Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Pho, Godspell and Redoubt spews

Thursday morning the volcano blew again. This time the ashes blew towards us. We had a 4 hour warning before the ashfall was due to hit Homer. It was the closest thing to a natural disaster I've ever experienced since the earthquake of 1989 in California. I filled up every container we had with clean water in case something happened to our water supply. Then I shut down and covered every electronic device.

It's more annoying than anything else. Besides wearing masks, I should have worn goggles. The ash gets in your eyes and it's very irritating. Matt told me later that the ash is like tiny shards of glass. They get under your contacts and scratch your eyes. If you use you windshield wipers, they can scratch your windshield. I should have picked the kids up before the ash started to fall, then go home and put my car in the garage where it would have been safe.

But I was having my own natural disaster. The annual tax preparation crisis. I opened my tax organizer for the first time. The cover letter from our fairly new accountant said due back March 20. Oops. I had a panic attack, then got to work while beating myself up for being the queen of disorganization and procrastination. Then I had to drive to the post office during the thickest part of the ash fall to express mail my package so our accountant wouldn't fire me. I'm sure that was really good for my car.

Today I waited in the carwash line for 30 minutes to wash my car. It was the fourth time I had driven by the carwash. The first three times there were cars lined up around the building. Luckily, it's been snowing a lot so most of the ash is wet now and bound to the ground instead of blowing around where it does the most damage. The volcano has been spewing off and on for 5 days. Most of it has not blown high enough to be a danger to us. Matt said last night during dinner: "I wonder what Redoubt's problem is? Why can't it just blow once and get it over with?" Yeah, why can't natural disasters happen when it's convenient for us anyway?

Speaking of Matt, he made his first pot of pho yesterday! I gave him a choice of going with us to see our high school's production of "Godspell", or staying home and learning how to make pho. He chose the latter. He made an excellent batch of pho bo.

I took the kids to see Godspell. Our high school choir puts on a great musical every year. The first time I saw Godspell I was in high school I think. I caught the end on of it on TV during Easter week. I cried my eyes out when they tied Jesus to the chain link fence. My mom said, "What's wrong with you? You never cry when we watch the religious movies and now you're crying because they tied this clown to a chain link fence?"

I've always been deeply affected by symbolism. The high school choir did a great job. They improvised and made it their own. Most of them were dressed in very creative combinations of 7o's and 80's style garb. One kid was dressed as Mario, as in the Mario Brothers video game. Riley and Chris enjoyed the boys wearing hockey jerseys, of course. Instead of a mime, Jesus was a surfer dude. Mary Magdalene was a cheerleader. I had to work hard not to start sobbing when they tied Jesus to the big piece of driftwood hanging from the top of the stage.

Ash on snow

We've been enjoying all the birds coming to our bird feeder. They are going through the bird seed so fast, Matt said we'll have to start buying 40 pound bags.

Maya approved of Daddy's pho.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Leonards in Vietnam/Redoubt blows!

Mt. Redoubt finally blew. The wind is blowing the ashes the other way so we have not had to deal with that problem but our unfortunate neighbors to the north are not so lucky.

I was thrilled today to see pictures of the Leonard Family in Vietnam, picking up their son, Nathan. What a wonderful first day they had together! Check them out on the Leonard Family Blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring!

In the rest of the world it's the first day of spring. In Alaska we still have snow on the ground and the temperature is in the teens when we make wake up in the morning. But the days are getting longer and we have had some beautiful sunny days.

On our last day in Anchorage we went to the Dimond Mall for pho and bowling.

Maya rode a horse at the mall.

Slurping on some pho ga.

Check out these bowling balls. They look like sherbet.

A moment of sweetness between Chris and Maya.

Riley and Matt waiting for their turn.

When we picked Trevor up from Lyn and Darwyn, the boys tried to smuggle their dog Cassie in the car.

Chris is happy to have his dog back.
Wednesday Matt took the boys and Alana's gang to Ohlson Mountain for Extreme Tubing.

Back row: Falcom, Chris and Riley. Front: Willie, Marina.

On Thursday Matt took the kids to Nikiski pool. Alana and her kids were there, too.

Alana took Maya down the waterslide, of course, Maya loved it! I got to stay home and clean house, which is something I didn't do much during the hockey season.
On Friday Grandma came over for coffee then took all the kids for haircuts. Then they played at her house all day. She took them to Islands and Ocean to see a visiting great horned owl. Matt and I spent the day spring cleaning and getting caught up on stuff around the house. It was so nice to be home together and have conversations without constant interruptions from little people.

On Saturday morning the boys went to the Bay Club to play raquettball with Ly. Maya and I swam. After we had been in the pool for an hour, two of her friends from the play group at Boys and Girls Club showed up. I got to meet her friends Freida and Elaine.

Late Saturday afternoon we went down to the Spit to watch the fisherman haul in their catch for the Winter King Salmon Derby. Maya has a close encounter with a winter king. Winter kings are my favorite kind of salmon. Winter kings are not spawning like the ones we catch in the summer time. They are so delicious, it's like eating butter that is good for you.
The Homer boat harbor.
Fishing boats heading back to the harbor.

Trevor is in heaven.

The boys made this shelter from driftwood and found objects.
Today is the last day of our spring break. Tomorrow Matt and I go back to work and the kids are back in school. We had a wonderful time. Chris is already counting down the days until we go to Arizona for Sarah's graduation.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fun at H2Oasis

This morning the boys went to watch the semifinal game between Jr. Avalance and Fairbanks Phantoms. The Jr. Avalanche won. They went on to beat the Comets in the Championship game 3-2. We lost to the two teams that made it to the final round, just like President's Day tournament.

We had lunch in Eagle River at a restaurant called Shines' Sushi. Here's Maya sipping miso soup.

Maya pratices eating salad with chopsticks.

Matt's sushi lunch special.

I ordered chicken teriyaki and shrimp tempura for the boys.

They ended up eating Matt's sushi platter.
We had an interesting discussion about the similarities and differences between Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine and culture.

Then we went to H2Oasis, an indoor water park in Anchorage. Maya was so happy she was juming up and down as soon as we got into the place. Here's Matt and Maya on her first slide.

She just loves that water!

She doesn't mind water in her face or in her eyes.

She stayed in the water for almost 5 hours. She took a short dinner break and headed straight back to the water.

Chris went down the big water slide over and over.

Bradley, Robby and Douglas from the hockey team showed up later and a good time was had by all.

Play Hockey Like a Girl

I forgot to report on our game against Matsu Eagles yesterday morning. I thought Garrett got a hat trick. But according to the official score sheet, Garrett scored 2 goals, Graison scored 2 goals each. Then Charlie, Douglas, Robby and Riley all scored 1 goal each. We beat the Matsu Eagles 8-1. But here's the best part (and I'm bummed I missed the photo op): Two of our girls, Ziza and Lyndsay, were in the penalty box at the same time!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Dream of Champions

Tonight the Homer Glacier Kings played an incredible game. They kept their greatest opponent from scoring the entire first period. The second period each team scored 1 goal. The third period the Jr. Avalanche scored 4 more goals to defeat us 5-1. Graison scored our only goal on a breakaway. All the kids played their hearts out. It was one of the best games they've ever played. We are out of the championship now, but our kids should go home feeling like champions.

The following is a quote our coach put in his Parent Player Guidelines for the State Tournament:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt, 1910.

Hatcher Pass

Yesterday we went to Hatcher Pass to go sledding with the younger kids. Riley and Dad went to watch the competition. First we stopped at Aunt Kristin's to get the Malamutes, Lupine and Gus.

This is Kristin's bike geared up for winter. Check out those fat tires and big mittens! It's a titanium frame so Chris can even pick it up.

Jill pulled Maya up the mountain.

Maya with Lupine and Gus. Hey wait a minute! They're supposed to be sled dogs. Shouldn't they be pulling us up the mountain?

Here we are halfway up the mountain Kristin made us hike. The tiny ants in the background are Kristin, Chris and the dogs.

We're almost to the top! We sent Chris down by himself. He wiped out halfway down the mountain but his sled kept going without him! He walked down and got his sled and brought it halfway up. We put Maya in the sled with him the second time.

They wiped out and Maya did a face plant in the snow. Then she cried for Grandma and Grandma's dogs, Nikki and Heidi all the way to the car.

She had a snack in the car and fell asleep on the way home. We called Grandma when we got home so she could tell Grandma all about it.
Riley's team lost to the Anchorage Comets (Team Morgan) last night 1-5. It was a heartbreaking loss. You never saw so many long faces in the locker room after the game. Riley scored our only goal, thanks to an awesome pass from Robby. Today we have two games. First we play the Matsu Eagles, who we have chance of defeating. Then we face our toughest competition: The Wasilla Jr. Avalanche.

Friday, March 13, 2009

About Jill

A word about Jill. Some people call her Dr. Jill. We call her Aunt Jill because she's Aunt Kristin's best friend. Jill was kind enough to let us stay at her house the weekend. We neglected to tell her that our weekend was starting on Thursday night and ending Tuesday morning. Besides being a family practice physician, Jill is one of those extreme athletes. She looks like a model from a Title Nine Catalogue. She and Kristin don't just ride their bikes on really long bike races over mountains. They have studded tires and ride in snow all winter. Jill is smart, sweet and kind. She's a very capable woman. She's from Minnesota. I've never met anyone from Minnesota that I didn't like. But here's what I love most about Jill:

She shares my political views.

Jill hasn't had a moment to herself since we arrived.

But she's finding ways to keep Maya busy.

We're going to the State Championship!

Today was the first day of the hockey state championship. The Homer Glacier Kings beat the Eagle River Mustangs 5-3. It was an exciting game. Graison scored 3 goals (a hat trick). Garrett scored 2 goals. There were many assists and shots on goal but I don't have the score sheet so I can't tell you who did what. Brenden got a shot on goal, too, Vanessa!

The 5 hour ride to Wasilla.

It's like Stonehenge, only it's Icehenge.

The Alaska Railroad.

Here's the State Championship trophy. Isn't it beautiful? We got to see it being carried in.
This is the gorgeous Multi-Use Complex in Wasilla. Besides a hockey rink, it has an indoor soccer field that is also used for toddler playgroups. Around the hockey rink there is a walking/jogging track. The ice rink is so warm a coach was on the ice in a T-shirt.

There are NINE candy machines. Ours only has two.

We met Jill for dinner at Picadillo's for pizza and spaghetti. It's not really called that, I just don't remember the real name.

Our first game was at 11:45 so we had a leisurely morning. Did you want a cup of coffee with your newspaper?

Poor Chris woke up with a fever of 101 this morning.

Here's the team in a huddle between periods.

We had lunch at The Tailgate Sports Bar after the game. A Jr. A team came in right after us.
Check out the hockey hair!