Thursday, February 23, 2012

February—I’m lovin’ It!

In January, the average temperature was 30 below, I think. Word in town has it that it was the fifth coldest month on record, ever. In February, it has been above zero everyday, generally getting up to about 20 something and at least 3 times, getting above freezing! The weekend before Elodie’s birthday, the last Sunday in January, our thermometer on the deck said it was 44 below. We still went to Church that day (only sacrament meeting was held) and some people said the thermometers at their houses read 55 or even 60 below! In other words, January was SERIOUSLY COLD! Just a couple of days later, on Elodie’s birthday, it was exactly 80 degrees warmer at 36 above; as I played with her outside and enjoyed the sunshine on my face, I think I felt every single one of those 80 degrees (not 80 above zero, but 80 above the weekend temps!). February has felt like a heat wave. I am loving it!

In January, it seemed like everything was at a standstill due to extreme cold—no hockey practice, no outdoor recess, no Sunday School, no library story time, no playing outside. And there was one self-imposed “no.” After the treat fest of the holidays, we had decided to have a no-sugar January to start the new year off on a healthier note. It seemed like a great idea in December. When January hit, it seemed like a terrible idea! During a month that cold and dark, saying no to my favorite hobby of baking (and eating) cookies, brownies, muffins, granola, etc. is not healthy!

In January, we started off the month with only 4 hours of daylight per day. At this point in February, we’re enjoying about 9 1/2 hours of daylight. Huge difference! Oh, February, I love you!

And speaking of February lovin’, on Valentine’s Day, we got Xander’s “substitute uncle,” as he calls him, to babysit and actually went out for a night on the town. We tried out Delta Junction’s Asian joint, The Hard Wok CafĂ©, and it was rather tasty. Since there were no crowds at all, just one other table even occupied, we were done with dinner and we’d only been gone about an hour. We actually had a babysitter; we didn’t want to just go home at 7:15! But what to do in our little town after we were totally stuffed…? All we could think of was to get some ice cream at the IGA and sit at the tables by the fire that they have in there. Yeah, going to the grocery store. But lucky for us, as we got out of the car at IGA, we looked up and saw the Northern Lights!


They usually only come out in the middle of the night, not early evening! In fact, in our 8 months here in Alaska, we had seen them only once before when Aaron was on call and dragged me out of bed at 2am so I wouldn’t miss out. This Aurora Borealis show was bright enough that we could see it even with the streetlights in the IGA parking lot! So we bought some ice cream and drove to a field where we could see the sky better (since there are towering trees everywhere here) and were about ready to just enjoy the romantic Valentine’s light show—who says there’s nothing to do in the country—when the babysitter called wondering if we were on our way home. Apparently, after Xander and Elodie were in bed, Hazel noticed that mom wasn’t there and was getting a bit concerned. We marveled—briefly—at the dancing bands of green light all across the sky and headed home.

Last Saturday as we were coming home from a party at the Church, the Northern Lights were out again and the kids got to see them. They were highly impressed. I tell ya, what’s not to love about February?

I think the only thing that could top February off for me is to have a healthy baby boy born on the last day of the month—Leap Day! Wouldn’t that be fun? Not too likely, though, I generally hold off until right around my due date. But I’ll be 38 weeks, it could happen…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Saturday morning, as we were cleaning the house so we’d be able to go to the fireworks that evening, Xander asked, “Mom, is it Independence Day?” We could pretend it was since fireworks were quite obviously missing from our 4th of July celebration last year. I had never really thought of it, but it made sense that you don’t do a fireworks show when it’s light all night long.


To make up for it, I guess, our town hosts an annual Festival of Lights on the weekend of the HS basketball tournament, with ice sculpting,


a polar bear plunge, and fireworks at 7:00pm. We just parked our car facing the town park where they were launching the fireworks, squished all five of us into the front seat (I love the Beast), whipped out a fresh batch of Puppy Chow, and had a perfect view of the fireworks. My favorite part was listening to Hazel’s response, her darling little voice saying “Wow!” with genuine wonder at all of her favorite fireworks. Priceless. It was actually a really good fireworks show, too; way to go Delta!


On the real Independence Day, we spent the morning unpacking since our moving truck had arrived just the Friday before.


We wanted to do something 4th of Julyish besides wear our patriotic best, so we went to town looking for fun. There was no town celebration like they’d had in previous years (based on the 2009 Delta Junction Visitor's Guide that Aaron picked up on his first trip to Alaska), but we were able to find the town park and played some baseball, which made Xander’s day, at least.184

Besides the all-American fun of family baseball, we discovered our first wild strawberry—exciting and tasty.


Then we dropped by the IGA (the only grocery store in town) and Aaron and the kids convinced me to buy some hot dogs (yuck) in another attempt to make the day seem like it was actually the 4th of July. There would be no fireworks, but we could have a fire. Aaron made a fire right in our front yard for roasting the hot dogs—gotta love living in the country. And Elodie chose to wear knickerbockers in honor of our founding fathers, I presume. (Funny how tights under capris change the whole look—it wasn’t quite warm enough for bare legs. Notice Aaron’s long sleeves. Yeah, in July.)


It was a beautiful day and we had a great time together, with just our fun little family. And it almost felt like Independence Day. Minus the critical component of fireworks. Better late than never. Happy 11th of February, everybody!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Elodie is FIVE?!?!

One of my favorite things is watching a child’s excitement over the small things, like a few balloons and streamers that you discover when you get up on your birthday morning. I treasure it so much that I consciously try to limit the huge exciting fun type things (like going to the zoo, an amusement park, Disneyland) so that the small things still seem really exciting. I like being able to just enjoy the simple things in life, like a birthday at home with lavender balloons and streamers. 061

Look at how excited she was all day to open the few small little birthday presents that were there on the counter when she woke up. I think anticipation is half the fun, so I told her she had to wait until at least after dinner, but she could choose if she wanted to do cake first or presents first. She chose presents.


For Elodie, I think being in charge of things on her birthday is a huge part of the fun. Around here, you get to pick what we eat for every meal on your birthday. (With Mom guiding those choices towards reasonable ones.) Chocolate chip waffles and smoothies for breakfast, mac ‘n’ cheese with mixed vegetables and ice cream for lunch, and tater tot casserole (which I think I’ve made one other time in my life, per Aaron’s birthday request) and red peppers for dinner. (Well, most of us had salad with red peppers and lots of other veggies in it, but Elodie just wanted the red peppers with ranch. All right, you’re the queen. For today.)


Here’s a sure sign that she’s growing up—she picked her birthday cake based on taste rather than looks for the first time. Instead of a butterfly cake or a princess cake or a castle cake, she chose a berry cheesecake. Yum! Made sense to me—last year she was super excited about her giant castle cake, but ate only one bite of it on her birthday because she’s not really that into cake and there was ice cream competing with it so the choice was clear. (I did have to inform her this year that ice cream doesn’t go with cheesecake, which is why we had to squeeze the ice cream in after lunch instead of with the “cake.”) The girl loves cheesecake and enjoyed every bite of her first and second piece. Such mature taste, don’t you think?


Since she is getting so grown up, for the first time in her life, I let her invite a bunch of girls over for a friend party the Saturday after her birthday. We hosted a fancy “tea” party with all the girls in their favorite party dresses. Elodie was so excited to be the hostess and serve the food and the hot cocoa. Like I said, she kinda likes being in charge. She even practiced pouring hot water from the teapot so she’d be ready for the big day. She chose the menu of mini-pizzas, olives, red peppers, pineapple, and oranges, followed by hot cocoa or pink lemonade with lemon bars, sugar cookies, and mini cupcakes. I had to convince her that we didn’t need to have cheesecake both days.


I haven’t done much in the way of friend parties so I’m learning as I go (in Colorado, we had aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents to make it plenty of fun). I made the mistake of inviting whoever Elodie wanted, figuring that people are busy and maybe half would come. Somewhere I heard the wise advice of having no more than one friend for every year old the kid is. I thought 5 girls would be a lovely-sized group. But everyone we invited was able to come, so we had 10 girls and not all of them would even fit around our table! I felt bad for the ones exiled to the stools at the counter! It may have been a bit livelier than I had anticipated, and my giant belly and I may have been a bit exhausted by the end of that day, but I think fun was had by all, especially by the birthday girl herself. I just adore my helpful, happy, smart, funny, graceful, girly, tough little five-year-old! I’m going to miss her so much when I send her off to kindergarten in the fall!


But I can’t just keep my little Rapunzel locked up in her tower forever, so off she’ll go and I’ll just have a young toddler and little baby like I did 5 years ago. Elodie was SO excited when she got this present in a package in the mail; she just loves Tangled. Far cooler than any of the simple presents her parents got her. (One of which was a hand-me-down dress that was in great condition and I saved for a couple years while she grew into it, and the other ones things that I had ordered online for Christmas but they didn’t get here in time. Shhhhh.)