Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Nothing Is Ever Simple

Yesterday I bought a copy of Real Simple magazine (my People magazine didn't come this week), with the intention of taking a long hot soak in the tub - something I haven't had time to do in quite a while. I managed to fix dinner, eat dinner while it was still hot and then sneak into the bathroom unnoticed. As I slid into my deliciously warm bath I realized two things. Significant mildew had taken over my shower curtain, and I hadn't shaved my legs in a very, very long time. Both of these things attempted to disrupt the serenity of my tub experience as I thought about getting out and grabbing the all-purpose cleaner and trying to shave my legs while scrubbing the shower curtain thereby allowing me more time to soak afterwards.

In the end I decided not to worry about the shower curtain as I don't remember ever reading anywhere that someone died from mildew. I laid back and opened up my Real Simple magazine hoping that my life would be organized and efficient when I got out of the tub. About 5 minutes into my bliss a little face poked around the shower curtain. I've heard it said that company in a tub can be fun, but I don't think whoever said it had a 15-month-old splashing his toys onto their magazine. It looked as though simplifying my life via reading material wasn't going to be that simple.

After kicking the wee one out of the bathroom I decided to just shave my legs and get out. I reflected that I had already taken steps to simplify my life by buying one of those razors that has the shave gel bar on it so I didn't have to waste time lathering up my legs. How smart of me! After the first swipe with the razor I realized I really should do this more often. Thoughts of how this was similar to weed-wacking my way through the Amazon came to mind. In the interest of personal hygiene however I persevered, and was rewarded with a bathtub that looked like a cat had exploded inside it. Now in addition to mildew removal I would also need to find a little more time to clean the tub.

In summary, if I hadn't insisted on this silly notion of taking time for myself I could have continued traveling down my blissfully ignorant path and saved myself from yet more work. Ahhhh, such is life, simple or not. :)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Julie's Top Ten Christmas Lessons Learned

The tree was fake, the gifts expensive and the children were up early. Ahhhhh, another Christmas here and gone. Yet this was a great Christmas. It was spent with friends....and it was still fun! And here is what I learned:

1. My friend Nicole has mad skills when it comes to picking out great Christmas gifts.
2. My friend Beezy can cook like nobody's business.
3. Beezy's husband knows his way around a turkey.
4. Watching my kids open gifts tops any other gift I might receive.
5. Shipping from Alaska costs almost as much as Obama's new healthcare plan.
6. Homemade gifts haven't gone out of style.
7. Even the most active children sit still for "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
8. My husband has more fun with the kids' toys than they do.
9. A Nintendo Wii will unite a family like no other gift (complete with shouts of "I'm gonna kick your butt this time!"
10. And finally, it's worth it. All of it. The stress, the money, the rushing around. It could be more simple, and more inexpensive I suppose - but then it wouldn't really be Christmas :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's Fake!!

For the last 4 years Dustin and I have observed the wonderful Christmas tradition of testing out our 4-wheel drive in the backcountry of Montana in order to find "the perfect tree." Alas, we never really found the perfect tree and the day was usually fairly stressful with children repeatedly asking, "are we there yet?" "Is this the one Mom?" and "Is there a bathroom close by?"

When we moved to Alaska I was certain that I would be surrounded by glorious Christmas trees on every side. I couldn't wait to go out into the woods before our first Christmas here and pick from the millions of perfect pines just waiting to be "the one!" Alas, it was not meant to be.

Pine trees don't grow well in Alaska. Fake trees do. Real, beautiful, "perfect" trees stand in the lot at Wal-Mart or Lowe's and cost approximately 1 kidney and 2 corneas. So this year we had to decide between our ideal live tree or Christmas presents to go under it.

It's a cute tree. It doesn't even remotely resemble anything that once lived, but it holds all the ornaments that I lovingly hauled 3,000 miles just to put on it. It won't shed needles. It doesn't require water and therefore won't dry out. I can put it up again next year too. But somehow it just isn't the same.

Sooooo, I went over to my friend Catherine's today just to bask in the glow that is her live Christmas tree. I sniffed, touched and stared at that fabulously thick and well-groomed tree. It looks like it belongs on the White House lawn. Jealousy is such a disgusting emotion!

However, my friend Nicole was kind enough to provide me with a solution to my problem. She bought me a "Christmas Tree Grow Kit". So thoughtful of her. All I have to do is plant the seed in the teeny-tiny little pot, faithfully water it, repot it 127 times over the next 20 years and then voila! my very own live Christmas tree! Boy will that be a wild and crazy Christmas party.

Until then though, I will happily decorate my little faux tree and try to remind myself that, "it's the thought that counts!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Not Really That Satisfying"

This past Thanksgiving weekend my family and I joined several of our friends for a sledding expedition. We went to this HUGE sledding hill and observed several wild and crazy teenagers careening out of control and then wiping out spectacularly at the bottom. Of course my children were quite excited to take their turn at all this fun and even trudged up this mountain without complaining. I accompanied them to the top expecting them to change their minds once they saw it from a different angle (lord knows I had my doubts about the sanity of all those zipping towards the bottom). Certainly they could foresee the same broken bones, back injuries and miscellaneous other aches and pains that I did? AS IF!! After observing several people ahead of them rocket towards the bottom, my two did what appeared to be some kind of cliff diving maneuver and threw themselves down this hill at full speed, otter-style, without a sled! I had visions of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when he greases up his sled and goes for miles, finally ending up in the Walmart parking lot.

I briefly heard my mother say "Just because everyone is jumping off a bridge, doesn't mean you have to do it too." Then I threw myself down the hill, otter-style. Fortunately, this otter has plenty of padding and landed at the bottom uninjured.

When we had all gathered at the bottom I asked the boys what they thought of the sledding hill. Connor said it was "pretty cool." Austin, ever the enthusiast of the family, said, "I really didn't find it that satisfying." Somehow, this didn't stop him from trekking up that hill and careening down again and again.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Is Santa Like God?"

"Sliding through the snow, in a big old Expedition, o'er the drifts we go....screaming all the way - ha-ha-ha-ha!"

Tis the season my friends - whether you like it or not! And as the commercialism builds, so does the excitement in my house. Recently I've heard statements such as these: "Is Santa like God?" and (my favorite), "all you need to get gifts is a tree and decorations." I've also enjoyed several renditions of Jingle Bells Batman Smells and other little dirty ditties thoughtfully taught by the other children at school.

Whenever Dustin starts a fire in the fireplace I remind him to burn the flyers first before the kids can get a look at all the toys. Chain stores are EVIL this time of year. Don't these people have children? Don't they realize the havoc they wreak in parents' lives? Don't they know that a lot of the family drama at the holidays comes after hearing "and I want that, and that, and that, and one of those...." about 60 million times!!!!

I could go on and on, and eventually I will, but for now I'll wrap it up and get to work so I can afford "that, and that, and one of those!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tiptoeing Through the Snow

Here I am, trying to be a better (more consistent) blogger. Of course it's easier when trapped inside by freezing temperatures and slippery conditions (and I'm procrastinating doing my housework and my "real job"). Anywhoooooo......

I have a feeling that this winter will be harder on Beanie than the rest of us. Luckily, we humans don't have to squat in the snow. Each morning I chuckle as I take "the girls" out to check their "pee-mail" and Beanie tries in vain to find a spot that is not covered in snow. She tiptoes through the snow, lifting each paw high in the air, as if she is too good to get her mitts cold and wet. After about 5 minutes of searching the yard she bites the bullet and squats in the snow. Without fail there is usually a look of shock, mixed with disgust, on her face as her butt touches the snow. Beanie has been subjected to a lot in her years with us (being mauled by babies, being dressed up, moving over and over), but I'm fairly certain if she could speak she would say there is nothing worse than sticking your pooty-poo into the snow!

Ahhh, something new to say at the table this Thanksgiving when we go around and tell what we're thankful for.....I don't have to pee in the snow! :)-

Monday, November 9, 2009

Winter: A Beautiful Pain in the Butt

When we woke up this morning it was as if Mother Nature was announcing "Tah-Dah!" A beautiful 6 inches of snow covered everything. Apparently, the snow normally flies around the beginning of October, but this year it decided to hold off a little longer. And that concludes the "I'm incredibly excited about the snow" portion of this post.

The boys of course were ecstatic and immediately started digging out snow pants, boots, etc. I had visions of the 20 minutes on...."I have to pee"....2 seconds off drill, although that was not the case this morning. They did manage to get everything on by themselves (30 minutes early) and then get too hot about 5 minutes before we were to leave for the bus and stripped everything back off. Soooo, even though we had planned to leave on time, we didn't. And it seems that no matter how organized I am each year (box by the door for hats, mittens, scarves, etc), we will still spend every morning racing around with the same dialogue, which goes something like this:

Mom: Where is your hat?
Connor: I don't know.
Mom: Why isn't it in the box?
Connor: What box?
Mom: The box by the door that holds all your cold weather stuff!
Connor: Oh, that box.
Mom: So, where is your hat and your gloves?
Connor: I don't know!
Mom: Look for them!
Connor: I need help!
Mom: Austin, help your brother.
Austin: Why do I have too?
Mom: Because Noah is too small, I'm too busy and Santa Claus isn't here! That's why!

10 minutes later.....

Mom: Did you guys find all your stuff?
Austin: What stuff?
Mom: Your hat, mittens, coats, boots......
Austin: Oh, that stuff. Yeah, it's in the box.
Mom: Why aren't you wearing it?
Austin: You didn't tell us it was time to go.
Mom: For the love of God, go get your stuff on!
Austin: Jeez mom, why do you get so cranky in the morning?

And that concludes the "winter makes moms more crazy than usual" portion of the post!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween - Smiffy Style

Hello faithful blog followers (that I had to e-mail because it's been so damn long since I blogged!). Hope this finds you all well and enjoying fall (or the beginning of winter if you're in Alaska).

Performed the annual ritual of carving the pumpkin last night - with a new twist. Proving that anything done with a power tool is more fun, Dustin "carved" our pumpkin with his drill. This was quite fun for us spectators as pumpkin guts sprayed all over. However, the boys had chosen a slightly more intricate design this year, a bat hanging from a branch, so Dustin still had to put the finishing touches on with his super-duper-schmooper sharp knife. The end result was quite impressive.

We also talked the boys into actually making costumes this year instead of going to Walmart and just buying a pre-made costume. Connor will be an alien and Austin will be a vampire bat. So the other night Dustin applied a TON of HVAC duct tape, which is very shiny, to a vest, pants and baseball cap. The baseball cap was also adorned with the requisite alien antennae made from aluminum foil on top of springs. Austin and I cut out some bat wings from brown material and sewed them onto the back of his vest and his shirt sleeves. I then sewed some "ears" onto his brown baseball cap to top off one very adorable bat ensemble.

Finally, my friend Nicole and I planned our strategy for Halloween night. We've chosen a neighborhood to "attack" and Nicole dug out the thermoses for some hot chocolate with peppermint schnops! Halloween will be fun and warm for the adults as well as the kids this year! I'm actually really looking forward to trick-or-treating!

Happy Halloween! :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mooseless No More

The "curse" is broken!! I can now confirm an actual moose sighting (by me personally!) in my neighborhood. Several days ago my husband called me about a block from our house and informed me that he had just passed a momma moose and her 2 babies. He takes great pleasure in telling me these things as he knows it makes me crazy. However, today I was over at my friend Nicole's house (just 2 houses down from mine), when I looked out the window and low and behold.....momma moose and her 2 babies! It was AWESOME! Then just a couple hours later as I was driving home from the store I turned onto my street and there they were again! Apparently they like our low-key neighborhood. I feel that now I have "truly experienced Alaska" and must no longer carry the shame and sadness of being mooseless.

Yours truly,
Moosestatic in Alaska

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Short All Over

As many of my friends and family know, I am short, or what I like to think of as "vertically challenged". In addition, I have been doing some self-evaluation lately (mostly while I'm on the toilet) and have come to discover that I am also short on patience, short on time and short on energy. Thanks to Darwin, I understand that my "shortcomings" have caused me to evolve and adapt. Instead of just being short, now I'm a "multi" too. I can multi-task on multiple levels while using my multiple skills to fit in multiple naps! While this does require some ambition or motivation (or whatever dirty word you want to use) initially, it does pay off in the end - the short end I'm sure.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Family That Coughs Together.....

Is it possible for just one family member to get "a little cold" and not give it to the rest of the family? I think not. For example, 2 days ago one of my sweet little 6-year-old virus incubators came down with a pretty good fever. By yesterday morning we were all feverish, achy, sneezy, coughy and yup, dopey. Last night as I lay in bed trying to decide if I would rather die in a fire or floating on an iceburg in the Artic Sea (not too far from here you know), I heard the dog start to make that wonderful gagging sound that every pet owner loves. Sure enough, she puked on the carpet. When it rains, it pours.

Luckily, I am happy to report that this morning all of the kids seemed to feel better, especially Austin because the tooth he's been working on for 4 weeks finally fell out in the middle of the night. "Why didn't the tooth fairy come?" he asked - to which I was tempted to reply, "She came down with malaria somewhere over Africa."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Waiting Game

Wow, it's been awhile since I posted, but since excuses are like...well, you know what they're like, I won't make any.....right now anyway!

At any rate.....

I noticed the other day that Noah has 2 new spectators each time he's placed in the highchair. Beanie and Mac (i.e. Hoover and Dyson) reacting to the sound of the tray snapping into place, take that as their cue to "assume the position" and patiently await their gifts from "heaven". (see example below).

Fortunately Noah hasn't figured out what they're doing there yet and started to feed the stinkin' beggars, but I suppose it's only a matter of time. It's hard for me to feel anything close to remorse about them 1) eating table scraps 2) begging and 3) licking the highchair as I feel that we all benefit. Noah can be as wild as he wants with his food, Mom doesn't have much to clean up and the doggies get a regularly scheduled Scooby Snack!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Noah and the Mouse

It's been really quiet since Austin and Connor went back to school and my productivity level has once again increased to pre-summer vacation levels. I find that it's easiest to do my housework upstairs while Noah is awake and then type downstairs while he's sleeping. Occasionally he joins me downstairs while I try to get some extra work done.

Today he discovered a new playland - under mommy's desk! What fun! All the cords to pull on, some getting more of a reaction out of mom than others.....I knew he was close when I felt his little hand on my foot and noticed he loved watching my foot go up and down on the foot pedal. Then, just as I went to reach for my disappeared over the back of my keyboard shelf! My stern "authority voice" saying, "No, no Noah" only seemed to make him enjoy it even more.

So, I redirected him with some of his brother's toys, and this worked, for about 10 minutes. Now I must go as I see he is attempting the stairs! Remind me again.... the work will be there tomorrow!! :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

She Came...She Saw....

So you're probably all wondering why it's taken me so long to post. It's taken me awhile to recover from my mom's visit......JUST KIDDING MOM!!

She came, she saw.....she did a TON of laundry! We agreed that my laundry does a little "bow chicka bow bow" in the dark because it multiplies at an amazing rate! But seriously, we had a good time. Noah managed to wait to crawl until the day Nommie arrived and continued to delight her the entire week she was here.

Austin and Connor also got lots of laughs and snuggles from their Nommie. (See the picture below for proof of how silly we get when Nommie's around....just kidding again, we're always that silly!)

We shipped her out on Saturday and by Sunday I missed her terribly, I had at least 3 loads of laundry to do!! JUST KIDDING MOM!! Apparently it's a genetic thing. When her mom (my grandma) visits her she does laundry. When my mom visited me....yup laundry. So, someday when my kids have a place of their own - they can do their own damn laundry! I'll have done it for 18 years!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

White Glove Inspection

When I was little my grandparents traveled from Michigan out to Montana once a year in the summer or fall to visit us. While we were all excited to see them each year, we dreaded the frantic state that my mom would go into about a week before their arrival. Let me just say that my mom keeps a pretty clean house and always has. However, prior to my grandmother (her mother) coming to visit, she went into full-blown cleaning-Nazi mode, which wasn't pretty. I vowed that I would never do this. I lied.

My mother will be here tomorrow morning. I started my "To Do" list a week ago and have been slowly but surely checking things off, things like tidying up the garage. I know, just as my mother knew back then, that she isn't coming to conduct a white glove inspection. She's coming to spoil her grandchildren rotten. She's also coming to help me get my laundry caught up, keep the dishwasher loaded and get my kids squared away before school begins next week. But I'm on to her sneaky little scheme. I've been doing laundry faithfully every day this week. My counters are immaculate. And all the school shopping is done!

Isn't it ironic? She knows I don't keep house like that all year, just as her mother knew, but we can't stop ourselves from doing it? My friend Cassie says that a messy house means a happy family - we are an ecstatic family - but for one week twice a year, we will be a little less happy and a lot more tidy!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Trough

Plates were invented to keep your food off the table, right? So why is it after any meal I find a large portion of food on the table? Because children are like little piglets rooting around their plates, that's why! Instead of calling my children to dinner (or breakfast or lunch) like a "normal" person, from now on I'm just going to say "Soueee, soueee little piggies!" Perhaps I'll even replace my dinner table with a trough as I'm sure they'll still eat out of it and that should keep the mess to a minimum! :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Toys vs. Luffah

A bathtub full of toys and 1 luffah. Noah would rather chew on the luffah. Downside = bacteria. Upside = Didn't have to clean his face with a washcloth, which he hates! :)

Sound Effects

One of Austin and Connor's favorite pasttimes lately is pretending to be superheroes. This of course requires a lot of sound effects, whooshing, swishing, the light saber noise from Star Wars, dinosaurs roaring, (you get the picture). In fact, there isn't really anything that doesn't require some sort of sound effect. Often, Dustin and I have a fair tolerance level for the noise and commotion that accompanies the work of a superhero. Occasionally, our tolerance level dips somewhat.

However, just the other day as I was watching them "save the world" I had another philosophical moment. What if we all got that "into" what we were doing? I could make really great whizzing noises while I'm moving laundry from the washer to the dryer, loading the dishwasher and picking up toys! And I think I'd look great in a cape while vacuuming with my sidekick, the super-duper-ultra-amazing Dyson! Perhaps this would make chores more fun. Perhaps it would only make me look silly. Either way, it would definitely put into full view how "Wonder Mom" zips through her day like a speeding bullet, leaping toys in a single bound and ensuring the safety of the little people :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kid Paradise/Parent Hell

Last night we drove in to Anchorage for the birthday party of one of Connor's classmates. The party was held at Chuck E. Cheese's. After enduring several trips to this kid paradise/parent hell I feel educated enough to make some observations. First, there are a lot of people talking on cell phones in this place. How can they hear the person they're talking to? It is soooo loud in there I can't hear myself think! Second, no one that works there ever looks happy or has anything close to a smile on their face. In fact, they all look like they would rather lick wet paint then suffer one more minute being run over by people less than 5 feet tall. Finally, I'm thinking that a study on the effects of sensory overstimulation of children should be conducted by spending about 12 hours in Chuck E. Cheese's. They would shut that place down! I left there with the biggest migraine of my life. I was so sure that the pressure behind my right eyeball was going to cause it to fall out of my head and that I would welcome it if it did!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What are they laughing at?

Whenever I'm approached by someone with a snicker or full-blown grin on their face it's usually safe to assume my boys have either done something terrible or terribly funny. This morning at the library I approached the check-out desk and noticed both librarians looking at me and trying not to laugh. After doing a quick wardrobe check to make sure there were no obvious malfunctions and wiping my hand across my mouth to make sure there was no cream cheese left over from that yummy bagel, I looked around for Austin and Connor. Sure enough, they were the reason behind the giggles.

Apparently, Austin and Connor had been sitting there doing puzzles when a group of young girls walked by. Austin looks up and without hesitating says to the girls, "I'm Austin and this is my brother Connor, and we're always up for adventure."

Mothers, lock up your daughters, here they come!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Things We Mourn

I was sitting here gazing at my youngest child just now thinking how much I missed that adorable head of hair he had before his recent run in with the clippers. I think I'm actually grieving the passage of time with my last baby. I never for one moment wanted my oldest two to stay small forever, but it's so different with Noah. First of all, there's only one of him. Second, if there's an easier baby to care for or love on this planet I'd like to see it.

At any rate, after philosophizing for a minute or two about receding hairlines and receding childhoods, I started thinking of other things I haven't gotten over the loss of yet.

1. My prebaby body.
2. Eating food while it's still hot.
3. Being able to sit down and read a really good book in 1 sitting.
4. A time when I knew all the words to the latest Bruce Springsteen song instead of all the words to the Spongebob Squarepants theme.
5. Sleeping all night without having to get up to pee.

Oh well, I suppose the passage of time takes things away and brings you others (more philosophizing). Here's what I've gained:

1. About 40 pounds.
2. An appreciation for hot food.
3. Much more selective taste in reading material (i.e. anything quick).
4. An ability to answer Trivial Pursuit questions about Spongebob Squarepants.
5. Not enough sleep to have nightmares.

Half empty or half full - either way there's still something in the glass! :)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Here's Your Sign!"

I don't know if you have to cite sources on a blog, but just in case, for those of you who have been hiding out in the jungles of Africa, Bill Engvall gets the credit for my title.

For some reason completely unknown to me, I have always loved wacky signs. This caught my fancy on a drive we took not too long ago. I am so excited for snow at this point. It sounds like all the real fun starts when the snow flies.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Parent Radar

When I was little my mom could tell I'd been up to something the moment I walked in the door, before I even said a word. Lying wasn't really an option either because she had a 6th sense that would scare the crap out of most psychics. Now that my children are of the age where they're trying to become sneaky, I've figured out how she used to do it.

Lately, Austin and Connor have decided that if I tell them no all they have to do is wait until I'm not in the room to go ahead and do it anyway. Then they are always amazed when they get caught. Most of the time they do something that puts them in the running for "World's Dumbest Criminals", but often I can tell just by looking at them.

So after a little thought about this phenomenon here's my analogy for how this part of the parenting process goes down. Children, unbeknownst to them, are like little bats sending out guilty signals as they fly around. These guilt signals then bounce off of their parents and are picked up by "parent radar". After awhile, parent radar becomes extremely sensitive and can sense mischief even when the child is not in close proximity.

So, in summary, when my children get that bewildered look and ask, "How did you know?", I reply just like my mother used to, "I always know," and hopefully this scares them as bad as it used to scare me!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ahhhh, Life In The Tropics

It has been 80 degrees or more for the last week. And in Alaska, that feels like at least 95 or 100 with 100% humidity.

Silly me, I thought it was cold in Alaska (a little birdie told me it only got up to 70 degrees for about 3 days last summer). In fact, when I packed for our move I left behind most of my summer clothes in storage. I have an abundance of sweaters, long johns, hats, etc. and 1 STINKIN' PAIR OF SHORTS! I don't even have a decent pair of flip-flops with which to weather this heat wave. We gave our air conditioner to my folks..... I wonder what it costs to ship a 100-pound air conditioner to Alaska? Hmmmmm. Remind me to remember this when I'm bitching about the cold in a few months!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Sympathy Vote for PMS!

I had forgotten how miserable I can be....towards other people! My pregnancy and subsequent "post pregnancy" era had provided a nice long vacation for my hormones (and my family) from that nasty 3 or 4 day stretch each month where I turn into an absolute bear. It's a tricky situation because I know that I'm being cranky and yet am powerless to stop it. If at all possible, I would hide out in my bedroom the entire time eating bon-bons and reading smut books. Unfortunately, I have tried this and found it hard to relax in between constant requests for more cereal, validation of boo-boos and help finding underwear in the dryer. Alas, this scary time always passes before there is any bloodshed (so far) and everyone in our home breathes a sigh of relief, until next month.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Goodbye Binky

Rather than start a new blog, I've decided to just start adding more day-to-day stuff to this one. Those of you who encouraged me to start the new blog already check this one fairly often anyway so now you won't have to go anywhere else to get your daily dose of Smiffiness!

Last night was Connor's first night without his "binky". I suppose it's long overdue, but nonetheless it was hard for both of us. As is usually the case in these matters, it just got "lost" in the top of a closet yesterday after I found it on the floor. As much as I hated to take away something he's slept with EVERY SINGLE night for 6+ years (I can't even get rid of a t-shirt I've had that long!), I had visions of him going off to college with his beloved binky and still sucking his thumb, so I knew it was for the best. Falling asleep proved to be quite difficult and he cried for about 10 minutes as though his heart was broken, which of course broke mine. We snuggled for a bit and then he announced that he thought he would be able to fall asleep in my bed. This proved effective and later Dustin moved him into his own bed. He awoke this morning, very cheerful, without a word about the bink. It occurs to me while I write this that it is yet another chapter finished in his childhood. Bye-bye bottles. Bye-bye-diapers. Bye-bye baby teeth. Bye-bye Bink.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

You Don't Say

As Dustin and I were sitting here relaxing in front of the boob-tube tonight we heard some strange noises outside. There was a lot of "scrabbling" or what sounded like scratching somewhere outside the house. We could also hear the ravens (a.k.a. big-ass birds!) just cawing like crazy. So we went outside on the deck to investigate. As we're looking around down below my husband casually mentions that he heard somewhere that when ravens were around like that there was a bear nearby. I looked at him just as casually and said, "You don't say?" And then casually (or not so much) made my way back into the house. Ahhhh, Alaska.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear Erma,

I'm taking a survey. A few of my friends and family have suggested I start a new blog along the lines of what Erma Bombeck used to do (who doesn't miss Erma?!). Just a funny day-to-day column of stories regarding housework, raising kids and husbands. If you think you'd be interested in hearing about my wildly exciting adventures regarding laundry and the drama surrounding 1st grade, shoot me an e-mail at and let me know. If there's enough interest, I'll make the time to set up a blog and start sharing the craziness that is the Smiffs!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crossing Over to the Dark Side

It happened! It happened! Why all the excitement you ask? Because....we're finally on the downhill side. As of June 21st we reached our peak daylight hours (about 20-21) and now we'll start sliding towards December where we only have about 4 hours of daylight. It's been strange to say the least, getting up in the middle of the night and feeling like we slept in until noon. I'm thinking it's going to feel just as strange when we only see the sun from 11 a.m. to about 3 p.m. come December 21st. Rest assured though my friends, all of this light/dark wackiness does not affect my nap schedule! Alas, one of the great things about having 3 children is that all I have to do is think about my bed to fall asleep :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Now It Makes Sense

This morning I went for my walk and became the official breakfast buffet for about 10 zillion mosquitos (rotten little bastards). While I was walking, and swatting, it occurred to me that I now understand why God, in all his infinite wisdom, made the summers so short in Alaska. If "mosquito season" were any longer no one would ever come here, much less live here, and appreciate all the work He put in to making it so beautiful. You can be sure that when I see that first snowflake fly I won't shed even one tear over the death of those nasty little buggers!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Best Smell Ever!

So, last night we had a thunderstorm, which in and of itself is unusual for Alaska (but lately we've had really hot weather, like 65 degrees!). And we got rain, which was much needed. But the best part was THE SMELL!! When I took the doggies out to go potty this morning I could not believe how good it smelled. It was what I imagine the Amazon rain forest smells like all the time. Although words really can't describe it, I'll attempt it for those of you not here and lucky enough to experience it first hand. Ummmmm, yeah, anything I write here is going to sound like I'm attempting a novel. Just think adjectives, lots of them! At any rate, I got to thinking (as I was standing there patiently waiting for Beanie to find the PERFECT spot), if through some miracle of science that smell could be bottled I would use it everywhere in my house. I'd spray it on my sheets, put it on the back of the toilet for air freshner, sprinkle it on my carpet when I vacuum and of course use it as lotion! Yup, it was that good.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Matanuska River

Mac, Mom and Noah

Austin and Connor playing in the sand.

Connor and Dustin looking for "skipper" rocks.

COLD water doesn't seem to bother Beanie!

It was another beautiful day in Alaska yesterday so we decided to head "out into nature". Out towards my in-law's house is the Matanuska River where you can ride 4-wheeler's, walk around, etc. The boys loved playing in the sand and finding skipping rocks. I loved the sunshine and fresh air. The doggies loved the water (crazy dogs) and Dustin just generally kept us all from hurting ourselves. We spent about 2 hours or so just wandering around before Noah was ready to nap and everyone else was ready for a snack.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

God Bless Coffee

One of my biggest fears when moving up here was that they wouldn't have all the little roadside coffee kiosks that we had at home. I think it is a slight understatement to say, "I LOVE MY COFFEE!!" And aside from a severely enlarged sweet tooth, this is my only vice. At any rate, I had nothing to worry about. There are more coffee kiosks in a 5 mile radius of my home than there are people who drink coffee. And again I say, "God bless coffee".

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

An Astounding Transformation

Spring/summer in Alaska is truly here now. I have put away my snowman cookie jar and brought out the one with the pretty leaves on it. It really was one of those "blink and you miss it" type experiences. One day the trees were just starting to bud and the next day all the leaves were out. This makes Alaska even prettier than it was before! Unfortunately, almost all of the snow is off the mountains, but rest assured, it will return! In a month or two - lol!

It's interesting, it's almost like everyone around here kicks into high gear as soon as the first ray of sunshine hits on May 1st! The street cleaner came through, the guy who cuts the branches away from the side of the road, all the people who pick up the garbage along the highways, people cleaning up their yards. Apparently because the season is so short, people here don't mess around! They had it all done in approximately 3 days. Catch ya later alligators!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, and another plane and another...

We live directly on the flight line. In fact, I'm convinced that if you live anywhere in Alaska you live directly on the flight line. The Alaska Almanac states that 1 in 69 people in Alaska own/fly a plane! Don't hurt yourself, I'll do the math for you - that's approximately 10,346 pilots in a state that has a total population of approximately 626,932. The moral of this story is that no matter where I'm at, home, Wal-Mart, picking the boys up from school, Anchorage (you get the point), there is usually a plane flying overhead.

A quick nod to a new blog I've encountered that I think you will all enjoy. If you have time check this gal out, she is hilarious!! She lives in Alaska and has wonderful stories and insights about Alaska and life in general.

Hope you all have a good weekend and don't forget to love on your mother!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And So It Begins....

Noah and Connor before leaving on our "adventure".

We adventured today. We headed out towards Palmer and went to a park by the Matanuska River. Very nice weather. Took the camera, forgot the camera in the car! Dammit!! At any rate, it has a nice campground so I think we'll stay out there a time or two this summer. Looking forward to many more adventurings, hope the weather holds out.
Speaking of the weather, it was soooo stinkin' hot today - 64 degrees! I thought I was going to melt. Also met a very nice couple from, OF COURSE, Montana (Miles City and Whitefish).
Oh and one other thing, my mother-in-law told me we'd be able to "hear" the cottonwoods popping open. Sure enough, on a walk down to the lake tonight I definitely heard the snap, crackle and pop of cottonwood leaves opening up. Can't wait for those musical buggers to start sticking to my car! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Moose Poop and Mosquito Bites

Hello again :)
So, our latest adventure led us to the discovery of a very cute little park practically at the end of our street. The boys and I ventured down there after all the snow had finally melted, thinking it was just a little trail that led down to the creek near our house. Well, there was no creek access, but there was a great little park with swings and a climbing structure and some monkey bars! On our way down this adorable little trail, the great Indian scout in me noticed, MOOSE POOP!! Yup, 2 piles. But of course, no moose. That's alright, I'm getting closer. You must be very, very sneaky to hunt these wiley creatures. NOT! Apparently, you can practically jump on and ride the darn things bareback if you see one, but first things first, you have to find one. (Disclaimer: My husband informs me you cannot ride them bareback, in fact, I am to stay very far away as they tend to charge people if they feel threatened. Like little 5-foot me is going to threaten a ginormous moose!).

While down there observing my offspring at play I also encountered my first Alaskan state bird, the mosquito. They are not joking people, these things will carry you off into the bush! I believe this because it is not yet May and this mosquito was already easily 5 times the size of mosquitos in Montana. I've read that as the total hours of sunlight increase, so does the size of the mosquitos. As we approach June 21st, which has approximately 20 hours of sunlight, the mosquitos will just get bigger and bigger and bigger! AHHHHHH! He's got me!! Just joking, had you going there though didn't I? :-)
Well, that's all for now folks.
P.S. If you have any extra mosquito netting lying around, send it our way!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's A Small World After All

Well, we've officially been here a month now and there is no way we could be lonely because we are surrounded by Montanans! Get this, one of the tellers at our bank is from Great Falls, the check-out lady at Walmart - Glendive! And our neighbor down the street, Bigfork! Just about anyone you talk to is either from Montana, has been to Montana or knows someone from Montana. In fact, Dust and I were laughing at how we get the same 3 questions every time we tell someone where we've moved from: 1) "Oh, what part of Montana?" 2) "Where in western Montana?" 3) "Do you know so and so?"

I told Dust it is my theory that Montanans transplant well here (especially western Montanans, definitely the hardiest of all Montana breeds!) because it's very similar in climate and terrain. I hope all of you get a chance to see it at some point!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Down in the lower 48 they call it Spring. Here in Alaska it's called Break-Up. This "season" consists of varying temperatures anywhere from 20 to 45 degrees (at least in our part of the state) during the day, occasional snow, ice flow jams and a lot of mud. They even have a state-wide raffle on the exact time the Nenana river will start cracking and popping, down to the minute!

In the spirit of Break-Up Walmart puts out an extensive collection of irrigating boots (wee boots for those of you in the know!) and just about everybody wears them just about everywhere. I've seen ladies in really nice skirts with their rubber boots on!

Walmart also starts putting out all of the Garden Center stuff. This seems to be eagerly anticipated by a large number of people, even though they can't really plant anything for another 2 months, and they have exactly 31 days to grow it in!! That's a slight exaggeration, but not by much! Most yards have a greenhouse as the summer temperatures aren't consistently warm enough to grow any of the stuff that needs a lot of heat. However, if you're into peas, spinach, cabbage and other "cold-weather veggies" this is the place to be!

Well, I hope this finds you all enjoying Spring. May your buds grow big and prosper!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Well, I'll be damned!

*&($%^!!! I finally saw a moose! And you will not believe where it was either. Right along the highway/interstate IN ANCHORAGE!! He was just standing there eating as if he was right out in the middle of nowhere, cars whizzing by at 60 to 70 mph. What a relief, I was beginning to think I was some kind of moose repellant. Happy Easter everyone! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on!

This is Noah expressing his surprise. If he could talk he'd say, "Oh my God! Did you feel that?!"

For those of you who need a refresher course in Earth Science, let me share this with you. Beautiful mountain ranges are made by.......that's right folks! Earthquakes!!

Picture it...Alaska....2009. I'm standing here in my living room talking to Dust and all of a sudden a huge boom, like a ginormous gunshot, goes off and my whole house starts shaking. It lasted maybe 20 seconds. No damage to the house (I bet they build for that sort of thing up here), and true to Alaskan form, I'll go pull my laundry out of the dryer and continue on with my day as if nothing has happened!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another Gorgeous Day

When my son Austin was about 3 years old he would wake up every morning, rain or shine, spread his little hands just like a preacher talking to God and declare it, "another gorgeous day!" I was thinking of this just this afternoon as we took a Sunday drive and the sky was a beautiful blue, mountains snowy white and the sun shining brightly. Crisp and clear my friends, very gorgeous. We were out looking for the propane "pad" where Dustin will be working. It was a great excuse to see a little bit of the countryside outside of Wasilla. It's not too far out of town and it's right on the highway, so it should be a quick trip for him each morning. About like it was to drive from our home in Stevensville to Hamilton when he was working there. Well, hope you all enjoyed, "another gorgeous day" also and have a great week! :-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Mysterious and Mystical Moose

I'm sure you've all heard a lot about how people in Alaska see moose in their backyard all the time or wandering around downtown. In fact, my husband assures me this is truly a regular occurrance and that he just saw 5 the other night out at his mother's. However, I would like to expose it for the lie that it is!! I have been in Alaska for 3 weeks now and have not seen one single moose! Not one! I anxiously await my first sighting of Bullwinkle and have even squeezed in an extra run or two in hopes of catching a glimpse. Alas, he eludes me. I have a sneaking suspicion that with my luck, the first moose I see will be lying across the hood of my car and some smart-aleck game warden will say something like, "well I'll be damned! That's the biggest moose I've ever seen.... I don't know how you could have not seen it!"
Mooseless in Alaska

Monday, March 30, 2009

Good morning Mr. Snowplow!

We woke up to 2" of snow this morning, and it was beautiful! Now in Montana, you might see a snow plow out on the county roads by this afternoon and chances are your own personal lane or street wouldn't get plowed unless the snow stuck around for a week or more. But in Alaska.....the snow plow was right outside my door at 9:45 a.m.! And I live on a little small side street quite a ways off a major road. These people take their snow removal seriously!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

No Big Deal

This is the view off our front deck.

So I was listening to the radio a few days ago as I was cleaning up the kitchen when something caught my attention. They started off the broadcast talking about Mt. Redoubt (volcano) and how it had gone off the night before and again that morning. They talked about how we might see some ash, but other than that it shouldn't really affect us. Okay. Then they moved on to the avalanche out on Seward highway, not that far from where we live, and how it might "disrupt" traffic for a few hours while they got it cleaned up. It struck me as funny how nonchalant they were about what would be considered "natural disasters" in the lower 48. Just another day in Alaska, no big deal, the volcano is blowing up, there's avalanches, oh and "have a good day!" It must really take a lot to get people excited up here.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

"It's a bird, it's a plane...."

I had to chuckle this morning as I went out for my first run in Alaska at about 7:30 a.m. My neighbors were probably watching out their windows, with hot coffee in hand, going "What the hell is that, a big ball of fleece rolling down the street?" I was suited up from head to toe in preparation for freezing cold and looked like the Michelin tire man, but determined to start running again. Alas, it turned out to be quite nice and I ended up shedding most of my layers. Hopefully I resembled a more human figure on my return trip home and my neighbors could finally quit laughing and drink their coffee :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Poor little squirrel...

Ahhh, another tropical day in Alaska....NOT! It's been nice and sunny, getting up to about 35 or 40 degrees, but today is cold and windy. Finally got my DSL up and running, after much conversation with the tech people at the phone company, arghh! Finally back to work. Finally on the track to some semblance of sanity!!

Beanie has worn out her welcome already. Our neighbor came over today and asked that we please keep her on a leash as she was growling and snapping at them in their own yard and killed one of their favorite squirrels. I swear, if it's not one thing it's another. So, I'll make a batch of apology cookies to take over and Beanie will be on a leash line until we get some kind of dog run up. Fortunately, she seems to love it here as she keeps peeing on my carpet! (A sign that she intends to stay, lol).

I have some great pictures to post, but just haven't gotten to the laptop yet to do it, so I'll try to get on that in the next day or two. Missing all of you more each day, talk to you soon!


Friday, March 20, 2009

It's burning my retinas!

Hello all!  We're here and in our house in Wasilla.  Not completely unpacked yet, but hacking away at it a little at a time.  Dustin starts work in Anchorage on Monday driving dump truck.  The boys are in school at Cottonwood Creek Elementary and today was their first day.  They both said they really enjoyed it and their teachers seemed very nice when I met them this morning.

The sun is soooooo bright!  You wouldn't believe it would be that much different, but it truly is. Our house has beautiful big windows that lets the sun in during the afternoon and we can completely shut off the heat because it gets so hot in there.  

Not much else to report for now, but I'll get on again later with an update.  My DSL gets hooked up on Tuesday (Grandma Doris has been letting me use her computer since we got here :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Holy Buffalo Batman!

Hello everyone! Not as much to write today as I didn't have as much time to observe. The roads were quite a bit more challenging, but the scenery was definitely more rewarding. We drove through some incredibly beautiful country and my only real observation was that the people who drive these roads on a regular basis, are completely nuts. They drive like twice the speed limit on roads that make me nervous (and for those of you who know how I drive, that is saying a lot!).

The buffalo in the pictures are literally right on the road. People up here call them "Alaskan Highway Speedbumps". They are not scared of people at all and just wander down the road. There were a lot of them all over the sides of the road and in fact, they plow special trails for them next to the highway so that hopefully they'll use those instead of the highway!

Also, for those of you worried about global warming, take a drive through northern British Columbia and the Yukon. That should set your mind at ease :-) Check out our pics from today (Austin was on photography duty).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Julie's Top 10

What an interesting day. We made really good time and distance, all the way from Airdrie (outside Calgary), to Grand Prairie (about 350 miles). Not much of a drive scenery-wise, but happily uneventful. During all this uneventful driving time, I had a lot of chances to observe my surroundings and come up with a Top 10 list for the day...
  1. The trees this far north look like cocktail toothpicks, the ones you get in a sandwich, with the little colored wrapping on the top.

  2. They have all these "Litter Barrel Ahead" signs and stops, but NOWHERE to go to the bathroom. They don't care if you pee your pants for 350 miles, but make sure you don't litter!

  3. The scenery is very monochromatic...white snow, black trees, gray sky. I felt like I was in an Ansel Adams portrait.

  4. Roadkill has a whole different meaning up here. I thought I saw a dead woolly mammoth on the side of the road, but Dustin assures me it was a moose.

  5. Noah is worried that we're trying to ensure the back of his head is permanently flat (yes, he told me that!)

  6. My side mirror took one for the team when a semi-truck chucked a rock at it and broke off a huge piece of the back and top. Bastards. (The rocks, not the trucks).

  7. Austin and Connor wondered why in the cartoons only girls (including animals) have eyelashes. How observant they are! I've never thought about this before. Nor have I had this much time to think about this before......hmmmm.

  8. I have to wear my sunglasses all the time regardless of whether or not the sun is out, so I don't go snowblind! Oh well, it makes me feel that I'm somewhat cooler than I actually am (no pun intended).

  9. We ate at the neatest place today called Sasquatch Crossing, and let me assure you, if Sasquatch exists, this is definitely where he is hiding out. There is NOTHING but trees and snow for as far as you can see and beyond (and that is a long frickin' way, let me tell you!)

  10. Finally, we're over half-way there! And we haven't killed each other yet!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"The Middle of Nowhere"

1. Dustin building the trailer with his "apprentice" Austin doing the measuring.
2. The view from the car somewhere between Whitecort and Grand Prairie (the middle of nowhere).
3. Connor, navigator/co-pilot and all-around good guy.
Yeah, they do have Wi-Fi in our motel! And the adventure continues. Today went much better. We got started a little earlier, about 8:45 a.m., and enjoyed good roads all the way to Grand Prairie. We went through a little snow, but nothing us Montanans haven't seen before, yeeeee-haw :)

Connor was riding with me this afternoon, acting as my navigator/co-pilot (check out the pictures!!), fiddling with his headset and looking at the map. He looks up at me and declares in the most dead-pan manner, "Mom, I've looked at the map and we are in the middle of nowhere." I laughed so hard I almost peed myself! He had no idea how right he was too.

We are finally getting into some pretty country, at least what I consider pretty, with trees and some variation in elevation (driving through the prairie puts me to sleep). More snow up here, but not enough to be scary yet.

Probably 2-3 days of travel left depending on road conditions, etc. Hoping to make it to Watson Lake tomorrow. Don't forget, check out the pictures (that is, if I can figure out how to put them on here :-)


Friday, March 13, 2009

A couple more things...

That's how bad it's been, my last post said it was March 12th, and it's actually....Friday the 13th! Ahhhh! Figures.

So, my only moment of real sadness so far, the sign that said Leaving Montana right before the border. I almost cried, almost.

Austin says that A&W is the perfect food.

Connor says he can't wait to get to our Alaskan house because he's sick of riding in the car.

Noah says, "sitting in the car seat for this long every day is getting old!"

Mac says Beanie hogs all the room in the back of the car.

Beanie says Mac is a butt-kisser.

Dustin says that driving the trailer in the wind, the city and in Canada is harder than he expected.

Julie says.....good night everybody!
Well, here it is, March 12th, and our (mis)adventure has definitely begun. We left Stevensville on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., dropped off some stuff at the ranch and spent the night in Kalispell. The hotel was nice and had a pool so the boys were ecstactic. We again realized the difficulties of getting 3 boys, 2 dogs and ourselves ready, fed, out the door and on the "open road" (as Austin now calls it), in the morning. We managed to make it to Columbia Falls for lunch!

From there we managed to make it to the border, but only after suffering through multiple "potty stops" and a baby that would not stop crying (i.e. screeching at the top of his lungs) from approximately Browning to Shelby!

Our border experience was.....interesting. We were there an hour and a half and I'm sure we talked to every border official there. We had to talk to immigration, travel, the cashier, commercial and then the inspection agent. Dustin and I were so afraid they were going to take the trailer apart and we'd be there forever packing it back up. But alas, we finally left there and made it to Lethbridge for the night. Yup, that's approximately 250 miles of travel in 1 day, not a great start when you're going a total distance of 3,000+ miles.

We managed to get dinner, find a motel (that allows pets) and get into bed by 10:30 p.m. Lets just say the hotel was definitely not a 5-star. And the wind blows hard in Alberta! All the time!

This morning we took off from Lethbridge with aspirations of making it to "at least" Edmonton. But it was not meant to be. We took the scenic detour through Calgary and just as we were about out of the most confusing and congested city ever, Dustin got pulled over by a cop!

I was sitting at McDonald's and saw the policeman turn on his lights, but didn't see where he actually stopped at. So I sat there and waited for a bit figuring Dustin would get a ticket and come back for us. I waited for 45 minutes. Then I started to panic. "What if he got taken in?" "How would I find him?" "Would I have to continue on without him?" We drove around looking for him. Then I tried calling the Calgary police station (traffic division), they don't work on Fridays! Finally, I decided I would get a hotel for the night so I called Dustin's cell phone to leave him a message. And he answered! Needless to say, we met up and got the hell out of Calgary!! By then it was 5:30 p.m.

So, we're camped in Airdrie (right outside Calgary) for the night at a very nice Holiday Inn. We're ordering takeout. The boys are playing in the pool (with a waterslide) and I'm going to do laundry and read my People magazine. I know! Friday night and I still haven't finished it!

At any rate, we're alive and hoping to get well past Edmonton tomorrow, but don't hold your breath!

Talk to you soon!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law states that if something can go wrong, it will, and usually at the worst time. Well, if you don't believe in it, you should!

The last couple days have been wild and crazy! First, the wiring went haywire on our trailer (that we're using to take all our stuff). That meant we couldn't move some stuff, or build the sides, or load anything! Arghh! Thankfully, Boppa Jim (my dad) came to the rescue. Yesterday we got the wiring working, today Dustin got the sides on and tomorrow he'll finish it and we can start loading. So we're leaving a day later than originally planned, but that's not bad.

My house is total chaos with boxes everywhere, but it's starting to come together. I keep reminding myself, "just keep swimming, just keep swimming!" Well, have to go pull dinner out of the microwave and pack some more boxes. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

T-7 and counting

OMG, I'm a blogger! It almost sounds illegal, only it's not done naked (I guess it could be, but I assure you I'M NOT!)

At any rate, the plan is to leave on Sunday, March 8th, for ALASKA!! I've been busy packing and Dustin comes home on Tuesday. We've found a house and it sounds like Dust has a job. Lots to do in the next week, but with the ever-growing pile of lists I'm working on, it shouldn't be a problem.

Well, I can't wait to start posting some pictures of the drive and our new home. Hope you all check in every now and then so we can keep you posted on our big adventure.