Merry Christmas!

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Family photos with Laurel & Aze, Minna & Dallas, Kento, Aubrae, and Annikka

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Liisia made it into the program! She will be a part of the graduating class of 2014 ūüôā

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Over the summer, we’ve been searching for income properties. ¬†Well, we finally found our match. ¬†This purty thing has 3, 3 bedroom units and 1, 2 bedroom unit. We’re exited to be home owners and see where this venture takes us. We’re bound to learn a lot!

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This summer, we were fortunate enough to go on a dip-netting trip with Liisia’s parents out on the Kenai River. ¬†Cody had dip-netted as a child and it was Liisia’s first time. ¬†While on the river, Cory (Liisia’s dad) gave Cody tips for having his net in the water and Kristen (Liisia’s mom) tough Liisia how to sling the fish out of the net. ¬†Each task showed its¬†difficulties (you have to be quick so the fish doesn’t squirm its way back into the river)¬†but it was all a lot of fun. ¬†By the end of the day, we had caught 33 red salmon and 4 flounder! ¬†We’re¬†definitely¬†wanting to make dip-netting a yearly¬†habit.



And then we needed to clean and fillet the salmon and flounder… oh and our skin burned from being out on the river all day. ¬†Future note: put on sunscreen!

What an amazing, not to mention challenging, camping/hiking trip!  With Kevin, Jeremy, and Kirsten, we ventured the trek from Girdwood to Eagle River through the mountains via the Crow Pass trail.  Our trip cost us three days and two nights; well worth it.
Day 1: At one point, Cody had hiked ahead of the group but was soon stopped by 6 mountain goats guarding their nearby young. The goats put up quite the defense and would not budge until the rest of our group joined Cody. ¬†Luckily, they eventually went on their way. ¬†However, we were a little apprehensive as we passed by the “herd”.
Day 2: It was about half-way through out trip when we crossed the Eagle River and dang it sure was freezing (mid-thigh deep). ¬†We made it across though with all our toes. ¬†On the other side of the river was some sort of shoe monument or maybe it was a shoe¬†cemetery, we couldn’t decide. ¬†We made sure not to leave ours behind though.
Day 3: Across the river, we spotted a daddy moose lounging, which was a neat site to see. ¬†It’s fun to get close to wildlife and still feel safe. ¬†However, later on we ran into some hikers who told us of a bear kill on the trail. ¬†The bear had been very defensive of his kill (a moose) and had even ran some hikers up a tree. ¬†The bear had been given warming shots but was supposedly still close by. ¬†This definitely made us nervous so we made sure to have our bear spray in hand and to make a lot of noise. ¬†We finally arrived to the kill site and saw a huge bull moose heaped over on the side of the trail. ¬†The moose was so close to the trail (maybe the bear too; trying to guard its kill) that Liisia even got some moose blood on her pants. ¬†Gladly to say, we did not experience any bear encounters on our trip!

For our anniversary, we decided to travel back to where we met. ¬†If you’ve read our “Where Life Begins” page, you know we didn’t have to travel far. ¬†We took an 8hour¬†train-ride (neither of us had been on a train before)¬†to Healy, AK. The trip there (and back) was so beautiful. ¬†We learned quite a bit about Alaskan and railroad history and snuck a few peaks of wildlife as well.

We stayed at the Denali Princess Lodge, with a wonderful view,  just 10mins from Healy.  We of course visited Healy too.

Some of the local wildlife.

Summer, as usual, went by way too fast. ¬†Ours started by venturing out to Soldotna to visit Liisia’s parents. ¬†Liisia owns a little chuck of undeveloped property in Kasilof, so we decided to rough it on our family visits. ¬†Kevin came out with us for our first visit of the summer and went right to work with Cody chopping down spruce kill and digging a fire pit. ¬†Given to summer we’ve had, the fire pit and wood were well needed. ¬†It rained most of our visits so the boys set up a contraption made out of a humongous tarp to keep us dry. ¬†We even had Liisia’s parents over for some delicious foil dinners prepared by Kevin. ¬†We’re hoping in the next summer or¬†two, to build a shed on the property to act as a stepping stone towards building a nice cabin some day.

Kevin’s birthday celebration was a blast! ¬†Why? Because it was ZOMBIE/NINJA themed. ¬†As a surprise for Kevin, we all dressed up in our swag and had a mini The Walking Dead marathon along with some yummy cake made by Liisia of course.

Cody’s parents took the family on a Kayaking trip in Whittier. ¬†Liisia had never gone through the tunnel before, which in itself was a neat experience. ¬†There’s a one-way tunnel cut under the mountains that takes about 15mins by car to travel through in order to get to Whittier. ¬†It’s the only way in or out of Whittier by land. ¬†And when not in use by car, it acts as a railway. ¬†Just another one of those neat Alaskan landmarks.

We had such a fantastic spring semester! ¬†Cody finished up his practicum at Alaska Regional Hospital with straight A’s in his phlebotomy program. ¬†Even better, Regional Hospital offered him a job right off the bat! ¬†And, for just starting, he’s doing very well. ¬†Many people, who call themselves a “tough stick”, compliment him on his accuracy and are happy to see him when they return to his lab. ¬†If you ever need your blood drawn, Cody’s the phlebotomist to see. ¬†He can be found at the Out-Patient Lab at Regional Hospital ūüôā
To add to the¬†excitement, Liisia survived her pre-requisite courses for the UAA Dental Hygiene Program and submitted her application for the two-year program. ¬† We’re keeping our fingers crossed for an acceptance letter!

Below: Cody receiving his certification and pin from his phlebotomy program at UAA.  Cody busy at work drawing blood from Liisia, Kevin, and Minna during a Regional Hospital health fair.

In all, we actually had about five Christmas’ this year. In¬†other words… there’s a lot of family. ¬†Thursday through Christmas Eve was spent in Soldotna, AK with Kristen and Cory Thompson (Liisia’s parents). ¬†Kristen was busy at work with her beautiful homemade Christmas wreaths. ¬†They treated us to two awesome breakfasts (Liisia’s family¬†favorites) in a row; waffles/peanut-butter/ice cream and Pannekoeka the following morning. ¬†They also took us to a local home with an amazing¬†arrangement¬†of christmas decorations that illuminated the neighborhood. ¬†Santa was even there! ¬†Up until a few weeks ago, Liisia didn’t¬†believe¬†in Santa Clause since she was five-years-old but with the help of Cody, she realized that he is a great outlet for holiday¬†charity. We were so blessed to have the road conditions cater to us so well because the next morning, Liisia’s parents couldn’t even get out of their driveway due to the weather. ¬†

Christmas Eve evening, we went over to Cody’s parent’s house. ¬†They had pajamas waiting for us and we¬†definitely¬†had a good time in the company of friends and family.¬†

The wee hours of Christmas were spent at home.  Cody conspired with Santa to really make it a special time.  

Christmas morning after church we met up with some more family for breakfast made by Nammie (Liisia’s grandma) and family friend Xavier. ¬†Both of Liisia’s uncles were there too; Uncle John and Uncle Gary. ¬†It was so exciting to see Uncle Gary open Liisia’s gift. ¬†She had been hard at work on her first ever crocheted blanket and it turned out pretty neat.¬†

A beautiful service was held for Aunt Kathy this Saturday. ¬†She looked so peaceful and such wonderful stories were shared about her by her close loved ones. ¬†Aunt Kathy’s friend of many years prepared some delicious food for family as we all gathered at Aunt Kathy’s home to celebrate her life. ¬† ¬†

Cody’s dad Greg, step-mother Lisa, Uncle Dave and Aunt Pat traveled to Anchorage for the¬†service. ¬†Though it was unfortunate the reasoning for their travels, we were glad to be able to spend time with them since we aren’t able to see them often. ¬†We enjoyed their company very much and played many heated games of Settlers of Catan. ¬†Sure wish we all lived just a little closer but it’s also nice to have excuses to¬†vacation¬†outside of Alaska every once in a while to visit.

Daddy Putnam towards the middle of the photo. ¬†It was late at night so we couldn’t snag photos of others.