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Monday, November 18, 2013

Post-Vacation, Vacation...Please.

I think enough time has passed and I’m recovered enough to write about it.  We went on vacation to Idaho at the end of October and it was quite a venture getting home. I don’t even want to call it an adventure because that seems to denote something fun or enjoyable, and it wasn’t.

I have never been more grateful to be traveling with a partner.  I’ve done my share of solo traveling with kids and while it’s no walk in the park, I’ve kind of gotten a feel for it. However, traveling with anyone sick is a game changer. We were gone for about a week and right off the bat, Myles was sick with major stomach issues, I got it on at the end of that week, just hours before Molli woke up in the middle of that night with it. My concern, at the time, was Gavin.  Please, please don’t let him get it! But if he does, let it happen soon so we’re not traveling with it! 

The good news is, he didn’t get it!
The bad news is, Molli had it for days it and Gavin got something different.

The day before we were scheduled to leave, it was obvious Gavin was coming down with a cold.  Sure enough, he fussed and whined all night and Tuesday morning, travel day,  he was dripping green gunk from his nose AND his eyes.  I’ve never seen anything like it, but apparently that can happen.  I guess it all comes from the sinuses anyway.  Very gross! The poor guy just looked sick.  The droopy face, blotchy cheeks, swollen, droopy eyes.  Plus of course all the drainage. He was a total wreck.

Tuesday morning, the day we were scheduled to leave Boise, Molli was also a disaster.  She threw up again in bed again and I was up with her bright and early at 5am running her back and forth to the bathroom.  Kids are not good at being sick, especially tummy sick.  She had no idea what was going on, poor thing.  We called the airlines, knowing that traveling this way was not good for anyone, but had to dismiss changing the dates because it would be an extra $400+ PER TICKET to change to the next day.  At least $1,600 for a few hours grace… not in the budget.

So we sucked it up, bought some kids pepto and pull-ups, packed changes of clothes, plastic bags, tissues, extra wipes and ventured out. 

I think I’ve blocked some of the specific details from my memory but the first flight was more or less fine.  It’s never “fun” with kids, but it went fine.  No major meltdowns and no major bodily fluids is considered a win.  Of course there was ants in the pants on behalf of both kids, but Gavin is the more difficult one at this point.  Who wants to try to explain to a 16 month old that no, he cannot run and play, in fact, he can ONLY stay here, on laps and deal suck it up with the rest of us.  Obviously that logic is ineffective. 

Flight number two was long and squirmy beyond belief. There were seating issues and as I was waiting for things to be sorted, this man looked at me, rolled his eyes and told some guy next to him something along the lines of, “Ugh, there are so many kids getting on this flight.” I might have given him the evil eye as I thought to myself, I hope you’re in front of us. My brother (he will remain nameless) said I should have responded to him with, “Ugh, there are so many douche-bags getting on this flight,” Hindsight…

Anyway, that flight started with a very wiggly boy who wanted to touch everything he wasn’t supposed to, topped off with the flight attendant handing him the bag with the seatbelt, oxygen mask and other goodies for her safety presentation.  Look, I’m all for sharing with kids, but mine are already sick and the last thing I need is for them to intentionally be handed germy things that they aren’t supposed to be playing with anyways. Once we were in the air Molli informed us that she pooped her pants (remember the tummy bug, yeah, it was still wrecking her). Myles dragged her and a fresh pull-up to the bathroom. Which if you think about it, that airplane bathroom must have been beyond max capacity.  There’s hardly room to pull pants up in there, much less a big man changing a 3 year old’s pants! That happened twice on the plane.

We finally landed and thought we were golden. After gathering all our bags (thank you AK 49 club for getting to check everything for free!) I realized I left Gavin’s coat on the plane, told the lady at the desk, waited forever then found the coat in my back pack and Molli had one more accident. Eventually Myles set off to get the car. We waited another forever, loaded up and headed home.  At that point, what’s three more hours traveling with two sick kids? About ten minutes down the road we had the distinct pleasure of seeing everything Molli had consumed that day come shooting out her mouth.

Vomit everywhere. 

I almost lost it. We had to pull over at a gas station and clean her up. Myles took care of the nasty car and I walked her, covered in puke, into the gas station bathroom with a pair of jammies.  I ended up giving her a sponge bath of sorts with hand soap and paper towels. The poor girl was miserable.  She didn’t feel well (obviously), was naked, smelled like puke and was being washed up in a cold gas station. UGH!

We survived the trip home and I called the doctor the next day. She’s out of town. Greaaat. By then Molli had been unwell for a few days and Gavin was getting worse by the hour. I love the kids’ doctor but was fine to call someone else.  Unfortunately the one recommended was full but we got Gavin in with someone else. Good thing because he had two ear infections (one very bad), a sinus infection and pink eye in both eyes.  A couple days later we took Myles and Molli in.  Myles had bronchitis and pink eye.  Molli had pink eye in both eyes, a cold and strep throat.  It was like some kind of cruel joke throwing such a variety of sicknesses our way right before Myles leaves us for three weeks for work. 

Yeah, that’s right.  Three weeks without daddy.  He’s gone now and we are literally counting the days until his return (17). Everyone is finally healthy and I think I need a vacation. A post-vacation vacation.

Friday, October 25, 2013


Between the instances where I’m yanking out my hair and enlisting an army of friends to help me in the daily battle of life and parenting, I am so smitten by these kids.  They do things that make me smile and I realize that I AM doing something right sometimes! Little bits of progress are a breath of fresh air.

I got to watch a couple sweet kids for a friend this morning for a teeny little bit and I am proud of how everyone did!  Molli and the little boy (just a bit older than her) played together so nicely.  I let them play in her room.  I didn’t hover, I just listened and peeked in.  It made me happy to hear them playing and talking.  Some phrases that made me smile were:

“Uh oh, this room is a mess, what should we pick up first?”
“We’ll play with one thing, then when we are done, we will put it up and play something else.”
“When you are done with that, can I have a turn?”
“Can we go let the babies play with this for a little bit?”

You guys!  There were words of cleaning up, sharing and taking turns!  I can’t even tell you how happy that made me.  Not only because I think these things are good and important, but because it means I’m being heard.  They are listening to their parents and remembering what to do.  This is greatly encouraging considering the phase we are in with Molli.  She’s listening and remembering what I’ve told her and work SO hard to reinforce in her.  I want her to be a kind, respectful friend and regardless of how it seems sometimes, it’s in her little brain somewhere!

And Gavin… If you don’t know Gavin, you are missing out.  He is a sweet and very fun little guy.  He loves being silly, and he REALLY loves his momma.  He’s a momma’s boy through and through, well, unless Papa or Grammy are around. He wants to be held and tended to, always.  I wasn’t sure how he would cope with a baby in the house, much less in my arms, but he rocked!  He couldn’t leave her alone because he was so excited to see her.  He wanted to look at, touch and tickle her.  He was so gentle and didn’t even seem to mind that she was in my arms and he wasn’t.   What a pleasant surprise! He also cracked me up because in his excitement he wandered around the house shouting, "Baby! Baby! Baby!" (baybeh)

It’s a happy start to this day.  Let’s carry the happiness on all day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

tough stuff

I don’t know if I’m being dramatic, but I am feeling deeply discouraged tonight.  Parenting is so hard.  There are some days when I feel on top of things, more or less, and can go to bed believing that I’m doing things right.  I’m instilling values, facilitating the drive for learning, reading, praying and cleaning together.  I’m making plans for socialization, developing motor skills and creative play.  The gamut of childhood experience is being addressed and I’m tired.  What do I do then when it all feels like I’m failing despite my best efforts?

From very early on, Molli has not been a “by the book” kind of kid.  Myles and I were part of a parenting class and always left feeling more lost than before because the guaranteed solutions for the various issues of infancy through toddlerhood fell short in our home.  We’ve been making things up and figuring things out as we go, praying that we don’t mess everything up. Like usual, once I feel like I have something about her figured out, it changes and new issues arise.  Honestly, it’s exhausting and I am struggling to find answers to the subjective parenting questions I’m facing. 

I have been blessed to stay home with our kids but sometimes there is so much pressure.  It’s the same pressure toward perfection that I’ve always felt and have always fallen short. All of the typical household things combined with raising kids is a lot. I feel like I should be able to do all these things with relative ease but of course, once I feel like things are smooth, it crashes and I am in the dumps about it.  I am no good at this!  I love being home but I have no idea how to not let these things control me.  How do you get a three year old be nice? To share? To obey? To love, be apologetic, sincere, responsible and caring? I want to instill love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control in her but I don’t know how.

We spend all day working on things and I really don’t let things slide.  Back-talking, hitting, not sharing, yelling, refusing to clean etc all get some level of discipline and I feel like the meanest mom in the world sometimes!  Timeout! Nose in the corner! Say you’re sorry! Pick that up! We don’t hit! Yell, yell, yell.  I’m sick of it! And when did I become a yelling mom? Would more spanking help or make it worse? Do I take away her toys until she learns to take care of them and clean them up? I know that I have memories from when I was 3 years old and it would absolutely break my heart if her only memories from this age are of me nagging and her sitting in time out. 

Tonight felt a little like a blow from someone I care about and respect on many levels.  There was a statement made indicating that I am not doing enough in terms of discipline.  It was an innocent statement, not intended to hurt, I know that, but it did.  Somewhere imbedded in those words were an indication that I am not good enough.  I am doing my best but I sometimes feel so lost. The details don’t matter.

These kids are the most cherished, precious part of my life and the investment of a lifetime. When it’s all said and done, I can just pray.  I pray for my children to be spared the memories of my failure and that the things I do right resonate and stay with them in their little minds.  I pray that my actions will reflect God’s loving persistence toward His disobedient children.

This feels like a very “woe is me” post.  I don’t mean for it to be, but I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  If you have any genuine, heartfelt advice, please share.  We are open to whatever creative methods that might be floating around out there.  I have no intention to raise perfect kids, but I do want to watch them grow up knowing that I’ve done my absolute best, and I’ve sought out the counsel of others who have been though this. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pausing to appreciate

Molli came into my room dragging her sleepy feet and held her purple hippo by the foot as I was finishing getting ready this morning.  Her bed head was charming and her sleepy voice greeted me, “I waked up early today Mommy, the sun is still black.” Obviously the sun is not black, but it’s just rising later so her usual 7:45 is no longer met with glorious sun.  I smiled at her sweet pretence and led her to Gavin’s room where he was waiting to be rescued from his crib.

Excitement overtook him as he saw us enter his room and be began bouncing as well as he can with squeals and shrieks of delight. He handed me his little doggy blankie and acknowledged all the good things he did in his bed.  The projector and mobile were playing their clashing tunes and Gavin motioned to each with a point and a “da!” as if to show me what a big boy he is that he can strike up the band himself.

Following a diaper change, Gavin demanded to be fed immediately, as usual.  Molli slowly obliged but truthfully food is a bore to her.  Unless it’s sweets, she couldn’t care less about meals and generally only participates for the social aspect.  She is totally my daughter.  My kids couldn’t be more opposite in this way.  Gavin devoured at least twice what Molli nibbled on and I set them both free to play for a few minutes, pointing out that the sun was coming up. 

I got Gavin dressed and realized that Molli wasn’t in her room playing.  I looked over and found her sitting quietly on a stool in front of the sliding glass doors that face the back yard.  She was sitting there with her purple hippo just watching.  A gorgeous red and pink sunrise filled the sky and she knew that it was special.  I don’t know how long she sat there but I let her just be. Finally, she turned to me and declared, “God makes things so beautiful!”

All I can do is smile.  She makes me pause and appreciate the beauty that is everywhere.  The other day we were on a walk and she started talking about how much she loved being outside.  She danced around spinning in circles, facing the sky with her arms up and her actual words were, “I love this store! This nature store that God made for me!”  I don’t know why she called it a store, but it made me laugh.  She’s my little hippie child, my free spirit! I’m glad that she knows to attribute all this goodness to God and I desperately hope that she always acknowledges the beauty surrounding her. 


Today I’m inspired to appreciate things a little more.  I appreciate that she sings at the top of her lungs in the car and Gavin sings “la la la la” right along with her.  I appreciate that Gavin still wants me to hold him most of the time.  I appreciate the big toothy grin he gives me and the squishy cheeks (oh those cheeks!) that I get to kiss whenever I want!  I appreciate Molli’s desire to be active but also to sit and read books together. I appreciate the family I have, the home we live in and relationships that are beginning to blossom. I am tremendously blessed!


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My beautiful mess

This morning did not start out the way I had intended.  Well, neither did last night.  I went to bed all wound up after a stressful evening knowing we had MOPS in the morning, which meant I had to get the ball rolling first thing. I had a whole list of responsibilities to remember and not mess up. No matter how prepared I think I am, a particularly difficult and sleepless night is always the surefire way to mess me up. Gavin was up for hours through the night upset and inconsolable unless nursing.  Let’s face it, my son is going on 15 months old and nursing will be wrapping up here sooner or later.  We are beyond the nurse all night long stage. So I camped on the couch and didn’t sleep.  (It’s a step above lying in bed annoyed that my husband can sleep through it all.)

I knew exactly how long I could stay horizontal without inflicting morning chaos on the household.  Despite the weird night, got myself ready, bags all packed and set up by the door, and breakfast made just in time to get the kids fed, dressed, and hair done.  Unfortunately, Gavin had different plans.  His plans involved a disgusting load of laundry and an impromptu bath.  Yes, he blew out in a very bad way.  I swear, these teeth need to lay off my poor boy.  They are destroying him and my gag reflex just cannot handle the toxicity of these situations much longer. Have you ever barfed on your baby?  Me neither, but I imagine it would be upsetting all around.  His unusual sleeplessness combined with my anxious noisy mind was a crummy combination. My attitude was still good, but I was in a bubble and not quite myself as we left the house.

We got to MOPS on time, and let me just say, I love this ministry.  It was refreshing to just relax, talk to people and keep my hands busy with something other than cooking/cleaning/wiping etc.  I am a table leader this year, which to me mostly means that I have the opportunity to encourage, pray for and connect with other moms in a unique way.  I did my best to push aside my fuzzy brain and just be with these ladies. Apparently, I at least partially failed because a couple people recognized “the look” and gave me hugs or words urging me to press on.  I got everything done that I needed to do, and in the end all is well.  However, it’s nap time and I’m about to bust out the headphones.  Sleep or no sleep, how about we all just stay put and have quiet.  Better yet, let’s have peace! 

The MOPS theme this year is “A Beautiful Mess.”  Could there be a better theme for any group of moms?! I think not.  I am far from the angelic pristine symbol of womanhood.  I probably fall closer to the “hot mess” end of the spectrum, but I’m mostly OK with that.   As a mom specifically, I’ve come to terms that my idea of what I should be is skewed and I am better off just being Mommy; Messy as it may be.

I do try to keep things neat around the house but really, nothing about me screams domestic diva.  Nothing even whispers it for that matter.  When I think of a beautifully domestic woman, I think of someone with a fully balanced, couponed out meal plan in a pinterest worthy frame displayed in the kitchen and strictly followed.  This is great, I’m sure these families have more than enough veggies filling their tummies and are gluten free blah blah blah. We don’t do a whole lot of perfectly balanced organic meals.  I confess.  We are no strangers of American cheese slices, peanut butter and jelly and bananas.  I’m not proud of it, but I’ve come to accept that I am not a chef.  I do not get any joy out of cooking, and probably never will.  Meat grosses me out, vegetables rot quicker than we can eat them and recipes are not fun for me to try unless I know for sure they will be loved and devoured.  For that matter, if I suspect that a recipe will dirty too many things at once, I’ll probably skip it.  Again with PJ&J, or maybe change it up a bit and make grilled cheese. 

For now, amidst the thrown together meals, cleaning and re-cleaning, dressing and re-dressing, bathing, wiping, disciplining, chasing etc, this is the most beautiful mess I’ve ever seen.  My family is incredible and I absolutely love this life of mine.  I am not perfect, and neither is my family.  We are just as in need of grace as anyone else, but man, these guys rock.  Myles has been a wonderful provider for our family and I am so thankful to have him alongside me.  I have much to be grateful for and my prayer is that my gratefulness will far surpass my ridiculous notions to be great in a way that has no eternal value.  It's about love, and I sure have a lot of it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

3 is not better than 2

MOPS started today, which meant I planned to spend yesterday’s free time during “naps” thinking of the ladies at my table, praying for them and brainstorming (and let’s, be honest, pinteresting) ideas for ways to be a blessing to them.  As I was pondering how I can encourage my fellow mommies, I was attempting to tune out my own daughter as she SCREAMED at the top of her lungs in her bed.  Shouting, screaming and yelling about whatever woe she could think up.  For some reason she seems to truly believe that the longer and louder she screams she will ultimately convince me to let her out of bed.  Are you kidding?  This level of volume and anger only reinforces that a major break is in order. Stat.
I’m not ready to sleep!
My baby is too hungry, I need to feed her!
I’m not tired!
I don’t like this!
I’m sick, I’m way too sick for a nap!
I need chocolate milk!
I don’t want to be in here!
This is not good for me!
It’s so boring in my bed!

Eventually she accidentally gave in, on the floor, next to her bed.  I believe it was a final act of rebellion until sleep overtook her. As it turns out, this alleged “nap” was simply preparation for bedtime.  Studies keep telling me that kids NEED tons of sleep because of how fast they’re growing at this age, but my rascal defies science, evidentially. I have no reason to believe that she’s ready to eliminate naps entirely and pretty much refuse to consider that an option.  For the sakes of all involved.

Bedtime was even uglier than nap time!  I played good mom, offering some nice snuggles and setting the scene for truly heartwarming Kodak moments.  I sang, I read, I hugged and kissed. It was sweet.  Until I closed the door.  Then the screaming commenced.  So I played bad mom, threatening, spanking, revoking the distractions that inevitably provoke anger. She’s not a fan of bad mom. And honestly, neither am I!  I hate when the last moments before bed are me being meany pants mommy! Each time I could smell success, I’d close the door to the silent bedroom only to see the light flip back on and the volcano erupt all over again.  Oh the drama from behind that door… Eventually Myles did the unthinkable and took away her favorite activity- her light.  There is currently a light fixture, complete with bulbs sitting on the kitchen counter.  Surely this is not normal?! The child fought us to the end. Adding insult to injury she was up far earlier than normal. I'm out.

Here is what I know; Three is not better than two.  Three has only been around here for four days, but it’s been loud and it’s been mean!  Three does not listen, have manners, eat nicely, or sleep (apparently). Three yells at her brother, takes toys, has meltdowns in the store, at the airport, in the car and at home. Three gives dirty looks.  Three says, “I don’t want you here anymore.” Three is a lot like two, but in our half week of three, it’s not better.

What the heck do I do with this mean little thing that keeps turning on me?! I am trying to figure out where the balance is.  Does she need more discipline, or more grace? What are other people thinking when they see me all but dragging her by her arm in the frenzy of a public meltdown?  Can I admit that I really don’t care anymore? My animal instincts run full force in public and survival mode takes over.  I don’t know the first thing about being a perfect mom, but I sure am glad to have other people in my corner with me.  To all the parents out there who have gotten through three, I salute you and hope to join your ranks in 360 days.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Time Shot

Occasionally I like to step back and take in whatever is happening in my life and imagine what I would have thought if I had seen a glimpse of this situation at some point in the past. Let’s call this a “time shot.”

For instance, my wedding day. If, as a junior in high school, I saw a glimpse of my wedding day, five years down the road I would have been surprised.  We married young and with no regrets.  I didn’t really expect, or even give any thought to getting married in college, but peeking in on that scene as a 16 year old, there I’d be with a man I wouldn’t have known, with bridesmaids I hadn’t met yet.  So weird.

Yesterday was a real gem of a time shot.  The scene: me, bewilderedly talking with my nonchalant 2 (almost 3) year old who has her pants and undies down at her ankles.  Gavin, soaking wet and excited.   What the heck, right?!

We are in the process of moving into a new house and getting all our crap organized.  If you’ve ever done anything with two tiny troublemakers, you know a few things.
1) every little task takes 10x longer to do
2) things can always get worse before they get better
3) a sense of humor is not only important, but vital (else you lose your freaking mind)

Luckily I know these things so I’ve taken proactive measures. We installed a baby gate in Molli’s doorway so I can contain them while productivity occurs throughout the house.  I toss a handful of pretzel sticks over the gate from time to time to improve morale and occasionally a new toy, like a paper cup or a balloon leftover from the previous year’s birthday party.  They generally don’t mind it and when the noise level gets to be too much I just close the door.  However when your two year old is babysitting your one year old behind a closed door it’s important to keep an eye on the monitor.  (side note, can we have a round of applause to whoever invented video monitors?!  A spy camera for my children? Yes, please).

Which brings me to yesterday…

Things were starting to look nice around our new house so I brought an annoyingly random bunch of stuff over from my parents to ruin all the nice. Grocery bags, laundry hampers, totes full of crap littered the new house so, naturally, I locked the kids up and closed the door to do my thing. Keeping an eye on the monitor, they played and I kept my space.  All was well until I saw Molli’s naked booty standing on a chair turning the light off.  Oh dear.

I used the walkie talkie feature on our fancy monitor and asked her what she was doing.
“I’m just turning off the light, Mom.”
She obviously didn’t understand the fullness of my question. I had to intervene.  I opened the door and she just looked at me as if to say, “oh hey mom, I thought that was you at the door. What’s up?” Totally casual.  Like, it’s no big deal that my pants and hello kitty panties are hanging out at my feet. She just stood there.  *Insert TIME SHOT

“What’s going on with your pants, Molli?”
“Oh, I had to go potty.”
“OK, let’s go.”
“Sure Mom, but I already did.”
“Oooh, you need new pants? You had an accident? Let’s go clean up then.”
“No, my pants are dry, not wet.”
“I’m confused.  You went potty already but your pants are still dry? Can you talk to me about that?”
“I went in the cups.”

It was about this time that I looked over at Gavin who was so pleased that I had finally returned that he was up on his knees reaching for me, soaking wet.  Soaking wet, as it turned out, with Molli’s pee.  Using my best deduction skills, I conclude that my daughter had, in fact, managed to urinate in last year’s birthday cups on her table and my son attempted to drink it.  Fortunately (I suppose) he hasn’t mastered cup drinking and spilled it all over himself.

Kids are so gross. 

I stripped Gavin down and cleaned everything up before continuing the conversation with Molli.  I reminded her that we only go potty in the potty unless we are camping or something and there is no potty, then we can go in the woods, but at home we only go in the potty.  She agreed and vowed to only go in the potty.  She sat silently and then stated inquisitively, “But Uncle Brian goes potty in cups.” 

(To ease your mind, Uncle Brian does not go potty in cups.  He had a drug test when he got hired at his new job.  My daughter simply does not forget ANYTHING.) 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer adventures

Backing up to the early summer...

Summer time in Alaska is a bizarre thing.  Last year we had 9, yes NINE, sunny days the entire summer. Yuck. So this year after a cold wet, and even snowy May, June came in all it’s glory and brought with it all the sunshine we could imagine!  It was absolutely incredible.  We spent days outside with the kids playing in various water sources, nearly naked… or sometimes simply naked. We used sunscreen.  Bug spray too, naturally. We knew better than to fool ourselves thinking that the entire summer would be so amazing so we spent as much time enjoying the weather as possible.

What does a little Alaskan family do together to enjoy such a fabulous summer?  Go hiking, of course!! I dressed the kids and packed a lunch to have in the car while Myles went to town to get bear spray, bug dope and ammo.  When he came home we loaded up and hit the road. Unfortunately, it was the first weekend the fish were running and the entrance to the trail we were planning to do was terribly crowded.  We bypassed that one and pulled into another area for a different trail.  Two hikers were pulling out as we came and warned us of a couple bears on the trail.  We are no dummies.  We know it’s bear country, but we also didn’t want to intentionally set out on a hike with bears. We found “Hidden Creek Trail” and the sign said it was only a couple miles so we parked, had a refresher course on how to use the bear spray then practically bathed ourselves in bug dope and set off. 

The trail started off downhill and Molli even walked a good portion of the way.  Despite heaps of bug spray we were bombarded by swarms of mosquitoes the entire way.  We had a slight bug reprieve through a small portion that had suffered a fire a few years back and wasn’t so lush. Any other part of the trail, if you even thought about stopping, consider your blood drained.  (OK, slight exaggeration.)  The trail was a loop and halfway through we got to stop for a gorgeous view at a lake.  There was lots of washed up drift wood and plenty of rocks to through, which happens to be a favored pastime in this family. 

There were boards covering some of the mushy parts of the trail but all in all it was a pretty mild hike.  Myles had Molli up on his shoulders most of the hike and I had Gavin in the hiking pack.  I was pretty impressed with Myles; holding Molli up on his shoulders, keeping one hand on her and the other on his gun while hauling butt. The hiking pack I had Gavin in is very comfortable but I don’t care how comfortable it is, the child is 22lbs. After a while, those 22lbs, literally weigh on a person.  There came a point when I was done. 

“Done” came gradually. Gavin was pulling my hair the whole time, I was waving my hands batting off mosquitoes constantly and my too-big prescription sunglasses were driving me nuts as they slipped down my sweaty nose as quickly as I could push them up.  My walking pace was pretty well maxed out and with each step I could feel my feet blistering worse in my Teva sandals (I know, I know, but all my shoes are in storage).  I’m admittedly the fattest and most out of shape I’ve ever been in my life, which didn’t help matters. The combination of those things and the uphill end of the hike made things bit rough.  Myles’ legs are like ten feet long and I can hardly keep up with him in a grocery store, much less as he moves like an animal through the woods.  I asked him to slow down once, then after about three steps he was back to gazelle strides.  I weighed my options.

1) Eat my own pride and ask him to slow down again
2) Tell him to stop and risk attack of the blood-suckers
3) Just keep going

It was as I was considering how much blood my entire family could sacrifice vs. how long the slower pace might last when we heard a major rustling in the woods.  It was definitely not a rabbit sized rustling, and lets be honest, anything bigger than a rabbit in the woods with me is not something I’m interested in.  Our heads all snapped to the left where something plainly large was hustling through the woods making gruff barky sounds.  Moose don’t make those sounds.  Bears do.  Bears, like the three hustling in our direction.  Two cubs climbed the tree not 30 feet away and the momma stood between the cubs and us.  Myles drew his gun as soon as we heard the noise and stood there briefly as I walked ahead with the bear spray ready. 

My heart was pounding and I’m positive it was pure adrenaline that got my fat butt the rest of the way up the trail.  I felt like a contestant on the first week of the biggest loser huffing and puffing with rubber legs up and out of the woods.  Back at the car we finally breathed a sigh of relief.  Unbelievable.  It was one of those moments where all we could do was laugh in the end.  I mean, we weren’t attacked by any means, but the one big threat in the woods was right there at the end of the trail.  Right before the uphillest part of the uphill part.  What are the chances?

We came home and had halibut for dinner, which made the perfect ending to a solid Alaskan adventurous day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Our situation in life

When I was in fourth grade, I got a taste of what was to be my academic style for a long time to come. I would be so busy enjoying the company of my classmates that I would neglect to do a solid 85% of the mandatory schoolwork that we were responsible to complete.  The classroom was set up in units and like the good student I was, I’d be sure to collect all the homework papers right away.  However, my social life was far more compelling than learning about the Pacific Ocean.  Some of the worst evenings of my life consist of each day before the unit was due. It involved me sitting at the kitchen table (where I spent a lot of time anyway because chatting during meals was more important than eating… I see a theme, but that’s a whole different story), with my parents justly hounding me about responsibility, procrastination and the like.  I would cry, they’d be upset and it was all in all an ugly scene.  The kitchen table would be covered with way too much work to do and no idea where to begin. Welcome, 9 year old, to the world of pulling all nighters.

Coming back to a blog after an unintentional hiatus is complicated.  I'm sitting at the same table and my inner fourth grader is panicking and overwhelmed with the things to write about but I have no idea where to start. A story?  Sweet moments? Milestone?  Our “Sitz im leben,” if you will? I suppose the latter would probably explain more of what’s going on all summer long than anything else so we’ll start with general information.

Backing way up for a moment; we moved to Alaska in February 2012.  We lived with my parents until September when we house sat for family friends.  We still own our house in IL so we can’t buy one here yet so in March we lined up a duplex that was being built and was on schedule to be completed June 1.  It was perfect timing!  Unfortunately, when we had to move, it wasn’t done.  We moved back in with my parents for what we thought was going to be 2 or so weeks, but we’re still here.  It’s mid August and the duplex is still not done, indefinitely. 

We are very ready to unpack our things that we haven’t seen in a year and a half.  It’s been great being able to spend this time with my parents and the opportunity to housesit was nice.  However, there is something to be said about settling down and planting a family somewhere.  To have friends over, to decorate, to host play dates, meet the neighbors and to consider entertaining the possibility of maybe, perhaps thinking of getting a small dog at some point… these are just some of the things that will feel good and family-ish.

We’re incredibly grateful to my parents for all the help they’ve given by letting us stay with them.  I know we’ve been a burden in many ways and I feel bad about it!  My kids adore them and want them constantly.  We come with a lot of toys, noise and potty, which I can imagine cramps their style a bit.  Not to mention it never fails that when my parents watch the kids, Gavin will undoubtedly do something nasty in his diaper and my parents will have to take care of it… which wouldn’t be an issue but they’re not into cloth diapering. 

My mom called me hurriedly on Friday saying that she’s found us a house! A family is withdrawing from the school where my mom works to move to California and just put their house up for rent that day. It’s similar in stats and price to the duplex that we’ve been planning on only much smaller bedrooms and with a yard.  Plus it’s a HOUSE.  She texted me the address and the phone number and we drove by then called from the driveway (can you say creepers?!) She invited us in, showed us around and we left there to go straight to her rental company to get paperwork started.  The best part is, we can move in one week from today!  No more waiting until further notice! 

We are going to see all our stuff again!  Who wants to come over?!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Arizona Vacation!

Mom and I bravely took an out of state trip with the kids and no dads.  It was a wise move in terms of visiting family because, duh, that needs to happen, but a real drag in that the kids had to travel with us. Some of you reading this will be like, “oh yeah, I remember driving my kids THREE HOURS for our out of the state vacation and boy will I never do that again!” However, the other camp reading this is from Alaska too and can shed a tear for the trauma that is naturally a part of any out of state venture.  The three hour drive to Anchorage, the red-eye flight that gets you most of the way to where you’re going, the endless snacks, the double limo stroller, the sippy cups, baby carriers, Tylenol and Benadryl, headphones, snacks, ipads, chargers, extra diapers, change of clothes, more snacks and a whole host of other things to load on your person and drag through airports and onto planes. We drove, we airported, we planed, airported again, planed again and finally airported one last time before doing the rental car ordeal (I say ordeal, because it’s one of those things that is notoriously always complicated) before finally being on vacation.  By this point, we were all tired, hot and full of weird food but no actual meals.  I may or may not have changed my kids clothes in the lobby of the rental car place.  We live on the wild side.

Once we got going it was golden.  We hit up an outlet mall and did significantly less damage than we could have done if there were no kids in tow.  A certain kid of mine was oozing with tired and it came out in some pretty ugly, noisy forms which landed her a timeout and a spank in the middle of the mall.  Freshly equipped with an indoor voice, fingers out of her nose and new sunglasses, we ventured on. 

*side note: I don’t know why anyone purposely lives in Phoenix.  That place is so unbelievably HOT!  It’s hot beyond what my imagination can concoct. My poor boy has never been hot in his life had to figure out what to do with it.  He had a cup of water constantly either in his mouth or leaking all over him.  (Can someone please make a perfect leak-free sippy cup!?)

We spent some great time with my nephews who are so much fun!  Molli and Jack are 5 weeks apart and they hit it off right away.  They played together better than we were expecting and Gavin had a hay day getting baby Sam.  They may not specifically remember this visit forever, but I know I will.  It is very important to me that my kids have a relationship with their cousins.  I didn’t have that growing up, and to be honest, I didn’t think anything of it.  My cousins never were a big part of my life so to see my kids playing with their cousins is extra sweet.  I’m thankful that despite being so far apart, they love to see pictures/videos of each other and are a part of regular conversations.

We went to the park one day and as you might imagine, it was hot.  Molli's face instantly turned red but it didn't stop her, she played hard!  Who wouldn't want to run across a grassy field in on billion degree weather?

(unprompted hand holding!  YES!)

(Gavin and Sammy had a very different trip to the park than the big kids)

Don’t be fooled, Phoenix is not the only hot part of Arizona.  It’s all hot.  So naturally, we set up a kiddie pool and let the kids play naked.  They had a blast with that! At the end of the trip, we were back in Phoenix, watching the sea lions at the zoo and Jack suggested to Molli that they get naked and go swimming with them.  What could be more fun than nakie toddlers playing in water with sea lions?! 
Unfortunately, there was a glass wall arranged to spoil their fun.  So the clothes stayed on and we left the sea lions to wander the zoo.  Oh those poor animals.  Phoenix is no place for penguins.  The hyena was walking around, but pretty much every single other animal was pressed up against something in their enclosure seeking respite from the sun.  Like I said, it was so hot.  I filled and drank my 20oz water bottle every time we passed a water fountain but was sweating so much I literally only peed once all day. (You guys, people live there!  My own brother lives there!). 

(Do you see these otters? They are so hot, they're savoring the last bit of shade before it goes away entirely and they are subject to the sun's life sucking power!)

(Uncle Nate helping Molli feed a giraffe!)

We went swimming at the hotel, which was super fun!  I need to get Molli into swimming lessons.  The girl has no fear and would have jumped in without me if we had not seen her in time.  Swimming lessons would at least allow her to know what the heck to do if she actually made it in the water solo!  

We also got their pictures taken.  Oye.  I think the ages of our gang are the perfect storm for meltdown city.  I left there exhausted from placing and replacing more or less uncooperative toddlers and chasing a crawler who couldn’t keep himself still for long enough for the baby to be placed somewhere in the frame. We had to be quite a spectacle… running around trying to herd everyone together enough while making ridiculous noises and shaking bells and rattles to get everyone to look up, occasionally at the same place.  Heaven help us, it’s not for the faint of heart. 

 Eventually we had to say goodbye.  It was a great visit and I'm so glad I got to see these wonderful people.  I am so blessed to have such a great family and I hope we always stay as close as we are now. These guys are all pretty cool!

Speaking of the faint of heart, those individuals may as well just get comfortable and set up shop there in AZ because the trip home was no cakewalk.  Again with the traveling paraphernalia, only this time there were only my two hands to hold, entertain, feed and do whatever other traveling/mommy tasks were needed.  I cannot recount the whole trip home, but just know that it was a 12 hour journey from the airport to home and now that I’ve had a day to recover, I think I need a vacation. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My sick artist.

It seems all too appropriate that immediately following Mother's Day, I got a whole new taste of motherhood.  This taste came in the form of a tummy bug and it was all over the place.  For the life of me I cannot imagine how on earth someone as beautiful and sweet as my little Molli could produce this.  Mass chaos broke out as I cleaned up a mess on bed sheets. I gave Molli a bath and strapped Gavin into the high chair with a snack. Of course this would be the only time in his little life that he didn't want food.  He was making a ruckus at me to hurry it up. I was trying to hurry, but nothing compared to the hustle I found myself in when I heard the distinct sound of puke hitting the kitchen floor.  I grabbed Molli by the armpits, held her out in front of me and ran around the corner and into the bathroom. It was like a war zone. More specifically a war zone slip-n-slide.  I had my phone with me and when she was done she looked at me and said, "Woah, I just blowed up. Are you taking a picture?" I wasn't, but I did.  I'll spare you.  Just know that the aftermath took up my evening and I was gagging at it. I tried to cover the smell with air freshener but accidentally sprayed bug spray.  Note:  Bug spray does NOT help.

I was scared to feed her but the kid needs food from time to time so I gave her a little rice for dinner with a pedialyte popsicle.  She was definitely into the popsicle and after eating it a bit too fast she grabbed her head with both hands, squeezed her eyes closed and exclaimed, "Popsicles do it too!  It's not just ice cream!  BRAIN FREEZE!" This made me laugh.  I always feel bad wen I laugh at my kid's pain, but you can't blame me, it's sometimes funny.

All that to say we decided to lay low today.  I will admit that not a single one of us got dressed.  We did not leave the house, nor did we have anyone to impress.  We found mellow activities to keep entertained; the highlight of which was definitely painting. It was so fun watching her paint her people! I painted her circles and she did the rest.  I had to bite my tongue and tell myself to chill when she repeatedly tainted the yellow with every other color (especially black). She's new at portraits, so give her a break. Also, appreciate the skill progression.

First Grammy came into being.  Her hair is "stacked up tall" on her head.  She might have three legs and three eyes:

Then came Papa.  He is a bit more abstract and some of his less prominent features are magnified here.  This painting included a whole lot of extra water, disfiguring poor papa a bit.  His hair is looking fabulous, each piece "sticking up."

After these two beauties came Papu! For a first time portrait maker, this man is looking great!

With her Papu comes her Nanette.  Here Nanette is sporting a sunshine ombre look. Her hair stands, but my, do you see how nicely her bangs lay! 

Grammy and Papa are going to visit Uncle Zach for his graduation so it only made sense that he is also a piece of her artwork.  Here you see a very good looking young man, with purple hair.  He doesn't look happy, but I'm sure he is!

Uncle Brian has a lot going on.  Let me translate going counterclockwise: Black arm, yellow leg, purple leg, green arm, purple hair, yellow hair, more purple hair.  I'm thinking this is a new punk version of Brian with a lip ring and a soul patch.  Also, maybe an eye patch.

This is sideways and a bit complicated.  It's Aunt Tamara (blue) Uncle Nate (green and black) baby Sam (yellow, green and black) and Cousin Jack (orange black and blue). There are a lot of body parts.

Grandma Hand.  I know for sure some of this is long hair.  It seems that Grandma Hand is having a tummy bug of her own.

And last but not least, Daddy. Daddy has red arms and I think he is either dancing or a zombie.  She made sure not to give him hair though.

One day when Molli is a famous artist, you all can smile and remember these.  She is feeling much better, in case you were wondering.  I can't stand for my kids to be sick, but when they are, I can appreciate the calm.  Her attention span would not typically accommodate for such masterpieces.