Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Kaelinisms: Bears Edition

31 Jul

(Watching The Fox & the Hound)

Koren: Why is he trying to kill them?
Kaelin: Because he’s a bear.  Bears always try to kill things.

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Posted in Kaelin, Kid Quotes, Wildlife


Sea Life Aquarium

18 Jul

Sadly, the mural in the entrance of the Sea Life Aquarium is cooler than any of the fish that are actually in the aquarium.

After the Rainforest Cafe, we headed over to the Sea Life Aquarium, which just opened in the Grapevine Mills mall.

I have pretty much determined that only crazy people attempt the Grapevine Mills mall on weekends.

There are apparently a lot of crazy people in Dallas.

The crowds were insane and there was about a two-hour line to get in.  Fortunately, Iris was once again brilliant and purchased tickets ahead of time – so we were able to skip the line and go straight in.

Tickets for the Sea Life Aquarium start at $12.75.  Perhaps we’re just spoiled by the amazing and cheap aquatic museums in Alaska, but for that price we all left feeling a little disappointed.  It’s a cool thing to have inside a mall… but for the ticket price and having to fight the crowd of people pouring through it… I have to give it a thumbs down.

There’s a stingray exhibit that’s neat, and a 10′ glass tunnel where you walk through an aquarium and have fish swimming all around you.  Koren voiced his disappointment at the size of the sharks, which weren’t any bigger than him.  The rest of the fish were pretty nondescript.

At the end of the tour, there’s a “petting” aquarium where the kids can touch stuff in the tanks.  EXCEPT THAT TANK, WHICH IS JUST AS ACCESSIBLE AS ALL THE OTHERS BUT HAS STINGING ANEMONES IN IT SO DON’T TOUCH.

There are about 2-3 actual critters in each tank.  The rest of the tank is just fake sea rocks with equally fake anemones on it.  Coming from Alaska, where they will stuff literally hundreds of starfish and crabs and sea urchins into a petting tank, this was a bit surprising.  Kaelin’s conversation with the attending employee went like this:

“What’s that?”
“That? It’s a sea urchin.”
“No… that.”
“Oh, that’s just a part of the environment rock.  It’s not real.”
“Oh.  What’s that?”
“That’s not real either.”
“What’s that over there?”
“Another part of the rock.”
“Is it real?”

When you enter, the kids are given a scratch-off quiz to complete as they tour the exhibit.  There are a series of question stations along the way and they are given various multiple-choice answers to scratch off.  They are told that when they reach the gift shop at the end, that they can turn in their answers for a PRIZE!!!

Be forewarned.  The “prize” is a sticker.  A sticker that you have to walk through the entire gift shop of tempting (and hella-pricey) goodies to acquire.

The glass tunnel

Kaelin & Jas

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Posted in Family, Kaelin, Koren, Nature, Photos, Such is Life, Thumbs Down


Bear With Me

17 Apr

I’ve been running (jogging – the term “running” seems a bit overzealous for what I do) the spit ever since the ice melted off it, and lately have been doing intervals of 1-mile-jog, ¼-mile-walk, wash, rinse, repeat until I run out of steam or time, whichever comes first.  I spent the majority of last week shaking my fist at the sky because the weather would NOT cooperate with my jogging efforts.

Jens was gone on business last weekend and most of the week, so my only opportunity to run in that 7-day stretch came Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, while the kids were in school.  Monday, it snowed.  ALL DAY.  The sun finally came out and started melting the snow Tuesday afternoon – after the kids had come home.

Wednesday was utterly gorgeous, but the kids did not have school so I had no opportunity to take advantage of it.  We did take the dog for a walk, but I was craving a good solitary run.  Somehow, keeping pace with my 2-year-old while being lurched back and forth down a muddy dirt road by a spastic yo-yo on a leash doesn’t offer much consolation.

Thursday morning was, predictably, cold and cloudy.  I was desperate at this point, so I went jogging anyway but it was just short of misery.  It was bitterly cold and I had to pee the whole time, despite having gone just before I left the house.  The run was cut disappointingly short.

And then Jens came home.  The angels sang, the heavens opened up, and God decided to bless my weekend.

Apology accepted.

I ran long in the sun on Friday.  6 miles of actual jogging, plus another 1.5 of walking – I went all the way down to the tourist shops and back.

Saturday was still gorgeous but I took it a bit easier since my feet were sore.  I jogged 2 miles at a slow pace and walked 2 miles.  Then I walked up the hill to our house, which is a difference of about 650′ in elevation over the course of 2.5 miles.  I’m not used to walking uphill, so it was challenging and a good way to work a different set of muscles while giving my knees a break.  For the record, it takes me 50 minutes to walk home from the bottom of the hill.

Today, I decided to test myself.  Instead of doing my normal “run a mile, walk a quarter” routine, I pushed myself to run a full 5K (about 3.2 miles) without stopping to walk.

I did it.  In fact, when I finished, I wasn’t nearly as exhausted as I expected to be.

So I turned around and did it again.

And learned I was stronger than I was giving myself credit for.  Right now, my knees are a bit sore, my bunions are achy, but I’m feeling really good.

It’s funny, since moving here, I’ve never really felt “at home” in Alaska.  It just isn’t a part of me the same way it is for Jens.  We’ve been here for a year, yet mostly I still feel like a visitor… one who has perhaps overstayed the visit.  The quirky house we’re renting isn’t “home” – it’s just a place we’re staying for a while that belongs to someone else.   The sun is weak here, which makes me oddly uncomfortable in the way it never actually warms my skin.  I pretty much hate snow.  It’s foreign to me and evolves into ice, which seeks to destroy me at every opportunity.  The beach will always belong to the campers and wind surfers.  Seldovia will always belong to Jens’ family. The moose are amusing; the eagles are amazing, yet distant and untouchable.  The mountains are beautiful and powerful.

And then there’s the spit.  The spit is mine.  As though when I set foot upon it, I’m walking toward myself in some way.  My place of solitude, reflection, introspection.  My opportunity to listen to nothing but the thoughts in my head as I gaze out across water that is bluer than blue, and snow-capped mountains in nearly every direction.  My place to push and stretch my limits, to change my horizons, to do things I spent years ignorantly writing myself off of.  At the same time that it challenges me, it comforts me.  In the way that Home comforts.  The spit is the one piece of Alaska that has shaped part of who I am, and that I will take with me when leave.  It is mine.

The count-down is upon us now.  I haven’t done nearly as much packing as I should have.  I’ve been far too busy soaking up the sun… but I’m having a hard time regretting that just now.

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Posted in Exercise, Growth, Homer, Introspection, Nature, Self Revelation


Unrelated Little Tidbits that Aren’t Long Enough to Warrant Their Own Post

20 Jan

I love how my kids cheer for breakfast.  It’s great to bring a carefully prepared plate out every morning to the resounding cheer of “BREAKFAST!!!”

* * *

IMO, if it has to snow, it should be big, wonderful snowflakes, and not the tiny little wet snowy junk that came down all of yesterday.  I’m finding that I greatly prefer snow to rain when I have to be out in it… I just wish it didn’t stick around so long afterward.  I think Dallas has the right idea.  It snows, and it’s really exciting – then in 2 days the ground is clear.  EVERY TIME.

* * *

Can I just say that I’m proud of my husband for being such a hard worker.  He’s started his own company with a friend and has been taking on some projects in addition to his full-time job.  Yesterday he worked 15 hours and potentially has several more projects in the pipes for the next 6 months or so.

* * *

Koren’s newest thing is to say something that’s either outrageous or doesn’t make sense, and then “I’m just jokinnnn'” with a huge grin.  He’s such a ham.

* * *

We had a lynx in our yard.  Jens saw it when he was on a work call.  Had he not been on the phone, he probably would have gone out and shot it, because it was dragging one of its front legs.  We’re glad Hastings wasn’t tied up outside at the time.  Injured predators tend to go for easy prey, like tied up animals or children.  This one was in such bad shape though, it probably won’t last much longer.

* * *

Also in the wildlife category, Jens scared a moose half to death when he leaned over the railing in the dark and spit on it.  He didn’t know the moose was there and got quite a shock when it reared back in surprise.

* * *

Kaelin is getting so spoiled at school.  Her teacher is a fisherman whose family is like modern day hippies.  His wife sports dreads (this is Homer, where the women in dreads outnumber the women who wear makeup) and they raise just about every kind of animal you can imagine.  And they all come to school.  The class has a pet guinea pig, Bear, who is a permanent resident and you may remember as our house guest over Christmas break.  But the kids have also gotten exposure to lots of other animals that come to class on occasion.  Hen-hen the guinea pig, Bella the Hamster … Tuesday they got to meet Andromeda, a 3-day-old baby goat.  Today they get a puppy.  Kaelin is in hog heaven amongst all the animals.  She tells me that SHE got to hold Andromeda TWICE, when all the other kids only got to hold her once.  Koren seemed pretty indifferent to the goat but is excited about the puppy.

* * *

This is a note for CRAFTERS (or anyone who needs to buy gifts for them) – Joann’s is having a 40% off sale THIS WEEK ONLY on just about everything that pertains to scrapbooking and card-making.  Also, you can use coupon codes NFSE20 and NFSE22 online to get 50% OFF any item that’s not already on sale.  That’s some pretty significant savings, so get thee to the store!!!  Joann’s is on my Awesome list lately, because their online store will still ship most orders all the way to Homer, Alaska for less than $8.

* * *

Our library has been out of commission for over a week.  The server went down on the 11th and nobody knows what to do to fix it.  So no one can check out any books until they get it up and running again.  Bummer.  At least they still do Story Hour on Wednesdays.  Yesterday, the kids made a craft that will be displayed in some Art gallery in town during the month of February.

* * *

We’ve been to our little Homer Theater a couple of times in the past month.  When we moved here, this theater had a sign out front for several months that read, “Boiler’s broken, bring your coat to the movie.”  The lobby/concessions is the size of my kitchen (maybe) and they only take cash or check.  They have PEPSI signs everywhere but only serve Coke.  The bathrooms hold one person at a time.  There’s only one screen, it’s a bit bigger than our media room screen in Dallas, and they play 2 movies per day.  And the movies are on actual film strips.  Fun times!

* * *


  • Safeway/Tom Thumb’s “O” Brand Organic No-Stir Creamy Peanut Butter is the best peanut butter in the world.  It’s organic, but you don’t have to stir it up or refrigerate it (is it just me, or is cold, hard peanut butter the WORST).  And it’s the best tasting peanut butter I’ve tried, organic or otherwise.
  • Organic Valley 2% milk is the bomb.  It’s slightly more expensive than Horizon, but has better animal management practices and tastes even better.  FACT: Organic Milk tastes better than the regular hormone- and antibiotic-laden stuff.  And it won’t make your daughter grow boobs at the age of 9.
  • I’m not a fan of most greek yogurts, but Fage yogurt is awesome.  I can never go back to American yogurt.  Ladies, suck it up and get the 2% instead of the Fat Free.  It’s worth it.  I particularly like their little duo cups that have the yogurt on one side and the fruit mix on the other, so you mix it yourself.  It doesn’t get runny like the other greek yogurts that try to put it all in the same container.
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Posted in Culture Shock, Film, Hobbies, Homer, Kaelin, Kid Quotes, Koren, Lists, Pets/Animals, Promo, School, Thumbs Up, Wildlife, Work


How We Roll

22 Dec

Happy Solstice!

Well, the shortest day of the year has come and gone.  From here on out, the sun should stick around a few minutes longer every day.

We got to see the lunar eclipse last night too, which was something I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen before. It seems like lunar eclipse nights are always cloudy, but last night we had a clear view of the red moon.  Apparently it was the first total eclipse on a Solstice in 600 years or something.

Jens is celebrating the Solstice by spending it in the ER.  Again.

It’s official.  His immune system just can’t handle Alaska.  We’ve all been hit this year.  Between Jens’ bouts of strep, broken limbs, multiple colds, and Koren’s Dragon Croup and other illnesses… they ought to offer us a frequent customer discount at the ER.  I’m pretty sure our family accounts for at least 10% of their business.

Even I’ve had 3 colds since we moved here 8 months ago, and that’s about 6x my normal frequency for such things.  I just got over one a few days ago and was afraid Jens was coming down with what I had… but it seems he has invented his own strain of … whatever it is.

He’s been fighting a fever today and has some pretty severe oral ulcers.  There’s a spot on his tongue that looks like he bit a chunk out of it and his tongue is swollen to the point that he can’t talk without sounding like he has a bad speech impediment.  He’s been cold all day and a pretty decent dose of ibuprofen and Tylenol a couple of hours ago did nothing to lower the fever.

Kaelin remains the only one of us able to avoid all things infectious, it seems.

Speaking of Kaelin, I’m not quite sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but I’ve agreed to bring the class pet home to spend the holidays with us.

Kaelin’s teacher called today to voice the need for someone to care for Bear the Guinea Pig over Christmas break.  She knew how much joy Kaelin would get out of such an assignment, and was sure that Kaelin would be VERY ATTENTIVE to Bear’s needs.  (If you recall, this is the same 5 year old that ignored the Easter Bunny, Egg Hunts, Pony Rides and playground at her farewell party, so that she could stand around and hold a pet mouse for two hours.  She is borderline obsessive about small rodents.)

Jens is afraid the dog will eat the guinea pig.  Theoretically, that would only happen if my children set the guinea pig loose in the house when nobody’s watching, which surely…

Oh dear, what have I done.

Fortunately for Bear, my parents will be here too, so there will be two extra sets of eyes around.  Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t spend Christmas tearing the house apart and looking for poop trails in a desperate attempt to track down an over-sized rodent.



14 Dec

View from our livingroom window

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Posted in Homer, Nature, Photos


Ft. Worth Zoo

13 Dec

The Ft. Worth Zoo is a great destination when the weather is nice and you have most of a day at your disposal.

Koren was still traumatized by his experience with the dinosaurs, and was NOT A FAN of the large primates we saw first.

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Posted in Kids, Nature, Pets/Animals, Photos, Wildlife


Pumpkin Patch Pictures

07 Nov

Millions of pumpkins, pumpkins for me. Millions of pumpkins, pumpkins for free.*

*10 points to anyone who gets the song reference.

As I mentioned previously, we went to the Dallas Arboretum and went through their Pumpkin Village display.  Here are the pictures I was unable to post the first time.

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