Thursday, January 31, 2008

And People Say Californians Are Snobs

Let me preface this entry by saying that I've shared this story with a few of you already. If you're not interested in reliving it I won't be offended (nor will I even know, for that matter) if you log off and check back another day.

I know stay-at-home-moms get a bad rap sometimes, usually from the male persuasion, as being women who sit at home all day in their pajamas eating Bon Bons, watching T.V., and surfing the internet. I may be guilty of surfing the internet throughout the day, but unfortunately, I have plenty of things to do around here and staying in my pajamas all day isn't an option. I guess it would be if I didn't have to take the kids to school, but around here, you don't dare venture out in your "jammies". Not for fear that people might see you, but for fear that you may lose control of your car on the snow slicked road, end up in a ditch and have to be rescued!

Eating Bon Bons all day would be far better than cleaning house and doing laundry, but I'm trying my best to keep my girlish figure. Instead, when I don't feel like cleaning, I either head out to the mall or the gym. As far as my pocketbook is concerned, the gym would be the better option when I head out, but after my first experience at the gym here, I often opt for the mall instead.

My blood pressure still goes up when I think about that first day...

As far as gyms go, there aren't many options in this neck of the woods. There is no LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness or Ballys. If you want a similar atmosphere, there is only one gym to choose. They charge more than the aforementioned gyms and they're not nearly as cutting edge, but they're clean, they have decent equipment, they have several different facilities, and offer a plethora of classes. We bit the bullet and signed up for a membership! Eric received a "deal" through work and had been to the gym once before, I on the other hand, had never even seen the inside of the facility.

I was actually kind of excited to be going to the gym as I left my house. The kid working at the front desk knew I was new to the gym because I didn't have a membership card yet and he had to check me in. There is a specific room for cardio, so I went straight in and made a b-line for the treadmills. There are roughly 24 treadmills in the room and most of them were vacant. I randomly selected one of the available treadmills, put on my ipod and started bipping along. As I was working out I was visually scanning the room. My eyes landed on a wall that was lined with sheets of paper (most of them white, some of them blue). I didn't think much of it until I saw, written in bold "sign up for marathon times on blue sheets only" on one of the papers. At that point, for a brief moment, I thought that maybe I was suppossed to have signed up to use the treadmill. The thought quickly passed because my common sense told me that there were vacant treadmills, so signing up for a machine wouldn't be an issue at this moment. How wrong I was!!!!

I continued bipping along and on my shoulder I felt a tap. I turned around, took off my headphones and was confronted by a not-so-nice woman asking if I was almost through with my workout. I had completely forgotten about the papers by this point and I think I looked at her like she had two heads! She informed me that she had signed up to use this particular treadmill (mind you there was nothing special about this machine) at 9:30 and that the time was currently 9:30. I apologized and politely explained that I was new to the gym and this was my first time working out there. She was unapologetic and impatiently waited for me to turn the machine off and move on. I contiunued my workout on one of the nearby vacant machines. I WAS TICKED!!!!!!!!

I promptly went to the kid at the front desk, explained what had happened and gave him a piece of my mind for not explaining gym protocol to new members. I'm still baffled by their sign-up policy! My experience in California had always been that if a machine was available anyone could use it and if there weren't any available machines you waited for one on a "first come first served basis". What makes Alaskans so special that they don't have to wait to use a piece of exercise equipment? I can't get over the fact that these people can go workout somewhere else in the gym and at a specified time have a piece of equipment just waiting for them.

The best part to the whole story is that Eric and I (and several of his co-workers) are big suckers! The gym owners knew exactly what they were doing by making stupid rules. They have a more "upscale" spa-like facility associated with the gym that you can join for an extra $60 a month. In that gym they have fancy locker rooms with spa products for you to use and every piece of equipment has it's own individual television (you can watch whatever you want), and imagine don't have to sign up for the equipment!!!!! Needless to say, they are now getting us for that extra 60 bucks a month!

Can you believe it??????????? WE'RE FOOLS, but at least we're fools who don't have to sign-up to use the gym equipment!

Who said Californians are snobs????????

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Moose On The Loose

One of the most unique experiences we've had in our limited time here in Alaska is having moose roam freely in our yard. The first week we were here Kaiden was looking out the back window while eating lunch and he insisted that he saw a moose. Kaiden had been "seeing" a variety of wild animals for a few days and I was sure this was another of his "sightings", but I humored him and walked the window. Sure enough, right in our own backyard, was not one, but two moose. Naturally, being from California, the first thing I did was make a mad dash for the camera! The movers were still here and they laughed at us for being so excited about seeing moose. I won't apologize!

There are a couple of minor details that I have yet to overcome when it comes to photographing moose in their element, on the "fly" so to speak: if you get too close they run, if the camera flashes or makes the slightest noise they run, if they hear your footsteps they run, and if I'm far enough away to actually snap the picture, they're hidden behind branches. That my friends is why you may not be sure what exactly you were just looking at a picture of. It is in fact a picture of a moose in our backyard!

Don't fret...the moose (I'm sure it's a mama and her baby) have been around almost daily lately and I'm sure I'll eventually get a great picture for you all to see. Over the weekend, Eric and I were out shoveling snow in -1 degree weather and the neighbor alerted us that there was a moose lurking. Eric walked around the corner of the house and there, pressed up against the side of the house, eating the tips off of all of our plants, was a big mama moose. I tried for a headshot of her, but I was only able to get a picture of her butt. I didn't think you'd care much to see that angle, so I spared you this time! If the moose continue to be elusive on film, you may not fare as well next time.

Cat In The Hat

Typical spoiled California kids!!!! We move to Alaska and my children aren't happy to just have moose roaming the neighborhood, they decide they have to have an indoor pet, a kitten! Well, it wasn't exactly like that, but you get the picture. As of Saturday afternoon, our friendly neighborhood moose now have a kitten to contend with around here. I don't imagine they'll be too threatened though, after all, she is an indoor cat.

Logan has desperately been wanting a cat for a number of years. Prior to our move, Eric had finally caved and came to terms with the fact that he was going to have to give in on the whole cat "thing". As luck would have it, the local vet had a sign out last weekend advertising "kitties for adoption". In a moment of weakness, Eric agreed to go with us to check them out. Logan had no idea where we were going or why. When we got to the vet we were told they didn't have any more kitties. At that point, how could we disappoint our baby, right? We ended up at the animal shelter where Logan picked out the most adorable and unique kitten in the shelter.

After some hard lobbying and much family debate, the kitten's name is ......drum roll please.......Guiness! My children are all too proud to tell anyone who is willing to listen that "she is named after the beer". I couldn't resist, I like uncommon names and she is black and tan! The name also fits her because just as one might do in a drunken stuppor, much to my horror and to Kaiden's sheer fascination, she has already done a bonzai off of our balcony onto the carpeted floor below! Kaiden is a MythBusters officianado and is certain that cats always land on their feet, so even if she were to do it again she'd be o.k. Hopefully it won't happen again and we'll never find out from first hand experience if the myth is busted or confirmed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'M LEGAL!!!!!

O.K. O.K., I've techincally been legal for several years now, but...I went Friday to get my Alaska driver's license. I'm now officially an Alaskan (well...kinda' anyway)! If you haven't already figured it out, there is pretty much a story for everything with me. Nothing can ever be simple, straightforward, and uneventful!

Let me start by telling you that I love my husband dearly. He's not perfect, but he's the one I chose and we're happy to be stuck with each other. Having said that, he's not always the most understanding person in the world. In his defense, I admit that I can be a ditz at times. With that in mind, you can understand why I didn't want to tell him I was going to the DMV to get my license. Much to my displeasure, there is a computerized test you have to pass in order to actually get it. If I didn't pass the test I figured nobody needed to know and it would be my little secret.

I'm still not real familiar with Anchorage and I decided I needed to figure out how to get to the DMV without asking Eric for directions. I have a GPS, but it doesn't have Alaska in it, so until Garmin sends me an update, GPS isn't an option. Like any resourceful woman, I decided to "google" the DMV. I looked the map over, but because the directions were so simple I decided it wasn't worth printing them out. Remember those ditzy moments I was telling you about earlier, yeah, well...I got lost! Not just kinda' lost, but way lost!

Now, I could suck it up and call Eric at work to ask for directions, but that would require that I divulge I was on my way to the DMV. I wasn't that desperate! Coming clean was not an option at this point. So I did what any brilliant daddy's girl would do...I called my dad in California to "google" me around Anchorage. The only problem was...daddy wasn't home! Should I call Eric? Nah! I called my friend Barbara, in California, to google a map for me. She wasn't home! Now what? Call Eric? Oh no, I wasn't that desperate yet! I called the DMV! Resourceful I tell ya'!!!!!!

I finally made it to the DMV in one piece. Wouldn't you know, I actually passed the test! It wasn't a big deal and I knew it wouldn't be, but you just never know with the DMV. Of course, as soon as I walked out the door of the DMV I called Eric to tell him I had my new Alaska driver's license and I never spoke a word about getting lost. That Garmin update I mentioned....I should have it in 7-10 business days!!!!!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Alaska Way

For me, the hardest part about living in Alaska has been remembering that we are living in Alaska. I grew up in California and until now, have raised my kids in California. As a mother, it is not in my nature to let my children roam around unaccompanied at all hours of the day or night. Around here, it's perfectly normal for a neighbor kid to come to the door at 8:00 pm to see if my boys (ages 10 & 8) want to go sledding. Granted, the sledding hill is just at the end of our driveway, but the answer is still "no"!

Last week, two neighbor boys were allowed to come inside our house to play and stay into the evening even though their parent had never met us. This seemed a bit odd to me (I know it occurs in CA too, but it seemed a bit strange to me). When it was time for the kids to go home I asked if they needed an escort (considering that it was already dark outside, they are only 7 and 10, and we live among moose and bears), they both declined. I explained that I'm still used to the California way of life and I gave them our phone number and told them both to call me when they arrived at their homes safely. They looked at me like I was off my rocker, but both boys politely obliged and gave me a call upon thier safe arrival home.

Which leads me to my real story......

Now that you all can imagine how protective my husband and I can be (my husband more so than I)....let's go back to the second week my children were in school here. We have free district school bus service to and from school if we choose. The boys have never taken the bus in their lives, but decided they would like to give it a try. We insisted that I pick them up from school the first week and then we'd let them give the bus a try on week 2.

At dinner, the evening before the "big day", we had a family discussion about riding the bus. The boys new which bus number they were to take (we had drilled them a million times the week before), where to get off, not to cross the street until the bus had pulled away, and to look both ways before crossing. I sent Logan with a cell phone and instructed him to call if there were any problems or if they missed the bus.

I consider myself lucky, because I have the luxury of being able to see the stop and kids get off the bus from my kitchen window. I don't ever have to wait in the elements for the kids to get home! The boys get out of school at 3:30 and the bus usually arrives at our bus stop at around 3:40. I decided I would go out and meet them as they got off the bus, since this was their first day riding. As 3:30 came and went, I knew the boys had made it on the bus safe and sound because I didn't get a call from Logan...or had they????

The bus finally pulled up, the doors open, and I'm anxiously waiting to see my boys' smiling faces. Several children pile off the bus and I finally see Logan step off, at which point I knew I could rest easy, until...I asked where his brother Kaiden was. Logan assured me Kaiden was somewhere on the bus, he was sure he had seen him. When the last child had come off the bus and it wasn't Kaiden, my heart stopped!!!!!! The bus driver called for Kaiden, but to no avail! Upon further interrogation, Logan revealed that he didn't actually see Kaiden get on the bus, but that he thought he saw Kaiden already on the bus. HE NEVER THOUGHT TO WAIT FOR HIS BROTHER BEFORE GETTING ON THE BUS!!!!! The one and only rule we didn't clarify, because we thought common sense would have told them to do so, but NOOOOOO!

I was surprisingly calm for a moment and then reality (well, my reality anyway) set in! Logan and I ran home so I could call school, I was sure there had been a misunderstanding of some kind, Kaiden probably got on the wrong bus, but mind started wandering and I started to panic! What if he had gotten off the bus at the wrong stop and was now lost, somewhere in the middle of Alaska, not knowing our phone number or address (remember this was only our third week in AK)! I about lost it! What was I going to tell Eric, he would flip (he didn't want the boys taking the bus in the first place)??????

As I was getting ready to dial the phone, I noticed that I had two missed calls on my cell phone. The phone rang and it was Eric's voice on the other end. Figuring he knew something I didn't. I blurted out "where is he???" Eric informed me that Kaiden had waited for Logan at school, but never saw him, so he didn't get on the bus. Our (one and only) friend, Cathy, had Kaiden and called Eric to let him know. Eric also informed me that they (Kaiden, and Cathy's two children) were all were sure Logan had taken the wrong bus home! Little did they know, he took the right bus and was standing next to me, safe and sound, in our house! I explained that I had Logan, Cathy brought Kaiden home, and life was good again! DISASTER DIVERTED!!!!!!

As you can imagine, we had a long discussion with the boys that evening, explaining that one is not to get on the bus without the other. They have since taken the bus several times without incident. I have to say, I don't rest easy until I see their little bodies cross the street for home each afternoon. Part of me thinks it would be easier to just pick them up from school everyday, but I know I have to give them some independence eventually and this might as well be a step in that direction. After all, I'm not letting them walk home among the moose, alone at night, right?????

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Is it really dark all winter in Alaska??????

Many people have asked, "is it really dark all day in Alaska during the winter?" The answer is "no"! When we came here to visit in December I was expecting it to literally look like nighttime all day long. It doesn't!!!!! There is a point when it looks like dusk most of the day, but now, on January 27 that is not really the case any longer. As a matter of fact, when it is the coldest outside it is usually the most beautiful outside.

I've decided to post some pictures so you can see for yourselves that there really is sun in Alaska during the winter!!!! These pictures were taken from various bedrooms inside our house. I thought you might like a snapshot of what we can see from inside our house when we look out to the great outdoors.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Blogging to Stay Sane in Alaska

My sister-in-law has been blogging from AZ for a while now, and had encouraged me to start my own blog. Prior to moving from sunny California to freezing Alaska, I didn't feel like I had any insight to share that would be fun or interesting. Starting a new life (well, kinda') in Alaska has changed my perspective on blogging a bit. Let me tell you, I now have stories to tell!

My family has been in Anchorage for almost a month now and for me, making friends here has been slow going. My husband has his friends at work and my kids have made friends at school and in the neighborhood, but me.... I haven't faired so well yet. Fortunately, I have several very good girlfriends back in California with whom I share my stories of life in Alaska. I always have a good story to share about something wild and crazy that has gone on with me that day or week. Based on popular demand and with lots of encouragement from my friends back homein CA, I've decided to start my very own blog to share my wacky life with all who care to go along on this wild ride with me and my family.

To quote from the Thunder Mountain ride at Disneyland "hold on to your hats and glasses 'cause this here's the wildest ride in the wilderness."