Thursday, January 29, 2009

Morning Glories

I love where I live. If ever I am having a less-than-happy morning, all I have to do is stop long enough to look around, take in my surroundings, and my spirits are lifted and my heart soars.

I can see the horses waiting at the gate for breakfast, the squirrel who races daily back and forth across the yard, the moose who spent the night at the edge of the lawn, and the new-fallen snow giving everything a clean bright look, as welcomed as a soft blanket thrown over your lap. Its a yard full of blessings to behold.

As I was thinking about all of this, this morning, I remembered another small blessing. My bird-feeder. I love it. I used to positively ignore it, and it was only my soft-hearted husband who cared to nurture and watch our birds. I guess I was too busy to stop and see.

But now I truly love it. The sense of movement, of color, of LIFE...just outside my window. Its amazing and wonderful.

I captured just a bit of it to share with you. These are male Pine Grosbeaks, each trying to establish his own authority on the feeder. Their colors are RED and VIVID, and simply lovely! I wish you could sit here in my dining room with me, have a cup of Chai tea, and enjoy watching snowy morning glories.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dandelion's Dog Show

My Top Ten Favorite Things About the Show!

1. Getting it behind me. I was so nervous! I had never shown a dog before, my Dandelion had never been IN a show, and there was so much to do and remember!

2. Being in the ring! I thought it would go slow, but the classes went so quickly. I loved being in there with her, and showing with other Corgi owners.

3. Hanging out with my kennel club. Everyone was so nice and supportive, and taught me so much!

4. Seeing all the other dogs! The girls and I wandered from ring to ring, watching all of our favorite breeds. We especially love Dalmatians, Labs, and Shelties.

5. People watching! Some of the other handlers/owners were SO intense and serious! I wish I had pictures of them using curling irons...YES! Curling irons! On their dogs! And straighteners! Hee hee.

6. Getting my feet wet. Now I feel like I know what to expect, I'm learning about the point system, and I can really improve for the next shows.

7. I didn't think I would like showing, and I found out that I loved it! :)

8. We got a Reserve Champion! Everyone says that is awesome, for a young puppy and a rookie handler. The person who won champion was the breeder of Dandelion's dad, and she has been showing for a very long time. She was SO happy about Dandelion, and took lots of pictures of her.

9. Getting to stay a whole weekend in Anchorage was SO fun, because we usually have to rush in and out of town. We were able to see friends and family, and really spend some time with them. That was WONDERFUL.

10. Getting home! I was so exhausted. LOL.

I only had my camera one day, and my Chena did not get any good pictures of us while we were showing. So here is our ONE picture, taken by Penelope with my Blackberry. Oh well!

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mom Song

I have been gone all weekend, at my first dog show! I will do a post about that soon, but in the meantime I had to share this funny song. You may have seen it before, but we really needed some humor around here today...and this was the ticket!

I was running out of patience with my over-tired over-road-tripped (?) children, and before we all disolved in tears I raced to find this and we all sat and watched it and laughed together.

I hope you can do the same with your children! And maybe..just maybe..they will see you as more human and realize you ARE sane, other moms DO feel the same way, and other children DO suffer along with them. Ha!

Turn off the player at the bottom of my page, and enjoy this silly song, that I believe we moms can all relate to quite easily.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Just Plain Funny...a Song for Husbands

This is called The Don't Song.

First, scroll down and turn off my player at the bottom, so that Norah Jones will stop singing for a moment.

Then, go get your husband. Make sure he is really sleepy, well-fed, and happy. Then make him watch this with you. I made mine! Its pretty FUNNY!

In the Valley of Random near the Cave of Whatever

I have been going through some pictures to start a new scrapbook, and so I decided to throw out some pics that have no theme or purpose...just bits of random. Just pics I enjoy that have meaning to me, or invoke a memory or a moment.

Above: Beautiful fireweed near our lake.
Friends and miniature golfing!

First Geocache!

My old buddy, Daffodil. I miss that girl.

My Reborn doll....doesn't she look so real?

Four new boy cousins! A huge bundle of sweetness.

Penelope turns nine...and has an International Dress Up party. She is from Sweden!

Chena and a fuzzy friend....choosing our new bunnies!

Me and the girls with our mini horses, Spring and Autumn.

Katchemak Bay in the Homer Harbor, on the way to go halibut fishing. Yippee! (I seriously love halibut fishing and halibut EATIN!)

Birthday cake for Daddy. The girls decorated it all themselves, with their Playmobile!

Penelope and Spring. We were teaching Spring to "sit" like a dog. Mildly successful...

Full moon in the mountain pass on the way to Anchorage. It was SOOOO gorgeous. I will never forget the sight.

Forget girlie giggling...this was full-blown CRACKIN' UP! :)

Penelope about to dive off of our plane, at our cabin near Mt McKinley.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Chena's Chart

With the cold snap and now the icy conditions, we have not been able to be outside very much. So I asked the girls to create a chart for getting some daily exercise, and here is what Chena created. She did a great job! She included a place for notes, ideas about what kind of activity she enjoyed while on the treadmill, etc.
Very inspiring!
(and definitely not a test. Like, say, a spelling test.) Wink.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Grape Ape Meets the Snake

Maybe its strange for somebody to say they love their vacuum cleaner, but if I heard somebody say that very same thing, I would nod calmly and smile at their good fortune. Because you see, I love my vacuum cleaner. In fact, I love its creator, Mr Dyson. If I met him in a crowd, and he was surrounded by Bon Jovi, Brad Pitt, Mel Gibson, or Russel Crowe I would rush past them and smile adoringly up at Mr Dyson and ask him for his autograph, completely ignoring those dim witted movie stars who never invented any world-changing dirt-sucking machines.

So yeah. I guess you could say I love my Dyson. Isn't it beautiful? Love it.

So I had to think of the perfect name for it. I always name everything. Well not everything but a lot of things. Like my contacts (Leonard and Ramona after their initials L and R), and all of my previous vacuums and most of my vehicles. And the trees in my yard. And some of my friend's houses. There's more but I don't want you to think I'm strange....Its a thing with me, and I cannot explain why I do it. But you should try it because its fun and there is seriously not enough fun or silliness in the world.

Our other vacuum is named The Snake. Its a central vac, and its long and twisty and eerie, and screams at you from time to time. It moves like a snake too, and it'll bite you if you put your hand near its mouth. It even twists out of your hands at times, and turns on you without warning. I'm telling you, pure evil, every last inch of it. It has no parts, its just a hose. Everyone fears it, and we all hate the noise it makes. Stephen King would love this thing.

Which is why we were eager to replace Matilda (our old vacuum) when she broke down, leaving us only The Snake to use. We sure didn't want to see The Snake everyday. Its only a last resort. So we needed a new vacuum and fast. And that is when we got the Dyson. Its the best. And its purty too.

So after much thought, I named the Dyson the Grape Ape. Its purple, for one thing. And it eats a LOT in one day. Its not very loud, but its powerful and it exudes confidence. Plus Grape Ape was a favorite cartoon of mine back in the day. And we had the jungle thing going already...

Well, yesterday The Grape Ape got cranky. I mean real cranky. Didn't want to work at all. It was so out of character, I knew something was wrong. I read my manual, and decided to try to make it feel better. We are good friends, and I know it trusts me to make everything okay.

So I had to take off the plate on the carpet spinner and clean it. I pulled out all the things that had gotten twisted around it, etc. I even got scissors and gave it a hair cut, because with all the girls in this house with long hair, it has gotten quite a bit wound around its vital parts.

But it was dusty and dirty. How do you vacuum your vacuum? With (gulp) another vacuum. And that, my friends, is how The Grape Ape met The Snake.

I carefully introduced them as gently as possible. I knew it might end badly.

We all held out breath as I turned on The Snake. HSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. It screamed at the Grape Ape and then struck out again and again. The Grape Ape was angry but powerless, laying on its side and gasping without power. Unable to turn and defend itself! The Snake sucked and screamed. The Grape Ape seethed. Dust flew! The whole family stood back, ready to flee the house and leave the country.

Then suddenly, it was over. Somebody had raced to the central vac power center and KILLED The Snake. The Grape Ape was clean, but chastened. I put all of its parts on, apologizing over and over. Silence. It was not speaking to me. The Snake was coiled up and dragged to its cave. I realized the only way to restore The Grape Ape to its rightful place of authority in our home was to TURN IT ON. Let it roar. Show it we needed it. So I stood it up. And turned it on. And it roared to life. We went back and forth in front of the lifeless Snake, just for good measure.

So I vacuumed the whole house with The Grape Ape and peace was restored. For now.

I can only imagine the chaos when the new washer meets the old dryer.............

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Am Way Into Cozy

Lately I have been thinking a lot about cozy. I even love the word. It has a cozy feel, doesn't it? And most words with Z are not very cozy. Like, ZOOM. So not cozy. Or Zesty. Or Zap, Zig, or Zag for that matter. But COZY. Ah, now there is a great word!

I suppose the reason I am thinking about it so much is that for the past two and a half weeks its been at least ten below zero and has gone as low as 27 below. And the way I have been coping is to find all the simple pleasures I can, while staying warm in my house. I never realized I was so into cozy, but now I can see that its a big deal to me. I find ways to pour coziness into my life a few times daily.

My house is so cozy. I mean it. I really cannot remember being in another house that felt as cozy as mine. Its not real fancy, but boy is it cozy. Everyone who visits remarks about it. The house practically pulls you into a giant hug when you walk in the door. What makes it so? Well, its pretty big, so its not a "small" kind of cozy. Like when you were a child and curled up in a bean bag. When you walk in the living room is large, but rather more like two rooms, divided by couches. So it doesn't feel stark and empty. You feel the warmth of the woodstove and its roaring fire. There is a couch sitting in front of it, the kind of couch that you sink into like a bog. Its piled high with soft fleecy blankets, and a few pillows. Its a magic couch. It can cause a nap to happen in about five seconds flat. When you sit on it, you also might get a soft snuggly cat on your lap in a matter of moments. That makes it super cozy!

The other part of the living room has a large sectional couch, super plush and comfy. Its large enough to hold the whole family at once, where we all might snuggle in and listen to Daddy read a nightly chapter from Roald Dahl's latest. Its where I go to hold a daughter in each arm and listen to the silly chatter and wild dreams and schemes. My daughters are warm and cozy, especially with sleepy mumbles and soft Christmas pajamas.

I love my pink roses, a string of tea lights across my windows. When I want just a hint of light, they provide a cozy glow of twinkle, not enough to read by but enough to think or pray by.

I love a cozy cup of tea. I keep a whole basket of all kinds of exotic teas. Each smell and taste has a different way of taking me away, and freeing me from thoughts of stress or worry. I might go for an orangey blackish tea, or a teasing mint, or exotic melon, or vanilla, or Chai, or Alaskan rosehip, or some fancy thing I cannot pronounce that I have stolen from a hotel room.

Music is cozy too. I like various classical composers, or a Celtic wave of instruments lapping softly at my ears. No lyrics. I make up my own.

I love my favorite robe, zipped to the perfect spot near my chin but not too high. I have fuzzy socks but not slippers. I like how you don't have to curl your toes to keep fuzzy socks on, unlike a pair of too-big slippers. Too-big slippers are not cozy.

Its cozy to talk to my husband, when our day is done and we are sleepily discussing anything and nothing. Sitting in our warm living room, maybe we have just come in from feeding our horses and the chill is gone from our cheeks and we are just enjoying this quiet time. Its so cozy. And I am at peace. Of course, snow falling softly outside adds to the feeling of escaping something, and arriving in a safe place.

I am way into cozy.

What are your ways of finding your cozy place?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Year in Review

I am shaking my head that 2009 could even be here. It seems like something that would only be on the front of a Prince album or something....ya know? I must take a moment here to at least reflect and remember what 2008 was all about. What did I learn? How did I change? What kind of example was I to others? A bad warning!? How not to run your life? I dunno. Its possible. Don't tell me...just be kind. I mean, if I am the face that comes to mind when you think about all the mistakes you don't want to make, just don't tell me. Write it on my tombstone someday.

You guys all know I cannot do a blog post without photos. Its just one of those things I cannot do. Like clean under the driver's seat in my van, take my husband's advice cheerfully, whistle, yodel, or go a day without talking to my horses.

I have decided to reflect back on this year, and post a few pics as the urge hits me. But, just in case you are one of my faithful and have been so for over a year, I promise not to post any pics I have already posted here on this blog. I promise.

Not really. In fact, if I want to post a pic that you are already really sick of, I'm just going to do it. Just sayin. You can complain all about it in your comments. But really, do you want to start my new year off that way? Have some decency! Have some compassion! Have some coffee! No, I mean it. Have some coffee. Then make me a cup.

The year started with me playing a wife in the play The King and I. I should have known in the auditions when they made you bow and keep bowing...that was the most important job of the king's wives. Bow and act worshipful. Not too complicated. But then they added bow, act worshipful, and look Asian. Hmmm, that was a little tougher. So that's when I dyed my hair jet black. Yes, you heard me right. Now shut up and lead me past ALL mirrors for at least a year. Who knew.

In Febrary we finished up the play, and got to stay home for awhile. We spent lots of time just hanging out with our horses, and playing in the snow.

We had such a fun Easter! Nana and Poppa had just returned from Hawaii. While they were there, they sent each of our families a coconut in the mail. So we cracked the coconut and I scraped out the meat. I dyed the coconut green, for grass, and then made Easter basket cupcakes. They were a big hit at our family Easter egg hunt!

How could I think of anything else for the month of April, but LONDON????????? I was able to travel with a girlfriend to London, England on April 14th. It was a fab-oooooo-lous trip! I loved every minute! We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, posed with Princess Diana's wedding carriage, toured the inside treasures of Windsor Castle, saw five plays..Wicked, Chicago, The Sound of Music, Joseph, and Les Miserables. We also went to some amazing museums, including the British Museum of Natural History, where we saw the actual real genuine Rosetta Stone! I also got to see George Clooney in person, at a London Premiere. We had high tea, low tea, and Starbucks. You guess which one I pick. I have to post at least a few pics of London and Windsor here, because hard to believe..I never blogged about my trip. I just had too much to say to blog about it. That might not make sense, but did you already forget who you were talking to? Nuff said.

Chena went to horse camp in May. This year they said she was ready to move up from Junior Camp, and go to Advanced Senior Camp. I was not sure I was ready though! She ended up going, and was the second youngest camper there. All the other girls were older teens. She took our new horse, Whisper, and did just fine. In fact, she started Whisper in jumping, and ended up winning Reserve High Point Champion. She was pretty excited and cannot wait for next year.

Penelope went to horse camp in June. This was her first year to go to horse camp. She did great! She took our horse Summer, and handled him beautifully. It was a big job for her to do all of his care by herself, and she learned a lot. I stayed down in Ninilchik during both girls' camps, so I could be near if anything went wrong with either of our horses.

Penelope entered the horse show at the end of the camp week, and earned blue ribbons in each event she entered. I was so proud of her and Summer for all of their effort and progress!

As soon as we returned from Ninilchik, I received word that our new puppy was ready to be delivered! We bought a Pembroke Welsh Corgi puppy, and named her Dandelion. Her full name is Mavrik's Dandy Little Lion. We were SO EXCITED to finally get her home with us!

Also in June we had the best Father's Day ever, when we visited the Moose Research Center. It is a facility run by our Alaska Fish and Game, and they raise moose for research, at huge pens in a remote area. This year they had some new orphaned calves to bottle feed and raise, and we were invited out to the pens to help socialize the babies, since Michael is one of their pilots.

It was seriously one of the MOST MEMORABLE experiences we had all year. We got to hug them, kiss them, and play with them! They acted like a soft fuzzy leggy litter of hooved puppies. We had NO idea that they would be so lovable! We will never forget Beverly, Jose, Nugget, Yuri, Volga, and Minnie. Here is Penelope taking a nap in the moss with Nugget (10 days old)

July was fun and busy! We spent many many hours playing in our lake with friends and neighbors, especially on the EXTRA HUGE Slip-N-Slide our neighbor made on his hill.

The girls loved playing American Girl dolls out on the lawn with their fellow AG lovers.

We had our annual family picnic, with over 100 people at our house on the Fourth of July. This was our 11th year! Wow.

We had our sawdust money pit we always have. Its a huge hit with the little guys (and the big guys too!)

Later in July, Penelope took her bunny, Mossy Meadow, to a local day care, and did a presentation, as part of her 4-H project requirements.

We went to Fairbanks in August. Its about a 12 hour drive, but the scenery is so beautiful, I really love it. We took Dandelion with us, and drive with my mom in her car. It was a wonderful trip!

September on our lake. I took all of our girls' "school pictures" near our home

We went to the miniature horse farm in October. Here we are with Mukluk's (Sweet Troubles Roscoe) father.

Penelope started English riding, and Chena continued her jumping at Ridgeway Farm.

In November we added a mini horse named Mukluk to our Litzen Zoo. Here he is on his first day here. He's sooooo cute and sooo much fun!

December was a flurry of activity. We started out way too busy, and learned through trial and error to slow down and enjoy the season. Here's my cutie, Penelope, on Christmas Eve at my Nana and Poppa's house.

And there we are! What a year! Looks like we had a LOT of fun with animals, kids, travel, and friends! How blessed indeed.

And now I'm off and running again, to see our friend's new litter of puppies they just added to their 27 dog mushing team!

Happy New Year!