Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reindeer......?-2009....may you rest in peace!

"Why do I have to be the dog?!?!" - Jen being a brat! Ha!

Someone doesn't like someone else petting the metal dog, huh? Is that jealousy, dear Tanner??

In our effort to continue to see all of Alaska possible in our last few days, we had another BUSY but fun day today!

The first stop of the day was "eventful" to say the least. Just outside of Palmer there is a Reindeer Farm. In the summer, it is open to the public and the people can visit and feed the reindeer and pet them. However, they close in the winter (and why wouldn't they, the reindeer are tired from their journey around the world, right?) So, you can't really interact with the reindeer. However, you can visit them and see them from the road. When we got there, the timing was perfect. The workers at the farm were just coming around to give the reindeer lunch. As the truck came up, the reindeer were excited and came over to get some lunch. It was fun to see them move and eat, and since they were moving, instead of in a big bunch, we could really get some great views of them. However, as the gentlemen who were feeding the reindeer saw in the distance - a reindeer had died.......oh, good grief! Had they not been there, I hazard to say I don't even think I would have seen the dead one. But of course, they took their truck over and proceeded to DRAG the dead reindeer across the icy field....I nearly suffered a heart attack! It was like the scene from Napoleon Dynamite with the cow and the bus, if you have seen the movie, you have to know what scene I am talking about - if you haven't - I recommend it highly, but with some reservations, the humor in it isn't for everyone....but at this point I digress......

So after some talk about grief, reindeer heaven, and an inappropriate joke involving reindeer sausage......we moved on. We went to downtown Palmer and enjoyed some shops. I have to say, Palmer is the cutest town ever. We had lunch at this fantastic place called Vagabond Blues. I indulged my love of jewelery with a really cool pair of earrings made of Mammoth Fossil Ivory and a tube of lipgloss (another love, or obsession, as my dear husband might call it) also made here in Palmer. We went to an art gallery and looked around and then ventured over to Wasilla to the Iditarod Headquarters. Another absolutely fantastic day.

I can hardly believe it, but our time in Alaska is coming to an end at an alarming rate. Just tomorrow, and then a full day of airtravel on Friday. We leave early in the am (around 8:00am) and since there has been some airport drama with terrorists during our time up here, we want to be there early enough for some added security. We will then be traveling all day, plus losing time on the way back......

For an experienced traveler, sometimes I can be a poo-head to travel with. This is exactly the point in the vacation where I get sad, melancholy, grumpy....all of those things all bundled in to one. We still have the evening tonight, as well as all day tomorrow with some fun things lined up to do! I am going to do my BEST to enjoy myself fully and not get worked up about leaving.

This trip was just what was needed this year - for many reasons, and I am glad we came! I will have more blogging to do, but I am sure it won't get done for a few more days considering all we have to do.

Nate starts school back up again on Monday. What a break. What a trip. What a privilege and an amazing opportunity - both to see Alaska in its winter wonder and to get to know and love Val and Dan more.

Well, it is time to go.....before I get even more reflective and mushy......:)

A Tour of Anchorage Public Toilets.......

Yesterday we tore up the greater part of Anchorage! The day was jam packed with fun, and then some not-so-much fun after a delicious, but fried food dinner - which I now think I have narrowed down to what makes me sick......

So, dearies, let's begin at the very beginning.....

The first thing I need to mention is that it really took the insomnia I sometimes suffer over a week to find me in Alaska, which made for a rough night on Monday night. I ended up not even going to sleep until 4:30am Alaska time (8:30am Indiana time....I can already tell this jet-lag is going to be AWESOME to recover from - sense the sarcasm, please!)Tanny sensed I was not having the world's most spectacular night, and came down to join me, what a guy!

So after a few hours, up and going again - if month upon month of sleeplessness has taught me, it is really best not to accommodate begins feeding itself badness.........

We left Val's and went by a village that is Russian Orthodox in faith and a native population. We got to see my first ever Orthodox church as well as their interesting burial tradition (if it sounds morbid, perhaps it is, just a bit, but it was interesting!) When they bury people, they build colorful boxes over their graves. It was hard to see with all the snow, but you could see them poking out of the snow.

Then we went to Anchorage and got to meet/visit/deliver some gifts to Val's co-workers. I can see why Val enjoys working with this group of people. Her bosses even have three doxies! I mean, they love doxies, they couldn't possibly be bad people!! I very nearly stole Sugar the 3 year old long haired girl, I am still thinking about her...... Val also had me try a local coffee was AMAZING.

At this point we were hungry, it was like 4:00 and we hadn't even been to the downtown portion of the city yet. We went to an amazing downtown eatery called "The Brewhouse".....and oh, how delicious it was...... a little bit TOO delicious. For quite a while I have been feeling "iffy" after I eat sometimes. Prior to our Alaska trip Dr. Nate gave me some instructions to see if we can pin down the cause of my disagreement with the food. Part of my "assignment" was to keep a food diary. That lasted for one meal of one day.....OOPS. However, since coming to Alaska I haven't really felt too bad......UNTIL last night. The only thing I can think is that I haven't eaten anything fried......and then last night we enjoyed calamari and I had Fish and oh so delicious variety of fried foods........within 20 minutes, I was oh, so sorry......

Really, the title of this blog is more funny than true, but I just didn't feel too well. Yuck! But, no worries, it didn't really stop us, at all! We went around the downtown area, but in the winter in Alaska most stuff closed at around we were a bit out of luck, but still got to enjoy some fun shops and browsing around.

Our last stop of the evening was at Alaska Wild Berry Products. They are a chocolate shop as well as a lot of Alaskan souvenirs and what now. We spent a lot of time having some big-time fun in that store!

We came home, I felt sick......Dan, who is a gem - went to the store and got me some ginger ale. That in combo with my stomach med made for a great night's sleep last night. Wowser, WHAT A DAY!!!!!

A Modern Day Gold Miner!!!!

"This is just a miner looking at his junk under a microscope" - Dan

I really like gold......

A LOT!!!!

A person with a basic knowledge of Alaska knows about Alaskan Gold Mining and many people making their way to Alaska to find their fortunes in GOLD!!! However, I can't really say that I knew that people still mined gold in Alaska, (other than getting tourists to spend money pretending for 25 minutes???)

Guess what?! People DO still mine gold - and it turns out that Dan is a modern day gold miner.

And the best part, I got to hold some gold!!!!!!!!

I have already given him full permission that when he discovers the world's largest gold nugget, I give him full allowance to name it after the Jennugget.....yes, I like the ring of that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Musk Ox and the Mat-Su Glacier!

Much adieu about doodoo

After a heckavah lot of worrying about "making my business" in the wilderness, it turned out that was the least of my worries....... A much, MUCH bigger concern is that my hair (and myself for that matter!) cannot.....I MEAN CANNOT go more than a day without a shower. Evidently I have a very oily head.......ummmmmm - YUCK!

The cabin is still a "work in progress" but it was amazing. It really was a winter wonderland. We traveled around 2 hours to get to a parking lot, and then snow-mobiled in to the cabin, about another 30 minutes. You CANNOT drive, you must snowmachine or if there is no snow, you would have to take a, talk about remote!

I had my life flash before my eyes...(well, really my eyelids) at around 5:00 am the first night we were there when the cabin roof "unloaded" all its snow. Holy stinkin' was a crash, rumble.....BOOM! And considering I had never heard anything like that noise before, and not knowing what it about being woken from a nice dream.......

I really never would have expected this of myself, but I really LOVE snowmachining. It is super fun - and we are really fortunate that Val and Dan had the proper "gear" for us to wear.

It was a great experience! Although, I think that I am not really built to be a "camper"....this was MUCH nicer than camping and I still thought I was dying. Haha, well, not really dying, but I am used to a certain level of hygiene.....running water, flushing toilets, showers, makeup, get the drift - and if you know me, this should come as no huge shock!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So I made such a fuss......

I made such a fuss about peeing/other business which need not be mentioned......that Val and Dan thought it appropriate to outfit me with only the finest "business" gear for the wilderness cabin......haha!

Jen vs. the crab....

A Very Crabby Christmas

So I LOVE Alaskan Christmas dinner.......

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So sometimes, I talk big....really big!

Me in my snow-gear....this was only the dress rehearsal!

me and tanner cuddling

us kissing....with tanner's behind - hatcher pass 3:30 pm...look at the darkness creaping in....and quickly

after playing outside - we were COLD! but it was fun!
Coming in to this trip, I swore I was going to not have anything to do with technology......well, I don't feel so "compelled/obsessed" with it, however, there is lots of downtime for me right now. I have books, but don't really want to read. I don't want to hog the tv. And, we do have shorter than we are used to hours of daylight.....less daylight makes me want to stay in. This is ok, execpt for the fact that it leaves me lots and LOTS of time to think. This is ok......but I don't really have a lot to keep me busy/occupied.

When we got here two days ago, I thought to myself..."what a magical land with no worries!" While a few days in to this amazing break, I feel similar, it turns out some of my worries are with me....all the time. I could go to the moon, and they would still be with me. It is both a blessing and a curse. I am going to look at it more as a blessing.....but it bothers me a little bit.

These are not worries or memories that I want to go away....they are ok. The only problem is that with a lot of time to think, they are being turned over in my head. I like it, I love it here. I love having a lot of time with my AMAZING husband. I love spending time with Val and Dan....they are like a dream mom and dad (not in a way that any of our real moms or dad will get mad, but just as kind of cohesive, small family unit...with just each other - although that would be a weird family since Nate and I would be the "kids" and we are married, hmmmmmm :) We are just really enjoying our "down time".....but for those of you who know and love me....a few days of down time and I start to go a bit (BIG BIT) stir crazy. I just feel the need to constantly be moving, doing a lot of things, feeling productive, and not have any quiet.

And so, here we are, having an amazing time, in Alaska. I am appreciative of the time to reflect and have this "down time" I am whining about right now. I don't really mean to whine....Again, perhaps "think it over" would be much better.

I thought a few pics would be a lot of fun from our trip thus far!

Yes, I miss Hans, BUT

we have Tanner......and he is cute. He is an 80+ pound chunk o' lovin' that likes to play with laser pointers!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why do Aunt Sparkles' eyebrows look weird???

Well, of course there are a couple of stories involved with this title.......

First of all, our dear little Micah-bug is nearly two and his vocabulary is rapidly expanding.....So his cute little mom has taught him that I am his "Aunt Sparkles"....which I eat alive....with a spoon! Marty is a beautiful lady.....she is not as "accessorized" as I am, though. She wears her wedding ring and a lot of cool earrings....but her earrings are just more toned down on the sparkle-meter than mine. And this is without bringing up my variety of metallic purses. When I was a kid, I grew up with a lot of "aunts" and "uncles" which were actually not those relations by blood. Many of my aunts and uncles were actually long, LONG established friends of my parents. I have always liked this....and kind of wondered if we would ever have friends who would do the same with Nate and myself. When we met Ken and Marty and Micah...the thought crossed my mind...but took the nearest exit due to the fact that Micah has a million REAL aunts and uncles. The last thing the poor kid needs is another aunt and uncle!! But Marty started the "Aunt Sparkles" and I love.....LOVE it! And what really is the "cherry on top" is that Micah says it now....all by himself. Gee golly...I love that kid - and his parents. We are so blessed to have made such great friends down here in Indy - really more like family here in Indy!

As for the eyebrows part of this statement. Beauty sometimes carries a high price, my dears! I get my eyebrows waxed about every six weeks. I DO NOT by any means get them taken a matter of fact....I really just have them "cleaned up." However, I have had my hands full with the eyebrows ever since Amber finished school. She does my hair.....but she hasn't done my eyebrows because she hasn't had the stuff. Over the past few months, I have just made a trip up to the beauty school in Southport, just for the eyebrows. The only problem is that I have to DRIVE to Southport...which really isn't bad - but it is the only reason I go there - which is annoying. Also, I just drop in and get them done by whomever.....this is ok - but I always am a little bit nervous. Again, I don't really like much done to them - but once in a while - the person doing them is a bit unclear and gets a little bit aggressive. I mean, they grow back.....but sometimes it is "ugly" in the process. So the other night I was over at Target and just saw the "do-it-yourself wax strips." I am sorry, they looked stupid proof. Unfortunately - stupid proof does not mean the same thing as "Jen-proof".........

I specifically got the strips so there would not be microwaving involved. The strips I got were the hypo-allergenic kind that already have the wax on them. How do you mess these up?? I really don't know the answer. I washed off my face (as instructed) I used the strips - and them followed up with the "soothing" wipes.....UMMMMMM........soothing wipes should have been "chemical - skin burning, terrible, awful".........(well, you get the idea, right) OUCH!!! So I followed up with some moisturizer and called it a night - desperately hoping that I would wake up in the morning with beautiful eyebrows.....

Nope, not a chance. I woke up the next morning and my dear, dear husband's response is "What happened to your eyebrows??" Oh my goodness...I mean, let's just laugh it up. 2 days later really finds them a lot better. I have slathered....I mean SLATHERED obscene amounts of lotion, aloe vera, and Neosporin. I am pleased to say it has helped - a LOT. Thank goodness for creamy makeup to cover it up when I go out - but mostly I am staying around the house with the items mentioned above on my eyebrows. I thought about taking a picture and posting it, but I thought it would injure my pride a little bit too much! is getting a lot better....a few more days and I don't even think it will be noticeable. It will be just fine by the time we leave for Alaska on Saturday.

I can tell you that the "eyebrow debacle" will not be a lesson I need to learn twice. Southport is NOT too far to drive for eyebrows - and moving forward Amber should be able to help me!

Nate has 3 exams this week.....Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Saturday=ALASKA and VAL!!!!!

Blog Fodder......

Oh Hansy! B.A.D!

Hansy's handiwork

What a bad guy!
As my dear friend Susan said: "This incident will be great blog fodder....."

Yes, Susan is from Michigan and a farmer by nature.....because I love the word "fodder" but can't say it makes it in to my daily vocab!

A couple of weeks ago, I was out and about doing some odds and ends. I had Nate's (empty) lunchbox in the car. Later, I ran out and had Hansy in the car with me. I left Hansy unattended in the car for a few minutes and came back only to find Nate's lunchbox DOA.......

He unzipped and opened the lunchbox, then ate it.....or something like that - the rotten little monkey! I don't know why he did what he did.....

But here are some pics, all for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A tale of two Wal-Marts:

Living where we live in Greenwood - we actually have a WIDE selection of venues for shopping. This was and is an awesome change for a girl from Middlebury who then moved on to Manchester.

While living in Middlebury... many of the shopping places I have at my fingertips here were 15 to 20 minutes away in Goshen. The nearest really good mall was in South Bend/Mishawaka.

It was even worse in Manchester. There was a Wal-Mart 20 minutes away in Wabash, but as for the other places that I "prefer" were in Fort Wayne, around 45 minutes away.

You can imagine my pleasure when we moved to Greenwood - a place that I would compare to South Bend - with the "big city" of Indy only 20 minutes away. A funny fact is that Nate and I have everything we could ever need/want here in Greenwood. So even with the close proximity to the city - we don't really go that often for shopping or eating.

Where our house is located - we have a Super Target as well as a Meijer store within 2 miles and 5 minutes. So one may ask, "why would you ever even need to go to Wal-Mart?" Well my dears, it comes down to variety and slightly lower prices. Wal-Mart just carries a few things that the other places don't-or we can save some money.

That being said - there are two Wal-Marts really pretty equal distances from our house. They are both about 10-15 minutes away, depending on the traffic.

However, although they are no more than a few miles apart at most, they are WORLDS apart from one another. I honestly cannot explain this. One of them is nice, clean and frequented by seemingly nice and friendly people. As you may imagine, this is the Wal-Mart I ALWAYS go to.

Tonight, I was out and about and needed to go in looking for one thing. And tonight foound me much closer to the second "bad" Wal-Mart. Jimminy Crickets, Batman - now I remember in crazy detail why I don't go to that Wal-Mart.

Without judging others, it is kind of hard to explain - but honestly I just felt like I was a target of some kind. I did not have nice, friendly feelings about being at that Wal-Mart, and I turned around and left nearly as soon as I had gone in.

So for the future, we go to the OTHER Wal-Mart, not that one. I don't have any idea how to explain the difference, but all I know is that there is a BIG one (probably a lot) that can't be explained just by their area........

I think it is safe to assume that when moving to a new area, scope out the Wal-Mart closest to your new place of residence, and you may get a good idea of what you are getting in to.

Oh, the mysteries of the world we live in -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The price.......

Do you know what I realize? And not just realize, but REALLY feel sometimes? Why is it that sometimes one person's joy can only come at the cost of heartache and disappointment of another's? I really dislike this.

This particular circumstance has presented both sides of this to us recently. But, I guess in this world you really "can't have your cake and eat it too......"

And so, you (you in the sense of me, you, and everyone, for that matter!) just make the best of the situation possible. Sometimes this is a challenge to say the least......but I prefer to think of it as a "growing" challenge.

And so......where do you go from here?

I really feel like this holiday season may be just what the Dr. ordered. I am already feeling the Christmas spirit! The Christmas spirit really is just a lot of love, and genuine desire to spend time with those you love. This may come as a shocker......but Christmas is not about the presents!!! (Although, I won't even lie at all.....I really, really like and enjoy presents!) But it is so much more about getting presents for those you love, and looking for something that you really think they will like.

Sometimes, you get a present that you may not really like that well. But what is more important about that present, is knowing that the person who got it for you got it out of love and "thinking about you!"

In the few years past......sometimes the "Christmas Spirit" got lost for me in the "Christmas Zoo" (which may sound fun, but really is not.) When suddenly you approach the season with displeasure about "things you should do/are required to do" and it stops being what you "want to do" you have some issues.

And so........Christmas love coming your way from the Stewarts!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do you know the way?????

You know, even as I start this blog post tonight, I am not entirely sure which way to take it. I have a lot of thoughts, I have a lot of feelings.....some of which aren't really what this blog is used to.

For those of you who know me (and know me much at all) you know I am kind of loud and generally fun person. However, you may also know that I am a person who - when I am good, I am not just good.....I am AWESOME. But this kind of goes hand in hand with - when I am bad, well it's just another story.

This being said, Nate and I are great. Just me, by myself - well, yes, but also no. I guess I just feel a little bit like I am wandering around sometimes. We had a rough weekend last weekend, and this caused us to really rethink some things regarding the holidays this year.

In most ways, I have never been a huge "New Year, New You" kind of person. I mean, come on.....all it is going to do is make me make mistakes when writing the dates for months. I mean, really - what is the big diff between December 31st and January night, and then another day, just like any other day of the year.

However, this year (if it means nothing else) is just going to mean a bit more to me just because 2009 has called some tough shots. It hasn't been really kind to me. A lot of the events of the year are hidden in a shallow grave in my soul. I am fully confident that in years to come, I may look back at 2009 and really think, "Wow, that year really was kind of my gateway to adulthood - it really shaped the person I have become......" But on a day to day basis now, this is a bit tougher to do.

Nate and I are going to visit one of my mom's best friends, Val, in Alaska in two weeks. I thought it was what we needed, it was only when I called her that it sounded like it was what she needs to.

You know, sometimes a decision just feels right, all the way down to your bones. We really feel that way about this. We are just really looking foward to enjoying Alaska. We are going to enjoy Val's company. And we are going to enjoy Nate's break from the storm. We are going to come back January 1st with a new lease on life.

I mean, it is a new year.......let's make it one for the books!