Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vacation Recap

O.K., here's the recap you've all been waiting much anticipated trip to California. All in all, we had a good time, but as you might have guessed if you've been following my blog for any time now, the weather didn't necessarily cooperate. Imagine that! While we were there, Southern California experienced an "arctic blast", which took temperatures down into the 30s while we were there. So much for the much anticipated warmth and sunshine. I do have to say that we did have a few beautiful days toward the end of our stay, so it wasn't all terrible. Just typical for my luck. I was fortunate enough, however, to break out my shorts one day.

As many of you know, going back "home" after an extended absencence has its pros and cons. I feel terrible that I wasn't able to visit everyone I would have liked to, but I can certainly say that I did the best I could to squeeze in as many visits as possible. I want to give a big shout out to the staff at Shull Elementary School, that I sadly was not able to visit with. I had absentmindedly arranged to have dinner the night of the Christmas party and was not able to make it. If it's any consolation, I was thinking of you all while I was plumping up at The Melting Pot.

We sort of played the roles of nomads during our visit and I have to thank our parents, Patty & Cam, and Gary and Leslie for letting us sack out at their homes. Staying with our good friends was a nice way to be able to do our thing, but still spend time with them. The boys and I had a blast visiting with my life-long friend Sydney, at Knott's Berry Farm, and although we were able to spend time with my dear friend Barbara and her family, it just wasn't enough. Her husband happens to be one of the police officers who had to deal with that terrible mass murder in the city of Covina, CA. Let me tell you, something like that sure gives family, life, and friends a whole new perspective.

Speaking of family, one of the highlights of my trip was being able to meet my nephew Andrew for the first time. He even has my brother's blue eyes! My brother and sister-in-law were fortunate to have the opportunity to adopt him as a newborn, earlier in the year and he is such an adorable and easy going baby. We would all be lucky to have babies as chill as him. It was nice to be able to hold him, feed him, and to give him back to his mom when he got fussy. Now that's what being an aunt is all about!

All in all, we had a very busy, but very nice time visiting our friends and family. Eric was able to do a little hunting, I got to shop, we ate a ton of good/fattening food, the boys and I went to Knotts, and we had a fabulous tea at The Huntington Library to celebrate Eric's mom and brother's birthday on 12/27. I don't know that we could have squeezed in any more activities or visits into our trip. Needless to say, I wasn't sad to head back home to Alaska.

Although being away from home for an extended period gives "home" a whole different perspective, I do plan to leave Alaska more than once during 2009. I have decided that living here isn't a terrible thing, but when you're able to leave a few times during the year, living here is even better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Note to Self...

I had intended on giving you all a vacation recap today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. I had a "little incident" on the treadmill at the gym today that I thought would be far more entertaining for you all to read. You see, every few years I do something really embarassing and boneheaded, today was one of those occasions. I was going to post pictures of the aftermath, but they just didn't do the injuries justice, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

I was kind of having an off day on the treadmill to begin with, but I had no idea how ugly things would actually get. First, I couldn't get my personal headphones to work on my iPod, so I decided to use headphones that the gym provides. I already had to stop my warm-up to go get clean earpads for the headphones, so I wasn't thrilled when about 1/3 of the way into my workout, my towel fell off the hand rest and flew down the belt to the floor behind me. Instead of turning off the machine to retrieve it, I opted to just hop off the machine. Everything was fine and well until I went to get back onto the machine and totally forgot that the belt was still running! I can't remember for sure, but I was going somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 miles per hour, so the belt was moving at a decent pace.

It all happened in a split second, but my mind was working just as fast. I quickly determined that I was going to fall flat on my face on the moving belt if I didn't do something FAST! I knew I couldn't stop the fall, so it was a matter of saving my face. As I fell, face first, I threw my left shoulder toward the moving belt, so it would hit the belt before my face did. I successfully broke my fall and to the horror of several other gym goers, my body slid down the belt of the treadmill and landed in exactly the same fashion and place as the towel I had just retrieved!

Fortunately, there were few people in the gym at the time, because they all heard me and saw me! It was also fortunate for my ego that there were only women in the gym at the time. Aside from some serious road rash on my left knuckles and shoulder, and a few bruises on my right knee and a bruised ego, I came out of the whole mess rather unscathed. I continued with my workout at couldn't stop laughing at myself for the next several minutes. I still chuckle when I think about the visual those ladies must have had! At least we all walked away with a good story for our friends.

Friday, December 12, 2008

It Never Rains in Southern California...

That is, until I'm finally getting ready to leave Alaska after a year in what sometimes feels like isolation. The forecast in sunny CA is calling for rain almost the entire first week we are there. I truly don't know whether to laugh or cry.

I've already been receiving text messages and emails from friends who are sure we're bringing the rain with us. The difference is, they are happy to have rain in CA, where it has been hot (and often smokey) for many months. Little do they know, if we were really bringing the weather with us, the forecast would call for isolated snow storms, highs in the teens and lows below 0. HA!

The saddest part of all of this is that I think Eric is truly convinced that the weather is going to be crappy just because we are going to be there. This is a huge problem for me because if he really, truly believes that is in fact true, he will never agree to let me leave the state of Alaska again. It's one thing for him to leave Alaska (bless his heart) because it's on business and the company pays for it, but if I leave, we have to pay for it ourselves, and it costs a fortune to get anywhere from here.

My only hope is that the weather forecasters in California are as accurate as they are here. I think they might get the forecast right 3 out of 7 days here. Keep yours fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Havoc

I know everyone has their own chaos and drama around the holidays. In our household, this year is no different. I don't know if I'm coming or going right now. Over the past 4 years, we have been between houses twice during the holidays. One year we were waiting for our house to be built and last year, we were packed for our move to Alaska. This year, for the first time ever, we are travelling for the holidays. In my opinion, I am finding that it is easier to move over the holidays than it is to travel with a family.

Prior to Alaska, we had always lived in fairly close proximity to both my parents and Eric's. I think we learned to take our holiday plans for granted. This year, we are packing up the boys and we are travelling to California so we can still be with our family and friends for Christmas. Fortunately, we are flying out a whole week before Christmas, but this week has still been CRAZY!!!!! I have been picking up last minute gifts, putting together last minute projects, helping the boys wrap up their school work, cleaning the house, doing laundry, and the list goes on. IT NEVER ENDS!!!!

In our house, I will continue to perpetuate the idea of Santa for as long as I can, actually, make that forever. I love Santa and when asked, I have been known to tell my children that they have two options when it comes to believing in Santa: either they choose to believe or they choose not to believe. If they choose not to believe, Santa will stop bringing gifts. It's that simple. Needless to say, Santa still comes to our house. That being said, the whole gift thing has been a little tricky this year considering the fact that we are going to be on the go and we will have to get everything back to here to Alaska. The situation has called for some creativity, but I'm sure we'll be able to make it all work.

This evening, the big project in our house is going to be Christmas gifts for the gals in Eric's office. Eric and I saw these clever "packages" at a craft bizarre. Eric is very handy I'm a little craftsy, so we decided we would try making one for ourselves. The idea has now evolved into making them for each of the seven women in Eric's office and one for me to take to a neighborhood "ornament" exchange. I don't think I have to spell out for you the fact that nothing (including this project) is as easy as it firts appears. The biggest job with regard to this project is drilling the hole in the glass block and the trickiest part of that is having an appropriate drill bit that won't break the glass. We are now on bit number two and I've had to replace a block or two. Wish us luck tonight! As you can see, we are making some with clear lights, some with colored lights, some with clear blocks, and some with cloudy blocks. I know when they're all done, we'll both be very satisfied, but until's one more thing to complete before Friday!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Obsession Continues

For those of you who may have been following my blog for a while, you already know that I am a HUGE fan of The Biggest Loser. Without exaggeration, it is the only television program I watch with any regularity. In fact, because of the time difference here, it is on at 7:00 p.m., which is way too early to hunker down for the evening, so we record it weekly and all four of us sit down to watch it after dinner every Tuesday night.

The whole family's favorite part is the last five minutes of the program when they show us what the ousted contest currently looks like. You can imagine the sense of despair in our house when, during the initial episode, our recording stopped right before they showed the transformation! We now set our recording to end at 9:05, so we can sleep in peace on Tuesday nights. The season finale will be in two weeks and as the season progresses the appearances of the booted off contestants get more and more dramatic. It is inspiring and crazy to see women who started out wearing sizes 22/24 now wearing between a size 6 and a size 10! I'm always amazed (and a little bitter) when I watch the finale and the contestants weigh what I do, or in some cases, less. I suppose in reality, that just means I'm a healthy weight/size, regardless, it does play games with your psyche.

Every season (in an attempt to keep up with my t.v. competitors), about halfway through the season, I get motivated to head to the gym to work off some of my own flab. The trouble is, I don't have Jillian or Bob (or any personal trainer for that matter)yelling in my ear, making me workout until I puke. It is funny though, because for the past month, using The Biggest Loser as my inspiration, I have been trying to push my cardio workouts extra hard. When I want to call it quits because I'm too pooped or I'm overexerted, I seriously have flashbacks to Jillian screaming at the girls to keep going. I see what those contestants have the ability to do physically and I have to believe that I have that same ability. I hate to admit it, but for some strange, warped reason, most of the time the visual actually does give me that extra little push I need. I know, I'm wierd!

I have no idea what I'm going to do on Tuesday nights, after December 16. I suppose I'll have to watch reruns until the next season starts, or maybe on some random Tuesday night I'll just have to binge on all things fattening, just to say I can.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sunrise, Sunset

Truth be told, these days, sunrise and sunset quite frequently feel like they are one in the same. Sunrise was at 9:50 a.m. today and sunset was at 3:47. To put it in perspective, the kids' school day starts at 9:00 and they get out at 3:30, however, they don't actually make it home on the bust until 3:45. They literally go to school in the dark and come home at dusk. It's quite an experience!
According to our local newspaper, we had a total of 5 hours, 57 minutes, 17 seconds of daylight today. It was a loss of 3 minutes, 17 seconds from yesterday. On the rare occasion that we actually see the sun in the sky, it only comes up as far on the horizon as it does when it's going down in California. When the sun is out, it's a challenge driving during this time of year because the sun is right in your eyes and it glistens off the snow something fierce.

I took pictures to give you an idea of what it looks like outside as it approaches 4:00 these days. As you can see, we had quite a snow storm over the weekend and I took the pictures yesterday before I had shoveled the deck. I'm telling ya' they should have a winter challenge on The Biggest Loser where the contestants have to blow snow, shovel snow, and then compete in some sort of outdoor winter sporting activity. Talk about burning calories!
The shortest day of the year (December 21) will soon be here and then it will be all uphill until the summer solstice, in mid-June. I honestly never thought about, nor truly appreciated the idea of the winter and summer solstice before moving to Alaska. If you were to live here for a while I'm sure you would quickly come to appreciate those two days too. Long live the winter solstice!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Fun

I know, it has been a long while since I last posted, but I'm back in action once again (for now anyway). When we first moved to Alaska, everyone told me it would take a whole year before I really felt at home. Considering the fact that I'm pretty outgoing and making friends has never really been an issue for me, I thought "everyone" was crazy. We are quickly approaching our one year anniversary of living in Alaska, and I am just now starting to feel like this is home. Who was I to question "everyone".

I had been dreading my birthday for several months because this year it was on Thanksgiving Day and I thought the four of us would be spending the day by ourselves. Don't get me wrong, it isn't that I don't love spending time with my kids and husband, but I get to spend plenty of time alone with them all year long. Thanksgiving has always been a time with our extended family and I love that change of pace. I was kind of in a funk when I thought about having to cook a full Thanksgiving meal and bake a birthday cake just for the four of us. Fortunately, in August, my fate changed.

Alaska seems to be a bit more transient than many other places. As such, there are plenty of us here without families (a fact that fares well for many of us when it comes to holiday celebrations). It's a long story, but back in August, we made plans with our neighbors to share Thanksgiving Day with them. I was so happy! When all was said and done, we ended up sharing the day with 5 families (21 people in all). It was so nice because although dinner was hosted by one family, we all pitched in and prepared our own specialties to share. Everything tasted delicious!

For the first time since moving here, I felt a little connected. It has taken almost a year, but I can now safely say that regardless of the grief I give Eric from time to time, I won't be disappointed to come back to Alaska when we wrap up our Christmas visit to California. Don't be fooled, I am practically counting down the days until we leave for our visit (I'm especially looking forward to some much needed sunshine), but I am finally convinced that home really is where you hang your hat, and your coat, and your scarves, and......

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I Did It!

I VOTED!!! DID YOU?????????

Friday, October 31, 2008


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It Takes Talent

I will admit that it took great talent to put a hole in the middle of my fingernail. Now, just imagine what it looked like before my nail grew out and that hole was right in the middle of my nailbed! That my friends, took real talent! It's not as impressive without a visual, so I will explain......

It all started one fine Saturday afternoon while I was taking a shower. I decided to shave my legs. No big deal, right? Well, for some lame, unknown reason, I chose to shave with both hands. The razor was in one hand and I was keeping balance with the other hand holding/resting on my leg. That's where things started to go very wrong!

This is the razor I use. As you can see, it has 4 blades, very close to one another and 8 little wires that go down the blades vertically. I have intentionally tried to put my nail between two of the blades and I couldn't do it. This particular afternoon was an exception. Unwittingly, as I was pulling up on the razor, my fingernail slipped right between two of the blades. I couldn't do it again if I tried!

Not knowing my nail was stuck in the razor, I continued to move in an upward direction, pulling the fingernail away from my nail bed and slicing a hole right into the middle of the nail. Talent I tell you, pure talent! As soon as I felt the nail pull away from the skin, I realized what had happened. As you can only imagine, it did not feel good at all! I have to admit, the aftermath was rather humorous though. I was in so much pain that I immediately hopped out of the shower and beckoned to Eric for assistance/moral support. As I was moaning and groaning and holding back tears, he asked me what I wanted. I told him, "I just want my mom".

Ladies and gentlemen, I have been married for 12 years, but on a rare occasion, I still need a parent. Considering the fact that my mom lives 3,000 miles away, we did not actually call her. Once I had regained my composure, Eric asked if I still wanted him to "call my mom" and I told him not to because it would take too long for me to explain the whole thing and it was so complicated to explain that she'd never fully appreciate what I had done. We did get a nice chuckle out of it though.

I'm not sure you will all be able to follow along and fully appreciate my story either, but I really just wanted to share the picture of my nail and figured you deserved some sort of explanation.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Million Dollar Mouth

I admit, a million dollars is a bit of an exaggeration, but we seriously have probably spent (between what insurance has covered and what we have paid out of pocket) at least $15,000.00 on my teeth in the last 12 years. From that admission, you probably picture me as a rehabilitated snaggle-tooth. Not quite! I am, to my mom's credit, a night time teeth-grinder.

After my dentist appointment today, I now have not one, but two, "bionic" prosthetic molars of sorts. You see, we were faced with a bit of a dilema. Considering the fact that I had ground down and worn away the majority of the surface area and enamel on two of my back teeth, I was in need of a crown on each one. The problem was that in order for them to hold up for any amount of time, I would need metal crowns, but they would be in a spot that you could potentially see the metal when I smile. We didn't want that. If we used just plain porcelain, I would eventually wear through them and we would sort of just be creating a long-term temporary fix. So, the dentist came up with a rather clever solution. He had the lab create crowns that are porcelain on the outside half (that can be seen) and metal on the inner half.

I am so fascinated by these crowns that I had to take a picture for anyone who in interested in seeing how "bionic" thay look. Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera with me before the dentist put them on. I decided to go out on a limb for all of you and I took a picture of the inside of my mouth. It's not pretty, but I just had to share.! If you get grossed out by this kind of stuff just don't look. If you do want to take a look, notice the 1/2 and 1/2 tooth, that's the one I'm talking about. I'm sorry I'm not savvy enough to be able to crop the picture so all you can see is the tooth, but if you really want to see it, I'm sure you'll get over it.

Pretty cool, huh! I thought it was pretty ingenious. I have a matching one on the other side.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Boys Dabble in Politics

Two weeks ago, both of the boys came home from school and announced that they were running for Student Council. Logan decided he was going to run for President and Kaiden was going to run for Historian. As a 4th grader, the only office Kaiden could run for was Historian and the students had to choose one male candidate and one female candidate for the position.

To be honest, both Eric and I were surprised the boys expressed interest in running, considering the fact that they would have to make posters, and write and give a speech in front of the 3-6 grades. I have to admit that I was less than thrilled with their interest in running for office. I ran for Student Council several times as a child. I won the election a time or two and I lost a time or two. The sad thing is, as an adult, I don't remember holding office as much as I remember how I felt when I lost. As a mom, I think it's natural to want to shelter your kids from that same feeling, but on the other hand, as a good mom, I think it was obligation to support them in their endeavor. I won't lie to you, I also thought it was my perogative to lay out the hard facts. I explained that they were basically signing up to run in a popularity contest and that they both needed to be prepared to lose. I explained that they had been at their school for less than a year and that there were a lot of kids running for each position, which would make it very difficult to win. They both still decided to make a go of it.

Despite our wild and crazy winds on Friday, the boys were beckoned to school to give their speeches. Only in Alaska does the school principal call you personally at 9:50 to let you know that (despite their earlier misgivings) school would in fact be in session and that the kids needed to be there to give their speeches by 10:30. I quickly had the boys get dressed and I ran the them up the hill to school. Since I was already there, I decided to sit through the 54 1-minute speeches. Logan was the very last student to give his speech. Talk about torture! To make matters worse, the results weren't going to be announced until Monday, so the poor kids had to wait through the weekend for the results.

The kids found out at 9:00 yesterday morning who won the election. I, on the other hand, had to wait until the kids arrived home on the bus at 3:45 to find out. If someone has asked me if I thought either of our boys would win I would have said, "no". If someone had told me one of the boys would lose and one of them would win, (based on personality and peer interactions) I would have guessed that Logan would win and Kaiden would not. You can imagine my shock when the boys got off the bus and I learned that Kaiden had won his bid for Historian and Logan did not win for President (he lost to two girls who actually tied and will share the duties).

I give both of the boys a huge amount of credit because neither of them seemed very affected when they came off the bus. Kaiden was not gloating because he had won and Logan was not crying because he had lost. Obviously, the best result for both boys would have been for them to both win, but aside from that, I think it was "best-case" that Logan lost to girls. I don't think the thought ever occurred to him that a girl was even his real competition. The funny thing is, both boys were a little miffed that there are only two boys on the entire Student Council (Kaiden being one of them). Apparantly, girls have been in the majority on the Student Council for several years running and my boys think there needs to be a change.

Now, I just have to figure out what exactly my role, oops, I mean Kaiden's role is as Historian. I joke about it being my job, but let's be real, we all know that as the mom, it's going to be my job to get Kaiden where he needs to be, when he needs to be there. It is also going to be my job to make sure he's actually fulfilling his obligation as Historian. As a parent, life's lessons can be such a double-edged sword. I tell ya', the things we do for our kids!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Happily Ever After...For Now

It took a UPS pilot, a Chevron engineer, an orthodontist, and a Dir. of Ops., but by golly, after lots and lots of planning and talking, they finally got the tree down. I am telling you, these guys could not have scripted it better.

Jon, our neighbor and resident UPS pilot, came over in the wee hours yesterday to help Eric with a quick fix to get the tree off the house (they used rope and tied it to other trees in order to temporarily pull the tree away from the house). Of course, immediately, the guys started forming a gameplan for later in the day. As you all know, Eric had contemplated climbing up on the roof and topping the tree, but that wasn't the best option.

After an $80 trip to Home Depot (I know, I'm thankful that's all it cost), Eric and Chet (our resident engineer) had put into play a plan that John and Eric had discussed much earlier in the day. They bought a ratchet and the idea was to try to ratchet the tree into an upright position and get it to a point they thought would be clear of the house and garage. Then, someone would take a chainsaw to the tree while the other guys stood in the distance and pulled the tree down into a predetermined spot.

As you could imagine, there were a lot of variables to consider. The main goal was to keep everyone safe and beyond that, to keep the house free from damage. Fortunately, there is a nice open spot between the two houses that are behind ours. The three major problems the guys could foresee were that the tree could land on our house as it fell, it could take out the neighbors vinyl fence or potentially most hazardous of all, it could land on the utility boxes that would be directly in the tree's path if it were to come down right where the guys were anticipating it would.

Considering the length of the tree, the guys didn't really have too many placement options for the tree as it landed. They decided they would pull it down and try to land it between the three utility boxes. The tallest box is the phone line, so we figured worst case, we would be without a landline for a few days. So, after more planning and still more talking, the guys finally decided to go for it. Fortunately, our neighbor Jon spent a summer cutting down trees in New Hampshire, so he had a little insight and experience. Although I'm sure Eric could have pulled it off himself, he decided to let Jon man the chainsaw.

Here's the tree in the upright position, as it's ratcheted off the house (it's the tallest tree in the picture).

Jon was so confident in his abilities that he expressed to Eric that it might be dangerous, but he could definitely do it (thanks, Jon that made me feel much better). Eric still opted to let him give it a go. Talk about pressure, poor Jon!

Here are the guys off in the distance pulling and getting ready to pull even more.

Jon's doing alright. Just another cut or two...........

Perfect landing. The tree didn't hit a thing other than the ground. The guys, amazingly (and just like pros), were able to bring it down right between all three utility boxes. They couldn't have planned it like this!

I guess the moral is, the better the planning, the better the result. Job well done, guys!

Friday, October 10, 2008

It Started As A Nightmare

I'll let you know how it ends!

The wind started in the night and in the early morning hours it howled like a mad man. Winds on our hillside were clocked at just under 100 mph. At some point we knew something was actually hitting up against our house. When we went out to look, this is what we saw.

The only reason the tree didn't completely uproot was because our house caught it. It certainly could have been worse and it could still get worse. As I type, I hear chainsaws in the near and far distance and we're still trying to figure out a way to get the tree off the house without having it come crashing down on another part of the house. We've already tried to jack it off the house using a wench and a 4x4 atv, to no avail. The next option is going to be for Eric to get up on the roof with a chainsaw and to top the tree. The problem is, there is no great way for him to get his footing once he's up on the rooftop, because of where the tree is in proximity to the roofline. While Eric and our friend Chet regroup, they have ventured to another neighbor's house to see how they can begin to start cleaning up the havoc that the wind wreaked over there.

Considering the chaos here (the picutres don't do it justice), I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to be in a hurricane or a tornado. What I do know is a situation like this sure pulls a community together. We're all having to work together to help each other piece our houses and yards back together.
I'll keep you posted once our plan materializes.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Retail Therapy Is Very Real

Just as I had predicted yesterday, I gave in and decided to brave the elements (along with the rest of Anchorage) and I ventured out to the brand new Target store. For those of you who do not believe in retail therapy may think I'm a little off my rocker, but I had no idea how theraputic a simple trip to Target could be.

I have to tip my hat to the Target Corporation for their incredible organizational skills. Although the municipality of Anchorage has left some to be desired by way of traffic issues near the shopping center, my actual experience inside Target was superb. Once I got off the freeway, I sat in bumper to bumper traffic for about 20 minutes, before I even entered the parking lot. I thought for sure once in the lot it would be chaos, but to my surprise, it was very orderly and there was an abundance of parking (I didn't even have to park in Egypt). There was plenty of room to move around the store and all of the registers were open. I was only in line for about two minutes, can you even believe it?

I have to say, those people at Target thought of everything while planning their store here. Not only do we have brand new, completely plastic shopping carts (so we don't freeze our digits off in the middle of winter when we get a cart that has been sitting outside for hours), but in an attempt to eliminate icy walkways in the winter, they also put in a heated sidewalk system along the facade of the store. It's the littlest things sometimes that make a huge difference, especially when you live in Alaska!

I went to Target because of the novelty of it really, and let's face it, I had time to spare. Once inside though, I had an AHA! moment of sorts. I was thrilled to be in Target not because of what it had to offer inside it's doors, but because it was familiar and made Alaska feel a little more like "home" to me. As wierd as it is to admit, Target offered me a strange sense of familiarity. The store was set up exactly like the ones in California. I knew where to find the clothing, the beauty stuff, the toys, shoes, etc. Even the little pieces of paper with the prices and sku numbers on them seemed a little comforting.

I know it may seem bizarre that a store could make a person feel the way I did. Believe me, I wasn't expecting to feel that way either. I guess in retrospect, it makes sense to me though. Here in Alaska it's easy to feel isolated. There are a bunch of ma' and pop type of establishments, but there isn't much that is familiar to someone coming from a state like California. We've learned to make due, but it's often like we're settling for second best. It would sort of be like not having a local Starbucks and having to get your coffee from the barista at the supermarket. It's just not the same! Even the places that we do have one of here are generally substandard compared to what I'm used to. Target wasn't that way!

From now on, just call me on my cell phone. I'll probably be out at Target for a little retail therapy!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Anchorage is Abuzz

After you read this, you will quickly understand why Alaska is Alaska and why the rest of the states (except HI) are considered the "Lower 48". The whole town is abuzz because Sunday will be the grand opening of our very first Target stores. Yes, that is store(s), plural! They are opening one in Anchorage and one in Wasilla on the very same day. Pretty exciting stuff I tell ya' !!!!! I am so excited I don't know if I'll be able to sleep for the rest of the week!

Although I can barely contain my elation, for the moment, there are a few fundamental glitches with the whole Target idea. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to go spend my husband's hard earned money there, but... we live in South Anchorage and Target is across town, so it will take about a half an hour just to get there. The other issue is that we are so starved for mainstream retail here, that I am certain the store will be jam packed right through Christmas. SCARY!

I've heard that starting today, there will be a "soft" opening. I've toyed with the idea of driving out there to see if I'm the only one who's heard about it (yeah, right), in an attempt to beat the crowds. My other, more reasonable thought, is that I will wait until early November before I even attempt to venture in that direction. Let's be real, who am I trying to kid? I'm sure I'll be pulling into the Target parking lot by the end of the week!

Once I've survived my experience that is the brand new Target in Anchorage, I will be sure to fill you in. After all, it is the little things in life that make it all worth while, right? In the meantime, be sure to think of me as you drive by the four Target stores you will pass in your journeys today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fun With Politics

I don't know that I have ever watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live in my life. It's on later than I can usually stay awake and quite frankly, I don't really get or appreciate much of the humor. Today, based on the recommendation of my grandmother, I went online to track down a download of Tina Fey, portraying Sarah Palin on SNL. I have been reading and hearing many rave reviews about Fey's portrayal of Palin, but I hadn't actually watched any of it myself, prior to this afternoon. I have to say, I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. I guess what I appreciated most was that the people at SNL keyed in on and were able to mock a lot of the instances when as a viewer, I was thinking, "hugh?" just like they obviously were.

For those of you who may not be extremely internet savvy, I have embedded the SNL skit for you to enjoy right here on my blog.

Since we live in Alaska, I guess by default, we have become a bit of a "Palin barometer" for many of you living in the Lower 48. Friends and family are often asking what our take/view of Palin is. After those SNL skits I'm almost embarrassed to offer my personal perspective on Palin, but I've decided to go out on a limb and I am going to voice my opion on all things Palin (I pasted most of this from an email I recently sent to my mother-in-law before I had even viewed the SNL clips). My view is just that, my view. I'm sure some of you may read this and will be horrified at my lack of political perspective, but the really scary thing is, I still get to vote right along with the rest of you on November 4

The Palin question is a loaded one for me. Eric and I really know about as much as the rest of America knows about her. The one thing I know for sure is that aside from being the governor, Palin really does come from and live in middle America. I still don't know who I'm voting for, but that's her appeal to me. Joe Biden can say he grew up in Scranton, PA all he wants, but he hasn't lived like us in I don't know how long. When Palin tells you she lives like all of us and knows what we are all going through I believe her. Her children go to school in the same exact public school system ours do, she and her husband don't live an extravagant lifestyle, and her house is not any fancier than yours or mine.

I do not think Palin is perfect. I think she has made an error or two in judgement (specifically Troopergate). I think she has looked like a fool in her interviews with Gibson and Couric. I wish that she would have told the world that she reads People and ESPN Magazine and that she doesn't read the local newspaper because they are biased. Instead, she chose not to give Katie Couric an answer, and by default, made herself laughable. All of that being said, I do believe that she wants the governement to provide for her family the same things that I would want it to provide for ours. From everything I can see, her family is in a very similar demographic as ours. I don't completely understand politics, nor do I necessarily know what I want from the government, but I do believe that for the most part, Palin could speak on my behalf. I'm not with her on some topics , but I have to look beyond that and look at the bigger picture.

Like I said, I have no idea who I'm voting for and I probably won't know until I walk out of that booth on Nov. 4. I haven't always given Palin the benefit of the doubt. I wasn't thrilled when McCain brought her on board. Ironically though, as time has passed, Palin's inovolvement in this election has made my decision even more difficult. I am drawn to the fact that she seems to be a lot like me, and that makes me feel like she would want for this country the same things that I would want.

Enough said...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Winter Has Arrived

Yesterday we had our first official snowfall. The flurry only lasted about a half an hour, but as you can see in the picture, the flakes were quite large! It is currently snowing and we are expecting 2"-4" of accumulation over night.
Let the fun and games begin!

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Evolution of Kids

Logan's 11th birthday was on September 20 and it has kind of put me in a reflective mood. Not necessarily just about him, but about both of my kids and kind of just about my life in general. It's interesting to me to think about the way I thought my life, children and family would be like before I had a husband and kids. I don't know that my life has varied from my "script" too drastically, but there has been a different turn here or there. Today, I though I'd share some of my thoughts about my kids.

Before I had two children, I used to always hear people say that their kids "are all so different". I was the type who would hear those words, take them in, and think I understood them. Then, I had two children and I quickly understood first hand what all of those women were talking about. It never ceases to amaze me how two boys from the same parents can be so totally different from one another.

Our boys are 20 months apart in age. When we only had Logan, people would tells us how much he resembled his father in appearance (although my baby pictures tell a different story). If, when I was pregnant, you had asked me what I thought my kids would look like I would have described Logan to a "t". When he arrived, he was chubby with very little white hair, hazel eyes, and fair skin. Then I had Kaiden, though he looked like his father, they could have told me there had been a mix-up in the nursery and I would have believed them. He had dark hair, dark eyes, and an olive complexion. Whose baby was this anyway? Obviously my husbands! Even though my children's physical differences were obvious at birth, over time, they continue to break each others mold.

You see, Logan was perfect by baby standards. He slept through the night at some crazy early age, he never cried, etc. When Logan was a toddler things shifted a bit. He was extremely strong-willed and was full of energy. I can't tell you how many tears I shed and books I read on "strong-willed children", in an attempt to reign him in. Now, in hindsight, maybe I should have been less concerned. At eleven, Logan is once again my mellow, layed back, authority pleasing child. He is very well liked by his peers, he does extremely well in school (because it's expected and he doesn't have to really apply himself to get good grades), and he keeps his emotions in check almost to a fault.

Then there's our dear Kaiden. That kid has always, and continues to, give us a run for the money on a daily basis. Kaiden didn't sleep through the night until he was three and he cried incessantly for a very long time. Mom was his only comfort and if I wasn't around, there was hell to pay! The funny thing is, when he was a toddler, Kaiden was our easy one, he was so mellow and very introverted. We thought for sure he was going to be the easier kid as he got older. So much for perception!!!!!! Kaiden is still a pretty emotional kid, but I certainly would not classify him as and introvert these days. He talks non-stop and would play outside with his friends, roaming the neighborhood 24/7 with his skateboard, bike, and scooter if I'd let him. Although my son is incredibly intelligent, he could really careless about his grades. Hey, as long as he gets a C he thinks he's doing alright (ARGH!!!!). Oh yes, and the best part about our dear Kaiden is that NOTHING is ever his fault. He has become a master at trying to twist things so that it becomes clear to the world that even though he did something inappropriate it wasn't really his fault. How can you not love this kid????

My husband and my in-laws will tell you that aside from Eric's looks, Kaiden is all me. The hard truth is, they're probably right. I was a difficult child for my parents (as far as behavior goes at home), but outside of the home, I was a great kid. Kaiden seems to be much the same way. Fortunately as an adult, I still have some of the same qualities I did as a kid, but I have learned how to channel them differently. Hopefully Kaiden will learn to do the same. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for a minute that Logan will always be fun and games. I'm sure he'll regress back to his toddler days at some point and will be a handful again, but until then, we'll count our lucky stars.

I guess my point in all this is that it's amazing how much your children change and how their personalities continue to evolve over time. I've always said that I can't have a "favorite" because my kids fall in and out of favor with us on almost a moment by moment basis. We have come to terms with the fact that both of our children are a special blessing to us for very different reasons. Although Logan tends to be the easier kid, life would certainly be less eventful if we didn't have Kaiden. Even if it's easier to focus on the negative traits from time to time, we would never trade either of our kids. They have both brought something very different, special, and fulfilling to our lives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Ode to Fall

I love the Fall season and all that comes with starting, Logan's birthday, our wedding anniversary, Halloween, my birthday and Thanksgiving (which happen to be one and the same this year). I love the cool air, the colors, decorations and even the comfort foods associated with Fall. Did you notice, the "s" word is missing from my love of all things fall? That wasn't an ovesight on my part. I enjoy the snow, but snow is what winter is all about, not Fall!

I mentioned to someone here that I was looking forward to Fall. That statement was met with laughter. I was promptly told that in Alaska, we go straight from summer (HA HA, that's a joke) to winter. Here I am racking my brain, trying to remember the last time I saw the sun and now I'm being told there is no Fall!!!! Well my friends, my dear acquaintance was not kidding.

Now granted, we do not have snow at the lower elevations yet, but as of this morning, the local mountain tops have had their first dusting of snow. Frankly, after our summer, I'm almost ready for a little snow. I mean really, if we're going to have miserable weather it might as well be more than just overcast and dreary. The problem is, I don't think there is such thing as a little snow here.

I guess I'll continue to patiently wait for my one day of Fall. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to take a picture to remember that one glorious day. I'll soon be thinking about Fall as I put on my winter coat, gloves and hat and head out to blow the snow off the driveway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Everything Is Bigger in Alaska

Some time ago, I was browsing through my friend Cathy's pictures of Alaska. Unexpectedly, we came upon some photos she had taken last fall of some wild mushrooms that were growing in a neighbor's yard. The mushrooms weren't your normal run of the mill mushrooms. They were the biggest, most colorful mushrooms I had ever seen. They reminded me of Alice in Wonderland!

Since seeing Cathy's pictures, I have been on a mission. It was not good enough to just see the mushrooms in photos, I wanted to see the real deal. I needed to see those darn mushrooms with my own two eyes and I needed to take my own pictures of them. So, as you could guess, I have tirelessly been on the prowl for amazing mushrooms.

Imagine my surprise and elation when I pulled into our subdivision two days ago and happened to lay my eyes on the biggest, most perfectly beautiful mushroom I have ever seen! I'm not exaggerating when I tell you the cap was about the size of a pancake! Of course, as luck would have it, I didn't have my camera in the car with me. I sped home and grabbed it as quickly as I could. The kids were going to be getting out of school soon and I coudn't risk one of them finding my prize and obliterating it before I could snap any pictures.

I was on cloud 9 when I made it back to the mushroom and it was still in it's glory! It was situated among many other mushrooms that had been smashed into oblivion long before I discovered this lone gem! My pictures aren't much as far as lighting and all that other fancy stuff is concerned. I do, however, have pictures to share with you to prove that everything really is bigger in Alaska............

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


You may be wondering what the heck all of those initials are. For a long time, I've known what BFD stood for, but it wasn't until after I moved to Alaska that I heard PFD. Not one to be left in the dark, soon after moving here, I found out that PFD stands for Permanent Fund Dividend. I still had no clue what the Permanent Fund Dividend really was, but when you reside in Alaska, you quickly learn. BFD is the way I feel about the PFD this year, considering the fact that we don't qualify for the gigantic dividend ($2,068 from the PFD, with an extra-added one-time energy rebate of $1,200 = $3,2068 per person in your family residing in AK) this year. I know when we qualify next year my view will change, but for today, PFD, BFD!!!

Now that good ol' Sarah is on the Republican ticket and considering the fact that the PFD dividends will be distributed on Friday, some of you may already know plenty about the PFD. For those of you who don't, and are as fascinated by it as I am, I will try to fill you in. To this day, the concept of the PFD is still quite muddy to me, so I don't know how much clarification you will get from me, but you'll get the basic idea.

The PFD was set up several years ago as a way to share some of the proceeds the state obtains annually from Alaska's oil. Basically (in my over-simplified terms), a certain percent of the state's oil money is put into a stock type fund and based on how much money the fund makes (dividends are caluculated based on a 5 year average return on the fund) dividends are calculated and distributed annually. Dividend checks are usually distributed each October. This year, in an effort to help offset the high price of gas and oil for the winter heating, the dividend is being distributed in September.

So, how do you qualify for this PFD, you might ask? There are several qualifying factors, but the major one is must live in the state of AK for one full year prior to January 1. So, for instance, we moved here in December '07. In December '08 we will have been here for a full year and we will qualify in January '09. Get this though, if you move here early in the year this is how it shapes up...say we moved in January '08. January '08-January '09 would be a full year and then we would not have qualified until January of '10! So, we have some friends who have lived here for 6-12 months longer than us, but will qualify for the PFD at the same time we do.

As far as I'm concerned, the PFD is icing on the cake. It is essentially, in my opinion, free money that we will get for doing absolutely nothing, but living in the state of Alaska. It is funny though for those of us who do not qualify to talk and listen to many of the people around us who will be getting a big fat check deposited into their bank accounts Friday. So many of them act as though they are deserving of the money and that those people who do not yet qualify are in some way inferior.

We have quickly learned that if you do not qualify for the Permanant Fund, you are pretty much a nobody in the state of Alaska. There are several instances when "membership" and "priviledges" in the state, are predicated on whether or not you qualify for the PFD. Don't get me wrong, the state is more than happy for us to contribute to the economy and to take our property tax money. The utility companies are willing to charge us the same amount they charge everyone else for heat and electricty. The oil companies are happy to charge us the same high price they charge everyone else for gas. The great legislators of this state, however, do not think that we should be entitled to the same $1,200/person state energy rebate the those who qualify for the PFD are entitled to. They made their point very clear when they signed the bill for the energy rebate only after taking out the clause that would give the money to anyone who has lived in the state for at least six months. They opted instead, to attach the $1,200 to the PFD disbursements this year. If you don't qualify for the PFD, like the rest of the nation, you don't qualify for Alaska's energy rebate.

My personal take on the PFD is BRING IT ON!!!! I know in our household we can always use a few thousand dollars extra to do with however we choose (save, travel, pay bills, college fund, etc.). I for one, do not think it's money that is owed to us (the energy rebate is a whole different story), and next year when we do qualify, I will feel a little remorse for my friends and neighbors who won't be receiving the same free money we will be. I will, however, like the rest of the state, happily watch my bank account grow overnight! We have no idea how much our windfall will be next year, but it doesn't even matter because the fact is, it will be free money!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Off And Running

The boys (Eric and Logan), have landed in Ontario, CA and their first official hunting trip will begin in a few hours. YIKES!!! I put on a brave face last night as I gave them kisses and sent them on their way (they took a red-eye flight). Of course, at dinner last night I told Logan that I loved him and then I proceeded to give him the obligatory safety and behavior talk. I know Logan is in his dad's good hands, but I'm still a mom and I won't rest easy until they get back home to Alaska Monday night.

Some of our friends have asked excitedly what the guys are hunting for, you should have seen their displeasure when we told them they were hunting for dove. When you say "hunt" in Alaska, it conjures up images of moose,caribou, bears and other big game, not dove. To me it's all the same, you're still shooting at a live target. In fact, dove hunting may be even more difficult because they are shooting at small, quick moving targets. We'll see how they fare.

In the meantime, Kaiden and I are going to find our own way to party it up! He's off at school today, but tonight we're going to go out for dinner. The menu will be ceasar salad and pizza, YUMMY! It has been quite a while since we have seen any movies. I noticed that WAL-E is still showing, so I think we'll go see that tomorrow. Monday we have made plans to go out for lunch. Knowing that I was going to sign him out for lunch on Monday, Kaiden informed me last night that he knows exactly what restaurant he wants to go to. Of course it couldn't be McDonalds or Subway (something common or near school), he has decided we are going to go to a more high end seafood restaurant in downtown! Whose kid is he anyway?

Wish me luck this afternoon! The boys' school does not have enough noon duty staff, so we parents have been informed/threatened that if we don't volunteer to work (they are willing to pay us) then our children will not have outdoor recess at lunchtime. In these parts, it's a huge deal that the kids get to go outside to play because there are very few months when they are able to do so without the snow and cold putting a damper on things. I, apparantly like many of the other moms in the community, would rather stick a needle in my eye than sign-up for that thankless job on a daily basis. As a compromise, one of my girlfriends and I have offered to work on Fridays from 11:30-1:30. We, however, opted not to get paid. Believe me, it's not as though we couldn't use a little extra shopping money, we were just smart enough to figure out that if we worked strictly on a volunteer basis it would be on our terms rather than on the schools. Am I a glutton or what?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Who Knew??????

Considering there hasn't been any earth shattering political news in Alaska/U.S. politics in the past 24 hours, I'm going to take a break from political blogging today. I know you're all disappointed, but maybe after Palin's speech tonight I will have more fodder for tomorrow. I suppose only time will tell.

The topic I am most excited to share with you today is: STAINS 101 - Removing Grease Stains From Clothing. As I mentioned yesterday, we ventured to the Alaska State Fair on Friday. For grease lover like myself, the fair is a fried food haven. As any self-respecting fairgoer can appreciate, our family arrived at the fair with empty bellies.

Although Eric, Logan and I decided to go with the caribou cheesesteak sandwich for dinner (among other greasy fare), Kaiden insisted on one of those huge bbq turkey legs. Despite how emphatic he was about eating the entire leg, in the end, his appetite left some to be desired. Kaiden is an incredibly messy eater and this turkey leg adventure was no different. When all was said and done he had inhaled about 1/2 of the turkey leg and was wearing the rest of it on his jacket. In other words, he managed to drip grease down the front of his almost new jacket. I was beside myself, but I tried something new. I decided I would not freak and would just let it go. Surely there must be some product on the market designed especially for these circumstances, right?

First thing Saturday morning, I sprayed the jacket with Shout, let it sit for a while and threw it in the wash. When the load was finished, I took a quick peek to assess the damage. Of course, the jacket was still wet, so it was looking pretty good. I hung it out to dry and kept my fingers crossed. Several hours later, after the coat was dry, I took another look at it and much to my dismay, the grease stains were still there. In the meantime, I had washed and dried another load of laundry and realized that one of Logan's brand new school shirts also had a grease spot on it. I was now on a mission!!!!!

Considering the fact that you have to be fairly internet savvy to even be reading this blog, you have probably already discovered the amazing power of the internet. I too, appreciate the wonder and amazement of the world wide web, that is why I immediately proceeded to Google "getting grease stains out of clothing". To my great joy, I was able to read several suggestions for doing just that. I chose the solution I thought would be easiest and decided if that didn't work I would move on to the next one. After all, what did I have to lose? Either the grease would come out or the jacket would be ruined anyway.

I opted to go with baby powder. Yes, that is correct, plain ol' baby powder. The website said to re-wet the stain and sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on it. It just so happened that the baby powder I have is 100% cornstarch, so I was in business. I wet the stain and saturated it with baby powder. Just for good measure, I let the jacket lay with the powder on it for several hours. I stuck the jacket back in the wash, hung it out to dry and couldn't believe my eyes when I went back to look at it and the stain was completely and totally gone! I'm not kidding, there is not a trace of turkey grease anywhere on that thing. It is AMAZING!!!!

Kaiden told me last night that he thinks I'm obsessed now. He went on to say that I have "like 10" pieces of clothing with baby powder on them all over their bathroom and that I went crazy with the powder in their sink. For the record, there weren't 10 pieces of clothing, there were 3 and maybe I did get carrried away with the baby powder (just a little bit, though). I don't care, you know why...the grease came out of every single item! Do you even know how many articles of clothing I have thrown away over the years because I couldn't get the grease stains out of them? And to think, after all of these years, the answer was hiding in my very own medicine cabinet.

BABY POWDER! Who knew????
For some reason my picture keep rotating, but if you turn your head...the stain was on both sides of the zipper and went 1/4 of the way across the jacket and 1/4 of the way up the jacket.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

All Palin All The Time

To know me is to know that I am pretty conservative, perhaps to a fault sometimes. I usually vote as a Republican down party lines. Despite what my dad will tell you, I think our country is in a pretty pathetic state and continues to be on a downward spiral. I feel like this country desperately needs change. I don't know which candidate is the answer for our country, but I certainly know that the status quo is not the answer for me! I also know that I will not vote for McCain simply because he has a woman on his ticket. I need substance and clarity from one of the candidates before I will know who I am voting for. Wish me luck with that!

Having said all of that, it seems to be very exciting for the state of Alaska that our female governor is running for Vice President and the state is now directly involved in November's election. Anchorage is buzzing! Friday night we went to the Alaska State Fair and by the time we got there (around 6:00 p.m.), people were already walking around with their McCain/Palin '08 t-shirts on. Let me tell you, the money-makers don't waste any time! Our local newspaper, The Alaska Daily News, has practically been cover to cover with articles about Sarah Palin since Saturday morning. It has certainly been all-Sarah-all-the-time for the past several days. If nothing else, Friday's news successfully gave Obama's campaign, in the great state of Alaska, a t.k.o. The way I call it, McCain just earned himself 3 electoral votes overnight. 3 electoral votes may not seem like that big of a deal, but until Friday, they were 3 votes that were very likely going to go to the democratic party for the first time in many years.

In the few days that have passed since McCain's big announcement, I'm sure we have all learned more about Sarah Palin and her family than many of us would ever care to. I'm certain I wouldn't want the world to look into my family with a magnifying glass. I don't know for sure, but I can't help to think that because we live in Alaska we are perhaps more inundated with McCain/Palin stories than even all of you in the Lower 48 are. Square footage aside, Alaska tends to be very small town.

In fact...

I have to say, my personal favorite by way of bombshells has been Palin's daughter's pregnancy. It is my favorite disclosure, not because of the circumstances, but because several months ago (while visiting with several neighborhood women) I had heard "the rumor" that one of Palin's daughters had been pregnant with Trig and that the Palins were claiming him as their own. I did not know if either of her daughters was currently, or had ever been pregnant, nor did I care. I just thought the whole notion was preposterous! Too many people would have to keep their mouths shut for the rest of their lives, in order to pull off a whopper like that. It would never happen, someone would eventually blab.

Imagine my glee when the news broke yesterday morning that Bristol is in fact pregnant and that Palin went public to curb rumors about Trig's legitimacy! In a wierd, twisted way, I felt like I had sort of been privy to a dirty little secret before it had been made public. To me, the most entertaining part of all of this was reading the McCain camp claim that the Obama camp started the rumor. I am not generally "in the know", especially relating to politics, but I can pretty safely say Obama's camp did not start "the rumor". Now, they may have perpetuated it or brought it to the public light, but they did not start that rumor. When I first heard about it, Obama and McCain hadn't even been nominated and most of the nation had never even heard of Sarah Palin.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Who??????

O.K., I think I have suddenly been thrust into the realm of politics by virtue of the fact that John McCain has reportedly chosen our Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, to be his Vice-Presidential running mate. For the record, her last name is pronounced Pay-lin. I have already heard it butchered in the press this morning and I was bugged by it. It would be nice if the big mouth commentators did a little leg work before they started running off at the mouth sometimes.

I will reserve my comments and opinion until I hear McCain officially announce Palin as his runningmate and then, my humble opinion is fair game. Trust me, you don't have to be scared off by my political views. In fact, I'm not very political at all and I don't really care to get into any serious, earthshattering, offensive banter with anyone this political season. I will simply, on a rare occassion (like today), share my "soccer mom" opinion with you all. For the most part, I think you will laugh at my naive viewpoint, but I may piss some of you off from time to time. Just take it with a grain of salt, have fun with it, and "get over it". In the end, we will all eventually have the same President of the United States and in reality, only my vote will count (unless my husband's vote cancels mine out), not my thoughts and opinions leading up to election day.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I'm Seeing Orange

Last night I was seeing orange. No, I'm not seeing things and I'm not sick either. Logan and Eric just completed a two-day, eight hour hunter safety class last night. They came be-bopping in around 10:00 last night donning bright "hunter orange" safety vests, carrying their targets from the required shooting part of the class (I have posted a picture of both targets. Can you tell which is Eric's and which is Logan's?) and a celebratory treat from their stop at McDonalds. I had already received a phone call informing me that "we don't mess around" and that Logan and Eric both got a 100% on their 50 question test.

Even though this wasn't techinically a competitive thing, we know several kids and adults who have taken the test and none of them have received a perfect score. Logan was feeling pretty darn good about himself. Let's just hope and pray he takes the information he has learned into the real world with him. I keep trying to tell him that you can never be too safe with a gun and that it's not him I'm worried about, it's everyone else. I know, that was spoken like a true mom!

Let me say, I am totally against my almost 11 year-old son going hunting. I don't care if he's hunting big game, birds, or rats. I think 11 is too young! Let me also say that over the years, as a parent and as a wife, I have learned that I must pick my battles. That is why Eric and Logan are going on a 4 day dove hunting expedition in Parker, AZ next weekend. I'm already breathing into a paper bag and will be until they arrive home safely.

Logan knows he is going hunting with his dad, Kaiden does not. Keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck when I have to break the news to him this weekend. I am certain I am going to have one pissed off child on my hands. Not only is he the kid in the family who actually has a burning desire to go hunting, but Logan will also be missing 2 days of school. I've tried to come up with something special for Kaiden and I to do while Eric and Logan are gone, but remember, this is Alaska. It costs a fortune to fly anywhere and there really aren't a whole lot of places to go locally. I am contemplating taking him to Denali (aka Mt. McKinley), but that trip would still cost me several hundred dollars. I may just have to get over the guilt of it all, be the adult in the house, and tell Kaiden to "suck it up and get over it".

I could really use some insight right about now!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Out On A Limb

Our dear Kaiden has an adventurous spirit. For those of you who know him, you know he is 9 going on 59. Although he is always talking about the next adrenaline rush, the reality is often very different and tears often ensue. We recently went on a cruise of Alaska's Inside Passage. We stopped in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Vancouver. Months before we even went on the cruise, Kaiden and I were perusing the cruise documents and he decided we all needed to go on a zipline adventure. Eric and I were game, but convincing my in-laws (who accompanied us on the cruise) might take some doing. Like any good parents, we had the grandchild call to butter up Nana and grandpa for the big excursion. After some clever persuasion on Kaiden's part, we were "all in".

Mostly by nature, and partly as a result of being the only female in my immediate family, there are not many extra-curricular activities that I won't try at least once. I try not to let my boys see me sweat too often! They already think males are the dominant sex and believe me, I do everything in my power to combat that mentality.

This little ziplining adventure was in the rainforest and rain it did. We were not deterred though. After getting in our safety gear, we were taken in a monster truck up to the the first platform. The highest platform was 135 ft. off the ground and the average speed while zipping was 35 mph. We went as fast as 43 mph. We all had a blast from the getgo, except for...Kaiden. He was scared beyond belief after his uneventful first zip. You see, Kaiden tends to overanalyze things and as a result, freaks himself out and makes himself miserable. He watches a lot of Discovery Channel type programming and knows a little about a lot of stuff. Once he was standing on the platform, high above the ground he logically concluded that the platform should not be able to suspend all of us safely at that height. He neglected to take into account the fact that we were tethered on in several locations and were extremely safe and...he cried hysterically.

Being the cruel mom that I am, I would not let the guides give Kaiden an "out". I figured if we were all on this outing at his request, I wasn't going to let him back out. I insisted that he continue with the adventure until the end, just like the rest of us. Our guides were real troopers and quickly came up with an acceptable solution for Kaiden. One of them would clip onto the line directly behind him and essentially, they would go down the zip in tandem. Kaiden was o.k. with this, and much to his dismay, he ended up having a good time (just like I knew he would)!

Guess what...the ziplines didn't break, none of us fell and the platforms didn't even give way. When all was said and done, we were drenched, but we were still smiling. We all had a good time and I think we would all probably do it again if the opportunity presented itself.

Party Like A Rock Star

The boys got out of school for the summer on May 22 and just went back to school last Wednesday, YIKES! Talk about a long summer! Actually, we had a ton of family in town, and lots of things to do, so the time flew by. Logan is now in sixth grade and Kaiden is in fourth. It seems like just yesterday I was taking them to kindergarten for the first time.

We have been in Alaska since last December 31, and since then, I have had the luxury of being a stay-at-home-mom. Prior to moving here, I had always had a job of some type (usually part-time) since Logan turned 1. When we first arrived here, it was winter and it was snowy and cold and I had a million things to do to get us settled into life and a routine in Alaska. By the time we were settled in, summer was upon us, and I wasn't going to even begin to look for a job. Now, the boys are back in school and I've contemplated finding a part-time job, but there are some really great gals in the neighborhood who are a bad influence on me, so I don't know if I'll ever go back to work as long as their around.

You see, in Alaska, stay-at-home moms don't sit around and eat bon-bons on the first day of school. No, we meet at the bagel shop for breakfast (at 9:30), if you're me, you then go to the gym (10:00-11:15), and then we meet at someone's house to play Rock Band for the remainder of the afternoon (11:15 - 2:00). At 2:00 the guilt finally set in and I decided I had better get home to at least clean up the dishes from breakfast before the kids arrived home on the bus (approx. 3:45). I felt like I had played hooky all day with 7 of my friends. It was so much fun!

Let me tell you, if you are a stay-at-home-mom or just someone who has a video game system and a little extra time on your hands, I highly recommend Rock Band. I cannot carry a tune, I do not enjoy karaoke, nor do I pretend to be able to play the drums or guitar. For three hours last Wednesday, I did all of the above and I now belong to an all girl band called "The Hose" (it is spelled that way to throw off the little ones). Believe it or not, we had a blast and there wasn't even any alcohol involved.

I have to say, this was probably my most memorable first day of school. Now you all know why I stay home. With the promise of another day playing Rock Band while the kids are in school and Eric is at work, I can't even pretend I'm interested in a part-time job. Band practice anyone?

Leave of Absence

I have discovered over the past several months that the readers of this blog are the "quiet type". I know people login and read because the hit counter tells me they do, but if it wasn't for that, I would think only my grandparents and a few devoted web friends were the only ones remotely interested in what I have to share. Since I had been on an unannounced hiatus over the past several weeks, I have been given enough crap by enough of loyal readers that I now know that I'm blogging for more than just three people.

I didn't actually take a "leave of absence" because I was angry, bitter, or pouting, it was mainly because it was summer and I had a lack of fun, interesting, and antecdotal stuff to blog about. Despite how it may appear, blogging is not always easy. I know this may seem shocking, but I like to think that I live a normal, sometimes tedious life, just as many of you do. It's not always easy finding stuff to blog about that other people would care to hear about and I don't like to always complain about the weather or the fact that I don't have friends. The purpose of this blog is not to depress everyone, but rather, to share fun stories, give friends and family a little peek into life in Alaska, be up beat, and to sometimes even give people a good laugh at my expense. Now that school is back in session and I'm back in my regular routine, I have more fodder for the blog, therefore, I'm now officially back in action!

Thanks for patiently checking the blog on a regular basis to see if we are still around. Yes, we're still here in overcast and gloomy Alaska! All the company has left, we're back from vacation and the kids are back in school, so life is good!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

They Really Do Exist

After much debate and denial on the part of Eric and I, it is official, bears really do exist in the state of Alaska!

You see, for months now there have been tons of bear sightings in Anchorage and several attacks on humans. We've read the stories, have seen lots of pictures, and have a friend who seems to see bears almost daily. Despite the fact that we have actively gone out on numerous drives, specifically looking for bears, we had not seen one in the wild. Eric and I were starting to think that everyone around here must be delusional (after all, we haven't seen any bears), the pictures and stories were part of a huge plot, and that bears don't really live in Alaska. Just when we were about to come to terms with the fact that bears don't actually roam the streets, forests, and trails of Anchorage...the phone rang!

Our friend, Cathy, the one who seems to see bears several times a week, was calling. She was calling to tell me that there was a bear in the trash can in her backyard, it had been there for around a half an hour and it was making a mess of the trash! She was also letting me know that after failed attempts to get a hold of her husband, she had called Eric and he was on his way up the hill to her house. Well...anyone who knows me knows that I wasn't going to let Eric partake in this great adventure while I was hanging out at home with the boys, cleaning house. I hung up the phone, grabbed my camera, yelled to the boys to get their shoes on and we were out the door in a flash. We didn't even bother turning off the t.v.!

We pulled up the driveway of Cathy's house just after Eric had arrived. We pull in and see Cathy standing outside, up on her balcony, waving to the boys and I to stay in the car and Eric standing outside of his car with his .44 handgun drawn! It was quite a scene and boy, talk about the drama! Cathy had the best vantage point of the bear from her balcony perch, so as soon as the bear was otherwise occupied, she motioned us to make a run for the house. We ran as fast as we could and slammed the door shut behind us!

It was humorous for me to see Eric with his gun drawn when we pulled up, because he's not usually about drama. I later found out that apparantly, the bear had heard Eric pull up, it peeked over the fence at him and they had a brief staredown before the bear got down and continued to mutilate and devour the contents of the trashcan. Considering that the bear was only about 15 ft. from where Eric was standing and that there was only a wooden fence between he and the bear, I guess Eric decided at some point that it would be a wise thing to pull his gun out. He had a clear shot of the bear and could have easily taken it down, but there wasn't any real threat of danger and that's not what we're about, so we all went about our business.

Once inside the house, we ran up onto the balcony for a better look at the bear and its antics. Despite the fact that there were nine of us watching it, and loudly cajoling it to leave, that darn bear still stuck around for another 10-15 minutes. We had contemplated using bear spray on it, but we were enjoying the adrenaline rush of having it around. We finally just let it leave on it's own free-will.

Although I enjoyed our first bear sighting tremendously, my favorite part of the event was when the bear finally decided to leave. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't my favorite part because he left, it was my favorite part because of what he left. On his way out, that bear had the nerve to stop and take a big dump, right in the middle of the backyard! I may not have been positioned in a way that I was able to get many good pictures of the bear, however, I was lucky enough to get that on film!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Summer Set For Infamy

On the front page of last Thursday's Anchorage Daily News was an article spelling out just how bleak and cold this summer has been, especially for this California girl. Anchorage is on pace to hit 65 degrees for the fewests days on record! The article, which would be enough to send a lesser person into a very dark depression, even went as far to lay out the staggering statistics in black and white. Let's measure the misery:

Days in a year at 75 degrees or above
Average: 4
Last year: 21
2008: 0

Days in a year at 70 degrees or above
Average: 15
Last year: 21
2008: 2

Days in a year at 65 or above
Average: 44
Last year: 46
2008: 7

Days in a year at 60 degrees or above
(this statistic is my personal favorite)
Average: 88
Last year: 97
2008: 35

Although Eric has been fortunate enough to leave this wonderful place we call "home" for brief jaunts here and there, the boys had I have not been so lucky. We have been in Anchorage every single day of 2008, so far, and have only experienced 35 days of temps. over 60 degrees, and far fewer days of sun. Am I whining? Perhaps. I prefer to think of it as just reporting the facts.

Logan and Eric will be leaving town for a few days at the beginning of September and I'm starting to think that I might just suck it up and pay for Kaiden and I to fly somewhere. It's not cheap to get out of here, not even to just hop over to Seattle, but at this point, I think my sanity is worth more than I'd pay for an airline ticket.

Back in February I was put on a Vitamin D supplement because my levels were extremely "low". I don't know how high the numerical scale for vitamin levels goes, but I know I was only at a 12. Now, six months later and after taking a one-a-week supplement of 50,000 iu of Vitamin D, I am still in the "low" category and have only moved up to a 24. Ideally, I would have been weaned off the supplement and put on a far lower dose of over-the-counter supplements, but so much for that grand idea. I'm going to maintain the initial dosage for 3 more months and then we'll check again.

I'm sure I heard the doctor prescribe a little rest and relaxation in a sunny locale (I just conveniently misplaced that prescription). My husband can't argue with that......can he?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gas Commentary

O.K., I know nobody wants to read about the price of gas in their free time, but.......You see, before we moved to Alaska, I had this idea that the people living here probably paid pennies on the dollar for their gas compared to those in other states. WRONG!!!!!!

Just today, AAA put out a survey that says the average price of regular gas in Alaska is the highest in the nation, topping this month's list at $4.64 a gallon. We are followed by California and Hawaii respectively. YIKES!!!!! My intent is not to start a political commentary, I just thought that information was interesting considering the dollar and production figures we see in the papers daily with regard to oil production in Alaska.

As you can see, we're all in the same boat. Even those of us living in Alaska.

Friday, July 11, 2008

26 Glacier Cruise

For me, the highlight of our "family excursions" in Alaska was a day-trip glacier cruise on The Klondike, a charter run by Phillip's 26 Glaciers. The catamaran left out of Whittier at 1:00 p.m. and we returned back to the port just in time to catch the 6:00 p.m. tunnel back to civilization (aka Anchorage). Several days in advance, we pretty much randomly chose the day we were going to take the cruise and it turned out to be the most beautiful day of the summer so far. We were really lucky!

Whittier is considered "The gateway to Prince William Sound", as you could guess, our journey took us out into Prince William Sound. Of course, the glaciers are always magnificent to look at, but it was such a pleasure just to be out on the water this day. The water in the sound is considered "protected", and as such, the ocean there can be quite calm. On this particular day, the water was like glass at times.

I didn't count to make sure we actually saw 26 glaciers, but I don't doubt that we did. We definitely stopped at plenty and had ample time for photo opps. One of the glaciers even calved right in front of us. It was really something! We were also fortunate enough to be able to see quite a bit of sealife. There were plenty of otters out frolicking in the sun, sea lions, a couple of baby seals, and several bald eagles were seen lounging on the icebergs.

Eric works with a gentleman who is an Alaskan Native and seems to know just about everyone in Alaska. As luck would have it, Melvin actually knows someone who knows one of the ship's captains. Melvin made a few phone calls and was able to get us an invite to join the captain in the wheelhouse. How nice was that!!!!!! It was an extra nice treat for the boys to be able to sit in the captain's chair, see how the ship actually operates, and to share the captain's vantage point.

In August Eric's parents are joining Eric, the boys and I on a seven day cruise of The Inside Passage of Alaska. This day-trip really hyped me up for our impending cruise. The glaciers we've had an opportunity to see thus far have been amazing to me. Now I can't wait to see the really big ones in the middle of nowhere that drop huge chunks of ice off in the middle of the ocean without notice.