Sunday, July 22, 2007

~Cali LOVES Joey~

Just a short note to share some LOVE!

The other day I had an appointment so Cali and the girls were going to go stay with my friend Misty and her kids. Certainly by now, you all know about Misty's son Joey. Cali loves no one in the world more than Joey.

Anyway, Cali is not normally a fan of having her hair done nor is she to particular to her clothing. Simply said, she does not primp! Her sister's do but she doesn't!

When I told her she was going to go visit Joey she suddenly wanted me to give her a belt; a sure sign of primping in this house! And of all things, she wanted her hair done, like the "gurls"!

I stood her on toilet in the bathroom to fix her hair with a glittery butterfly clip and she told me to take her picture. What you see here is her own pose. I didn't really mess with her at all.

When we were all done, she said "Joey is going to love my belt and my hair, isn't he?"
" Yes, he is." I replied.

~Fighting the Alaska Wilderness~

Well many of you have probably heard about the excitement here in Kenai on Tuesday night. For those of you who haven't heard the story, it goes something like this.

At approximately 2:00 am Scott and I were plunged from our dreams by a loud noise and the slight feeling of our house shaking. I should mention that the previous evening we had been woken by a loud ruckus that turned out to be a bear knocking over a 6-7 foot garbage hut in the neighbors' yard, into his boat.

Needless to say the 2:00 am wake up call shook us up but we both had an inkling there was a giant claw and fang baring furball involved. We sat up and waited a minute trying to get our bearings and to determine the direction from which the sound and thump came. I did get my thoughts together enough to run across the hall and make sure all the girls were sound in slumber and not downstairs sleepwalking while hurling furniture across the room. They were all asleep and had not been disturbed by the noise.

I went back across the hall to find Scott coming towards me with a shotgun getting ready to head downstairs to protect the family. I sat back down on the bed and waited. Shortly following his departure he came running back upstairs urgently informing me that a bear had knocked down one of the freezers we have outside and was traipsing off with last years harvest.

Scott headed back down to continue scoping out the situation with me following behind. He managed to run the bear off so my concerns were more about getting back to sleep than anything else.

Scott headed outside to upright the freezer which at this point was whirring quite loud with obvious difficulty. It was also obvious that the meat on the ground needed to be cleared up. There still was little concern as the meat was frozen which to most people, logically would mean no smell, us included.

As Scott was outside the kitchen window trying to bring order to the situation the bear returned and Scott looked up to find the bear walking towards him and the frozen food aisle of the Holmes' abode. Fortunately Scott went outside with the trusty shotgun I mentioned before and was calm enough to shoot him square in the forehead. The bear went down immediately and Scott managed to get in the house. It wasn't until he was safe in the house that everything really started shaking.

I ran upstairs to check the girls and calm them down knowing they were scared out of their minds from the gunshot. I quickly returned to give Scott the chance to talk through his adrenaline rush as they were still sound asleep.

Using a flashlight we looked out the window; we wanted to factually determine whether or not the bear was brown or black. We were pretty sure it was brown but being that different laws apply we wanted to be sure before alerting the authorities. After we made sure it was in fact a brown bear Scott went to look up some regulations on the computer, to make sure what the protocol was for reporting a "defense of life and property" bear kill.

While he was doing his research I was planted at my little kitchen window still not sure that the thing might not get up and walk away. The window was open and I was just standing there sipping a cup of coffee when I started hearing what I thought were twigs cracking outside in the trees to the back-side area of the house. I immediately yelled for Scott who came to me mumbling "you've got to be kidding me".

I told him to stand there and listen as my adrenaline was still in high speed and it was certainly possible I was hearing things as I was standing there looking at a huge dead bear just outside my window. But no, he heard it too!

All of a sudden, Scott tells me there is a sow (female bear) and a cub in the yard! I moved across the kitchen and bent down to look out the large kitchen window that overlooks the front yard and I manage to burp out..."no, it is a sow and 2 cubs!" making a total of 3 bears coming toward the house. Don't ask me why I bent down but I think I was in a crouch out of fear.

For the record, we are not absolutely certain these were cubs. Because they were traveling with a sow we must assume they were but they weren't tiny! I am guessing they were at least 2nd year cubs.

At this point I am sure we were in absolute shock however Scott ran for the front door (with the shotgun), opened the door and started yelling at the live bears. 2 ran off right away but the 3rd one loped a couple of steps off and turned back to look at Scott. Raising the now infamous shotgun he fired a round in the air which promptly ran the 3rd furball off.

Finally we were able to call the police and the Fish and Game authorities. The police were out on a call and would take a while to arrive. I headed to check on the kids again but still no one had moved. It was between 4 and 5 when I finally laid down; Scott finished talking to the police well after 5. The guy from fish and game didn't come until after 7.

It turns out that even if you are not at fault and it is ruled a defense of life and property occurrence you are still responsible for cleaning it, getting it off your property and turning the hide over to Fish and Game. We had to hire a guy to come out and help Scott take care of it plus he missed a day of work because of the fiasco.

In case you are wondering, the freezer never did get upright until the police came and by that time the motor was shot! We had to purchase a new one.

Our case was ruled a DLP with acceptable cause. We were not fined. I think it was the dead bear with a shot in the forehead that lie less than 6 feet from Scott's footprints in the dirt near the freezer that saved us! It may have also been Scott's offer to allow them to launder his clothes if they needed proof of the close encounter.

When Cori woke up the next day she came running back by my computer whispering, "Mom, Dad's talking to someone of the phone about a bear and I see a dead one lying in the yard!" Who knew?

After gutting and cleaning it Scott took the hide over to the Fish and Game office and they estimate that he weighed about 550 pounds and measured about 8 foot! I know the photo with Cori taking aim makes him appear rather small but for reference take a gander at the size of his head in the photo where Cori is showing of his chompers! Scary huh?!

There was an article in Friday's newspaper; the caption read "Attacks on Outdoor Freezers Leave One Bear on Ice". They didn't have all the facts correct (they interviewed the Fish and Game guy, not Scott) but the gist of the story is the same. Such is life when you choose to live in the Alaskan wilderness.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Exciting International Space Station Contact from Kenai AK

Hi again. I know I have been inundating you all with blog news lately but this is very exciting. I know you will love it!

On Saturday July 7th 2007 Cori and Cassi had the opportunity to speak with Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson from the International Space Station. It was an incredible experience and there was a lot of time for interaction with him.

While Uncle Mark and Aunt Jeanie were visiting we heard that we would have this opportunity so we asked for their help coming up with some questions to ask Mr. Anderson. Unfortunately I sent them in a little late. While it happened that their questions were asked, it did not turn out that the girls got to ask their questions themselves. Some of them were asked by other children.

Cori said to him "I heard that the Great Wall of China is visible from space. Are there any other man made or natural features that you have seen from the space station?

She also asked If there had ever been a female commander or leader of a mission into space, which was a question we personally sent in.

Scott and I thought Cassi was given a fantastic question to ask which was, What's sleeping like in space when there is no gravity to hold you or your sheets down?
It turns out they sleep in sleeping bags standing up. Who knew?

She also asked him "How is the digestive process affected by the lack of gravity?" This and his answer got a little chuckle from all of us.

Since there was a little extra time Cori came up with the idea of asking "Is there any special candy you like to take with you to the space station?" It would have made a great commercial for Kit Kat because apparently that is his candy bar of choice.

While we were quite aware of the opportunity the event provided the girls it got even better this morning. The phone started ringing pretty early with the news that there was a photo of the girls on the front page of the newspaper. They were both very excited and loved the spotlight it created. Go figure.

I am putting the actual Peninsula Clarion Article here along with the front page photo. We do have a little video Scott shot and if we can figure out how to put it on DVD we will send a copy soon.

By the way, Did you know both Cori and Cassi might possibly be astronauts someday? Amazing what some opportunities inspire isn't it? Love you all bunches!

'Loud and clear'
Students, ISS make contact

The International Space Station zipped over the southern Aleutians at 17,500 miles per hour, coming within range of the Challenger Learning Center's radio antenna at 11:45 a.m. Saturday. Dale Hershberger tracked the station's orbit on his laptop and began transmitting his message as the spacecraft inched closer to Kenai.

"NAISS coming in loud and clear," NASA Astronaut Clayton C. Anderson's voice came in through the static over Hershberger's ham radio. "Go ahead with your questions."

Nearly a dozen kids lined up at the radio's microphone to ask Anderson questions in Alaska's first-ever official hookup with a NASA astronaut aboard the orbiting space station. Leah Eskelin, the center's lead flight director, said one of the astronauts' goals, apart from their mission, is to make a contact to all 50 states via amateur radio.

"Alaska hasn't had an opportunity until now," she said. "It took a concerted effort on all parts."

Last year the learning center contacted Expedition 13 Flight Engineer Jeffrey Williams and had a short question and answer session with him, but it wasn't sanctioned by NASA, Eskelin said.

"Our last contact was at 5:30 in the morning," Eskelin said. The space station has to be high enough above the horizon in order for the Learning Center to receive a clear signal. "Height determines the length of time we have to make contact," she said, adding that they expected an eight-minute window, giving the kids enough time to ask 15 questions.

Hershberger, a volunteer at the Challenger Learning Center and ham radio operator for more than 30 years, said because the station's orbit only comes to within 51 degrees north and south latitude that it would only be 13 degrees above the horizon when the center is able to contact it.

"When he comes out over the southern end of the Aleutian chain then we'll have the footprint," Hershberger said. "At best we can have 13 degree elevation."

At 210 miles above the Earth's surface and traveling a steady clip of 17,500 miles per hour, the space station's orbit doesn't change, Hershberger said. Last year's contact was early in the morning because the planet moves all the time, he said.

When Anderson's voice rang out through the center's surround sound, Hershberger didn't waste time with pleasantries and handed the microphone to 8-year-old Bryan Hanson.

"Do you believe in life on other planets?" Hanson asked.

Anderson replied that while parts of the solar system may not contain life as we think of it here on Earth, he's confident there's life elsewhere in the universe.

"I liked it all," Hanson said, standing in the lobby with his family following the event. "It was neat asking questions and looking at the chart."

Hanson said he builds airplanes, rockets, cars and submarines and wants to be an aerospace engineer when he grows up. Learning that there is a small window of opportunity when it comes to talking to an astronaut was interesting, he said.

"I learned there are certain places where he can come in and out so you can talk to each other," Bryan said.

For Cori Holmes, 9, and Emily Hamilton, 8, talking to someone floating in outer space was exciting. Hamilton and Holmes asked Anderson a variety of questions ranging from the role women play in space travel to what man-made and natural features are visible from space.

"Getting to know the things he likes to do and the things he likes was cool," they said. "It took 40 to 45 minutes (for him) to get around the world so we could talk to him."

In addition to talking to Alaska school kids and engaging in routine maintenance of the spacecraft, Eskelin said, Anderson is studying vitamin and mineral loss in outer space, which involves taking blood and urine samples. So when Cassi Holmes, 8, asked him how zero gravity affects his digestive system, Anderson replied that learning how to use the toilet in space was difficult at first, but he soon figured it out.

"Your body knows when it's time to go," he said.

Anderson was within range of the learning center's antenna for about 10 minutes, giving him enough time to take questions from the audience. The space station soared over the Canadian border when Anderson's transmission cut out at 11:55 a.m.

Jessica Cejnar

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My Guilt Message Worked on somebody!

Here is an awesome picture of Kelly. And there is another one of her new grill that goes on her awesome patio. I adore the patio and soon my pond will look as nice as hers.

~God Bless America~


I hope it was a wonderful day for everyone.

Here in Alaska we celebrated much like usual. The regular gang came out for the big celebration. Grandpa brought Amber and AJ, the Holmes family of 5 were there and The Norwood's came out with 3 of their 4. (Barry cheated and slept in.) Lastly, throw in Calvin, AJ's friend who has been one of the gang for many years now as well.

The parade was set to begin at 11:00 so we arrived at 10:00. You know, it can get rather crowded around here and it's tradition to sit right in front of the IGA. (They have the cleanest & closest restrooms.) Besides securing our favorite parade-watching spot, arriving early also gives plenty of time to purchase donuts, walk nearby to get a coffee and visit with friends up and down the street. In fact, one old friend I happened upon yesterday just returned from Florida and a visit to the Magic Kingdom. He was trying to make me jealous of the 93 degree weather he experienced (endured!) but I didn't buy it. The weather has been pretty awesome here.

We all wore our very best 4th of July attire and made quite a display of red, white and blue bling.

Grandpa was feeling much better ( He has been quite ill); it was wonderful to see him back in prankster mode. Cori, Cassi and Cali were glad to be able to hang all over him once more!

Cali was a joy this year. She thoroughly enjoyed waving at everyone that passed by.

The older kids love waiting for the candy. I never let them eat it all and usually give most of it away but I guess it's the thrill of getting it that still makes it so fun!

As for me, the parade is a great way to enjoy the wonderment and excitement of childhood. I love that my children still have the opportunity to be young and carefree. And the ones who aren't so young, well they still humor me and isn't that great too?

After the parade we headed over to the park strip for some more community meet and greet. And for some great junk food. The kids played in the trees while we lazed around a bit.

Once we grew tired of being lazy...well some of us never do...we left to head for Grandpa house for some BBQ. Unfortunately Scott had to work for a little while so he didn't go with us. The kids and I had lots of fun though. The Norwood's came out to share in the remainder of the day with us and we were finally able to connect with GiGi who worked the early part of the day.

After filling our guts we took to our new favorite past time at Grandpa's house. Super jumping everyone on the trampoline. The younger kids love it and the big kids get some real air. I love trying to catch awesome photos of them doing it!
Here are a few.

Here is GiGi. Isn't the photo a hoot! I haven't seen her allow the kids to do this to her before. My kids thought it was the best!

Cassi has become quite good at maneuvering herself for good photos and for coming upright while looking cool too!

I am certain this photo will find it's way to the senior slide show in a couple of years. And AJ's children will one day love this picture too!

I don't know how Calvin managed it but it looked like he levitated right off the trampoline. We made him sit up after that in order to get good shots but this one seemed to cool not to share.

The big guys love to try and throw Amber BIG so she is very cautious but in case you couldn't tell, she loves it!!!

We did manage to get everyone still for a split second for a shot of the gang! It is amazing what wonderful and fantastic kids they have all become. One day soon I will post an old shot so you can see the changes in them. It is an amazing and beautiful thing. I am incredibly proud of each one of them.

God Bless the USA and each one of you.