Friday, August 31

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 
 
Inspired by SouleMama.




Wednesday, August 29

Fabric In, Fabric Out

Lookie what came in the mail last week!



It's the whole collection of The Birds and The Bees by Tula Pink.  I love, love, love it!  I have a special project in mind for it...

But in order to make room for it I needed to wrap up some sewing I've been working on...the back to school kind!  These are *terrible* pictures, but hopefully you'll get the idea...

These dresses are so much cuter on the kiddos than on the hangers!  The fabric is from the sidewalk sale at Fabric Depot while we were there in July.  Kelsey's dress is on the left, Stacy's on the right.





Really, the pink and brown one is shaped normally...I guess I was in such a hurry to snap these that I didn't even notice, ugh!  Again, Kelsey's is on the left, Stacy's is on the right.  Fabric from JoAnn's in Anchorage...corduroy!


These are bubblegum jumpers from this tutorial.   The fabric is some the girls picked out during the aforementioned trip to Fabric Depot.  Stacy's is on the left this time, Kelsey's on the right.  Pretty sure she was channeling my Grandma that day...anyone who knew my Grandma Paul knows that she would have loved that flowery fabric for sure!


Last up, some skirts!  I got the idea from Pinterest and was originally going to make one for myself, but after buying not quite enough fabric to make one for me I bought a tad more and made them for the girls.  I also made one for me, but it needs a little adjusting before it's ready to wear and share.

So that's it...some fabric in, some fabric out!  Happy sewing!

Monday, August 27

First Day of School

School started here today!  My oh my were there two excited girls here the past couple of days!  We got out of their school clothes on Saturday and they spent at least an hour that afternoon planning what they were going to wear that first week....none of the planned outfits made it to school this morning though!  Kelsey tried on three different things before settling. 

Here's my kindergartener:



And here's my first grader:



And together!


They had a great time...and were TIRED at the end of the day!  Happy 2012-2013 school year to all of the teachers and students out there!

Sunny Saturday

Is there anything better than a surprise sunny day??  Of course, if I was better at checking the forecast I might not have been surprised, but lets not get mired down in details, OK?  Ok!  It was a stroke of luck that I never quite got around to ordering groceries on Friday, so we were home on Saturday when the sun came out.  Yippee!  We didn't take on any grand adventures.  I thought about berry picking, but the girls were happy playing so I figured why impose my agenda?  There are enough times that we have to do what we have to do.  So Saturday we just did what sounded good in the moment.  Here are some of those moments...
















Hope you had a little time to kick back and enjoy this weekend, too!

Friday, August 24

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Inspired by SouleMama.


Thursday, August 23

Swimming Videos

Here are some videos of my little ladies swimming yesterday in the pool at Aunt Elaine & Uncle Lee's hotel. They had so much fun!

Playing around in the water...


Kelsey jumping into the water...


Stacy learned to somersault first!


But Kelsey was close behind!


Stacy can swim across the pool...


And Kelsey can swim the length of the pool...stopping once to breathe.


Nice job, ladies!  Mama's proud!

I know that sometimes the YouTube plugin doesn't work for everyone, so if you're having trouble watching these you can go straight to my YouTube page and see them there.  While you're there you can watch some of our oldies!

Wednesday, August 22

Visitors!

It has been awhile since we had any visitors, so we were very excited to hear that my aunt and uncle were cruising up here and would have a few days at the end of their trip in Anchorage.  You know us, we're always up for an adventure!  We met up with them at their hotel yesterday and after a quick stop at Starbucks we headed off to Palmer to visit the Williams Reindeer Farm.  We had visited the farm last fall when they had their pumpkin patch set up.  Although it was cold, we all had a blast, so I knew the girls would have lots of fun on a warmer day, too!

Our first stop was the elk...


They warn you not to feed the males, but to feel free to feed the females.  We did...the girls had lots of fun!


Next up, the reindeer tour!  Our tour guide's name was Andrea and another mom in our group was an Andrea as well...my neck was sore at the end from turning every time I heard "Andrea" and all of those times you hear "Mom!" and you look, even though it's not your kiddo.  The reindeer are so fun, though!  All of the ones in the pen right now are either older mamas who didn't have babies last year with all of this year's babies who are 4-6 months old.  They are weaning this year's youngsters, so occasionally you hear the "babies" calling their mamas.


We learned that reindeer's antlers (all animals with antlers, actually) are *very* sensitive when they're in velvet and that members of the deer family can't really bite you because they have no top teeth in front.  Teeth on the bottom, gums on top.  We fed the reindeer--they can get a little pushy!  There were a few babies who were penned off to the side...they're headed to Hollywood!  Next time you see a reindeer movie they just might be from here.


After the reindeer we got to see their bison and then visited their super-friendly moose Denali.  After a little bit of information from our guide, we got to feed Denali.  He was quite interested in us as long as we had those willow branches!


And what is a farm without a kitty?  This is Chloe, apparently one of the world's most friendly and social cats!


Of course, a farm needs an adorable puppy too!  This little cutie's name is Kodiak.  He loves to chew on trimmed horse hooves!


Here is one of the horses...


After the reindeer farm we had some lunch in Palmer, then headed back to Anchorage where Aunt Elaine and Uncle Lee had generously invited us to swim in their hotel pool.  The girls swam (and swam and swam!), then we had dinner and ice cream and headed home.  Of course we got stuck in the road construction on the way home and missed the tunnel, but on the upside we did get to watch a beautiful sunset! 



Really, I can't complain about the construction...it's been going on all summer and this is the first time it's made us late in all the trips we've made back and forth.  What I will complain about is the fact that when we got home only one elevator in the whole building was working.  GAH!!  There are four elevators here and particularly in the summer when our population is six times that of the winter (and late at night with tired kids) one elevator is not enough!  This morning there are two working at least.  But the sunset was breathtaking!

Thank you Aunt Elaine and Uncle Lee...we had so much fun!!  Hope you have a smooth trip home!

Monday, August 20

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, blog!  I've been sharing our life in this space for 3 years...wow!  Kudos to you if you keep on coming back to read my ramblings.  Thank you for taking time out of your day to check in on us and thank you for your patience with me as I have grown through this.

Of course this weekend was another birthday...mine!  I will fess up right now and tell you that I am absolutely a kid about my birthday.  Aside from my kiddos' birthdays it is my favorite day of the year!  Scott was so sweet and took the day off (he's been deck handing on the weekends for a friend of his who is running a bit short-handed this summer) to be home with us.  He and the girls worked hard to make my day extra-special from the time I got up until the time I went to bed.

I was showered with gifts, favorite foods, bubble baths, cards, hugs, kisses, cuddles, and even lunch out!  It was everything I could have asked for in a birthday, complete with calls and messages from so many special family members and friends.  Thank you everyone!


I will admit that I made my own birthday cake because I wanted to completely indulge...everyone should have this awesome dessert at least once in their lives...absolutely decadent!  Here...take a closer look!


The name of it should give you a hint as to its scrumptiousness...is that even a word?  Regardless, it's the Ultimate Pretzel Crusted Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Brownie Bars.  See??  Whip some up, cut enough for you and each member of your family and then give the rest away to some unsuspecting person.  Otherwise you won't be able to sleep knowing such chocolatey peanut butter goodness is in your house!  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19

Moments like these...

Ahhhh!  These are the moments!


This is out at the head of the bay by the tunnel...I am pretty sure that fairies live on top of this little hill!!

Anyway...Saturday morning was nice and sunny, so the girls hopped on their bikes and I donned my walking shoes and we headed to Shakespeare Creek at the head of the bay.  What fun!  There are *tons* of pinks in the creek this year.  So many you can see them from the pathway up above, splashing as they work their way upstream.  It is so fun to watch them!


The girls found a fork on the beach and after making the comparison to the fork that Ariel finds in The Little Mermaid they attempted to catch fish with it.  No luck!  Next they tried sticks...Stacy had some luck with this method, dragging one tired fish close enough to the edge of the creek that she could wade in and 'pet' it.


Kelsey tried and tried, but was spooked every time the fish flapped and splashed her!


The beach up here is littered with debris that washes up.  It's said that back when it was just the army here they loaded up their trash and dumped it out in the bay...the stuff on the beach suggests this is true!  All kinds of random things...

It was a great way to spend a {partly} sunny morning and when it started to pour later it the afternoon we were sure glad we had gotten out early in the day!

Friday, August 17

Come on, ride the train!

A trip on the Alaska Railroad has been on my "want to do" list since we moved here.  I am a HUGE believer in playing tourist in my own state.  I am so grateful that I saw as much of Washington as I did but at the same time I am sad about the many opportunities I missed.  It's so easy to fall into the 'we always go here' rut!  Although things can be expensive around here I always remind myself that it would be even more expensive if we didn't live here and then I dive in.  This summer things finally worked out for the railroad and I!  I bought the tickets way back in June when they were running their 'Kids Ride Free' promotion.  For each adult ticket you got two free kids...Scott wasn't that interested in the whole deal so it worked out perfectly for the girls and I.

I chose the Glacier Discovery train because it leaves from Whittier and is a shorter day trip.  There are lots of options for this trip...you can start in Anchorage, Portage, or Whittier and end in any of those destinations.  You can also end in Portage and take a motor coach back to Anchorage.  Once onboard you can choose to get off at the whistle stop at Spencer Glacier or continue on to Grandview.  We chose the Grandview option because although the girls are old enough to stay up all afternoon now (some days, anyway!) afternoon is not our best time of the day.  The hike at Spencer Glacier sounds really neat, but I wasn't confident that a certain 5 year old would be fun during that sort of activity at that time of day.  A morning hike would have been a whole different story! 

The train was scheduled to leave Whittier at 12:45, so we ate an early lunch and walked down to the depot here in town.  The girls had been a bit hesitant about the whole deal, but as we approached the train their excitement grew.


We boarded, toured the train and checked out our seats.  The girls were delighted to find out that unlike an airplane there was no seat belt requirement and that we could walk around while the train was in motion.  Once they discovered we could also go outside while underway they were completely sold!

The trip through the tunnel was fun on the train!  The girls loved that it was light in the train unlike the car.  It was also fun to see the Portage Valley from a different vantage point.  We arrived at the Portage station to pick up more passengers and then headed up to the Spencer whistle stop.


Although the walk up to the glacier sounds really cool, I will say that all of the cool sights on this ride came after the Spencer Glacier stop so I was glad that we had signed on for the whole deal.  Shortly after dropping folks off here we slowed down again as this black bear family was spotted.  Neat!


We then continued on our way.  Here's Spencer Glacier...


And here's Spencer Lake...


It was pretty cloudy on our way up, but cleared out on the way down and the sun even peeked out!  I am sure that everyone who rides the train takes a picture similar to this one...


Here's what I mean about the weather.  Here's Trail Glacier on the way up...


And on the way back down...


Just a little different, huh?  This rail line is still under construction, so here's the next phase under construction, the Grandview whistle stop.


It was truly a wonderful afternoon!  The kiddos surprised me by not getting bored until 5pm!  The train arrives back in Whittier at 5:30, so that was four whole hours they were entertained by the train, scenery, snacks and other passengers.  Fantastic!


{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

Inspired by SouleMama.


Wednesday, August 15

Little Fishies!

Wow!  This summer has certainly been a busy one and swimming lessons have been a big part of that!  We've done two 3 week sessions, for a total of 12 lessons.  The first round took place in June, the second wrapped up today.  During the first session we played tourist in Anchorage, exploring a new place and/or park each time we were in town.  This time we focused on our back to school shopping and practicing our emerging swimming skills, so each Wednesday afternoon found us at the West High pool at open swim gaining confidence and practicing.  It worked!  Kelsey was barely dog paddling at the beginning of the summer and is now confidently swimming both on her back and belly and retrieving items from the bottom of the pool with gusto. 



Stacy was happily clinging to the edge of the pool at the beginning and is now able to swim a good 6-8 feet unassisted.  I am one proud mama, that's for sure!


Scott and I feel strongly that swimming is an essential skill to learn, particularly living where we do and having the hobbies we do.  Although the driving has been exhausting at times, I absolutely believe it has been worth it.  Well done, girls!

Monday, August 13

Hiking Portage Pass

Wow.  My girls have turned into quite the little hikers this year!  Portage Pass is known to have one of the most amazing views around and we got to witness it first hand this weekend.  I've been up many times before and the girls and I went part way last year.  This year they made it all the way to the top!  Just for fun, here's what they looked like at the trailhead last summer...


...and here's what they look this this summer.  They've grown a little!


We headed out on Sunday morning with our backpacks stuffed with the necessities: bug spray, bear spray, first aid kit, snacks, water, bags for collecting treasures, notebooks, colored pencils, and cameras.  We stopped frequently.  Sometimes it felt like we stopped ever 3 minutes!  Stacy was really into taking pictures along the way.  You can see all of the pictures she and Kelsey took here.  I let them use my old Canon S3IS and they took a number of decent shots!  We're still working on that whole focusing thing...


We snacked frequently, took a couple of drawing breaks, and Kelsey had to touch any and all water we saw along the way.



This trail is really steep!  Towards the top there are several little ponds.  I love this picture--I love the way it puts in perspective how small we are in comparison to all of the beauty around us!


And then...we were at the summit!  You can see Portage Lake and Portage Glacier on one side, and Passage Canal on the other side.  Amazingness all the way around!



Look, I made it too!  And don't I look *fantastic*!  Photo courtesy of one of the girls.  Anyway, it was a great way to spend a sunny Sunday.  If you somehow didn't get your picture fix during this post, hop on over to Fotki where there are even more pictures!  Hope you had a great weekend too, wherever you are!