Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There's No Place Like Home

My 12-year-old daughter and I are back from her soccer team's trip to Regionals. I'm not sure who was happier to greet us at the airport: my husband or the twins. (My middle child didn't even notice we were gone, but then she's 10 years old and lost in her own world of Barbies and tree forts and sidewalk chalk.) My husband gave me a big hug before running off to his mancave to recover; he didn't come out of hiding for 2 days. He confessed that he refused to comb the twins' hair the entire time I was gone, as the wailing and gnashing of teeth was more than he could bear. He admitted that he didn't realize until I went missing for a week just how much I do around the house, and thanked me. THANKED me!

The twins have not let me out of their sight . . . turns out they love me! And they don't want me to ever go away again! Every morning, they climb into bed with me and snuggle up close to make sure I'm still here. Well, whattya know?

The good news is that I discovered I am needed. The bad news is that I discovered this:

My poor lilac. Check out the photo I snapped of the same bush a week before I left. Nothing horrible happened, other than a fortnight passed. The window of opportunity for lilacs to bloom in Alaska is exceedingly small.

Our summers are short, so no second round for the lilacs.
They are done for the season.

However, the wildflowers are picking up the slack. Daisies. Dogwoods. Dandelions. My favorites are all blooming like mad. Wait. Dandelions are NOT my favorite.

It's time to get back to work. There's laundry to be washed and meals to be cooked. I have lots of e-mails to answer and blogs to visit. And tangles to comb out of my 4-year-olds' hair.

Dinner last night: chili

Monday, June 28, 2010

Goodbye, Albuquerque, I Barely Knew Ye

My week in New Mexico has flown by and already come to an end. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get to see more of the landscape outside the city, but I was kept busy chauffering my daughter to her team meetings, team-bonding activities, team dinners, team practices, and tournament games. We had a couple hours of free time between hotel check out and our departing flight, so I headed to the mountains bordering the eastern edge of Albuquerque.

The rocky cliffs of New Mexico have their own rugged beauty. I took a tram to the top of Sandia Peak, where the temperature was a good 30° cooler than on the desert floor.

In stark contrast to the jagged peaks are the jumbled piles of rounded rocks.

The light is so different in New Mexico; most of my pictures look over-exposed, due to the bright desert sun.

I'd like to go back some day, preferably in October when the hot air balloon festival occurs, and then spend some time hiking around and viewing the pueblo ruins. In the meantime, I've got to get home to my husband and little girls . . . I miss 'em!

Dinner last night: chicken and rice casserole

Exactly one year ago:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kids Are Kids

I asked my 12-year-old daughter what she's liked best so far about our trip. Was it the airplane ride to New Mexico? All the great soccer she's been playing? Getting to spend fun time with her friends and teammates? Perhaps the bonding with her dear mother? Her answer . . .

. . . swimming in the hotel pool.

Dinner last night: Cracker Barrel Restaurant!

Exactly one year ago:

Monday, June 21, 2010

Greetings from the Face of the Sun

I really thought that when I came down to New Mexico with my daughter's soccer team that I would have some free time to explore. I had mental images of myself photographing unusual rocks and stunning sunsets as I hiked atop a stony mesa, my thin and tanned legs clad in khaki cargo shorts and a jaunty safari hat upon my head.

The reality is I'm nowhere near any kind of scenic wonder, although my daughter's soccer playing is rather awesome, and the only jaunty thing sitting upon my head is a pair of sunglasses that keep sliding down my sweaty nose. We won't talk about my legs in shorts. Suffice it to say they are neither thin nor tanned.

By the way, it's a cool 95° outside. On the longest day of the year. In the desert.

Dinner last night: pizza

Exactly two years ago:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Behold! The Power of Cheese . . .

You know how every kid goes through that awkward "cheese!" stage when you snap his or her picture and s/he breaks into a maniacal grin that looks more scary than cute? Try photographing twin 4-years-olds and see if you can get a decent smile from both of them at the same time. It's impossible, I tell you!

First, one . . . 

. . . then the other . . .

. . . now both.

Can you guess what my expression looks like?

Dinner last night: smoked salmon pitas

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Willy-Nilly Thursday

It's raining, which is okay with me since my 12-year-old daughter and I are about to set off for New Mexico. So bring it on, Mother Nature, and shower the state while I'm gone. WHILE I'M GONE. When I return, I fully expect the clouds to have cleared and the sunshine to have returned.

My daughter's soccer team will be representing Alaska at the Division IV Regionals in Albuquerque. Desert heat, here we come. I've never been to New Mexico, and am looking forward to visiting an unknown place, but I'm a little nervous about the strong sunshine. I hate it when people talk about their food allergies, because I don't have any of my own and secretly think that allergies are made up so that people can politely refuse foods they don't like,* but that's not going to stop me from telling you about my allergy to the sun.

My skin develops the itchiest rash you can imagine. It starts in specific areas, first the back of my hands and behind my knees. Then it shows up on the inside of my elbow and on the tops of my feet. If it's a really bad case, it will start to spread across my entire body until I'm one big walking piece of itchy crocodile hide. When I was a kid, I would scratch myself until my skin was bleeding. Gross. Sorry. BUT IT ITCHES! Normal sun doesn't bring it out. Neither does a tanning bed. My dermatitis occurs only in really strong sun, like tropical conditions. Oh, the Hawaiian vacations I have spent scratching my arms like an insane monkey. Maybe the dry heat of New Mexico won't trigger the rash. Please! I have enough to worry about with my pasty white thighs being pranced around in shorts . . . don't cover them in a heat rash as well.

Speaking of shorts, I am having fun packing summer outfits to take on our trip. And by "fun," I mean "a time of despair and horror." Even if I possessed any sort of fashion sense, which I don't, I certainly do not own cute summer clothes. I guess that's why credit cards and Albuquerque outlet malls were created. I plan on shopping, is what I'm saying.

*I'm JOKING. Don't you dare e-mail with an explanation of how a loved one almost died after eating peanuts, or I will e-mail back with a close-up picture of my heat rash ; )

Dinner last night: tamale pie, green salad

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby Fever

If there's a negative to living in Alaska, 'twould be the isolation. We're just so darn far away from family and friends. You can imagine the excitement around here when we discovered that my husband's younger sister was planning a visit from Oregon. She had a baby EIGHT MONTHS AGO whom we hadn't yet met.

Brayden, the Beautiful Bouncing Baby Boy

My sister-in-law was rather horrified at the passion my twin daughters displayed toward her son. They would not let him out of their sight. They would not stop talking to him. They would not stop pressing toys into his hand. They would not stop slipping goldfish crackers into his mouth.

They would NOT stop touching him.

Brayden enjoyed the attention, but his poor mom was a nervous wreck by the time she left our house. It's not easy guarding your treasure from a pair of 4-year-old demented pirates.

Dinner last night: barbecue steak, baked potato, steamed green beans

Saturday, June 12, 2010

View from a Kitchen

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm in a bit of a funk. I try not to post when I feel like this, because my writing comes out all life flashes around me like lightning in a dark sky. What the huh?

Fortunately, summer is saving my poor self. Our lilac bush has come to the rescue, blooming in all its fragrant glory right outside my window, reminding me to stop and smell the . . . lilacs.

Washing dishes isn't so bad when I get to look at this!

Aroma Therapy

Dinner last night: turkey sandwiches, rhubarb crisp

Exactly one year ago: 

Exactly two years ago:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Wiped Out

What a weekend. My daughter's soccer team competed in a 3-day tournament, so I spent lots of time at the fields cheering on the girls. We got to bed late last night, and I was looking forward to sleeping in this morning . . .  taking the day easy . . . recovering from our hectic schedule over the last few days. But our septic tank had other plans for me, and woke us up bright and early with the blaring horn of its warning system. Looks like we're in for a day of messing around with sewage. Yay!

I'd rather be sitting in my folding chair at the soccer game.

Dinner last night: spaghetti

Friday, June 4, 2010

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In

A moose standing on one side of the fence in our back yard . . . 

. . . with her babies on the other side.

Don't worry. A little ol' fence won't keep this mother . . . 

. . . away from her twins!

Click on arrow to play:

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

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I'm hanging out at Scribbit today, and hope you'll pop over to read my guest post. NO. I'm not hoping. I'm begging. Her readers are a serious bunch who issue stern reprimands when I try to joke about things. Come save me, my light-hearted peeps!

Dinner last night: chili dogs (I know, I know)

Exactly two years ago:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


On our recent road trip to Valdez, we spied quite a few animals. I missed my opportunity to photograph a rabbit, and I absolutely refuse to post another picture of a moose, but here are a couple shots of some of the other wildlife we came across:

I've been working on a post for Scribbit about how
I'm the only Alaskan who's never seen a swan in the wild,
and then I happened upon this couple with their 3 signets.
Now I'm seeing them everywhere!

The idea of a porcupine is cute. The reality, not so much.

We came across these furry little rodents and decided to keep them as pets.

Dinner last night: chicken enchilada soup, green salad

Exactly one year ago:

Exactly two years ago:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pronounced Val-deez

If you're like me, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer vacation. It's the first weekend that we take the kids on an official family trip somewhere. We chose this year not to camp at a river, since that's where the rest of Alaska seems to go, and, frankly, if I don't enjoy standing in line at the post office, why in the world would I want to line up elbow-to-elbow along a river bank only to catch a fishing hook in my ear? So, this holiday, we headed to Valdez.

It has been years since I last visited this beautiful little town where I lived for a time during my youth, and I forgot about the ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS drive to get there.

You toodle through the mountains . . .

. . . past a couple of glaciers . . .

. . . over Thompson Pass . . . STOP. I have to quiz you. Any idea what those angled rods are for? I can tell you from firsthand experience, because my family once got caught in a nasty blizzard as we were returning home to Valdez one winter.

Those guides are lifesavers for people driving through blinding, white-out conditions where the snow is drifting and covering tracks of any cars that may have gone before you, when you can no longer see where the road ends or begins. Keep your vehicle between those two rows of markers (you can't tell in this daylight shot, but the top bars hanging across the road are actually reflectors that shine like a beacon in the dark) and they'll guide you out of the Pass. Now where was I? . . . over Thompson Pass . . .

. . . through Keystone Canyon, with its hundreds of waterfalls . . .

. . . to your final destination of Small Town, USA.

Dinner last night: cheeseburgers on the barbie, chocolate cake

Exactly one year ago: