Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


10 Jun

Wilson Eckels

June 5, 1918 – June 10, 2013


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Posted in Family


Family Reunion

07 Sep

We flew to Denver and back in one day in order to attend a reunion on Jens’ side of the family.  It was a lot of fun and totally exhausting… especially for Koren, who – while we were sitting in the airport waiting for our delayed (!!!) flight home – kept moaning and whimpering about how the only thing he wanted in the whole world was his “comfy little bed.”  Poor kid was just beside himself after getting up at 4:30am, no nap, playing himself into exhaustion at the park, and not getting home until 11pm.

The reunion itself was tons of fun though.  We met at a park and the kids played and played and played, while the adults visited.  This is a side of the family we don’t get to see often, which is a shame, since they’re all pretty wonderful people and we really enjoy the times we DO get to spend with them.

Here are a few highlights…

Cousin fistbumps

My little hooligans

The kids adore their Auntie Choo.

Hanging out

Mr. Sunshine. At least, during this point of the day.

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Posted in Family, Kaelin, Koren, Photos, Travel


Uncles Are for Wrestling

09 Jun

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Posted in Family, Jens, Photos


Oh Baby!

08 Apr

Last weekend we enjoyed a surprise baby shower in honor of my cousin Julie who was in town visiting with her sisters.  It was kind of a double surprise:  Julie didn’t know she was having a shower…

And none of the sisters knew their mom (my aunt) would arrive, having made a covert op flight from the east coast as well.

The shower was tons of fun and everyone had a really good time.  Even the kids:


I was asked to make a diaper cake for the event.  But I got a little bored with the idea of another diaper cake, so I decided to go for a diaper stroller instead.

It went surprisingly well, considering that I was kind of making it up as I went along.  I watched a few tutorials on making diaper strollers, but became frustrated when I saw the ladies hot-gluing diapers into place.  Isn’t the point of a diaper cake so that the mom-to-be can actually USE the supplies that go into it?  I’m happy to say that every inch of my diaper stroller is useable for actual baby care.

Because I clearly have too much time on my hands (huh?) I also volunteered to make a cake to match the diaper stroller:

The colors look a little odd because of the lighting.  But you get the general idea.  Oh, and cake pops, because when you have extra cake laying around you have to make cake pops.  I’m pretty sure that’s a rule.

Even though I hate cake pops.

Unless they’re chocolate.

Honestly, I was a little disappointed with the finished cake.  It wasn’t my best creation and from up close looked kind of … sloppy.  Jens says I’m too much of a perfectionist when it comes to my cakes.  But I have STANDARDS.  And this one didn’t quite measure up.

At least it seemed to go over pretty well with the guests.


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Posted in Cakes, Crafts, Family, Photos


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


Our 4th of July in Pictures (and one video)

05 Jul

Click on any of the thumbnails below to see the full image.


Through a Child’s Eyes

15 Feb

I’ve been doing the 30 Day Shred DVD for about a week now.  Occasionally, the kids join in and try to do it with me.  (A 2-year-old’s version of jumping jacks is very entertaining.)

At one point, Jillian explains that her pal Natalie will be doing advanced versions of the exercises for those who aren’t already struggling to keep their battered, aching bodies from collapsing onto the floor in a puddle of tears.

Obviously, she isn’t talking to ME.

Anyway, she gestures to Natalie’s well-toned and obviously muscular physic and says something to the effect of, “If you want to look like this, then you have to work like that.”

Kaelin, being five, took that to mean that if I continued doing these exercises, I was going to turn into Natalie.  She was not thrilled about the idea that her mother could suddenly morph into a 6′ tall black woman.

It reminded me of the time I saw my own mom taking some pills and asked what they were for.  My mom has taken estrogen supplements since her hysterectomy 30+ years ago.  She explained to me that she needed the hormone, and furthered the explanation with something to the effect of “estrogen is what makes a woman a woman.”

I was about five at the time, and after that I lived for a while with the fear that my mother was at risk of suddenly turning into a man if she forgot to take her pills.

I’m glad Kaelin is better than I was at asking for clarification.


Unalakleet: Fishing

24 Oct

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled programming.  I never finished posting about Unalakleet.

Jens busted his elbow at the beginning of summer, so he missed the entire King Salmon fishing season because his arm was in a splint.  After his arm healed, he tried fishing for reds a couple of times, but came back empty handed.

So when he had the opportunity to go fishing for silvers in UNK, he jumped on it.  I went too, more for moral support than a desire to do any fishing myself.

We took a motor boat upriver and stopped in a little place where two streams converge.  At first, the fish were just teasing us.  The guys would throw out their lures and a fish would jump 10 feet away from the spot where the lure hit the water.

Eventually, persistence paid off and they started biting.  At least, they started biting for Jens.

Joey, Our Fishing Guide

Joey beating the fish into submission. With a bone.

Caught another one!

I fished a little. Didn't catch anything.

Jens caught 4 of the 5 fish we came back with.

Cleaning and slicing. Joey is using an Ulu, a curved traditional Eskimo knife.

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Posted in Friends, Jens, Photos, Travel, Unalakleet