Friday, June 25, 2010

Blog Redesign

Don't you LOVE my new look?!  It was lovingly created by Jackie at Memories by Design. She is amazing and helpful and let me be super knit-picky and detail oriented.  I really enjoyed working with Jackie through the design process. I especially enjoyed getting her services for free because I won an online raffle!

A few of my favorites from Jackie's portfolio.

Back in January, I bought a few random raffle tickets at Hope for Haiti.  I thought it would be a nice way to donate some money to a worthy cause, but did not really expect to win anything.  Imagine my surprise when Jackie emailed me to let me know that I had won her blog design package. 
Ummm...great news, but I wasn't even a blogger yet.  I had been toying with the idea of blogging for a few months, but wasn't sure I was ready to commit to a blog.  I took my raffle win as a sign that the universe was desperately hungry for my voice.  Providence was telling me to start a blog.  So, I did.  And now the blog I started to be beautified by Jackie is officially beautified.  Thanks, Universe, for compelling me to start blogging.  I'm really enjoying it so far!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Last Frontier

Please excuse my long absence.  I was away for most of May and I'm having trouble adjusting to being home.  In fact, the other day I woke up super confused about where I was.  I spend several long seconds analyzing the painting above the bed and the contents of the bedside shelves before I realized that I was in my own bed.  Then, I got in my car, which felt oddly foreign, reached for the gear shift in the wrong spot, and had to think really hard about how to turn on the windshield wipers.  Living in the Seattle area, windshield wipers are a feature of the car that I use quite frequently, and it pretty much freaked me out that I was discombobulated enough to forget how.  I've decided that I was away much too long and I promise not to do it again any time soon!
If you've forgiven me for abandoning you, let's  move on to the "How I Spent My Vacation" portion of this post.
My aunt and uncle, who have a home in beautiful Anchorage, just had TRIPLETS  (That's three brand new babies!), and asked me to come up and help out.

Precious new-born triplets.  Just looking at this picture makes me want to fly back to Anchorage to snuggle up to one or two of them!
They mostly wanted help with their two year old during the transition home.  So, I pretty much got to practice being the mother of a two year old for three weeks.  Let me just say that I gained a WHOLE new appreciation for parents of toddlers!
Isn't she ADORABLE?!  But watch out because, given the chance, she will EAT YOU ALIVE! (PS Please excuse the fact that her cute, little pig tail is the only part of the picture that is in focus.  She's speedy and this was my very best shot of her.)

Initially, I thought it would be a very "Woman in Training" idea to write a post with all the tips and tricks I learned about caring for a two year old. Then I realized that there are approximately 1 billion "mommy blogs" out there. I'm pretty sure that my meager three week experience, harrowing as it was, did not lead to a level of expertise on par with most of those lovely and talented women.

Instead, let me share my reflections on Anchorage.
Before I arrived, Lonely Planet told me of the fantastic wilderness in and around Anchorage. My mom and my step mom warned me that Anchorage is smaller than I would anticipate. My grandparents, who lean towards the crotchety end of the spectrum, told me that Anchorage was not nearly as beautiful as one would expect.  In a way, they're all right.
Don't get me wrong, Anchorage is spectacular!  It sits on a little bit of land where the soaring mountains meet the ocean.  All over the city there are little birch woods, which become magical in the right light.

The mountains are rugged. The ocean is majestic.  There are outdoorsy things to do everywhere you turn.  Overall though, I probably would have been more awed by Anchorage if I was not from Seattle, where we have some fairly rugged mountains and majestic bodies of water.
The surprise hit of the trip was when my eighteen year old cousin and I decided to take a road trip to Seward to go on a half-day cruise.  Not only did we see beautiful scenery and tons of native fauna, we had a great adventure getting there.  In our minds, we barely escaped being eaten by both zombies and vampires.  It was totally worth it though to see a pod of orcas swimming yards from our boat and mountain goats with their kids that were just days old!

My cousins also took me to see Portage Glacier, which was both tragic and beautiful.

Tragic because the Portage Glacier visitor center was built on the edge of an iceberg filled lake with an amazing view of the glacier.  There is even a viewing platform with those kitschy quarter operated binoculars.  Unfortunately, the glacier has melted so much that it's no longer visible from the visitor center.  You can't even kind of see a tiny corner of it. I don't want to get political here, but I'm pretty sure that alone is significant evidence of global warming.  It's definitely enough to make me sad.
I cheered up outside, however, when we went down to the water's edge and threw rocks at the chunks of ice.  The water is an amazing milky light blue color and the biggest ice blocks maintain their vibrant, eerie, glacial blue.  Playing by the icy lake was surreal.  Especially when you take into account that it was in the  60s outside.
I had a great time in the Last Frontier!  I loved visiting family, chasing two year olds, snuggling babies and all, and I got to spend some time communing with some pretty incredible natural sights!

Okay, since this is supposed to be all about being a woman in training, let me share the top 3 things I learned about dealing with a two year old.
1) Preparing for transitions is vitally important!  One day I forgot to remind my cousin 75 times that nap time was coming and trying to put her in bed caused a Chernobyl-style melt down. Lesson Learned!!!
2) A full toddler is a happy toddler.  I learned the hard way that food deprivation leads to whiney tantrums.  Of course, I probably should have know this before I went to Alaska; I get cranky when I'm hungry too.
3) Stay calm!  When my cousin got belligerent, it was so tempting to get belligerent right back at her, but I found out pretty quick that the more worked up I got, the more worked up she got.  It was sometimes tough to keep my cool, but I only had to put myself in time out once!