Sunday, August 31, 2008

While The Cat's Away...

I think that Kaia has figured out that Mommy tolerates a LOT more than Daddy does when it comes to play time and messes. I don't like the messes, but some things are just messes and not worth getting all bent up about... THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM!

While posting the last blog, Kaia found her way here. Literally, only 10 feet away from me, but behind my back. I would have found her eventually... like when I turned around... but what gave her away was the smell of the Listerine she had sprayed from her lofty perch all over my entire kitchen! What's ironic is that it was placed there to be out of her reach.
Dang if that girl isn't sneaky! I figure if I can hear her, she's safe... well, not any more!

Just in case you are wondering, our building permit was approved and we will be starting the addition to remove those stairs before winter. Also, the Listerine was in the spray bottle because it is a good mosquito repellent. Mix it 1 part Listerine to about 10 parts water in a spray bottle and it works like a charm. Much better than OFF, but still not fun to have all over the kitchen.

Summer in a Blink

Wow! It seems like spring came in like a lion and went out with autumn on it's tail. It's already fall and I really don't think there was much summer to speak of. I don't think we saw temperatures over 70 but maybe once and now the leaves are changing colors and floating to the ground. It will be snowing again in no time and I'm not sure I'm ready for it.

I know I have been totally inconsistent with my blogging, but hey, things are a bit hectic on my own here and I do what I can. Here are a few of the adventures we have enjoyed this summer.

From a little before my last post to date, we have enjoyed the following:

A really big bug, that I still haven't had a chance to look up and identify. But was not willing to pick up bare handed for obvious reasons. This is a gloved hand and the bug is held by a "stinger" that is longer than my index finger... You can see it sticking out under my thumb in the bottom right corner.
A trip to the U-pick farm... which was well picked before we got there, but we did get some peas. This was a family event that Ben enjoyed with us before heading up to the slope and yes, we know, that is a really big wagon for just a couple of peas (we had bigger hopes of more veggies)

A trip to the Alaska State Fair... which I braved on my own... with both girls on a rainy day. :) Yup, I've had better ideas, but this worked out ok and Kaia had a blast. Here is a photo of a weird guy with a cabbage fetish. He is palming a normal cabbage, the cabbage next to him weighs over 100 lbs.
Kaia had a blast on the rides. It took everything I had to drag her away from them. Luckily she was barely tall enough to ride all the rides and most of them didn't require an adult.
And my new-found luxury just 5 miles down the road that will help us through the winter... BOUNCIN' BEARS! They should replace every Starbucks with one of these! It's a 2-12 year old air-gym paradise where they actually enforce rules for safety and sanitation... The place is litterally cleaned 3 times a day with a bleach solution. FAN-TAS-TIC!
A few other developments to attempt a new balance and sanity in the chaos that is a new-born in the fam:

I have become increasingly more active in my mom's club... I am now the new book club coordinator, which is kind of funny considering that I've never been much of a reader. But I find that it is a great way to get some adult time and get a little escape in my day that is just for me. I just read Eat, Love, Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert and am excited about launching my new dynasty as the coordinator with a party at my place on the 16th of this month. I've never even belonged to a book club, so we shall see how things go. It should be interesting, stay tuned for a report.

With the mom's club, I've also start up a monthly play date at my place to finish projects and visit with any mom's club members that want to show up. If there is anyone in the area that isn't with mom's club, you are still invited. It will be at my place on Friday the 17th.

I also decided to stop selling Pure Romance. It was fun while it lasted, but has turned into a money pit for me. Not to mention the fact that this market is SO OVERSATURATED with home party businesses... not necessarily the adult variety, but I haven't had much luck here and my activity status lapsed months ago. The funny thing is that now I have about $5000 in inventory of which I could NEVER take full advantage. SO, I am going to sell everything off at my cost... 40-60% off and hope that my going out of business sale goes well. If you are interested, send me an e-mail and I will get you a list of inventory and the prices. I'm willing to send stuff out with a $5 flat rate for shipping. Just let me know by Oct. 24th.

So that's my summer in a blink. Here and gone and already fall.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Holding Down the Fort

Ok. Since Ben has returned to work, the following has taken place in my home.

Kaia dumped an entire bottle of soap down the toilet, filling it to the rim with bubbles, used an entire bottle of shampoo on the dog and slicked the bathroom floor with about an inch of water, pooped in the toilet once, followed by another equally impressive poop in her pants which was later smeared all over the kitchen counter as she attempted to give herself a bath in the sink.

There was one vomiting episode by Kaia and several from Mekayla... Mekayla's are more spit-up in mass quantity than actual vomit, but Kaia's is a direct result from drinking the bath-water which, no doubt was also used to wash the dog and which she has been counseled NOT to upon threat of immediate end to bath time and the revoking of bath-toy privileges on more than one occasion.

The dog peed a marathon pee on the top stair and carpet... which leaked down every subsequent stair, down the bottom beam and onto the refrigerator, and floor beneath the stairs, tore up the insulation seal around the front door, 2 cardboard boxes left on the front porch and a pair of work gloves all of which I have not had the privilege of telling Ben about yet.

All of this on top of the regular messes and demands of caring for a toddler and newborn on a full-time basis. You would think that I was a negligent mom, but they are both fed, not clothed, but warm and protected from the elements, and they are for the most part very happy. I count this as a HUGE success and the fact that I can take time to write this now only means that I am hanging on to a bit more than a thread of sanity, Mekayla is asleep and Kaia is quietly up to something messy in the kitchen... ut oh, I better go see what she is up to.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Fitness Adventure: Another Chapter

So, this last pregnancy did not treat me nearly as well as the first and I gained a whopping 76.5 lbs. Yes, it is terribly sad, but terribly true as well. The only reason I admit this embarrassing fact is that I have begun a new chapter in my fitness adventure. After my smashing success of losing the 104 lbs in 2006, I gained all but 3 lbs of it back by mid 2008.

I attribute most of this to the fact that I lost that weight by drastically cutting calories and eating imbalanced meal plans that left me feeling deprived and hanging on to 1 and 2lb weight loss by my fingernails. The sad truth is that I never developed a really healthy lifestyle. Yes, I was more active in my youth, but I was never really healthy. Now that I've had a few kids and a few years on me, my metabolism just aint what it used to be.

SO, all that prefacing and now the point. I have joined and am trying to learn the healthy living habits that I have neglected for far too long. It is a great program that appeals to my obsessive side and requires that I enter all of my foods and exercise in an on-line system. It's been slow getting started because I am learning which foods are really nutrient-rich and the portions in which to keep my carbos, fats and proteins in balance.

Overall, I am pleased with it and am actually quite surprised at how easy it is to live a normal life and still lose weight in a healthy way. The thing is that I will keep losing weight until I reach my healthy equilibrium and it will be a life-long change... not to rebound in just 2 years.

I've had some great success so far and am ready to admit my past failures in the hopes that it will help someone else with the same battles to fight. I have officially lost 35.5 lbs since Mekayla's arrival, and I'm feeling optimistic that this trend will continue... I'm sure not as quickly due to the extreme water weight that just flushed itself out, but I like this direction and expect it to continue.

As far as the program goes, it is doable. I stayed under calories today BY ONE! How does that happen? What are the chances that I would consume exactly 1799 calories? I'm just glad I'm under, I will take that 1 calorie margin and be proud as hell about it.

I also got some smilies for eating my fiber, vitamins and minerals, but nowhere near the perfect 12 that my obsessive personality wants to see. The sad part is that I don't really care too much right now. In fact, I almost have a feeling of spite about not getting them all. Take that healthy eating plan! I'm going to be imperfect and enjoy it! I don't know what that is going to accomplish. But that is the way that I feel. A far cry from the guilt and self-loathing that came with botching the other diets I've been on.

I don't know if this crazy attitude is anxiety about hubby going back up to work, frustration that I'm restricted by my parental responsibilities, or just plain exhaustion. Maybe a little of each. Either way, it's something that has to be addressed in a different way or things are going to peter out here really quick... or head to utter chaos.

I got 20 minutes of chores in and said "Screw it! Let there be MESS!" I really don't give a crap today. My best mess solution is to just get out of the house. Luckily we blew a transformer in our kitchen light and decided to make a family day of shopping 3 different stores to buy a new fixture. All of this with 2 kids is a workout in and of itself, but not really anything I can count and be proud of. I find myself making the all-too-convenient excuses.

Having a kid stuck to my boobie, shouldn't excuse as much as I let it. I swear that kid is going to suck my will to live right out my left nipple. I seriously don't know how I did this for 7 months with Kaia. But it is still no excuse to let everything go as I have done. It is time to start instituting some structure in our daily existence. It's time I start being more intentional about what happens when, because I am not getting anything done and Ben is going to be gone for the next 2 weeks... this is going to be tough. If I survive, it will be by the skin of my teeth.

As challenging as it is to find the balance in my new parameters of motherhood, there have been some big successes. Mekayla did fall asleep for about 2 hours allowing us to stroll her down to the lake for a bit. She slept while the rest of us played some fetch with the dog... at least HE got a good workout in... and it was nice to do something other than diapers and feeding.

And, if nothing else, the lake trip was good for comic relief. After about 10 minutes of warning Kaia not to go too close to the edge of the dock, Ben miss-stepped and went in the drink. I wasn't quite sure if I should laugh, or offer to help in some way. The look on his face as he realized there was nothing he could do to stop it was classic. Then he disappeared in frantic splashing before popping back up on the dock in total confusion.

After witnessing the whole event, and finding him dripping into a pool of muddy water, Kaia just had to ask the obvious "Daddy go whimming?" I'm sure she was totally confused as to why he would take a swim after warning her relentlessly about how dangerous the water was. I'm still not sure how it happened, but he was a good sport about it, and thank heaven's too because I don't know if I could have held in the laughter that was just screaming to come out.

Overall, it wasn't a bad day, but I think I am due for a little ME time... thus the blogging. Although, had I been more motivated, this time would have been spent on the treadmill. Take that you wretched fitness machine!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Off-Road Fiasco

So I promised a post about the Off-Road Adventure that took Hubby and Kaia into the wee hours of the morning... 4am to be exact. Here are a few pix to help tell the story.

Wednesday night Ben got a call from his buddy to go help recover a Ranger from out at the glacier (20 mile off-road trip). Apparently, the guy tried crossing the river in a bad place and his rig floated downstream and flipped.
The guy offered $1600 to fetch it, so off they go into the night only to return at 4am with mud-covered rigs and NO Ranger. Not to mention the fact that my kid comes back wearing nothing but a diaper to her knees (clearly not changed all day), a peanut butter/sand concoction all over her face and a crazy hairdo like she's coming off a 2-day crack binge! And sure, that is the perfect example of a snuggle buddy honey, throw her right in between the sheets just like she is!

Well, we recovered from Wednesday and had planned to make a family camping trip out of it this weekend. Unfortunately, the kids got sick... throw-up sick... and I thought it irresponsible to take them out in the rain for hours on end while the boys try again to recover this rig. Though I was really looking for a way to feel okay about being irresponsible, I couldn't do it. So Ben went without us, and had a great time wheelin' around in the mud.
Anyway, long story getting longer, Ben went back out there and swamped our jeep... AGAIN! I have decided that it is a "Family Recreation" activity and I need to be there to keep Hubby from turning wheels-up in the river too. Here's the picture that had me questioning my hubby's judgment. What gets me is the expression on our dog's face with water only inches from the bottom of the window... in a lifted jeep on 35" tires! That water must have been a good 4 feet deep! UGH!
The good news is that they were able to recover the Ranger, the damage is minimal and Ben already has practice pulling out the upholstery in that rig as this is the second time he has swamped it. Even better news is that now we have some extra cash and all the parts to put a snorkel on the jeep so we don't have to run the risk of permanent engine damage. So far, we have been really lucky, but our luck will run out sometime and I just want to be prepared as possible.

All I gotta say is that I would have been furious if Ben had pulled that crap with me and my babies in the rig. I'm still a little ticked that he swamped it the first time with me and Kaia in the rig nearly 2 years ago... and I'm not even a grudge holder. I guess things could have been a lot worse and I should be grateful.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Really Tough Place

So here is a dilemma that has been on my mind for a few days and I thought I would put it out there in the blog sphere for some feedback. As many of you are like-minded mommies, this is a really tough spot to be in, and I would like your advice.

Since I was a little girl, I believed in the concept of "starting over." We moved around a lot and as part of my mom's attempt to help us cope, she taught me that it was an opportunity to learn from my mistakes and go to a new place where nobody would know about them. It was a beautiful concept in line with my Christian upbringing, and I really liked the idea of a "clean slate."

As I got older and made bigger and bigger mistakes, I learned that the "clean slate" concept is a really tough place to get to when everyone is throwing it back in your face. I guess that is part of the reason I get so excited about the big scary adventures like the one that brought me to the last frontier. In my experience, I learned to forgive and forget. Move on from the mistakes made and learned from and accept everyone despite their past.

For a long time, I didn't know or associate with anyone that challenged that way of being in the world. But that all ended recently when an ex-con requested membership in our off-road club. It was an issue brought up in a club meeting and was handled pretty delicately. This man made some really bad decisions for about 5 years and created a really big mess for himself. Fortunately, there is no criminal history past 1999, but his past is something that concerns me when deciding weather or not to accept him into our group.

I guess I don't have enough information and am in a tough place of knowing that it really isn't my business to know the details... I probably don't want to know the details anyway, but for the safety of my children, I need to know what this guy did to get a "sexual abuse of a minor second degree" felony under his belt. It sounds awful, but it could be that he was 18 with a 15 year old girlfriend. Unfortunately, I'm thinking he was in his 30's when he was charged and found guilty so that "best case scenario" is a bit far fetched.

With cases like this, I've heard that criminals of this nature cannot be rehabilitated. No amount of time in prison will "cure" them of their impulses, and despite how much he may want to, he can't learn from his mistake and never repeat it again.

If that is really the case I won't put my children at risk for that. What is worse is that despite how much I would want to forgive him and let him have his "clean slate" with me, a complete stranger to him, I don't want to be on guard every time he is around. I don't want to wonder what kind of horrible things he has done and completely forget about the fact that he has paid his debt to society and is trying to start over just as I have done many times.

Had it been anything else, Robbery, Grand Theft Auto, even Domestic Violence or a DUI resulting in a death would be something I could get over. But this is not something that has been proven to be a one-time gig with any offender, and I do perceive a real threat to the safety of my baby girls, even though I don't know the details.

There may come a time when the club will make a motion to vote this guy into our group, and I am at a loss as to how best to handle it. My comment to the club was that "so long as my children aren't at risk, I think we should give this guy a chance." The problem is that knowing now that my children may very well be at risk, I don't want to give this guy a chance to hurt them. That instinct is much stronger than my intention to give him a chance for a clean slate.

I guess the question is What would you do?

Landscaping: Alaska Style

They say everything is bigger and badder in AK, and I think that they might be right. At least I'm sure the mosquitoes are bigger and badder. For the first time in months, I have been feeling up to getting my hands dirty. I spent a good 4 hrs digging in the dirt, moving around rocks and stumps and salvaging the flowers in the plow zone.

Ben rented a dozer to level out our land for our addition and the landscaping plan for our new back yard... which is to be fenced for child and canine containment ASAP! Right now, the property is a giant gravel site. But at least it is flat and we have eliminated the low spots that proved to be mud bogs during this year's break up (Alaskan for spring). There are some things that just need to be done, and I consider this one of them. It did cost us a pretty penny to get everything rented, delivered and sorted out... and the gravel wasn't cheap either.

The concept is good, but the process is MESSY. I think it will be a better use of our acre and will allow us to increase the property value, or at least resale-ability to have it be more kid-friendly. Most of the materials are here already, and I think we can make it really nice for about $4000 including fencing, grass and this weeks extensive excavating. Although it has been a TON of work, I think it has been pretty fun for all of us. I really enjoyed getting outside even though I'm a little sore from attacking it a bit harder than I should have this close to the c-section.

Gotta love the home improvement projects. Especially the long-term continuous projects... much like the kitchen, which, buy the way, got the trim put on last weekend. YAY! Things are finally coming together... Now for the big addition!
(Ben and Kaia pushin' da Dirt)

(Kaia, takin' a break, and yes, those are real Carhart coveralls, work gloves and her favorite rain boots that she never takes off. It's also a real wheelbarrow and roll of TP... strange combo, I know, but they all serve very important roles in a project like this.)

(Kaia and Nui ready to go play hard after a hard day's work... don't worry yall, I stayed home with the baby, and good thing 'cause they didn't get back till 4am! But that is a story for another post because that saga will continue this weekend.)