Rockin 2011 in Style… or Maybe Just a Snuggie.

01 Jan

Well the last one standing has fallen victim to the Alaska Health Plague.  Kaelin, who is the only one of us to avoid sickness in the last 8 months spent the first half of the day in bed with a low-grade fever and complete refusal to eat.  She got up for 45 minutes to mourn the departure of her grandparents and then went back to bed in the middle of a movie.

Koren was warm, clingy and lethargic this morning.  He ate a good lunch, and then went down for a nap at 11:45am – 2 hours earlier than usual.  He then slept 3 and a half hours.

Both kids woke up mid-afternoon and seem to have improved with the extra sleep.  Kaelin is finally eating lunch (it’s 4:30pm) and we’re all hanging out in the playroom in jammies and a snuggie.

I am still waiting for the ibuprofen I took an hour and a half ago to take effect on the headache I’ve been wrestling with since last night.  Late yesterday afternoon I started coming down with a sore throat and cough that hurts my chest.  It kept me up much of the night, but fortunately Jens and my parents were here this morning to help with the kids and let me get some rest.

Jens left to drive my parents back to Anchorage at 11am, and we expect him back sometime around 9pm.  And we’ve been quite the lively crew while he’s gone too.  I think the most energy I’ve expended all day was bringing Koren’s little potty up two flights of stairs.

Yep, a few New Years Day party animals are we.


Merry Christmas, Y’all!

25 Dec

I don’t have a scintillating Christmas post prepared.  I’m not very good at the sentimental stuff.  But after a long and cold (at one point it hit -24°F) drive to Anchorage beginning at 5am this morning, my husband finally returned with my parents, who will be visiting us for the next week.

My parents received a royal greeting from the kids, who went into hyper overdrive from their excitement at seeing them. They were smothered with loud affection and given the “tour” of the house as though they’d never been here before.

Out guest, Bear the Guinea Pig has been returned to his “cage” for the evening to decompress from a full day of near-constant attention. Speaking of Bear, a note to any parent who volunteers to take home the class pet for the holidays:  it is, apparently, foolish to assume said pet will come with an actual CAGE.  Bear was handed to us in a cardboard box, which he would have chewed through in approximately 3 minutes.  Fortunately for everyone, we happen to have a dog kennel, which is serving as his temporary quarters.

The fire is going (it’s a balmy 5° outside). Cookies have been baked and set out for Santa.  Our Christmas Eve Present tradition has been executed, and the kids were both thrilled with the one present they opted to open.  The holiday music is playing, and my parents are doing some last minute wrapping while I prepare to fill some stockings and enjoy some of Santa’s milk & cookies.  I have a feeling Bear will be thrilled with the “reindeer’s” carrots.

Wishes for a very Merry Christmas to you all.  I know this year is harder than years past for some of you, but regardless of your circumstances, I hope that it remains an event that brings warm memories for years to come.

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Posted in Holidays, Pets


Korenisms: What Are We Teaching This Kid Edition

25 Dec

“O-N-E.  That spells what, Koren?”

* * *

“Koren, whose birthday do we celebrate on Christmas?”

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Posted in Kid Quotes, Koren


How a Criminal Has a Better Chance of Opening a Bank Account in My Name Than I Do

23 Dec

At the beginning of this month, I embarked on a mission that would serve two purposes:

  1. Leave Bank of America
  2. Consolidate all our bank accounts under one bank

We have a lot of bank accounts.  More, I suppose than the average household.  See, when we got married, we each had a few accounts.  Rather than cancel half of them like I imagine most people do, we kept them all and assigned different purposes to each.  This eventually evolved into using an electronic version of the “envelope” budgeting system to manage our finances: a different account for each type of expense.

We have an account for food/gas expenses, with which we do all our grocery shopping, eating out and gas station purchases.  We have an account that the mortgage and rent payments are drawn from, an account for general household bills, accounts for each of the kids, and our own checking accounts for “play money.”  Throw in a few savings accounts (medical expenses, charity, rainy day, etc), a business account, and that account that we opened at Chase just so we could get a free $150, and you’re looking at quite a mess when it’s spread across several banks.

Thus the need to consolidate.

Also, I’m a bit fed up with Bank of America.  They charge fees for everything – $9.95 per month just so I can download my transactions into Quicken.  Plus $8.75 per month for each account that doesn’t have direct deposit (and since we’re only allowed to DD into 4 accounts, that’s a lot).  Plus, their idea of “interest” on an account is abysmal.

There are two choices for local banks here.  The first is an Alaskan credit union, and while I’ve had great experiences with the people in the branch (it’s currently where our food/gas account is held), it’s just not up to speed enough to meet my needs.  Plus, I’m trying to avoid having to do this all over again when we move back to Texas in a few months.

The second choice is Wells Fargo, which is basically another Bank of America.  Fees, fees fees, no interest, and lots of restrictions.

So I went on the Great Bank Hunt of 2010.  I thought I had found the answer to my needs with Ally – an online bank that offers free accounts with great (comparatively, at least) rates, free checks, no direct deposit requirements and will refund ATM fees.  They also charge a MAXIMUM of $9 per DAY in overdraft fees, which I appreciate because even though I try to keep a good handle on what’s going in and out, our “system” necessitates that account balances get very low from time to time.  Nothing irks me more than miscalculating and having to pay $35 in fees to cover that $3 Starbucks run.

However, I then discovered that Ally doesn’t download transactions directly into Quicken.

I know.  I’m hard to please.

So then I started looking at Capital One, where I’ve had an account for several years.  They too offer free accounts with no direct deposit requirements, no fees to download to Quicken, and if you open their “Direct Banking” accounts (online like Ally accounts) you can get some decent interest rates.

So I began by opening an online account.  I got it all set up and decided that this was the bank for me.  I then proceeded to open the rest of my accounts, and that’s when things got hairy.

In order to open an account online, many banks require you to answer some “security” questions to “verify your identity.”  First, let me say that this is the STUPIDEST thing in the world.  It’s supposed to discourage unscrupulous people from trying to open an account in your name, but guess where the multiple-choice answers to these security questions come from?


So any thief with a few bucks on hand can purchase a copy and have all the answers right in front of him.

Second, the process assumes that your public profile is a) correct, and b) that you’re aware of all the information on it.  Both assumptions can be (and are often) false.  So a thief reading your public profile can suddenly become MORE qualified than you are to answer your own security questions.

…to be continued…


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.


3 Things That Are Really Stupidly, Amazingly Difficult to Do When You Live in Small-Town Alaska:

16 Dec
  1. Switch banks.  Especially if you’re not interested in using either of the two banks that have branches in this state.
  2. Get fresh berries out of season.  I totally splurged and bought blueberries yesterday because the grocery store actually HAD SOME for the first time in months.  For $17/lb.
  3. Order Christmas gifts from places like Brookstone.  “Sorry, this item cannot be shipped to your location.  Because obviously you live on another planet.”

I am also currently frantically waiting for about 5 pieces of mail to arrive to me.  One is our Christmas cards so that hopefully I can get them addressed and sent out this week, though I am certain the majority of recipients will be receiving theirs well after Christmas this year, sorry.  The other things have to do with our banking, a project that I would really like to put behind me, but am at a complete standstill on until these things show up.

Every day, I think, “TODAY MUST BE THE DAY.”  Yet every day I sift through a useless pile of Christmas catalogs to find not a single piece of mail that I have been waiting for.

I hate waiting.  I am not good at waiting.  I do not enjoy waiting.  Waiting makes me a bit crazy in the head.  And I hate waiting.


Pep Talk

14 Dec

I love eavesdropping on my kids when they have no idea that anybody is listening.

Well, sometimes.  There have been times when I have witnessed things that got them both sent to their rooms, but this particular occasion just made me smile.

The sound is a little quiet because Kaelin was facing away from me, so in case you can’t actually hear what’s being said:

“Koren, you did something awesome! This is AMAZING for a little brother like you.  You are the best brother ever! ”
“In the whole world?”
“Of course!  You’ve done something that I NEVER… Koren, you’re a good brother.”

So are you totally curious about the amazing feat that Koren had just performed?



14 Dec

View from our livingroom window

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Posted in Homer, Nature, Photos

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