Ashley’s 4oth Birthday!

We had a surprise birthday party for Ashley Sage on Friday after work at her house.  IMG_0019c

We all gathered at her house while she was out eating at what she thought was the IMG_0050c birthday celebration.  When she drove up to the house the first time, she didn’t stop but went right on around the block and came back later.

It was a really fun evening with beverages galore, food, finger treats, cake, and fun conversation all the way around.  We took the three boys and Elisabet and made an evening of it.  The boys played with toys on the living room floor, including this wild ball that people had fun putting their heads into and posing for a picture.

IMG_0060 I’m 39 now and have not seriously considered how it will feel to enter my fifth decade on the planet, but think it will probably be even better than the last ten years, which were the best, so far.  Having family and friends gathered around is really where it’s at.

Mark’s First day of Kindergarten in the new School

Mark is now in school.  Today he went to his first day of school. He was so excited and eager to get in there to play with all the toys that he could barely contain himself.  Holly was prepared to stay the whole day for as many weeks as Mark needed it so that he would have success. 

She and Margaret wanted to send him to just a half day, but I was in favor of sending him for the whole day so that he could do the ‘free-choice’ time in the afternoon where he could go to art of have the choice of which of the educational toys to play with.

IMG_9838 Everything went as planned.  First, Margaret came over to watch the boys so Holly, Mark, and I could walk 1.25 miles to school in the morning.  I have to arrive at 8 am, and school starts at 8:30, so Mark played outside in playground for a bit before school.

IMG_9840cHe has his Bob the Builder backpack with his lunch in it, and Holly has a change of clothes, socks and shoes in the big bag inside a shoe box in case of an emergency, which is standard procedure in the early grades. 

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IMG_9844c It’s the second semester in the new school for the HS and the second year for the K-8 grades in the new building.  There are still some bugs to work out, but it’s a great building and we are really enjoying being in such a nice facility. 

IMG_9844dOf course it was Elisabet’s first day of school in America and we weren’t sure when the bus was going to come by the house, so Margaret offered Elisabet a ride on her first day of school.

When I saw the converse shoes she was wearing I wasn’t sure if she would be wearing what everyone else was wearing, but it turned out that about 40% of the kids were sporting the converse shoes.  It was a typical rainy fall day.  She was a bit surprised that her classes were not all in the same room but moved around the whole day from one classroom to the next in typical US fashion.  She also had not had a combination locker before and had to learn to operate that.  I think she’ll do just fine if she studies hard and keeps up on her daily work.

Happy 16th Birthday, Elisabet!

Yesterday we had three birthday parties for Elisabet.

IMG_9825 First, at the August monthly potluck dinner in the church basement we (Holly) made a cake and taught everyone to sing Happy Birthday in Spanish (Castilian version), which goes like this: 

IMG_9833Cumpleaños feliz
Cumpleaños feliz
Te deseamos todos
Cumpleaños feliz

The emphasis goes like this, where the capital bold letters are:

CumpleA_Ños_ Fe_Liz_
CumpleA_Ños_ Fe_Liz_
Te deSe_A_Mos_ To_Dos_
CumpleA_Ños_ Fe_Liz_

Which is rather different than I would think it would have been, as we never get to say ‘Elisabet’ in there like we do in English.  But Holly wrote it out phonetically for the congregation, and I must say, it sounded amazingly good.

Then, I went to work on the boat while the boys took a nap and Elisabet had some quiet time and Holly and Mark read books.  I’d been planning to go out and put the boat through its paces, as we haven’t really done any sea trials yet and we’re not sure how it will run at this point.  Perhaps it will need some additional alignment work, and perhaps it will not cool properly.  The previous engine had overheating problems, but they may have been linked to the installation more than I’d have liked.

IMG_9823 Then we had a meal at the Green’s house: Halibut Tacos, which were excellent.  The halibut was sliced up really small and fried.  Holly assembled a cake that Margaret made that was a lemon cream cake while I put all three boys to sleep–usually this is a very difficult task for me, but this time I did it quickly and easily, although it did take me three times to put John Caleb down successfully.  This picture above was actually taken on Saturday at a wedding reception at the Klondike, where Josie & Craig finished up their wedding celebration with a potluck dinner, live bluegrass music, and dancing.

Then Elisabet went to the Youth Group for a few hours to spend some time with kids nearer her own age where Holly made a Peanut Butter Silk (chocolate peanut butter cake with nuts).   After the Youth Group meeting with Mark and Frankie Jones, Abby and Marnie asked if she wanted to go to Abby’s house for a sleep-over.

The Friendship Pole is now in place

We had a big ceremony today where we moved the friendship pole and officially opened the new school up for the town.  First we had speeches at the old site, then AP&T took down the pole and put it on a long trailer, then we moved to the new site and had some more speeches.

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It was a nice day, although it rained through nearly the entire ceremony, and I took a ton of pictures.  It was a good time to be reminded of the purpose of the friendship pole and remember who worked on it.

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The J6 U-Haul is on the Ferry!

It took forever to get the truck on the ferry but it’s on it’s way to Sitka as they had to retie the boat midway through the loading process.

IMG_9377 JIMG_9372ack called the other day and told me to put his 32′ moving van on the Columbia bound for Sitka on Monday, departing at 6:15 PM with one stop in Juneau on the way.  They found a 3-bedroom 2-bath house in Sitka with a garage for $1200/month, which is a GREAT deal for Sitka.  I’m really happy for them, as moving to a town like Sitka where housing is tight is a big risk and it looks like they’re being looked after.  The cost to get a 32 foot rig from Haines to Sitka, unaccompanied is $365.

IMG_9351Moving is a big expense and can really hurt a family financially if they have to move a lot especially if it is funded on credit or if an house left behind does not sell or if the living expenses in the new destination are not well researched.  Jack and Jennifer did a great job researching all the options for moving their stuff and in the end bought this used U-Haul Truck and stored their stuff in it over the summer.  When they are safely stowed away in their house in Sitka, they can either keep the truck or sell it to recoup much of the moving expenses.

I think Jack, Jennifer, John, Joy, Joanna, and Jessica (J6)  will have a great life in Sitka and that it will be a really fun move for them.

Elisabet Brought some presents from Spain

We had a nice day relaxing with Elisabet on Sunday.  She went to see some animals that some friends have and then went to a picnic out at Rainbow Glacier Camp.

IMG_9284 She brought house-warming gifts for the boys: red & yellow shirts that say Spain in Spanish and jewelry for Holly, a couple of tourist books on Barcelona and the surrounding area, and an apron to cook in that say Barcelona. 

She is really sweet and likes our food pretty well so far.

On Tuesday she is going to try running with the Cross Country team to see how she likes that.

Jessica Strickland shoots with only one lens;

Jessica StricklandUNBELIEVABLE!!! Check out the photo!

The Canon 85mm f1.2 – that’s her secret! (A $1400 lens, notice all the lenses are identical)  The funny thins is she has three of them–which if you know anything about cameras and lenses is pretty funny.

Of course this isn’t true.  The reason to carry more than one lens is so that you can get a variety of fields of view to both ‘crop’ the angle of view, modify the perspective, change the depth of field, and get some variability in the poundage you pack around. 

But she really is loaded to the bear here with 85mm f/1.2 lenses–which is a GREAT lens for high-end wedding photographers due to its bokeh and minimum depth of field.  I’d love to have one in my kit if I shot much full-frame stuff, but it’s got too narrow of a field of view for most of what I do–even portrait work.  If I had one, I’d use it for the natural light portraits of the bride and groom.  The truth behind the photo is she was holding a bunch of cameras for some photographer friends (according to Gary Fong who originally posted this photo).

Elisabet is here! And my family is back too!

Holly and the boys arrived in Haines today on the slow boat Malispina, bringing Elisabet for the first time to Haines.

Below is a picture of the ship they arrived on, but it’s difficult to see that it’s a boat, as the tide is very low and much of the hull is obscured by the dock.

IMG_9278 She is very nice and easy going, and she is a very pretty young lady.  When they arrived, it was nearly dark and just starting to rain with a heavy dense humid feeling and fog forming above the Lynn Canal.  On the tin roof of the log cabin, I can hear the rain going pitter patter on in a gentler calming way and I can hear Elisabet unpacking her things in her room.  The two three boys are all asleep and Holly is just about gone too.

In the photo below, we have (Left to Right), Elisabet, Holly, Mark Margaret, Bob, and Luke Michael, I was taking the picture, and John Caleb was asleep.  The Ferry is in the background.  The Ferry is not fast, as ferries go.  It has a cruising speed of 17-19 knots, as do most of the slow ferries, so it takes about 4.5 hours to make the journey from Juneau to Haines.

IMG_9279c As soon as Elisabet got here, Holly showed her around every room in out small cabin: the

two bedrooms, one for us and one for her, the bathroom, kitchen, pantry, and living room.  It was a short tour.  Then we ate a light snack of fresh home made bread & butter, jam, water, and juice.  The boys were dead tired and while claiming to be hungry for this or that treat really were just needing to get to bed.  I put the older two to bed, putting them in their pajamas and brushing their teeth.

When Luke was almost asleep, Mark Daniel figured out that their sleeping bags were switched and tried to switch them back to their proper positions but of course Luke was not in any condition to either have the bag pulled out from around him or crawl out of the bag himself, so when Mark started to pull him out of it, he just cried.  I took mercy on him and lifted him up and put him in his bag and laid him right back down.  Soon he was fast asleep.

As soon as Elisabet could, she started unpacking her bags and putting things away in her closet and little drawers.  It is difficult to know exactly what she is understanding or not while I’m driving, because I can’t see her face. But when I’m not driving, I can see comprehension or a question quite plainly in her facial expression.  I think this language barrier will not be too big of a hurdle to leap.

My prayer is the same as my mother’s prayer: that this year together with Elisabet will be a good year for everyone in the house and that we will all bless each other, help each other, and learn from each other.

Everyone but me is asleep now all over the house.  And now, I think, I will join them.

Mark: "Look at me daddy, I’m a chipmunk!"

One of Mark’s favorite book series is the Thornton W. Burgess Books.

IMG_9270 My Parents bought a small pile of the Burgess books for Mark this past year and we’ve been reading them, and we’ve also been reading many more from the library for the past year or two.  Much of this reading is done by Papa, Grandpa Plucker.  He comes over when Blacky (Margaret) is with Mark on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and reads to Mark in the big black chair while Margaret is scurrying around with the other two boys or is doing other tasks.  Favorite animals are Blacky the Crow, Chatterer the squirrel, Reddy Fox, Peter Rabbit, and others.

In these books, they get to learn about the animals in the lower 48 states.  In this picture, they’ve been eating grapes and have stuffed them in their cheeks so that they can  be squirrels or chipmunks.

To get this nice soft light quality in the photo, I put the boys next to our big picture window in the living room and made sure the background was not lit very well.

Sleeping in the living room.

Luke got sent out to the living room tonight for talking instead of being quiet.  Holly told him to count to five.  Then Holly took pity on he and John Caleb and went to sing and rock them in the big black chair. Mark and I were left in the bedroom.

Mark: “Daddy, If Luke gets sent out of the room for the rest of the night, do you know what he should do?”

Me: “No.  What should he do?”

Mark: “He should just sleep on the floor.  Do you know why?”

Me: “No.  Why?”

Mark: “Because, I’ve slept on the couch before, and do you know what happened? I fell on the floor.”

Me: “Yeah.”

Mark: “I’ve done it.  Luke’s done it.  John Caleb’s done it.  Sometimes it’s not too bad and you just wake up. But other times, your head hits the floor and it really hurts. That’s why I would just sleep on the floor.”

Me: What if the floor is hard.

Mark: “My sleeping bag.”

Me: “Oh.”