Friday, January 23, 2009

The Point

As in, the point of my blog.
I just want to say that I love getting feedback from people. I really do. I am always interested to see what people think of my writing, my thinking, and hear the opinions of others. I'm not easily bothered by differences in opinion (unless they occur with my husband, in which case, I am automatically right), so I usually welcome them. And when I think someone has been a bit obnoxious stating their opinion, I usually just ignore it.
In this case, I plan to make an exception, but for good reason.

I received a comment on the blog yesterday that got me thinking a little bit...
Here's the comment from an ANONYMOUS poster:
"Hmmm...came across this blog and read most the posts (I guess I must love torture). This post is actually the only one that doesn't consist primarily of complaining and whining. Kudos for that, I suppose.On another note, you may want to talk about more than just you and your fam....unless it's just a blog to stay "distantly connected" to your far-away friends and family."

Hey, "Anonymous"... thanks for reading. Torturous or not, you actually managed to waste some of your day reading my blog. So I can't complain about that. It means I caught your attention out there in the great big Internet universe, right? Kudos for THAT, I suppose.
Sorry to hear you find my writing torturous. I feel the same way about J.R. Tolkien, personally... but lots of other people (including my 12th grade English teacher and a really dorky guy I dated in high school) really like his writing.
I finally found an awesome way to stop torturing myself. Stop trying to read The Hobbit, or any of his other books for that matter.
I really won't be offended if you stop torturing yourself, but I thought I WOULD let you (and all my readers know) the purpose of my blog before you go.

I said I had a good reason for commenting on this. And it really wasn't to single out an opinion, but to expand on that opinion.
I just want to put it out there that this blog IS about me and my family. That's the "point" of "following this southern family's journey into Alaska". And while it's sole purpose isn't to stay connected with family and friends back home, that is a really nifty benefit of the blog.

Seriously folks. As much as I really do love talking to people back home, between the time change, an active toddler, LIFE, and plenty of other factors, I just don't have time or desire in my life to call everyone once a week and chat.
The blog keeps those people who are semi-interested in our lives somewhat current on what's going on for us, without having to commit to a couple hours on the phone, listening to me babble. The rest of the family and friends who REALLY want more detail and don't mind listening to me chatter all afternoon, call or email for more details.
In all honesty, this blog has probably saved a handful of relationships that would have otherwise fizzled out once we moved 5000 miles away from everyone, as well as forged some new cyber-friendships with people I would have otherwise never "met". Hooray for Technology!
(And for those who are bored with my prattling on about life, Hooray for the "close window" button, right?)

The blog occasionally serves as a glimpse into Alaskan living, but that's going to be through the eyes of a true "cheechako"... or new resident. I will not be claiming to be an Alaskan Expert, by any means. My biggest goal in sharing "Alaskana" on my blog is to make friends and family realize that we are not daily living the lives of the guys on Deadliest Catch (although I still say that if I ever get a chance to go to Dutch Harbor, I am TOTALLY stalking that bar until I meet Phil's very cute sons), or being eaten by bears, or all those other things Discovery Channel fills your mind with about Alaska.
The glimpses of Alaska are going to come from my experiences here, which I should mention, are reported by a "city girl" who has spent most of life in a relatively temperate climate (i.e. South Of The Mason-Dixon Line).
*And when I say "city girl", I mean that until a few years ago, I did not know that a "Wild Turkey" was an actual animal, not just a smooth Kentucky bourbon.*
I have spent nearly all of my life in decently sized cities and suburbs. Most of my formative years were in the Suburbs of Washington, DC. Up until moving to Alaska, we probably had 2500 people in my neighborhood. Now, that's what I have in my TOWN.
And I totally wish I was able to report on a lot of really cool things, like snowmobiling, dog sledding, hiking glaciers, and various other things, but pregnancy kind of has a lot of those activities on hold this year. Maybe next year. Or the next. All kinds of cool things are on our "Things To Do While Living in Alaska" list, but Rome wasn't built in a day... and all the cool things Alaska has to offer won't be done in our first year here, especially since I'm "in a family sort of way".
Don't worry, readers. I plan on telling my husband to find better things to do next year than getting me knocked up. (But honestly, when it's 40 below outside, the car won't start, and the cable is out, what else are ya gonna do?)

Incidentally, the blog also serves as a great place for me to Mind Vomit, which my Type-A Personality needs to do frequently. I'm sort of a Mind-Vomit junkie. (Mind Vomit Bulimic, perhaps?) I find that it helps me figure out who I am, who I want to be, and how I plan to get there. So you'll probably find a lot of that on this blog as well.

Oh. And as far as complaining and whining goes... 90% of what I "complain" about is actually my general use of sarcasm. If I REALLY mean to complain about something, you'll know I'm really complaining. There won't be any doubt. If you don't believe me, ask my husband. True complaining is generally done matter of fact, involves expletives, and is done very loudly in our house... without the sarcasm or tempered with humor. So if it sounds like "complaining" but has a funny undertone, yeah... it's just my lame attempt at humor.
I know. My older kids don't think I'm funny either.
But I can't help it. I was raised by two people whose sense of humor is a little like white wine. Dry.
My dad has been (good naturedly) compared to Captain Spock on more than one occasion. And my mom... well, where do you think I got my skills of sarcasm as humor? My parents were both big Monty Python fans, if that gives a clue to their sense of humor.
My dad still grins (he never giggles, and I think I've heard him laugh ONCE in my life) at "I'm going to fart in your general direction!"
(*Mom, Dad- I hope you know I say that with love and affection. Though I still don't get most of your jokes. *grin*)


For my readers (friends and family) who were already interested in our lives... I'm gonna keep right on mind-vomiting and updating about the family.
And those of you really nifty people who have developed an interest in my little family, I hope you'll keep reading! I'm so glad you found our little blog and I truly am flattered by those of you who like my writing enough to keep reading.
And for those of you who have told me I should get published and get paid to write, you totally make my day. I wouldn't argue one bit if you wanted to send me $19.95 for a book full of my useless babbling! Maybe one day. When I have something"interesting" to say...
And everyone... keep commenting! I love hearing how you found our little blog. I love hearing the opinions on things we think, do, and how we live.
People who agree make me feel less "weird" People who disagree inspire me to rethink my standing on some things... sometimes changing my opinions, and sometimes strengthening them. At a minimum, it opens dialogue and inspires thought, which is one of the purposes of life, after all.
Iron Sharpens Iron, ya know...

On that note... thank you "Anonymous" for opening dialogue, and making me think out my goals for my blog. Yup... it's mostly to stay connected, have a place to mind-vomit, and it's a great bonus that I attract people who find us somewhat interesting enough to read about.

Next week: Our travels to Fairbanks. Good grief, I hope the wind lets up before we have to head up there!

The weather report today:
Windy and cold. Oh. Same as yesterday?
I wish I could report the temps, but it seems the wind managed to rip our thermometer from the porch and blow it away. Either that, or a moose really wanted to know what the temperature was in his or her little den.
Beans and I took J to work this morning. The temps didn't feel so bad, but the wind is something else! I had to walk directly into the wind to get back in the house, and it literally does "take your breath away"! Poor Beans wasn't thrilled about that, and I buried her face into my jacket to keep the wind from knocking the "wind" out of her!
Back in the South, we were trained to get in the cellar or basement when it started sounding like a freight train outside. I've had to consciously remind myself that I am not likely to see a funnel cloud here, even if it sounds like one is barrelling down on the house.

So.. off to do more crochet work, then a nice hot shower, a cup of tea, and a good book before heading to bed.

Until Next Time...
Happy Moose Trails!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Out And About

Well hello again!

Some days, I feel like a horrible blogger. My posts have been few and far between lately. I think I was anticipating more time on my hands, but our first winter is proving to be very busy for us... and I don't even think we have had a good chance to really do all the stuff we would like to do, because this pregnant belly of mine is hindering a lot of outdoor activities.
Let's face it, it's hard enough to run away from bears when you aren't pregnant.

OK, OK, I know... bears are hibernating this time of year. All the more reason to not accidentally find one that happens to be awake right now, if you ask me.
But enough on my fear of bears.

Well, as you can guess from our post title, we have been "out and about"!
OK. I am probably about to take a little flack from friends and family, and maybe even a few concerned readers, but...
Bed Rest just isn't going to happen.
I'm adding a disclaimer here... my midwife and I had a good talk last visit, and somewhere in my exhaustion from our return trip from North Dakota, I think I finally made her understand that being trapped in the house with a 15 month old was probably more of a risk than anything else I could be doing. As I posted last time, she took me off the progesterone, and I think she's starting to surrender to the fact that I am going to be one of those "non-compliant" patients when it comes to bed rest.
In my defense, it's not my fault. Anyone who disagrees is welcome to come explain to Beans why she has to be content playing indoors for the next three months while mommy sits on the couch. And while you're here, if you can train her to make her own meals, change her own diapers, do laundry, clean the house, and maybe even bring me a snack, I'd be more than happy to comply with bed rest.
Meanwhile, I must preserve my sanity, and that involves leaving the house.

So... after a week-long bout with a double ear-infection and a sinus infection (Beans), followed by a few days of being out of commission myself with "the crud", we decided it was time to go make friends. Or at least get out of the house. This also involved taking advantage of how travelling messed up Beans' routine, and I, out of selfishness and pure desperation to meet other people, decided to ditch her morning nap. A couple days of a really cranky toddler, and soon, we were adjusted and ready to go.

We have been to playgroups that led to other playgroups, Library Time, MOPS, and various other things going on in the community. From this, I have met moms with kids the same age as mine, a few with some similar interests, and most of all, have had contact with humans who are 1) not related to me, 2) don't smear peanut butter on my favorite shirt, and 3) don't throw blocks at me when I say it's time for a nap.
In other words, I have been having LOTS of fun!

Seriously. In all honesty, Library Time was a little more "work" than I was hoping for. Seems that Beans doesn't quite understand the concept of sitting in a circle and reading stories. Especially when the library has one of those really cool train set tables she could be playing with instead. But I think we can overcome that with a little practice. Maybe. Beans IS pretty determined, especially when it comes to trains.
MOPS was also not a great success for us. Um... Beans has never spent more than a couple hours in her entire life away from "My Momma!" (me), and while I was able to leave her in the nursery successfully, it didn't take long before she noticed my absence. I was called out of the MOPS group to retrieve Little Beans, who was sobbing "MY MOMMA!" in the arms of a frazzled looking teenager.
I have been told it will get better. J, on the other hand, remains unconvinced of this, and has made me promise to never leave her in a nursery again, until she is at least 15 years old.

OK. Before I get too much flack from our readers on that as well... I should (or maybe I shouldn't?) mention a couple of our own Moose Nugget Family Rules.

For reasons that are way too yucky to get into on this blog, we have a general rule that we don't leave kids with sitters until they are old enough to tell us what happened while we were gone.
We have met several other adults and family members who seem offended by this Family Rule, and many who think that we are "ruining" our kids, not socializing them or making them learn to be away from us, wondering "how on earth" we'll ever do anything as a "couple", and even people who are offended that we don't need or want their baby-sitting services.
To those, I have to say, "Get Over It".
J and I are not offended or inconvenienced by our daughter's presence. And having followed another Family Rule of "get your dating done before you get married or have kids" might help some people to understand that I don't "date" my husband. We're married. Oh, don't worry. We still have special time, "grown-up time", and do lots of fun things together. We just do fun stuff as a family, and save the grown-up stuff for when babies are in bed.
And as a side note, to "not making our kids learn to be away from us", well... I don't know too many kids who needed mommy or daddy to come to college with them. I'm sure the day will come soon enough (or even too soon) that Beans and her siblings are more than happy to leave us old parents behind.

Another Family Rule contributing to the ban on nurseries is this:
J's primary job is being a fire-fighter, and his role in our home is to bring home the bacon.
MY primary job is "mom and wife". He brings home the bacon, I cook it. We are both committed to the fact that my primary job as "mom" is to mother our children. As much as I DO enjoy getting out and doing a few things by myself from time to time, we both agree that if someone else is doing my job (a.k.a. the nursery), then there better be a REALLY good reason I have abandoned my primary duties.
I know, I know. Extreme. I probably made half the women reading this gasp in horror. I never said YOU have to do it, but it works for our family.
For those concerned, I DO get out and do things on my own. My husband, while definitely NOT a very good stay-at-home-mom, IS a great dad. And by that, I mean, he changes diapers, plays with the kids, and manages to not set the house on fire while I'm gone. And even if he did, well, he's a firefighter, so I trust him. (That trust does NOT extend to laundry, or cooking anything more complicated than tacos, however. Just taking care of the kids.)

ANYHOO... Those rules may help explain why J was more traumatized than Beans over her ordeal in the nursery.
But don't worry MOPS gals! I'll be back! J is usually home on those days anyway, so she'll still be home with daddy while mommy gets a chance to get away and play!

Speaking of getting away... J has been doing some getting away himself.
He's been off ice fishing, and starts helping out with some hockey team this week as well.
The ice fishing has been "prosperous", and he came home with a nice dinner the other night. Two trout, one of them was 17 inches! I have discovered that my pioneering desires end at having to behead or fillet fish. J was kind enough to handle that, and I pan fried the little one and baked the big one with a garlic pepper and lemon peel seasoning. It was a good teamwork effort... J bringing home dinner, my preparing it. Even little Beans was thrilled, and munched on dinner, chanting, "Yum Yum Fishy!"
Looks like Ice Fishing should turn into a weekly habit (and hopefully bringing home some dinner each time!), as a friend and neighbor has decided he can tolerate J's company in an ice house for several hours on a regular basis.

Oh. I didn't mean for that to sound so mean. But I think most married women can agree with me on this: I like my husband's company from time to time. But too much of a good thing... well... No one should have to spend that much time with any one individual. I love him, but after a few days of his company, I'm a little desperate to get out, too. Plus, he talks more than I do, and it's really not very nice to tell your husband to "PLEASE, shut up" as often as I do. (Hey, I DO say "please"!)

In Other News:
We have an appointment (and consequential trip to Fairbanks) to see the midwife this upcoming week. Should be able to send along a little baby update for everyone next week.
For those of you asking, NO, we haven't decided on a name yet, and when we do, we probably won't share it until the baby gets here. I'm crazy superstitious like that, and besides, every time I find a name I like, I meet a bunch of kids with the same name, then have to change my mind again. Besides, no offense, but I don't care if you like or don't like the baby's name. She's the one who has to live it with it, and I have to call her by it. So if I want to name her Petunia Gertrude Picklebottom Merrill, I will.
(Just kidding. I won't really name her that, even if it is unique.)

Weather Report for Friends, Family, and Readers in the Lower 48:
It's cold. And windy. Did you expect anything different?
We had an incredible warm-up last week (over 40 degrees!). I thought I would love that, as I'm not exactly crazy about 40 Below, but all 40 Above did was turn everything to slush, then it froze over again.
I had my first slip and fall on the ice which caused J to panic, but all I really wounded was my pride. Little Nugget and Momma are just fine. Beans, luckily, was in the house (it happened when I dashed out to start the car... another reason I want auto start on my vehicle for next winter!), so she wasn't in any danger either.
Also, 40 Above didn't do much for me except make me anxious for warmer weather. Last week was nice, to be out in a light jacket, or even no jacket at all. This week, we are back to below zero temps (though not nearly as bad as previous weeks), and I was really unhappy to have to face my thermals again. Especially since my belly just keeps growing and growing.
I know I've said it before, but I REALLY resent the fact that no one makes maternity thermals. I am currently feeling a bit like a stuffed sausage.

Meanwhile, daylight is creeping back in slowly but surely. We are back to 5 1/2 hours of official light (sunrise to sunset), and it may be my imagination, but it seems like dawn and dusk hours are also lengthening. While the sun doesn't officially rise until shortly after 10 am, you can see traces of light along the mountain range starting at 8:30 am, and though the sun "sets" a little after 3:30, there is still evening light until around 4:30 or 5 pm.

Clear days are absolutely beautiful. The winter light casts a crisp pink glow on Mt Hayes and the rest of the mountain ranges, and I love to take a few sips of my coffee while gazing out the kitchen window, staring at the mountains and hoping for a glimpse of our local moose.
I have even developed a sort of "love" for the overcast days...
I know (and have recently heard) a lot of people who are "tired" of winter and ready for spring, but for me, as each day grows longer, I feel a certain sadness and longing for NEXT winter already. The only thing I'm "tired" of, is the below zero business. I could live without that.
Maybe in coming years I will feel differently. Maybe I am just "in love" with the winter because it is our first one here... and my first true winter after eight long years in Alabama. I can understand why some people don't like this weather and the "dark", but I just don't see how I'll ever tire of it.
Maybe I'm crazy. (No comment from friends or close family on that one!)

In other babbling:
I have also been keeping busy with crochet projects, sewing projects, and a few good books. I've finally started a baby blanket for Little Nugget... a challenging pattern, but coming together nicely. I am still working on a cross-stitch that I started when we moved here, but got sidetracked with other projects that were more fun to complete.
On the current Book Reading List:
- A Laura Ingalls Wilder book, letters and diaries from her trips in adulthood, to visit her daughter in California, as well travels from De Smet (Dakota Territory) to Missouri, and some travels she and her husband made later in life. (Mom, if you haven't read this one, I'll send it when I'm done! It's good and has lots of photos and stuff in it!)
- Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. It's the first in a series that has been out for a while, and a friend recommended the series. I'm finally reading it, since everyone else seems to have enjoyed it.

And a ton of pregnancy, natural childbirth, labor and delivery books recommended by the doula, the midwife, and plenty of other pregnant chicks. I have read so many of these books now that I am convinced they all serve the same purpose... to convince women that drugs in labor are terrible and going to kill you and your baby, and to make you feel like a big crybaby for thinking labor is going to hurt.
For the record... labor DOES hurt. It is not "uncomfortable" as one nurse tried to convince me when I had my first child.
And, as much as I really would like to achieve a drug-free labor this time around, I am not above making myself somewhat comfortable if I feel the need. Also, if anyone knows a labor book that doesn't involve techniques like: mooing like a cow, making primal birthing noises, or birthing in an ice bath, surrounded by a dozen chanting medicine men (or whatever some of these books recommend), THOSE are the books I'd really be interested in checking out.
I still refuse to moo like a cow.

ANYHOO... that's our update this time around. Our upcoming weekend and week involves
- Trying To Make Beans Go To Church, a.k.a.- "How dumb can mommy get?"
-Midwife visit, to convince the midwife that bed rest is seriously overrated and remind her that I am NOT going to moo like a cow through labor.
-Shopping in Fairbanks. This also involves the next size up in maternity pants, as my belly refuses to cooperate with my wardrobe any longer. Also, there are rumors that I can get pita bread in Fairbanks, which would be so nice, as the recipe I have involves loads of effort, and sometimes doesn't produce nice "pockets", but gives flat llittle disks of bread instead. (Wow. Whoever thought I would be thrilled to find things like pita bread? And my oldest son is more concerned that I have no clue what an Ipod Nano Touch is. Hmmm.)
-More ice fishing, playgroups, cold weather, wind, and crochet projects.

I hope everyone else is staying warm and out of the wind! For those of you getting glimpses of spring in the lower 48... I envy the fact that you will be gardening months before I am!

Until Next Time...
Happy Moose Trails!