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.


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.