Monday, December 05, 2016

Alaska: Glacier Time

On Wednesday we finally picked the perfect day to take a trip out to the Matanuska Glacier. (It's seriously highway robbery to get in through the private land in front of it though)


The view of "their" mountains before we left.


It was about an hour and a half drive to get to the glacier and the scenery along the way was simply stunning.


You drive high along the hillside opposite the glacier before going down to it so you can see some of the sheer size of it. 


Four miles across and 27 miles long.  Much of the front of it on the left side is actually ice, but covered by the silt and gravel that the glacier has churned up.


The glacier moves about a foot a day, but enough falls off at the front end that it is fairly stable in it's location.  We felt a piece of it shift while we were walking out on it! Spooky!


This is Shalom, and froggy had to visit the glacier with us!


Distances are deceiving... it probably took us a good 10 minutes to walk from this photo to the glacier edge.


At the edge, a lot of the ice is covered with dirt and silt.  But you can see the clear solid ice through it!


David juggling rocks...


All of these rocks have warmed in the sun and melted themselves down into the top layer of the ice.


Checking out a hole in the ice.


The guys got a lecture from Dahlia about letting kids get too near holes... safety first!  We all (except the girls) had these Cat Trax things on our shoes that made it much easier to walk on the ice.  The poor girls had to just be held up as they walked.


Family picture on the glacier!  If we go to Glacier National Park in the future I think the kids might be a little disappointed...


There were many of these holes, most not big enough for anyone to fall into.  You can see the amazing blue color down in the ice though.


Our lovely hosts!


We were on the very front edge of the glacier and it's so choppy that we couldn't climb up on top like I thought we were going to.


Boys on the ice!


These two photos (above and below) are taken looking back towards the parking lot, and from the parking lot respectively.  You can see that we are on the glacier, but in the photo below, where we were standing is very much at the bottom and front.


Let me just straddle a crack for fun!


Checking out how cold that ice water really is!


The boys were drinking the water pouring off here.


This is us, in front of one little piece.  To your right, the rest of the glacier was easily 4 to 5 times this tall, just what we could see!


And after we took this photo the boys walked over to where the ice turned into a small lake.  What they didn't know was that the water had essentially melted out the ice under the edge so under their combined weight it broke, dumping them both into glacier water!  Dahlia was there to grab them out and they must have been treading water hard because neither was wet above their armpits, but they said they never touched the bottom!  You can see that most of us are actually in shirtsleeves because it was such a warm day thankfully, even the air blowing across the glacier was warm, but they were cold then!



Boys: let us push this rock over!

There were some amazing patterns where the ice had fissured and the silt had flowed down into the cracks.  Try to blow this photo up and look carefully.


Views on the way home!


Just a mile or so before we got back to their house there was another moose spotting!  This one had a baby with her, but it was hiding from my camera.


And then just as we were getting the kids to bed (yes, at 11pm) I saw a giant shadow outside the window and this owl landed on top of the tree just off their deck.


All the nature is pretty awesome in Alaska!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On Giving and Overspending

Today has now become fashionably known as "Giving Tuesday".  Where, after we've all blown all our Christmas cash on Black Friday and the newer Cyber Monday, we stop and think, "Hey, maybe I should donate to some poor people too".

Ugh.

I have so many thoughts about this I don't even know where to start, and I'm preaching to myself here too.  I bought a lot of "stuff" this last week.  Things that were on sale and I'll use for the rest of the year, but still, that's a lot of expendable cash going to things that will in the end, just be consumed.

We Americans are such a consumer society and if we're not careful it consumes us too.  All the time spent shopping, and then organizing, cleaning, and finally purging.

Now I have kids, and they grow and so need new things, but still, we have too much.  I'm trying to be a bit more mindful of what we have as I stretch that buying to another child, but it's so easy to pick up things here and there and before you know it, mountains of things overwhelm your home.

What if we flip this on it's head? 


I wish Giving Tuesday could come before Black Friday.  You know, give some away, before we spend every last cent on ourselves?  It's kind of a Biblical principle after all!

I started thinking about the various organizations we've given to this year, or in the past.  My inbox got flooded in the last few days with most of them so that made it easy to summarize.

There truly are so many worthy causes out there, but may I suggest starting with ones that are close to your heart?

For us, that means people.  But it also means programs that benefit people long term, things like reforestation by The Eden Projects, who also provide jobs for people who have been devastated by that deforestation.

It means donating to organizations like International Justice Mission or Freedom Firm, who are actively working to rescue men, women, and children from all kinds of slavery.  Or my personal friends, the Besks, who work with Go Zoe in Thailand.

It also simply means donating to organizations that are working to bring people out of poverty and hard places.

The Preemptive Love Coalition working with displaced people in Iraq and Syria.

Compassion International working with kids in poverty all over the world.

Kiva, making micro loans to help those in poverty help themselves (and they pay you back directly, or you can choose to re-invest that money over and over again).

Sister Connection, sponsoring widows in Burundi as well as helping them become self sufficient through micro financing.

And finally, one of my personal favorites, Village Schools International, working in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia WITH villages to build their own schools and provide education that is otherwise unavailable to almost all of these kids.

~

Many of these organizations have matching grants going on today that will allow you to double your impact.

Whatever you choose, will you think about how you could give out of your bounty to make the world a better place?  What are your favorite organizations to support?

I receive nothing for telling you about these organizations, I just think they do really good work!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cyber Monday at Tea Collection

This is the rest of the sale you've been waiting for at Tea Collection!  Cyber Monday sales are 30% off everything Tea branded online for two days only with code YETIPARTY.  Also you get free shipping on any size order!


You'll find the best deals in the sale section, but 30% off anything is still a good price.  Check out the line of holiday dresses for your little lady, or button down shirts and sweaters for your little man.

Auto Updating Promotional Banner

I love Tea for multiple reasons, but over the years their quality has sold me.  They don't pill or stretch out of shape after many washes.  And Tea has a relationship with all their manufacturers to make sure they have good working conditions for their employees.  Honestly, this has become one of the biggest selling points for me as I become so aware of how people are treated in other countries.


For the girls, play ready dresses


For the boys, classic looks that are still fun


Happy Shopping!

The sale runs November 27th and 28th.

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated a small amount if you make a purchase after clicking on one of my links.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Fifth Child

Wondering about the title? No, we're not pregnant again, read on for the explanation!

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with things going on in the world I just want to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich.

I hear about the suffering in so many different places, Aleppo, North Africa, people who have lived their entire lives in refugee camps.  Even people in the US, homeless, and children in foster care.  

Sometimes I read Jesus' words to the rich young ruler, "Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, and follow me." Mark 10:21 and I know that we are rich and will be held accountable for what we have done with our riches.

But I don't know where to start.  What can one person do *unless you are Warren Buffet* to alleviate much suffering?

***

Sometime in the last year I came across the writings of Craig Greenfield.  I believe I was introduced to him through A Life Overseas (also a wonderful place to read) or perhaps another missions blog or group that I subscribe to.

Craig writes from a place of coming alongside those in poverty and what helping them practically looks like, both in missions overseas and at home.

A few weeks ago he shared a blog called How to Balance the Needs of your Family with those of the Poor and to put it bluntly, I can't get it out of my head.

When you have time PLEASE jump over and read the whole thing, it's not long and I'll wait!

***

Read it? *(there's a summary at the bottom here)  Great, now tell me, could we stretch the resources of our families to include just one more?  I'm buying all the snow clothes for my kids (see boots in the photo!), can I find an extra set to give to a child in need?  At Christmas an extra $50 gift out of the Compassion or World Vision catalogs doesn't seem like much, but that's usually what we spend on each of our children.  Can we spread it just a little farther?

The day I came across this post of Craig's I had received a call that my latest Compassion child dropped out of the program and would I like to sign up for a new one.  It occurred to me that it's been exactly 20 years since I started sponsoring children through Compassion.  $38 a month doesn't seem like it could help a lot, but what if that's my fifth child

In those 20 years I have had 4 different children.  A couple have dropped out, one has graduated the program, and I honestly can't remember what's happened to the other.  But I know, even if they dropped out, their lives were changed.  How can you change things for just one child?

There are so many ways to do this that it's blowing my mind!
  • Have a child in diapers? There's a local diaper drive next week, pick up an extra package when you stock up
  • Look for an Angel Tree at Christmas and buy the presents or needed items when you're buying for your own children
  • New school supplies? Buy an extra set and donate them in the school office for a child who can't afford them
  • Call your local women's shelter and ask if there are any children there who need new shoes when your kids do
  • Know a friend with a foster child? ask if they need anything, even a meal
And I'm sure you could come up with many more examples of ways that you purchase things for your children, mine are still small so there may be things older kids need I wouldn't even think of.

I am so excited about this though!  I've always felt powerless to change the world, but I don't think that's our calling, unless we are specifically blessed in ways that allow for that.  But can you imagine if each and everyone one of us would spread our resources just a little farther?  How much of an impact could we collectively have???

Please leave any other ideas you have in comments, I'd love to hear them and maybe incorporate them too!

*the story is that a friend of Ghandi's asked villagers in India to include one more member in their family, one of the poor, when dividing their inheritance, as a way of helping bring up the lowest members of their society.  And it worked like crazy!

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Alaska: Friends and Mining Camps

After a crazy late night/morning with our friends we hung out and a friend of mine from high school(!!!) came over to catch up.  I'm pretty sure the last time I saw her was in 1997 at her wedding!


It was fun to have a couple of friends locally that I could meet up with after many years.


The men engaged in an epic game of Axis and Allies down in the cabin on their property...



And there was morning and evening on the beautiful mountain range view.  It's funny because as I'm editing these photos I can't get a lot of clarity on the mountains.  And then I realized it's because they are really really far away.  There were lots of little planes taking off and landing on the gravel bars in the river, but after the first day I didn't even bother to take any photos of them because they would look like tiny white specks against the hillside, if you could even find them.  So the haze is just from the atmosphere, so much of it, between me and them.  According to Google Maps probably about 5 miles across the valley bottom, which is a lot farther than you think!


After a beautiful day on Sunday, on Monday we decided to drive up to Hatcher's Pass and the Independence Gold Mine... in the rain.


We were essentially in the cloud layer as you can see, and unfortunately while some of the buildings have been redone, it wasn't open on Mondays.  So we walked around in the rain (and just missed some friends from home!) and read the few outdoor signs.  The big building with the red trim was a dormitory building.


The remains strewn down the left side of the trail above are where the ore was dumped in from the track above, then sorted/shaken into different sizes, and then smelted.  I've forgotten the process already, but it was a long series of buildings down the hillside.


Pretty mountain stream... I wonder just how polluted it is.


The entrance to the water tunnel (above) was just to the left of the stream.  You could only go in about 10 feet, but there was running water below the boards and some holes that Noah conveniently stuck his foot in.  Big enough for a small child to fall in, too!


The track that came out of the mountain and dumped the ore.  The view of the processing buildings and camp from above.


Looking down the valley pretty much straight south.  The dark line on the horizon is the mountains on the south side of Palmer.  I really couldn't believe how wide and large the valley/river bottom was there.

We had planned on doing some hiking, but in the rain and the fact that Brian broke his toe while playing Axis and Allies (something about a cast iron chair down in the cabin) meant that we just had snacks and went home again.  We thought about trying to go again, but ran out of time.  Next time!


Dahlia found rubber chickens and flamingo flyers.  Taval is here demonstrating how one fits on your nose.  Maybe it's a rubber dinosaur?  Kids!


And then there was much late night entertainment while the guys put together a new 3D printer.  David plans to use it to make a 3D topographical map of his property, and maybe more!

Ah Alaska, so many fun adventures!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Alaska: Air Show

While we were driving in to Anchorage on Friday night for our anniversary I happened to notice that there were some really low fast planes flying around. The Blue Angels were practicing for an air show on Saturday! So we checked it out online and found that it was free and went from about 10am to 4pm on Saturday.


Little did we know that deciding to leave at 1pm just to see the Blue Angels at the end was not a wise decision.  We sat in traffic trying to get in for probably almost 2 hours.


We watched some planes from the road, this one was pretty amazing in its maneuvers.


And then by the time we finally found some kind of parking place and walked in... the show started 10 minutes early so we were barely at the entrance and not near the actual show area.


Of course you can see them for miles so we still got to watch!




They really are amazing!


Then mobs of people started leaving and we heard that they were closing down and were bummed that we had wasted our day, but it turned out that only some of the planes on display were closed and we got to walk through a few of them still!


Checking out the seatbelts.  I think this was a regular C-130 type.


Joy would not even look at me she was so enthralled pretending to fly this plane!  Future pilot!

Noah and Shalom

It's pretty exciting to be in the cockpit of such a big plane!



This one was next in line, even bigger, but closed.  They had flown in from all over for the air show.


This C-5 Galaxy is the biggest plane I've ever seen.  We walked through it, and right out a ramp on the other end just like this one.  I'm pretty sure my entire house would have fit inside width wise, and perhaps 2 times lengthwise!


You can sort of see Dahlia and the kids back under the wing next to the wheels...


Unfortunately the line was quite long to go up in the cockpit of this one and then they did close it down too.  It's up under where the nose is tipped up.


The week was catching up with the girls... after another almost hour home in the car this is how they were!


But they perked up again when we got out some paints for them before dinner.  Princess Sophia to the rescue!



Of course after that day it was the night that we stayed up ALL night talking (just the adults) and it was exhausting, but soul refreshing to actually get to talk to friends about life.


The one and only sunrise I saw in Alaska.  In the two weeks we were there they lost an hour of daylight, half in the morning, half at night, but still the sun was coming up at 5:30am and going down at 10:30pm when we left.  The morning one isn't so unusual, but the evening one really threw us all off!