Thank you. It has been a fun year but the time has come to end this blog.
The non blog life (and yes, of course, there is one) is calling all my energy there.
Happiness to all and may you find your dreams.
"In spite of illness, in spite even of the
archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long
past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid
of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity,
interested in big things, and happy in small ways."
Weeks ago April asked me to do this meme and though late, I am following through! Better late than never and then this is it for my personal life details! ;-)
7 things about me:
1. I am shy. Yep, really.
2. I love kayaking. I kayaked down a river north of the Arctic Circle for 5 days. Had to fly in then assemble my folding kayak. A dream of mine came true when a brown bear crossed the river in front of me. It was so close I had to exit my kayak in the freezing water to stop so as not to actually run into the bear. I've kayaked in glacier ice filled bays, huge swells and calm glassy water. I miss the big trips but not enough to leave my girls behind, unable to contact them for days!
3. I watch almost no television. I have no idea how to work the Tivo and no desire to learn. My husband is a pro.
4. My favorite food is raw fish. I was dangerously close to being a vegetarian when I met Alex. Though it took nearly 10 years to go back to eating beef (and I still rarely do) I now eat as many crazy fun things as he does. We have an upcoming trip to China and I am salivating at the idea of all those stinky, chewy, unrecognizable goodies that await!
5. One of my dreams is to build a green home.
6. I love the Carpenters. Now I'm scaring ya! I know every word to every song and most of it I can sing on key.
7. My favorite animal is a sloth.
This year our Chinese New Year was so much quieter than usual. Partly because of travel and then we just were so busy when we got back. We did do a few of our traditional things such as eating and making Nian Gao and burning the Kitchen God. I hope he gave us a good report even though we were several days late with this. When we were in Disney we watched the fireworks from our hotel window. Summer was convinced it was a CNY firework celebration.
Our friend Martha
made these 'rat' dresses.
Last year she made
dresses with pigs.
She does awesome
She also made the
carryout boxes in
the next photos.
and decided to
put her rat under
her chef's hat
like in Ratatouille
Since becoming a family of four we have been on approximately 24 trips involving flying. I'm guessing that would be somewhere around 70 plus actual flights. Remember, where we live there is almost always an extra segment just to get to the Lower 48 or as we up here call it 'getting out'. Alaskans travel 'out' a lot so it isn't unusual to know one or two people on a flight. On our flight back from California we knew 4 others. Our friend Bonnie was seated several rows ahead of us. After we exited she told us the gentleman seated next to her said he felt like he had watched our girls grow up! He'd been on our first flight home as a family when the flight crew announced our arrival and welcomed Aubrey and Summer home to Alaska. Alex had departed China 3 days after we united with our girls but had met up with me in San Francisco to fly home. I was so thankful to have him there - we spent so much of that flight walking up and down the aisle. And then the gentleman was on our very next flight just a few months later. I'm sure we were hard to forget as both girls screamed the entire flight! Then he was on this latest one. I would bet he hasn't seen the last of us!
Little did they know the first character they would meet would be a drunken pirate and the first ride they waited in line for (45 minutes) would break down right as they were to enter it. Good thing we made pinkie promises to keep our humor throughout our Disneyland trip.
Neither Alex or I have been too excited to visit Disneyland so when Alex suggested we add it to the end of our Mexico trip I was a surprised. Of course, the girls had no idea what 'We're going to Disneyland' really meant but they excitedly asked each day in Mexico how many more days until we would be in Disney. They've watched a few Disney movies but as far as princesses, they've only watched Mulan (not a princess, I know) and Little Mermaid (yes, the defiant teenager who fell for the first guy she met with legs). I RENTED Cinderella a few days before we left and of course they loved it, but mostly because of the mice! Still, they both talked about their princess of choice, the one they most wanted to see. Summer wanted to see Sleeping Beauty though she has never watched the movie. When she did 'meet' her she literally ran into her arms. Aubrey wanted to see Cinderella - think BLUE DRESS. I wanted to see Jack Sparrow.
Even with an abundance of princesses their favorite place was Tom Sawyer's Island. Summer got in the groove of rides and loved the fast ones. Aubrey was a bit more cautious.
Alex and I took turns going on some of the rides not appropriate for the kids. February is a great time to visit DL. The lines were MUCH shorter (the longest by far was the one that broke down) and we were really lucky with sunny near 80 degree weather. I cannot imagine being there during the summer or holidays. Waiting in line for over an hour or two for a 3 minute ride sounds insane to me and I am sure I would break any pinkie promise by early morning.
Our highlight for the week was meeting up with two of our China travel families. We hadn't seen them in 3.5 years so it was incredibly special and fun for all of us. It also seemed very fitting that it coincided with Chinese New Year. We celebrated at a Chinese restaurant one night then spent a day together at Disney's California Adventure. When the kids reunited they were jumping up and down and having, in their words, 'group hugs' within seconds. They linked together in trains or holding hands throughout the park. One of my favorite moments was while watching the Alladin show. I looked down the aisle to see the stage lights illuminating all their beaming faces, then one shouted out 'Hi Jasmine" as the magic carpet flew by us.
for a little pirate
one of Aubrey's
to get her
so much but
after each eating
a sizable chunk,
We also went to LegoLand. In our opinion, it was a HUGE let down and waste of money (admission fees similar to Disney). Nonetheless, there are always stories and photos.
Summer wanted to go on this ride where the seat turns you upside down and can get going pretty fast. Of course, for her age, they would only do level one and it was barely moving!
Okay. They do not behave well all the time. Today was a double dose of something I have no tolerance for at all. And without going into details, the punishment I dealt them was something new. No removal of privileges, no confiscating of toys. I gave them EXTRA CHORES. All at once. A list. And what did they do?
Gleefully ran to get rags to wash the floor (which they did a pretty good job of I might add). And then begged to clean those toilets 'I PROMISED' them. They've never had the privilege of that chore and they were eager to get the chance. UGH.
Sorry, no photos of my two very smiley happy girls scrubbing the floor - AKA, my failed attempt at discipline.
Maybe tomorrow I'll have the will to post about the second half of vacation.
Sun, sand, swimming, shelling, snorkeling, giggling and just hanging out together. We love getting away. Alex works a ton so Summer and Aubrey may not see him for several days in a row. On holiday they know 'all of us' will be together everyday. We'll both be there to tuck them in at night and we'll both be there when they wake up in the morning. They really look forward to this. They call days we are all-together-all-day 'family days' so a week or two of those days strung together is something they (we) really look forward to.
This was the girls 3rd trip to Mexico but their first to Cancun and Isla Mujeres. This year we shifted from the Pacific to the Caribbean. Baja just doesn't get warm enough in the winter to thaw us out! One of the things I've enjoyed about traveling to Mexico with the girls is we never rent a car and only occasionally take a bus or taxi. This is a BIG deal to me. It means no wasted time buckling in and driving to yet another destination. We do enough of that at home so spending minimal time in a car is a treat for all of us.
When you're 4 years old and you have your best friend with you, all you really need is a beach, a couple sand buckets and a swimming pool. Add multiple stops for ice cream and it's 4 year old paradise!
I have to say though getting away is always a treat and being together as a family is priceless, before kiddos a lot of our travel steered away from touristy spots. And Cancun is WAY over the top touristy for me. Isla Mujeres was very touristy too plus we had to do some of the dreadful driving. I'm already working on Alex to get off the beaten path for a winter get away next year. Way off the beaten path if I can convince him....... he's a lot more conservative about travel than I am/have been, especially since becoming parents.
So here are a few quotes from the kid team today when I asked them what they thought of the Mexico trip.
"Mexico is so much fun. I love it. We played and had lots of fun. It introduced me to snorkeling. I saw clown fish and I saw a preschool of fish."
(for the record - I don't think she saw a clown fish but I know she saw a barracuda. That's when Alex turned around as he knows barracuda come in 'preschools' and are known to attack)
"I loved getting my special shells. I got to play with the water and it was pretty funky. I want to bring the shells to school for show and tell. I had fun playing on the beach and finding shells.
I had fun jumping in the pool. I like to go to the restaurants with you too."
(She has the sharing bag for Monday already loaded with her favorite new shell. She LOVES collecting things, especially shells. I'm shocked she didn't mention ice cream though)
SumSum's reason for vacation
beach bums heading off the island
Funny girls. When it neared bedtime they were uspset they wouldn't see Papa tonight but he came home just in time. They insisted he put candles in the cupcakes they made for him, then they sang Happy Valentine's Day to the tune of Happy Birthday. So to bed they went with tummies full of chocolate banana cupcakes.
It's always nice to be away and always good to come home, especially after it warms up a bit. Sometimes the stars align just right and your vacation falls at just the right time! It was subzero here most of the time we were gone. Down to -20. A 100 degree difference is good for the body and soul. Knowing that just made it all the better!
I didn't bring my laptop, so instead of adding to my somewhat self induced insomnia, I rested well and cheerfully (mostly) got up at the crack of dawn with the girls. I'll post more after I've gone through the heaps of mail and laundry. I'll leave you guessing with these photos from the first half of the trip. At the bottom are two photos of the beach tote I made (same bag - it's reversible) which should give you some clues. The theme worked for both destinations.....
So when it comes to moose gazing the best practice is to let them come to you. On Saturday we went sledding at an elementary school yard. I only had my pocket camera so the photos are pretty lackluster and there isn't much of a zoom. But here you go April!
Summer and Aubrey had a great time sledding, including getting air going over 'the bump'. A little while into it a young moose joined us. She was more interested in eating the bushes and then curled up at the top of the hill 100 feet away for a nap.
A few months
ago in our
cow and calf
April at the the Road to SiJi has a real love for moose. She and her husband have had some great encounters with moose (often while specifically searching for them) and I know she really misses seeing moose on a regular basis. So Aubrey, Summer and I have been keeping an eye out for moose here so we could send her some photos. We see a lot of them here, especially in the winter when more come down from the mountains.
Here the girls are following a moose trail in our yard. We thought we would stop first in the backyard to feed and watch the birds then possibly see a moose while we walked through the neighborhood.
We didn't see any this day.
This is a
fence. The city
the young trees
The preschool theme this week was space and space travel. They always do such fun stuff and sometimes I just like to stay for awhile in the morning to check it all out for myself and watch how much fun my girls are having. Aubrey and Summer were thrilled with this topic choice. They have a lot of questions about planets, the moon, stars and planet Earth specifically. I have found Aubrey late at night peeking out her window at the stars. They follow the moon on our drive to school and recently Aubrey woke up talking about seeing a shooting star out her window. So last week was very fun for them. They both came home each day saying "I love preschool!' There were many projects including making rocket ships. Small ones to bring home and a big group project.
Aubrey brought her all time favorite book to share with the class. I've found this book tucked under her pillow. She of course has her own name for this old hand me down book. Rocket Ships Anora. And she will correct you if you call it Rocket Ships to Anora. They've also been teaching us all about gravity by jumping off chairs to show us how they are 'heavy'. Gravity is a hard concept for four year olds, unfortunately it stares back at me in the mirror every day!
One small step
for a girl
One giant leap