Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Speaking of Tomboys . . .

My 10-year-old takes after her dad. They both like motorcycles.

He drives. She rides.
I pray.

Dinner last night: ravioli

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomboy Checklist

My husband gave me a break and took our 4-year-old twin daughters to visit Grandma over the weekend. The cute skort outfits and colorful hair bows I packed for the trip were left untouched in the suitcase.

Carrhartt overalls? Check.

Rubber boots? Check.

Backhoe playground equipment? Double check.

Dinner last night: chicken dipped in ranch batter and oven baked, mashed potatoes (harvested from Grandma's garden!) and gravy, corn, rhubarb/strawberry crisp with vanilla ice cream

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Five: Katherine

Welcome to Friday's Five, my regular feature that asks a fabulous follower 5 random questions. Well, not totally random . . . question 5 is always the same. I'm not running a restaurant over here, people. I need ideas for dinner!

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to Katherine—the smart, talented, and friendly blogger behind The Katherine Wheel. She's a wife, mother to two precious little boys, and if those responsibilities don't keep her busy enough, she's also a physician in the middle of a busy anesthesiology residency. Katherine is a fellow book-lover, whose occasional reviews of her latest reads I always enjoy. She's also into photography, and just so happens to take great pictures of feet!

1. How old are your children and do they have any favorite movies that they like to watch over and over? My boys are 8 and 4, each with birthdays over the summer. I guess at age 4, I'd better stop calling the youngest one a baby. Their favorite movies are anything Pixar. They know the entire script from Cars and Wall-E. We've also started renting Disney Classics from the library. They can't get enough of Swiss Family Robinson. We have as much fun watching them giggle over the movie as they do watching it.

2. My sister-in-law was called Cathy as a kid, but now prefers Catherine. Have you always been Katherine? I've always been a Katherine. The year I was born, my parents didn't know any other Katherines. But within 6 months, I had three cousins born, all named Katherine. Their names were shorted to Kathy, Katie, and Kat. My mother insisted that I would go by Katherine. Which I have.

3. You've got one of the busiest schedules in the blogosphere, and you recently decided to cut back on your blogging in an attempt to balance your life. How is that going? Do you have a regular time set aside for writing or are you just taking it day by day? Well, I'm sure that other people have exhausting, busy schedules as well.  I just complain about mine a lot more. But juggling my job and my family can be difficult.  Especially this July, when my schedule drastically changed, I went through a rough patch. I thought I would have to give up blogging completely. But since my sanity correlates to blogging, we thought it would be wise for everyone that I continue to write. The new schedule is actually going great. I get more family time, more study time, and am getting a somewhat reasonable amount of sleep. The plan is that I have time twice a week to blog (although sometimes I sneak extra posts in when I just have to share something.) 

4. What advice would you give to someone who's thinking about applying for med school? Don't do it! No, I'm kidding. I think that there are people who are meant to be doctors and people who aren't. The unfortunate thing is that you're not exactly sure which group you belong to until you are most of the way done with medical school. I would recommend talking to other physicians that have the same life circumstances that you do (kids or no kids, married or single, etc.) I would also look seriously at dentists, physical therapists, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, all of whom get patient interaction but have less stressful careers. Also, make sure you have a stellar support group, because you're going to need it. There, did I scare everyone off?

5. What did you have for dinner last night? Roasted butternut squash soup. I like my food to sound all fancy. It still doesn't make my boys eat it any better.

Thanks, Katherine! Unfortunately, a butternut squash by any other name is still a vegetable, isn't it?! But a Friday's Five by any other name will still be a fun Q & A with a great blogger. See you all back here next week!

Previously on Friday's Five . . .
Friday's Five: Karen (A Peek at Karen's World)                         Friday's Five: Karen (Karen's Journal) 
Friday's Five: Quadmama (Buried in Laundry)                          Friday's Five: Stephanie (Steph in the City)                   
Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)                                    Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)                                
Friday's Five: Francesca (Three Bay B Chicks)                           Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Dianna (The Kennedy Adventures!)                    Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: TwinMama (Bringing Up Twins)                           Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)                                         Friday's Five: Lana (The Kids Did What?!)
Friday's Five: Lisa (Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy)                            Friday's Five: Helene (I'm Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mr Magoo Traverses the Nursery

Oy. My eyesight. The decline of night vision is definitely one of the worst things about getting old aging gracefully. I especially notice my disability at 2:00 in the morning, when one of the twins has wakened me and wants me to tuck her back in.

My ninja daughter will silently hop and weave around her strewn toys, while I stagger blindly after her through the pitch black, arms reaching out like a zombie's, stumbling over sharp-pointed objects laying about willy-nilly. Upon rising from a deep sleep, my censors and appropriate language skills are not fully awake. With Herculean effort, I'm training myself in these situations to keep my mouth shut, or if I must utter an expletive, to say something benign like fudgsicle.

My muttering needs work. I tend to screech at the top of my phlegmy lungs, "FUDGESICLE! FUDGESICLE!" as I hop across the floor, impaling my foot with each uncoordinated step. What was that? A jack? A fork? SEWING NEEDLES? What kind of toys are my children playing with exactly? And why can't they learn to put their butcher knives away before bed? Holy fudgesicles.

Dinner last night: homemade cheeseburgers and fries

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Coldest Winter I Ever Spent Was a Summer in Homer, Alaska

early autumn fog
cold, damp, disorienting
thick, swirling blanket.

You'd never know from this picture that a town and large bay of water are sitting underneath that fog bank.

(click on arrow to play)

Dinner last night: tamale pie, green salad

Monday, September 20, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

People are starting to notice the similarities between my girls and me.

The double chins and pained smiles are uncanny.

Dinner last night: tuna melts, tomato soup

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How to Be Passive-Aggressive: Lesson One

Alright, class. Settle down. Today's lesson is short and sweet, so listen up and we'll be out of here in a jiffy. One of the best ways to exercise your passive-aggressive tendencies is by changing other people's names. If someone prefers the shortened version of his name, call him by the longer version. If someone prefers the longer version, make sure to always call her by a nickname. If a woman presents herself as Christina, address her as Chris. If a man goes by Jon, introduce him to others as Jonathan. See? Easy.

For example, my name is Kim. Not Kimberly. Ask my mother if you don't believe me. Check my birth certificate if you don't believe her. The point is I have never called myself nor been referred by anyone who knows me as Kimberly. So a passive-aggressive person, such as the woman who works for the Department of Education, will take it upon herself to type "Kimberly" into her computer. Despite the fact that I introduced myself as Kim, despite the fact that nowhere upon my paperwork is Kimberly listed, and despite the fact that I was superhumanly polite in response to her rude and impersonal attitude on the phone, the passive-aggressive person will make sure that I will now and forever be addressed as Kimberly by any and all administrators, ensuring that I'll look like a schmuck if I correct the principal who questions me at the mandatory screening interview I go through every few years to keep my teaching file current.

Pop quiz on Monday. Now get out of here and go bug people.

Dinner last night: Hawaiian pizza (Survivor started, and you know I don't cook on Survivor night)

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fall Colors

By mid-September, fall has arrived in Alaska.

The leaves closest to the ground are turning red.

The tree in my front yard has transformed into deep purple.

The birches higher up the mountain have exploded in glorious gold.

The wildflowers are . . . Wait a minute. What?
Where did these come from? How is this possible?
I thought summer was OVER.

Winter's not here yet, missy.

Dinner last night: tuna noodle casserole

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, September 13, 2010

Trespassers Will Be Shot

I can't be bothered to grab my camera every time a moose passes by, but over this past weekend I couldn't help snapping a picture of this yearling as he crossed our backyard. We were all outside playing in the sunshine—kids yelling and laughing, Daisy yapping away—and our presence bothered the young moose so little that he sauntered right on through the middle of our badminton game.

 I'm surprised he didn't pick up a racket and start playing.

Dinner last night: tacos

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Five: Joey

Welcome to Friday's Five, my weekly feature that asks a fabulous follower 5 questions.

I'm pleased to introduce Joey from Big Teeth & Clouds. She wrote Leggo My Eggo, a short post that launched a national discussion of the Great Eggo Shortage of 2009! I found her commentary quite amusing, and it wasn't until I interviewed Joey that I discovered the fall-out of her tongue-in-cheek remarks. People took her seriously and began criticizing her mothering style and cooking skills. How dare a SAHM feed her child a frozen waffle?! Fortunately, Joey survived the maelstrom and has continued writing on topics that are sometimes educational, oftentimes funny, other times thoughtful, but at all times interesting.

1. How old is your daughter and what's her favorite flavor of ice cream? Julia is 5 ½. Her favorite ice cream flavor is pink. That could be anything from strawberry to cotton candy, just so the color is pink!

2. Just for kicks, I googled "eggo shortage joey." Wow! There you are featured in page after page of articles from every news outlet imaginable. How did your 15 minutes of fame come about and what was it like to be thrust into the national spotlight like that? Our local newspaper did a nice recap of the Eggo mania for those interested in the details of my “fame.” It’s been just about a year since this all happened. Ironically, I got your email interview on the day I was mixing up a batch of Carbon’s Golden Malted waffles. I made them (all on my own) with the snazzy waffle iron that the nice people at Carbon’s Golden Malted gave me during my painful romp in the national spotlight. I do make homemade waffles now and I’m still a bit miffed at Kellogg’s! We let Julia put Hershey’s chocolate sauce on her homemade waffles. I wouldn’t want you all to think I’ve caved to Internet peer pressure by becoming health food addicts!

I became aware that my comments about an apparent shortage of toaster waffles to an AP reporter didn’t go over too well when my husband gave me an early morning phone call. “You need to look at your blog,” he said ominously. At that time, Tim got an email notification of each comment. He was interested to read them and at that time it was a rarity to get a comment. Then after the AP Eggo Shortage article ran, my blog got a ton of really nasty comments. I spent several hours that morning reading really unpleasant stuff about myself. 

The beauty of the digital age is that any time I need to take myself down a peg I can just google myself. I also learned that the AP is a quick way to get your name everywhere.

3. Alright, I've already asked 2 questions that involve food. Let's change the topic altogether. You have been very open on your blog about your daughter's hearing loss, and you regularly post informative pieces discussing the various issues your family encounters. Do you have any plans to expand your writing about hearing impairment—beyond posts, I mean, such as published articles or a book, perhaps? I have big plans for my writing. Hopefully, the world will be receptive to it! I’ve already been published in Volta Voices, AG Bell’s magazine for the deaf/hard of hearing community. I have a draft of a children’s story ready to lay out. I’m going to try to illustrate it myself which will be a challenge. Books, magazines, I’d like to see my writing everywhere!

4. What are 3 of your favorite music CDs? Oh gosh! Yesterday I posted about how I’m not that into music. Most of my CDs are from the ‘90s!  My favorites are Michael Buble (that’s newish right?), Dixie Chicks, and Jewel.

5. Here I go with the food again . . . What did you have for dinner last night? Chicken salad and soup.

Thanks, Joey! Any time someone mentions Jewel, I launch into full name-dropping mode and excitedly shout that we're both from Homer, Alaska. Is that obnoxious? Why, yes, Kim. Yes, it is. Speaking of "name-dropping," you'll have to come back next Friday to find out which fabulous blogger I'll be questioning next! See you then, gentle readers, and have a great weekend.

Previously on Friday's Five . . .

Friday's Five: Karen (A Peek at Karen's World)                         Friday's Five: Karen (Karen's Journal)
Friday's Five: Quadmama (Buried in Laundry)                          Friday's Five: Stephanie (Steph in the City)                   
Friday's Five: Michelle (Table for Nine)                                    Friday's Five: Dawn (Bee and Rose)                                
Friday's Five: Francesca (Three Bay B Chicks)                           Friday's Five: Michelle (Scribbit)
Friday's Five: Dianna (The Kennedy Adventures!)                    Friday's Five: Jen (Li'l Man's World)
Friday's Five: TwinMama (Bringing Up Twins)                           Friday's Five: Michele (The Stefo Crew)
Friday's Five: Geri (saddlepotatoes)                                         Friday's Five: Lana (The Kids Did What?!)
Friday's Five: Lisa (Oh Boy, Oh Boy, Oh Boy)                            Friday's Five: Helene (I'm Living Proof that God has a Sense of Humor)

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chill Out, Dawg

After lunch, I usually take our beagle outside and tie her up on a long leash to a tree. I like to think that Daisy enjoys a nap in the fresh air, while the twins and I take ours inside. Everyone gets a quiet moment of solitude and rest.

Yesterday, a family decided to walk their dog past our house during naptime. When Daisy realized that she was tied up and couldn't get to them, she started baying for them to turn around and come back for tea and cookies. If you've never heard a beagle bark, then you probably still have intact eardrums. They're LOUD. I ran out to shush Daisy and bring her inside. Only Daisy decided that she was going to use all her weight and determination to drag me down the driveway towards the strolling neighbors. She literally knocked me off my feet, people. I scraped my knee and my elbow as she brought me to the ground, twisted my back as she pulled me over, and provided the dogwalkers with a visual re-creation of a scene from Beethoven, with Daisy starring as the lovable Saint Bernard and me as the idiotic villain being pulled across the ground, screaming and flailing her legs.

Everyone got what they wanted. The dogwalkers, a good laugh. Me, a nice case of road rash. And Daisy? Let's just say that she's convinced me she should take her afternoon nap on the chair in front of the fireplace.

Dinner last night: chicken noodle soup, sweet corn muffins

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Room to Call Her Own

I mentioned a while back that we were going to convert my craft room into a bedroom for my 12-year-old daughter. Like any and all projects that involve me as the head designer and my husband as lead carpenter, it took forever. Well, not forever, but ALL SUMMER. I promised my daughter that she would have her own room by the time that school started, and I kept that promise, although it just about killed me.

The job that took the longest was simply packing up all my stuff and moving it out. I'm a firm subscriber to the philosophy of "a place for everything and everything in its place." Unfortunately, subscribing and following through are two different concepts. I started out really well, culling and organizing and fitting a miscellaneous assortment of sewing supplies and scrapbooking tools and unfinished art projects into my new craft center. Then my antsy daughter climbed onto my back, and started pestering me to hurry it up. I hate to throw things willy-nilly into boxes, but that's what ended up happening toward the end. Oh, well.


After I FINALLY emptied the room, we were ready to get to work. I painted two of the walls a pale yellow and the other two a light green.

We found some beautiful Vermont maple wood flooring on clearance at the hardware store, and my husband installed it.

For soundproofing, as well as aesthetics, we replaced the flimsy hollow door with a solid wood door. We also replaced the "trim" (1x1 strips tacked on as baseboard) with proper molding that we painted a glossy enamel white. Per usual, when I say "we," I mean my husband.

Next "we" put together the bed, which we bought unassembled from a warehouse to save a little money. We'd gone round and round about what type to buy, since we don't believe our child is a princess entitled to a fancy suite of furniture, but we did want a bed that an adult could sleep in comfortably, should we ever have a house full of guests and need extra space.

We almost went with a twin bed and trundle, but then we pictured Grandpa Christopher trying to roll over on a twin mattress, had ourselves a good laugh, and selected this full-sized bed with storage underneath.

We removed the bifold closet door and hung in its stead a sheer drapery panel
that I found on a clearance shelf for 60% off! Booyah!

I made some inexpensive curtains. Excuse me, window treatments.

Okay, kid. You got your own room . . . now stay in it until your homework's finished.

Dinner last night: chicken pot pie

Exactly one year ago:
Exactly two years ago:
Back to Reality

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Going Postal

One of the downsides to living in Alaska is dealing with the many retailers that think our state is located just east of Egypt. If I try to purchase something off the internet or over the phone or through the mail, they either refuse to fill the order or they tack on extra shipping and handling charges to cover, what? Customs inspection? Foreign taxes? I hate to break it to them, but Alaska is part of the United States and, last time I checked, the USPS bases its prices on weight rather than distance.

Even if they did start charging by the mile, it's a shorter flight from Seattle to Anchorage than, say, Los Angeles to Virginia. So why do I have to pay an extra shipping fee? And just what special handling charges does my purchase require over someone who lives in Minnesota? They're pulling the t-shirt off the shelf. They're sticking it in a padded envelope. They're slapping a mailing label on it and throwing it in the mailbox. How exactly is that different from any other order?

I submit that my order is actually faster to process simply because it takes less time to type A-L-A-S-K-A than it does to key in N-O-R-T-H C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A. And don't tell me it's because they use FedEx or UPS, because guess what? The FedEx and UPS hubs are located in . . . wait for it . . . Anchorage, ALASKA. That's right, people. We've got hangars larger than the state of Rhode Island sitting up here, through which FedEx and UPS filter their millions of packages. Yet I continue to hear from sales reps, "Oh, dear, we can't ship to Alaska," or the even more irritating, "Oh, my gravy, Alaska? That's going to cost you extra."

If you're thinking, Good grief, Kim, shut up and pay your lousy $6.99 shipping and handling, I recently went to order a beaded curtain for my daughter's closet door—I believe it cost $13 and weighed less than a feather—and they wanted to charge me $30 for shipping! THIRTY! DOLLARS! Because I live in the foreign country of Alaska that is accessible only by dog sled. Except I live in a perfectly modern state, which is considered an actual component of America, that can be reached by all forms of transportation, including but not limited to plane, truck, and barge. Can you access Nevada by barge? I didn't think so.

Long rant short . . . I didn't get the beaded curtain, but I'll show you tomorrow what I did put up over the closet entry, along with all the other stuff we did to change my craft room into a preteen's bedroom.

Dinner last night: mac and cheese, green beans

Friday, September 3, 2010

This Just In: Twins Terrorize Fairgrounds!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of Friday's Five to bring you this exclusive footage of a pair of sugar-crazed sisters running amok at the Alaska State Fair. Police are advising citizens to stay indoors until the ragamuffins have been calmed, bathed, and placed in their beds for the evening. We will bring you updates as we receive them.

Dinner last night: chili, rice, and cheese

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

There's Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Bread. There's Pumpkin Muffins, Pumpkin Juice, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds . . .

It's not a proper farewell to summer without visiting the Alaska State Fair. And it's not a proper visit to the Alaska State Fair without swinging by the exhibit of freakishly huge vegetables. This pumpkin was just barely bigger than me, weighing in at 902 pounds. If only I would have eaten one more corn dog.

Dinner last night: veggie stir fry over rice

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sugar and Spice

Each year at the Alaska State Fair, I've allowed my older girls to choose between painted faces or crazy hair. This time around, they both decided to go for face paint.

Now that the twins are 4 years old, I let them go ahead and join in the fun, and they were thrilled to participate for the first time in their sisters' annual tradition. I figured my excited babies would want beautiful sparkly butterflies like all the other little girls. As usual, I thought wrong.

With daughters like these, it's a good thing I don't have boys.

Dinner last night: penne with beef bolognese sauce 

Exactly one year ago: