Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dog Sledding!

We finally ventured out and did something very Alaskan today. We bundled everyone up and headed out to the Tustumena 200. This is a local dog sled race. It's a race used to qualify teams for the Iditarod race coming up in the spring. It was really interesting to see all the dogs in action. They really love to race. It was crazy watching the handlers have to hold them back so that they wouldn't take off before it was time. Here are some pictures from the day.

I love how the dog in the background appears to have a smile as big as Claire's!

Sarah watching big sister bark at the dogs.

Sweet sister hugs.

Big sister tackle.

Pretty blue eyes!

Some sweet puppies.

Ready, set, GO!!!!!

Eating some snow on the race track.


Note: I'll have you know it took a great deal of strength to not title this blog, "Who Let The Dogs Out?". 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Habitual Utterances

I know there are things we say often because those things are echoed back to us by our darling children. Through these echoes, I've discovered many things about how our family operates. For example, we have an apparent lack of compassion for minor boo boos. I have found that anytime Claire hurts herself and starts to cry, Sarah immediately says, "You're okay!" It happens so frequently that Claire even mentioned it to me the other day. She said, "Mommy, I don't need Sarah to tell me I'm okay, I just need you to kiss the boo boo." Okay, sweetie. Message received.

And today I learned that (despite our lack of compassion for boo boos) we are full of love around here. Sarah feels that anytime the word "goodbye" is uttered, it must immediately be followed by, "I love you!" And this was made perfectly clear today when we were at Walmart. We stopped off in the restroom and as we were finishing up and leaving the stall, Sarah calls out, "Goodbye potty! I love you!"

Claire immediately looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "Did Sarah really just tell the potty 'I love you'?" I couldn't help but laugh at the sweetness of my youngest and the emerging snarky nature of my oldest. I guess I have only myself to blame.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Writing to Write . . . and a Little Foreshadowing

I have absolutely nothing of consequence to write today. I was hoping for some noteworthy events to transpire so that I could put it all down in narrative form for you, my dear readers. But sadly, I've stayed home all day. Normally this would be my grocery shopping day, but the Window Guy was here. He was replacing all the windows in our bathroom. There were 4 windows and they felt the need to schedule 7 hours time to complete the project. Fortunately, the Guy was an extremely efficient worker and he was done in more like 4 hours. This is a good thing because who wants 4 gaping holes in their house when the temperature is in the 20s outside?

Why replace the windows? Well, this was a left over project from our negotiations with the sellers when we got the house. Apparently, when your windows are close enough to water (i.e. our tub) then the glass should be tempered glass. It's code. We like code around here. Code is very popular with us. Therefore, to be in code, we asked  the sellers to pay for and order the new windows. They agreed and the installation is finally complete. So now, if on the way out of the tub I should slip and fall into one of the windows, I won't have to deal with dangerous shards of glass cascading down on my person and into the tub. Although I can assure you that I will never, EVER be taking a bath in this tub. I have my reasons. Oh yes I do. And I will explain them in a future post. It has nothing to do with baths in general. I really don't mind a good soaking bath. But here? Not gonna happen.

I wish you could see our bathroom. Really I do. It is very, uh, interesting. This bathroom was one of the major negatives I had with this house when we were contemplating the purchase. I told Michael that if we bought this house, I would have to have somewhat free rein to make improvements that would make the bathroom a bit more bearable. He agreed and so I have been on a mission to transform this bathroom with as little out of pocket expense as possible. And never you fear, I am taking before and after pictures. And I am almost finished. I can clearly see the light at the end of this tunnel.  I will share very soon. Maybe in the next week or so. In the mean time, I'm off to paint some more tile.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Faux Snow

I love snow. I really do.  A good snowfall is one of the few things that can calm my nerves in mere seconds. The sound of my mom's voice, a hug from my amazing husband and snow. That's about it. So while I was a little nervous to move to Alaska for all the culture and climate shock we were sure to encounter, I was calmed by the fact that I would finally live in a land of snow! 

Now that I live here, I am finding that while snow on the ground is nice, nothing quite beats snow falling from the sky. Sadly, we haven't had too much of that so far this year. It is sad that I live in Alaska, and yet am jealous of my family and friends in Georgia, Tennessee and even Texas. I think they are getting more snow fall than we are. Seriously. Don't get me wrong, we have had snow on the ground since October. Because once it falls, it doesn't melt away until sometime in May. But the fresh new falling snow? That has been quite scarce. The reason? Crazy cold temperatures. 

In the south, the wait for snow looked like this: we would hear a hint of snow to come in the forecast. "Did you hear? Did you hear? There is like a 20% chance that it will snow!!!" And then everyone makes a mad dash for the store to stock up on pantry items. Then you hunker down at home and hope that the temperature drops low enough so that you get beautiful snow instead of crazy cold rain. 

Here? A totally different scenario. Here we have to hope that it will be warm enough for snow. Seriously. In Alaska, it actually gets too cold for snow. Once it gets to be in the single digits and lower, the air is extremely dry. No moisture in the air equals not a cloud in the sky. And as you might have guessed, no clouds equals no snow. None. Zip, zilch. Nada. 

The snow fall we received in October was really a teaser for me. It was our first snow here and it was PERFECT! Huge fluffy flakes of snow falling fast for a good three straight days. We accumulated a good 2 feet with that one snow. It was wonderful and I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing this on a regular basis. Want to know the next time it snowed here? December 24th. That's right. Not only was it a full two months later, but it was also the day we left for Texas!! The entire week we were in Texas, our little home in Alaska was being blanketed in snow and I was missing it. Now I will say that I wouldn't trade seeing my family for a little snow, but the timing was a bit vexing to me. Especially considering that all the snow stopped the day before our return. 

This week has been nice. It has warmed up to the twenties and the clouds have rolled in bringing in SNOW! Sadly, it's not snowing right now. In fact, there isn't a cloud in the sky, but it looks like it is snowing because we have a gentle breeze that is slowly blowing the snow off of the trees. It is cascading down in huge beautiful white clumps and giving the illusion of snowfall. A faux snow if you will. Hey, I'll take what I can get.

I am told that come March, the temps will warm up enough that we will get "dumped on" and I will be sick of shoveling snow. Let's hope so. At this point, I'd LOVE to be sick of shoveling snow. Bring it on weather man! Bring it on!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Messy Fun Learning

So I decided that we needed to have a little fun that wasn't linked to playing "The Princess and Her Mother". That, friends, is a game that Claire has created that involves us sitting on the floor in the playroom as Claire says over and over, "Mother, what shall we play?" and then I have to come up with idea after idea until I am ready to pull my hair out. Not so much fun. Not really sure why my darling is insistent on playing it around the clock.

So I saw a neat idea on another blog and decided to give it a try. It incorporates making a mess with learning. Both things Claire loves. The mess, I don't love, but don't mind too much either. So as soon as Sarah was tucked safely into bed for nap time, I pulled out our supplies. A cookie sheet and some flour. We made our own homemade etch-a-sketch.

We had fun drawing pictures, letters, numbers, etc. When we finished each little drawing, we simply shook the pan a bit and had a clean slate ready for more drawing. It really was fun. Then I decided to let Claire have a straw so she could play around with "wind". The wind blows quite fierce here on some days and creates some interesting looking snow dunes. Teachable moment right? What a mess.

Least you think that I've lost my ever loving mind, the mess really did clean up easily with a quick vacuum. And that would have been the end of it had Claire not decided to reenact one of her favorite scenes from The Lion King. You know the one where Rafiki paints the stripe on little Simba's forehead? Check it out:

Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing

Yes, a fun mess for sure!

Monday, January 17, 2011

This Whole Parenting Thing Just Got Easier

My girls are growing up. Now normally the realization of this would make me a reflective, sappy mess. But today I received two benefits of this whole growing up thing and I am just too excited to be sad. So instead I'll share.

Sarah has now hit the 2 year mark. What that means for me is that both, yes BOTH of my children are now allowed to attend the little mini-daycare inside my grocery store. Today I dropped both girls off and for the first time in almost 4 years shopped with full focus and ZERO stress. AHHHHHHHHH. I have to admit that once my list was completely crossed off and my basket was full, I was tempted to do a little extra perusing just because I could. Since I live in No Man's Land, the grocery store is also the department store, shoe store, furniture store, hardware store, etc, etc. So there were plenty of departments I could visit once I finished up my business in grocery land.

And I no longer minded how long it takes the checkers to ring up merchandise here. This really deserves a blog post all its own. At this store, you don't have checkers and baggers. Nope. Just one person who does it all for you. So they will scan items, bag those items and put those items in your cart. ONE BAG AT A TIME. Meaning, they will scan about 5 or 6 items, stop and bag those items and place the bag in your cart before scanning the next 5 or 6 items. It is really taxing to watch. Especially when there are other people in line in front of you. There was one week that I clocked a full 20 minutes from the time I wheeled into one of the lines to the time I finally swiped my credit card. Not fun with two kids who have already exceeded their limit of patience as we marched through the store for the past 45 minutes. But now? Today? I stood in those crazy long lines sans kids. Which meant I had time to read the covers of all the trashy tabloid magazines and even flip through a People magazine to see all the celeb photos. No whiny kids, just a happy mom who has let her mind completely zone out. Bliss.

As soon as my purchases were complete, I just walked over to the playland where my darlings were fully engaged in a rousing game of house, collected the very happy campers and made our way home. I am now considering shopping for my week's groceries day by day.

Tonight Michael had to work late. This happens from time to time and while I don't love it, I understand it. What that means for me is wrangling two girls into pajamas, navigating potty time, teeth brushing time, story time and countless other night time routines all on my own. It's doable, just not fun.

So tonight I was upstairs getting Sarah's pajamas on and Claire announces that she wants to try to get ready on her own. Really? Okay baby girl. I am more than happy to let you try. So off she heads to the potty first. She closes the door stating that she needs her "energy". (which translated means privacy--the poor girl can't ever remember that word.) When she comes out she tells me that I have to close my eyes so that I can't see how well she is doing until she is all done. Um, okay.

So I finish dressing Sarah and brushing her teeth. We are half way through Sarah's night time story when Claire walks in fully dressed in pajamas she picked out. (the shirt on backwards) She is sporting the biggest smile I've seen to date and runs to me for a hug. I make all the appropriate gushing statements of pride over her and when I go into her room I find that she has also put her dirty clothes in her hamper. Seriously? This girl has got it down! What a big girl I have.

I am sure I will get sappy over how fast they are growing up very soon, but for now I am giddy. Giddy I tell ya!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Sarah!!

My precious baby girl turns 2 today. I don't know why, but that suddenly feels so big! And big she is. She has really blossomed since we moved to Alaska. It was like someone turned on a language switch and she was suddenly all a chatter. Granted most of it sounds like Swahili, but it is chatter nonetheless.

She has gone from silent nothings to being able to sing complete songs without assistance. Off the top of my head I can count 8 songs that this girl can belt out solo. She is a singer at heart for sure.

I love how she echoes everything we say. Often times we will find that she has wandered off to another room and when we want to find her we simply call out, "Sarah!" and we hear a sweet little voice echo, "Sarah!" from a distant part of the house. Target acquired!!

I love how lately Sarah will give a hearty belly laugh and follow it up by saying, "It's funny!" Oh my sweet girl. My heart fills to overflowing each and every time she runs up to me and says, "Hold you!!".

Sarah Grace filled a gap in our family that we didn't even know existed. She approaches everything in life with a passion that can only be described as reckless abandon. She is a joy. She is a pleasure. She is a precious gift from God. May she one day embrace her creator with that same reckless abandon.

We love you sweet girl!

Checking out her birthday present. Like the sweet nap hair?

Cooking up something yummy!

Give it a good stir.

Fun with balloons!


Well hey there good lookin'.

Birthday card from Mimi and Pops.

Hey Mom, this card SINGS!!!

Sarah is 21? Oh wait, Sarah is 2!

Anytime her mouth wasn't full of cake, she was singing "Happy Birthday to You!" over and over. 

Finger licking goodness!

Forget the fork. I'm going all in!


Hey sweetie, I think you missed a spot.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Our neighborhood is amazing. Seriously. We were plopped down right into the middle of the most amazing community of people. Within 2 days of moving in, we had visits from most of the neighbors. These visits all included a gift of some sort. And we were also given a spreadsheet of everyone's names, address, phone numbers, kids names and ages, etc, etc. Now such a barrage can leave you feeling either very welcome or very scared. I chose to feel welcomed and it was the right choice. These people are amazing. They pet sit for each other. They baby sit for each other. They carpool together. They even attend school plays for each other's kids. While we were out of town, one of our neighbors regularly came over to see to our cats and another neighbor was so sweet to plow snow off of our driveway so we wouldn't have to shovel the drive when we returned home from our holiday travels. If I haven't mentioned it before, these people are great!

So tonight, we are having our neighborhood Christmas party. It's a tad on the late side because the family hosting the party was out of town for Christmas. It will be fun to hang out with everyone and let the kids run off steam together. I am in charge of bringing salad for 30 people. And drinks. Not a problem. I guess they felt the newbie in the hood should be given the easiest of tasks. We are also exchanging gifts, but they have to be homemade/handmade (is there any difference between those two?). Now this revelation alone had Michael rethinking our love of our neighbors. But me, I love it. Nothing gets me energized like a new project. Maybe that makes me a grandma, but I really don't care. I love to be crafty. The problem for me isn't the idea of doing crafty gifts, it's the time frame. We were out of town when the instructions were sent out. This means that I only had 1 week to come up with 2 homemade gifts--one from me and one from Michael. So with very little time to plan, I utilized my skills of creating frozen dinners. (Skills I honed to perfection thanks to my Katy friends and all their precious babies!) So I made a complete meal from appetizer to dessert. It is frozen and ready for a simple reheat and eat. I figured one night free of cooking was a pretty good gift. But the dilemma was in figuring out how to wrap a gift like that. Who really wants to open up a gift box and find a frozen lasagna? So I've made my own little menu to wrap. I figure they can open the menu and then be presented with the actual food later.

And the coolest part is that we don't have to transport this meal in a cooler. Nope. The temperature outside is an accommodating 3 degrees so simply leaving the food in the back of our van will keep it nice and frozen. Love it!

Okay, I am off to put the finishing touches on Michael's handmade gift. (like that?) And I also have some baking to do. Yum!


Thursday, January 13, 2011

One Big Giant Catch Up . . . . And House Pics!

Wow what a long break from blog world I've had. I think, I THINK, that I am finally at the point of settlement where I can get back to more regular blogs. The boxes are unpacked and we are now only tripping over random artwork and pictures that still need to find homes on our bare walls. We finished our Christmas travels and are now back in our frozen nest.

So here I sit trying to figure out how to summarize it all for you without turning it into a 3 hour read. I think I'll start with a few notes I've made for myself about traveling to and from Alaska with my younglings. 

Dear Aims-

*Scheduling a midnight flight is asinine. Don't fool yourself into believing that the girls will sleep because the moment you get them all settled with their blankets and lovies, the flight attendants will turn on the inflight movie. And yes, it will be an animated movie. And yes, the only travelers on the plane who will be interested in said movie will be your two children. (note: remember to practice your best "Are you kidding me?" face. You'll need it when they shut the movies off and your children FINALLY fall asleep only to be woken up 20 minutes later by the flight attendant who is insistent they be sitting upright and fully buckled even though the plane won't land for another 25 minutes.) Yep.

*When you are stupid enough to schedule a midnight flight, for heaven's sake DON'T forget to pack the DVD player's battery pack. You just might need that thing on the second or third leg of the trip.

*Remember to pack a thermometer because Claire will no doubt spend half of her holiday running a 103 temp. I'm just sayin'.

*Expect a most miserable flight home because you and Sarah will no doubt have contracted Claire's cooties and will now be the ones suffering with fever.

*Don't think that just because you've landed in Anchorage that all the travel woes are complete. Be prepared for a van with a dead battery and at least an hour and a half's worth of trouble to replace it before you can start your 3 hour drive home.

*Consider long and hard the 22 hours it took to get from door to door before planning your next excursion southward.


Now those are the low lights. I will say that once we got to our destination, we were very, very happy to have traveled. We got to see family and even some of our Houston area friends. We ate at most every restaurant I can think of and even did a little shopping at Target! We were refreshed and it was lovely. 

As for the rest of this post, I'll put up a smattering of pictures of the house for those who have requested to see them. Enjoy!

The front of our little igloo complete with a cute bundled up Sarah!

View from the entry. Please ignore our unhung pictures.

Master bedroom. Can you see the view from our window? Can ya? Can ya?

View of dining room from the top of the stairs.

Our office. 


Second view of kitchen looking into the breakfast nook. This is where I enjoy my hot tea every morning while watching our friendly moose family. Bliss!

View of our living room (and playroom) from the kitchen. Yes, those walls are painted with an argyle design. And yes, we will be repainting soon!

View #1 of our HUGE playroom.

The other side of the playroom. My girls better never tell me they are bored and have nothing to do!

View from my breakfast nook window. Complete with two of our moose friends.

Ahhhh sunrise.

Well hello little fella.

This, friends, is a baby moose. They get about twice as big as this. This little guy came right up to the window and stared down our dog. These little woodland creatures are quite bold.

See Claire? Even the moose wants to come play in your playroom.