Gingerbread 2017

Our 5th annual gingerbread contest happened last night.  Our house was full of bustle, laughter, and joy.  Makes my heart happy.  We had six families join us this year.  With fellowship followed by lots of fun competition and themed prizes.  Thankful to be with great families to enjoy the holidays!

The hosts!
Creating our mountain
Everybody adding their ideas!
Hard at work families!
Judges carefully watching the competition




Piano Recital

Proud of Jadon and Esther for working so hard in learning their piano songs this year.  It is so fun to hear how much they have learned since last year.  Jadon played Classic Dance.   Esther played Joy to the World/Silent Night Melody.  I was thankful that Greg, Don and Ferol were all able to attend the recital.

Proud Grandparents!
Esther & Jadon




Tree Hunting

Heading up to the mountains this year to find our tree is always an adventure.  This year however seemed to be more of an adventurous struggle than most years, but we persevered and found success.  It was actually becoming quite comical of all the adventurous struggles:

The Adventure begins!
  • The kids packed their winter gear:  which resulted in them not have a change of clothes when they got cold and wet.  In all fairness we didn’t expect 3 feet of snow.  Rahab got stuck in a 3 feet of snow.  Her boot got stuck and full of snow.  I came to help and found her boot at the car and her bare foot sitting in the snow.  She was screaming my foot is FREEZING!  I had to carry her to the car through snow, which I kept falling in waist high.  We made it and we didn’t even lose the foot!
Found a snow cave
  • Packed only snacks:  We thought we would have time to stop for lunch, but didn’t anticipate how long it would take to get the tree on the car!  The kids were really hungry, but they survived!
So did we!
  • Greg missed his buddies:  Let’s face it I can’t drag, pull, or lift a 400 pound tree!  But we did eventually get it on the car.  It may have involved rope, pulling the tree down the hill.  A shovel to prop up the tree so Greg could leverage it on the car while I ‘slowly’ back up the car.  Seriously so many things could have gone wrong,  Most importantly I didn’t kill Greg in the process!
Remember to bring a sharp saw next year…
Dragging it down the hill
Tying it down!
Driving in Yelm!
  • Rahab lost her other front tooth on the mountain!:  Shhh she didn’t want me to send out any pictures.  She wanted to show it off in person.  So if you read this and haven’t seen her maybe you should FaceTime and be surprised!  All she wants for Christmas is her two front teeth!
All I want for Christmas…

We love being able to bring amazement to people faces as they walk into see the tree.  It is a spectacular sight!  

Lights are on!
They loved the ladder!
Examining the tree
Each ornament brings so many memories!

This year I added our Christmas cards display from previous years!  It has been fun to look back and wonder how those families that we have lost touch with are doing.  Also, see how the families we are still in contact have changed over the years!  Yes I have kept all of them over the years!

Christmas Cards 2003-2006!





I love this time of year.  One of our magical traditions is our Blessing Angel, B.A.  She arrives every December.  She brings blessings to our family.  The kids love finding her every morning and reminding us of our many blessings.  Today she was in the Krumkake box.  Which means today we will make Krumkake!  I’m excited to make this Swedish cookie.  It was one of the cookies my Mom always made.  I have the cast iron my mom used over the years of growing up.  I haven’t had the opportunity to use it too many times over the years, due to the wrong stovetop.  This year I solved the problem and bought an electric coil burner.  It was successful.  I was excited to introduce my children to Krumkake!  They loved it!

Cast Iron
B.A is helping us!


Goodbye to AK Adventures

Saying goodbye to our epic summer in Alaska happened this weekend.  We met Greg in Alaska.  We had three purposes; visit the North Pole, Thanksgiving, and clean the house we rented.

Landing in Anchorage bought a flood of memories of our summer up here.  It truly was an amazing summer!  Unforgettable for sure!  We spent most of the day in the airport on Sunday waiting for Greg to return from ORD.  He had to divert.  I can’t remember the last time he had to do that!  Very thankful he is a highly trained pilot who does what is safe even if it isn’t popular!  The kids and I got a lot of school work done and watched the Vikings win!  We tried to use our 5 hour wait for him wisely.  Monday we spent cleaning the town house.  Our lease is up at the end of the month.  I really enjoy the fact that we can clean the house in about 2 hours, from top to bottom!  Awesome! Greg will come up one more time and then the house if officially done.  Bitter sweet if you ask me.

The Scream: 3 hours into the wait for Dad and we find out we have 2 more hours to go!
Comfy chairs while we wait!
Watching the planes take off and land!
Movie time in the house one last time!
Walking in a winter wonder land!
Snow Angels
Jadon’s snow angel
Enjoying our walk!
Trying to sled with no sleds…
Buried in the snow: Esther
Buried in the snow: Jadon

On Tuesday, we attempted our next purpose.  To go to the North Pole and see Santa.  This was one of the very few adventures in AK that totally flopped!  It was Santa’s day off!  Ugh.  We did get to drop off our letters in his letter box, but it just wasn’t quite the same.  We did see the reindeer though.  We also look forward to the ice sculptures.  But again, we struck out on that too.  We were too early for those.  It hasn’t been cold enough, image that!  It was -10*F.  I think we might need to make a trip with our nephews!  Watch out nephews, North Pole may be in your future!  We did however find the Thai place in Fairbanks!  Now this place is rated the best Thai food in the country!  It is pretty amazing!

To Fairbanks!
Rahab’s trip to the North Pole!
A little school before going to the North Pole
Letter to Santa
Letter to Santa
Letter to Santa
Sitting in Santa’s Chair
Reading the letter to Daddy
Delivering the letter
The Reindeer!

Last but not least was Thanksgiving.  Being on reserve for the holidays is very unpredictable.  He could be home or could be flying without much warning.  We chose to spend it up in Alaska in hopes that Greg would be there.  Not this year.  He was off flying.  The blessing in all this is the Ness family.  They were in the same boat as we were.  Both husbands went to work, leaving us moms to take on Thanksgiving with 6 kids!  I’m so thankful we were able to join them for thanksgiving.  Not only did they provide all the food.  We also made a mess making lefsa with them!  We had a great laid back couple of days.  Hanging out playing games, sledding, walking, and just enjoying each others company.  Although we miss our husbands and extended families on these days, it was sure comforting to be with great friends.  Hopefully next year we will not be on reserve!  Oh wait we have Christmas reserve to look forward too!  

Making Lefsa
Thanksgiving walk!
Dinner is ready!
Monopoly challenge!


Moon Cakes, Arches, and Serving

M is for Moon!  Rahab is in kindergarten this year!  I love this curriculum.  It provides such fun activities all while learning!  Rahab is my helper in the kitchen.  I can remember when she was really little she would be contently playing in the house somewhere.  The moment she would hear me cooking in the kitchen she would come join in on the action!  It was quite a joy for her and I to make Moon Cake!  She did an amazing job measuring out the ingredients and following directions!

Mixing it up!
3 Craters
Time to lick
Moon Dust
Moon Cake!
A is for Apple Pie
We also made an apple pie for A.

Arches!  Esther, Jadon and I have been studying Roman history.  We were learning about the arches they made and that are still standing today.  Pretty incredible if you ask me!  Of course we, and by we, I mean Esther and Jadon, had to try their hands out by making an arch out of pudding boxes!  What a great project!  They even learned some vocabulary, like the keystones and their purposes.

Working together
The Arch!

Service!  This is one of the perks of homeschooling.  We were able to take the afternoon and learn how to make Cardomon Bread.  Which was being sold as a fundraiser for Truly Motivated.  It was an awesome way to serve.  I’m hoping we can do it again next year.  If you haven’t tried this bread, you need too!  We have a couple of loaves, and we might be willing to share.  Maybe…

Checking the Temperature
Cutting, Rolling and Braiding the dough!


Surprise Showers!

I was able to surprise my sister and mom!  I flew in last friday night to surprise my sister at her baby shower last Saturday.  The surprise was unexpected and super fun for me!  With the help of my husband, navigating me through different routes so I could get there and my Dad who helped keep it a secret from Mom and Tricia!  It was a successful surprise!  And well worth the whirlwind of travel!  This was the first time I have seen my sister since April.  I am so excited to be an aunt again and for her to join motherhood.  She is going to be a great mother! And to see her belly brought me great joy!  I’m so thankful that God provided a way for me to make trips like this happen!

My Sister!
Mom, Tricia, Grandma, & Chris

She is having showers back to back.  I turned around and brought the kids four days later.  We had a lot of fun planning this shower for Tricia.  Esther and Rahab were so excited to help with all the fun details of planning the shower.  From decorating to taking pictures to playing the games and activities.  I really do hope my sister felt blessed by this baby shower.  She is dearly loved by family and friends!  I’m blessed to have her as my sister.

The yummy Cake!
Showered with lots of friends and family!
Diaper Poop Game!
Aunt Chris, Esther, Aunt Tricia, and Rahab!
My family!
Aunty Tricia and Jadon!

This is my prayer for her as a mother:

As you enter into motherhood there is no greater job then raising the children God gives you.  As you receive amazing advice and wonderful gifts over the years. There will be plenty of both.  There is still one greater than all other gifts, that can not be purchased.  The value of this gift is insurmountable.  As you learn to parent this precious little boy there will be many tears of joy, frustrations, and sorrow.  As you try to learn all the ‘correct ways’ to parent, trust me you will never feel like you are enough for him.  You will seek advice from strangers, books, family and friends all with great intentions.  Some advice will come with a thankful heart and some with a resentful heart.  Remember there is only one source that you can trust fully in this world and that is God’s word.  He will guide you and provide for you all the tools you need to raise this child of God’s.  When you trust the Lord you will know you are enough, your heart will be able see the wise advice and let go of the foolish advice.  Trust Him.  God’s word says to teach your children the ways of the Lord.  This is the most precious gift you can give.

Deut. 6:1 ¶ These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess,

Deut. 6:2 so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.

Deut. 6:3 Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.

Deut. 6:4 ¶ Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

Deut. 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deut. 6:6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

Deut. 6:7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Deut. 6:8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

This the gift you can give your child.  Teach him his need and love for Christ.  No this is something you can’t make him receive, but we are commanded to teach.  

Deschutes Falls

We finished our first week of official school!  To celebrate we had to check out the new park, Deschutes Falls,  just down the road from our house!  What a great way to end our week, exploring the great outdoors with the great fall weather.  The added bonus was we shared the adventure with great friends!  Although I was hoping for a little bit longer of a hike, it was a great place to explore Deschutes River.

We’re off!
The Mommas!
Our exploring children!
Rock jumping
Strike a pose
We did it!



TL Larson’s Ranch

  Our last stop in this road trip was the TL Ranch in Almont, ND! This has been in my family since 1881! Being able to have my Grandma Lois there as a tour guide was perfect! She was born on this property! The land has changed over the years, but it hasn’t! The highest spot in the county lies on their property. Jay Larson currently owns the ranch. He is the son of Grandma’s brother Jake Larson. The ranch is beautifully maintained by Jay and his wife Tracey. They raise Black Simmental cows. Their hospitality and company is top notch! We appreciated them opening up their home, ranch, and home grown food for us! What a special treat!

  Growing up my family would visit the TL ranch. One of the most memorable times was going during branding season. What an exciting and learning curve that was on the ranch! Especially for this ND city girl! Not that much excitement happening on the this trip! Perfect for us to walk around and hear the stories from Grandma! We went up the hill where you can see most of the ranch! We could see the path Grandma would have taken from her home to school. None of these buildings are still there but you can image it! 

Grandma showing us the history

  Jay and Tracy’s daughter, Amanda, and her three kids were there for short time as well! It was great to see her! We haven’t seen each other for 10 years. In fact we have a picture of us 10 years ago with our oldest daughters. Of course we had to reenact the picture with our grown 10 year olds! Fun memories! Hopefully it won’t be another ten years till we see each other!

10 years ago!

  After the Ranch we headed to Sims Church. So much family history here! It is the oldest church west of the Missouri. It is in the National Register of Historical Places. My Grandma and her sisters helped restore the parsonage! It was amazing to walk through and see all the hard work they had done. Seeing pictures of family members over the years, and hear the stories of Grandma remembering when she went to church in the parsonage home, because the church wasn’t built yet. She attended bible school up stairs, but not in the winter because there was no heat upstairs!

Outside the church!
Grandma Lois’ confirmation class
From the balcony
Out houses! These were fully functioning when I was a little girl!

100 years celebration! I’m in the green circle on the right

Grandma’s Grandparents were charter members of the church and helped build the church. In face both set of Grandparents attended the church. It is crazy to think of how many years, around 130 years, our family has been attending that church and continues to attend. We have deep roots there! In fact, another family member, Jay’s son, will be married there next fall!  

  Going to Sims church was my favorite growing up. It’s a quaint country church! Every time we would go the family would sing for church. The pews would be half empty because there were so many of them. It was Grandma Lucille’s, Grandma Lois’ mom, favorite when her grandkids would sing at church. Every time I sing hymns I image this country church.  

Country church! Sims Lutheran
Great Grandma Lucille

   We headed up to the Sims cemetery. Fascinating to see all the history on that hill. Walking down memory lane with Grandma Lois was priceless. Hearing the stories of so many family members. So much history recorded in a cemeteries all over the nation. Couldn’t help but wonder if my current generation will use cemeteries to preserve the history for centuries to come.  

Brand for the ranch on Great Uncle Jays marker

View from the cemetery

   Our last stop before heading west, was a stop at a family, fun tradition! Salem Sue! She is the world’s largest Holstein cow at 38 feet high and 50 feet long! Doesn’t get any better than this!  

Prairie with Salem Sue in New Salem, ND
Worlds largest cow! Right off of I94!

Chris Ireland

Medora, ND

   I have been wanting to take Greg to Medora, ND for 14 years. This weekend, September 2nd, we finally made it happen. Well, actually Greg did! He planned an amazing cross-country trip that ended in Medora! Thank you Greg! My parents and Grandma Lois met us in Medora. What a treat it was to have them with us! Mom worked in Medora 40 years ago at the Cowboy Cafe. The place hasn’t changed she said, except the guy who owned it is no longer living. Such good food, oh, the caramel rolls!! YUM! Touring this quaint cowboy town was such a treat! Lots of original buildings and a true small downtown feel! The history of the cowboys in embraced everywhere! Love it!


My sweet Grandma!
Ready to adventure in Medora!
Eating at the cowboy Cafe!

      We also toured the Cowboy Hall of Fame. What an experience to go through that museum with Mom and Grandma. We were standing there looking at all the pictures of Cowboys in the hall of fame. Mom and Grandma start talking about when they saw that one in the rodeo. ‘He and his brother were so amazing! I remember watching them!’ Comments like that just kept coming! Makes going to the museum come alive with the stories behind the pictures. We also found my Great Uncle Jake on the wall! In fact that was the last time I was in Medora, was when he was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, ten years ago.  

Cowboy Hall of Fame
My Great Uncle!
Cowboy Hall of Fame

   We took the scenic drive around Theodore National Park. I didn’t realize how much Greg knew of the history of Theodore Roosevelt or that it was his favorite president! The park is one of the best kept gems in the United States. Part of me wants to encourage everyone to go, but the other part says stay away! Too many tourists will ruin that place! We hope to come back and really explore that national park!

Wild horses!
Whole crew in Medora!
Love my dad!
Touring the Badlands
Ugh! Prairie Dogs everywhere!

   My favorite part about Medora is the Medora Musical. It’s an outdoor amphitheater that seats 3,000 people, facing the Badlands! The view is incredible, the history is rich, the singing and dancing is topnotch! Oh so funny too! The wit these writers have is incredible! The co-host of the show was a neighbor to another Great Aunt and Uncle! We also, got to meet one of the Burning Hill Singers, Misty, earlier in the day. Looking for Misty on stage was a highlight for us all! After the show we got her autograph and a picture. She even remembered the kids from earlier that day! How cool is that!    

Getting ready for the show!
Amphitheater in Medora
Enjoying the show with my Grandma!
Super Heroes! The kids up on stage!
Enjoying the show with Greg!

   Oh Medora! The sweet treasure of Medora, ND. My home state! Thankful I got to share this gem with my family!

Unspeakable beauty

Chris Ireland