Wednesday, July 31, 2013

eklutna lake

last week, papa frank came to visit.  with our glorious record-breaking summer weather, i wanted to get him out to enjoy the fresh alaskan air.  with gramma d offering to watch the tessle-ball, i thought eklutna lake would be the perfect adventure for us and the big kids.

it's one of my favorite places in south central.  the views are stunning, the lake is the perfect shade of bluish-green, and in the fall, when the leaves are turning golden, it's picturesque beyond anything a nikon could capture.  speaking of cameras... mine is on the fritz.  i kinda feel outta sorts, too.  so on this day, i had to depend on the iPhone.  i really loathe camera phone pictures, but when you "have" to capture a moment, it is rather handy.  and, you know how much i love to capture moments, especially ones with family.

ok, so it's super-spectacular scenery and all, blah blah blah, but i couldn't help but notice the YELLOW LEAVES on this tree and that tree.  (ugh, i'm sooo not ready for autumn!) i loved the fireweed growing out of the water on the bank.    

"throwing rocks" would be listed under both kiddos' favorite past time

i don't remember when this started or really why is started, but whenever we visit eklutna, i can't help but find state-shaped rocks - and ohhh, brownie points if you find heart-shaped ones!  i'm sure my dad thought i was nuts (his laughter and snickering gave it away), but it's fun and passes the time during the kid's throwing adventures.  he said i wouldn't find alaska, and he was right, but i bet he didn't think i had alaska right at my fingertips...

some people, dudes usually, skip rocks; i find states.

and, hearts!  found two, one of which jack swiped from me and gave to papa frank.  cairns are fun for me to build and fun for the minions to knock over.  it took me 4 times over for this picture of my cairn.  someone kept kicking it over...

 beautiful day with my beautiful people
 a stop at rochelle's is mandatory.  
strawberry for dyl (totally over the camera) and "banilla" for jb.

one of those days i'll remember for my lifetime.  thanks, pop; miss you already.  xo

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

a very special sunday road trip

turnagain arm.  chugach mountains.  seward highway.  girdwood.  kenai peninsula.  

glorious girdwood

i used to make this drive on any given gorgeous day.  since moving to the valley nine years ago, it no longer happens on a whim, and certainly not as much as i'd like.  our last trip south was march of 2012, after our return from hawai'i.  we visited the sea life center, ate a hardy lunch and enjoyed tuckered-out (see: snoozing) children all the way to anchorage.

on this sunday, jackie and i left the valley before 8 am to journey on down for a day trip.  my very dear friend is expecting a boy mid-september and asked me to take some pictures of her super-sweet expanding belly at her farm, nestled in the kenai mountains of cooper landing.

i feel completely honored.  her road to motherhood began well before mine, and while i don't feel comfortable divulging her entire story, i will say she has more angel babies watching over her than any one woman should - in countless lifetimes.  she is SO brave, stoic, admirable and a true inspiration to me and everyone that knows her.  she's the definition of perseverance.  i am ELATED that her story has not ended in heartbreak and am overjoyed when caught up in daydreams of meeting baby boy harpe.

we hope to meet again to capture dada in the belly mix, but until then, here's what we captured on that very memorable sunday afternoon.

29 weeks of pure beauty.

 five, i repeat, FIVE first-rate border collies

jen muttered something about her mother not approving of pictures like these, but i was too busy enjoying myself... ha!  but oh - this is her element.  this has been her life.  animals!  she loves all her fur-babies; i'm tickled to think how much she'll love her smooth-skinned baby!  

 love this look.

it's a shame she's not more photogenic, am i right?!  what an absolute stunner.  one of those natural beauties that wakes up looking like this.

and if playing photographer for 2+ hours wasn't reward enough, she sent me home with some poultry plunder:  

jen, i know you've said how much this trip meant to you, but i still can't wipe the smile off my face.  i guess i didn't realize how much i missed you until we had this day together.  thank you for letting jackie chase everyone around for 4 hours.  tell them all to rest up - we'll see you in a month!

Friday, July 19, 2013

this is life.

my mom has CANCER.  my MOM has cancer.  MY mom has cancer?  MY MOM HAS CANCER!

a few days ago, she sent me a quick text:  You busy?  i was just about to drift off to dreamland, but i'm never too busy to chat with her.  when i answered her phone call, the lady on the other end stated simply, well, shit.  i have cancer.  and, in perfect {my} mom-fashion, i'm thinking, you were asking if i was too busy to hear your biopsy news?  that you have cancer?  i don't know how long it took me to respond, but i do remember wanting to laugh at her.  laugh.  you're joking, right?  c'mon, gramma d.  but, cancer it is.

at some point, i stopped worrying about responding and just focused on listening.  appointment, next week.  surgery, not until next month.  caught early.  possibility to spread.  finger-like in its ability to stretch and grow elsewhere.  will surgery grab it all?  likely chemo and or radiation.

and, while no two cancers and treatments are the same, i couldn't help but loop to my Grandmother's battle.  i just can't go there yet.

as we hung up the phone, i thought there was no way i could fall asleep after receiving such news.  but, before i knew it, tess was crying, and i was to my feet before i had opened my eyes.  then, my mother's words rang out again: i have cancer.  no way.  i just didn't believe it.  i thought maybe i had dreamed it - enough that i opened up my text from her and saw her simplistic You busy?  it was real.  this fog was so thick and so heavy.  the words kept ringing out, but the tears never came.  i went about my day, thinking of my mother, walking around her new home, going about her day as if it were any other day.

but, this isn't just any other day.  this day, the 17th of july, will forever be marked in our family.  we met for dinner at nana lynn's new place (yes, she's finally moved in!) and had the first of many joint dinners to be had.  after the plates were empty and the boys had retreated to comfier seats, lynn emerged with a pink fleece blanket.  specifically, one with certain pink ribbons.  my mom and lynn had a moment, but the entire night, that was the only mention of the reality of her new life.

the next morning, the tears came.  i woke up crying.  ben left later than usual, only to return soon after with a steaming latte for me.  more tears.  he hugged me, and sweetly said, we'll get through this.  still tears.  talking with my mother soon after, we both had tears saturating our conversation.  and naturally, right now.

how can this be real?

i can't stop thinking of that blanket.  my mother is now in that club - that pink ribbon club.  i mean, it's not easy to say those ribbons haven't affected you on some level... don't you know a lady to have battled breast cancer before?  {ugh, i said it.  breast.  cancer.  breast cancer!}  we probably all do.  but on this level, this close?  lynn is a survivor, but i didn't know her back then.  so oddly enough, it hasn't impacted me like it does now.  does that make sense without sounding insensitive?  i'm struggling with my clarity.  i was hoping that by putting my thoughts to the keys, i'd make sense and process this information, but i'm feeling like i'm paddling with one oar; around and around, going nowhere.

send my mother a prayer, a positive vibe, a hopeful wish - whatever you do when you feel weak and need some strength.  maybe add me, as well.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

independence day

the willow parade is... simple.  the kids get loaded up with candy, even a free book from the library, countless toots and honks from the big rigs... it's short, un-crowded, and they chatter about all the fun had the entire drive home.      

with our weeks and weeks of gorgeous weather, it must have been too much to ask for the 4th of july to be blue-skied and sunny - we had gloom and rain.  but, i'm hearing from all my momma-friends that the few days of rain we've had has been welcomed to them as well.  finally, a chance to catch up on duties inside (and not feel guilty about missing out on the glorious sunshine) - scrub the toilets, vacuum a floor, put away the stacks of clean clothes... so as it was, after our morning trip to willow for the parade, we came back home and snuggled in for snoozes.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

hatcher pass, gold cord lake trail

while i've walked around and explored independence mine, i had yet to venture up the hiking trails leading back into the the valleys.  so on an early (for us) sunday morning, we met up with some friends and discovered a new favorite hike:

gold cord lake

i didn't know what to expect, but it surely didn't disappoint.  the only bummer of the hike was that it was socked in, and it wasn't until we were on our way back before i realized the beauty around us.  funny how that fog can be.  it lifted a few times, just for a moment, allowing us to see the mountains so crisp and close.

our friends, scott and sharon, will be moving out of state next month.  i've known them for nearly 6 years.  it worked out perfectly to meet with them on what could be our last outing before they head south.  but, we're hoping to squeeze in one more hike before then!

thanks for the great sunday of conversation and laughs!  (and thank you, scott, for helping little red with her soggy shoes and stinky feet!)

how's the fog?

oh!  see that chubby marmot in the top right picture?  that thing was barking and whistling at us and/or the bullydog long before we saw it.  i have never been that close to one nor have i ever seen one of that size.  we saw another (or rather, heard it first) and bella and the marmot were in this minute stand-off; whoever blinked, breathed, moved, wiggled FIRST, lost...  i'll just add that the loser snored the entire way home.  

dyl thought it was very funny, hiding from us behind the rocks.  however, the we found it funny that when she peeked up, all we could see were the owl ears and eyes from her hat...  i can still hear sharon laughing!
dylan prefers the road less traveled. 
 dada & beanie are so far away.

of course, we stopped for snacks.

beanie in a stare-down with marmot #2.
fog lifted briefly, and there's gold cord lake!

if there's water nearby, my children are throwing in rocks & sticks.  count on it.
 the former miebs 5
doesn't dylan just make you smile?
 mission: accomplished.

ok, scott & sharon: when's our next outing???