write....often or occasionally.... special mother words.

My mom has passed away and I know that I would love to see her handwriting and feel her words.

Also if you are thinking of gifts, there is a great website called Spoonflower, where you can turn handwritten recipes into tea towels. In this day of amazing technologies how cool is it to use the technology to see an old fashioned thing like handwriting. And those famous family recipes would be easily available and honored in a unique way, instead of tucked away for no one to see.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Decorating the house for Christmas

Here are photos from our Holiday kick off weekend.

Here is a quick family shot from Thanksgiving Day. I look odd, but hubby and Ocoee look nice so we are using it.

Mike and Ocoee with Kayla, our family friend and babysitter. We often joke that this is our other family!

Ocoee and I being silly.

Ocoee enjoying some pumpkin ice cream pie...she pretty much loved it. She devoured the crab cakes we made in the place of turkey.

Since it was our first Christmas in Alaska we wanted to go all out on decorating the house. Also Ocoee is much more aware this Christmas than last so we wanted to really make it special for her. We got an amazing 9 foot Fraser Fir that smells so lovely and decorated with some new ornaments, some old and a bow tied by hubby on top.

Every year Ocoee gets a special ornament. Last year it was a silver rattle by Lennox, this year it was a crystal snowflake from Swarovski. 

Ocoee working on decorating her mini tree for her bedroom.

Our tree with the lights on.....sigh. I love Christmas. I wish this website was scratch and sniff so you could smell it!

The staircase is wrapped in fresh garland and lights, with the 3 dogger stocking here.

The railing overlooking the living room holds our stockings. Since our old ones were mismatched and worn I bought us all three new ones from Pottery Barn and had our names embroidered on them. They look really nice and will last for years and years!

Hubby did the outside work and used fake garland. In Alaska we have very short days in the winter. We get down to about 5 hours of daylight on the winter solstice so the Christmas lights help to brighten your day and keep your spirits up. This will be our first winter solstice in Alaska since we are usually in Hawaii by the solstice.

Our door wreath. I use a lot of silver in the decorating.

Our new advent calendar from Land of Nod. I filled it with felt ornaments for Ocoee's felt tree. I will post about it later. She is too young for most tiny gifts and candy so the felt ornaments will be a fun way to count down to Christmas.

And the best thing of all from the weekend. The Nebraska Cornhuskers won their game and are heading to the Big Ten Championship this weekend. It was a rough season but we ended it 10-2...not too shabby!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

It is beginning to look like Christmas

I have a big post coming with tons of photos but here is a sneak peak. We put up our very first Christmas tree in Alaska. Every year we have gone to Hawaii and never bothered to put one up. This year we will head to Maui for new years and go all out for Christmas.

We always do a real tree and even though our house is small our living room ceilings are tall so we were able to do a nice big 9 foot Fraser fir. I am so in love with it. It is so beautiful.

And best of all. It smells like Christmas.

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving weekend in Alaska

What a blessing four days off with family and friends is! The night before thanksgiving we made Ono fish wanton cups with homemade crab Rangoon. Yum! It was out anti-turkey meal and delicious.

Then on thanksgiving we had the whole day to relax and get ready for dinner. We were able to enjoy our morning tea and time with Ocoee. She is always a ton of fun in the mornings.

Hubby made roasted garlic mashed potatoes and we headed over to our friends the Berg family. There was lots of food and wine. Ocoee loved all the action and attention, especially from 12 year old Kayla who babysits her when we sneak off for date night.

By the time we go home she was wiped and crashed as soon as her head hit mattress.

The day after thanksgiving we headed to the nutcracker play. I was very nervous since she had never been to a play and this was a big time play. He has never even watched a tv show so I was afraid she might be overwhelmed. Hubby dropped us off and we found our seats. I was happy I had chosen 2nd row, aisle seats. We loaded her seat with all of our winter gear and watched the orchestra warm up. Behind us was the lady from our swimming lesson on Monday, another row back was a coworker from hubby's work and her daughter as in front of us was a 3 year old girl who danced 75% of the show.

The performance was magical. The sets and costumes were some of te best I have seen anywhere. Ocoee was mesmerized the entire first act bouncing up and down to the music in my lap while spellbound by the action on stage. I am glad we were so close because she really could see everything well.

After intermission we began watching the second act when Ocoee squirmed from my lap, headed into the aisle and began to dance. For a baby who was barely walking a week ago to walk up the aisle of a packed theater dancing was amazing. She played with the little girl dancing in front of us and if she had better balance I swear she would have taken a bow during the many applauses. I think she thought they were clapping for her!

Everyone commented on how well se behaved. The usher said she was the youngest baby she had seen and the best behaved too! The music and dance were perfect baby charmers and to be honest I was swept away as well. I think this will be an annual tradition go us.

After we were pretty wiped and decide to head home for dinner and skip the Santa sleigh arrival this year. Ocoee was spaced off, with I am sure sugar plum fairies dancing in her head.

Then today we met our friends for ice fishing at Campbell lake. Even though it was cold, Ocoee was bundled and the sun glistened off the mountains. Denali was out and the skies were a crisp winter blue. Hubby pulled Ocoee around in the sled while Kraig drilled ice holes. The guys caught lots of little lake trout while us girls headed home to warmth and prepared a classic Swiss fondue for a late lunch.

I love the easy going fun times of thanksgiving weekend. Here in Alaska many of us don't have family around so our friends have become our family for these special days. We are thankful for them!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The best laid plans-Thanksgiving week recipes

Last Year at the Cox's for Thanksgiving....our first with Ocoee! She was so little!

I am a planner. Ask anyone you know. I have vacations planned 3 years in advance. I started shopping for Ocoee's one year birthday party when she was 3 months old. When I play amateur psychologist I think it is because when I was young life felt so out of control that now I like to plan so I feel in control.

But I have also learned that I plan and God, Allah or Mother Nature (covering all my bases) laughs. A deep hearty chuckle actually.

So it is with fingers crossed that I plan our Thanksgiving weekend. Today hubby is off early, so he will get Ocoee and do some of the menu shopping. I plan on making early our Thanksgiving pumpkin ice cream pie tonight, along with fish wonton cups (I will use Ahi or cod instead) and crab ragoon for dinner. 

Tomorrow we will head to our friends how to celebrate thanksgiving. Since we are pescatarians (only eat fish, no meat) we will make crab cakes along with Julia Childs garlic mashed potatoessouthwest eggrolls as an app and some good vino from our Napa trip.

The day after Thanksgiving Ocoee and I are heading to the Nutcracker, then we will go out for dinner and head downtown for Santa coming in with real reindeer and the town square tree lighting ceremony. This is all if Ocoee is feeling well...which she currently isn't.  She has a snotty nose, cough and isn't resting well....sigh.

I also hope to break in my new fondue pot after a family adventure of ice fishing......did I mention is has been below freezing. Yep, the girls (cleo, eli and opie....our chickens) are in the garage in a big dog kennel while the really cold weather rages outside. They are good up until it drops below 10 degrees, then it is just ridiculous.

So I am thankful for the luxury of planning but grounded in reality that many things are out of my control. I will report back our success rate. If Ocoee can rally and I don't burn everything we may have chance. 

Oh yea I want to decorate and get a real tree for the first time in Alaska also....

Wish me luck!


Saturday, November 17, 2012


I have much to be thankful for. My health, my family, my friends, a good job, and the list goes on and on.

This week at my school we raised money for the water project to help bring clean water to Kenya. It was part of our Africa unit and I was very proud and thankful at how my students empathized with people across the world.

At the end of the week one of my students and a close family friend and I decided to bake a ton of cookie to give out to the people we are thankful for. Our school security staff, her teachers, Ocoee's teachers, our principals. We shopped and baked from 10-6, with Ocoee bouncing from me to Kayla to hubby and really enjoying all the attention.

At the end we had 5 different types of cookies, 19 goody boxes, a platter of macaroons, and a mixed cookie platter for hubby's work. More importantly I got to spend time with people I am thankful for while spreading a little cheer to others. These are the days memories are created.

Be thankful!