Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What came With The Rain

Well, if you read the post below you know we ended up at the beach last Saturday evening for a get-together to celebrate my upcoming 41st birthday.

It has been raining here for a couple weeks (or so it seems) and there was no chance it was letting up that night. Now, initially the plan was going to change from the beach to a friends home however it was changed again and my party was at one of my favorite places to be.

I'd envisioned actually seeing the tent/ awning set up on the beach however Scott and our friends found a nice grassy area on the bluff above and chose to set up there. When I arrived there were balloons and banners everywhere thanks to Holly's eclectic decorating techniques which I adore!

My Dad and Gigi were there with AJ, Holly and Rocky drug Barry (and his bum leg) and Wren out too. My friend Michelle was there(which I couldn't believe because she does not do wet hair in public)and of course, so were Alli and Cait. Kelly( along time soccer friend) came with his two girls and we mustn't forget Nana. I was so glad she was able to come; I am certain it was clear insight to my world and what I love.

Right after we arrived, just like always, Cori asked if she, Alli and Cait could head to the beach. For the first time ever, I went ahead and allowed her to go with out me. I tend to be a bit worried about the muck-mud that so many people get stuck in around here. My children are well aware of the dangers of venturing out too far in it but still I like to be near, so it was huge for her that I let her go alone with friends.

Only a couple of minutes went by when Cori came streaking up from the beach with her friends, screaming "Mom, there are two cubs on the beach." I couldn't believe it. I was so excited I think I forgot to worry about how they'd handled the situation. (We did have a long reminder talk the next day about the right things to do.)

I grabbed my camera and Scott and away we went. We left the kids behind so we could scout things out but quickly went back and got everyone.

It was really cool. There were two cubs and they were digging in the sand and then heading into what looked like a little den and the side of the hill.

We all watched for Momma but she never came. In the event you think there are bears in everyone's back yard here in Alaska, it just isn't true. It is a rare treat to get to see them; especially cubs. They are most often protected by the mother and you can't get very close. We intentionally stayed a good distance away as we didn't want to frighten Mom should she be lounging in the den or coming back from a jaunt. It was still closer than many of us will ever get in a lifetime.

After quite a time bear gazing, we headed up for food,drinks and fun.

Scott brought my favorite kind of birthday cake, which happens to be ice cream cake with the crunchy stuff in the middle. Nana and Holly got quite a kick out of having ice cream in the middle of a downpour but well, we were living in the moment and it was worth it! Scott told us when he called to order it he told them to put 'Happy Birthday Christie' but changed his mind and said to the gal, "uh, cross that out and put Mom". Here is what he got.

Now the truth; he told them to do that. He just wanted a great story to tell. :-)

After eating the kids started playing soccer.

I can not express my own delight at watching them all in their rain boots and knitted hats running around kicking the ball. Of course, I played too. I gave Alli my ultra cool hat at some point so I played with an umbrella. I assume this looked as ridiculous as it seemed but it was fun.

My friends and family love me very much and gave me wonderful gifts. Especially wonderful was the beautiful strawberry-rhubarb pie Kelly and his wife Bobbi made for me.

Isn't it gorgeous? Grandpa tried really hard to take it home. He didn't get away with it but he did show up at my house the next day to get some!!

In true family fashion, we goofed off a lot during the night. AJ egged me on a little too much and I couldn't resist nailing him with a massive puddle!

I think he was initially shocked beyond belief however he recovered quickly and scooped a bucket full of the same and nailed me!

Scott later said to me that it was really funny watching the two of us.

It really is such a blessing having a brother and sister 26 and 24 years younger than I. I believe they keep me young, as does my fun husband and wonderful children.

As you can see Cali joined the puddle jumping fun and was drenched from head to toe.

GiGi was rather smart and wore her snowsuit. She was able to discard it when it was time to go and was likely the driest person on the ride home. Cali was pretty dry too since I'd brought extra clothes. The advantage of being the youngest!

I did bring the hot chocolate; it was my contribution to the evening.

That and the silliness which I brought in its finest! It was a valuable contribution, I think.

As if there was need for more, I have to tell you, right before we left, as we were enjoying our hot chocolate, a baby spruce hen waddled over to the table. He scooted under neath the table and decided to join our fun. He was not afraid and was more than willing to allow the girls a little stroke of his feathers.

He was quite a joy to experience. This too, like the bear cubs was quite unusual. I adamantly believe everything that happened that night was a gentle nudge to remind me and others that we have to live our life! We have to remind each other what makes our hearts happy and go for it. Even if there is a little rain, the moment will shine if you allow it too.

I wish you all could have been here. I was certainly one of my best birthdays ever! I said as much to Cassi on the way home and she chirped that it was hers too!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

41 years old- I'm going for it!

I am 41 years old today! I can't believe I am at this point in my life but wouldn't have it any other way.

I've learned and done a lot of things in 41 years. I feel like I have lived my life to it's fullest potential. I am not done but I am proud of my journey to get here.

Along my journey, I had three beautiful girls and have spent much of my journey after having them sharing with them what I've learned and learning with them. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to share with them and while I can not exactly put my finger on what it is I taught them, I know it was great.

Scott planned a sort of surprise party for me Saturday night. Due to some miscommunication I kind of learned of his efforts. In the events that followed he ended up changing his original plans (to take me to my favorite beach/park) and told me we'd be going to a friends house instead.

I love a great get together as much as just about anyone but I was disappointed that we weren't going to the beach. For a bit, I didn't say anything but...well, in order to free myself of the inner nagging feeling of disappointment I expressed to him that in the future I hoped he would just stick to his guns and go for it anyway. I should mention that it was raining buckets for days but I still felt I'd rather try the beach because he knew I loved it there and I DO!

Guess what? Being the great guy he is he called everyone and changed the plans back to the beach. Whoo Hoo!

So back to the lesson. It did rain! A lot! And still we played. Grandpa brought the motorhome. The tents came out. I brought lots of towels and umbrellas. The kids layered up and wore hats and gloves. It was wonderful!

I think best said, the lesson is LIVE YOUR LIFE! I even made this fit in to my unplugged project for the week. I know it was a stretch however I think the philosophy of the project is to get away from the TV and spend quality time with your kids. We did exactly that! While we were there, a good friend said, "Chris, I don't do flat wet hair very well. The smiles on everyone's faces couldn't have been more perfect and my mother in law once said to me, great hair is like a perfect frame for a beautiful face. I don't think there could have been a better frame than wet hair for all of our smiling faces at the park that night.

I will work on posting our pictures and story of the turn of events of the evening right away. I am certain because we chose to LIVE OUR LIFE, amazing things happened. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making fun out of window washing

OK, you will never believe this but I managed to get my windows cleaned this week while making it fit into the Unplug Your Kids weekly idea. :-) How absolutely great is that!

I will admit that it took a while to catch on. Wren was still here visiting and Cori has been a bit moody lately so selling this idea to them was a tad bit more difficult than I originally thought it might be. Cassi is simply so easy going most of the time that she went right along because she wouldn't want to be disagreeable.

Once I got the kids going, they had a great time. I had figured that the hose would be swinging and these great bubble brushes that I learned about here would create some lively laughs. It took a while but I was RIGHT! (Mom's usually are.)

The windows were really dirty as Nana can attest; I was kind of waiting for my mom to come back but I couldn't wait anymore. I figure she owes me dinner or something since I did her job. (She often cleans my windows when she visits) Anyway, she will be so surprised to see these sparkling gems on the front of our house!

Cali loved cleaning the screens, which is something I actually remember doing as a child. We did end up with some wet children. I did make sure to use warm water in the hose so no one got too cold. It wasn't the best weather day dinner we went around the table the tell our favorite part of the day and when we got to Cori she said "My favorite part of the day was washing the windows!" (I don't think she was kidding!)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How many rocks does it take to fill one jar?

Last week we started participating with the unplug your kids goup.

Just prior to joining Cori purchased a very nice glass bottle at a garage sale. When I talked to the girls about doing a stone project, Cori immediately chimed in. She asked that I take her and her sisters to the beach to fill the jar with small colorful rocks. We are collectors at heart and the girls adore going to the beach!

As most of you know Nana arrived last weekend while we were in Anchorage for a soccer tournament. We were quite busy and didn't get around to getting to the beach until last night and in the expressions of Cali "Whoo Hoo!"

We took her with us. She was quite bundled but watched the kids (and me) dig and dig for quite a while.

I had a hard time keeping Cori and Wren (he is with us until Tuesday- long story) on task. They were on a mission to collect driftwood.(These sticks make all sorts of wonderful things at our house.)

Cassi helped a lot but I her caught scooping fistfuls of rocks and sliding them in once or twice.

Cali tried hard.

Fortunately when she got tired of trying she went to work filling her own bucket which takes less thought but could likely be more fun for a 3 1/2 year old.

I had no idea it could take quite so long to fill a bottle. The neck was very small and it set the pace as to what size rocks we were looking for. As those of you who know me well are aware, I likely enjoyed looking for rocks the most. I choose every one with thought and care. I had hoped we'd fill it with many red and green rocks as those are the most colorful but since beauty is very individual, the jar has wonderful rocks of many colors. Here is what we were choosing from.

I did find a piece of sea glass right when we got there and lost it just as quickly. (Or so I thought- I actually found it this morning in my jeans pocket) Cori found another piece but wouldn't agree to put it in the jar.

Then we started looking for sea glass more than rocks for a time. Wren ended up finding 2 pieces, which I am certain he would have shared with me.

Instead I think we will make beach trays to display our magnificent treasures we find there. We all decided we'd like to save the sea glass for those since they would be better viewed there.

If I had to admit the truth, we didn't end up filling the jar. We got close but decided we would finish on another day. Any excuse to get back to the beach works for us. Cori did choose a wonderful light blue silk daisy to put in the jar. I think it will look lovely when it is done. Very earthy. We will be sure to post the finished project when it is complete.

Hope your weekend is filled with colorful moments too!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Unplug your Kids-Cali's unplanned idea

I have mentioned often here lately my obsession with the amazing ideas I've found reading the plethora of blogs on the internet.

Well I recently stumbled upon a wonderful site called unplug your kids. It fascinates me. The premise is to take a moment, get away from the tv and every other thing that consumes our daily lives and pay attention to what is most important. I suppose I took from it that I could use the idea offered on the site once a week to open a dialog with the girls. I expect it will allow them to create ideas of their own that fit with in the idea and on their terms. I talked to the girls about it and we were very excited to begin this week. The idea or theme of the week was stone. Cori came up with a very specific idea she wanted to do however it turned out we returned from Anchorage far to late to get it done. We intend to head right out tomorrow to get it done but in the mean time the most wonderful (to this mom) thing happened.

Like we do on most trips home from Anchorage, we stopped at the boardwalk in Cooper Landing to stretch and let the girls run around by the water. Cali has been talking about it since yesterday and was really looking forward to it. It was a little cool so she didn't seem in a rush to take her shoes off and get her feet wet but when she got down to the river's edge she quickly got involved in a original project of her own.

She was collecting things like she often does but this time she started setting them out on a larger rock and telling me a sort of story. She was rambling on about the ocean and a boat. When I finally realized she was quite intent on having me pay attention, low and behold she had created quite a piece of art.

Now looking at this photo one might not be clear about what she'd created. Here however is what she had to tell me. She said there was an ocean and there was a boat in it. There was some seaweed floating in that ocean and a couple of small logs. Along that ocean was a house that had a nice lawn and even some beautiful flowers all about. There was a snake and it was lying near the house. There was some mud and a rock not too far from the ocean. And there was a very tall tree to over look it all. Now, take a second look and see it through her eyes. I thought all of this was very clever for a 3 1/2 year old. (It should be mentioned that she basically did this on her own until Cori got a little caught up with what Cali was doing and started to try and help.) Cali cut her off rather quickly and kept the ideas her own. She also packed up this art to bring home when it was time to go.

I am thinking this truly fits the bill for our very first unplugged stone contribution. What do you think? Art on a stone works, right?

Grins to all of you, and get unplugged. This next weeks idea is glass, will you all do it with us? Check out the site I mentioned and think about it. Better yet, do it.

Love to you all.
PS-remember to click the photos to enlarge them.

Monday, July 07, 2008

4th of July, Now on Video

I took an awful lot of photos on July 4th. I decided you all might enjoy seeing them all set to music. Now keep in mind this wasn't my first choice of songs but I'm currently having a bit of a problem converting MP4 files to MP3's when they are protected. I am working it so until then, have a look and enjoy th energy this song provides. Hopefully you will love the pictures.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happy 4th to All of You

I hope this day was a fantastic day for all of you.

We stayed up a little too late the night before and had to get up a little too early. At the last minute Thursday, Cori offered to walk in the parade with her best friend Alli. The person that was supposed to be walking decided not to so, as Cori says, 'she was a last minute substitution'. They were walking for Ted Stevens, AK Senator.

Scott secured our annual spot in front of the IGA (Alli's parents own the grocery store). We usually have donuts from there for breakfast and there is a drive thru coffee house with in walking distance so of course it is the perfect spot. (Oh, and the IGA bathrooms make it quite coveted as well)

The girls basically put together their own outfits this year. Cori's ended up being hidden since she wore an enormous Ted Stevens t-shirt. Cassi bought her darling hat in Fairbanks a couple weeks ago. She saved it for this special occasion. Scott and I loved it on her. I made Cali's tutu Thursday night, which is why I was up WAY too late. Scott wasn't sure she was going to wear it but when I met up with them after dropping Cori off, she had it on. :-)

The normal group of us showed up for the parade.

Amber and AJ even came even though they're old enough to say no. I was really glad they were there. It just seemed 'right'.

Holly and her gang are in the states this year so you won't see Barry and Wren in the pictures like you usually do. Alli's mom, Aunt and two cousins hung out with us too. And best of all, Rachel didn't have to work this year so she got to come.

There was another family (that we met through soccer) that hung out with us too. Their littlest girl, Shy (I know it is spelled different but haven't a clue how to do it) and Cali have become quite the buddies. Cali sure had fun at the parade with her.

There is a middle girl in their family too(Cassi's age)and her name is Kali. It was nice that she was there since Cori walked; Cassi had someone to hang with.

I know it seems rather goofy that I love the parade so much. I was actually reminded of our first one yesterday when Alli's cousin made a flip remark about it. I remember Scott and I thinking it was the lamest thing we'd done, the first time we watched. Now, I wouldn't miss it.

The parade was bigger this year. With WalMart coming soon, there was some big machinery in the area.
Cali didn't like the loud sirens on the firetrucks but she loved getting candy.
She even shared some with Grandpa.

We went over to the park strip for a minute; just long enough to eat some frybread(and cotton candy) and visit with a few friends.

After that we headed to Grandpa's house for fun and food!

The swing is always a fun place to start but then the lake lured us all in.

Well, not actually in but to the edge. We found some great stuff there. Cori set to making a stick and grass boat.

I am not sure she ever put it in the water but I loved watching her concentration and determination in making it. Cali floated along the edge of the lake in the little rafty thing. I was actually surprised she did it. She is seeming to be the risk taker of the three.

Cori took a turn on the rafty thing too and Cassi did her best to scare her. Cassi jumped on but quickly moved on too other things.

I loved the slugs at the edge of the water. They were quite fascinating as I'd never really watched one up close in the water. I think they look much like an eel moving around.

Booger was off looking around but came quick when I told him about those slugs. :-)

Cassi found the trampoline soon after eating barbecue. It is amazing she didn't get sick. She has mostly mastered her back tuck on the tramp. This is wonderful. She is aiming to hit it on the floor since we have a little wager going on. Here she was working on a back flip.

Cali is into bubbles lately. The girls tried every bubble toy we had. Then Cali had the unique idea of making a mountain of them. Pretty cool huh?

And don't you know we played a little golf ball horseshoes.

I really don't know what the game is called but according to Cori, it is her most favorite game EVER!

Cori and Grandpa were partners the whole day. Here he is helping her by being one with the target.

The rest of us switched up but they stuck together. AJ even played a round or two before he left to hang out with friends.

Amber had to work; we missed her.

I think everyone had their own version of the winning dance.

Who do you think did the best job?
I personally like Cali's winning leap after winning the run-around-the-tree-between-throws game. She wore herself out playing this game with Cori.

After games we headed for the 'hot' tub. Although Grandpa had turned off the heat weeks ago (he says it is too warm right now to sit in it) the girls had fun cooling themselves off in it.

It was a fun day. I passed out about 10:00pm. My friend Misty called shortly after and couldn't beleive I was down for the count already. I always have so much fun on the 4th of July and this year was no different.

I always take the close up photos because I am sure you will see the thoughts and feelings of the person I am photographing. I hope you do.

And, while I know I could almost gag you all with my peace,love,live life like its your last moment ramblings I'm going to end with this picture of love. I am absolutely certain when you look into the eyes of my little girl in this picture you know what her happiness is and at that moment it was celebrating Independence day, having fun with her family, being an all-American little girl in the lap of her Daddy.

There is no way that can't make you feel like celebrating.

Love to all of you!