Friday, February 26, 2010

One of Those Weeks

Hoo boy. I don't know if I'm coming or going. Every time I look over at the computer and think I should sit down and try to blog a little, the phone rings or a child yells for help with homework or the cat throws up on our new carpeting. In addition to my regular duties of wife, mother, and chief complainer, over the past few days I have found myself . . .


. . . cooking up a special dinner and
baking a cake for my daughter's twelfth birthday . . .



video
(click arrow to play)
. . . clapping wildly after my daughters presented their poems in front of the entire elementary school . . .




. . . and taking Daisy to the vet to get fixed.
Sweet little thing napped away the next day
stoned on pain killers.


And we can't forget the Olympics! I've been trying to catch what I can on TV. My favorite so far has been women's ski cross. I can imagine myself jumping and flying down a hill, racing against 3 other skiers. Of course, in my imagination I am 20 years younger and a couple of pounds lighter. Oh, and my hair is blonde and I'm wearing a really snazzy pair of snow goggles. Also, I am winning. I am awarded an old-fashioned medal like the one they put around Nadia Comaneci's neck—a gold medallion that looks like an actual medal and not a piece of abstract art. I love you, Canada, but those wavy medals have got to go.




Dinner last night: shredded pork enchiladas, refried beans, corn


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Time Flies

My daughter turns 12 this week. Twelve! She is an official pre-teen. How did this happen? One minute, she's lying in her bassinet, reaching for her toes and cooing; the next, she's sharing a hot fudge sundae with her friends and giggling. I'm almost afraid to wake up tomorrow morning—her wedding day will have arrived.

Happy Birthday!



Dinner last night: chicken and biscuits


Exactly one year ago today:



Friday, February 19, 2010

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

Last year was the first time in my life that I observed Lent, and I have to say it was a very worthwhile experience for me. My 6 weeks of fasting from the Internet and spending time instead focusing on the Lord helped me to set priorities and find the balance I was looking for.

Because 2009's Lent was so successful, I didn't sense the need to fast from the computer in 2010; I've been doing well with my commitment to spend less time blogging. I still wanted to observe Lent this year, but didn't feel strongly about sacrificing in any particular area . . . until I read a post over at The Kennedy Adventures! Her mention of "40 Bags in 40 Days" really struck a chord with me, and I decided literally on the morning of Ash Wednesday how I will be observing Lent.

Each day, I will collect one bag's worth of items to remove from my house. The size of the bag will vary, according to the room in which I'm working, and sometimes the "bag" will be a trash can. Or a very large box. I've got a lot of stuff, people.

To keep myself accountable, I'll maintain a running list over on my sidebar. The goal is not to de-clutter, although that will be a wonderful bonus, but to work through my issues of hanging onto things and feeling overwhelmed. You know what I mean. Feeling that if I get rid of an object, I'm somehow throwing away the person who gave it to me. Or facing an organizing project that appears so daunting I can't even get started, and then worrying that maybe I'm just lazy or unmotivated. See? Only God and some serious medication can help me through these next 6 weeks . . . let's get this party started!


Why, Kim, whatever are you talking about?
Look at how neat and tidy your home is . . .


That's because whenever I'm short on time, and company is about to arrive, I grab up everything that's littering the floor and furniture and counter tops, throw it all into laundry baskets, and then hide them behind the couch in my bedroom.




Dinner last night: pork loin in apricot sauce, roasted potatoes and carrots, green salad



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Avalanche Season

In the last week or so, the air has warmed up considerably. Unfortunately, this means dangerous and terrible conditions are occurring to the snowpack in the backcountry, and over the weekend we lost at least 3 Alaskans to avalanches.

I lived for a time in Valdez, a beautiful little town with magnificent mountains serving as its backdrop, and I vividly recall a crisp morning when I was walking to the bus stop in the cold of early spring. I heard several sharp CRAAAACKKKs in the distance, followed by a low rumbling that grew louder and louder. The thundering seemed to echo and bounce off the ring of mountains encircling the small town. I tried not to panic as my young mind attempted to process the unfamiliar sounds. An earthquake about to hit? A military convoy approaching? I later learned that I was hearing the snow—miles away and back in the mountains—breaking off at the top and sliding down, gathering force and momentum. Avalanches.

Seward Highway connects Alaska's largest city of Anchorage with the Kenai Peninsula, and every year cars are prevented from passing through certain sections due to natural obstacles. In the summer, it might be a rock slide that tumbles down a mountain and onto the road. In the winter, snow slides shut down the highway—sometimes for a couple hours, sometimes for a couple days—until maintenance crews can clear a safe passage.

This is the remainder of a small slide that had covered a portion of the road, but was quickly cleared. You will see at least 5 of these when you drive a particular 40-mile stretch of road that winds along the base of the Chugach mountains outside of Anchorage; fortunately, most slides peter out before reaching the highway.


My girls have dug a labyrinth of tunnels through the snow in our back yard, but as of last Friday, they are now forbidden to crawl around in them. Chances are that if the melting snow did collapse on them, they'd be just find and could stand up easily . . . but I'm not willing to take those chances.



Dinner last night: polzone soup, cheesy bread sticks



Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's the Thought that Counts

You'd think that I'd have learned by now how to select a line at the grocery store. It's not like I haven't been dealing with cashiers and rickety carts and the 12-items-or-less counter for a million years. That which seems quick and easy upon checking out never is. When I zip in behind a guy holding one item, and then silently congratulate myself for avoiding the next lane over where an old man is transferring the contents of a cart piled high with frozen dinners and canned peaches to a broken belt that's not moving, I deserve to be punished. Case in point: Valentine's weekend.

Fool that I am, I take my place behind a guy holding a string, which after straining my neck backwards, I see is attached to a huge helium balloon floating several feet above our heads. I am amazed at how big it is, and appreciate this man's attempt to impress his Valentine with a large red lightbulb. Wait. What? That can't be right. Maybe it's a misshapen heart. Actually, it's both . . . a heart-shaped lightbulb with the phrase YOU TURN ME ON! emblazoned across one side.

Sheesh. I look away quickly, not wanting to embarrass the man. Obviously, he's going for the biggest, flashiest, most expensive balloon that he can find to assure his spouse that she is one sexy mama. I imagine a 40something wife sitting on the edge of the bed weeping that she feels old, fat, and unattractive. Her poor husband sits next to her and awkwardly pats her hand, vowing to himself that he will use this Valentine's Day to prove to her that she's still his sweetheart. He'll show her! He'll buy her the biggest balloon he can find to declare his undying desire for her. YOU TURN ME ON!

I look toward the left end of the store where a sea of helium balloons shimmers and hovers over the shelves of chocolates and stuffed bears. Those balloons are all red and shaped like hearts, but not one is as big or bold as the lightbulb that the dude in front of me is holding. He must have snatched up the last one. Of course, the plastic disk he's clutching in his hand is not marked with a price. The cashier takes the weighted end of the string from him, turns it over to make sure there's no sticker on the other side, then swipes it across the scanner just in case. Nothing.

The cashier spends a minute or two flicking through the pages of her little directory, then picks up her phone and punches in the number of someone who can run down a price for her. Good luck with that. In the decades that I've spent food shopping, I have yet to find an available employee who can help me find anything at the grocery store. She waits another minute until Mystery Price Clerk finally puts down his sandwich and picks up the phone, then starts explaining her situation: she's got a balloon with no price. She doesn't know what type, it's a balloon. Helium. Let's see . . . it says . . . she looks up . . . squints . . . YOU TURN . . . she giggles nervously . . . it says, um . . . she drops her voice to a whisper, "You turn me-on-or-something-like-that." Mystery Price Clerk can't understand her. The cashier tries another tack. "I'm on 7. Can you see it?" She begins jerking on the string, so that the enormous balloon begins bobbing wildly. Anyone in the store who hadn't yet noticed the monstrosity can't help now but to stare in wonderment at YOU TURN ME ON! bucking around the ceiling. The man's face has turned a brilliant shade of organic beet, but bless his soul, he doesn't say one word. In for a penny, in for a pound. He's going to reassure his insecure wife if it kills him.

The near-sighted Mystery Price Clerk hiding behind a tinted window somewhere finally puts on his glasses and spies the risquè Macy's float, proceeds to take 5 minutes looking up the price in his Mystery Price Computer, then relays the amount over the phone to the cashier who keeps casting apologetic glances toward the restless masses who have gathered in the non-moving line that currently snakes past the magazine rack and around the soda cooler. Our misery is almost over. The poor guy throws his cash in the direction of the register, seizes the string to his balloon, and races toward the exit with YOU TURN ME ON! trailing behind him like a cartoon speech bubble. The stunned cashier stands there with the unclaimed receipt in her outstretched hand. The dozen or so people who have stacked up behind me begin shuffling their feet in anticipation of advancing. Lord knows what they're thinking about that man and his balloon.

I move forward and place my box of tampons on the belt.




Dinner last night: quick and easy Chinese chicken, rice, green peas



Exactly one year ago today:




Thursday, February 11, 2010

Score!

My poor twins. They look like ragamuffins most of the time. Fortunately, 3-year-olds don't care too much about appearances, and my daughters dance obliviously and happily around the living room in their mismatched hand-me-downs, uncombed hair full of static and waving wildly about their little heads.

I recently ran into Costco to grab a barrel of dog food and a vat of mayonnaise. As you may know, the center section of the warehouse contains a dozen or more tables piled high with folded clothes. You've got your jeans. And your soft fleece bathrobes. Then there are your cardigans. And your faux leather jackets. Don't get me started on the capri-style yoga pants. One table caught my eye, because it held brightly-colored toddler outfits. I moved closer. My vision wavered. For a second, I thought I saw a plaquard with Hannah Andersson printed on it. Oh, angels in Heaven. I did see Hannah Andersson . . . and underneath it . . . $13.

These brand-new dresses normally cost $38.
Costco rocks.



Dinner last night: salmon patties with creamed peas, green salad



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Woods in Winter

The weather was glorious this past weekend. A large storm passed through, dumping almost a foot of snow. Then the skies cleared and the sun came out.


The temperature hovered just below 20° . . .


. . . perfect conditions for taking a walk.


The trees stood under their mantles of white . . .


. . . stately and still in the quiet of the forest.




Dinner last night: broccoli shrimp alfredo, garlic toast, steamed green beans



Exactly one year ago today:



Monday, February 8, 2010

Close Call

Last week, our computer up and died. Just like that. No warning, the ungrateful piece of technology. I majorly freaked out, because I had a ton of pictures sitting in my iPhoto folder waiting to be backed up and our tax return sitting on the desktop—all finished, except for ONE final piece of information that I was waiting on to arrive in the mail. Let me just say, in clear terms that my computer can understand,

Kim was very : (

Fortunately, my husband lives for computer challenges. He rubbed his hands together in glee at the thought of taking a 'puter apart and chortled something about "reformatting the operating system." He took our machine to his office, where he sacrificed a goat over the keyboard, and brought the computer back home this weekend . . . working again! He even managed to extract my photos and tax return before wiping the hard drive clean. Good man! He fears our computer is about to expire permanently, though, so we have to think about buying a new one.

Of course, my husband is over the moon about shopping for a shiny, brand new computer, while I am spitting nails. You do realize that they purposely make computers to fail after a few years, just like they refuse to manufacture light bulbs that last forever or mass produce solar-powered cars. They know perfectly well how to construct them, but products that are well-made and good for the environment slow down the flow of money pouring into their coffers. I can't stand the thought of rewarding the greedy corporations, but they've got us by the short hairs of the neck, don't they? DON'T THEY?!?! she screamed in fury at the evil computer monitor that just sat there, blinking innocently, like it wasn't going to freeze up at any moment.




Dinner last night: Superbowl fingerfoods (honey chicken wings, pigs in a blanket, lots o' chips and dip)



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Afternoon Stroll

My 9-year-old loves any and all creatures, from lizards to birds to guinea pigs. She's particularly fond of dogs—the smaller and cuddlier, the better. She adores our beagle, Daisy, whom she overindulges with too many biscuits and a prime sleeping spot at the foot of her bed.

When she heard that Grandma was bringing her little ball of fluff to Alaska for a visit, my daughter was beside herself with joy. Each day after school, she races home to play with the dogs and then bundle them up for their daily walk.

Grandma bought a blue Snuggie for Daisy.
You heard right. A Snuggie. FOR DOGS.

I refuse to discuss Ollie's designer sweater.



Dinner last night: pork chops with sour cherry sauce, mashed potatoes, green salad


Exactly one year ago today:
Late Afternoon on Turnagain Arm

Monday, February 1, 2010

Technological Savants

I know. I know. All sorts of studies suggest that video games are harmful to brain development and cause everything from autism to seizures to sassy talk. I'm clinging with a death grip to the one research project that indicates children who grow up playing Wii develop excellent hand-eye coordination and lightning-fast reflexes. I'd like to think that I'm preparing my girls for successful careers in surgery. Or kick boxing.




Dinner last night: Fiesta Dinner (a beef/rice/bell pepper mixture)