Monday, December 19, 2011

My Day

I played lions a lot today. I also did some other stuff but playing lions was the most important thing I did. In between laundry and lunch and dinner and changing bedsheets I crawled around on all fours and talked in a Sarabi-esque voice. I let a baby lion ride on my back as I crossed a deep river. I hunted with my cub and ate the meat we killed together. I groomed my cub by pretending to lick her hair lovingly. I admired her teeth and how strong they were (as I was required to incorporate playing lions into the flossing routine.) I even said the goodnight prayer in my lion-mother voice. And called my own daughter Simba for most of the day. Right now my darling cub is nestled in her bed and this memory is nestled in my heart.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Time to say goodbye...

The past week has been difficult. For me and for many people in our community. What are the words when you lose someone that you know truly loved you and cared for you. I will miss you and never forget you. You were always so generous with your love. I hope in some small way I can be like you as a tribute to you and your love. I know you didn't want to go but sometimes we don't have a choice. Thank you for fighting so hard. I believe in heaven and I believe I will see you again. Until then, I will miss you.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving...

'Twas the night before Thanksgiving
And all through the house
Every creature was stirring
Except for the mother
Who could have been stirring
Preparing and cooking
But instead was blogging
And facebook stalking.
The holiday cookies half-gone, quite delicious
The merry pile of unwashed, crusty dishes
(you like that don't you, delicious, dishes...)
The table covered with crap in all shapes and sizes
The laundry unwashed, nearly a crisis.
But fortunately this house is not hosting Thanksgiving
And the family is generally very forgiving
So she lets go of her high expectations
And hopes the lesson lasts for the duration.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thoughts for Today

It's a bitterly cold morning here in Fairbanks. No matter how long you let the car run it really doesn't get warm inside. The dog is too hot inside but lies down to protect his paws from the burning snow if we let him play outside for any length of time. He's gotten very efficient at going potty. Fortunately the forecast indicates that we will be seeing a reprieve soon, and by that I mean, it's possibly going to warm up to -20*F tomorrow. I'm taking Mia to gymnastics today, they have a cut-off temperature of -45*F and we're way warmer than that. Ten whole degrees warmer than that. So we're going to gymnastics and going to live our lives, mostly inside. Commence Christmas!!!! It's kind of nice to be stuck inside cleaning, organizing, browsing cookbooks and watching Elf. I really like this season and make it last for 2 months every year. Usually I start listening to the music in October but Jason convinced me to wait until November this year. So far in seasonal cooking adventures I have roasted an eight-pound pumpkin and pureed it for a soup (I'd never done that before and it was interesting). I also found a recipe for soft ginger snaps that turned out pretty well. This year I think the cookies I am going to focus on are chocolate dipped macaroons and Purcell Magic Cookies:

1/2 cup milk
1 cube butter
2 cups sugar
1 heap TB cocoa powder

Bring this mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute on medium heat, stirring when needed.

Take off burner and add:

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups oats ( regular oats, not quick acting)
1-2 tsp vanilla
Stir until thoroughly mixed, and drop on waxed paper to cool or on a greased cookie sheet. They are great frozen or stored in the fridge and they taste like a candy bar. Also they are super-fast to make and usually everyone raves about them. I really like putting the whole pan to cool right outside the door and then usually they set up instantly during the winter.

Happy Wednesday and may God bless us every one.

Monday, October 31, 2011

More Pictures From NYC

One night in New York, Mary and I walked to the Hudson River. When we came back home Jason had cooked an amazing Italian meal from scratch for us. It was heaven.

Yeah, I'm the crazy lady taking pictures of the pumpkins in Whole Foods. You just have to live in Fairbanks to understand why being in a Whole Foods feels like a magical wonderland.

Not to gross anyone out, but I realized I didn't post any pictures of myself in New York... and the only one I could find was of me making out. Sorry. And I'm totally lying. There's lots of other pictures.

For tradition's sake, we got another photo of the cool statue at the Natural History Museum. I still don't know at all what it is or who made it. We just had to take another picture since we did last time we were in NYC.

Mia was a real trooper at the Natural History Museum. It's really big! We were there for approximately 5 hours.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sniffing Markers

So yesterday my adorable 3 year old was using a marker that writes on glass. I had given her permission to write on our big hallway mirror. Everything was going perfectly until she said, "Mmmm, I like to smell this marker." I said, don't do that, it hurts your body. Then she got worried so I clarified that only a little probably wouldn't hurt her so she proceeds to sniff it again and said, "I'm just doing a little." At the bottom of this rabbit-hole I found myself saying,

1. Don't do it again.

2. It hurts kid's brains.

3. Do you want to not be smart anymore?

Oh geez. I'm THAT mom. Also the substance abuse talk? I thought I was going to have to do that... not now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Where to begin...

Well it's been so long since I've blogged I feel like I've lived one or two lifetimes. A few important things/highlights:

1. I decided listing 1300 things to be grateful for feeds into my OCD side in a bad way and I will blog about things I am grateful for in a more organic and less forced way.

2. I had a bad flare with my IBD and a short course of steroids did the trick. I am now steroid-free again and happy. Turns out I like being healthy.

3. I had a wonderful week of Fairbanks fall where everything was golden. My sister and her husband came up and we had the best week of weather. We went riding in the White Mountains, ate lots of good local food and took walks in Creamer's Field. It was idyllic.

4. We just got back from a great trip to NYC which is always a treat. I am so happy I got better in time to go. We got to spend time with Mary and Ryan and Ilene and Lyle were also able to come for part of the time. The food, the people, the fashion inspiration... the list goes on. We got to ride bikes all the way through Central Park this trip which was really fun. We also got to experience the Planetarium at the Natural History Museum which was amazing! Mia was old enough to go to a Broadway show this time so we all went to the Lion King together which was unbelievable.

5. After gorging ourselves on amazing NYC food for two weeks, one of our last nights there we watched a documentary about eating more vegetables. It was fairly persuasive and so I came home with a renewed vigor as well as inspiration from delicious food we got to eat, to use more whole foods and fruits and vegetables in my cooking. I am using Heidi Swanson's book, Super Natural Everyday, and trying to work my way through the entire book. So far this week I have made Wild Rice Casserole, Baked Oatmeal, and am eying the Black Sesame Otsu for later this weekend. I also found a recipe online for Eggplant Parmesan, written by the guys from Torrisi's, one of our favorite restaurants in NYC. The family has been really happy with the results so far and I am really enjoying cooking new things.

Now for some pictures!

Lady Liberty, even more gorgeous in person!

Adorable newlyweds Mary and Ryan.

Jason pushing Mia at her favorite playground in Central Park, we actually had to stand in line for the swings since we went on Columbus Day and about one million other people had the same idea.

Got to visit MOMA which was something I've been wanting to do; it was really cool to see Starry Night in person.

Jason's Dad and Mom enjoying the great weather on Liberty Island.

I'll post some more pictures (including some of the food I've been cooking) in the next few days. Glad to be back!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Righteous Ronnie Rants at the Lady from the Eye Clinic

Hi Person that I don't know. I barely made it through sitting with you in the waiting room. And I'm here to tell you why you were driving me completely nuts. Ok, first my disclaimer. I really try to not judge people so your "behavior" was what I had an issue with, not you.
1. You were way too loud. I got to hear all your personal business and frankly I don't need or want to know that stuff.
2. Your kids appear to be oh, 9 & 10 years old. They don't need a play-by-play of your every movement. "Kids, I'm going over to this side of the counter..." But way to hover. In a suffocating way that even I, an innocent bystander, felt the aftershocks of.
3. So your son fills out a coloring sheet. Good for him. Now he's too embarrassed to turn it in to the counter to get his prize. Probably because, deep in his heart of hearts, he knows he's too old for that crap. So he asks you to go turn it in for him. This is when the fun starts. You (loudly) commence a speech on the value of trying things for himself, if he doesn't practice now, what's he going to do when Mommy isn't there with him. I kid you not. "Dont'cha think?" In a patronizing manner you address your boy-man and insist he give you eye contact while you embarrass him in front of the entire waiting room. You ask him to speak up and tell you what the matter is. He admits in a whispered voice that he's scared. You say, "WHAT?" He, exasperated, says, "I"M SCARED!" You berate him publicly for this. His sister wanders over and asks what's wrong. You tell her loudly and in a self-righteous tone that he's scared to go claim his prize. The sister yanks the coloring sheet from him and marches up to the front desk. Never fear Mommy, you have given her all the necessary tools to know how to emasculate someone.
4. To sum it up you treated your pre-teen son like a baby and humiliated him in front of the whole waiting room and I for one did not appreciate it. Let your son grow up, quit treating him like a baby and saying things like, "You're mommy's big boy". He deserves independence and freedom to make his own choices. If he doesn't want to turn in the stupid coloring sheet, then hooray, life is it's own consequence and he doesn't get the stupid prize. So ironic that you were counseling him on practicing independence. I don't get it. But I do know that it was all I could do to keep still and I found myself clenching my fists listening to your erroneous psycho-babble.
5.All that to say, you are the reason the game "Glare at every nurse who doesn't call your name" was invented. (The one that called me got the smile.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Almost Cried At The Gym...

From happiness though. Apparently there's a new study that indicates "The highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease (relative risk 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.44 to 0.90)) and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels." I needed that, chocolate scientists. Of course they advise moderation but still it was a great way to start a Tuesday. Here's a news article with more info. Let us all raise our chocolate bars in a celebratory cheer, "To health!"

* This website and any information on it or any links to other websites provided by this website are not intended for medical advice. Don't sue me. I just like chocolate.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

1300 Things: Week 5

Missed a week so we'll pick up here. Instead of blogging and stuff I helped Mia get over a very violent 24 hour flu. Which thankfully Jason and I did not seem to get so there's number one:
101. Jason and I did not get the flu this week.
102. Yesterday. After rain and cloudiness off and on the past few days, it was 70*F and windy, blue sky with fluffy white clouds. Instead of doing chores or errands Mia and I went to the park and rode the train, played on the equipment, ate our lunch and had a few bites of overpriced ice cream. It was amazing.
103. My new-found pizza crust recipe (it's thin and maybe needs a little tweaking but I think I have a winner:
104. This song by Jem:

I often find I'm behind the times in discovering artists. I don't know why but better late than never. I really like it.
105. The word "ramekins". Say it a few times. Say it as if it's the answer to the evil plans you have for world domination. Following up with maniacal laughter won't hurt. You'll get what I mean.
106. French onion soup. You see, that goes very well with ramekins.
107. This cool metal jewelry tree
from, a fair trade importing company.
108. This is a (semi) deep one that I've been thinking about for the last few weeks. Ever since I turned thirty-one (not thirty, that didn't really make the difference), I find almost everything is easier. Standing up for myself, picking blueberries, cooking, peeling apples, I don't know, you name it, it's easier then it's ever been. Not that I've arrived, I just feel like I've been doing this thing called life long enough to maybe not give a crap anymore? The struggle of life seems less. I care less about what people think, and just in general feel more comfortable in my own skin. I like myself more than I did in my twenties. So for all of you out there behind me and not sure you are wanting to head this way, trust me it's freaking awesome! For those of you older than me, so does it keep getting better or does it hit the fan at a certain point?
109. Anderson Cooper finally lost it! You can watch him laugh himself silly here.
110. I am grateful the US is taking a stand in regards to the crisis in Syria this week. You can read about it here. Our President has called for Syria's President Assad to leave office as well as instituting serious sanctions. Yeah that's right I'm happy about something our government is doing. Amazing isn't it?
111. This informative website regarding slave-free chocolate.
112. This amazing recipe for vegan lemon scones with vegan clotted cream. I made these and I am not vegan but if that's what vegans get to eat then I am a jealous omnivore.
113. Baby Can I Hold You by Tracy Chapman:

114. My personal "Find the best tiramisu in town" challenge. Several different tests must be made at each location to ascertain, scientifically, the superior product. Results will be forthcoming at a much later date. (This study could take several years.) Last night's was from Gamberdella's Pasta Bella and was perfectly creamy with a dense but not dry cake.
115. Mia's current pretend name: Lollipop
116. The fact that she spends about 20% of her day pretending to be a lion and roaring. Although it can get annoying (think Lion King fight scene on endless loop), I know I will miss it when she grows up.
117. My friend and constant companion, the hot pink Nalgene water bottle.
118. Tillamook sharp cheddar.
119. Excercise TV.
120. Fall is around the corner, one of my favorite seasons in Fairbanks. I love how everything smells and it's very comfortable and reassuring.
121. My new cookbooks by Heidi Swanson.
122. I am grateful that chocolate cures me of headaches. (Ibuprofen just isn't as fun.)
123. I am grateful for this website; it inspires me and I can spend hours looking at it!
124. Supportive places on the interwebs for people with IBD, like this.
125. Getting to see family, hi Josh it's nice to have you in my living room right now!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

1300 Things: Week 4

A continuation of things I am very grateful for:

75. Snoqualmie Falls Lodge Pancake and Waffle mix
76. This song sung by The Frames
77. Ripe chokecherries, I think they are shiny.. (oooo, shiny!!!)
78. Southwest Sandwiches
79. My shamrock plant, thank you for still being alive. I know it's been a hard life and I appreciate all you've had to go through to hang in there. Keep on keeping on.
80. This song by The Civil Wars
81. The free piano I inherited. SCORE!
82. Gustav Klimt

83. Walking barefoot on cold ground.
84. Sharp hair scissors.
85. Funnel cake
86. Thai iced tea
87. Smoked salmon. Add cream cheese, a cracker, and you have dinner!
88. The look of joy on Mia's face when we took her on the Dragon Swing ride at the fair today.
89. How big she looked riding a horse all by herself today.
90. That my husband, after working 60 hours or so this week, wanted to take us all to the fair as soon as he got off for the weekend.
91. That Mia uses kitchen utensils as microphones just like I did when I was a little girl.
91. Pointillism
92. Dry mustard
93. This book, well loved in childhood, I was able to get a copy of it last year.
94. The smell of Country Kitchen.
95. The fact that I was able to keep Bando from eating the dead bird he found in our yard tonight. As gross as that was, it would have been ten times worse had he eaten it.
96. This awesome book about gnomes.
97. The discovery of pretzels dipped in spicy mustard, umm yes please!
98. The endless possibilities when bananas get too ripe.
99. Creamer's Field
100. One day of really nice weather after *someone* (weatherperson) said there was a frost advisory... as far as I know it didn't happen! Take that, evil winter!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Poison & Wine

Ok, can't get enough of this song and it's by the duo The Civil Wars, two friends who harmonize amazingly. It's another folk group; I'm kind of in a folksy sort of mood. The music video is fairly simple but it's just a great, great song and would be awesome used for a dance routine. In fact, now I am wondering if I've seen it used in a dance routine... nevermind, here's the song:

I hope you love it as much as I do. It is awesome!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paradise Lost

I recently discovered the musical group Storyhill; I was listening to Prairie Home Companion the other day and they tacked on the song Paradise Lost. I went home and tried to find the song, even called KUAC, Laurie called me back and then I found it online finally mid-week. Now that I know what song it is I have played it one billion times. I am not normally into country music but I would say this falls vaguely under the folk category. Two male voices harmonizing with acoustic guitars stood out as a little different and I especially love the second line of the bridge. Ignore the talking at the beginning and just hold on... the music is coming. For your perusal, I give you... Paradise Lost:

Everybody wants a piece of paradise
A house up on the hill with a view of heaven
Now everyone's here so close together
Paradise is lost and gone forever

When we were young we used to walk out in those fields
And run forever in the backyard woods
Now the old trails disappear in neighborhoods
With streets named after what's gone for good

The hills above town used to be the best place
For starry eyed lovers and inspration
Now it's all paved
Every street's a dead end
And empty summer houses stand all along them


Now there's no trespassing
There's no going back again
I only hope you remember
The way it was, what we had back then


Everybody wants a piece of paradise
A house up on the hill with a view of heaven

Saturday, July 30, 2011

1300 Things: Week 3, a guest post by Mia

This week I asked Mia to tell me things that she liked, things that she was thankful for. Here it is:
51. Couches
52. Beds
53. Butterflys
54. Dragonflys
55. Laptops
56. Rings
57. Walls
58. Lamps
59. Furnaces
60. And colors
61. And dogs
62. Balloons
63. And chapstick
64. Blankets
65. And dollies
66. And pigs
67. Coffee tables
68. Cookies
69. Playing blocks
70. Purple
71. Sesame Street
72. Cheerios
73. Curious George
74. Hello Dolly song
75. Haidie and Emma and Jak-Jak and Bubba

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Weekend

 Mia and her friends after our second blueberry picking expedition. They did a great job!
Friday we went to the library end of summer reading program parade at Pioneer Park.
 Bando was a star attraction. About one thousand people asked to pet him.
 Mia was fascinated/frightened of the giant yellow rubber duck. "Why is it big, why?"
Saturday was Italian night. Homemade meatballs with Black Angus from Homegrown Market and this delicious salad. Throw in a few lit candles and a "That's Amore" Pandora station and it trumps any restaurant in town.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

1300 Things: Week 2

More things I am grateful for...

26. The house across the street is burnt orange and when the sun sets behind us it reflects off that house and gives everything a warm glow.
27. The Alaska Coffee Roasting Company, comforting and familiar.
28. I am grateful for my husband mocking me. He does it just right and always makes me laugh even if I am really down.
29. How peaceful he looks when he sleeps.
30. How my daughter always wants "anullah kiss" at bedtime.
31. We have managed to own and not lose for 8 years, the best pair of nail clippers in the universe.
32. Two of my lovelies helping me with my wardrobe, thank you Bethy and Monika!
33. Vanilla candles.
34. Spiral staircases.
35. Crab and french bread on Christmas Eve.
36. Mark Rothko.
37. Blueberry season.
38. How Mia wakes up like a bat out of hell.
39. My artichoke dip recipe. (If I write this before breakfast there will always be a lot of food references.)
40. Free art.
41. Chocolate Coconut Milk icecream.
42. So You Think You Can Dance.
43. Apple Butter and Peanut Butter on Toast.
44. Vegetarian Pad Thai sans tofu at Bahn Thai on 3rd Avenue in Fairbanks, AK.
45. Din Tai Fung in Bellvue, WA. Just the best Chinese food I have ever eaten!
46. I am grateful for my washer and dryer.
47. Johnny-jump-ups.
48. Baking molasses cookies in the fall.
49. Lists. You see, thinking of 1300 things to be grateful for is right up my alley. How could it not be? A list 1300 items long? Perfect!
50. YouTube videos of people laughing uncontrollably.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Cried For You..

My brother Johnny introduced me to this song last year and I am addicted to it. I couldn't even listen to it without crying, well at least the first hundred times or so. Then I couldn't sing it without making myself cry; I find it actually quite handy to have a reliable trigger for crying valve release. Unfortunately the effectiveness has worn off as I've continued to listen to it, play it on the piano, watch the music video, etc. I've explored more by Katie Melua since then and am completely entranced. I encourage you to try her stuff on for a day and see if it's a good fit for you. She recently released a recording in concert with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra and she is a top caliber vocalist and artist. If you have to start somewhere listening to her stuff, I recommend this order:

1. I Cried For You
2. Nine Million Bicycles
3. If The Lights Go Out
4. Just Like Heaven
5. It's Only Pain
6. The Flood
7. And my current favorite, featured in the movie "The Tourist", No Fear of Heights

I leave you with the video for I Cried For You, beware it's a little weird and if you find it distracting just listen; the music is heartbreaking and beautiful.

P.S. Mia loves this video and requests it over and over again. It has sparked a great discussion about computer animation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blueberries and Watercolors

The blueberries are ready! And according to research, eating blueberries is really one of the best things you can do for yourself. So we're making room in our freezer and eating up all of last year's berries! Here's a couple of links about blueberries, one from Far North Science, and one from Society for Neuroscience.

Here's my lovely one eating her blueberry pancakes this morning:

And painting yesterday morning.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our Weekend

                                          My first attempt at bran muffins.
                                           Daddy brought out a cool firetruck to play with.
                                          I like her all dressed up in a tutu playing with a firetruck.
                                          Bando at 4 months, he is getting really big.
                                          Upside down pineapple daughter.

Trying out a new favicon...

It seems little because it is, but posting about it seems like the easiest way to get it to work so here goes!

A New(ish) Therapy for IBD

I recently stumbled across this article from Science Daily on an oral delivery system for siRNA (small interfering RNA) using thioketal nanoparticles to encapsulate them. It's a fascinating read and always very encouraging knowing that they are always developing new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease. Someday they might be able to effectively turn off a switch in patient's DNA, telling them to stop producing too much tumor necrosis factor. Or they might be able to grow new organs for transplant into patients using the patient's own stem cells. The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Rant from Righteous Ronnie...

Dear Woman who waved at me to "slow down",

Number one, I don't like you. So just know that for starters. Also I was going the speed limit. So mind your own business. Also, I am watching for you. The next time you wave at me I will stop my car and get out and then we can talk face to face. Also, if you are so worried about me hitting your (stupid) little dogs then here's a thought: leash them or fence them, I really don't care. The next time I see them on the road I will call Animal Control. Your dogs are a nuisance and could cause an accident. Here is the link to the Borough Ordinance regarding Animal Ownership. Also if you don't like living on a 30 mph road you shouldn't have moved there. To recap: You and I are probably not destined to be pals. Stop waving at people, it's rude and you obviously need your speed perception checked since I was really really really going the speed limit. Restrain your animals.

I get why you waved at me, you thought I was speeding and you took it upon yourself to be a corrective force in the neighborhood. You probably also feel that owning a home in the area you do gives you the right, nay, the responsibility to be slightly snooty and condescending. It's fine if I was actually speeding. Or if your death traps of miniature dogs weren't running wild. But you were wrong, and then some more wrong so if you apologize and admit to everything I think we can move on.

Sincere Regards,
Righteous Ronnie (yes that job is already taken)

Friday, July 15, 2011

1300 Things To Be Grateful For

I recently started following a blog and the author, who got the idea from another author, is doing a project called 1300 Things To Be Grateful For. The idea is a great one and every week I am going to try and emulate her by listing 25 things from the previous week that I am grateful for. The project will end next year around July 15th.

These will appear in no particular order and there is no time like the present so here are my first twenty-five things. I really do feel blessed and I think it's really good for my mental health to remember just how much I am blessed.

1. My husband being back from out of town.
2. My daughter.
3. My extended family. You all rock!
4. Amazing friends.
5. My cute dog, who at this moment is destroying an empty coconut water box.
6. Coconut water. Much better for you than gatorade and very good at replacing electrolytes.
7. Organic oolong tea.
8. The color green.
9. Electricity. You make my life so easy.
10. Free blogging.
11. I'm glad I have all my limbs.
12. Nice strangers, especially medical professionals.
13. Hot running water.
14. Lots of books.
15. Homemade macaroni and cheese.
16. Long chats with dear friends.
17. A hug from someone when you really need it.
18. The Daily Show with John Stewart.
19. Rainy days.
20. Meet me in St. Louis, the movie starring Judy Garland.
21. The person who taught me to crochet, thanks Joyce!
22. Sourdough starter.
23. My new phone.
24. My computer, it helped me get back into the world again after a period of new-mom isolation.
25. Toothpaste.

Stay tuned for next week's list, I promise to stay with this project as long as I don't find it oppressive and choking and I am still enjoying it.

The Best Story

It drives me crazy but some of the best stories I have are the ones I really can't write about. So this one is edited severely for a multitude of reasons which I also don't really feel comfortable writing about. Here goes, the boringest version of the most interesting story - but you'll just have to trust me on that one. I was witness to a domestic violence incident (not my family) and I may have helped save a life by yelling like a maniac at the attacker who then ceased his attack and ran off. Later I found out he had a large knife on his person so I am glad I did what I did. Jason says maybe the victim will go on to have children that will find the cure to the disease I have (IBD). So you're welcome world. Just doing what I can as a stay-at-home-mom. Sesame Street, sandwich making, and saving lives. Usually the saving lives part of my job description falls under the large grape or tortilla chip category. But I was tasked with something a little different this week. Also in the process I hit my hand very, very hard on something, not exactly sure what, but it's been swollen all week as a badge of honor/idiocy. Mobility continues to improve so I am pretty certain I didn't break it. All's well that ends well. I am extremely glad I didn't witness a murder.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wedding Part 2

The wedding is over and we've all come home again. It sort of feels like the day after Christmas. We had so much fun and got a chance to reconnect with so many relatives and friends. Best of all my sister is very happy and her husband is a wonderful addition to our family.

The day of the wedding was magical. Leading up to that day the weather had been partly cloudy. The morning of the wedding I looked outside and there was a clear blue sky with no clouds in sight. It got very warm actually, around 85*F by the end of the day but it was gorgeous for the pictures and perfect, especially since the ceremony was outside. The ceremony went very smoothly and my favorite parts were the song my brother Liam and sister Beth sang together, Lucky by Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat, as well as the vows which were written by Mary and Ryan and were beautiful and had everyone near tears.

The reception was amazing, great food and a wonderful band. It felt so joyful and many of my relatives were there as well as some dear friends. It made me think of what heaven must be like. Mia danced for four hours before she fell asleep in Jason's arms and we had to go up to our room and put her to sleep. A lot of my cousins came with their children so all of the new generation of kids in the family got to play and dance together, perilously close to the cake, which was entertaining to watch. After Mary and Ryan cut the cake we left to put Mia down and then got to watch the fireworks from our room. It was a wonderful night.

The next morning Mary and Ryan hosted a brunch for all of the wedding guests that had stayed the night at the hotel, so we got to say goodbye to all of our family and promise to see them all again soon. The last couple of days we spent in Portland packing up and doing laundry.

We made the journey home on the fourth, Jason got on our flight with us which was great; he avoided a 6 hour layover in the SEA-TAC airport. Flying in we are always so shocked at how small and isolated our city looks. Compared to Portland we basically live in the sticks. A friend of mine says we squat in the woods with about 100,000 other people.

So home again to play with our dog, who got bigger, and do all the home things we do. It's a lot less shopping because we have a lot less places to shop. I miss my sisters who I got to see every day while I was down there. We even got to watch Anne of Green Gables one night which is like Purcell-girl heaven for those of you who don't know this already. Mia misses her aunts and uncles and getting to play with her cousin. It feels much farther away than normal. Realizing we have to take two planes and a good deal is $800 per ticket just to get to the rest of the country... le sigh. I will go re-read the "write your name in the land" blog entry now, because believe it or not the cranberries are ripe already in some areas of town and you know what that means. Winter is just around the corner. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mary & Ryan's Wedding

We're down in Portland for my sister Mary's wedding and I want to make sure to write down some of the good memories we're making so I don't forget.

Mia and I came down Friday and Jason's been working so he just arrived today. It was my first time traveling alone with her and it went really well. She was up from 4 am AK time to 11 pm West Coast time with only an hour nap on a flight and she handled it pretty well. We had five minutes to get from our first flight to board the second flight and she ran through Sea-Tac like a pro. I just held her Elmo backpack about two steps in front of her and she wanted it so she kept going really fast. (That's some good parenting right there.) As it was we were the last people on the flight and we almost missed it. Our first flight was late coming in which is why it was such a tight connection. Once we were on the flight I gave her a big high-five. "We made it! Good job!" The flight was a commuter from Seattle to Portland and they had time to go over the safety instructions, announce beverage service with the caveat that due to limited time, please only choose one beverage, basically throw the beverages at each row of passengers (we passed) and then immediately announce that we were beginning our descent so they were coming around to collect the cups. It was humorous watching people gulp entire cups of beer and what-have-you. I felt so elated because it was the end of our journey and I knew my sister and her fiance Ryan were going to be there waiting for us. They were right outside security when we got off the plane and it was so good to see them. We spent the first afternoon playing x-box Kinect and watching White Christmas. No I didn't bring it you sickos! I have some limits on watching Christmas movies! But Mia found it where we are staying and so I gave in and let her watch it only 3 times so far... I don't blame her, it truly is one of the best Christmas movies of all time. Besides it's June, so we're technically only three months from the beginning of Christmas season which goes from October to January in my book. My littlest sister Bethy got off work late that night and as soon as Mia saw her she went beserk. She was rushing her and screaming excitedly. She started singing loudly and rushing around in a hyper second-wind thing before I wrangled her off to bed.

The next morning we had to go to a dress fitting and I got to see my sister's wedding dress for the first time. No hints here Ryan, sorry. BUT, it is awesome and you will love it! I won't say much but she looks like a freaking goddess in it. I also got to see Bethy in the bridesmaid dress which had been altered; she looked incredible in it. I got my dress pinned up and when we were all finished we drove over to my brother Liam's house to visit with him, my mom, and Liam's two adorable children, Liam and Addyson. Mia and little Liam have this cousin thing going on where as soon as they see each other they laugh and then immediately start playing. They look alike and they are about the same age and they love each other. Mia is rather nonchalant towards the baby but she lets me hold her without trying to peel her from my arms which was her past attitude towards babies. We only had one catastrophe that day wherein Mia walked in front of a hard swing that Liam was swinging on and it hit her in the mouth and chin, so that was a little messy but we finally got her calmed down and determined she didn't need stitches. She fell asleep in the car on the way home, around 5 pm, and stayed asleep for the next 10 hours, waking only for a banana and potty break and then going back to sleep for an additional two and a half hours. It was a weird night. But at least she got caught up on sleep.

The next day we got ready for what we affectionately termed the "Panty Party", just a lingerie shower for some of Mary's girlfriends. It was really fun, about sixteen people or so and everyone seemed excited, watermelon cups with coconut rum in the bottom and lots of good food. Red roses and white candles and a constant hum of feminine conversations. Mia noticed at one point that everyone was talking to someone. "Talk to me, Mom." And she tried to herd me away from who I was talking to at that moment. She complimented the guests on their nails and jewelry and laughed (forcibly) at times when everyone else was laughing. I tucked her into bed while people were still lingering.

Mia's really latched on to Uncle Ryan this trip. She knows he will play catch with her when my sisters and I are talking and she's bored out of her gourd. She snuggles with him and watches movies, tries to suffocate him with blankets and asks if he's coming to see her multiple times a day. He attends to her little comforts and wishes and she has deigned to return the full range of her warmth on him. 

All this time, every day, we talk about Daddy and when he is coming. He's been working a job out of town and this wedding is our chance to see him; after the wedding he goes back to work and we don't see him again for a while. Mia says things like: "My Daddy is amazing. Do you think he's amazing? I miss him so very much." But this morning I dragged her out of bed and we went to the airport and got him. He's sleeping right now in this very room and she's sleeping in the bedroom and all is right in the world because we are together.

I articulated something to my sister that I keep saying. Because it brings tears to my eyes when I say it and I know that it's true. And it helps you keep your perspective on life. It goes something like this: The wedding won't be perfect. Life won't always be ideal. Being together is just that, it's about going through life, whatever it brings, together. You'll have so many amazing moments, like when you give birth to your child, or one of you is sick and the other one is there for the other. Or when you look at each other ten years from now and realize you're still best friends.

For me, time softens relationships, they grow more mellow yet more complex. The shine of idealism wears off as you realize you're still human and so are they and sometimes you make mistakes and sometimes life just happens and you can't control it. But you love each other anyway. You're loved in your imperfections and you find that you love in spite of imperfections. So wedding time has waxed me philosophical. I love my family and I get to see even more of them in the next few days! I'm so grateful I could be here for this special moment in my sister's life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Weather

It's always one of those cliche conversations but today it just feels so pervasive. It was muggy and overcast all day yesterday and today it's humid, sprinkly and completely gray except for the Alaska Range and Denali which was in full view as I drove down the Steese Highway this morning. The sky above the mountains was perfectly pale blue with tiny fluffy white clouds and it looked like our section of the sky was just painted with gray. Hopefully some of that weather moves up here.

The hills went green about two days ago and so even with the rain it's not that bad. Having that light, bright green everywhere makes this city so much more beautiful. Some irises I transplanted last year (against their will) have decided to make the best of it and have not only come back but seem to be increasing. I will finish planting my small garden this week probably; I usually do a box of lettuce for sandwiches and salads and a box of carrots, which are snacked on through the summer, and a box of wildflowers for my personal enjoyment. You don't expect to find anything pretty tucked away on the side of the house, so I like the concept of having a Secret Garden of sorts. I'm rather new at gardening but there is something so great about weeding so maybe I do have the knack for it.

I have the urge to drive directly to the store today and buy rice krispies, come home and make a giant pan of treats along with a huge pot of goulash. And gorge myself on carbs whilst hunkered under a cozy blanket with something brainless like A Knight's Tale to watch. That exact formula for happiness brings me back to our first apartment and what we did on rainy days. As a new bride I didn't cook veggies all that often and had about three recipes under my belt so even goulash I had to learn from my husband. I think I could make eggs, enchiladas, spaghetti, carrot cake, and pumpkin pie. Not a large repertoire, but he didn't criticize and now I can cook. I'm not gourmet or anything but most nights I make something homemade and eight years later it seems easy. Honey if you're reading this Happy 8-Year Anniversary this week, still think I'm the most fortunate woman in the world to have you and marrying you was one of the best decisions I ever made.

To rainy days! And sentimentality and melancholy thoughts and the color green. Oh, and a low fire season, sorry to everybody who makes money off of fire, but please Dear Lord could we please have a smoke-free summer?

I leave you with the song that's been stuck in my head for a couple of weeks:

Sumer is y-cumen in;
lhude sing, cucu!
Groweth sede and bloweth mede
and spring'th the wode nu!

Sing, cucu!
Awe bleteth ofter lomb,
low'th ofter calve cu;
bullock sterteth, bucke verteth;
murie sing, cucu!

Cucu, cucu,
well singest thu, cucu;
nae swik thu naver nu.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Well, we got a dog. His name is Bando. We were thinking about Bandit, but Mia kept saying "Bandaid", and I didn't want a dog named band aid. He's now 11 weeks old and a husky-beagle/lab mix. He's pretty cute and very puppyish. Meaning he pees in the house and teethes on everything including us. He's definitely a lot more work than I bargained for, but I'm not giving up and in three years or so he will be a great family dog. Hopefully my training will be so excellent that he will learn even faster than that and do his business outside like a civilized dog and stop terrorizing small children with his puppy exuberance.

Everyone including my husband keeps telling me that he's not a baby. Apparently they think I'm confused; I actually do feel a little confused and googled "puppy postpartum" in the days just after we brought him home. It really is strange how having him has brought back fresh all the memories of how unsettling it was to be a first-time mom. You're sure you're going to screw it up, the only horror is the anticipation of how. You have no sleep and everything becomes a huge deal. And you love your charge fiercely even though they seem to eliminate with impossible frequency. The best days are when I don't worry so much about him ending up with some incurable behavior problem. Or when I repeat what is supposed to be my new mantra: "He's a DOG." There have been a lot of awesome moments with him and he seems to be learning some things, so things are looking up. Change can be really good.

I was tucking Mia into bed the other night and we were discussing Bando. She affirmed that she liked him, that she loved him, and that he was her friend. I said,"He makes a lot of mistakes, doesn't he." And she said, "Yeah, but that's ok, we'll take care of him." I think that moment alone makes it all worth it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adele and Pizza

Yes I know, an odd combination but it makes sense in my little world. First of all, Adele. Wow. I'm not your typical fan-girl who gets crazy about every single brand new artist to come down the pike. Also, I realize with humility and a smackerel of shame that she's not really a brand new artist. Apparently whilst I was asleep under a proverbial boulder, Adele won two Grammys in 2009 (no big deal, am I right?)... uh, yeah. I only discovered her a couple of months ago and now I can't shut up about her. My favorites in no particular order:
  1. Make You Feel My Love ( a Bob Dylan cover)
  2. Rolling in the Deep
  3. Chasing Pavements
  4. Someone Like You
  5. Cold Shoulder
I honestly think that so far in my relatively short life, she has the best voice of any female vocalist I've heard. I appreciate her range, her control, and am enamored by the fact that she writes most of her own stuff. Her education in music only deepens her ability to create and gives her more tools to utilize though some of it I'm sure she was born with. Sigh. If I can convince one person who has not heard her yet, please go to YouTube and check her out. Here's the link to Make You Feel My Love... it was the first I'd heard of her and my infatuation started there.

Now for the pizza segment of this bulletin. I've had a pizza recipe that I have been using almost weekly for a solid year. Last week it failed me in a big way. It was a doughy, almost inedible mess. Too bready, not crisp on the outside, soggy in the middle. Words escape me to describe how truly awful it was. Perhaps you may have heard me bragging about it in the past: "I can go from nothing to pizza in 35 minutes." Well, it tasted like it took no time, I can tell you that much. Last week's episode pushed me over the edge and I was starting to abandon the idea of delicious homemade pizza, when led by fate and destiny into the environment of an Anchorage pizza place named comfortingly, Uncle Joe's Pizzeria, I realized the perfect crust is out there and it's up to me to find out how to make it. I've found some promising instructions on the interwebs, and have access to a covey of lovely friends who can actually cook, so my prospects are good. I am now investigating a pizza stone and I'm getting excited about pizza again. I will let you know when I have a finished product worth taking a picture of (and eating). I love pizza so much, I may plant some basil this year for the first time, any advice would be welcomed. I leave you with my favorite pizza-eating song: Mambo Italiano sung by Rosemary Clooney.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Write your name in the land

I was awake at 5 this morning, a little earlier than planned but what can you do. I lay in bed for a while trying to go back to sleep and thinking about spring. And then I thought about summer, and then I thought about cloudy days, then frost, and winter. Then I had an epiphany. I live in the freaking arctic. Well technically the Arctic Circle is around 125 miles north of here, but close enough. And then the thought: Why do we live here?

I'm glad I asked. I actually have a great answer for this after being here for 30 years. It's good to remember when confronted with the hassles of living in this climate. Here's a partial list of pros:

1. My husband. He lives here. That would seem obvious but I have a thing where I really like being where he is.
2. My family and friends. Including my daughter I currently have five relatives that live here with me and countless dear friends that are "Alaskan Family".
3. Appreciation. When you have the contrast that we do, -60 F* in the winter and up to 90 F* in the summer, you really appreciate things like green leaves on trees and grass on the ground and sun on your face and birds singing, etc. Summer is like a high for me. It's only three months long but who ever heard of a three-month long high.
4. Repeating traditions. I've only ever had one Christmas that wasn't white, and that was in California. It's really, really pretty. Just last night my daughter and I played in the giant icy puddle on our street, and she fell in and cried, just like every other kid growing up in Alaska does at this time of year. It's fun watching her experience the things I did when I was a kid.
5. The sky. I've been to a lot of different places, and the sky looks completely different here, and amazing. When I am not here I get lonely for the way it looks.

Yes I could see picking up roots and moving to a warmer place somewhere along the line, we like Costa Rica a lot... could you imagine eating locally grown mangos on a regular basis? But for now when things get tough, it's dark and cold, or wildfires have filled my valley with smoke, I just remember to write my name in the land. Remember Skylark, the sequel to Sarah Plain and Tall? "You don't have to love this land," said Maggie. "But if you don't love it, you won't survive. Jacob's right. You have to write your name in the land to live here."

You can't spend all your time daydreaming of other places. You must embrace it. And if necessary get out there with an actual stick and write your name in the actual land. When the snow melts, of course.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Beautiful Things

We are just getting over the two-week crud and over the last couple of days the world has shifted back into beautiful. I am back at the gym, the snow melting off the roof sounds like rain all day long, and there are beautiful things all around. I opened a perfect avocado today, perhaps a random fact, but it was another gorgeous thing I thought was worth mentioning. Above are a few pictures of things I think are beautiful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mia Has Fun

We visited the World Ice Art Championships on Sunday night. They just finished the multi-block portion of the competition so we decided it was the perfect time to go. It was the warmest I've been in several years due to the weather and my new amazing snowpants. The kid's section was very impressive with slides, spinning ice nests, ice tunnels and a sledding hill with lighted tracks! Of course the warm-up hut with hot cocoa and indoor plumbing was also fun.

We went on our snowpants, but the kids who used sleds went super-fast down these tracks.

Mia kissing an ice-sculpture dog. She's not very picky when it comes to dogs.

Mia and Jason hiding out in a small igloo.

Mia's imitation of Lady Liberty. She gets so excited every time we see a picture of her, ever since she got to see the real one in New York. We crack up whenever she does this, she holds perfectly still and gets stoic; it's awesome!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grandma Anne

For a moment time stood still last night. I saw everything but saw nothing. Then I realized I was still grating carrots for the cake I was making, but with glazed over eyes. Sesame Street droned on in the background. I think I grated a part of my finger around that time. I got a call about my Grandmother. She had a medical procedure done last night and she's going to be fine. But for several all-consuming moments I thought of her, coming to Alaska to take care of me when I was sick, cooking for me, scrubbing floors on her hands and knees, taking care of an 8 month-old baby; did I mention she was in her seventies at the time? She's a super-hero. She helps others when they are in need and doesn't need much herself. Only yesterday afternoon I was thinking about her advice for roasting chicken, and attempting one of my own. One of my most treasured possessions is a piece of yellow note paper that I asked her to write her baked chicken, salad dressing, and hollandaise sauce recipes on. Right there, in her handwriting is the real deal. I know it's right because she wrote it. I have referenced that paper so many times since she gave it to me in 2008... and yesterday I realized I am nowhere close to reconciling any idea of her mortality. Oh mine I've come face to face with but some people just seem like they'll live forever and she's one of them. So thank goodness for everything that's made it possible for her to shop and scrub another day! Love you Grandma Anne. I promise to make you a really good chicken the next time I get the chance!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February Blizzard

This past Sunday and Monday saw 18 inches of snow dumped in our area. It was more like living in North Dakota or something. Our local paper had just published a piece on another low snow year, besides we just had our roads grated last week so it was bound to happen. Monday Jason was able to take the day off and we built the coolest snow fort; Mia was laughing and asked, "Is this fun?" She could swim in pure powder all over our yard. The snow fort started as a place for her to duck down out of the winds that followed the snow. It whipped up the fresh snow and gave a sculpted look to it. Today is a bit colder but it's been great. I like a lot of snow. Unless I start to think about the fact that every flake that falls is another one that must melt before spring comes, I'll be fine.

Dude, where's my car?

Blowing snow caused white-out conditions all around town.

Jason did a lot of shoveling on Monday.

Mia's ready to face the elements.

Slightly snow-encrusted.