Friday, October 31

What Kids Know That We Don't


Look at this picture...it's snowing today!  Pretty little white flakes.  Those girls were so excited!  Truth be told, I am too.  Heading into Alaskan winter number six and I am still smiling!

Here's the think that struck me this morning as we looked out the window and discovered this blanketing of white.  The kids have been excited for a couple of weeks as reports of snow hit the news and forecasters started talking about it.  They've been anxiously awaiting the first flakes and feeling so robbed when it snowed last week out at the tunnel but not here in town.  "Why?" we kept asking.  "There's plenty of time for snow!"  we kept saying.  "You'll be so tired of it by spring..." we reminded them.  They didn't care.  Excitement still reigned queen of their thoughts.  This morning Scott was less than thrilled to see that we had turned the corner into real winter.  He was even less delighted when I reminded him that the last time we got our first snow on Halloween Day was the year we broke demolished the snowfall record . 

As we walked across the street to school in the flakes this morning I realized there's a lesson for me here.  As adults we sometimes dread these sorts of things because we think we already know how the story ends.  We fast forward right to the crummy parts and hang out there.  We set up camp in our worries and past experiences.  You know what kids do?  They get excited about the now.  They are not worried that in three months they'll be tired of the snow.  They are happy it is snowing now because it will be fun now.  Three months from now is just that...three months away.  Why would we give up the gifts of today to worry about three months from today. Or even tomorrow.  Even if tomorrow is terrible, let's fully enjoy today! 

So that's my challenge to myself today...a particularly tricky challenge given my total lack of excitement for all things Halloween.  But you know what...I have to admit that I love the costume idea Stacy dreamed up for me and the one she has come up with for herself, so I will start by enjoying that.  Every little step counts.  Get out there friend...enjoy today!!

{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, October 29

Knock, Knock!

I heard a knocking at my door on Monday afternoon and there stood a friend of ours holding this ginormous beauty in his hands...it was so fresh, it was still alive and moving!


My sink is original issue 1954 deep, wide porcelain.  This king crab was huge!  I went to go get the kids a bit early from after school gym so they could check him out...


It was too big for us to eat for dinner on our own, so we invited some friends over...fresh seafood, good friends, great night!  We're so blessed!


Monday, October 27

The Sun, Some Critters, and Some Smiles

You know that feeling you have when you have been really busy but then you sit down and you can't really remember what you've been so busy doing?  That's me right now!

Last Thursday a friend and I decided to make a last minute, quick run into town.  We spent a couple of hours (!!) at JoAnn's after a quick stop at Starbucks.  It was a great way to spend some time...and a beautiful day for a drive into town!


On Friday the girls' school had a field trip over to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. The kids were invited for a sneak-peek at their Halloween event.  It was so much fun!


We got a last look at the bears before they go to sleep for the season.  That moose up there was pretty funny, too!  He was not quite sure about us and and was really checking out the large group of kids.  Of course the kids loved his sniffing and snorting!

Saturday the girls and I participated in the Frightening 4K in Anchorage with some friends.  It was a lot of fun!  We dressed as a group, as dominoes.  The kids had a great time and they are already planning next year's costumes! My kids are a bit nervous about Halloween, so we have been focusing on finding fun things to do rather than scary things.


Sunday was a great mama day!  I went to Girdwood for the monthly meeting of my book club.  We just finished up Gone Girl which is also a movie, now in theaters.  It was a great book, full of twists and turns that you just don't see coming!  As long as I am plugging books, if you haven't read Unbroken be sure to pick that one up, too.  It's a biography of Louis Zamperini who was an Olympic runner, a bombardier in WWII, spent 30+ days on a life raft in the pacific, was a Japanese POW, survived, came back to the US and went through some PTSD stuff and then became in inspirational speaker.  An incredible man who lead an incredible life!!  It's going to be a movie too...due on out Christmas Day last I checked.

Anyway...after a great book club brunch I went out to dinner with another friend who I just don't get to see often enough!  A corner table found the two of us chatting away the hours, enjoying the amazing food at Jack Sprat, one of my favorite restaurants in Girdwood.  If you go, you have to eat the yam fries.  They are to.die.for!  Have whatever you want for dinner, it's all good, but do not skip the yam fry appetizers.  Just don't!

So that brings us to today...and I guess there was a reason I felt like I had a busy and fun weekend...because I did!  Hope you did too!

Friday, October 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.


Wednesday, October 22

Weekend Moments

Parenting elementary age kids is so fun!  Every age has its perks and its challenges that's for sure.  What I am loving right now about my kids is continuing to watch them figure out who they are.  My heart swells with some of the things they say and it breaks other days when they learn life lessons about people, friendship, group dynamics, and other tough life skills.  It really is fun to watch them learn how to handle the day to day, to see them realize when they need a break from life outside 804, to watch them discover their own little escapes and things that make them happy.

Last weekend Kelsey was quite vocal about her hopes for the weekend.  She wanted to get away and have some family time.  "I like how we're all close and we spend a lot of time together when we go..." she said.  Yeah...those are the moments this mama lives for!  Unfortunately our plans didn't quite come together to make her wishes reality, so as we ate dinner on Friday night we brainstormed what experiences about get away weekends we wanted to recreate.  Saturday we did our best to have a mini stay-cation.

I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast and we played games and baked cupcakes for a community pig roast that was planned for the afternoon.


We cuddled on the couch and watched a movie and we basically all just were together in one spot.  I turned off the computer and Scott turned off the TV.  We read books and played games.  Nothing fancy!  The afternoon pig roast was lots of fun...kids playing, delicious food, hanging out with people outside before the snow drives everyone inside.

Sunday we tried to hit things from the list we had missed on Saturday.  Stacy and I made cookies while Scott & Kelsey spent some time together...


After church and lunch we headed down to Scott's shop to work on a project they had planned with him.  They worked, I played with taking pictures in the beautiful light!  Unlike our apartment, he gets light from the south!!


It was a nice, slow weekend.  Not quite as good as getting away, but better than those weekends when we are pulled in 19 different directions!

Monday, October 20

Date Day!


Outside my window right now it is raining and cold.  Just a few miles from me it is snowing.  Brrrr!  Hard to believe that on Friday it looked like this!  Friday was Alaska Day here in our great state and as a government employee, Scott had the day off.  The girls did not have the day off from school though, so we found a friend for them to eat lunch with and had a date day!  We are parents, so our date day started off by eating breakfast with the kids at school.  Our breakfast it open to the community and the girls always look forward to dad's days off on school days so he can join us. 

After breakfast we headed to Girdwood.  We took our time getting there...Scott stopped several times to let me take pictures.  I wish I had something beautiful to show you, but I don't.  Lots that were not quite what I was hoping for. 


There was this giant piece of ice in Portage Lake though.  There's nothing here to really give you a sense of size, but it is one of the biggest chunks I have seen this year.  It was easily three car lengths long and probably at least 15 feet of ice sticking out of the water.  I would not have wanted to be in a kayak when it calved off, lets just say that!

In Girdwood we drove around.  And around.  And around.  Girdwood is a lot of things, most of which I won't go into here.  One thing it is not though is jammed with subdivisions of cookie-cutter homes.  All (or at least almost all) of the houses are custom houses.  Lots of them are close together, so there is lots of really neat architecture and design.  We had fun looking.  That was the whole point of the trip...to just look.  We listened to good music and had a yummy lunch at the Silvertip Grill where they serve breakfast all day!  Yup...I had an omlet for lunch!  It was delicious!  Lots of good eats in Girdwood, that's for sure!

After lunch we drove out Crow Creek Road.  I had only ever been as far as the Crow Creek Mine (pics of another visit here) and Scott had only been as far as the Double Musky (great food, fun atmostphere!  I am starting to feel like a walking version of Urban Spoon: Girdwood!) so it was fun to see what is at the end of the road.  Turns out there is a whole little community out there, living totally off the grid.  It was fun to see the various styles and sizes of homes out there and their solar panels, wind turbines, and hydro power setups.  At the very end of the road is the Crow Pass trail head.  There is a beautiful little cabin up there that you can reserve and hike to.  Someday maybe??  Probably more than I am up for!  Anyway...it was beautiful out there.  Maybe next time I will get some photos that are worth sharing!

We headed back to Whittier to be home when the kids got home from school.  It was a great way to spend a date day...just hanging out, doing something we both enjoy!

Friday, October 17

{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, October 15

More Learning

Well...I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my new {to me} lens!  Maybe by Friday?  Hopefully!  We got lucky yesterday with an absolutely beautiful afternoon so I grabbed my camera and went outside to practice.  I like this batch of pictures so much better than the ones I shared last week!  I also took some pictures I was pleased with at the wedding over the weekend, but most of them include faces and are not really mine to share. I did include one of my favorites in Monday's post.

Anyway...I like these both, for different reasons...

without lens hood
with lens hood

This poor abandoned guy in the bushes...I purposely composed this shot this way so that he is looking out of the frame.  I think he looks wary of what is coming his way!



This is actually the back of Scott's shop.  One of the elements of composition I was trying to practice was lines.  I felt like this fit the bill pretty nicely!  Framing is also an element I was playing with here.  I like the way the two vertical columns frame the lines of the windows.  I don't love the color/exposure of this photo though.


I spotted this on the back of the picnic shelter in the campground.  The faded, happy graffiti made me smile and more lines...


Finally I have these two which, although they are not technically great pictures, tell a story.  First up is this one.  I like the juxtaposition of the sunshine behind the Whittier street sign.  People don't often think of sunshine when they think of us...we have a reputation for bad weather!


This one is also not a technically wonderful shot, but I liked the bright sunshine versus the snow removal signs.  Made me smile!


The trick is that the light is good until about 3pm and the kids aren't out of school until 3:30.  They make much more interesting subjects!  Oh well...I am having fun playing!  And every one of the photos above I shot in manual mode so I am really patting myself on the back over here!

Monday, October 13

Our Community


We had such a full day of community yesterday!  I summed it up this way on Facebook last night:

"Community is not always fun and easy. There is lots of compromise, tongue biting and forgiving along with lots of laughs, smiles, and collaboration. When it all comes together, the messy and the beautiful, it is such an incredible experience! Feeling blessed to be part of this community today--my heart overflows with the goodness!"

We began our Sunday slowly.  We had such a full day on Saturday and we all went to bed way past our bedtimes!  We went to see the Anchorage symphony perform "Disney in Concert: Tale as Old as Time" for the 2pm showing.  It was fantastic!  They performed music from most of their big name animated features.  They had a team of 4 outstanding vocal performers who sang and they showed snippets from the movies as they played.  It was a great family show and the perfect way to introduce the girls to the symphony.  Afterwards we went grocery shopping and then out to (late) dinner with some friends.  A great family day!

So...yes...Sunday began slowly.  Pancakes for most of us, waffles for one of us, cups of coffee and snuggles on the couch.  We went to our usual 11am church service which was wonderful...I love our church family!  At church we were invited to a wedding that was happening at 3pm.  They've been engaged for a long time and they were waiting for all of her paperwork from Taiwan to clear.  It did and they decided to 'just do it' and planned a last-minute outdoor ceremony, hoping the weather would cooperate. 

At 1pm the Samoan church here in town was celebrating 'White Sunday' which is a holiday in their culture where they celebrate children.  It was a fun service, run completely by the kids.  Our Samoan community is the most joyful group of worshippers I have ever met!  It is always so uplifting and inspiring to worship with them and this event was no different.  The kids recited memory verses, sang, danced, preached, and performed skits.  The service was just wrapping up when it was time to head to the wedding. 

The weather cooperated and it was dry through the service.  The bride and groom rode away on his bike and we all went to the reception at the restaurant owned by his family.  There were cousins and nieces from Anchorage, so there was a dance floor full of little girls dancing!  It was just a great day of community celebration and it made me remember something I read a few weeks ago.  Pop over there and give it a read...Shannan and her husband made a big change several years ago as well and in this particular post she is reflecting on their choice to put their kids in public school and their community.

People ask us all the time why we live here and when we'll leave.  I don't think either of us really thought we'd be here this long or that we'd still be happy here 5 years later, but in total truth we are!  We feel called here.  We have learned so much from the people of this community...so much we never would have learned living isolated in the middle of our 20 acres in Washington.  We worked so hard and we built a life surrounded by people who looked and thought and acted just like us.  We loved (and still do love!) those people and leaving was so very hard.  But.  Somehow in letting go of that life we grabbed onto a life that has taught us so much about who we are and who God is.  So many people have touched our lives here in ways that we would have never been open to before moving here.  The lessons we have learned and been able to share with our kids have become central to our core beliefs.  We truly love the people here.  When we made the move the decision to move here was all about us and our kids but thankfully a bigger picture has been revealed to us.  As Shannan puts it,

"What  we weren't prepared for was the prevailing goodness we'd find. The caring and hilarious and soulful hearts of our neighbors and teachers and friends.
The dirt of humanity lives here, yes, as it lives everywhere. It might be more visible here, more in our faces. We choose to see this as an opportunity to talk with our kids about real life, failure, heartbreak, and sin. We talk now, while the stakes are still relatively low. We build the conversation brick by crumbly brick, cringing sometimes at what's yet to come, but doing our best to remember fear and discouragement have been vanquished. (Joshua 1:9)

Now, we work and play and celebrate alongside folks whose walk with God might not look exactly like ours. Theirs might not resemble ours at all. It might not even exist. But we're neighbors now. We belong to them, and them to us. This community is confusing, sometimes. It's annoying, sometimes. It's frustrating and heartbreaking.

Often, it's as easy as a slice of pie. It's the gift of a lifetime, this blending of races, rich cultural heritages, wildly different positions on the ladder."


Yes, and amen!  

Wednesday, October 8

Learning

It's Wednesday!  It's been a crazy couple of weeks here.  I have been teaching preschool in the mornings while the teacher is out of town for a bit.  I also started a regular schedule of volunteering in the girls' classrooms so I have been at school *a lot*.  It has been very fun, but I have had to make some adjustments to daily life around here.  Mornings are usually my most productive times here at home.  I have gotten zero sewing done and a number of other tasks have been neglected.  Balance, right?  No one can do everything! 

Of course in the middle of it all I start taking a photography course, too!  I am beyond excited for this, though. I feel so blessed to have a husband who supports my love of learning and need to be busy.  I approached him about this and his reply was, "Of course!" so here I am.  Nervous and feeling a bit out of my depth.  Stretching that comfort zone again!  I am enrolled in a Snap Shop which is an online class with the amazing Ashley Ann.  I love her style!  I have read through the first bit of the class and have decided that I am going to look at my location as a challenge, not an excuse!  The lighting in my apartment is so-so at best.  We're north facing and only have north and east facing windows.  Our geogrphic location is challenging as well...we are surrounded by mountains, so there is no "golden hour" here.  The sun rises and sets behind the mountains and we miss that wonderful light.  Guess that means I need to be creative and get out of Whittier a bit!  I played around a bit yesterday, late in the afternoon, after the best light had passed.  I wanted to edit these photos a bit, but I am going to follow directions and leave them as they were straight out of camera.  I don't love them, but looking at them through the lens of composition there are things I like about them..

I want to crop this one just a bit...
and lighten this one a bit
A big piece of this class is storytelling through your photos.  This one would have been better DURING dinner (maybe I'll try again?) but the girls have recently begun to prefer drinking from these jelly jars at dinner rather than their usual plastic kiddo cups.  I want to remember that bit of them growing up...


So...that's what I am up to lately.  Trying to learn something new and keep up with all the other things.  Continuing to evolve and learn about myself.

In other news...our first snowflakes fell today!  It didn't stick, but here are my sillies trying to catch snow flakes on their way home from school at lunch time...


Monday, October 6

Jump!

Boy did I need an attitude adjustment yesterday!  I was awake from about 3:30am-5am and then was awakened at 7am by a screaming bird.  To say I was crabby was putting it mildly.  I was annoyed with anyone (read: Scott) who was still in bed and able to fall back asleep more easily.  I was annoyed by anyone to talked to me.  The girls tried to be very nice, but I was still so cranky!  Scott got up around 8:45 and I went back to bed.  I woke up at 10 feeling much more human.  In the afternoon Stacy and I went for a little hike and found a fun spot to play for a bit.  We had fun taking pictures of each other jumping off this little knoll...


A little fresh air and a little silly made my day!