Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I Think I'm Losing It

When I decided to go back to school, I wasn't really worried. I figured I would have all day to do what I needed to and life would be good. Yeah, right! Now, in addition to playing dad when Eric is out of town (which he has been quite a bit lately), helping the kids with homework and special projects, doing laundry and housework, and playing taxi, I get to do my own homework and study for my own tests. Needless to say, I've been a bit stressed out and overwhelmed lately. I know it's life and that this phase will pass, but right now, I sometimes wonder what I was thinking.

As luck would have it, I ended up getting stuck with a survey type math class, (which encompasses algebra, geometry, and other yucky stuff) as my first class! Math is bad enough for me when I'm learning it in a classroom setting, but it's a whole 'nother ballgame when I am having to essentially teach myself. Fortunately, I am almost done with one math class and have only one more to go. Thanks to my brother-in-law, who lives all the way in California, I may just be able to pull it off. I love my brother-in-law!

Don't get me wrong, even though I think I'm losing it sometimes, there is a silver lining. One of the upsides to my current situation is that, now that we have lived in Alaska for close to two years, I actually have some very good friends I can rely on to pick up some of the pieces for me. I finally feel like it's not just Eric and I against the world. I have friends to go to the gym with, friends to drink and have dinner with, friends to shop with, friends who rely on me to help them out in a pinch, and friends I can rely on to help us out in a pinch. In that aspect, life is good!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Hiatus Is Over

After a long hiatus and a little soul searching with regard to whether or not I should continue with this blog, I am back in action. I had a severe case of writer's block over the summer and quite frankly, my life just isn't all that exciting on a daily basis. Friends and family have asked about the blog from time to time and have wanted me to continue posting, but it started to feel more like work than like fun. I suppose I just needed a little time to reflect, refresh and regroup.

So, here I am, the kids are back in school (Logan is in 7th grade and Kaiden is in 5th) and so am I. Yep, you read that correctly! After many years of talking about it, I have finally decided to go back to school to finish my degree. After doing a ton of research on universities, I decided to take the non-traditional approach. I am attending the only accredited, fully-online university in the country. It is based out of Utah and is called Western Governors University. Not only is the learning structure non-traditional, but the tuition structure is as well. By attending WGU, I should have my degree faster than I would in a traditional program and I will save thousands of dollars. I started school on September 1 and someday, when I'm done, I'll have a Bachelors Degree in Inter-Disciplinary Studies. In a nutshell, I'll be able to teach if I want to. I am excited to be back in school, but overwhelmed as well. I know I'll be fine, I just have to figure things out and get into the groove.

I can't believe we have been in Alaska almost two years! The time hasn't always flown by, but I still can't believe it will be two years in December. I also can't believe that I am already stressing out about Christmas! I have spent many evenings recently on the computer, pouring over the Alaska Airlines website, stressing out about how I can please everyone during the holidays without going broke in the process (and I'm not even referring to gift giving). There are some amazing advantages to living in Alaska, but air travel is not one of them. I am finding it incredibly difficult to justify using thousands of frequent flyer miles and still paying $1000+ to get the four of us to Southern California for the holidays. On one hand, it wouldn't be bad staying here for a White Christmas, but I don't know if I could deal with the guilt. The family isn't pressuring us (they don't have to, the pressure is inherently there), but I'm still overwhelmed by the whole notion. We have the only two grandkids on Eric's side of the family and the only other grandchild on my side of the family is just over a year old. Since the boys have been old enough to "get" Christmas, the family aspect of the holiday has always been an awful lot about them. I feel like if we aren't with the family for the holidays I have single-handedly robbed both sets of parents of that joy. Let me tell you, that's A LOT of pressure for one girl to take!!!!!

As I'm sure you've gathered from reading this, unless you have a ton of money, you've lived here your whole life and/or your family is here, life in Alaska doesn't really get easier. Aspects of life certainly get easier (I now have a great support system, some wonderful friends, a Kohls, and the third Target in the state, opening near us soon), but there are constantly new and different challenges. I know Eric, the boys and I are better for our experiences here, but it certainly isn't always a day on the river fishing!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sleepless in Montana

Last night, probably because my dear husband was flying on a red-eye, I didn't sleep very well. I know it's weird, but when Eric is flying over night, I don't sleep well until I know his plane has landed. He didn't text me when the plane landed, so needless to say, I was up at 2:00 a.m., again at 4:30 a.m. and then I was up for good in the 5:00 a.m.hour.

The upside to not sleeping is that I was awake during the sunrise here in good ol' Big Arm, Montana. It was beautiful and the old saying, "the early bird catches the worm" was definitely true this morning. By the way, these pictures were taken off the deck of my in-law's house, AMAZING!!!!




Then, later today, mainly because Logan would most likely never get out to exercise unless by cohersion or force, we ventured out to the Kerr Dam. Some of the gates were open and it was pretty tremendous. My favorite part about observing this dam is that it is wild when the gates are open, but just above it, the water is calm and serene.



Friday, June 12, 2009

Where Do I Even Begin?






It has been a month since I last blogged....WOW! I guess I can thank Facebook for that! Although I enjoy blogging and sharing the latest happenings with friends and family, I have to have something worthy of posting and then I have to be motivated to do so. Sometimes it's just easier to hop on Facebook and post pictures and/or a quick "status" update and then be on my way. I do, however, enjoy my creative outlet here, on this blog and I like being able to share in-depth about certain happenings. I also understand that there are people who read this blog who are not on Facebook and I want all of you to still be able to know about what's going on. So, in an effort to satisfy everyone...here goes nothin'.......

The boys and I are currently in Montana (Eric stayed behind to work and enjoy some of Alaska's summer. He'll join us later in the month.), on an extended visit with Eric's parents. After our cruddy summer in Alaska last summer, I vowed to get the heck out of there as soon as I could this summer. Of course, I'm sure it was because I made plans to leave, but the weather in Anchorage has been second to none so far this summer! Go figure! We are, however, having pretty decent weather here (in the mid-70s, but we've had some showers), the scenery is amazingly beautiful here too, and I have two extra sets of hands to help with the kids and mostly, to help keep them occupied. I really can't complain.

If you have never looked into travelling to Alaska, you may not be aware that it is generally crazy expensive to fly there, regardless of where you live. Although we have friends who would love to make the trip, financially, it's not always doable. Knowing that I was going to be in Montana this summer, I thought it would be a less expensive way to spend some time with a few of my girlfriends from CA. I started researching cheap flight options. I knew that there is a low-cost airline called Allegiant Air, that flies in and out of Missoula and Kalispell, so I went online to check it out and to my shock, the rates were only $19 each way out of LAX! I quickly invited my friends Sydney (whom I have known since kindergarten) and Amanda (whom I met 10 years ago when I first started waitressing at Anaheim Stadium)to come for a visit.

The girls arrived in Montana two days after the boys and I did and they left on Wednesday to return home. Their visit was short (at least I was sad to see them go rather than pushing them out the door), but we did quite a bit. We insisted that the boys tag along with us on some of our treks and for others, the boys stayed behing with grandpa and Nana. I think the highlight of the trip for both of the girls was going to Glacier National Park. It is an absolutely AMAZING place to visit. We even had the good fortune of coming upon a moose who was enjoying a little alone time in the cool glacier water. It was something I hadn't been lucky enough to see, even in Alaska. It was also funny to find out that although Amanda is not the type to camp in a tent or to even enjoy hiking, she's a National Park nerd! She even has a little passport book that she is obsessed about having stamped at each park she visits! I think I'm gonna' have to get my hands on one of those.

I have several friends back in California who I talk to on a regular basis and/or chat with on Facebook, but it is really a different experience to spend time with them in person. For me, it was a feeling of still being connected and feeling like I belong somewhere. Although I have friends in Alaska and I am starting to forge closer relationships there, it still feels more like a place we live and not necessarily a place I belong. The longer we're in Alaska the more it feels like home, but I will always continue to value the relationships I have with my friends in California.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

No Place I'd Rather Be

If you have been following my blog with any regularity, you know that last summer was pretty excrutiating for me. Considering that I'm a California girl, I was not prepared for overcast skies and temperatures below 70 all summer long. Of course, everyone around here was quick to say that our summer was abnormally cold. I wasn't buying any of it! All I know is that I needed sunshine desperately and I didn't get it.

At the risk of jinxing the rest of our spring and summer, let's fast forward to today, April 29. Already, we have had more amazing, sunny, warm (temps in the 50s) days than we had all last summer. I am LOVING it! Aside from the fact that our family and close friends are thousands of miles away, there is no place I would rather be on days like this. There is something breathtakingly spectacular about Alaska when the sun is shining. I can honestly say, that I would take a sunny day in the 60s, here in Alaska over a California day in the 90s or 100s anytime.



Monday, April 20, 2009

More Rumblings





Although Mount Redoubt Volcano hasn't been in the news much in the last month, we are still seeing activity. Today, I was coming home from running errands and saw a ton of cars pulled off on the side of the highway. I thought maybe there was an accident and a car had gone over the guardrail. I saw a friend of mine on the side of the road and called her cell to see what the commotion was. There wasn't an accident, Mount Redoubt had a massive steam cloud above it, it was very clear across the inlet, and the view was magnificent. Everyone had pulled over to take pictures!

I ran home to grab my camera and instead of heading back to the highway, I walked down our street. Unfortunately, Eric is in Adak and has our better camera with him, but my picture will give you an idea of what I could see.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It's All About Kaiden

Several days ago, Kaiden decided I should post a video of him doing some yoyo tricks. I tried to put the video on, but for some reason I kept getting an error message. Yesterday, I had Kaiden do another performance for me, so I could try my luck again. When he was finished, he decided that I should do a whole blog post about him and it should include pictures of some of his free-hand drawings. Kaiden is far more talented than I could ever hope to be, so how could I decline?

Without further ado, here is a short video of our yoyo maniac:

video

If you are at all familiar with Sponge Bob, you should have no problem recognizing these guys:




Here is an anime guy and a little Calvin and Hobbs:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's Officially Shorts Weather

My theory with regard to the gym is to get in and get out as quickly as possible, with as little fuss as possible. Although we belong to a rather "she-she" gym and it would not be frightening to shower there, that is not my thing. I just don't see the beauty of having to pack up my hair, make-up supplies, and clothes all in the name of using the shower at the gym rather than the shower at my house. Furthermore, chances are I would forget something at home or the outfit I packed would not be the outfit of choice once it was on my body. Showering at the gym just isn't for me.

I believe in arriving at the gym in my workout clothes and leaving the gym in my workout clothes. Today, I decided to be wild and crazy and opted to wear shorts to exercise in. It really isn't a big deal for me to wear shorts when I workout, regardless of how cold it is outside, because I just hot-foot it from the car into the gym and I don't even have time to get cold. It was about 30 degrees this morning and as I walked past the front desk of the gym, in my shorts, I noticed a gentleman casually looking at me. He wasn't checking me out. His stare made me think that he was baffled by something. He then commented to me that I must be a "real Alaskan" because I am able to come in from outside, wearing shorts. I chuckled and explained that I an Alaskan I am not, and that I am actually from California. Go figure!

By the time I had arrived back home, it was about 40 degrees out. I showered and had to get ready to meet a few girlfriends for lunch. As I was picking out my outfit, I decided that if I wore shorts today, maybe I could convince myself and everyone around me that Spring is in fact here. I put on a blouse, a pair of shorts, a jacket, my sunglasses, some flip-flops and was out the door! Today, my friends, was the perfect day (or should I say "few hours") for shorts. Now, I guess the only thing left to do is get my toes painted. Maybe this weekend!

Monday, April 6, 2009

I Live For This

Today was probably the best day I have had since moving to Alaska almost a year and a half ago. There has been nothing overly spectacular about today, however, I have felt downright giddy at times. After a bit of contemplation and a little time spent on the treadmill, I now know why today is so great...the sun is shining brightly, it is 40 degrees outside for the first time in I don't know how many months, I went shopping at our brand spankin' new (one and only) Kohls today, and the baseball season is officially under way! I ask you, what's not to love about a day like today?

As you could have guesssed, the highlight of my day was exploring our brand new Kohls store. It opened April 1, but I wasn't crazy enough to venture over to it until yesterday. I had Eric and the kids in tow, so I knew that if I really wanted to look around and appreciate all that is Kohls, I would have to go back on my own, today. It is in the same shopping center as Target, so it's a little haul from here, but so worth it. We have so few shopping options that any new chain store is a welcome sight. Our Kohls is like any other Kohls you might find in the Lower 48, but I think it may be just a tad bigger. Although I would love to have the store a little closer to our house, the good news is that a little distance keeps the spending under control.

The second best thing about today was the weather. Although we do have a slight chance of snow/rain showers in the forecast over the next few days, dare I say, Spring is finally here! We may even see 45 degrees by Wednesday. I am so excited by the notion of sunshine and a little warmth that I can hardly contain myself! I have come to believe that you can't really appreciate 70, 80, and 90 degree temperatures until you have experienced months of temperatures in the 30s and below. I do have to admit though, that I don't think I'll ever appreciate temperatures in the 100s. Once is gets above 90, it's just too hot for me! I suppose I won't have to worry about that, as long as we are living in Alaska. For now, I'll continue to pray for temperatures in the 70s.

The final highlight of my day was the opening of the 2009 baseball season. I was especially happy because the Yankees were losing to the Orioles while I was watching the game at the gym. I love baseball, especially the Angels. For the record, I am not a "bandwagoner" either. I grew up down the street from Anaheim stadium and have been a fan since I was young. As a matter of fact, one of the first places I remember being able to go without a parent chaperone was to the ballpark. My friend's parents had season tickets and many summer afternoons our parents would drop up us before and pick us up after the games. That was back in the days of Reggie Jackson, Brian Downing, and Bobby Grich. WOW! Later, after I had children, I spent 7 baseball seasons working almost every home game that was played at the stadium, waitressing in the seats for the season ticket holders. What a crazy, but fun and lucrative experience. Thanks to that job, I scored some the of the best seats in the house (while working, of course) to every play-off and World Series game the Angels played during those years. I will never forget the sounds of the ballpark when the Angels won the World Series. GO HALOS!!!!!!!

What a day...I live for this!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Cooking up Controversy

Now that we are quite settled in Alaska, I find myself with a little more time on my hands than I have before. In an attempt to stay out of the work force, but to actually stay sane while staying at home, I have decided recently that maybe it's time I actually learn how to cook. Don't get me wrong, I cook enough to get by and I haven't killed anyone or made anyone sick with my cooking (at least nobody has had the heart to tell me I have). I would, however, like to step out of my cooking comfort zone. I would like to make my own spaghetti sauce, rather than always use the jar stuff. I would like to make my own meatballs, not just purchase Costco's frozen ones. You get the picture.

The first step for me, was to find a cookbook that "spoke" to me. Over the past year and a half, I have not tried to hide my obsession with The Biggest Loser from all of you. I love that darn show and have blogged about it more than once. So, it seemed natural that I would gravitate to their series of cookbooks. I wasn't necessarily looking for a weight loss cookbook, but rather, a cookbook that had variety (I'm tired of making the same 5 meals), lower calorie, filling, easy to prepare meals. The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook fit that bill, so I bought it.

Excited by the recipes, and anxious to get moving on them before I lost my desire, I decided I would make spaghetti and meatballs. I went to Costco with my list of necessities and wouldn't you know, I ran into a friend of mine. I was so excited about my new venture that I shared with her that I was making homemade meatballs and sauce from a recipe that I had gotten out of The Biggest Loser Cookbook. In my mind, I was saying, "I got a great new cookbook and I'm excited to try this super easy recipe that sounds yummy". From my friend's reaction, I could tell that she heard, "I think I need to lose weight, so I bought The Biggest Loser Cookbook and now I'm going to try a few of the recipes". She proceeded to give me a hard time and to gently admonish me as to why I don't need to lose weight.

After Costco, I headed to our local grocery store to purchase the items I would need in smaller quantaties. I still had to pick up a few ingredients to complete my recipe, but didn't have them written down. I grabbed my cookbook for reference and took it into the store with me. As luck would have it, I ran into another friend (also a friend of the gal I ran into in Costco). I didn't say a word about my cookbook, nor did I hide it. Sure enough, my friend honed in on the fact that I had The Biggest Loser Cookbook in my cart and she too, started giving me grief!

I do admit that like many women, I wouldn't be disappointed if I lost about 8 pounds, but that really wasn't the point of my cookbook selection. I had no idea my cookbook would create so much controversy. I suppose I should be flattered that my gilfriends think I look great as I am, but this was really just about me learning how to do something new and being somewhat health conscious in the process. It wasn't about me feeling like I NEED to lose weight.

I am proud to say that I have already made meatballs, spaghetti sauce, peppered chop steak, chicken parmesan, Tex-Mex mini frittatas, and a variety of quick, easy, and healthy lunches and snacks. Everything has been delicious, it has all been new stuff for me, and I have made it ALL BY MYSELF! I am pleased to say that we have all had plenty to eat everyday (3 meals and 2 snacks + dessert some nights and even a little libation here and there) and the kids have even liked most of it. Big deal if we end up losing a few pounds in the process!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Burn Baby Burn

As many of you know first hand, or can imagine, part of growing up in California can mean lots and lots of sun exposure. Not only sunny days, but also sun burns. I have to admit, I have had more than my fair share of sunburns. Not only am I fair skinned, but quite honestly, I was plain dumb as a kid. In my defense, when I was growing up, skin cancer was just starting to become the buzz. Also, there were times when I would use sunscreen, but who knew you were supposed to reapply?

The worst sunburn I have ever had, I got on a beautiful, sunny, April Day, while on the ski slopes of So. Cal. I was in my early 20s and had no idea that I could get a burn from the sun's reflection off of the snow. My face ended up swelling to the point that I looked almost like I had Down's Syndrome! After the swelling had persisted for several days, I finally went the doctor and he told me I had second degree burns on my face!

Needless to say, I have not had a sunburn in about 15 years and to date, my children have NEVER had a sunburn. For me, that burn was a huge wake up call. My burn was so bad that when I walked out of that doctor's office I knew that I would have to pay attention to my skin for the rest of my life. For many years now, I have been hyper-vigilant in paying attention to my skin and my husband's with regard to moles and any random small changes in appearance. Well, some time in November or December, I noticed a new little spot, the size of a mole, had developed on my right temple. I waited to see if it would go away and it did not, so I made an appointment to see our local "it" dermatologist. In Alaska, when it comes to health care, there are only a handful of specialist type caregivers. The few we have are either top notch or ones you wouldn't send your worst enemy to. There are not many who fall in the middle, so you want the "it" doctors when it comes to the serious stuff and often, there is quite a wait.

The earliest the dermo. could see me was late January. I made the appointment, but unfortunately, had to cancel at the last minute. I rescheduled, but I couldn't be seen until mid-March, so I waited.....When I was seen in March, the doctor took two biopsies, one from the spot on my temple and one from a spot on my lower calf. The office called with the result of the biopsies this past Monday and I was informed that the one on my leg was benign, but that the one on my temple was in fact "cancerous". The good news was, this type of skin cancer is only superficial and it will not infiltrate my body. Obviously though, it did need to be removed.
Generally, the doctor is booked out 4-6 weeks, but they happened to have a cancellation for this morning at 7:15, YIKES! I took the appointment, of course. I didn't think it was appropriate to wait 4-6 weeks because I needed my beauty sleep, although I'm sure I could have justified it.

A few of my girlfriends questioned if I was nervous, considering the doctor was going to be cutting my face. I told them I wasn't, mainly because I didn't see that I had a choice. I have some form of skin cancer (they told me what it is, but I didn't write it down) that needs to be removed and I am seeing "the" dermatologist in Alaska. What other option did I have than to lay on his operating table and take it like a real woman? Then, as I'm laying there, waiting for the procedure to begin, the doctor casually mentions to me that the "spot" is near a nerve and that there is a very small possibility that the nerve would be damaged during the surgery and that I would lose the ability to raise my right eyebrow. GREAT, just a minor detail! What the hell was I going to do now? I thought about jumping off the table and running out the door, but then the rational part of my brain took over. I reminded myself that I was being treated by the only dermatologist in Alaska that I would want to go to, therfore, I really didn't have any other choice. I sat there and took it like the woman I am.

Of course, Eric joked with me on the way out of the house that I was going to return looking like Frankenstein! I laughed at his comment, until I was given a mirror to check out the "incision". An incision was the doctor's polite way of say "gaping hole". Although the hole was only about the diameter of a pencil eraser, it was about as deep as one too. I was shocked! In my mind, he was just going to scrape the spot. I didn't know he was actually going to need a shovel to dig out the spot. He did stitch me up nicely though, and I'm sure the scar will heal just fine. Plus, it's sort of in my hairline, so it isn't that big of a deal.

You should see how big the dressing is that they put on me! It really seems dramatic and RIDICULOUS! I cracked up when I looked into the mirror post-surgery, just as I was getting ready to walk into Bed Bath and Beyond. I thought I might scare everyone away, but I opted to go in regardless. For the record, the cashiers were very polite and did their best not to stare.

The moral of all of this is...although my situation was best case scenario and things could have been far more serious (and I'm honestly not freaked out by it), but this kind of stuff doesn't just happen to "other people". It is important for us all to pay attention to our body. I was told today that there is a less than 1% chance that "cancer" will develop in the same spot again, but now that I've had it, there is a 30% chance that I will have more spots down the road. They said to keep an eye out for any new spots or sores (ie: a pimple) that don't heal within a few weeks and for now, I have to go back for check-ups every 6 months. The upside is, I noticed this spot early and on my own, so I'm doing my job!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Redoubt Overload

I won't bore you with too many more details with regard to Volcano Watch '09, however, I did want to share a few pictures with you all. The pictures of the actual plume and ash cloud were taken by one of Eric's co-workers who happened to be on his way to Kenai, which is quite a bit closer to Redoubt than we are.





Here are a few pictures of the aftermath at our house Sunday morning. If you can believe it, due to high winds around here, things looked far worse later in the afternoon, once the winds picked up. The good news is, it snowed a few inches overnight last night, so things don't look quite so nasty and we haven't had a big eruption today. Keep your fingers crossed!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ashes Ashes It All Comes Down

And now, the news you have all been waiting for.....THE ASH HAS LANDED! It's official, our snow is now gray and we can say that we have been affected by the eruption of Redoubt Volcano. If you enjoy the smell of sulfur, it ain't no big thing!

The wierdest part is that we can be on volcano watch on and off for the next several months. I guess I should start saving for a new air filter for my car. Let's be real, even a volcano isn't going to keep me homebound. I also suppose my contact lenses won't see the light of day for a while. Oh well, such is life when you live in Alaska.

Friday, March 27, 2009

You Never Know Around Here

As you can imagine, Redoubt Volcano was the big topic of discussion around here. As I posted on my blog, the majority of the ashfall was 2-4 hours away from here, in Homer and the Kenai Peninsula. I did, however, hear this morning that if Redoubt erupts today, Anchorage could see trace amounts of ash. A series of eruptions occured around 11:00 p.m. last night and as I type this, I just heard news that we just had another one less than an hour ago. More eruptions could continue to happen for a long time. The last time Redoubt erupted like this, it continued on and off for several months. Crazy!

Considering that the powers that be thought the volcano was going to erupt a month or so ago, most people are prepared, if and when the ash hits Anchorage. I have to admit, I'm not one of those people. I know it's naive, but at this point, there is nowhere I absolutely have to be or any reason I absolutely have to go outside. Eric is prepared, so I figure I can just wait for him to get home before I go out or run errands. Or better yet, I can just run right out to the mall this morning to be there before we have another eruption and I can camp out there for the day if we have one while I'm there. Now that would be a bummer!

This morning, I woke up and was a bit surprised to see that is was snowing! So much for Spring break-up! On a beautiful, clear day (usually as the sun goes down), we can see Redoubt from our bedroom window. I thought I'd take a picture of the view for you all to see that there is really nothing to see even though a volacano is erupting, but...it's snowing and we're socked in. You would have no idea from looking at this picture that through the clearing between the houses, we often have an amazing view of the inlet and can see "forever". I still posted the picture though, so you can see that even living here, you wouldn't know a volcano was erupting nearby. I know they're famous last words, but "it's just not a big deal" YET!!!!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Ash For Anchorage

WE'RE STILL FINE!!!!!

So far, we have still been unaffected by the eruption of Redoubt. The ash from the eruption this morning is expected to land in Homer, which is several hours from here. To me, the fascinating part about all of this valcano activity is that although the eruption happened around 8:30 a.m. our time, the ash isn't expected to hit land until 12:00 p.m! Who knew? I, of course, didn't expect that ash to fall to the ground right away, but I think it's interesting that it will take hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A True Original

Although as parents, we love all of our children equally, it is very interesting to see how each child eventually finds it necessary to find or create his/her own role in the family and in life. Our younger son is at that stage right now, and I imagine he will probably be molding and refining for quite some time. At this moment in time (he is obviously still changing, growing, and maturing on a daily basis), if you asked me to describe Kaiden's personality, I would say that he is our rebel.

Kaiden, is incredibly bright (he can spew random facts about just about anything), but he is also happy to just skate through school while putting forth as little effort as possible. He is definitely not an authority pleaser, so a "C" is more than acceptable in his mind. Kaiden is also extremely gregarious. He prefers to be with people and he enjoys being the life of the party. When he's not out at a friend's house, I can often find him running around our house, singing Wierd Al songs, while doing yoyo or card tricks! For the record, he can yoyo far better than he can do card tricks or sing. Life with Kaiden is a rollercoaster ride at times!

Although Kaiden can tire out the best of 'em, I am enjoying watching him find his place not only in our home, but in society. He certainly keeps us on our toes. Now that I've shared a little background about Kaiden, I would like to share a couple of pictures with you:

This is the "hat" Kaiden chose to wear for Crazy Hat Day recently.






If he was going to wear a crazy hat, it was going to have to be over the top!


A week or two ago, I was asked if we had Scotch Tape. We did, and I told Kaiden where to get it. The next time I looked at him, much to my initial shock, he needed a shave!

Monday, March 23, 2009

No Doubt About Redoubt

FINALLY...after over a month of anticipation, we have what the experts are considering an "eruption" of Mt. Redoubt. For us here in Anchorage, it is business as usual at the moment. Schools will be in session, the airport is still allowing flights in and out (with a few exceptions) and there isn't even an ash fall warning. There is an ash advisory in the Susitna Valley, which is closer to the Wasilla area. Even there, they are expecting very little ash fall.

No worries here! We are fine and well for now. I'm even going out to blow snow this morning, considering we had about a foot of snowfall over the weekend and we were away skiing.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Things That "Bump" In The Night

In last week's installment of..."Only in Alaska":

A week ago, last Tuesday, at around 2:00 a.m., Eric and I were both startled from our sleep by a noise coming from our backyard! After we heard the noise a time or two, and after a brief discussion, we surmised that either someone was in our home or that there had to be a rogue moose outside (maybe even on the deck). Of course, if I had been home alone, I would have been certain that there was an intruder, but because both my dad and Eric were here, I was sure it was just a moose. Eric popped out of bed and opened up one of our bedroom windows. Nothing!

He decided the noise was coming from the other side of the bedroom, so he opened that window, looked down, and witnessed a moose chomping away on a limp tree branch that it had just broken of a young tree in our yard! Eric ran down stairs and opened up the kitchen window directly in front of where that darn moose was standing. They looked at each other for a few moments and eventually the moose mosied on. It just didn't mosey far! It decided to stop just to the side of the deck and proceeded to chomp on another of our trees! At that point, Eric came back upstairs and we continued watching the moose's antics from our bedroom windows. Eric knocked on the windows and yelled at the moose a few times, but that stinker definitely had it's own agenda. Imagine that! We went back to bed and in the morning I observed that the moose had broken and gnawed branches off of not just one tree, but off of FIVE different trees in our yard. DAMN MOOSE!

Now let's fast forward to this week's installment of..."Only in Alaska":

Logan was the first one out the door for school this morning. Just as Logan pulled the door closed behind him, Kaiden noticed that there was a "small" moose outside. No sooner had Kaiden mentioned the moose to me, the door opened back up. Logan was coming back in because he had now observed the moose as well. Now what?

We had two choices. I could put the kids in the car and drive them all the way around the block to the bus stop (walking would take them too long at this point), or they could risk it and just move quickly up the back hillside to the bus stop. If they walked up the back hill, the moose would be sure to see and hear them and there could potentially be a "mama" nearby, who would feel threatened by the kids' presence! I observed the moose and the situation and being the good mom that I am...I sent them out the back door, up the hill, as usual!

The baby eyed the boys and continued chomping away on nearby branches. The boys quickly scrambled up the hill and made it safely to the bus stop without incident, just as I knew they would. I was, however, also fairly certain that a "mama" must be somewhere nearby. I opened all of the blinds on that particular side of the house to see if I could spot her. Sure enough, after not too long, I saw the female camouflaged among the trees. We must have some tasty shrubbery in our yard, because those moose stuck around for over two hours!



Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's Rondy Time Again




I can't believe it has been a year since I first blogged about Fur Rondy. My how time flys! This year though, the boys and I have been fortunate to have my dad along for the festivities. Eric had been in Seattle, on business, since last Saturday and just got home this afternoon. Knowing that things were going to be too quiet around here while he was away, I invited my dad to come for a visit. I had totally forgotten about Fur Rondy and all that goes along with it, so it was a pleasant surprise when I realized there could actually be something to do while my dad is here. Today, we went to Ship Creek and checked out the snow sculptures. As you all know, I have a fascination with ice and snow sculptures, so I was especially impressed at the craftsmanship.





Next week, the Iditarod begins. I thought the ceremonial start, downtown, was going to be yesterday, so we ventured out in the snow to check it out. Once we arrived downtown, we quickly realized there was not an Iditarod start of any kind going on there. Instead, we caught a glimpse of a few hundred crazy people in costumes who were taking part in the Frostbite Footrace. They were also preparing for a "parade", but considering the fact that we come from California, I couldn't subject myself (or my kids, or my dad), to some backwoods, po-dunk parade. Needless to say, we left the falling snow and 20 degree temps for the comfort and warmth of our own home. I did, however, discover today that the ceremonial start for the Iditarod will be next week, so we'll try our luck again then.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Working Mom in Alaska

My friend Leslie forwarded an e-mail to me the other day that really hit home! As soon as I saw it, I knew it had to go on the blog. The whole scenario is something that could easily happen here. So, instead of forwarding the e-mail to everyone I know, I decided to post it here for you all to enjoy. Thanks to my sister-in-law for the assistance with downloading the picture.

Without further ado.....

Get a load of the picture a school-aged child created at school and proudly brought home for mom to see (be sure to read the parental response that is posted below the picture).


(Here's the reply the teacher received the following day)


Dear Mrs. Jones,
I wish to clarify that I am not now, nor have I ever been, an exotic dancer.
I work at Home Depot and I told my daughter how hectic it was last week before the blizzard hit. I told her we sold out every single shovel we had, and then I found one more in the back room, and that several people were fighting over who would get it. Her picture doesn't show me dancing around a pole. It's supposed to depict me selling the last snow shovel we had at Home Depot.
From now on I will remember to check her homework more thoroughly before she turns it in.
Sincerely,
Mrs. Smith

Friday, January 30, 2009

What Next????



Growing up and living in Southern California, there were plenty reminders that we were living in "God's Country". We had fires, floods, earthquakes, winds, mudslides and the list goes on an on. I used to think that someday I might leave California and the advantage of doing so would be to leave all of those lovely acts of God behind.

In a blog post (probably about a year ago) I remember sharing that when we got on the plane to move to Alaska, they were forecasting Santa Ana winds in So. Cal. Sitting on the plane, I turned to Eric and told him the one thing I for sure would not miss about California were the Santa Anas. Then, shortly after we arrived here in Anchorage, we had the luxury of experiencing our own "Santa Anas", only ours are called the Chinooks. Then, if you remember, back in November, the Chinooks hit so hard that we had gale force winds that took down a tree in our yard. As a matter of fact, we had such severe Chinooks and melting two weeks ago that schools were closed for THREE DAYS!!!!! It's Alaska for Pete's sake! Our kids went to school in hurrican grade winds, -18 temperatures two weeks prior and suddenly our schools were closed because it was too warm and we didn't know how to function?????

So, it's a little wind, a few sub-zero temperatures, a little ice, quite a bit of snow and then last weekend... it was an earthquake! The earthquake was not that big of a deal for us, considering we've experienced some doozies in California. The one we experienced last weekend felt like the ones that I felt growing up when they were centered in Palm Springs and we were living in Anaheim. We certainly shook a little, but it wasn't very alarming.

O.K., so now it has been a little wind, a few sub-zero temperatures, a little ice, quite a bit of snow, and an earthquake. What else could nature possibly throw at us? In a year, we have experienced it all...or so I thought. WRONG!!!! Now we are "preparing" (call me naive, but I'm not doing much to prepare) for the possible eruption of Redoubt Volcano, which sits approximately 100 miles from us, out in The Cook Inlet. (We actually have a view of Redoubt from our house). What I have learned about Alaska volcanos is that they don't spew lava, they throw violent ash, rocks and other particles thousands of feet into the air. The concern for the Anchorage area is the ash and projectiles. In the past, I have read that the debris has been so severe that it causes the most damage and injuries as it falls from the sky and hits people and things.

As of today, it has now been a little wind, a few sub-zero teperatures, a little ice, quite a bit of snow, and earthquake, and a possible volcano eruption! Who knew?????? The wierd beauty of it all, is that I am somewhat nostalgic and even a little sentimental about the oddities we have experienced here. I wouldn't trade the experiences we have had here in Alaska for anything. I sit here some days and think about the fact that I had to wait 35 years to experience some of the things we have in the past year and then I think about the fact that my kids are 9 and 11 and will have these memories and experiences to take with them throughout the rest of their lives.

We truly are blessed!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Joy of Boys


So, I'm sitting in the kitchen, surfing the internet. The kids are in the living room with the poor cat wrapped in a blanket, with only her head sticking out. Much to poor Guinness' chagrin, apparantly, they were playing some kind of game which involved her in the starring role.

This is the conversation I hear...

Logan: Just go get them Kaiden.

Kaiden: No!

Logan: Come on, just go get the guns.

Kaiden: No, I am not going to play some game where we have to shoot fake poop bombs
out of the air!

Logan: Fine, then we just won't play.

I don't know who got them, when they got them or how, but needless to say, the guns made it downstairs and the next thing I know the boys are shooting guns and talking about how they need to hurry because "the second wave of poo bombs will be coming any minute!"

Now I sit here, questioning how and why I was the one who ended outnumbered in this family.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Eric

Yesterday we celebrated Eric's 41st birthday! Considering the fact that I'm so young ;), 41 sure seems old! I have to tease him, because I know I'll be there soon enough and let's be real, he gives me endless grief about random stuff everyday.

At Eric's office, they have the option of taking their birthday as a floating holiday. Since he hasn't been in the office a whole lot recently (and because we don't have any snow to do anything fun at the moment), he opted to work. We did have an enjoyable family evening though. The highlight of which, at Eric's request, was a family poker game. He just knows that when he's playing poker against a nine year-old, an eleven year-old, and me, he's sure to win. Which, incidentally, he did! We did have fun though, at least until Logan, Kaiden and I lost interest. Because he was winning, Eric could have played all night long. Imagine that!

To Eric's credit, he would be perfectly happy with no gifts and no hoopla on his birthday, but that's not my style. I had been a bit under the weather all week and I had no idea what the heck I was going to get him, nonetheless, what we were going to do. I have learned that in Alaska, when you need a gift for a guy, and all else fails, Sportsmans Warehouse is key. Entering that store creates a whole new set of issues! It's like Toys R Us for the outdoors man. If you roam the aisles long enough, you are sure to walk out with less money than you walked in the store with. Yesterday was no exception! I went in empty handed and walked out with a pair of hunting boots (he just retired his old ones after about 15 years) and a fly fishing reel.

I think it's safe to say, the birthday was a success!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What Do You Get The Guy Who Has Everything?

Eric's birthday is tomorrow and I am truly STUCK! He, of course, says we'll just skip it this year. Let's be real, I'd never live that one down! So, now, I need your help. Do any of you have any brilliant, fun, or exciting last minute gift ideas?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Am In Awe

This morning, I have been sitting in my humble home, watching the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama. I am in awe and I am hopeful for our great country! As of today, Barack Obama is now our President, my President. As such, I feel it is my duty to support him. I will do so, and I hope and pray that he is able to hold up to his campaign promises. It's no secret that our country needs a serious economic overhaul right now and I hope that along with Congress, Barack Obama will be the catalyst for that change and more.

I have never really felt strongly about a president, but today, I know I have witnessed history. Not because our President is African-American, but because so many people have put their faith and hope in this one man, to change the future of our country for the better. Now that's pressure for ya'!

Here's to the next four years...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Schools in Alaska were closed for the last three days because of an usual January "break up" that created mass chaos. I decided that if the boys were going to be home, they might as well do some studying and work on some of their school projects.

I put the boys to work on their academic stuff and I proceeded to finish doing laundry upstairs. I had washed some delicate sweaters that needed to dry flat, so I hung them over the upstairs banister. As I was drapin the clothes over the banister, I heard Kaiden ask Logan to quiz him on the countries of South America. Kaiden was going through the map and methodically placing all of the city names with their corresponding dot on the map. First, Kaiden listed cities such as Rio De Janerio, and Buenos Aires. When he approached the dot for Lake Titicaca, he said the name, and then chuckled a bit. Face it, it is sort of a silly name to many of us Americans. The next city I heard Kaiden refer to was Crack-Ass. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt.

As you can imagine, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I then questioned what Kaiden had said and I repeated it to be sure I had heard him correctly. When I said it, the boys suddenly realized what Kaiden had said and how silly it was. of course, I had to explain that the city is Caracas not Crack-Ass, however, if it makes it easier for Kaiden to remember it for his test, then Crack-Ass it is!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Welcome To "MY" Alaska

As I type this, the maniacal wind in once again raging outside, keeping me from my sleep. Like last time, it has been blowing for hours and it is fierce and relentless. I have to admit, this is the part of living here that I am so completely and totally over! I thought for sure that after that last freak wind storm (the one when our tree blew down) it would be a very long time before experienced that kind of violent wind again. After all, it had been a very long time since winds like that had ravaged the community. How wrong I was!!!! A few short months was not nearly long enough to be re-living it.

I am siting inside our house right now, typing away and literally ducking as the wind hits the house, anticipating a fallen tree, a broken window or certainly a power outage! I've tried sleeping and even put in earplugs, but let's be real, I couldn't even pretend to not hear the wind roar. This is the part of living in Alaska that I had never heard about when I was living in The Lower 48 and the part the realtors don't warn you about before you purchase. Apparantly, although it doesn't necessarily seem like it, we live in an enclave on a hillside on The Turnagain Arm. I have learned that often times when we experience high winds, the rest of Anchorage is still calm and serene. I suppose, in hindsight, this is the price we pay for a good school and a great view. I guess we kind of sound like those people who live in Laguna Beach in CA. They experience fires, floods, and mudslides, but people still buy,build and re-build homes there. Let me tell you friends, I have learned my lesson and I will be asking about things more trivial things such as wind before we purchase our next home, whenever and wherever that may be.

So everyone, welcome to MY Alaska! In "MY" Alaska, we just spent the past three weeks living with temeperatures well below zero (the 7th longest cold spell on record). Then, two days ago, it literally went from zero and below, to 35 degrees. Wednesday, schools were even closed because we had such a quick and treacherous thaw that it was unsafe to travel on the slick, icy roads. Many streets were literally turned to ice rinks and were so bad that trucks with studded tires and four-wheel drive couldn't even get traction. The streets and ditches were littered with cars all day long! Needless to say, it wasn't your typical Wednesday around here. I am starting to wonder if "typical" really exists here in Alaska.

I am all about character building, but this is a bit ridiculous! It is currently 1:20 in the morning and all I want right now is a little peace and quiet so I can get some sleep. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Right On Cue


The other day in my "things I've learned" post, I made reference to the fact that seeing moose and bears in our yard never gets old. Well, Saturday morning, as if on cue, we woke up to find a moose just sunning in our side yard. It hung around for about an hour and then went on its way.

I got a kick out of the timing of it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Have Learned...

Now that we have lived in Alaska for a full year, I thought it would be appropriate for me to share with you some of the things I have learned.

I HAVE LEARNED THAT...

Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful year-round

Seeing moose and bears in your yard never gets old

Studded tires and 4 wheel-drive are worth their weight in gold

60 degrees is still too chilly for me to wear shorts

The body's need for sunshine and Vitamin D is under-rated

Provided I'm indoors the majority of the time, I will not turn into a popsicle in freezing temperatures

Nose hairs freeze almost instantly when it's below zero

I can leave Chapstick in the car, even in the summer, and I don't have to worry about it melting

There are more hunting and fishing rules than I could ever pretend to know

Not all salmon are the same

Moose and caribou are delicious and they DO NOT taste like chicken

Although it is "dark" during the winter, there is still a period of sunlight everyday

The sun does actually go down at some point in every 24 hour period, even in the summer

In winter, the clearer the sky, the colder the temperatures

We would be broke if we didn't have Costco

We are broke becuase we have Costco

Our children can't get enough of the snow

I love to watch it snow

Our family will be forever enriched because we have had the opportunity to live in Alaska

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Living in Intervals

I decided that since we are in a new year, I should have a new mantra. I have to confess, I didn't set out to come up with a theme for my life, but I was in the gym the other day, mindlessly working out (we all know what happens to me when I do that) and it just came to me. I've decided that I'm going to "live life in intervals".

If you think I'm whacked out, that's o.k. with me. Really though, if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. Here's my perspective...I hate the treadmill, the stair climber, the eliptical machine and lifting weights. I guess you can say, that I hate working out. The crazy thing is, I do it anyway. I was reflecting on that thought the other day while I was in the process of working out and I decided that I am able to go to the gym several days a week because everything I do there is in short intervals.

After all, I can do anything in the gym in 2 to 5 minute intervals. I can raise the incline on the treadmill and walk at some crazy pace for two minutes. I can run at some ridiculous speed for two minutes. I can climb the stair stepper at an uncomfortable rate for 15 second stints. Outside of the gym, I can be around people I don't like or agree with for short periods of time. I can perform a task that I don't enjoy as long as I know it will all be over soon. I can even eat something I don't particularly care for as long as I know I only have "x" number of pieces to swallow. I'm certainly not Super Woman, but I think you get the picture. I will even go out on a limb and say that many of you are probably the same way.

With my gym experience in mind, I decided that when I start to feel a little overwhelmed with the random things that occur in daily life, I can handle it all if I just think about it in terms of "intervals". I'm going to set aside a realistic amount of time to accomplish a task and then do whatever it is that needs to be done in that amount of time.

It sounds good in theory...doesn't it???? I'll let ya' know how it's working for me at a later date.

Monday, January 5, 2009

It's Not Too Stinkin' Cold





Well, o.k., maybe I lie, below zero really is cold!!!! As I type this entry, it is a balmy -7 degrees outside and we haven't seen the upper side of zero since we arrived back in Alaska on 12/30 and don't intend to see temps above zero until Wednesday if we're lucky.

When we were in California over the holidays, that region was experiencing an "Arctic Blast", which took temperatures down into the 30s at night and it warmed up to the low 60s on a good day. I wish I could tell you I wasn't chilly and was able to wear shorts, but that just wouldn't be true. Even we thought it was cool out. I do have to say that I was chuckling with my mother-in-law over everyone's cold weather attire in Southern California. It was 60 degrees and people there were wearing what we wear here, when it's well below freezing. It cracked my up! My other observation was that once the weather gets below 30, it doesn't matter if it's 10 degrees or 30 degrees, it's just cold. Even if you are in California! My addendum to that comment is that once it hits below zero, cold has a whole new meaning.

Our dear, stubborn child, Kaiden, got a snowboard for Christmas and has been obsessing over taking it out on the nearby ski slope. We had intended to take him out this past Friday, but the high was slated to be -9. Although Eric had committed to Kaiden that we'd go, as Friday approached, we decided that as parents, we have the right to go back on a committment if it is for the health and/or safety of our children. As you can imagine, with many tears and much pouting, we postponed the snowboarding trip until the temperature warms up to above zero.

In leiu of snowboarding, we took the kids to see Bedtime Stories (my new favorite family movie), on a much anticipated shopping excursion to Target, to have lunch (by Logan's request) at a Mongolian BBQ type restaurant, and to Town Square to view ice sculptures that had been completed on 12/29. We figured that because the weather had been to cool, the ice sculptures would still be in prime condition, which they were. The silly part of the whole trip was that once at Town Square, we parked at a meter. The meter already had 22 minutes left on it and I put in enough change to give us an hour. What was I thinking????? It was so darn cold that even with those fancy little heat packs in our gloves, our fingers about snapped off. I don't even think we lasted 20 minutes out there, but let me tell you, the sculptures sure were beautiful. It amazes me that people are able to carve such intricate, detailed designs out of a simple block of ice. Whenever I find out that there are ice sculptures somewhere in town, I end up dragging the whole family out to look at them. They almost always go without a fight, so they must think they're pretty cool too.