Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brace Face? Tin Grin? PFD* Mouth?

My daughter was up at the crack of dawn this morning. She was so excited to get to school that she could hardly stand it. As she put it, "I can't wait to show off my new look!"

Dinner last night: spaghetti and meatballs

*Permanent Fund Dividend, which is how we're paying for this beautiful smile

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend Walk

Fall comes and goes so quickly around here that you have to act fast if you want to enjoy the changing leaves. I wanted to get a family picture outside in the glorious autumnal colors this past weekend, but neither our health nor the weather allowed it. A stomach flu has been working its way through our house, so at any given moment, at least one of us was moaning and vomiting. Even if we all had been feeling good, the rain and grey skies made for poor light. I had to settle for a walk in the woods and pictures of wet foliage.

Birches are beautiful year-round,
but I especially love them in the fall.

Elderberries, heavy with raindrops.

Isn't this little bluebell sweet?
She's the only flower left in my rock garden.

No wonder my girls pick the mushrooms off their pizza . . .

I like this glass mushroom much better.
It glows in the evening dusk.

Dinner last night: broth, water, applesauce (I'm not kidding when I say we've been sick!)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cause for Celebration

You know what today is, don't you? That's right . . . the start of a new season of Survivor. Stop jumping and screaming, everyone, it's not that big of a deal. Oh, who am I trying to kid? Break open the Ruby Red Squirt and get ready to par-tay.

Don't even think about calling my house tonight, because I will not be answering the phone between the hours of 7:00 and 9:00 p.m. I'll be parked in front of the boob tube, pizza half a pizza one tiny slice of pizza in hand, watching my favorite show evah. It's time to outwit, outplay, and outlast. Bring it on, Gabon!

Dinner last night: macaroni and cheese, zucchini

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Need for Speed

I feel sorry for myself moms with kids who fuss and wiggle in their strollers. So many times I have observed my pitiful self some poor woman, red-faced and flustered, trying to get through her shopping while her little ones scream and contort. My precious angels are so easy to take out in the stroller . . . as long as I keep it moving at 12 mph.

Dinner last night: pork chops with stuffing and mushroom gravy

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Who Needs TV Anyway?

Something tells me that my youngest daughter may have inherited my love for books.

Dinner last night: salisbury casserole, bread and butter

Monday, September 22, 2008

Everybody Poops

What is it about my front yard that attracts dogs with full bladders? Does this happen to everyone? Or perhaps I am I just more tightly wound than the majority of people to notice and then get annoyed? Really, I want to know if I am overreacting when I say that letting your dog poop or pee on someone else's lawn is, well, just plain rude.

I've mentioned the rhubarb incident and the neighbor's yappers who race over to our yard every morning to do their business. Now a third dog has befouled my grass. I was tootling up our little road on the way home the other day when I saw an older gentleman—bold as brass—letting his medium-sized canine defecate on our front yard. I pulled into our driveway just in time to watch the dog's back legs scratch through the dirt and grass to cover his pile, while I received a cheery wave from the dogowner. I will admit our yard slopes down the hill and kisses the road, so it's a handy spot for anyone out walking, but it's not like there aren't acres upon acres of forest and fields out here. Plenty of bathroom space.

To be fair, the man did have his dog on a leash and he did pick up the poop. But I'm having trouble getting the image out of my head of my baby girls rolling around on that grass. I keep thinking of missed particles and germy residue. Am I being too neurotic about the whole thing? What has happened to me? I used to love dogs. In fact, I think I still do. I just don't love their poopy. I suppose I should be more understanding. When a dog's gotta go, a dog's gotta go. My husband says you can't control where a dog's going to let loose and the owner picked up the mess, so what's the big deal? Still. Gross.

Dinner last night (and I'm truly sorry for having to write "dinner" and "dog poop" in the same post): cheeseburgers, watermelon

Friday, September 19, 2008

Things to Do with Your Kids This Weekend 20

Play hide and go seek.

Need more ideas? Here are some other fun things to do with your kids.

Dinner last night: lasagna, steamed asparagus, garlic bread

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pete, the Wonder Dog

What you or I would feel if an angel appeared, my daughter feels a dozen times a day on meeting a dog.
—Garrison Keillor

Dinner last night: homemade chicken noodle soup, biscuits

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things My Kids Have Never Seen . . . Or, Wow! I'm REALLY Old!

Eight-Track Tapes and/or Eight-Track Players
I remember the intense envy I felt when a high schooler on the bus showed off her portable 8-track player to us lowly junior highers. I don't think my girls would be impressed.

45 Records
If my children ever set eye on a 45, they simply would presume it to be a freakishly large CD; they have seen LPs, because my husband has kept his, insisting that they are valuable, that they are "collectibles," that they are worth a small fortune . . . despite the fact that you can walk into any goodwill store and buy a long-ton case of LPs for approximately one quarter.

Rotary-Dial Phone
Not only did I grow up using these phones, I can remember party lines! Heck, my grandparents had one of those really old phones that hung on the wall with the "horn" that you spoke into as well as the horn receiver that you held up to your ear. Now that would impress my girls.

Black and White TV
I actually owned a small black-and-white set during my college days. I think I sold it during a garage sale a couple years after I was married. I wish now I had kept it.

Polaroid Camera
From what I understand they've discontinued manufacturing them altogether . . . sniff.

Reel-to-Reel Projector
My kids will never know the torture of sitting through Mrs. Jones' English class, watching one of those horrible clackety films about the life of Charles Dickens.

Photographic Slides and/or Slideshow
Oh, the agony of sitting on the floor shifting from side to side, pinching myself, trying not to fall asleep as our neighbor proudly showed us slides from his trip to Africa . . . not dissimilar to the agony my kids must feel when we force them to sit on the floor, face the HDTV, and look at Mommy and Daddy's digital pictures from their Hawaii trip.

Drive-In Movies
The last time I recall going was with my family when I was 13. Movies at the drive-in were cheaper than at the theaters and a lot more fun for us kids bouncing around in the back seat. I wonder if there are any drive-ins left anywhere in the U.S?

I thought of a couple more, but by the time I stepped out of the shower I had already forgotten what they were. Help a sister out . . . what things did you grow up with that your kids have never even heard of?

By the way, if at any time while reading this list you said to yourself, "Black and white TV? What is she talking about?" then leave this blog immediately. You're depressing me and making me feel like Grandma Kim. Get out of my failing eyesight, you . . . you . . . whippersnappers! Go tweet your friends or get a Brazilian wax or whatever it is you youngsters do for fun nowadays . . . 

Dinner last night: pizza

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Resiliency of Youth

My daughter has inherited her father's sense of adventure. She loves to climb trees, hike mountains, and swing as high as she can:

Unfortunately, she also has inherited her father's proclivity for spraining an ankle. She agrees that it probably was not a good idea to jump off the neighbor's buoy swing while wearing an unreliable pair of Crocs on her feet.

The good news? She's eight. Whereas you or I might take to our beds for two weeks after sustaining an injury of this magnitude, she was fully healed and back to her thrill-seeking ways after only two days! Lord, give me strength . . .

Dinner last night: barbecue chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy

Monday, September 15, 2008

You Had Me at Hello

Just as I was getting ready to jet off on vacation, I received a most delightful award from Helene at I'm Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor. She and I discovered each other's sites when we joined a twin blog ring at about the same time. She's an ├╝bermom who is raising not one, but two sets of twins. I always look forward to her insightful posts, written with candor and humor about the frustrations and joys of life with children.

The rules of the award are:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.

Since we're so isolated up here, I thought I'd give props to some other Alaskans who toil away under the midnight sun to bring their blogs to the masses. One thing I've learned living in the Last Frontier: we're a state of lunatics unique individuals. If you're interested in different perspectives about life in this great land, you might want to check out the following:

Saddlepotatoes is leading the life that I'm supposed to be living on the Kenai Peninsula, homeschooling her children and riding her horses.

Homestate is one of those rare, wonderful people who opens her home to foster children, so she's a little busy these days, but I do hope to see her posting again soon about life in Anchorage.

Musings of a Mommy Bee is written by a self-described "granola mom" living a life of simplicity and gratefulness in Pelican, a tiny spot of paradise in southeast Alaska. 

Dug's Big Wild Life does the impossible: makes garbage fascinating. This guy travels around Bush Alaska inspecting landfills, and he's got a snappy sense of humor that I quite appreciate. You'll also enjoy his recounts of camping trips and sightseeing tours with his family.

Scribbit is the grand dame of Alaskan mommy blogs. She posts daily and provides a wealth of information about all sorts of subjects, including the topic of blogging. Her expertise garnered her an invite to speak at the BlogHer conference this past summer.

PhoWises is written by a woman from my hometown who documented the long and complicated process of adopting a baby from Vietnam. Her family is finally all together in Homer now, but if you go back into her archives you'll find a mesmerizing tale of travel and love.

Dinner last night: tuna melts, tomato soup

Friday, September 12, 2008

Things to Do with Your Kids This Weekend 19

Create silly hairdos.

Dinner last night: chicken and veggie stir-fry over rice

Need more ideas? Here are some other fun things to do with your kids.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Evening with Garrison Keillor

We went to see Garrison Keillor last night. So did the entire population of Alaska, if my calculations are correct, as the concert hall was packed to the rafters. It did my soul good to see so many grey-hairs chortling along with Keillor's gentle humor.

I thought you might be totally confused by enjoy this picture taken from my husband's cell phone. No, it's not a shining angel delivering a message from the Lord . . . just Garrison Keillor singing one of his wonderful, quirky songs in his soothing baritone voice.

I'm not a regular listener of Prairie Home Companion, but I have quoted Keillor's writing several times over the years in my scrapbooks and Christmas newsletters. I appreciate his insight into the seemingly ordinary details of life. One of his themes last night was, "There's a lot of human nature in all of us." Without judging or criticizing, he helps us appreciate the bittersweetness of life on this earth through stories of his own experience or those of the eccentric characters who live in his beloved Lake Wobegone.

A second refrain of Keillor's last night is one I pass on to you, my dear friends:  "I wish you all joy, joy, joy."

Dinner last night: cheesy tuna noodle casserole

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I'm Going Grey . . .

"Look what I found . . . Mushrooms!
Can I eat them?"

"Touch it!"
"I'm not gonna touch it! YOU touch it!"

"NO, mother, I shan't get up.
I rather enjoy rubbing my face in filth,
thank you very much."

Dinner last night: tacos

Monday, September 8, 2008

Back to Reality

Vacation's over. You've been home for a week and it's time to stop dreaming . . .

You, sir, are not a wealthy jetsetter . . .

And you, ma'am, are not a swimsuit model. Good grief . . .

You are the parents of four ill-behaved children
who need to be fed, clothed, and taught some manners . . .

and the future rakers of approximately 1.8 million leaves
that soon will be falling from these trees
directly into your yard . . .

and the owners of this closet,
which is not going to clean out,
patch, paint, and rebuild itself.
Get to work!


Dinner last night: chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn on the cob

Friday, September 5, 2008

Things to Do with Your Kids This Weekend 18

Paint your faces.

Dinner last night: macaroni and cheese, sausages

Our Mama Beats Your Obama

I kid, I kid!

I'm about as apolitical as they come (who's got time to discuss politics when there are twin toddlers to potty train?!) but since I live in Alaska, Here's to Good Friends asked me to write a guest post about Governor Palin for her Texas readers.

While we're on the topic of politics, and I promise never to bring up current events again on my blog, where did this word "vett" come from? Or is it vette? Vet?

I know that since giving birth to twins I've lost all short-term memory, but has my long-term memory slipped away as well? Because I cannot recall ever hearing the term, other than in shortened form for veterinarian and Corvette. I swear to you that I am hearing it multiple times a day . . . on TV . . . on the radio . . . waiting in line at the grocery store. I think I heard one of my babies singing it loud and proud in the back seat of the minivan. Everyone's peppering their speech with it like vette's the most common word in the English language.

I'm confused. As usual.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crazy About Trees

Alaska is not known for its exotic trees. You've got your spruce and your birch and your alder. But Hawaii? Wow!

Don't ask me how this tree grew out of the lava.

Despite being doubled over by the wind,
this lonely tree on top of a barren hill
possessed a sort of dignity that appealed to me.

Palm trees: the birches of Hawaii.

This photo does not do justice to the IMMENSITY of this tree. It was huge!

I saw this freaky kind of tree all over the place. It sends down vines, which over time seem to woodify (I'm pretty sure that's a botanical term). The vines literally harden and turn into roots on the outside of the trunk. Weird. But cool.

Dinner last: chicken and scallops over rice

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I made a deliberate decision not to take my beloved Canon Rebel camera with me on vacation. It's beautiful, but it's big. I took my little pocket camera instead. It literally fits in my pocket. Shirt pocket. Pants pocket. Beachbag zippered pocket. Any kind of pocket. It's that small.

Unfortunately, my tiny pocket camera doesn't have a view finder. You have to look at the LCD screen on the back of the camera, which seems cool and high tech, but is actually a big bummer in the sunshine. The glare combined with my horrible eyesight prevented me from seeing anything other than a blurred ghostlike image. Was it in focus? Couldn't tell ya. Every picture I took was a crap shoot, pun intended.

My husband insisted on getting a window seat on the airplane. Can you blame him? I mean, just look at the view. Spectacular!

Okay, I'll admit the boat offered a better view. I'll bet you didn't realize Diamond Head sat on the earth at such a precarious angle.

My husband, ever the explorer, hooked us up with a submarine tour of the ocean floor. Look at those fish! And the enormous turtles! And the coral reefs teeming with sea life! Amazing what you can capture on film.

Ah, yes. Food photography. It's quite an art form. I'm sure you'll agree that I'm gifted when it comes to composition, lighting, and food selection. I'll bet your favorite part of this photo is the soggy onion to the left. No? How about the splatter of ketchup to the right? By the way, that is my husband's meal. I only ate organic salads.

I actually think a series of photos I took at sunset may have potential. They will require hours of tinkering in Photoshop Elements 6 with features like "color saturation" and "contrast," but I carry hope in my heart that I can produce at least one usable print.

Dinner last night: spaghetti and meatballs, garlic cheesebread sticks

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Man and His Binoculars Are Not Soon Parted

Alaskan men love their binoculars.

My grandfather kept a pair underneath the front seat of his car, at the ready for investigating moving specks on the mountain or identifying boats out on the water.

My father-in-law stashes his trusty binocs next to his La-Z-Boy recliner, within arm's reach for a quick look-see at the semi trucks rolling down the highway in front of his house.

My husband? He takes his binoculars with him on vacation. He might need them to . . .

check out planes at the airport . . .

watch surfers out on the ocean . . .

or take in the view from atop a mountain.

Dinner last night: halibut salad sandwiches