25 January 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1.  Big happenings in the land of parenthood:  we made the switch to cloth diapers last week and it's gone surprisingly well.  The highlight?  The look on Kip's face when I dunked our first soiled diaper in the toilet to get the, er, soil off.
2.  THE EMPANADA PLACE IN THE NEW BUS DEPOT IS AMAZING.  I'm trying to finagle as many lunch dates there as I can.
3.  I went to my very first Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday with Steph and it was lovely.  We sat there with Jesus and decompressed.
4.  The picture frame we got in the mail from Kasey and Matt.  Also, the fact that all the lovely cookies and peppermint bark they made for us were just so excited to get to Alaska that they launched themselves out of their cookie tin and sprinkled themselves jubilantly around the box.  It was a festive opening, to say the least.  Crumbs don't have calories, right?!?
5.  My latest home decorating ideas.  Best one as of late:  the guest room will have a pale, green-gray color on the walls and everything else will be white, with splashes of color throughout (I'm thinking particularly of some purple hydrangeas and the photo of the flower vendor I took in Norway)
6.  Symphony rehearsal is really coming together.  We've even had a few of "those" moments...you know the ones where you realize this is why you started playing music in the first place?  They make me feel alive.
7.  I submitted my applications to Loyola and Boston College.  Gulp.
8.  I have a campus visit for Boston College scheduled in March and I'm SO excited to go.  I'm resisting the urge to buy new shoes from Shoefly for the occasion.
9.  Our afternoon on Friday:  Kip did some business at the bank downtown while I carried Ainslie around (it was warm enough!) and got some drinking chocolate from Pie in the Sky and then bought some flowers from The Plant People to spruce up our apartment since it's been so grey and rainy lately.  The drinking chocolate was tasty to the extreme and the flowers are divine.  Button mums, gerber daisies, forsythia and the most gorgeous pink and orange snapdragons.  I love the people at The Plant People.
10.  Ticket to Ride:  Nordic Countries.  Oh my.

22 January 2011

Home Dreams

I've lately become completely obsessed with the concept of "home".  Could you tell?  I don't know if it was brought about by Ainslie's arrival or just becoming aware that we've outgrown Juneau in every way possible, but I'm itching to go back home to New England and hunker down for, well, ever.  

Ever since we were dating (and probably even before that, just separately) Kip and I have dreamed of buying an old farmhouse on a few acres and renovating it.  It's been an idea that's taken hold of us, keeping us up at night with ideas and plans and scenario-rehearsing.  Kip wants wooded land, the kind that he can make walking trails in, where he can go for a hike and not leave our tidy little world.  I dream of a little clearing behind the house where I can plant a tiny orchard, just big enough for Ainslie and I to walk through in the afternoons, where I can spot a perfectly ripe apple and reach up and pick it, wiping it on my shirt sleeve before handing it down to Ainslie, who relishes its sweetness and giggles at the juice running down her chin.  I want to invite our family and friends over for a day when all the fruit is ripe and enjoy a harvest together, tossing our homegrown produce into baskets and walking up to the house together where the kitchen quickly becomes steamy and crowded with baking pies and cooking preserves and the people making them all, and then we all have a big dinner together, and Kip and I thank everyone for their help and send them home with the literal fruits of their labor.  We want the creaky floors and the drafty windows that we're always cursing in a house that has seen so many more tenants than just us, a house that we have to get to know, and vice versa.  

Hopefully we'll get there soon.  In the meantime, we dream.

18 January 2011

Ten Things Tuesday

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week:
1.  Kip made an epic cleanup of our room.  Seriously, if it were in a commercial, it'd make that "ding!" sound and sparkle.  When he showed me, I walked around and grinned like a fool for about five minutes.
2.  Weird thing to smile about, but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying: it was so cold last week that the windchill during our 60 mph gusts of wind was -30 degrees.  My hair froze in the parking lot at the Merchant's Wharf.  And it wasn't even wet.
3.  Thursday, after having breakfast with Father Thomas and Sarah Search 'n Rescue at the Sandpiper, Kip, Ainslie and I promptly jumped back into bed to warm ourselves up after the freezing trip home (see #2).  Tillamook joined us and we all had a nice, warm family nap at ten in the morning.
4.  I pried open the box of too-big-now-but-eventually-Ainslie-will-grow-into-them clothes that I'd set aside only to find that the vast majority of them fit her now.  It was like going shopping in my own home, except I didn't have to spend any money!
5.  Finding out I can have my blog printed (see post below)
6.  Planning Tina's baby shower.  I'm probably having a little too much fun with it!
7.  Watching Ainslie find her feet for the first time.  She was so proud of herself!
8.  Our entire day yesterday:  we woke up, had breakfast and then played two games of Catan, three games of Sorry, did assorted responsible things throughout, and ended the day by watching "Despicable Me" for the second day in a row because it was that good.
9.  The handwarmer mug that Kip got me for Christmas.  I use it pretty much everyday.
10.  Would it be bad to say that Kip's broken big toe made me smile?  It's not that I enjoy his pain, I just like that it meant that he had to stay home from work for two days, so we basically got a six day weekend as a family.  That made me smile.  

17 January 2011

I Never Do This...

...but I found two amazing websites that I feel deserve mention.

Amazing Website #1: Mixbook.com  I really wish I'd found this website while we were planning our wedding, or when I was making Ainslie's birth announcement but oh, ho ho am I going to make up for lost time now!  It's the only website I've ever found that prints completely customizable stationery at a super reasonable price.  I found it while looking for invitations for my sister-in-law Tina's baby shower and oh boy.  I'm in love.  Just wait until Christmas next year.  Or come to think of it, I might have to make up a holiday just so I can make cards to send.  Anyone fancy a resurrection of Farch from the good 'ol college days?

Amazing Website #2:  Blog2Print.  Just when I'd started thinking that I should probably print out this blog before some catastrophic Internet freak-out ruins the last three years of my work, I found Blog2Print.  For the low, low price of $151.96 I could have my entire 350+ page blog turned into a book.  First of all, holy cow I wrote over 350 pages worth of stuff?  Second, that's less than 50 cents a page, so it's not so bad.  Third, that's still too much for me to do it but I found a way to make it work!  "...Just Alaska" wasn't always "...Just Alaska", so I think I'll print out different (smaller and therefore cheaper) volumes based on the blog's different titles as I can afford them.  It makes me really happy to think of having them on our bookshelf and Ainslie wandering in some day asking what they are.  I'm excited to be able to show her that I actually have had a pretty interesting life.

15 January 2011

Ex-Boyfriends and Midwives

It seems that I can't just have a drama-free orchestral experience.

So there I stand, eating a peanut butter granola bar during the break in our first symphony rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, when I see some movement out of the corner of my eye.  I look over to see who has entered the room as I take a bite of said granola bar and promptly choke on it:  it's one of my former midwives.  Awkward.  

Now, it's not like I haven't seen the midwives out and about around town before; alas, I've run into this one (and two others) at the grocery store.  I don't imagine that they all constantly live at the Birth Center, humming around their little baby-shaped hive like little worker birthing bumble bees (although that does form quite an interesting mental picture).  And I like this midwife quite a bit.  We got along in the whole prenatal process.  She was there at Bean's Birth Day Attempt #1.  She wasn't in any way involved in Bean's Birth Day Attempt #3, so no hard feelings there.  She has fabulous hair that I've always secretly been fascinated by.  And she is the only midwife to date that has actually seen Ainslie.  I like this woman, and I want to be her friend in an elementary school, kicking-the-ground-while-asking-if-I-can-play-with-you-at-recess kind of way.  The problem is that, along with a cloud of Earth Mama Fabulousity, she also brings with her all the memories and ideas of what could've been when it came to Ainslie's birth, and what actually did happen.  For the better part of ten months, I had this picture in my mind of what it would be like to finally meet our little Bean:  we'd be at the Birth Center, and I'd push and push and push and they'd tell me the baby was coming and then she'd be there and they'd hand her to me and Kip and I would cry with joy and say, "It's Ainslie!" and she'd be crying and cold and generally pissed that she'd just been squeezed into the world, but we'd be a family and we'd all crawl into bed together and cuddle until we'd go home a few hours later, where we'd embark upon the adventures of parenthood and the midwives would come visit the next day to check in on us and congratulate us on such a beautiful baby who entered the world in such a beautiful way.  

Obviously, this isn't what happened.  We cried with fear instead and didn't get to cuddle as a family for the better part of three weeks while she lay in an isolette in the NICU and it took two and a half months for me to even be able to sit up on my own because of all the pushing and exhaustion and major surgery and she is a beautiful baby (even the NICU nurses said so) but she didn't enter the world in such a beautiful way.  And seeing that midwife again brought all of those would-be memories and "did that really happen?" experiences back.  And I get to experience that again twice a week for the next month.  Hooray.

So I choked on my granola bar, went over and said hi while trying to seem chipper and avoiding eye contact, and spent the next rehearsal glancing over at the oboe section every three seconds just like I did in my college symphony rehearsals when my trumpet-playing ex-boyfriend who hated my guts would attend rehearsals and give me the stink eye during breaks, casting a giant cloud of awkwardness over the whole experience.  

On the plus side, I was secretly very proud of the fact that she caught me eating a peanut butter granola bar, since it's just so very high in protein.  

13 January 2011

I'm a Woman Obsessed

My latest home furnishing fantasies:
This hanging on the wall above...

This bench, which has a cushion on top of it made out of...

this fabric.
(and there are a bunch of pillows in various fabrics to lean on that also live on the bench, which will sit on one side of a matching dining room table, with the more traditional chairs on the other side)


Now, just to decide what should go into the cubbies in the shelf--the awesome handwarmer mugs that Kip got me for Christmas?  And assorted teas?  Or maybe our everyday dishes for easy access?  I'm thinking that we should put the giant canvas print of one of our wedding photos on top of the shelf, with the jar that holds my bouquet next to it.  

And they said I'd be all nesty when I was pregnant.  
Ba!  That was about cleaning the floor four times a day; this is about putting together a home.

11 January 2011

Ten Things Tuesday: Resurrected.....Again

It has come to my attention that I haven't done a Ten Things Tuesday since Ainslie was born.  I justify this by referencing my sleeping habits since then, unreliable Internet access through the late Fall and early Winter, and the Debbie Downer circumstance that I don't necessarily always smile as much as I used to since all the stress of......everything in my life.  But that's when we truly need a list of things that made us smile, no?  I'm working on it.

Ten Things That Made Me Smile This Past Week (or three months, you know):
1.  How much Ainslie enjoys her diaper changes.  Seriously, she kicks and smiles and laughs and has a ball!  Either she really enjoys personal hygiene or she really enjoys being naked---one of these is a family trait, the other isn't.  I'll leave you to imagine which is which.
2.  The idea of crocheting myself a sweater.  I just might do it.
3.  Spending close to the entire day with Father Thomas yesterday.  He's back in town for a priest's meeting and I ferried him around on all his errands after picking him up at the airport.  Awkward "Oh, he's not my husband despite the fact that we're both wearing rings and he's carrying around my baby.  Haven't you noticed the Roman collar?" explanations abounded.
4.  I had a fabulous hair day a few days ago.  It was down.  It was long.  It was almost frizz-free.  I felt like a WOMAN again, not just a mom!
5.  Ikea daydreams.  Seriously, it's a little pathetic how much I've furnished our hypothetical future home.
6.  Casey and Tina (my brother- and sister-in-law) are having a baby girl and we're so excited!!!!!  As Kip put it to Casey, "I like to establish the gender by having Ainslie wear a bow, but after that you can put her in anything you want!"  Keep back, ladies, he's taken.
7.  Planning Tina's baby shower--it's been super fun.
8.  The sun has shone for three days now and it's not supposed to be cloudy again until Saturday.  I'm planning on taking my camera out to Twin Lakes at some point before then and taking pictures of people skating on the orange ice (not to be confused with yellow snow....it's orange because it reflects the sun)
9.  Super guilty pleasure smile:  the new season of "Kourtney and Kim Take New York" premieres in twelve days.  I'm terrible.
10.  Coffee with Stephanie.  I always leave that house feeling so holy and ready to be a wife and mother.  It's intoxicating.

10 January 2011

The Occasionally Obligatory "Holy Crap, I Live in Alaska!" Post

Every once in awhile I stop what I'm doing and realize:

Holy crap, I live in Alaska!

The moment happens spontaneously and in seemingly random places that have included:
1.  Biking back from the grocery store
2.  The frozen yogurt place downtown
3.  Driving down the road
4.  Sitting on the couch staring into nothingness
5.  The yarn shop, with a skein of Tree Hugger's Wife yarn in my hand (which, by the way, is the most amazing yarn I've ever worked with and you should check it out here)

I'm told by fellow Juneau-imports that it's not an uncommon experience to have these moments of revelation, and I sort of feel bad for born-and-raised local Alaskans (Living in Alaska Lesson #1:  there is a HUGE and nearly unforgivable difference between calling yourself a "local" and a "native")  because I doubt they have these sudden moments of awe mixed with insanity--because that's really what living here inspires:  a simultaneous mixture of "wow, that mountain is so pretty", "I hate that mountain because it stands in the way of a road getting out of here" and "Hmm, maybe I should get a new pair of Extra Tuffs to wear so I can hike that mountain and then go out to dinner afterwards".  I'm thankful for the isolation because it makes possible things like never stepping foot inside a Babies R Us in my life (that store totally freaks me out, even...and maybe more so...with a child) but I curse it when I could really use a Target nearby.  Or a Jamba Juice.  Or heck, even just fresh produce.  

The people here, accordingly, tend to be a little of what my Dad would call the "crunchy granola" type, and I love it.  I think I will probably be classified as the "crunchy granola" type if/when we move back to New England, unless people there have relaxed by a factor of about a billion since we left (unlikely).  I sometimes stand in awe of the true masters of the "crunchy granola" lifestyle here in Juneau, the people who shop at Rainbow Foods and take part in the bread co-op and wear their Extra Tuffs with skirts or suits and play folk instruments like the fiddle (not to be confused with a violin, ahem).  Take, for example, the principal flutist in the Juneau Symphony.  She intrigues me.  She's a fantastic musician, and from what I've observed from my observation post in the string section, a fantastic person as well.  She's one of those rare people who is completely content with herself and doesn't care what others dictate as fashionable or pretty, and she's made all the more beautiful for it.  She's the perfect mix of Earth Mama and practiced musician with long, greying hair that has no product whatsoever in it pulled back so she can read her music without interruption from a stray strand.  She has no wrinkles.  Seriously.  I'm 23 and I have more wrinkles than this woman.  I fancy that it comes from a life lived in a cabin next to a stream of the freshest water in the world and wearing homespun wool skirts on a daily basis.  In reality she probably lives in a condo on Douglas Island and clothing shops at Fred Meyer, but I hold to my fantasy! 

I know that someday I'll be somewhere else and someone will come over to visit some afternoon and see a piece of art or a photo or a piece of pottery and say, "How unique, where is that from?" and I'll say "Oh, we used to live in Alaska" and I'll look back wistfully at the adventure of it all and lament that I didn't take better advantage of it while I had the chance.  But for now, I'll curse the 18 hours of darkness and ridiculously expensive housing market and continue dropping whatever I'm doing on an occasional basis to realize once again, "Holy crap, I live in Alaska!"  And maybe go for a hike this afternoon with Father Thomas when he comes to visit.

03 January 2011

For Tessa


For some reason, I have an uncanny attraction to terminally ill bloggers.  I choose to believe that it's because they, faced with death, write with more beauty and truth and appreciation for life.  Tessa, of "An Aerial Armadillo" was art.  I don't even say she was an "artist", even though she was, she was art itself! Everything she saw--a plant, an experience, a mug in her kitchen--was full of color and joy and dance and she allowed those things to sink into her like water into a sponge; they sunk in so much that, reaching her saturation point, she oozed art out of her very essence.  No moment, no trivial object or day was without wonder in her eyes, and she wrote about it.  


I was lucky enough to win a piece of her own artwork from her, a print called "Dance, Mama, Dance!".  At the moment, it sits atop the cabinet in our bathroom, adding some color and joy to the most mundane room in our apartment.  I think she'd enjoy knowing that.  I found out about her passing yesterday and today I think I'll take my camera out no matter the weather and make some art of my own.  See color in Juneau's dreary skies.  And dance.  For Tessa.

01 January 2011

Of Christmas, Homecomings and IKEA

It's not that I didn't think about blogging over the past three and a half weeks.  I did--I sat down and tried to write several times, but I couldn't think of anything to say.  There's just been so much happening:
we had a flawless flight with a two-month-old
I felt more at home in a house I'd never been to than I often do in my own apartment
sunny mornings in Texas made way to even sunnier afternoons
Ainslie figured out how to use her hands and her voice and has been singing us the sweetest songs my ears have ever beheld
doctor's offices, doctor's visits, doctor's procedures that I never want to go through with Ainslie again
we had Christmas with Kip's family in Seattle
we took our first Mommy-Daddy date (and saw "Harry Potter" a month after everyone else)
and now, back to Juneau where Epiphany celebrations, a cluttered apartment, and a slightly impulsive application to Boston College await me

I'm sure that years from now, Kip and I will be sitting on a similar couch to the one I'm on now and I'll put my head on his shoulder and say, "Our little girl is getting married today" and all of this medical nonsense will seem far away and painless and easy.  For now, I'm focusing on the one-and-a-half-sided conversations that Ainslie and I have been having ("Aaaaeeeeeegooooooaahhhh" "Oh, really?" "Uhhhhhgggahhhhhhhhh" "And what else did the octopus say?") and fantasizing about our Ikea-furnished home of the hopefully not too distant future.
Specifically, I dream about this ginormous leaf mounted over Ainslie's crib in her "outdoors brought in"-themed room.  I have big dreams for a reading nook too.

I also imagine what I'll put in and on this side table, placed against a wall in the kitchen. Lately it's been cloth napkins and cutlery in the drawers, brightly colored ceramic mixing bowls on top, and toys for Ainslie to play with while I cook on the bottom shelf--tupperware bowls and spoons and dried pasta and cloth renditions of fruits and vegetables so she can "cook", too.  I have yet to decide what photo I'll hang above it.  I have big plans to choose a set of my photos to have printed on pulled canvas to hang on the walls.


Maybe this one of the rowhouses in Stavanger, Norway.  To remind us of travel and family.