New Steps!

In Alaska, in the winter, footing can be very treacherous.  Especially in SE Alaska.  i grew up in Barrow, and it’s really not that slippery there for most of the year.  In the fall when the snow comes, we skip right past 32 degrees F and go right on down to the sub zero temperatures.  Since it’s rarely near the freezing point of water, it is rarely slippery.

In Haines, it can be right near freezing for a good portion of the winter, which makes for some slippery footing for a good portion of the year wherever there is any slope at all.  If you’re at all familiar with Haines, You know there is not much flat ground to be had in the Chilkat Valley.

IMG_6549Holly and I got to thinking about or driveway and how difficult it is to get from the car to the house and we decided it would be better to spend some money on a safe way to get into the house than to risk accident and injury later on in the winter.  So we called up Coleman Stanford and asked him to build us some steps. 

We told him we really liked the landing style steps that Randy Miner built so he built us some similar steps to go up to our house from the lower drive-way and also from the upper driveway.

We really like how they turned out.  They are just like we wanted, and the finishing on the concrete is first rate.  I’m convinced that the steps are going to be very safe for many years to come.

In the photo above, you can’t really tell that the upper steps are landing style, large steps, the last step which ends at the driveway is a standard step.  In the photo below, I think you can see that the stairs are pretty gradually sloped.  The only thing to add still is the railing at the bottom of the steps plus a light-pole at the bottom with a 3-way switch.  The steps are beautiful to walk down.


We had stairs and a sidewalk before, but we rarely walked on the sidewalk, we always went down where these stairs no go.  We still need to get the extra dirt hauled away, as you can see in the photo above.


Also today, we did the picture day retakes for the school, plus retakes for the community photos, I replaced the toilet seat which had a broken hinge, and I cleared the brush out to the shed so we can get some electrical service installed out there for lights and the occasional power (battery charger) need.


Mark’s Birthday

I suppose birthdays are important.  When you’re young, they are huge.


This year, Holly wanted to invite all of Mark’s 1st & 2nd grade IMG_2907combined class (with Ms. Kitayama) to a bit “Choice” time at our house.  Choice time is what they call it at school when kids can choose whatever they want to do out of a range of selections the teacher has made.

Holly invited a number of the parents of kids in the class to volunteer to man the various stations.  I got put in charge of the sword fighting & wrestling room which was also the sock war room.  Steven tries to fend off Wesley, early on in the competition.


There were only a few kids that broke out into tears.  In the kitchen in the dining area, the crown station was headed up by Lilly Boron and Rochelle Galinski.  Holly was careful to include activities that both genders would like.


Courtney ran the foot painting station. 


In Mark’s room, on the top bunk of the triple bunk bed was the bionicle station where the boys built and played with the Lego Bionicles.  It was mostly the boys that were into this station.


Out in the utility room was the rock band station with a keyboard, a pretend guitar and some drums.  I think it was actually the glasses that made it so fun.


Right before the cake and present time, Holly did a magic show and passed out the party favors: Books.IMG_3027

Once again, Margaret out did herself and made healthy meals for all the kids to eat before they ate the cake.  Each plate was individually wrapped.



Then we had the happy birthday song, and the unwrapping of the presents.


The present opening time was fun for Mark too (duh).  Courtney helped out a lot writing down the gifts and who they were from.IMG_3069

One interesting thing about the whole party was Luke’s reaction. 

After the party, he was stricken with grief and jealousy.

“Why did Mark get SO MANY PRESENTS?!  I didn’t get that many presents at MY birthday.” IMG_3054

His party was a couple months earlier and we invited three families, each of which have a few kids.

This was true. “But Luke, Mark got so many presents because he invited so many people to his party.  His whole class came to the party.”

IMG_2919Luke: “But I had a lot of people at my Party too!  We had Izak, and Aric, and Irene, the Chapells, and the Palmeries!  And I only got a few presents.  Hardly any.  And Mark got WAY many presents.

Is this what Adam and Eve should have dealt with when Cain and Able had parties?  I better deal with this in a good way.

IMG_2949 “But Luke, it’s like this,” I said, “Usually what happens at a birthday, each family brings a present.  And at Mark’s party, almost all the kids were from different families, so Mark got about 16 presents from his class.  Each family at your party brought a present, but each person at the party didn’t bring their own present because that would be too expensive for the mommies and daddies.”

“Well, that’s not FAIR.  I want a big party too.”

“So when you get in school,” I said, “do you want to invite your whole class too?”


I’m not sure if I did the best job there with the birthdays.  It seems like I could have steered a little further away from the whole consumerism thing.

At least it was a fun party and ALMOST everyone had a good time.

Look at us JUMP!

Here’s a fun video of the boys jumping off the steps at church.



One of the reasons I like the little point and shoots, is that they often have a video feature.  I just don’t think this moment would be the same without the motion and the audio.  Tell me what you think.

It was one of those days

Parenthood is a tough thing sometimes.

Today I was watching the boys while Holly went to her health screening. 

First I had to get rid of the source of a BAD MOLDY smell in the boys room—which I’d discovered by using a flashlight and checking under the bed—A cupcake that had outlived its usefulness.

Then I assembled a Lego Bionicle for Luke so he could play bionicles with Mark.

Then my folks called to chat and wish Mark a Happy 7th birthday.

When Holly came home, I was relaxed and talking to my folks on the phone lying on the big bed, so she assumed I’d done nothing because she discovered this in the kitchen:


Well.  Sometimes a picture is worth a dozen words, or is it 10?  I can’t decide.

She didn’t tell me she left a carton of eggs out on the counter.  Now she tells me that eggs work better in a recipe when they are at room temperature.  I guess this type of thing just happens with kids sometimes.

075I apologize for the quality of the photos in this post.  I only had a P&S camera at my disposal and the lighting was dim—I didn’t have my super-wide zoom, either.  Plus my subject was skittish.


After we got somewhat ready for dinner, Irene and Izak came over for chips-n-cheese, cake, ice-cream, and the opening of presents.  Izak is not going to be here for Mark’s birthday so they wanted to come by and have a mini celebration before the left.

Mark was pretty excited to get his present, because it’s his favorite type of toy right now: Lego Bionicle. 


By the way, he actually requested that he get an orange crown with glitter on it for his birthday.  When was the last time I actually requested a crown (in my favorite color) with glitter on it for my birthday, at least metaphorically. 

It’s great being a kid.

Heck.  It’s even great being the father of a healthy, beautiful little troop of boys.

Daddy, you’re bad!

Today was supposed to be a busy day because I was going to go fishing while Holly watched the boys and took them to church and organized the Sunday school classes for the pre-k and 1-3rd grade classes. 

She went early to get everything ready, since John Caleb was sick and had been sick all night, although he had no fever.  I stayed at home to watch the boys but was quickly distracted…

So, I started to update the files on my new photo computer (HDX18T), Luke Michael came up behind me and said, “Daddy, you’re bad!” and proceeded to spank me in his four year old way.

“ONE!” spank.

“Two!” spank.  Chuckle.

“THREE! spank. If you’ve spend much time around him, you know he can have a REALLY loud voice.

“FOUR!” spank.  Laughter…

“FIVE!” …

Etcetera.  I continued to work, a little baffled by the fact that I was working on my computer while being spanked by son number two, but not too concerned because at least he was having a good laugh, plus Mark’s birthday is coming up this week…

Finally, I heard a “TEN!” spank, then he laughed said, “Daddy, you’ve been bad.”

At this point, I was curious, because he was insisting that I’d been bad, so I asked him, “Luke Michael, what did I do that was so bad?”  I kept looking at the screen.

He smiled  and said, “Well, you fed a sick boy oatmeal, and then he threw up all over the floor!”

Startled, I turned around, and immediately saw three huge piles of it right in the middle of the floor, with John Caleb standing over the smallest one looking confused.


I guess I’m a great dad.


A new household cleaning tip from: Yours Truly.

One new and really exciting way to get the lint out of the corners in the kitchen is to use a propane torch.

The torch has several advantages:

1) I can tell where the lint is because it actually lights up as it burns

2) I can see which rooms have been “cleaned” because they are full of smoke.

3) It really gets everybody in the house excited and ready to pitch in so the rest of the house does not need to be “cleaned.”

4) After just a single time of cleaning with the torch, all I need to do is announce in a loud voice, “I’m about to “CLEAN” up the lint!” and I find that the rest of the household is ready and eager to pitch in.

Many hands make light work.

Plane Rides

Today at the dinner table, we were talking about plane rides with the boys and were recalling that Nana and grandpa John told us that Christiane (one of the boy’s first cousins) went on her first plane ride last week when she was 7.5 years old. 

Mark said, “She was 7 1/2 when she went on her first plane ride?” 

Holly said “Yes.”

Mark said, “Wow, she must have gone on a LOT of ferry rides.”

Holly and I had a good laugh at that one but could see how he came to that conclusion.

Then we had to explain that Indiana doesn’t have water separating the towns like we have in Southeast Alaska and it’s much of the travel is done in cars there and in the rest of the lower 48.