Disney: Day One

Day one of our family adventures consisted of traveling. And traveling.

Our first flight from Anchorage to Seattle was awesome. It’s always a toss up with that one- either amazing tailwinds or gruesome head winds. We won that lottery today and had a super quick and smooth flight. Always a bonus with the kiddos to make it short and sweet. My parents came with us and even managed to be sitting with us (after a panicked check in where our seats did not appear to be near each other).

We switched planes and had travel buddies for the second flight. My son, who was a little wild on the first flight, sat next to Grandma and passed out for the whole flight. My daughter, who was super good for the first flight, sat next to us for this one and was very ‘excited’ the whole way. She was chatting and rolling around and crying on and off… whoa. I was glad to land at LAX. And then taxi for 7 hours.

Ok. It wasn’t that long… but it was long enough for my sweet 2 year old to pass right out. Oh. My. Sounds good- but getting off a plane with a groggy 2 year old is not fun.

After the journey to our rental car (HELLO LAX?? Get it together with your rental organization! I’ve been spoiled by Seattle who has every rental in one spot!) and picking up a van just like our babysitter (the most amazing lady ever!) Gracie proceeded to pass right out again. Hallelujah!!

We got to our incredible three bedroom condo. It seriously is amazing. Clean, Disney themed, modern and secure (which was my crazy Alaska paranoid’s lady top concern. I can deal with having to clean up a bit when I get somewhere, but scary neighborhoods are not my thing).

Our room has an awesome attached nursery we popped sleeping beauty right into. Then there’s a kiddo room with bunk beds and a twin bed with a tv- it’s basically a dream room. Little dude was so pumped… until we showed him our room. MELTDOWN TIME! He thought we were all sleeping in the kid room and was less than thrilled about the idea of sleeping alone. So…. we pulled the twin mattress into our room and he slept on the floor.

Three bedroom condo and we are all in one room? Family vacation style! (Although my parents do have their own room. I’m glad they didn’t cry about not bunking with us too. It would have been crowded!)

Today the adventure continues with California Adventures!!

PS. Here is where we are staying! I love it and the owners are SO friendly!  http://funtierlandvacationrentals.com/

Bad Blogger

I’m a horrible blogger. I think I’m better when my hubs is at work, but we have been seriously loving the last 2 months of him home. We are in a parenting groove that’s so awesome.

Sometimes when he comes home I get into the habit of asking him to do EVERYTHING because I have to do everything when he is gone. But it’s a bit ridiculous. I’ve put a lot of effort into NOT doing that this time he has been home and things have been so much smoother. Happier. Laughier.

Now we’re down to two more weeks until we lose him to the North Slope again. For his 4th ‘last year’ up there building ice roads. The problem with this man I call my husband, is that he is SO GOOD at his job. He is efficient, a creative problem solver and super organized. He has worked every part of the job so he makes a foreman that really can’t be beat. The problem with this is they sure do offer him a good chunk of change to go up there. And while it’s being offered- we might as well take it.

The next two weeks will be incredible. We are taking the family to Disneyland. Wait… I mean – WE ARE GOING TO DISNEYLAND!!!! That adventure, followed by Christmas and then he is off to work. And we have a week of no school after to adjust and cuddle and watch movies and get back into a ‘mommy only’ groove.

So much happy and sad mixed together. Bittersweet times ahead!

A Rough Day

Half way into our conversation I realized my Grandpa was saying good bye to me. He started out telling me the story of his sickness and how it had progressed over the years. Information about his blast counts, platelets and more details I’d heard previously. Then he went into his recent trial treatment he was participating in which led to his bone marrow biopsy last week and spinal tap to determine how well it was working.

It’s not.

gg

Next came how much he loves me and how proud he is to have been able to watch me grow up into the best mom and person. How my choices over the years have led me to where I am supposed to be: with Vince, my husband. He continued on to tell me we have given him the most amazing great grandchildren and his only regret is not being able to stick around to watch their milestones and experiences. It was here I realized… oh… he is saying good bye to me.

Obviously at this point all I would say was ‘uh-huh’ and ‘right’ and ‘oh Gramps’… while convulsing in silent tears in the front passenger seat of my Sequoia while my kids were in the back seat. And my poor husband is driving us home from a great morning at the Alaska Wildlife Center.

I can picture him sitting there at the breakfast bar at their home we have visited them in and made memories with them in for decades. Picture him with his typed up bullet points he wanted to cover while talking to me. And probably one sheet for each of us grand kids. My Grandpa is an amazing writer, poetic and gifted with a flowing literary sense that doesn’t come to all people.

The rest of the conversation I pulled it together enough to get some details on his plan, which includes spending the rest of his time at home with Grandma. He asked me to make sure to check in on her and still come visit, even when it’s just her- because she has been his life. For sixty years. The tears started again.

Gramps told me to tell Vince he loves him. And to keep the family together even when he is gone. Hopefully watching over us, but he won’t know until he gets there.

Love you gobs Gramps.
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And I Showered!

I took a shower today. YAY ME!

I know… that shouldn’t be something to cause jumping up and down excitement, but it was a shower BY MYSELF. No small people in there splashing around or tripping me. My bathtub is more like a bathroom itself (it is larger than the entire bathroom downstairs) so having additional bodies in there isn’t that bad… I guess.

While I was solo-showering my son was watching Sesame Street and my daughter was setting up bathroom supplies (shampoo, conditioner, soaps, bubble bath… you know, the necessities stored under the sink) like candles, and singing ‘Happy Birfday’ to them. It was amazing.

Because some alone time (seriously… this is what I consider alone time. No other people touching me or acknowledging me) causes me to be reflective and I started to think about how awesome this moment was. One child old enough to be entertained by engaging with the show (I could hear him yelling out answers to Elmo) and the other is using her imagination and artistic expression,  all the while in an environment where I could observe them yet soak up a good hair washing all alone.

These moments are few and very far between. Generally there’s crying, injuries, swords or shooters and in the end three people in the bathtub while I shower. And two dogs wondering why they weren’t invited and sticking their heads in to see the fun they are missing.

Someday (like three days from now when I attempt a shower again) I  might be scooping little people out of the tub and rinsing soap out of eyes while abandoning my attempt at conditioner, but someday further down the line… it’ll be just me again. All the time. And how sad is that? Jeez… doesn’t every day just lead back to needing one more baby in our family?

I am a pretty appreciative person most of the time. But I just really loved today. It was peaceful and satisfying to hear both of my ‘wild ones’ behaving. Oh… and I don’t smell quite so ‘exhausted mom’ anymore. Bonus!

And So It Begins…

School.

It’s started. Know how I know? I’m tired. And sick. And tired of being sick. And also… super excited every morning about my new kiddos.

At the end of every year I can’t imagine having a group of kids as great as the ones I have had. The beginning of the year always has a slight undertone of anxiety about meeting new people: adults and kiddos. Figuring out emotional tells and cues from tired or stressed kids. There’s always little people who aren’t so good at adapting to new situations and going to preschool for the first time is definitely a new situation.

This year I have an incredible group of kids. No major separation issues for parents or kids.A lot of sweetness and awareness of other people’s feelings. Empathy is something that is tough to teach, but comes natural to a handful of people. I think I have a group with a high number of these types this year…

I have 100% full confidence that by the end of the year I will again be thinking…. ‘NOooooo…. don’t go to kindergarten!!! I need you!!’.

We are going to have a great year. As soon as my cough lets up a little and my voice returns. 🙂

My Better Half. Or Equal Half.

Oh DaddyMy hubby is amazing. I complain a lot about him being gone, but only in spurts. Usually right after he leaves and things are really hard to adjust to and then again about 3/4 of the way through his work season (usually the 5 month mark is a tough time for me). It also happens to coincide with two very busy times of the year for me: school ending and school starting.

We have an incredible relationship.  I think it takes a certain type of person (people) to maintain a healthy, happy relationship in the situations we put ourselves in. We are best friends, co-conspirators, alleviate each other’s stress with humor and just ‘get’ each other. I don’t know a lot of people who have what we have. And we know that. We do not take our relationship for granted and know how blessed we are to get to live this life.

I often wonder why we get this life. We have two happy healthy kids, careers in industries we love, mutual interests in the outdoors and a love for where we are geographically, a beautiful home and even a cabin to enjoy. Our families are filled with incredible people who love and love and love. We appreciate everything. How did we get so much greatness?

Then I think… maybe it is so great because we made it this way. We have a mindset that allows us to overcome obstacles (some times with moderate venting, but that is healthy) and truly enjoy each day. A roadblock is simply a means for a new adventure. An Avenue to create a solution.

Maybe we have this amazing life because we make it this way by taking advantage of the beautiful place and time we were lucky enough to be born into… by focusing on the attributes of each other rather than the negatives…. by loving 100% and knowing what it is like to not have the other there…allowing us to fully appreciate the moments we are together.

Reflecting on this today, when my husband is at the 5 month gone mark, makes the last two months to go seem a little more doable. Even in the hard times of parenting without Dad there to get my back, I know he will be there. Even if it’s five minutes on the phone before he goes to work, or a few hours every couple weeks when he drives home to see us during his 12 hours off work… I know he will be there. And I know how lucky/blessed/fortunate I am to have that.

In the midst of my Facebook rants or exasperated cries of depair, I just have to remember how truly good we have it. And continue on, sharing the memories we make knowing the tough ones will someday be hilarious. And looked back on fondly. Hopefully for every frustrated post, I make five hopeful ones. 🙂 

Dinner Time or Circus Time?

It’s ‘dinner time’ around here. One of my kids appears to be naked except for a beautiful Anna hair pretty. And some marker tattoos she created while I was making said dinner.

The other is America Ninja Warrioring around the living room. He has set up an obstacle course using a fabric tunnel, blanket box, dollhouse, couch , end table and ottoman.

Generally we eat dinner in the dining room, but sometimes we have ‘blanket picnics’ in the living room. The warrior suggested we do that tonight. Walking into the living room and tripping on his ‘perimeter trap’ I can see why.

By the time my dinner is done, my naked princess and wild warrior have eaten all their berries, a couple bites of rice (with  their hands, not forks) and proceed to yell ‘ready, set, go’ and ‘catch me if you can’ before taking off and diving head first into the tunnel. While I could get all ‘mom’ on them and whip this party into shape, it really just makes me smile that they are playing so nicely together. Is that wrong? I swear they have manners most of the time… but tonight on this rainy, dad’s gone,we’ve been cooped up all day while mom does work day… wildness seems to be winning. And that’s okay with me.

These are the days of our lives…

There’s This Man

There’s this man who has been a rock in my life… for my whole life. He has been a constant, a fixer, a listening ear, a voice of reason and an oasis in the storm. He has been a role model, a shopping buddy, a sounding board and the most amazing Grandpa that a person could ask for.

He’s been the one who has officiated just about every wedding in my family. He has baptized me, my siblings, my cousins and my children. He is the patriarch of our family- even before he was the oldest male in the family. You know how there is a person who just brings people together? This is him.

My gramps is incredible. He honestly is one of the most amazing men I’ve ever had a chance to be around. The love and ability to care and give uselfishly, has set the bar very high for my mom, her sisters, and my generation too.

When the strongest link in your family becomes sick, what do you do? How do you care for the person who has always cared for you? The one who makes it better for everyone… he has spent his life taking care of others and doesn’t ask for help ever. He still isn’t. But now, he needs to be showered in love.

It’s scary to think of what will happen in the future. My grandparents are almost 80, they have had an incredible life. They have been married for almost 60 years. Had three beautiful girls, five grandbabies and (so far) two great-grandbabies and one more on the way. Being a minister- they have touched thousands more lives than just us.

My grandfather was blessed with a gift. He knows when people need him. Just knows it. Wakes up in the middle of the night feeling an urge to contact someone or pop by and see them. Arriving or calling them, he would find they were in deep need of counseling, a hand to hold, or someone to sit quietly with them. He is always in the right place at the right time.

How do I do that for him? How does my family fill that void when he is gone? How could knowing that he will be gone from a sickness make it feel so much more real than knowing he would die ‘someday’, ‘somehow’?

The last couple years have been full of laughter, love, new life and loss, growth, and a realization that our days are so limited. Life is about right now, this second, this minute, this day. Yesterday is over. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Love the ones you’re with… bank those memories to save for when you can’t make more. I guess that’s what I’ll do for now… make as many memories as I can and see what tomorrow brings…20130722_191755

Change in My Life: Emergency Prep

It all started when I was looking for a book to read. I casually decided Facebook is a great avenue to gather a variety of opinions. Big. Mistake. Or lucky… depending on the future.

A friend recommended a book about survival. I popped over Amazon and checked out the reviews and knew I ‘had’ to read this book. Even though it wasn’t on Amazon Unlimited, I spared no expense (well… it was only $5.99 or so) and started immediately.

Within five minutes I had to stop to find a piece of paper to write down the tips and items he had in the book. This should have been a red flag to stop reading, but I can’t. I’m a mom and a slightly obsessed with being self-reliant mom… and slightly obsessed with being prepared for an emergency. BUT I have seriously considered what this book covers.

The main character in the book is out of town for work. An event occurs and his car, along with all other modern transportation and communication devices, stop working. The man isn’t worried- he travels with enough supplies to make it home, walking, from wherever he travels. He is 250 miles from home, knowing it will be long time (if ever) until they figure out what happened. He loads up his pack (basically a 72 hour kit in the car) with the needed items from his suitcase to make it home.

Think about it. If your car broke down and there was no transportation how would you get home? Would you walk? How far? Do you have food/water for your kids if they are with you? Shoes you can walk in?

Now my life is changed forever. Before we go anywhere I think about how far we are going and what we need in the car to make it home if we have to walk. I think it’s more smart, when you have small people depending on you, rather than paranoid or crazy. Although obviously that debate has been going on in my mind.

We went to town yesterday. About a 35 mile trip (one way). I loaded up the stroller, my pack, tennis shoes/socks/coats for my kids and snacks. My pack always has a water filter, platypus bottle, first aid kit, wipes, bug spray, sunscreen, extra set of clothes for each kid, snacks, lighter, knife, headlamp, etc. Five minutes into this book, I realized that was not enough. Especially when I can keep it in my car and load up what I need into my bag, depending on the situation.

Also, I now have a kid-sized bag for each of my kids in the car. They can carry some light stuff if needed. Also, I stopped at Walmart on the way home and purchased a super small emergency stove that uses tablets to heat. Super awesome.

My life is changed. Growing up in Alaska you know you have to be self-sufficient. People aren’t always going to now you need help, let alone rush to your rescue. You have to be prepared to walk out, feed yourself, keep warm, take care of your kids, etc. We keep extra snow gear in our cars. I learned to change tires before I could drive a car. But this book emphasized how important those skills and ability to be prepared are.

Want to know what it is? Are you ready? It could change your reality…

‘Going Home: A Novel’ by A. American

‘Well that’s creepy’, I’m sure all moms have said.

Creepy stuff happens around here. Kids are magnets for the creepiness. Or maybe you just notice more because you have small people to keep alive on a daily, non-stop basis.

The following event has happened three times in a similar manner, with the location differing. The first time this happened we were up at the cabin by the lake. G was napping downstairs, my hubs was out doing something in the yard (in the rain) and S was watching a show in the loft. I was sitting in the living room under the loft reading my book and soaking up the peace and quiet.

Suddenly I heard S talking upstairs. I thought he was commenting on his show, but it sounded like a conversation. He paused and then says ‘I’m going down to get a snack. I’ll be back’. When he gets down the stairs he says, ‘Mama?! How did you get down here so fast?’. I asked what he meant. He tells me he was just talking to me upstairs, but then I was down here.

I tried to get him to describe what I looked like, but he just said it was me. He was completely confused by what happened and walked away shaking his little four-year-old head and completed his mission to find a snack.

This same scenario with slightly different details has happened two more times at our house in the last six weeks or so. Pretty wild! We’ve always had slightly supernatural events at our home: hearing people call your name (it’s happened to me, our nanny and my mom. Neither of them knew about my experience before reporting it to me), unexplainable crashing noises, one time all the cabinets/drawers in the kitchen opened silently while we were all standing in there but happened to turn around at the same time, etc. But this is the first one that occurred elsewhere and involved the kids.

Creepy, right?! And that’s why I don’t need to watch scary movies… I might have my own developing around here. I’ll keep you posted.