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!