Friday, May 28, 2010

Everyone Ready for the Weekend?!

We'll be spending this holiday outdoors and with friends. Hope you all have plans to relax and enjoy yourselves over the 3-day weekend, and that your weather is cooperating. The weather here is partly gorgeous with a chance of awesome. See what I did there? I could have just said "sunny and warm," but oh, no, I had to go and get all cheesy on you. That's how I roll, people.

While you're running around, preparing for road trips and barbecues, thinking about the price of gasoline and the price of hot dogs, don't forget to think about the price of freedom. Thank you, men and women of the military!

Have a great weekend, and I'll see you on Tuesday with lots of pictures.

Dinner last night: french dip sandwich

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Let the Torture Begin

Soccer season has arrived. My daughter's team is "playing up" again this summer, which means they compete in an older age bracket—a bracket in which the older girls are bigger and faster and harder to beat.

Fortunately, my girl can hold her own.

Dinner last night: leftovers

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stealth Birdwatching

Birds have been . . . well, flocking back to Alaska in . . . er, flocks. We're seeing tons of red-breasted robins and black-and-white magpies hopping about our yard. Can I catch any of them on film? NO. They're crafty little things. Turns out, bird photography isn't as easy as I thought. I wait and wait and wait for a bird to land nearby . . . slowly raise my camera to my eye . . . poise my finger over the button, and . . . AARGH! Off the bird flies.

I figured I'd have better luck photographing my fine feathered friends down near the water, where the seagulls are nesting in the marsh grasses. Based on my past experience with robins and magpies, it should not surprise you that I was unable to capture the image of a single stinkin' seagull. However! Miraculously, I was able to snap a picture of the rare and wily . . .

. . . sitting duck.

This little guy refused to look me in the eye.
When I tried to get his attention . . . 

. . . he flew off. How rude.

Dinner last night: baked ziti, green beans

Exactly one year ago today:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wilderness Survival

My daughter's sixth-grade class spent the last week of school camped next to a lake, putting the skills they'd learned in Outdoor Education to good use.

They started their own fires.

They cooked their own meals over an open flame.
My daughter's team won the chili cook-off!

They used maps and compasses . . .

 . . . to hike to specific locations.

Cell phones, iPods, and electronic games were strictly prohibited, so
the kids entertained each other with songs and skits.

Tons of fun was had by all, but my daughter admitted that she was glad to come home. She missed her family. And warm showers.

Dinner last night: barbecue chicken, baked beans, watermelon

Friday, May 21, 2010

Summertime . . . and the Livin's Easy

Today is the last day of school.

I think the twins speak for us all.

Dinner last night: spaghetti, garlic toast, green salad

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fresh Air

The good news is that I'm spending more and more time outdoors. The trees and grass are greening up, and my flower baskets are actually hanging outside now. The birds are singing and flitting about our yard. Daisy, the twins, and I enjoy our daily walk each afternoon. The older girls will be out of school next week, and we're all looking forward to lots of bike rides, park time, and summer fun.

The bad news is that I'm spending more and more time outdoors. Which means the house doesn't get cleaned and my poor blog feels neglected. I'm writing the occasional post for Scribbit, which is where I'm at today, so any free time not spent outside is used to perch my miniscule bottom on my chair and stare at the computer, while I silently beg myself to come up with something . . . ANYTHING . . . that won't compel readers to throw rotting vegetables at their screens.

I think I'd better go outside and clear my head.

Dinner last night: pulled pork sandwich

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Did the Moose Cross the Road?

a) to annoy my husband
b) to give me a heart attack
c) to amuse my moose-lovin' readers
d) all of the above

Dinner last night: mushroom-stuffed meatloaf, mashed potatoes & gravy, corn, angel food cake with raspberries

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, May 17, 2010

You Look Like a Monkey and You Smell Like One, Too

My daughter turns 10 years old later this month. We threw an early birthday party over the weekend, before school ends and all of my daughter's friends disappear into their summer vacation. The weather cooperated, so we were able to celebrate outdoors. I don't think I could have handled a bunch of slap-happy fourth graders running through my house.

We kept the food simple:
hot dogs on the grill, watermelon, chips, and juice.

I organized a game, loosely based on The Amazing Race, and used different colored bandanas to divide the party guests into small groups. The teams each received a clue in a sealed envelope that required them to find additional hidden clues, which led to various challenges set up around our back yard (shoot 3 baskets, jump on the trampoline, correctly count a bunch of pennies, etc.)

The game ended with each team racing to finish a final puzzle. The teams got to pick prizes from a basket based on the order they finished, so the first team to solve their puzzle got first dibs, but everyone still received something.

I normally make a fancy decorated theme cake for my children's birthday parties, but my daughter just wanted her favorite cake this year. Some of her guests were dubious about such a plain dessert, but after trying a bite, declared it "Really good!"

Three birthdays down, one to go . . . 

Dinner last night: pizza

Friday, May 14, 2010

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words regarding my father's recent health scare. Dad is out of the hospital and doing well; he's been ordered to rest for one week, and then he can go about his normal activities. I think that I also should rest for one week, since I'm feeling just a teensy bit verklempt and need some emotional recovery time!

* * *

When people think of Alaska, one of the first things that comes to mind is surfing. Wait. Surfing?

Yes, SURFING! Book your trip today!
Don't forget your full-body watersuit because, well . . .
frankly, you would perish in about a minute and a half without it.
Alaskan water is cold.

Note to self: I really REALLY need a telephoto lens.

Dinner last night: teriyaki chicken

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emotional Wringer

My dad commercial fishes in southeast Alaska. He was docked in Sitka, fixing up his boat and preparing for the next salmon opening, when he started experiencing pain in his chest and left arm. He knew it wasn't right, and flew the next day into Anchorage to visit a cardiologist. Turns out he's got 90% blockage in two vessels and needs a couple of stents, so he's in the hospital today undergoing the procedure. The very common procedure. The very common procedure that is performed every single day on lots and lots of people. The very common procedure that takes place in a controlled environment with trained medical personnel right there. So I can stop worrying. Right?

Dinner last night: sour cream enchiladas, refried beans, corn, green salad

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Party Month

My husband and three of my four children celebrate birthdays in May. I never thought I'd hear these words coming out of my mouth, but . . . I may just get sick of cake by the time Memorial Day arrives.

In case you can't tell by the candle . . .

the twins turned THIS MANY.

Dinner last night: cheeseburgers on the barbie

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, May 10, 2010


I'm hanging out at Scribbit today;
hope you'll stop by and check out my guest post.

Dinner last night: barbecue chicken, baked beans, watermelon

Friday, May 7, 2010

Stressed-Out Sixth Grader

My poor daughter. She participated in an end-of-the-year piano recital on Sunday, an end-of-the-year band concert on Tuesday, and an end-of-the-year Science Fair on Thursday. She has been pushing herself to do well in school because she wants desperately to attend the end-of-the-year 6th grade camping trip, and students are not allowed to go if they have an F in any subject.

I think she can stop worrying.

The other girls conducted classy experiments like which ingredients make a better-tasting cake and will plants grow better with music playing in the background. My daughter? MOLD. But, hey! Blue Ribbon!

Dinner last night: chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Treehouse Fun

I always wanted a treehouse when I was a kid, so I was majorly disappointed when we moved into our home a few years ago and my children, my own flesh and blood, showed absolutely zero interest in the cool fort already built into the birches. When I asked the older girls why they were such spoiled, rotten brats who didn't appreciate their awesome treehouse, they confided that it scared them. It was dark. And full of spiders. What I considered awesome, they thought was haunted and creepy.

I shared this news with my husband, who set about de-terrifying the treehouse. First, he bug-bombed the place thoroughly. (In the process, he found an active yellow jackets' nest. Maybe my daughters aren't so spoiled and rotten after all. Maybe they actually possess an innate sense of self-preservation. I'll have to give that some thought.) Then he power-washed the inside within an inch of its life and let the girls go at the walls with some white paint. Next, he cut out three big windows and covered them in plexiglass. Voila! The treehouse is now clean, bug-free, and full of light.

Ready for happy, fright-free children.

Welcome to my playhouse!
Now get out.

Every girl needs a place to daydream . . .

. . . and a rope to climb!

Dinner last night: ham, mashed potatoes

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gearing Up for Summer

I love this time of year. The older girls have only 3 weeks left of school, and then . . . FREEDOM! Biking, hiking, running through the sprinkler, picnicking, beachcombing, berry picking . . . the possibilities of summer stretch endlessly before us. The potential for glorious sunshine and lots of time to accomplish outdoor projects leaves me giddy with excitement, even though I know the more likely scenario after last year's wonderful weather is a wet summer this year. Rain or shine, I never have enough time to tackle everything I want to get done in the garden and around the yard. Still, at this moment, I can dream, can't I? CAN'T I?!

One project that my husband and I are determined to see through is improving the front of the house. We moved into our home over 3 years ago, and the main entry has always driven us crazy. The front door is virtually impossible to get to; you either have to snake your way around the deck or hike up the hill. It doesn't help that the door is painted the same color as the house with a security light shining over it, leaving the impression that it's some kind of hidden door for employees. The result is that everyone currently enters our house through the garage. EVERYONE. My garage is the great equalizer. It doesn't matter if you're the UPS guy or my husband's boss, you're all going to enter our house through the stinkin' garage.

Behold the main door that no one uses.

The first thing we're going to do is extend the deck to the front edge of the house and add a few stairs.

Then we will install a proper front door with a crescent window over the top and a lovely porch light to the side.

Finally, we will build a broad curving pathway that leads to the parking area at the bottom of the hill, which people currently ignore because it is so removed from the house.

Of course, by "we" I mean "my husband."

Dinner last night: baked ziti

Exactly one year ago: