Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oh the People We Will Meet

We were shopping at Fred Meyer yesterday when something a wee bit exciting happened. We were in line to check out when a cashier approached us and asked us if we would rather move to the Express Lane. Of course we would, so she walked us to the correct lane and told us there was a film crew from Ice Road Truckers in the store filming a segment. She said we were welcome to take pictures if we desired. After we checked out, I asked the kids if they wanted to try and get a picture of Lisa. Sure! We followed a ways behind her for a couple of minutes trying to get a good shot. Of course, we couldn't. Once we saw her and her crew stop filming and chat for a few moments, we knew that was our golden opportunity. We walked a bit faster to try and get a couple of aisles ahead of the crew so we could approach her from the front and snap a picture. Imagine my surprise when as soon as we popped out of the aisle, she said to me, "Where did you get your jacket. I need it." HA! I went ahead and told her where I bought it and how to get there. Then, I asked if we could take a picture. I think she was a little bit embarrassed, but was very nice about it. Exciting things happening in Fairbanks these days. :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tales of the Fridge and the Frozen Pipes

When we moved into this rental house, it didn't take long for us to discover that the previous tenant didn't do anything to maintain the house or its contents in any way. It was dirty. Very dirty. Many things were broken. Many. It was -40 degrees the day we moved in and there were several windows in the house that weren't even closed all the way. Of course, there were several inches of ice on the inside of the windows, so we couldn't shut them. Thankfully, it warmed up enough to melt the ice and Mike was able to take care of the problem. Not so surprisingly, we're able to maintain a constant temperature in the house now!!! Whodathunkit? Anyway, one of the things we noticed was broken was the fridge. It's a smallish fridge to begin with, certainly not made for a family of 7. However, the fact that every single one of the shelves on the door are broken was enough to send me over the edge. That means that I have to cram everything onto just the interior shelves, piling things on top of each other, etc. I can only fit one gallon of milk in there at a time. Did I mention we're a family of 7? The other night while I was talking to my Dad on the phone, I opened the fridge to get something and eight items fell out onto the floor. That was not a good night. Even though we've been in this house for nearly a month, we still haven't bought a new refrigerator. We've looked. And looked. And looked some more. Finally, today, it was time to buy. We looked at Lowes last night, came up with a couple of options, but decided to check Sears just in case they had a better deal. Which, they did...however, I would have had to wait until mid-February to get it. That just wouldn't work. Back to Lowes we went. Only to discover that even though they had told us last night that they had the one we were looking at in stock was a lie. A big, fat lie. So, sadly, we paid for a new refrigerator, but I won't have it until February 4th. Unless it comes in sooner. Please pray that it does. I am not one who waits for this kind of thing very well. You are probably wondering why WE bought a new one and not our landlord? Cause I'm taking this baby with me when we leave this house! I'm tired of dealing with rinky dink refrigerators. While this isn't exactly the style we wanted, it will work perfectly for now. We do have to move a cabinet up a few inches, but that's not a big deal. This is very similar to what we ended up with. Freezer on the bottom, it had to be. We're tall. I'm tired of bending down to look at the top shelf in the fridge. Hopefully this will alleviate the problem. I can't wait to get it. This is the first appliance we've ever bought besides a washer and dryer. I feel like such a grown-up!!! :-)
Frozen pipes? Did you know it's possible for them to freeze two days in a row? I'm praying they're not frozen a third. Yesterday, we had a thawing company come out and...well, thaw them. HA! Today, I decided to take matters into my own hands and hit them with the hottest setting on my blow dryer. Thankfully, it worked. It took about 10 minutes, but it did work. I guess frozen pipes are common in -40 degree temps in a house built in 1950, but I digress. Please don't let me awake to frozen pipes tomorrow! I do plan to run a small space heater under the sink tonight. Maybe that will work. I'm pretty sure it will impact my sleep though...I'll be wondering all night if it's going to catch fire! Is it May yet?????

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Long Weekend

This is the first long weekend our family has had in quite some time. Since Mike spent the last 2 years as a Drill Sgt., he worked 7 days most weeks, including federal holidays. Yuck. We enjoyed a nice, mostly relaxing weekend at home. We were planning to go tubing at the local sledding hill on Sunday afternoon, but it was closed due to the fact that the temps were colder than negative 20! Bummer! Today was a bit colder than that, but the kids still went out to play. Only in Alaska, that's for sure! :-)
Saturday, Mikayla and I went to a baby shower. That meant I had to knit a baby gift. 'Cause, you know, we couldn't just drive to the store and buy one!!!! Since I was short on time, I knit another Easy Baby Cardigan. I've knit that little sweater so many times! I'll share a picture once I upload photos. I'm currently working on a little sweater vest from Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. If you don't have that book, you really do need to go buy it right now. It has so many fun to knit patterns in it!
This week will be a busy week. Tomorrow, we're planning to go skating. Have I mentioned how much my kids love skating? :p I'm also busy planning school stuff. We NEED to get back into a regular routine, which means I need to order new books! I should be able to order this week. My kids were enjoying their time off...until I told them this might just have to be our summer vacation. HA!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snack Time

I don't know about your kids, but my kids live for snack time. We have a rule in our house. You may not have a snack until 3pm. The kids watch the clock. Their bodies are in tune with this rule. Sometimes when we're out and about, they'll start complaining of hunger. I'll look at the clock, and sho'nuff, it's 3:00. I made something this week that they absolutely love. So much so that a certainly teenage boy who lives with me brought two in his for lunch, one for a snack at school. I thought maybe I would share the recipe, since I don't have a ton of exciting stuff to blog about this week.

Chewy Granola Bars

4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the two cups of chocolate chips.
Lightly press mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely before removing from pan.

After the bars were cooled, I wrapped them individually in saran wrap. This made for easy transport in lunches, or in my purse if we were running errands. As for add-ins, I think you can use any combination of fruits/nuts/chocolate you choose. I bought some walnuts and dried blueberries today. I plan to try that sometime this next week. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

It's all coming back to me now....

Seems as though I had forgotten some things about Alaska. I shall make a list...

1. Bread is expensive up here. That's not the worst of it though. It's stale the day you buy it! It's terrible! I bought a loaf of 100% Whole Wheat three days ago. I used the last slice for a pb&j sandwich for Liberty tonight. She said, "Mommy, is this bread bad?" Nice.

2. Chips and soda are very spendy. Nearly double the price. I know, I know...they're bad for you AND they're expensive. Why not just quit buying them? Because my kids think they need to have chips with their sandwich every day! Soda, we can do without. Apparently chips are necessary.

3. It's cold. To be quite honest, it's not that bad right now. However, I'm always chilly. I think it's because this is the first time we have had to pay our own utilities in y.e.a.r.s. We tend to be rather cheap. We've been keeping the heat on 68. Have I mentioned that the house we're renting was built in 1950? I'm pretty sure we're working with the original windows as well. We have put plastic on many of them, and mini-blinds on some. Because, you know, the people who rented this house before us didn't think mini-blinds were necessary! It took three 39" mini-blinds to cover our one window in the living room. We live in town. Without mini-blinds, everyone who drives by could look right in! Terrible! Someone turned the heat up to 69 degrees tonight. Guess what? I'm not cold! Who knew there was such a difference between 68 and 69?

4. It's dark in the winter, and I do mean dark. The darkness never bothered me the last time we lived here. I do realize that I was 10 years younger then, that probably makes a huge lotta difference. I'm just finally now feeling like I'm functioning with more than half a brain. The first two weeks we were here, I'm pretty sure I was a walking zombie. We are gaining daylight though. About 4 minutes per day, which adds up by the end of the week! Today, I was resting on the couch for a bit at 4:00 and said, "Hey kids! It's not dark yet!"

5. FRG units are much more active up here than they are in the places we've been in the lower 48. Interesting. I'm not sure if it's because AK is so remote, relatively speaking, or what. The jury is still out as to whether or not an active FRG is a good thing.

6. The roads are slick. All the time. I don't remember slip sliding around nearly as much the last time as we do this time. Not so much in the Suburban, it's 4x4. However, Mike's car (which we had the last time we were here as well) slides all over the place! Crazy stuff! Devin is wanting to drive so badly. He can legally get his license any time now. This mama is scared to death to let him drive!

7. You can see Denali from Fairbanks! How could I forget that? A friend showed me a picture on her iPhone today. She saw it as she was driving in to town. Absolutely beautiful!

8. Walmart is apparently THE place to be at 10pm on a Friday night. Now, in my defense, there was not a Walmart here the last time we lived here. But, who knew Walmart would be so busy on a Friday night? Geez Louise!

We really do love it here. Liberty told me the other day that Alaska is the most beautiful place in the entire world. Warmed my heart, I tell ya. I chose not to think about the fact that she hasn't really seen much of the world yet. ;-) Lord willing, we will never leave this place again. Six years at one duty station is a possibility, right?

Friday, January 7, 2011

And There Was Cake

Yesterday, we celebrated Mikayla's 12th birthday (how on earth can she be 12?). She's having a party next month (after we get more settled) with her friends. She wants a fancy, 2 or 3 layer wedding type cake complete with fondant and who knows what else. So, for her family party, I insisted on something a bit more simplistic. This is what we ended up with...Can you say chocolate overload??? It was yummy though, I will say that much. A two layer marble cake with two cans of chocolate frosting, covered with Kit Kats and M&Ms! Yummmm-0! I know, I know...homemade frosting would have been so much better. The cake she makes for her party with her friends will have homemade frosting, I promise. ;-)
What is a birthday without the gifts???I just realized she didn't get dressed yesterday. Well, half of her was dressed...the other half wore pajama pants all day. I guess I should have had her put a pair of jeans on for pictures? Oh well...the benefits of homeschooling I guess...staying in your jammies all day!!!!!!!
I can't resist...I have to share some of the silliness that was going on during Mikayla's gift opening session.
There was some sweetness too...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Boxes, boxes and more boxes

We accepted delivery of our household goods on Thursday of last week. It was crazy. I'm quite certain it would take several posts for me to tell you everything that happened that day, but I'll spare you the details. However, I will tell you that they dropped my beautiful, RED, front loading washer down the STAIRS!!!!! I had to close my eyes. I couldn't look. Thankfully, it still works, although the back is dented. We've discovered a lot of broken items/keepsakes as we've emptied boxes. Katie was excited this evening because we found the box that housed her collection of snow globes. Imagine her disappointment when she discovered that 4 had been broken. :-( I don't think the movers in KY packed our stuff with enough padding to sustain the -40 degree temperatures we had when our stuff got here.
One more thing I must tell you about delivery day. We had a very strange moving guy. He was addicted to Crest Mouthwash. He carried it all over the house with him. He swished at least every 10 minutes. At one point, he came out of one of the bedrooms swishing, and panicked because someone was in the bathroom and he couldn't spit! How weird is that?
We've been in the midst of a heat wave and it has been FABULOUS! It's been in the 20s, maybe even 30s the last several days! It seems to have run its course, as I think it's hovering right around zero now, maybe even a couple of degrees below, but we've been loving it. I ran to Barnes and Noble the other day to get help with my Nook, and I didn't even wear a jacket! Imagine that! Alaska, in the middle of winter, with NO JACKET!!!!! I have told the kids several times though, not to get used it it. Fifty below is coming, I'm certain of it.
The two big kids started school this last week. It'll be an adjustment for them, that's for sure. Their schedule is very strange. Some days they have all 6 classes, some they have 4, weird. There have been some bus stop issues, but as of Monday, it'll be all worked out. For now, I have to drive them in the morning, all though they can ride the bus home. I am ready to get back into a regular routine with the other kids. I need to finish unpacking their school books, as well as order some new material for them to work on.
I'm still trying to get back into the habit of blogging, but I do admit it hasn't been an easy habit to get in to. I'm a list maker. I have lists everywhere. I need to write REMEMBER TO BLOG on my list, as I'm kind of hoping to use this as a type of "scrapbook" of our time in Alaska, however long that may be.