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.