Thursday, March 27, 2008

Spring Reading

Growing up, I used to love to read. My mom was a great example, I can't remember an evening in my youth when I didn't see her with a book in her hand. She would usually stretch out on the couch after a long day and unwind with a book (granted, it was usually a Harlequin Romance, but they were books nonetheless). Looking back on it, I'm sure she loved to read (she still does), but reading was probably, first and foremost, her "escape".

As a young adult, I didn't read as often as I did as a kid. Life always had a way of getting in the way, especially when I was going to school, working, and particularly when I was dating. Then, somewhere along the way I got married and had kids. Once the kids came along, I read ALL THE TIME, only instead of reading novels I was reading One Fish Two Fish..., Chick A Chick A Boom Boom, and many other beloved childrens books.

Aside from the first year we had Logan, this is the first time in my life since having children, that I haven't worked at least part-time. For a while I worked part-time during the day, but for many years I stayed home during the day and waitressed at Anaheim Stadium in the evenings. I suppose I could have made time to read, but between taking care of the house, the kids, the husband, play groups, school (for both the kids and I), and all the other obligations that come along with being a wife and mother, reading for pleasure was just not a priority.

As my kids got a little older, I took part-time jobs working during school hours so I could be home in the afternoons. Now, I had homework, sports practices, art lessons and a plethora of other obligations that took me away from reading. Don't get me wrong, for much of the last 10 years I have had more than enough time to squeeze in my weekly People Magazine, but I rarely made time to sit through an entire book. I take that back, I have read quite a few entire books if you count almost every book in the Magic Treehouse series, the entire Spiderwick Chronicles, the potty-humor of Captain Underpants , and my new favorite series, Percy Jackson. Over the last 10 years I've had the pleasure of revisiting Beverly Cleary, Judy Bloom, and have been introduced to other authors such as Mike Lupica, and J.K. Rowling. So, in perspecitve, I guess I have read quite a bit in recent years.

You know those "getting to know you" e-mails your friends often send to you? You know the ones, they're the ones I never respond to. The two questions I hate most on those questionnaires are "List the last (enter some random # here) books you've read" and "What is your favorite book?" It doesn't make one sound real intelligent when you can't remember the last book you read or when your favorite is Super Fudge.

You will all be happy to know that since I've been in Alaska, I have already read four books and am half-way through my fifth. Considering the fact that Eric is out of town on ocassion and I have an over-active imagination, I try to keep my reading selection pretty light. Although I enjoy a good murder mystery or suspense novel, those will have to wait until my imagination grows up. Heck, I can't even watch Dateline or read the missing persons article in People Magazine without being freaked out the next time Eric leaves town. Trust me, it's much better for all if I just stick to humor and other books I can relate to.

Please keep in mind that I've used a very methodical approach to picking out books...I simply read the book jacket and if it gives me a little chuckle and sounds remotely interesting, with no great mystery or homicide, then it's good enough for me. So, without further ado, here are the books I've read since the new year:

Shopaholic & Baby - Sophie Kinsella
there's a (slight)chance i might be going to hell - Laurie Notaro
Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
Then We Came to the End - Joshua Ferris
The Other Woman - Jane Green (I'm currently reading this one)

I think all of these books are very relatable, especially if you are or have ever been a wife or mother, regardless of your current age. They all have very different storylines and are all enjoyable in their own right.

I've decided that my new mantra is "who needs friends when you have a good book, a hot bath and a cup of tea"!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hodge Podge

I know you all found the info. on Adak Island to be incredibly fascinating, but it's now time to get back to my reality...after all, this is really my blog. Right? I don't have any specific topic for your entertainment today, so I thought I'd just write on a variety of topics.

Despite being our first holiday away from family, we actually had a very enjoyable Easter Sunday. As usual, we still painted eggs, the Easter Bunny still hid eggs, and we still had our traditional Easter breakfast (a cream of chicken soup/asparagus concoction served over english muffins with bacon on top). The difference this year was that the Easter Bunny hid plastic eggs with $.50 in each egg (rather than hiding real eggs), instead of spending the morning with family we talked to them on the phone, and we spent our afternoon/evening with Troy and Cathy's family. We had good food, good company, and the boys even got to have a second egg hunt that was orchestrated by their dad. Even at almost 9 years of age, Kaiden still does a pretty pathetic job of finding eggs. After our morning egg hunt, Eric decided that to alleviate as much drama as possible, he would create a scavenger hunt for the kids at Troy's house. He hid 18 eggs. 9 for the two big boys and 9 for the two little boys. Essentially, Eric hid the eggs and created separate scavenger hunts for each pair of boys. Obviously the younger boys were given more direct clues to their eggs and the older boys had trickier clues. All of the boys had a great time, and as planned, the younger boys came out on top for once! They couldn't have been more pleased with themselves.

This week is the first week since arriving here, that I can actually say that I have been busy. I know as moms, many of us complain if we have to work outside of the home and on the other hand, many of us who stay home complain about being home all day. I have yet to find that happy medium, but maybe someday I will be lucky enough to. Having said that, I was thrilled to see my week shaping up so nicely.

Logan's teacher asked for my help with a bulletin board and when all was said and done, I was at school on Monday from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. I loved every minute of it! Tuesday, I cleaned upstairs in the morning and then went to the local shopping center. Today, I cleaned downstairs and then went to Bed Bath & Beyond (I love that store). It's conference week at school, so the boys were out at 12:30. I raced home to greet the boys, supervised homework and then was off to conferences. By the time we got home is was already time to start dinner. My how time flies when you're busy!

I know this will shock many of you, considering the fact that I have 1 whole pseudo-friend here (Cathy), but the best and busiest part of my week is still to come! I am going to go to Wal-Mart first thing, get my car washed, and then I'm going to work the book fair at school from 11:00-12:00. The day is going to crawl by because... at 11:16 p.m. I am going to the airport to pick up my dear friend Barbara, who is flying in from California for the weekend! I AM SO EXCITED!!! I talked to her on the phone this evening and told her I feel like it's the night before Christmas! I can't wait to have someone (other than my husband) here who really "gets" me, appreciates me, and who I can say anything to without having to bite my tongue or be politically correct around. I'm also excited to be able to share a little snapshot of our life here, with her. I have a whole fun-filled weekend planned, but you'll have to wait until Monday for the details.

Now that I'm done with my official Hodge Podge blog, I already have a topic to blog on tomorrow. I'll post again tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned...

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Adak Island Adventure

Its been a while since my last ghost post, so I thought I would give it another go. I know most of you have been eagerly waiting for this moment.

As some of you may already know, I recently went to work for an Alaska Regional Native Corporation called The Aleut Corporation ( The Aleut Corporation is one of the thirteen Regional Native Corporations established in 1972 under the terms of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Under the terms of this Act, The Aleut Corporation received a settlement of $19.5 million, 66,000 acres of surface lands, and 1.572 million acres of subsurface estate. The company is privately owned by its approximate 3,400 Aleut Shareholders. The Company is diversified into subsidiaries that include Government Operations & Management, Telecommunications, Environmental Remediation, Fuel Sales, and Real Estate Management. The Company also participates in various partnerships, joint ventures, and other business activities.

My job for The Aleut Corporation falls in the area of operations and one of my primary tasks is to help the company and its subsidiaries operate with more efficiency. As one of my specific assignment early on, I have been responsible for the companies real estate holdings (land, property, and buildings) on the Island of Adak. I just returned from a business trip to Adak Island, where I was meeting with staff, helping to assess real estate holdings, and meeting with the community and City of Adak leadership. Some or all of you may be wondering, what is Adak Island and where is it? If you have not already stopped reading, due to boredom, below you will find many answers about Adak. If you are truly intrigued and need more, google "Adak" and read away. Most of what you will read below is from a combination of web sites.


Adak Island is in western Alaska in the Aleutian Island Chain. It is 350 miles west of Unalaska (Dutch Harbor, home harbor for the show "Deadliest Catch") and 1,300 miles southwest of Anchorage. Adak is the southernmost community in Alaska and the western most City in the United States of America. Click on link below for Adak Island map.

Climate & Weather

The climate for Adak is maritime with severe storms, high winds, overcast skies much of the year. Winter storms can have winds as high as 100 mph and summer brings dense fog. Average temperatures range from 20 to 60 degrees. With the high winds much of the time, the wind chill factor makes the air seem much colder. Adak average annual precipitation is 64 inches per year. Adak average annual snowfall is 100 inches per year.

History & History Related Items

Adak Island has been the home to Aleut peoples since ancient times. Russian explorers in the 1700s also visited the island but made no permanent settlements. During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army took control of two of the most western Aleutian Islands - Attu and Kiska. The Japanese also attacked the American base at Dutch Harbor by air. In response, the United States military began a campaign to unseat the invaders. Since the nearest US military presence was in Cold Bay, Alaska, the military began to construct bases in the western Aleutian Islands from which to launch operations against the Japanese. Adak Island was chosen as the site of an airfield, and flight operations began in September 1942. In May of 1943, American soldiers landed on Attu Island and defeated the Japanese garrison there, with 2,300 Japanese and 550 American deaths recorded. Expecting a similar battle for Kiska Island, soldiers landing there found that the occupiers had been stealthily evacuated by Japanese naval forces. Even so, over 313 American soldiers died from friendly fire, mines, and other anti-personnel devices. Adak Naval Air Station continued to be a military base during the Cold War but was designated a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) site in 1995 and closed in March 1997. Shortly thereafter, the town of Adak, Alaska was incorporated at the site of the former base. Down from a peak population of 6000, the island recorded a 2000 census population of 316 residents, all in the city of Adak, in the northern part of the island. A good portion of Adak Island lies within the boundaries of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. As the result of a Land Transfer Agreement with the US government, The Aleut Corporation owns 47,000 acres on the northern part of Adak Island that includes facilities, surface, and subsurface holdings. Adak is now being developed as a commercial center. Other businesses and facilities are planning re-openings in the future.

Statistics & Facts
  • The population of Adak is approximately 69 (2004)
  • The amount of land area in Adak is 316.835 sq. kilometers
  • The amount of land area in Adak is 122.4 sq. miles
  • The amount of surface water is 12.746 sq. kilometers
  • The distance from Adak to Washington DC is 5123 miles
  • The distance to the Alaska State Capital is 1848 miles (As the crow flies)
  • Adak is positioned 51.84 degrees north of the equator and 176.64 degrees west of the prime meridian
  • Adak per capita income is $31,747 (2000)
  • Adak median income is $52,727 (2000)
  • Alaska Airlines flies two flights weekly (Sunday and Thursday), weather permitting
  • The population of Adak is 37.3% Alaska Native or Part Native
  • There is an airport with two asphalt-paved runways, both over 7,000 feet long
  • There are also deep-water docks and fueling facilities owned and operated by Aleut Enterprise, LLC a subsidiary of The Aleut Corporation
  • The island has about 16 miles of paved roads with a number of other unpaved and gravel roads


  • There are no indigenous land mammals on any of the Aleutian Islands west of Umnak Island. However, foxes, ground squirrels, reindeer and other mammals have been introduced by humans.
  • At the request of the U.S. Navy, caribou were introduced to Adak Island by Alaska Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to provide sport hunting for local Navy and civilian residents and to provide an additional food resource in the event of a national emergency.
  • Twenty-three calves survived captivity and were released on the southwest side of the island. Due to the lack of predators and biting insects, coupled with good range habitat and mild winters, the herd quickly increased. By 1964 the herd had grown enough to allow the first sport hunt.
  • It is estimated today that the caribou population of Adak Island is well over 3,000 caribou.

Visiting Adak is truly an adventure. I will have more in future posts.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I Am My Kids' Mom

I am such a dork! I am not generally anal retentive, but I have to admit, even I have my occasional moments. Whenever Eric has been out of town and is coming home, I like to have the house spic and span. I don't really know why, because it's not as though he actually gives a care. He almost never acknowledges that the house has been cleaned, but it's just one of my "things". I like the house to be clean when Eric walks through the door. He's on his way home as I type this, so needless to say, today was cleaning day.

Knowing I was in for a long haul, I decided my spring cleaning called for a little music. I turned the t.v. to one of those satellite music channels and bipped away most of the day. At around 2:00, the downstairs was just about complete and I had to run out to pick up our cat from the vet (she was being spayed). I grabbed my purse, put on my Uggs and, just as I was ready to walk out of the house, realized the darn t.v. was still on.

After a split-second analysis, I realized that the only way to get to the t.v. or the remote control, was to walk on the freshly vacuumed, cream colored rug. I quickly decided that I had a couple of options. I could leave the t.v. on until I returned, I could take off my boots and walk across the rug, I could leave my boots on and risk mucking up the rug along the way, or I could crawl across the floor on my hands and knees, grab the remote, turn off the t.v., crawl back to the tile on my hands and knees and go about my day. There was only one clear option as far as I was concerned. I opted to crawl across the floor on my hands and knees, turn off the t.v. and go on my merry way.

Don't get me wrong, I stand by my decision, but as I approached the sofa on my hands and knees, it did occur to me how ridiculous I probably looked. Let's be real, I had Uggs on for Pete's sake. I could have slipped them right off and right back on. I didn't care though, crawling saved me time, effort and a re-do on my vacuuming job.

My children would have been proud, after all, I witnessed Logan do the exact same thing earlier in the week. How else would I have come up with that idea? I know what you're thinking...if he jumped off a roof would you follow? ABSOLUTELY!

Freeze Frame - Part II

So, my dad went to Target in California today to see if he could find the box of Fun Noodles with his grandson's picture on it. He didn't find Logan's box, but being the big kid that he is, he continued to peruse the toy departments. Apparanlty my dad has an affinity for National Geographic brand toys, so he stopped to browse at some of them.

For some strange reason there was one particular, toy that struck his fancy, Moon in My Room. He picked up the box and proceeded to look at the packaging. While gazing at the box, my dad thought the boy on it looked a lot like Logan. He looked at it more carefully and decided... it IS Logan! How random, that by complete coincidence, my dad would come across that toy?????

Way back, even before Logan did the job for Fun Noodle, he did a shoot for a company called Uncle Milton. On this rare occasion, Eric actually took him to the shoot rather than me. Like most dads, Eric didn't ask all of the questions that I would have. When they got home and I started quizzing them all I got was that the product was a "moon phase thing" and it had something to do with the National Geographic brand (maybe).

We never know when the products are going to come out, so around Christmas (after I had done a little investigating) we started looking for a product by Uncle Milton called Moon in My Room. We found one and Logan wasn't on the packaging. The other boy that had been at the shoot was on it. We figured they must not have liked something about Logan's pictures and nixed him. Well, I guess not, little did we know they were going to re-package the product under the National Geographic name and use Logan on the box! Pretty cool.

I hope you all have some time to waste in the toy department next time you go to the store!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Freeze Frame

You may or may not know this, but when we lived in California, my so Logan occasionally did some modeling. He has been on the boxes of several toys that have been on the shelves of stores like Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. I've posted a few pictures of the boxes for you to all to check out (Logan is the blonde).

Logan had a couple of jobs toward the end of last year, one was for a company called Fun Noodle (they make floating noodles for the pool) and the other was for Razor scooter (for a product called a PowerWing). Although Logan has been paid for every job he has done, there have been a couple of products where he never appeared on the packaging. He had been paid for both jobs some time ago, and I had kind of just forgotten about it.

Today, I was strolling the aisles of Fred Meyer and I happend to pass by some swim toys (trust me, I was as shocked as you are to know that swim toys are already on the shelves here in Alaska). As I passed by, the thought occurred to me that I should look to see if they had any Fun Noodles. To my surprise, they did! As I approached the box of noodles I looked down and there on the box, as plain as the nose on my face, was a pictures of my son!

I immediately went the store manager and tried to coax him out of the box. As you can imagine, there were still quite a few noodles in the box still, and he wouldn't let me have it yet. I told him if I walked away from the store without it I wasn't confident that they would actually save it and contact me to pick it up. He assured me that he would be calling me eventually and I assured him that I would bug him weekly until he caves in.

The moral is...if they have the Fun Noodles in Alaska of all places, I'm sure they have them in your state too. If you happen to pass by the swim toys it might be fun to take a look to see if you can find the Fun Noodles. When you look at the box there is a picture of a mom in a black one-piece bathing suit, holding onto a raft with some children on it. Logan is the second child from the right. He still looks pretty much like the pictures I've posted, so I'm sure you'll know which one he is. Eventually I'll make it back to the store and I'll take my camera so I can take a picture of the box. When I do, I'll post it for all to see.

By the way, I was also at Toys R Us today, they didn't have any swim items yet, but they did have the Razor Power Wing. Logan was on the box, but it was a small picture and it was taken from above, so if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know it was him. I wouldn't wast me time seeking it out. I'm not even going to purchase that one for posterity.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Warped Reality

Yesterday, the high temperature here was somewhere in the 30s. It was a sunny and beautiful "Spring" day by all accounts. I know it is going to be shocking for some of you to hear this from a California girl, but in Alaska, when we get into the 30s it's actually pretty mild out. I'm not going to kid you, it's not shorts weather, but I've made an effort to start shedding my winter skin.

When I chose my attire for the day, and upon seeing how beautiful it was outside yesterday, I decided to put on a pair of capris. I know, you don't have to tell me, it's 30 degrees outside and I choose to wear capris...cuckoo. In my defense, from inside my 66 degree home, it made perfect sense. For a brief moment I had such a lapse in judgement that I even contemplated wearing flip-flops. That thought was quickly fleeting when I saw snow on the ground. I made a more sensible choice and opted for a pair of Mary Janes instead.

Last night, the boys and I went to Troy and Cathy's for corned beef and cabbage. As I headed out the door in my capris, a sweater and Mary Janes I had to run back in to grab my slippers. It may be warming up around here, but I am still sane enough to keep in mind that when I take my shoes off upon entering their house, my bare feet would freeze on the tile floor. I don't care what anyone says, radiant heating doesn't make much of a difference when you're prancing around in bare feet.

As evening approached, the temperatures started dropping and just when I started to think that maybe I was off my rocker for sporting capris in mid-March, I was greeted by Troy and Cathy's friend Tracy, wearing...SHORTS! Shortly after our arrival, Troy disappeared upstairs for a few moments and came back down wearing...SHORTS! All the while, all four of our children were outside in full snow gear...SLEDDING! Troy and I looked at each other, kind of chuckled, and then as though he could read my mind, said, "well, it's so beautiful outside, as long as I'm in here with the heater on I might as well pretend it's just as warm outside."

To some it may seem like we have a pretty warped sense of reality. I prefer to look at it like we have some pretty top-notch coping skills. It's all o.k. though, because just as many of you laugh at me right now, I'll be laughing at you all come summer. Our days are already getting longer, and I've busted out the capris, so... nanny nanny!!!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Think I Hear a Who

To wrap up Spring Break, on Friday, I took the boys to see Horton Hears a Who. Eric just left this afternoon to go out of town again, to Adak Island (in the Aleutian Island chain) this time. Having plenty of "alone time" once again, I got to thinking. Among other admittedly random thoughts, I started thinking that blogging is kind of like Horton and his ability to hear the Whos when nobody else can.

Despite what it feels like sometimes, I know somebody, somewhere is actually reading this blog. I have a statistics counter right on the blog that tells me so, and it doesn't lie (at least I like to believe it doesn't). By the number of hits the blog randomly gets on certain days, my handy stats counter also tells me that it's not just my family "tuning in" to read. The stats aren't necessarily so remarkable, it's just that our family simply isn't that big. The stats are like the Whos talking to me. When I sit down and post a blog, I know people are logging on to read, even though I can't see them.

Sometimes, in kind of a wierd way, those silly stats have a way of making a lonely day seem a little less lonely. Don't fret, I'm not going into some deep depression, it's just that there are days when I crave adult interaction! After having the kids home 24/7 for the last week and now that Eric has left town, I feel like I'm in a bubble. If I don't make an effort to leave the house, I could literally go for days without physically seeing another adult around here. I can't really explain it, it's not necessarliy that I'm all that lonely, it's more of an almost Twilight Zone type feeling. At times it seems like we live in a community where kids exist on their own, without adults. I never see the adults! When I go peek on the kids playing outside in the cul de sac, riding bikes or playing in a neighbor's yard, I rarely see another parent out and about. I don't crave friendship as much as I just crave seeing another adult.

On a family drive this morning, I had a funny interaction with my husband. It was both humorous and, for lack of a better term, a little "sad" too. Although he'll say it isn't so, at times, Eric has a bit of a habit of mumbling. As we pulled out of the neighborhood this morning, half to me and half to himself, Eric mumbled something. The only two words I heard him say were "birthday party". We don't have any birthdays coming up until May, so I was perplexed by "birthday party" and I must have given him an odd look. He then pointed to some balloons I had overlooked on our neighbors drive and reiterated, "birthday party". The mumbling actually made perfect sense.

Later, while we were still driving, Eric once again mumbled something, apparantly, to me. I didn't know he was talking to me, so I didn't even acknowledge that he said anything. I thought he might have been, so I did look in his direction. When Eric caught my eye, he turned toward his window, started pointing at it and talking to the air, like a homeless person does on the street. It made me laugh out loud and as I sit here typing this, it still cracks me up to visualize his antics.

Although I laugh at my husband for mumbling, when I blog, it sometimes feels like I'm the one mumbling. Blogging is a great outlet for me personally and creatively so I continue to do it, but at times I wonder if anybody is really "listening". As long as my friend the stats counter shows me that people are still logging in, I suppose I'll continue to listen for the Whos.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I'm No Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart, But...

I'm no Rachael Ray or Martha Stewart, but...I'm sure trying my best these days.

You see, my dad usually cooked for us while we were growing up and always seemed to be able to throw together a great meal with little effort. I never tried to learn his recipes because dad just "knew" what to put in the pot. There really wasn't a rhyme, reason or recipe to follow. Then, I met Eric and his family. Eric's no slouch in the cooking department either and his mom might as well be the second coming of Martha Stewart (she may not be too happy that I said that, but I only speak the truth).

When I first met Eric I would try cooking, but my meals always lacked a little something (this wasn't just Eric's perception, they really did). Sometimes the meal would be bland or just wouldn't turn out for one reason or another, but sometimes it really was just a preference thing on my husband's part. I once put salad into a freshly dishwashed, still -warm salad bowl and another time, I made spaghetti, but instead of serving up the noodles and sauce separately, I mixed them together and dished them out. To some of you, these incidents may seem petty, but I'm sure there are a few of you reading this who would have been just as appalled as Eric was when I had the audasity to serve these items to him.

Needless to say, after a few flops in the kitchen I decided to hang up my chef's hat. There were a few basic meals that I could pull off and we'd either eat those, he'd cook, we would go out to eat, or we'd count on our parents to feed us. I know it sounds pathetic, but I cooked so infrequently that we usually had so little in our pantry that my in-laws would have to bring over thier own ingredients if they were going to be having dinner at our house.

Even though it wasn't a competition, I couldn't "compete" with the chefs in the family and I didn't have the time or inclination to work on becoming America's Top Chef. In the last few years, thanks mostly to the inspiration of the Food Network and Rachael Ray's "Everyday" Magazine, I've successfully become a little more handy in the kitchen. Now that we're in Alaska and I'm not working, I have more time on my hands, so I have decided that I need to start cooking more. I've really tried to step outside of my comfort zone.

The first big leap from my cooking comfort zone was back in January. Eric turned 40 and the occasion called for a cake of some kind. One of our family favorites is a homemade Angel Food Cake that his mom usually whips up. My mother-in-law loves her son, but she wasn't making the trip out here to snowy and cold Alaska for his b-day. It was my job to come up with something! I know baking and cooking are two separate things, but I don't really bake either. I picked up the phone and called my mother-in-law to ask for her Angel Food Cake recipe and to inquire if it was something I should even try to attempt. Eric immediately thought it would be too difficut for me to pull off, but his mom had more confidence. She emailed me the recipe and "held my hand" over the phone lines while I muddled my way through the process. To my pleasure, and everyone else's (including Eric), the cake turned out AWESOME! I even topped it with homemade whipped cream and fresh strawberries. YUMMY! The only minor problem was that the cake didn't stand up quite as high as it usually does when his mom makes it. There were several reasons it may have happened, but it still looked and tasted great. As a matter of fact, I'm gonna' make the cake again at the end of the month. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

After my success with the cake I had newfound resolve and a craving for homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup. I went to several different websites for a recipe and settled on one from Recipezar. I followed the posted recipe, but like a real chef, took the liberty to add a few of my own seasonings to it. The soup was quick, easy and so delicious even our kids loved it! I have to say, I impressed myself with that one!

This week for dinner, I decided our menu would consist of recipes I have come across in magazines lately. I pulled some from Rachael Ray, Good Housekeeping, and Family Circle. So far, we have had Balsamic Chicken with roasted cauliflower, Beef and Lemongrass Soup, Steamed Crab (this wasn't from a magazine), Sun-Dried-Tomato Chicken Roll-Ups, and tonight I'm making Pork Marsalla.

I'm still no Racheal Ray or Martha Stewart, but all of the meals this week have been ones I would definitely make again and they have inspired me to keep trying. "Knock on wood", I haven't burnt anything and I haven't made anyone barf, so I must be doing alright! I'll keep ya' posted.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mother of the Year

I like to think that I'm a pretty good mom, but admittedly, I will most likely never win an award for "Mother of the Year" (and I'm really o.k. with that). I do my best, but I am only human. I lose my temper sometimes, I don't always follow through with punishment or rewards, I let my kids drink soda (I know that's pretty irresponsible, hee hee), and we eat out more than we probably should. All of my faults aside, my kids are healthy, well adjusted, and pretty happy. That's all we can really ask for as parents, so I guess I haven't traumatized my kids too much and so far, I've done alright by them. That was, until Friday, when I thought I had blown it BIG TIME! To most, this wouldn't have been a big deal, but to a mom who doesn't want to let down her child, I almost blew it I tell ya'!

A couple of years ago, Kaiden took art classes and much to our delight, he was quite good at it. Each class, he would draw and paint a new still life picture using a variety of medium. At the end of each class we would pay an additional couple of dollars to have his creation matted, with the intent to one day frame some of his artwork. Eric and I love many of the pieces, but my parents really think they're the best thing since sliced bread. I'm working on putting together our guest bedroom and because my mom has been encouraging me to frame the pictures for quite some time, I thought that my parents would really be tickled if I was able to frame and display some of Kaiden's pieces in that room. They're coming to visit in June.

I was blessed with many great attributes, but patience is not one of them. I wanted the artwork framed and put up this weekend, so on Friday I went to Michaels to buy some frames. Custom framing can be such a racket, so I was trying to do it on my own, using standard size frames. Of course, the paper Kaiden used wasn't a standard size and even with the matting, the pictures were still an odd size, 12x16. The 12x16 frames I was able to find were 37.99/each. Even with a 40% off coupon I was still looking at about $23.00/frame. Against my better judgement, in an effort to save money and get the frame I wanted, I decided I would remove the matting and cut down a couple of the pictures (my mom is going to hyperventilate when she reads this). I did my thing, cut down two of my favorite pictures, and......the pictures looked HIDEOUS!!!!

I was disappointed almost to the point of wanting to barf! I didn't dare show Kaiden because I ddin't want him to be disappointed and freak out. I didn't want to show Eric because I didn't want him to be disappointed and freak out. I put the pictures in the guest room on the floor until I could figure something out. As luck would have it, we bought a bed for that room over the weekend and I forgot to hide the pictures! By now, it shouldn't surprise you when I tell you that I didn't ask Eric for his opinion, but regardless, he didn't hold back. When he saw the pictures he told me they didn't look very good in the frames they were in and proceeded to tell me how they could be framed to look better. What he didn't realize was that I had cut the pictures down to 8x10! He wasn't very happy with me, but could tell that I was devastated, so he didn't push it. I told him I had an idea to fix them, but he had pretty much decided that I had ruined them for good. He offered to take them to work for his office, so they could be displayed and I wouldn't have to look at them. I wasn't ready to give up yet (stubborness and persistence were two attributes I was blessed with)!

I went to Michaels and bought a fancy decorative mat that is made for an 8x10 picture, but requires an 11x14 frame. I bought an 11x14 frame. I put the picture in the mat, put the mat in the frame, and I held my breathe! I turned the frame over and...the picture looks AMAZING! I didn't mess it up after all and I think it was the perfect decision. Maybe I could be "Mother of the Year" after all!

The picture I've been referring to is the teapot that is pictured above. I haven't re-framed the other picture yet. I also took a picture of another of my favorite pieces just to show the contrast. The pineapple is still in all of its 12x16 glory, in its original matting, but compared to the teapot I think it looks a little unfinished and dare I say, a little boring even. Eric loves the teapot again too, but he thinks the pineapple looks fine as it is. He says their just "different" pieces. What do you think? I'm open to opinions. I think that in the future, instead of cutting the original, I'll make a color copy of the artwork and cut that up. That way, I can keep the originals intact. Good idea?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Now That's What I'm Talkin' About

As you know from following along with my blog, the weather for about the last month has been down right WACKY!!! I love "weather", so when we moved to Alaska, I enjoyed the snow that welcomed us. I could handle the short, dark days because at least it was snowing and there was appropriate weather to go with the gloom. I have absolutely hated the weather we've been having. It's winter for Pete's sake!!!! I don't want it to be in the 40s with gusty winds, sunshine, and melting sludge. I want it to be cold and I want the snow to be coming down until summer (well, at least well into Spring). The kids haven't had enough snow to go sledding for weeks now. I think it's about time that I have a heart to heart with Mother Nature!

Back in mid-February the boys were supposed to take snowboarding lessons at a local ski resort. They were going to go on a school holiday. I had paid $100 for each of the kids for a day of lessons from 9:30-3:30. The cost included instruction, lift ticket, lunch, and rentals. I thought it was a pretty good deal compared to what we would have paid in CA. Unfortunately, the darn winds kicked up that day and the resort was closed down for the day. I agreed to have the money transferred to a day during Spring Break when the boys could try again. Today was going to be the Big Day, but of course, we had winds AGAIN earlier in the week and it was not looking promising.

I opened the blinds this morning and to my pleasure and to the pleasure of two little boys, there was no wind and snow was actually falling! The boys were so excited that they were going to be able to go snowboarding, FINALLY! We took the short drive (about 4 miles) to the resort, I got the boys situated with their equipment, I met the instructor and they were off for the day. It was so interesting because the resort wasn't the slightest bit crowded, there were mainly school aged kids there, and a lot of the kids had just been dropped of for the day without any adult supervision. In California I would have never left my kids at the slopes for the day while I went home to clean house. Here, it was perfectly comfortable and acceptable to drop them for the day.

I picked the boys up at 3:30 and they were none-the-worse-for-wear. They had a blast and are begging to go again! Logan is pretty athletically inclined by nature and snowboarding was no exception. Kaiden did fine too, but it didn't come quite as easily for him. The funny thing is, in no time I'm sure I'll be telling you all that Kaiden is snowboarding circles around Logan. Kaiden will actually want to put the time and effort into perfecting the skill, while Logan will be happy to know that he tried and that he could do it and will be satisfied with that. I'm not saying that I have my kids pegged, but....I guess only time will tell, but for right now, they both had fun and that's all that really matters, right?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Cal Worthington and His Dog Spot

As you can all imagine, I sometimes find myself justifying life in Alasaka. I even blog about it and tell all of you it's not "back woods" here. Well, the one aspect of life here that isn't quite up to par with the lower 48 is television. Let me just say that digital cable has kept me sane!

It's not so much the programs that are ghetto, but rather the poor quality "local feed" and the commericals. Oh, the commercials!!!! At the risk of dating myself...while growing up in California a very frequently shown commercial was for Worthington Ford. Good ol' Cal Worthington and his dog spot. As a matter of fact, my brother may deny this, but one of my clearest memories from childhood is my brother and I running around my grandma's house singing right along with Cal's commercials "pussy cow, pussy cow, pussy cow...." You see, the commerical actually said "go see Cal, go see Cal, go see Cal...", but becasue Cal had a different "dog" Spot each commerical, which was often an exotic cat, our lyrics made perfect sense to us.

Prior to moving to Anchorage, it had been years since I had thought about Cal Worthington and his dog, Spot. One day recently, I was watching local television and low and behold, I was watching a commerical for Worthington Ford. In my mind, as a youngster, I always thought Cal looked about 80, he looks exactly the same NOW (only he probably really is 80 now), and his commercials are still unmistakenly "Worthington Ford". The main difference is that he's now in Anchorage, not CA, and he no longer has a "dog Spot" or the catchy jingle, but I still have the luxury of seeing good ol' Cal on t.v. a few times a week.

I know you'll find this hard to believe, but Worthington Ford commercials are not even my favorite commercials that air here. My true favorite is for a company called Mattress Ranch. My very favorite Mattress Ranch commercial is for Fur Rondy, but unfortunately, it's not online yet. Kaiden says, it's creepy, but I just think it's hilarious. Prepare to be entertained and to laugh your butt off at the fact that commericals of this caliber really do air on television in this day and age. Thanks to today's technology, I am able to present to you, my second favorite Mattress Ranch commerical (take note of the Sponge Bob tie):