Winter in Fairbanks
Winter is coming

Saturday, October 2nd 2010

Have you ever looked at your toes closely? Do you know what they are supposed to look like? Well, I certainly have a gest of what they look like, but exactly how crooked they are, I'm not sure of that. So when I slid down the bottom couple of steps and ran my toes (and everything else that is connected to them) straight into the cabin wall, I felt mandated to take a closer look. Just to see if they are broken or just plain awfully hurtful.

Guess which one hit the wall...

So there I sit at the bottom of the steps, quite a bit out of breath, wondering what to do next. Cheyenne helps get me a cold rag to put on my toes, that helps a little. Jasmine brings me the tractor, with her help I get it under my bum and slowly roll to the couch. Robin helps with the steering. Phew, that was quite a journey. Only three yards at the most, but it can surely wear one out. There I sit, the girls are getting hungry, Bill is not yet home from work, and I'm immobilized. These are the moments the girls grow up to the challenge.

Cheyenne gets the yogurt, Jasmine knows where the sprinkles are, Robin is already sitting in her seat. The yogurt gets evenly distributed over the bowls. The counter and the table also get their share. Cheyenne even makes a bowl for me. I don't feel quite hungry, nauseous is more the feeling, but I don't want to turn down the tender care. It's not too bad, tastes refreshing really. The love and rest help, though it doesn't make the throbbing stop.

When Bill comes home we have a closer look. With the utmost will power I make my toes move, where the toes meet the foot. I can't bend the two biggest toes, but the others are fine. The two that I can't bend have swollen beyond proportions. Squeezing them doesn't cause an alarming pain, thus we decide that I probably just bruised the "bleep" out of them. Thank goodness, if that's all...

No walking, sledding or pushing the girls on the swing today. Rest will have to do. The girls are great. They worry of course, but they are tremendously helpful. They help with pillow, blankets and of course their stuffed animals. I'm surrounded by so much love. Bill fixes a simple supper. Then we all snugle up in front of the fire for some reading time.

Family time in front of the fire.

What a day. The girls have been marvelous helpers.

Robin and Jasmine help me get around the cabin.

After a bit of a restless night, the morning feels much better. The throbbing continues, but at a much lower scale. I scoot around on my bum, or hop around using a stool as crutch. With the use of one of Bills ultra large shoes, I manage to make my way to the outhouse even. Rest is the best. I make sure I don't move around to much, but it is hard. I enjoy piddling in the kitchen. I enjoy helping the girls with their projects. I sit at the table most of the day and manage to be available in most cases.

Cave time.

The girls disappear for times on end. Only to find them under the desks, hidden behind and under their blankets. In their caves are stacks of books. They're so silly.

The temperature is unbelievable. We even had rain yesterday. Finally clouds, is it too warm. Thus we're getting rain instead of snow.

The glimpse of winter is behind us. We take as a first warning. A taste of what is yet to come. It is October already. We figure we still have seven or eight months of winter ahead of us. That's quite impressive.

Bill is getting situated on the covered porch. The time has come to add regularly to the book. We want to have it written by the year's end. Then we can start rewriting it. It can be edited. And then it can be printed. By the end of the winter we expect to have a brand new book ready for your and our enjoyment. We've been working on the skeleton for a while. Now it needs dressing up. We're going to write it together, tag teaming.

Sneak peak of Bill in his writing space.

He works diligently, tasting the words, adding one after the other, until the first part is written. Whether it is the first chapter or the introduction, that remains to be decided. It is a great start. We feel victorious.

We want to share this feeling with our friends and decide to go to town. We are currently using a truck and are taking advantage of it. We end up at Bob and Melissa's home and spend the evening with them. The girls are enjoying riding trikes down the drive way with Jordan.

Cheyenne is on her way down, while Robin is already going for seconds.

Jordan outruns Cheyenne on the way down the hill.

Robin is going up again. Jasmine is getting ready to sprinkle some leaves on the next rider.

We have supper together and enjoy the grown up company. Once it's dark, the girls enjoy the toys and the tv. We are learning all sorts of new tricks on the I-phone and download some new apps (it's like learning a new language). It is almost midnight when we finally pull into the drive way. Thanks for the wonderful evening Bob and Melissa!

Monday, October 4th 2010

Sunday a day of rest. A day of being on the property. Bill has been gone every day of the week and is especially enjoying this time of staying put. We brought home some laundry last night. The sun is out somewhat. We'll use it as our dryer.

Drying the clean laundry. Using the bunk bed saplings for clothes line.

The girls enjoy having Bill around. They follow him wherever he goes. It's a good day to be outside. Still relatively warm. Begin 40s even.

Bill is stacking up more and more kindling. We have about three truck loads full now. It's looking good.

Cheyenne and Jasmine are under the tarp that's covering the dead branches we've been collecting. They are breaking off little sticks to light and kindle a fire.

Robin in Amarins' boots.

Another day of taking it easy. My toe is a purple-blue. Awful. At least there is still life in it! I keep it up as much as I can, but it is frustrating. I don't like having to stay put. I read a statistic once: "Eighty percent of all accidents happen at home." That's another good reason to travel and explore. I have the proof right here.

Cheyenne and Jasmine are holding up their combination art work. Robin is admiring it.

Before the girls go to bed we read a story in fornt of the fire. We haven't found the second part to Inkheart yet, but Jasmine has found a good substitute in the library: The Shadow World. Full of mystery, magic, fairies, and other magical critters. Tonight we're finishing with a puzzle game on the phone.

Engrossed in a game on the phone.

Bill has spent the afternoon on the porch. Writing and writing. Page after page. It's becoming quite a little pile. It keeps amazing us how much you can accomplish with little baby steps. Mile by mile, state by state, word by word, page by page. Keep your eye on the goal, but take baby steps!

Bill is reading his writing.

Today goes well with my toe. I can get around well. Still I can tell I shouldn't overdo it. The girls walk cautiously around me, full of concern still. They've tied ribbons to my leg, so they can easily see which one is the hurt foot. Robin asks regularly if my toe is feeling better yet. She can even copy my wobbly walk. So cute.

With outside temperatures in the 40s, we barely keep the fire going. It is almost more for show. All the sealing and foaming Bill has been doing is sure paying off. Especially around the windows has improved greatly.

We're back into workbooks. Jasmine is focusing on reading. She knows her phonics very well. She can sound out most of the words. When to choose a long or short vowel sound is sometimes a problem, but she can mostly figure it out. Today we finished her first book. It's about Fancy Nancy, exactly her style. She has eight more of them, awaiting her eager eyes.

Jasmine can read! She is holding the first book she read mostly by herself from beginning to end.

After Robins nap it's back outside. The wood stacks are a great place to play. Cheyenne and Jasmine have found a hole in a log and are trying to dig it out. Robin is set on riding the tricycle, though that proves to be a bit hard in the dirt and on the slope.

The wood won't just keep us warm, they are a great play place too.

When Bill comes home he brings back several surprises. He decided to stop by the post office to find a box from Connecticut awaiting us. He also brought home a beautiful bouquet of yellow tulips; a get well gesture; so sweet.

The girls await full anticipation to find out what's in the box from Connecticut! Thanks Pat!

Enjoying the new toys. A skeleton, a United States map and the ABC are the first ones to be fully enjoyed.

After supper we're reading another chapter in The Shadow World. The princess has been captured. Oh no! Tomorrow we'll find out who the spies are. The girls are just as curious as I am.

Beautiful flowers from a wonderful man.

Wednesday, October 6th 2010

The temperature is dropping again. Slowly, not like before. Yesterday morning we had frost on the ground. Always beautiful and crisp. When the sun starts beaming on the roof, big drips fall in streams off the roof. "It must have rained last night," Cheyenne says. Robin is all excited and is going to check it out. Together with Jasmine they head outside. Only to come back inside all splattered on their heads. This tweaks Cheyenne's interest. Out they go again.

Taking a "shower". The sun is heating up the frost on the roof.

Frost on the ground.

We're putting some pressure on Cheyenne. With a timer in front of her (always annoying "tick-tock") she's taking a reading test. Vocabulary and comprehension. On both she's doing great. There is always room to learn more and she's ready to do so. Second grade workbooks are waiting.

Cheyenne is taking a reading test.

The afternoon winds down. The sun is setting after a crystal clear day. Shining its last rays on some remaining clouds.

Sunset. It's 18:30, just 6.30pm. The days are seriously getting shorter.

What a sky.

Today starts all different. Snow is in the air. As we're finishing up our breakfast, the mountain across the valley is slowly disappearing behind, what looks like, a white fog. I ask Cheyenne to confirm what I see. She immediately shouts "Snow!" And snow it is. It isn't ten minutes after we see the cloud or snow is falling all around us. We quickly get dressed and run (the girls do) outside. Time to catch some fresh snow.

Snow catchers.

First recorded snow at the cabin!

The perfect temperature for snow.

The afternoon is for breadmaking. I can walk around well enough and stand long enough to piddle in the kitchen. And the first thing I'm going to do is make some bread. We're flat out. It's a long project, with long waiting times for the rising of the dough, but the result is always ooh-la-la. The girls almost fight over the opportunity to help. Funny.

Mixing the bread dough.

Robin mixes the dough too. "Heavy," is her conclusion. That's for sure.

From dough ball to fresh bread. I need some more practise on the shaping though. At least the taste is great.

Just as the bread is out of the oven our guests arrive. Bill brings Dick and Patsy here for a cup of hot tea. Patsy brought a delicious loaf of cranberry nut bread. That goes great with the tea. The girls are busy showing off. We're all gathering around the table and are having a good time.

Dick and Patsy are here to visit.

I bring them back down the mountain, into town. Jasmine is going with me. We're going to a talk by Patch Adams at the university. Lauri informed us of it. A chance we don't want to pass up on. And a great chance to see Lauri one more time. She's moving to Oregon this weekend. We're going to miss you Lauri!

Before the show starts, we are pleasantly entertained by the native dancers.

Jasmine is looking smart in Lauri's glasses.

Jasmine is checking the pictures she's been taken, as Patch gives a talk on Humor and Health.

We enjoy the show. Patch brings his view of health care in a funny way. He even pulls out some silly teeth and a fresh looking string of snot. It certainly is bound to make you laugh.

When we head back up the mountain it is dark and snowing. I'm not that used to driving a car anymore, let alone in the dark and in the snow. The snow isn't thick, but makes me suspicious of slippery spots on the road. Slowly but steadily we make it up the mountain and arrive safely at our cabin. Jasmine is already fast asleep.

Thursday, October 7th 2010

It's snowing! It's snowing. It's really snowing! The girls are full excitement, barely able to frinish their breakfast. There's maybe half an inch of snow on the ground, but that should be enough for sledding.

Looking at the snow fall.

With a half eaten breakfast behind them, they jump into their snow pants, put on their jackets, mittens, hats and scarves and head out the door. Cheyenne brings up the dish and the big orange sled. Jasmine pulls up the purple one. Robin waits for me to walk up with them, but with the snow, I don't need to pull them back down. Gravity will do its part here.

The girls are walking up the path, ready to go sledding.

They are not going all the way to the top of the drive way, maybe halfway up. But that is high enough. Jasmine gets her sled going first. She slides gently down, not too fast. Once she ends up on the side of the path, she quickly rolls out. Good thinking! Then she gets it going again. I'm awaiting her arrival at the cabin. She puts her feet out to stop the sled just in time. I can see that the cabin is on the sled path and realize we need to come up with an earlier stop spot.

This realization does not come quick enough. Cheyenne's dish doesn't go as well as she thought, so I tell her to hop on board of Robins big orange sled. This gets it going. Going and going. The sled goes to fast, I am too slow. There is the cabin. Boom! Poor Robin, two teeth bust through her lip. I feel bad for not being able to stop them sooner. Cheyenne is quite baffled with what happened. Uncertain what to do.

I put Robin on the porch and wrap some snow into her scarf to put on her lip. She is hurt bad and is crying hard due to pain and the shock. None of them like sledding at the moment. Neither do I.

We are so fortunate, for yesterday we bought a prepaid phone. This way I can get a hold of Bill when he's at work somewhere in town. Today is the day to use it. I call Bill as soon as Robin has calmed down a little and is resting on the couch with a cold rag on her lip. Bill is immediately on his way home. We decide Robin needs to be checked out by the dentist or doctor. Via the contacts we have Bill knows which clinic to go to. X-rays are taken, showing that Robin's grown up teeth are still okay. The two teeth she hit might fall out and might not, time will tell. She was very brave at the dentist clinic.

Before coming home, Bill takes Robin to have some ice cream at hot licks. A special treatment is certainly in place. When they come back, Cheyenne and Jasmine are ready with self made get well cards for Robin. We've kept ourselves busy that until we found out the good news.

Cheyenne is checking out Robin's mouth.

Robin brought home a treat for Cheyenne and Jasmine; a ring for each, out of the treasure box at the clinic, and a bag of M&Ms (most definitely not from the dentist clinic). Cheyenne is being the creative one she is and makes art with them before eating them.

Art with M&Ms.

Bill decides to stay home the rest of the afternoon. It's already four o'clock by now. By the time he'd be back in town, he'd have to come back. We're roughly 20 miles from town. Depending on where in town you need to be, we consider it a 45 minute drive.

We're happy and thankful that Robin is back with us. She's in high spirits, like she usually is. She tells us all about the visit at the clinic. The X-rays and the tresure chest were the highlights of the visit. As soon as she's home, she's back in the game, playing full out.

Enjoying the choo choo train with boss Robin.

Jasmine has finished her Kindergarten math workbook today. Time for her to take a test. Also for her we set the timer. It is good for them to learn to work under pressure. It'll help them in the future, in whatever field they choose to work. Jasmine is tickled to get the same "special treatment" Cheyenne got when she did her reading test.

Jasmine is doing a math test! She passes the test with flying colors.

A day we won't forget fast. Our first sledding adventure. We've learned and will teach the girl to roll out of the sled.

Robin with her fat lip. Always in high spirits.

Friday, October 8th 2010

A refreshing morning with new snow.

Today we have some more snow, but we're less excited then yesterday. We're looking at it a bit more. I'm overly cautious with whatever the girls are doing, constantly reminding them to be careful. I know I have to catch my self before it becomes a habit. They know I love them. They know I want them to be careful. If I keep telling them to be careful it won't help them build their confidence, they'll be waiting for me to warn them of danger instead of learning by trial and error. I still think that yesterday I should have jumped the distance and landed right in front of the sled. If I could do it over again, and if I even could have jumped the distance, I would have. But I can't do it over again. I can only learn from the event that took place yesterday.

A skift of snow on the drive way.

The drive way will remain in its virgin snow today. The sleds stay where they are, until we've once again found the courage to go out. And until my (stupid) toe is all better so I can run with them and sled with them. The snow changes the landscape into beautiful winter scenery. We're enjoying it by walking around and by looking out the windows.

The path to the outhouse, crisp and white.

Snow clouds in the valley below.

Beautiful winter scenery from the living room window.

The outdoor refridgerator is covered with snow. It still sticks out easily. Easy enough to find. I wonder how it's going to be once the real snow starts falling. Perhaps we'll need to build a little snow house around it so we can still lift up the lid and pull out the fresh groceries. It's not a real concern right now, but we're gettting to see how quickly the weather can change. Eventhough it's not as cold as it was over a week ago, the dampness in the air makes it feel as if it's just as cold.

Fresh groceries from the outdoor refrigerator.

I keep my eyes open for moose tracks. We've seen plenty of moose droppings around the cabin to know that they're here. Several times we've seen a big bull and cow come down the hill to disappear into the woods next to the cabin. An impressive sight. You don't want to mess with them. They're huge. Today I find no tracks in the snow. At least not moose tracks. It is cat tracks I find. Interesting.

Cat prints. From time to time there is a bushy red cat on the property.

We've had a good day. Robin is doing well. Her teeth are not hurting her, nor is her lip. She's a strong little girl. She'll tell us to be careful though, because she doesn't want us to hurt her teeth. Because that would hurt she'll say. We're pleased to see the teeth haven't changed color. We think that's a good sign. Waiting for time to tell is the hardest part.

Storytime with Daddy.

Saturday, October 9th 2010

Errand day! But first we have a visitor from afar! Jacob, whom we met with his wife in California, is in Fairbanks for the week. He's coming by for a visit. He's full of ideas about our book/bus journey out of Alaska next spring, as well as information about some future ideas we have. We're having a great time. And he agrees we've found ourselves a vintage Alaskan cabin for the winter.

Visitor from California! Jacob is up in Fairbanks for the week and stops by our cabin. We met Jacob and his wife at the Costanoa KOA in California.

We're going to Fairbanks, North Pole and Salcha today. Visits to say goodbye, visits to say hi, and visits to bring gifts. Instead of turning right to Fairbanks, we're taking our chance on Old Murphy Dome, trying to take it to the Steese Highway.

Old Murphy Dome Road. Our vehicle isn't ready for "this much snow". We quickly decide against going this way. Sure is beautiful though.

The normal way to Fairbanks is better. We'll start our errands from here. First stop: Post Office; another package awaits. Second stop: AT&T; the internet bill to pay. Third stop: the laundromat; washing everything by hand is a bit more pioneering then we're willing to do. Fourth stop: visit Dick and Patsy. And so on. Back to the laundromat, putting clothes in the dryer. On to McDonalds - a quick lunch, the girls are playing, Bill and I are trying to call our (maybe) publisher, but to no avail. Back to the laundromat. That's behind us. So far for the stops in Fairbanks.

We're heading east to the Steese, to catch the Chena Hot Springs road to North Pole. Before we get there, one more stop on College Road to look at a 1957 school bus.

Looking at old busses. This 1957 bus is for sale. The price is steep and it needs a lot of upkeep before it can get going. Let's think about it.

Finally on the Steese, Bill decides to take us by one more bus he wants us to see. Perhaps the owner is home today. We find the bus inbetween a bunch of other old junk vehicles. Between the trees, off in the shrubs. The owner isn't home, but a neighbor knows his number and thinks the bus might be for sale. We decide to check out the bus.

Another bus that's maybe for sale. It's without windows, needs new tires, is smaller, but at least the 6-cilinder engine looks intact!

We roam around, climb in it, check out the engine, tires, bumps, humps and rust spots. With a lot of creativity, we can see this bus work for us.

We think we've found what we're looking for.

With a number to call, we get back on the road. This is an exciting step towards our next journey! The book is in the process of being written, we might have found the bus for our book signing tour, what an abundant universe we live in!

On our way to Salcha we're stopping by Lauri and Martin. A temporary goodbye before Lauri jets off to Oregon tomorrow.

We continue the Chena Hot Springs Road, turn right on Nordale and stop by Toby and Debbie, our hosts our first week in Fairbanks. Next we stop in North Pole - a long story. We've made new friends and stop by for a quick get together. We head out the door with a bag full of sewing material! Thanks Sharon! Then, finally we make it to Salcha at 4.30pm. What a day! We drop off the gifts we've been bringing. When everyone is well again, we'll stop by for a longer visit!

Then back to Fairbanks. A stop by the dental clinic to drop off some paperwork, a stop by the library to return some of the books. On our way up we stop by the WaterWagon to fill up our jugs.

It was a beautiful blue sky day. The sun sets around 6.30pm, but there is still light till about 7.45pm. That's about the time when we finally pull back into our drive way. What an incredible day.

Engrossed in gifts from Rita and Ernst from Berea, Kentucky. Thanks!

Adding to the mail corner.

Robin is doing great!

We're very fortunate that Robin is doing so well. Her teeth haven't turned brown or black. They've almost moved back into their normal spot. She's still sucking her thumb thank goodness! In this case that's a good thing! Her lip is healing a little too. This coming Friday she's going for a follow up appointment. We think we're going to here some good news.

Sunday, October 10th 2010

Happy 10-10-10 Day! A day of rest and relaxation. Always a good idea. The morning starts out cool, with a little snow falling softly. The previous snows have long gone, thus this is a brand new cover. Little by little it turns into a half inch cover. Bill drives the truck up to the road before it gets too thick.

The morning is spend on Bendaroos. Sticky sticks in multiple colors that you can bend in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It procides far a lot of creativity and fun.

Working with the Bendaroos.

New fashion glasses!

Of course I need to wear them too!

While all this activity is going on, Bill is on the porch. The woodstove there is going, making it toasty hot. He's writing, checking things on the computer and doing his sare of phone calls. And there is a very important one to be made today! We're going to find out if the blue bus is for sale!

Bill is writing away. About twenty pages already. Keep on writing!

Snow snow snow.

Jasmine is under attack of spiders!

It's midafternoon when the phone call takes place. The owner is very willing to sell the bus. We're very willing to buy the bus. Before we know it, both parties agree and the bus is sold! To us! Now all we need to do is get the money together. More work for Bill, or not...

On the phone with the owner of the blue bus! It's for sale! We make a gentleman's agreement over the phone and are now the owners of the blue bus! We have our transportation for next spring!

We're all excited about the bus. The girls too. They're looking forward to helping us fix and clean the bus. It'll need a lot of TLC. First we need to get it out of the bushes though. That might not be such an easy task. But that doesn't need to be solved today. We're sure a way will be provided. We can park it in the yard of Dick and Patsy at the Alaska Feed store on College Road. Thanks Dick and Patsy!

As Bill continues his writing, the girls come up with an idea. Why don't we sew and sell home made purses, to purchase our classic 1962 Viking bus with. Let us raise the funds for the bus instead of Bill! We gather around te table and have our first "business" meeting.

Purse material! The Pedouin girls are going to sew purses to raise the funds for the bus!

We look at the materials we have. It looks like we have enough for about 75 purses. That will have to do. They will design them theirselves and sew them on the treadle sewing machine (with my share of parental supervision).

We would be tickled if you would help our budding entrepreneurs to be successful. Each purse is going to be different, with approximately one big pocket and two smaller ones.

The first purse is in the making!

Cheyenne is cutting her material.

We have decided not to set a price on the purses. We like to leave that up to you! Since we're only going to make about 75 purses, this is a limited time offer, until the 75th has been sold!

Click here to be amongst the select view to get in your possesion a one of a kind, Alaskan made, Pedouin purse!

The first purse is finished!

Jasmine is showing the first purse.

We're excited to teach our girls a little bit about doing business - and about paying taxes. The more they learn about it now, the better they can handle their finances in the future.

Tuesday, October 12th 2010

A couple of snowy days. Steadily, but surely the snow keeps on falling. It doesn't look like a lot, but we've gathered at least an inch already. Enough to slowly start the sledding again. Enough for Bill to keep the truck at the top of the road and walk up the drive way in the morning.

A steady 25 degrees for the past couple of days.

Bill's foot steps lead up the driveway.

After our decision to make purses to raise the funds for the bus, we've made a slow but steady start. We've organized the materials and cut up a lot of them into 10x12 inch pieces, for the main pocket of the purse. This way the girls can pick and choose. They match the fabric they want together and choose whether they want it horizontal or vertical.

Cheyenne is sewing her first purse in this business venture.

Unfold... and ready!

After they pin the seems at the top, those get to be sewn first. Next comes picking out the pockets. Do they blend in, or stand out. Big or small. For pens or perhaps for lipstick? On the inside or the outside or both? Once the pockets have been decided on, the putting together begins. While one sews, the other one pins or looks at the material. Or perhaps they decide to do a puzzle or some reading. That works too.

Robin has picked out her material. She needs my help putting it together. She loves telling me what to do and where to put which pocket.

Robin's purse! All ready. Great design Robin!

Robin enjoys being a part of it. She has a sharp eye for deatil and knows what she wants. We have two different piles of cloth for the main pocket of the purse. One of the piles has narrower pieces. From that pile she chooses three. When they are sewn together there is enough space for a purse cover. She likes the idea of that, so that's the one we've made. The purses look really good. We even amaze ourselves.

Jasmine pinched her finger on the sewing machine. She needs some extra loving from all the stuffies. She's taking a break from sewing until she gets her confidence back. For now she designs her purses, clips her pockets and tells me what to do first.

The snow outside is falling down and falling down. We're taking a break from sewing and get dressed for a new sledding experience. This time we sled alongside the cabin, obviously to avoid another run-in with the cabin. We're fortunate that Robin is doing so well. We're thankful that her teeth are still where we like them to be. She is a little skittish about the sledding. First I start her out in the big orange sled and hold on to the rope. We don't go faster then walking. It's a speed she's comfortable with. Next I hop in, but make sure that my feet are dragging in the snow. Robin lets me know when I'm going too fast.

Enjoying the Winter Wonder World. Instead of sledding to the cabin, we're now sledding next to it. Works much better!

We're enjoying the snow for at least an hour. Sledding, making snow angels and digging in the snow with the snow shovel. I get to make some runs with the sled myself. I'd totally forgotten how much fun it is! The Netherlands doesn't get much snow in the winter. Besides, it's all flat, so barely any down hill sledding. Except for near a bridge. That always worked great.

Jasmine is making a snow angel.

Another snow angel!

All rosy cheeked we're coming back inside. That was a refreshing time being out side. I fix a quick potato and applesauce supper. Where quick is the key. We have an exciting evening to look forward too: checking the e-mail! We're going to find out if we've made any sales yet. We have seven purses ready to go. Let's find out...

It goes so slowly, but eventually there it is in our inbox is waiting: 7 emails to purchase a purse! Thanks Janet, Suzanne, Barbara, Jane, Lisa, Cindy and Donna! The girls are blown away by your confidence in their capabilities and your generosity! The universe is amazing in its abundance. We have seven purses ready to go, and we have seven purses sold! We're on our way to sell the 75 purses! We're on our way to buying our bus! Thanks everyone!

This means we still have 68 purses to go! Be a part of this unique experience Click here to be amongst the select view to get in your possesion a one of a kind, Alaskan made, Pedouin purse!

Wednesday, October 13th 2010

Closed the fire off without enough wood to last till morning. We can tell it! It is 18 degrees outside, 55 inside. Brrr. I quickly drop some kindling on it, a couple of pieces of spruce and hope it'll be roaring soon.In the meantime I'm getting dressed for the outhouse. Jacket, scarf, mittens. It might only be 30 yards (or less), but it is cool (to say the least) out there.

On my way back I stop by the woodpile. I'm dressed warm, thus can just as well bring in a couple of armfuls of firewood. The snow crunches under my feet. It's a lovely sound. It is certainly frozen. Not the kind of snow you want for making a snowman, but certainly great snow for sledding and making snow angels. There is no new snow since yesterday. But still enough to enjoy.

Bringing in the firewood makes me warm already. When I come in with the fifth load, the grils have come down the stairs. They can feel the heat of the fire. It's doing well. It will take a little while for the cabin to warm up to the temperature we like; the lower 70s or so.

To get warm quicker, the girls are playing the train game. Robin in the front on the tricycle. The tractor with Jasmine on it is tied to it. Cheyenne sits in the wagon behind the tractor. Around and around the carpet they go. From time to time one gets off at a designated train station. When the tractor frees up I quickly jump on, to go for a ride around the carpet. It's fun. The girls think it's very silly. It's fun being silly with the girls. We have our rough times, but we're mostly having a great time together.

Jasmine the flower girl.

Jasmine's drawing of Robin's stuffies. (Herkent Mem de beer met het lapje op het hoofd?)

After breakfast, Cheyenne situates herself at the sewing macine. She's pinned some pockets to the front of her purse and sews those first, before sewing the front to the back. We've learned through trial and error which way works best. It's great to see the purses come together. We work on them steadily, but also take time to do other things. Fun is the key, but commitment and taking baby steps (doing little by little) is also stressed. The girls see that if we keep working a little bit at a time on it, we have another purse ready to go. What a lesson to learn.

Cheyenne on the treadle, with Robin on her side.

Robin is getting into it too. She's putting pieces together. Telling me exactly which one is the front and which one is the back. Then she dives into the box with smaller pieces of cloth. Those are for the pockets. She pulls out what she sees fit and starts cutting. Two pockets, three pockets, somewhat rectangle, somewhat triangle. Everything goes. After all, it is her design. I love seeing the girls work on it. As far as I can tell, they all have an eye for design. I couldn't do it better myself. I'm the little helper. I pin the seems, hold the material as Jasmine pedals away (she's still a bit hesitant to get close to the needle), sew Robin's material while she rides along in my lap, and on and on. We're busy as bees.

The swing is currently out of order. We're using it for our ribbon display. The ribbons are used as handles on the purses.

While we are focusing on purses, Bill is in town. He's going to an elementary school this morning. fourth grader Emma has invited him to her presentation on current events. Her subject: our bicycle journey! Bill tells us she'd done a great job! Thanks Emma!

At the end of the afternoon we're ready for fresh air. We anticipate Bill's arrival soon. He won't drive the truck down, so we're trying to catch him at the top of the driveway before he comes walking down. We're taking the sleds up with us.

Jasmine is walking the final yards to the top of the driveway.

When we arrive at the road, Bill just pulls around the corner. What a timing. Bill sleds down with Jasmine. His heels deep in the snow as brakes. It gets pretty steep every now and then. Jasmine is loving it. They safely make it down to the cabin.

Cheyenne is in the purple sled. Doing the same procedure. Heels deep in the snow. Slowly but steadily. When she's almost down she lets go and sleds alongside the cabin to the tree line. Robin and I just walk down. Robin is not comfortable to go sledding down the drive way. She does enjoy sledding alongside the cabin though. Her lip has healed again. Her teeth are still hanging in without discoloration. And she'd like to keep it that way. And so do we. As for my toe, as long as I don't kick something it's almost as good as new. Let's hope we've had our share of home based accidents and that we're done with them for a while.

We quickly have supper. After supper we have a special treat. Emma has baked home made cookies for the girls (and for us of course). Delicious. Thanks again Emma! You get an A for cookie baking!

At seven o'clock we have a phone call to make. The girls have been preparing for this all day. Bringing up books, workbooks, pens, pencils, games. This is a serious phonecall with our (maybe) publisher and we want to be focused. We have a list of questions we want to ask. We're ready to get some answers. Are we going this route or not.

At the agreed upon time we call. We call. And we call. But no answer. We check the time, we check the number. Again. No answer. Well, it looks like this is not the route to go. How can you work together if you can't get a hold of eachother? We feel deflated. Our energy was geared to this call. We don't have any answer as to what now, but know from experience that answers will come when we are ready. We are writing the book and we know it's going to be a success. The "how" will unfold itself. Like it usually does.

The girls are disappointed too. They had a special evening planned. Now that we're not busy on the phone they feel as if all their work for their special evening has been for no reason. It takes them a while to get over it and to finally go to sleep.

Bill and I get over our issues and focus on another task. Making the printer work and starting to print out our website. We look at the print previews of the main pages and are amazed at the number of pages. About 1500 in all. Wow, that's a lot of writing and picture cropping we've done over this past year. No wonder so much time was involved in it. We get two legs printed off and enjoy looking at the stories and the pictures of the girls when we just started. What a journey it's been. What an incredible experience. No other word to describe it.

Thursday, October 14th 2010

We're back below 20. I spoke too soon of our steady 25 degrees! When Bill got up at 7am, it was 7 degrees on the front porch... Inside it's much warmer. Instead of not loading up the woodstove enough, last night we forgot to close it down. As heat rises it is obvious that we were plenty warm upstairs.

Bill leaves once more for town. But not until after he's fixed pancakes for breakfast. The girls love having him around and can't wait until he's "done working". While the weather is still good and while there are some odd jobs here and there, we're taking advantage of it though.

It is 9.30am when the sun finally hits Old Murphy Dome road across the valley. It's getting light later and later. We're starting the day with the lights on already.

A crisp clear blue sky above us. It's been a while that we've seen the sun this clearly. Still with the snow on the ground it didn't feel as if it was dark and drury. While the girls are playing in the snow outside, I'm taking a moment to just sit and let my thoughts come back to me. Being a stay at home mom is a very busy job. The moments the girls enjoy themselves together, are moments for me to do something for me. Even if it's just sitting at the table with a new book and a cup of hot tea on my side.

At 10.30 the girls can't contain themselves any longer. They've got to go outside. The snow is singing to them. They get warmly dressed, hats, scarf, mittens. After 30 minutes of playing they are so hot, they take of their scarfs and hats. Amazing, and that at 12 degrees!

The sun is lingering in the tops of the trees alongside the driveway. Slowly melting away the snow. Letting it drop by splotches.

A fairly uneventful day. We've made six more purses these past two days. The girls have another five ready to go. While Robin was taking a nap we checked the email to see that another eight purses have been ordered! Thank you Emma, Kelly, Denise (and Julia), Vera, Chelsea, Hal and Tonya, Beverly, and Tanja (our first international order!)! With your purchases we're getting closer and closer to making the bus a reality! You are all an inspiration to our girls that this project is working!

The neglected kitchen. We're too busy sewing to bother.

For Bill the day has been anything but uneventful. Arriving in town this morning he rented a forklift. With it he moved some old junkers away from "our" bus. This way the road is clear for the wrecker to pull the bus out this weekend. Later this day he met the owner of the bus. With borrowed money (since our purse business is barely up and running) we've bought the bus! The title was signed over to the previous owner in 1993! That'll be interesting to see what the DMV has to say about that. So far so good, we're a big step closer to our next journey.

We're finishing The Shadow World. Now we need to get to the library for the next book to find out what happens next. We hope that tomorrow we'll be able to go. We all love going to the library. Cheyenne is ready for a fresh load of books. She tells me the ones we have now are getting boring. Jasmine is not reading as fast, but is slowly picking up more and more words, and confidence as well. It's a great sight to see your daughter learn and grow. Robin is in the stage of listening to the same story over and over again. A book never becomes boring to her. Before her nap time we have some special reading time together. She's trying to add more and more books. First we started out with one book, now we're easily up to five if I let her. Which I usually do. You've got to love it.

The girls go upstairs a little earlier then usual; 7.30pm tonight. The idea is that I have some time to run through some paperwork, and have an early evening of updating the website. The idea is good, the outcome is somewhat predictable. Up and down the stairs they come. Always needing to go potty. A good excuse, because of course I won't say no. When they are upstairs they'll ask me questions with every sound I make. Especially Robin loves to know what it is that I'm doing exactly. Or what it is that I'm reading. It's cute though.

Keeping our focus!

Five purses are close to being ready to sew together. There is a lot of preparation work involved. The finished product is certainly worth it!

We've sold 15 purses so far. Which means there are still 60 available! Be a part of this unique experience Click here to be amongst the select view to get in your possesion a one of a kind, Alaskan made, Pedouin purse!

Saturday, October 16th 2010

Another day to go to town. A very special one at that. Today we're going to mail the first purses. Eighteen in all. We have a 19th purse sold, but don't have this one ready yet. That will be the second batch. Yesterday the 18th purse was finished. Once the girls were in bed, I had a chance to address the envelopes and make the mailing ready to go.

The first batch of purses is ready to be shipped!

This morning we're up bright and early. Well, not really bright. The sun isn't up yet, let alone that it is light outside. And it is already after seven! Wow we can really tell the daylight slipping away. We're having breakfast in the dark (with the light on). Strange.

Getting ready for town to personally drop off the first batch at the post office!

Towards 9 o'clock we're walking up to the road. Martin is meeting us there to take us to town and back. It is 12 degrees. Very crisp. We're pulling he sleds up so we can sled down later on today. It also helps bring the books, garbage, car seat and of course the bag with purses up to the road. Robin gets a free ride. She's in her carseat, in the sled. Bill pulls her up.

We're walking up the drive way, ready to go to town.

Together we're trudging up the drive. Crunch crunch under our feet. Where we made prints the other day are now crystals, as big as razorknives. Where the sun hits they sparkle with all the colors of the rainbow. We admire thim with a childish curiosity.

We're having the run around through town. First we stop at the Alaska Seed company off of College Road. Our bus is parked behind it. It is time for the girls to make their first "grand entree". After all, with their help it is possible to buy the bus soon! We're getting so close! And we still have plenty of material for more purses. Once we've funded the bus, we're going to continue to the 75th purse. It will all go towards the bus, the forklift we needed to use, the wrecker to tow it to the Alaska Seed company and perhaps even to start buying some items. One must dream to succeed!

The girls are getting ready to get on THEIR bus for the first time!

Bill and Martin are checking the rear tires. One of the areas that need to be worked on.

All the windows are missing or need to be replaced. We might need new rims for the wheels. Needles to say, we'll need new wheels. The engine needs a total makeover (glad that Bill is a mechanic too!). Some touch up paint here and there. And that should be it for the outside. The inside needs to be emptied before we can start the remodelling. Bunkbeds, desks, tables, seats, cabinets, kitchen; where are we going to stow it. The girls are already crunching their brains to figure it out.

After we drop Bill off at a job site, we continue on. First stop: a post office that is open. The first post office in down town is closed. From the east side of town we're heading all the way back to the west side of time. This time we hit it just right. The post office is about to open. We wait in line, then everyone swarms in. A busy day for the post office. With only two clerks it goes amazingly fast. Soon it is our turn. The girls watch everything that's going on, and ask questions about every sticker and stamp they see.

At the post office! Here comes your purse!

From the post office we head back to the east side of town. To the library this time. We drop off some books, then head for the Berry room (childrens room). The girls know where to go. Cheyenne heads for the Magic Tree house. Jasmine heads for Fancy Nancy. Robin picks an aisle and starts picking out books. Robin is done quick, she's not picky. I take her with me to the grown up section while Cheyenne and Jasmine get help from the librarian to find and reserve more books to their liking. I find what I'm looking for and head back to Cheyenne and Jasmine. The Pedouin whirl wind is ready to head back out. Thirty one books "richer".

Before going home we stop by Hot Licks for a celebratory ice cream treat. Martin tells me that Alaskans are proud to eat more ice cream per capita then any other state! Ice cream in the winter; probably tastes warm when it is minus 40 outside!

We arrive safely at the top of the drive way. No car is going up or down anytime soon. Unless well equiped with some good snow chains. The sleds are waiting. Cheyenne and Jasmine share the purple one together. I'm holding on to my heart. The frozen snow is very slick. "Heels in the ground!", I keep telling them. And they do. Slowly but steadily they make it past the steepest part. The final part is not as steep. They slide safely alongside the cabin.

Robin is not going in the sled from all the way up there. She gets Martin to carry her down. I hold on with both hands to the orange sled. Heavily loaded with books. When it levels out some I hop in for the final exhilarating yards. Sledding is just plain fun! Even if you do get snow all the way up the inside of your pants from slowing down the sled.

Another step in the purse process has been taken. We're not going to sew this afternoon. Just goofing on and feeling happy about our first week's accomplishment. We're building train tracks, a helicopter, practise with flash cards. Robin is in command in the kitchen. Working on dishes, then deciding on supper. It's great to see her carefully work her way around. It's weird to see her stand up on the counter to reach the top shelf for a plate or bowl. She knows where everything is.

Jasmine built a helicopter.

Robin helps with the dishes.

We're sitting at the table together doing some glitters and arts. Next week is our friend's birthday, thus cards need to be made.

Robin is ready for supper. She's not quite sure what to cook yet, but it's going to be something. Noodles perhaps, or green beans and carrots. No, it's going to be pancakes.

Bill comes home late (but with title in hand!), missing out on a terrific supper by the girls. Robin started us on pancekes. Cheyenne made a potato-carrot-tomato soup. Jasmine finished it all off with chocolate chip cookies. Delicious!

We have the title!

After our first week in the purse business we're a giant step closer to paying for the bus. Your generous purchases have been way beyond what we'd anticipated. Thank you very much!

We've sold 19 purses so far. Thank you Carolyn, Shandra, Deborah and Kris! This means there are still 56 available! Be a part of this unique experience Click here to be amongst the select view to get in your possesion a one of a kind, Alaskan made, Pedouin purse!

Sunday, October 17th 2010

The day of rest. We sleep in till the daylight arrives enough to tease us out of bed. The girls are already wide awake and have snuck down the stairs. We listen to the sounds; tip-toe, pitter-patter, pots and pans, plates and silverware... What is going on down there? A smell wafts over the banister. We sniff, trying to figure out what it is. It smell like noodles. Noodles for breakfast? We decide it is time to get up. When we look at the table, we see the table is set. Plates, bowls and cups. The teapot, boiled eggs and, yes, noodles. It's time for breakfast. Thanks girls!

Bill is home all day to the delight of the girls. They literally cling to him. Especially Robin is good at that. She still thinks it is strange for Bill not to be with us all the time. She's come to the understanding that that is normal in our family, since the bicycle journey are most likely her earliest memories. She doesn't like it at all when he's leaving. So today she is his little cling-on. Making sure that he's not going anywhere without her knowledge.

The girls also rest from sewing. Although we haven't been swamped with orders, we've been quite busy this week. We've set up a nice assembly line though. With the fronts and backs ready made, all the girls need to do is decide on the combination, the pockets and the ribbon. They keep coming up with new creations. But not today. Today we have something else in store.

We can't wait any longer. We've decided to let the girls have the gifts from Joette from Georgia. It's a great reward for their hard work this week. Thanks!

The first creations.

Cheyenne is tickled with her wizard's castle.

An afternoon full of fun. They are great building toys. With it are instruction booklets to get you started. Robin is engrossed in an alligator and an elephant. Jasmine starts with a boat and a house. Cheyenne is trying different ways to build a castle. Lots of enjoyment.

Bill spends the afternoon on the porch. He's printing more parts of the journey. The printer keeps rattling. One page after another. One ink cartridge after another. At the end of the day (and at the end of the ink cartridges) this is the result:

From Fort Pierce, Florida, to Port Angeles, Washington. A lot of time went in to the journal. And what a result! It's great to have a look at the journey from the lazy seat!

Monday, October 18th 2010

Bill snuck out on us this morning. None of us heard him leave. He had some errands to run before work; getting up early is the key. We start the day with Krusteaz pancakes. Not a hit compared to the hotcakes. We're so spoiled with those.

It's 8.30am, just light outside.

Silly girls. Wonderfully excited about the new day.

The three sourdough starters are still alive. The one I made had frozen in the coolbox on the porch, but I've been able to rejuvenate it. It seems to be doing well again. Although making hotcakes is the simplest thing with the starter, making differnt kinds of breads is a lot of fun (although much more work). Today ther is no sponge ready, so I decide on a dinner rolls made with yeast.

It's a long process making something from scratch. I'm glad I made the decision early this morning. With the waiting time to let the batter/dough rise, it easily takes four hours from start to finish. The result, again, is well worth it. We're licking our chops when lunch is finally ready to be served.

For lunch we have fresh made butterhorns with Nutella.

In the afternoon Jasmine works on some purses again. Five more purses need to be made; the one for Kris comes first; next come the ones for Ann, Lisa, Melissa and Lauri. This makes the grand total 23 purses sold. More excitedly, the girls have raised enough money to buy the bus! They did it in a weeks time! Great job girls! And thank you very much ladies! (And Hal!) Your generous purchases have been an inspiration to our entrepreneurial girls! We will keep on sewing till the 75th purse is made though, so you still have a chance to be a part of this unique experience! Click here to be amongst the select view to get in your possesion a one of a kind, Alaskan made, Pedouin purse!

We're going on raising the money for the forklift and the wrecker and perhaps beyond, towards new tires etc. We won't start fixing up the bus till spring, so we have plenty of time.

Our first priority is to have the book written. Focussing on baby steps. As long as we keep on adding, it will be finished soon! Our timetable is roughly as follows: Have the book written by winter solstice; Have it edited in January; Start the printing process in February; Have the first book in hand in March or April. Also we'll start pre-sale in January or February. Once the book is in the printing process we'll focus on the bus.

A weak sun is trying to shine through the heavy snow clouds.

We live an exciting life!

Wednesday, October 20th 2010

Snowy days! The fresh layer of snow has added just enough to cover our previous tracks. It's time to have another go at sledding. Let's make some new tracks.

Cheyenne and Jasmine are the first ones to make new tracks. Up and down the hill they go. Robin is hesitant and says she can wait a while. While Robin takes a nap, I get my chance to sled too. I can't get over how much fun it is. We pile into the big orange sled and off we go. My heels are ready to be burried into the snow to slow us down. "End of the line!", we all yell.

Snow time!

We're heading back inside to warm up and to hang our clothes to dry. The wood stove is generating enough heat to dry everything in no time.

Busy with Glenda and Janet's boxes. Full of books, workbooks, a knitting tool and a handprint too (the girls loved it!).

Jasmine is knitting a worm. It works great!

We're having the in and outs these days. The dressing up and down part is a big part of it, but the girls don't complain. They know the value of warm clothes and mittens, although they don't care to much about wearing socks yet. It's back in the mid twenties and it doesn't feel very cold at all. Especially not when you're active outside.

This time Robin is going out to to enjoy the snow. She first looks at it all, then decides she's ready to try it in the sled again. Jasmine is holding on tight, while Cheyenne puts her feet in the snow. After a couple of yards it's enough though. She's ready to get out. I think we're just to close to the cabin. Her run-in still plays in her mind vividly.

Robin is holding on tight.

A rozy cheeked snow angel.

Cheyenne is holding Dogge tight.

After sledding alongside the cabin and enjoying the swing while we can, we head up into the woods. Before the snow, I've been clearing a trail from fallen branches. Let's check it out and see if that sleds. The snow under the trees is not as thick, but it's still enough to make some new trails. The trail I made is not so steep, but keeps you going. Making curves is the tricky part. The little purple sled works great for this.

We criss-cross some more trails. Some come out on the drive way, where we continue the path along the cabin. It makes for a long trail and lots of fun.

Our snowy cabin at 4pm in the afternoon sun. Isn't it gorgeous!

The after-sledding-pile. The garbage cans in the back are to put snow in, when we "really" have a lot of snow. We'll melt it for water.

Cheyenne is getting a bag ready. She fills it full with books. She's going to work with Daddy tomorrow. She can barely wait. She's been looking forward to this chance a long time. Jasmine and Robin throw a fit. Obviously they want to go with Daddy too! Glad to say that they eventually get over it.

Checking off another purse. Jasmine is a hard worker. She steadily puts purses together.

Three purses are ready to go!

Bill has been busy with the DMV. He stopped by on Monday to hear that the previous owners first have to register the title (it was signed over to them, but they've never registered it). On Tuesday they all got together at the DMV. The title has been signed over, but has to be send to Juneau for verification. Once it comes back as indeed a legal title, they all have to go back to the DMV again for the real transfer. Oh boy.

The night Bill stayed in town with Dick and Patsy (where we have the bus parked), he has started cleaning out the old matresses pipes, iron bars and what not, out of the bus. Under the old carpet he found the original rubber mat and the original blue floor. Great job!

A little after 6pm Bill calls to say he's on his way home. I'm already planning for all of us to go up to the road to welcome him back. Robin and Cheyenne have fixed pancakes for supper. A truly joined effort. Robin is tickled that I appreciate her effort! "You've got to love it!" is what I like to say. Our little troopers. They're growing up so fast.

The sun has set, but it's not yet dark. It's the time of day when the sky is in full bloom of colors. The rays of sun reflect off the slivers of cloud, filling the sky with hues of red. Our living room window looks to the south west, it's where the sun is about to set. We have a front row seat to nature's beautiful display.

We're getting dressed once more, this time to go to the road. Let's see if we can time it right again and meet Bill at the top.

The moon comes up. We're awaiting Bill's arrival at the road.

Time for some road sledding.

A couple minutes go by. Then a car comes around the corner. Although I'm not that good with recognizing vehicles, I recognize this one. It's Bill!

There is Bill. Keep on sledding Cheyenne!

Let's have another go at it!

Bill walks with Robin down the hill. Cheyenne goes ahead in the purple sled. I'm in the back of the orange sled, with a big box of material in front of me. In front of the box is a water jug. Jasmine sits right on top. Slowly I guide the sled down the drive way. "Guide" might not be the most appropriate word, but let's just say I'm keeping it between the trees. Jasmine is having a blast. And so do I!

No new purse purchases these past two days. But look at what we've accomplished. In a little over a weeks time we've sold 23 purses and raised enough money to buy the bus! The universe has given exactly what we've asked for. The law of attraction in the works! We're totally tickled with the result and are so happy to have ventured out on this journey! Thanks for being a part of it!

Thursday, October 21st 2010

The moon shines bright over our cabin.

Depending on the dependability of the internet connection, I'm usually done by midnight on a website night. Last night was no different. There are times the internet connection works chick-check, there are times that I get bucked out several times before I finally can upload the text or pictures. I wait and read until finally everything gets where it needs to go.

I read a lot in the evening. Subjects as described before. Our bicycle journey has thrown us in a total different realm of thinking and doing. The enthusiasm about our book is overwhelming and extremely encouraging. It's made us think about how to structure everything and also about what comes next. The bus-book-tour is not the end of the Pedouin Journey. We believe it's only the beginning.

We're working on clarifying our vision. I read in one of the books: "It takes courage to discover, develop and donate your genius to the world." The cross country bicycle journey was just a tip of the iceberg on how we've affected peoples lives along the way. With our book we aim to affect many more. With the bus-book-tour even more so. As you can read on our website we're not superhuman. We have our flaws. We fail at things. We make mistakes.

But the point is, we get back up. We keep on trying. As I read somewhere else: "Entrepreneurs have two characteristics... ignorance and courage." It is with this ignorance ang courage that we ventured out on the bicycle, and made it 6,439 miles to Fairbanks from Kentucky! It is with this ignorance and courage that we're going to discover and develop our genius so we can donate it to the world! We shall succeed. The how will have to work itself out!

Then the morning comes and it seems to be yet another day! An exciting day for Cheyenne. And an exciting day for us who stay behind.

Cheyenne is all packed to go to work with Daddy today!

The sewing machine is still ready to go. It catches Robin's eye. She's going to make a purse now. She looks in the big yellow bag, pulls out the front and back, decides on which one is front and which one is back, and heads for the pocket box. She's so efficient. I pin the seems, then Robin hops in my lap. "Giddy up horsy." And off we are. With this strategy the pockets are on in no time. Now a ribbon to go with it and we can sew them all together. Within an hours time another purse is ready!

Robin with yet another purse by her design!

This weekend we'll have the second batch ready to go. A total of 24 purses have been sold in less then two weeks! I love to see how a simple "scout's honor" still works in this day and time. The purse and check cross each other on the way. And other wise Paypal has been used already before we can get the first seem pinned! Thank you for your confidence! It's a pleasure doing business this way!

After Robin's pretend nap, we're ready to go outside. Early in the morning the sun is hidden by coniferous trees on the east. It's in the middle of the afternoon when the sun shines straight over the cabin onto the drive way. The best time of day to be outside, since there is sun everywhere. The clothes are dry and warm from hanging near the wood stove. We get dressed warmly, although it isn't really cold lately. The upper 20s perhaps. And of course we're getting used to the temperatures too.

Robin and I are casting long shadows on the drive-way during an afternoon of sledding.

Robin is blazing a new trail through the snow.

It's been a bit warmer today. When it is too cold, the snow gets too cold and turns into powder snow. This doens't pack well, and is lousy for making a snow man. Today is different though. The top lyer has warmed up enough to get sticky. We're trying a little ball. It soon becomes quite a big one. We're heading for the swing area where the sun has been more active. Time to put sledding on hold and to focus on the first snow man!

The snow is perfect for snowman making! Jasmine is sledding the belly down the hill to the swing area. We'll find more good snow there.

Tada! The first snow man of the season.

Jasmine's first snow man she made all by herself!

Making a snow man is fun, but sledding is much more exciting. It is Robin who decides it's time to go back to the trails in the woods. They are slow trails and she likes it that way. Her teeth are still in by the way. They're slowly getting less wobbly. We're so fortunate.

On our way up to the forest trails, we stumble upon a ptarmigan!

It picks the last berries off the bush while keeping a wide open eye on us. The girls observe the bird for over five minutes before he takes off. He hops on the wood pile, then on the porch roof. We go back to where we saw him to check on the tracks. Jasmine saw that the bird already had fluffy feet feathers. It still has a lot of color changing to do before it turns its wintery white.

After a couple of hours playing in the snow it's time for hot chocolate inside. I bake some drop cookies to go with it. Quick and easy. And yummy too. With this renewed energy it doesn't take long before they are ready to go back out again. Robin suggest going up to the road to go belly sledding like we did yesterday when we went to get Bill. With all her enthusiasm behind it, how can I say "No". Thus we get dressed once more and bring the sled to the road for some belly sledding.

Robin excitedly runs up the road to hop in the sled.

The evening sky.

Cheyenne and Bill are staying in town tonight. Cheyenne has helped put down flooring on a job Bill is doing. She's bubbling over with excitement. Staying the night with Daddy is of course also very special. Tomorrow she'll help him some more.

Friday, October 22nd 2010

We don't go downstairs until it's light. And that is around 8.30am nowadays. The girls think it's still really really early in the morning and try not to make a peep while I pretend sleep a couple more minutes. We all venture down stairs for our morning routine: breakfast. I'm out of bread and starting something from scratch will take us beyond lunch time. I start them off on some cereal (one of my least favorite choices; it just doesn't stick with you), and have some yogurt myself (I could live on yogurt I believe; especially adding banana and raisins into it). The morning is always a slow time here. After breakfast I get some dough ready for some butterhorns. They were a hit the other day. The great thing is, it's a simple dough, doesn't need a lot of kneeding, then it needs to sit for two hours, long enough to play with the girls or read some more.

Again Robin takes a pretend nap. She sings, leaves through some books, talks to all the stuffies she's gathered around (Cheyenne's and Jasmine's included), then when she thinks she's been upstairs long enough, she walks down the stairs. She comes up to me to declare that she had a "really long nap". A smile comes on my face. "You tried for a really long time," I reply.

It's time to get dressed and enjoy the outdoors. Robin and Jasmine go first. I give them the chance to play together for a while. It gives me the chance to have some time for myself. After a while I join them in outdoor adventures. The ski's need to be tried. Oh boy. Can't really tell whether they are for Nordic ski or downhill, but we're going to use them on the flat for now untill we figure it out.

The first part is to figure out how to get their feet in the bindings. The bindings have big springs on them that go behind the boot. The toe point is very narrow, but nothing a couple of taps from a hammer can't fix. It turns out they are meant to get wider and narrower. No wonder that part went so easy. With some cable I make a new "clasp" so their toes don't come out. Robin goes first. Once she's all set, she wants to get out. I ask her if she wants to try to go a foot, I actually mark it with a line, and she agrees. Between my arms she slides. She realizes it's quite fun. Next stop is the bushes. Then back again and a little further. After a couple of times up and down she decides it is Jasmine's turn. Great job Robin!

Robin is venturing out on ski's.

Jasmine's boots are much bigger then Robin's. One foot fits well. The other just a little bit. She tries to walk on the ski's using the sticks, but it doesn't really work well.

Jasmine is having her turn, but her boots are so big, the nose doesn't fit in. She walks awkwardly with them a couple of steps to come to the realization that this doesn't work well.

Perhaps we can stop at the transfer station and find some bigger ski's for Cheyenne and Jasmine. The transfer station is the most interesting place in town. Fairbanks doesn't have garbage pick up, but it does have several places where you can dump your garbage. Also in that area is an open place with a roof where you can drop off the items you don't use anymore, but are still good to use. Clothes, refridgerators, ski's, tupper ware boxes, toys. You name it, you can find it. Everyone knows about it and everyone uses it. It's a great set-up.

These warmer days have been especially nice to enjoy.

We sit down with butterhorns for supper. Half of them are filled with chocolate chips. This makes for a delicious combination. After we finish it is time to read some more. We read several stories a day. Sometimes the same one over and over again until they've had their fill. Bambi and Waldo have been Robin's favorites lately. Jasmine is still into the Fancy Nancy series. Her vocabulary is slowly increasing. Her phonics are great and helps her sound out the words really well. Keep it up Jasmine!

As we sit at the table my eye glances out side. There is the red on the horizon again. "Excuse me, I need to take some pictures of that." And I disappear outside. I'm glad I did, because less then 10 minutes later the reds are all gone. Jump on the opportunity when it arrises! Act now!

The reds in the sky.

The sun has set. It is 6.30pm. As if to prove my point on the hues of red, the sky gives this beautiful display.

As I'm getting the pictues ready to upload and the text written, I usually run the internet on the background. I've been at it for over an hour and have yet to connect to the website. I turn the computer slightly in the hope to catch the signal just right. Let's see if it's going to work tonight.

Usually I can move the previous post to the current "winter" page and upload the pictures. By the time I'm ready with the new post I can upload that soon after. Usually. But not tonight. We shall see how it'll work. Needles to say (but doing it anyway), if you read this, it worked!

I've moved the computer to almost touch the window. This is the trick! I have reception now and can upload the pictures and everything else. In the mean time Bill calls. They are on their way home. After work they went to clean out the bus some more, while Cheyenne had the chance to visit with Dick and Patsy. I can't wait for the stories. I'll be hearing them on the way down from the road.

Saturday, October 23th 2010

A crisp blue sky awaits us when we wake up. The wood stove is holding last nights heat. The blades on the Ecofan are slowly turning, spreading the heat through the cabin. The fan works off the stove top heat. The hotter the stove, the faster the fan spins.

When Bill is home, he's making the hotcakes. Always special. He'll throw in some chocolate chips too. Makes the girls bounce before and after the hotcakes!

The morning the girls enjoy a package from Petaluma; Carol and Jim send us a box with stickers from Mrs Grossman's, the famous sticker factory from Petaluma. They have fun for hours with it. Jasmine especially enjoys the dress up dolls. The stickers can be put on and taken off. Loads of fun.

When Bill takes a nap with Robin, I take Cheyenne and Jasmine outside. The task is to get Bill's glasses from the truck up at the road. The pay-off is a good time belly sledding and then the down hill slide. Jasmine and Cheyenne swim like seals through the snow. The funniest sight. With a big leap they jump in the sleds to get them going down the road.

Jasmine and Cheyenne are taking a giant jump into the sleds. Look at Jasmine's feet: straight out! Woosh they go across the road. The slope is terrific.

With the glasses we slide back down the hill. At least that's what we think. Arriving at the cabin, the glasses are no longer in my pocket. Thus we walk up the hill again. Of course to the delight of the girls. I find the glasses at the top of the driveway. Cheyenne and Jasmine have walked up with me, sleds in tow. So down we go again. It's exhilarating. I'm totally loving it. And I'm not the only one.

Back at the cabin Bill and Robin are slowly waking up. They took a master nap. Refreshed they come downstairs. The girls are in for a treat. Bill is going to play a movie for them on the computer. He builds them a movie theater upstairs. That settles it. The girls are having a peaceful afternoon.

The evening we think we're going to do the same trick. While the girls are enjoying a movie, we're going to have an intense phonecall with Kevin about editing our book. What worked so well this afternoon, does not work well tonight. They fuss and fight while we try to listen and understand and work things out. We're glad Kevin can see the humor of it and is fine with us calling him back later.

We turn off the movie, read them a story and that's the end of it. They finally grovel to sleep. Phew. What's already very tense for us to deal with has become more tense. We're in a new arena and are out of our comfort zone when it comes to talking book-editing language. We're willing to learn and expand our comfort zone, so we pick up the phone again. We actually put some pieces together to get the ball rolling. Thanks Kevin!

Sunday, October 24th 2010

Back to the tens.

We have a visitor coming today! Juneau James is coming to Fairbanks! I'd love to bake some homemade goodies, but we're out of gas! We can't believe it. This morning we started smelling gas in the cabin. It smells exactly the same as when our tank at home would go empty. Sure enough, when Bill tries to lift up the tank he can feel that it is almost empty. We can't believe it! We've used a 100lb tank of propane in two months. A 60lb tank in Kentucky lasts us easily six months! I bake a lot, but that much? Part of it is of course the lights we're using. I guess we're finding out how much gas they take!

Robin engrossed in the train game.

Cheyenne is putting the thread through the needle. She knows exactly where the thread has to go, around which hooks, through which holes.

With James coming here, we're working on a surprise package for Ms Mary at Donna's Restaurant in Juneau. Jasmine has sewn her a purse. Each of the girls has added a drawing. These girls are so full of creativity!

The drawing Cheyenne made for Ms Mary at Donna's Restaurant in Juneau.

Just before noon we get a call from James. He has landed! I give him directions, as well as a firm suggestion not to come down the driveway by car. About an hour later there is a knock on the door: It is James! Welcome to our estate James!

James brought a two foot long sub for lunch! Thanks

After a filling lunch, we decide to take James up on his offer to take us to town. This way we can show him the bus, some of town, and run some errands too.

James can see himself drive the bus!

We have a stop at the bus, then head for the Home Depot. We buy two sheets of foam board, to board our outside refrigerator with. We need to try and keep items from freezing. We're not sure it's going to work, but we're willing to try.

For supper we take James to Chili's. A combination Thank-You and Birthday. Too bad you're not here too Anji! As we pull out of the parking lot, James spots the moon. Super large on the horizon. What a beautiful sight.

Full moon over the University. We can't believe how many days it's been full moon. It seems like full moon started on Wednesday and it is still full!

James shoots the last water container full at the Water Wagon.

Before James leaves we light the bon fire. With all the snow it's safe to burn now.

Enjoying the Bon Fire.

The girls are enjoying the fire from the inside.

Tuesday, October 26th 2010

We're whooped from yesterday. We all went to town. Jasmine had a playdate with Dick and Patsy. Bill went to work on the bus; more cleaning out, taking off the tires and rims; wrapping it with tarp to keep the snow out. I took Cheyenne and Robin with me into town. But we didn't all start with an empty belly. Dick and Patsy made us breakfast; blueberry hotcakes, fresh fruit with yogurt and coffee and milk to go with it. Delicious! Thanks Dick and Patsy!

Bill first comes with us. We're getting the new gas tanks filled up, find a new efficiency stove and head back to the bus. Now we can start on our day. The three of us stop by Dateline to get some envelopes for the purses and to get a collection of Jasmine's color papers bound. Next onto the Post Office to mail the second batch of purses. Following the Post Office we're aiming for the sewing shop. We broke our last needle on Sunday, so we're temporarily out of business. The sewing shop has an abundance of needles, but they're all to short!

We're on a quest for information this afternoon. After a little playtime at the McDonalds playground, we head across the road for Barnes&Noble. Cheyenne and Robin head for the kids area. Lots of books to drool over and wish for. Also a trainset to play with. I head for the business section to see what's new. I like to know what's available, so when I need something I know where to find it. We don't buy anything, but Cheyenne has a list with 18 books she'd like to have "for research". You've got to love it.

After the bookstore we head for Office Depot to see what's new there. Mostly to see what kind of software is available. I'm looking at bookkeeping software, making a PDF, label printing as well as to see what else is there. For it's compatibility with the bank, we're probably going for QuickBooks. To get a feel for how it works I get the "Learning QuickBooks" cd. Another step of preparation has been made. There are many facets to the structure of our bus-book-tour. Wintering here gives us the chance to mull them over and get our ducks in a row. It's exciting to learn new things.

when we're finished with the information gather we head for more current tasks; the grocery store. We quickly roll through the aisles, then head back to Dick and Patsy where Bill and Jasmine are waiting for us. Jasmine had a great day, she even made an "S"-hook with Dick in his black smith shop! Bill got a lot done getting the bus ready for fixing up. We're still waiting to have the deed transferred into our name. Because the deed should have been transferred in 1993, the DMV is researching their old record to find the proper information. To be continued, as we expected.

Today is another snow day. once the sun is around the corner, shining its light on the driveway, the girls are no longer to be contained inside. Cheyenne and Jasmine head out the door first. Robin doesn't follow much later. When I finally join them, they've already gotten beautiful rosy cheeks from playing.

Hours of fun in the snow. Robin uses the logs as drums.

With me outside, we head up to the road. The snow on the shoulder is still fluffy and deep. Robin loves to crawl through it. The girls take turns belly sledding. Then Cheyenne decides it's time to climb the hill alongside the road.

Robin loves to crawl through the snow like a puppy.

Robin hops on the sled, while Cheyenne and Jasmine try to climb their way up the steep hill.

They keep on trying.

Down Darling Avenue. The tiny clouds actually provide a scattering of fresh snow.

Fresh tracks in the snow.

Track crossing.

Cheyenne has almost made it to the top. While they were climbing the steep side, I walked to find an easier path to get up. Beating them to the top.

Robin enjoys looking up at everything.

A fresh time later we start heading down the drive. Jasmine in the orange sled, Cheyenne in the purple one. Robin runs down the hill. She's got incredible footing. She's a true mountain girl. I have to work at it to keep up with her.

The cabin is nice and warm. The stove does great. The sun adds a bit of warmth too. It's nice and bright inside.

While I'm in the kitchen, cleaning up and preparing supper, I hear the stomping of footsteps on the porch. Bill already? The girls have no doubt. It's daddy! The yell and scream as if they haven't seen him in weeks. It's a lovely sound.

Butterhorns filled with chocolate chips in the making by candlelight.

We have tomatoe-potatoe-beef-carrot stew with butterhorns for supper. The chocolate filled butterhorns are for dessert. It all disappears in a whim. I get a lot of fulfillment out of that.

Playing domino with dad.

We're still getting orders for purses made by the girls! It's wonderful! As soon as we've found the replacement needles we'll be back on task! Thanks for your purse purchase Greg, Mary, Tineke, Pieter en Ieke, and Oma (Van Harte Gefeliciteerd!).

Sunday, October 31st 2010

Indoor, outdoor, we're enjoying it all. We're enjoying the outdoor from the indoor too.

Temperature shock this morning.

We could feel it this morning, the floor in the cabin felt cool. Bill quickly purs up the fire. We always have coals left in the morning. We haven't had to start a new fire in weeks now.

Robin reading in front of the fire.

"Sunrise". It's 10.30am. It's been dawn since about 9am though.

Chee-cha-ko chopping firewood in his long-johns.

New snow has fallen these past couple of days. About two inches perhaps. The girls enjoy it several times a day. We're amazed at how tough they are. The temperature has dropped significantly in the past couple of days, but it doesn't faze them. They don't mind getting dressed either. It's great.

Sledding in the falling snow.

Winter in Alaska. So far, it's great.

Enjoying the outdoors. Robin is relaxing on top of a pile of wood.

Inside, the girls are like little honey bees, buzzing from one project to the next. Puzzles, games, coloring, workbooks, reading (and reaading and reading for Cheyenne) and learning to bake and cook in the kitchen. We're gathering the best recipies in a binder. And we keep looking for more.

Cheyenne has been the kitchen princes lately. Helping with making PastaSjoka - a chocolate spread delicious on bread and butterhorns. Learning how to make a batter bread. And all this involves working with measuring cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. 1/4, 1/2, 1/3 and on and on. Hands-on learning.

PastaSjoka preparations.

Stirring the cocolate chips; the main ingredients for the PastaSjoka.

Cheyenne is learning to make batter bread in a 2lb coffee can.

With the sewing machine temporarily on hold they are not twiddling their thumbs. They are always full of fire and activity.

Robin is on a roll. She's fixing lunch with all the puzzle and game pieces she can find. The game boxes serve as plates./center>

Jasmine enjoys arts and crafts.

Cheyenne is finger knitting with three kinds of yarn at the same time.

When Bill comes home, we're awaiting him at the road. It's dark at 6 now, but that's no problem. The snow reflects an abundance of light. With the sleds we're heading down the mountain. Although Robin is back into sledding, she won't go from the the road to the cabin. But she'll run down the hill. And fast too.

Bill is home again, well almost. The last part goes by sled.

Bill didn't come home empty handed! He brought new needles for the sewing machine. Cheyenne immediately checks to see if they are the right ones.

Cheyenne is threading the sewing machine, with the help of Jasmine.

They are the right ones! We're back in business!

Follow us into the Third Month of Winter!

Getting Ready for Winter
Our First Month in Fairbanks

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