It’s That Time Again

My struggle with the phenomenon known as Ice Parks is fairly well-documented here. I still don’t get the compulsion to go out into the freezing weather only to plop yourself on top of ice structures in the name of fun.

HOWEVER!

It has been hovering just above freezing here. There are a lot of strange downsides to it being above freezing in the winter here, but going to the ice park is not one of them! At least, not for me. The ice park itself was kind of small this year, and it turns out that due to the warmth, the ice they pull from lakes isn’t thick enough to create the normal stuff.

But I was thrilled! With only leggings, flannel lined jeans, wool socks, boots, a fleece shirt, a wool vest, a wool jacket, a cashmere scarf, and heavy duty gloves, I was pretty much not that cold! I feel I should point out here that it was 22 degrees last night. I would have left at least the wool vest at home if it had remained above freezing. Rosalind played outside for an hour straight without experiencing any danger of frostbite! Amazing!

Here are some pictures and videos I was able to get because my phone didn’t freeze to death for once.

Hello Darkness, My Old Nemesis

Hi! Hello there!

I kind of disappeared for a while! I really thought I would turn around and just keep right on blogging and novel-ing and trying to pass the dark days with constant activity, but it turns out that I just sort of fell face first into the Dark Days Despair that I had managed to put off all of November.

Winter in Alaska is so strange because you can simultaneously find the darkness and snow to be cozy and beautiful (I live in a snow globe!) while slowly being eaten away by it mentally. I spent the weekend eating lots of carbs, making cookies with my kid, doing Christmas shopping, watching Christmas movies, and just generally marveling at the winter wonderland. I also literally squirted tears out of my face with explosive force this morning on the way to work when a story about Sandy Hook caught me in just the perfectly wrong way. At least Sandy Hook deserves tears. I have had far shallower moments that have nearly driven me to tears in the last week. That’s….not….normal for me. The actual crying right out loud part. That’s what the darkness can do to you. I’m fine! This is totally great! What an interesting and unique and lovely place I live! SOB!

I’m fine! Like 96% totally normal and fully aware of and dealing with the other 4%. Just don’t underestimate what darkness can do to a person, you know?

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This is how dark it is when Rosalind gets off the bus at 4:10 pm.

We have kept pretty busy since I last checked in. I have somehow left myself 260 papers to grade all at once. Like really real papers that require edits and worthwhile feedback on their writing skills. Not just worksheets. This could be a big part of my mood.

Rosalind had a swim meet this weekend in which we had to run the swim shop. Swim is pretty intensive on the whole parental involvement thing. If we don’t volunteer enough hours throughout the season, we have to pay a substantial “volunteer” fee. We got 12 hours this weekend for working the swim shop and bringing multiple items for the concession stand. We are not quite halfway to our goal. Yeah. It’s intense.

Rosalind swam the 50 Back and Free. She shaved about three seconds off of each of her times. Her coaches also saw fit to put her in her first 100. If I had been the one to choose, I would have done the backstroke first. They put her in the Free. She finished! Without being disqualified! That’s about all that can be said for this first attempt. She was genuinely startled by how exhausted she was by the end of the third stretch. Sergio and I sold a startling amount of swim gear. I had no idea how lucrative the little folding table swim shop really is. More than a few kiddos got all the way out to North Pole only to realize they hadn’t brought a towel. Or goggles. Or a swim cap. Or a suit.

The end of a real conversation I overhead of this one poor kid as he revealed to his dad all the gear he had forgotten:

Dad: So what’s all that stuff in your swim bag?!

Kid: Snacks.

If I dug through one box of swimsuits looking for the right size jammers (only jammers! They would prefer to forfeit than wear the brief style! Don’t even think of holding those up in public!) then I must have dug through a hundred boxes until I just knew the inventory by memory. It was a pretty exhausting day for all of us.

Not going home for Christmas this year clearly leaves us with almost no Christmas engagements at all. I have decided to extend this to everything. I’m calling this No Party December! There have been at least four Christmas Party invitations through one avenue or another, and I am going to exactly zero of them. It’s so freeing! I highly recommend that if you are a socially anxious person that tortures yourself every year about whether it’s more fun or more stress to attend work parties, just give yourself this gift. Don’t go! On Friday night, I made carbs and watched tv with my family while my coworkers had a lovely time at the work party. I didn’t stress ahead of time, during, or afterward. Perfect. *Disclaimer: I don’t worry about parties when it is my family or close friends, so if you’re in one of those categories and are now thinking that I’m glad not to be hanging with you around the holidays this year, I’m not.

Rosalind mentions at least one thing a day that she’s bummed about missing by not going home for Christmas this year. Making cookies with Mamie and Emma was the first. We’ve made an alternate cookie plan for this year. We’re making cookies we’ve never made. We began with her request for real gingerbread men. Rosalind was mortified to learn that gingerbread cookies are made with ginger and molasses, both of which she found to smell awful before cooking (smelled amazing afterward though).

They turned out so cute. They are like biting through bricks though. I guess that’s what you get when you make a recipe that specifically says “won’t spread or swell!” Oh well.

Countdown to the Winter Solstice (and therefore the gradual return of mood stabilizing sunlight): 10 days.

 

O Come, Little Children

The Winter Recital was so early this year that it kind of caught us all off guard. It didn’t help that our keyboard cord broke right before vacation and Rolo only started working on this piece in earnest on Monday. Meanwhile, I was scrambling through her closet, her still not fully unpacked suitcase, and our laundry trying to wash and throw together enough items to make her halfway presentable (with at least a minimal nod toward the holiday). There might even have been a moment this morning with a brown sharpie and some scuffed boots. Maybe. Or maybe we’re totally put together parents that always get everything right. Definitely one of those things.

The lack of preparation caused Rosalind to feel some nerves before a recital for the first time…

…she powered through just fine, though.

Happy Last Day of November To You

It’s important that you know that I am starving and snacky right now. I am also stuck here at swim practice without food. That being said, all I can think about is this cake that Sergio made for us recently. Except instead of vanilla where it calls for vanilla, he added almond extract because that’s just how we roll. Put your heart health on hold for a while and enjoy this Kentucky Butter cake. The amazing crackly thing that the almond/butter drizzle does to the crust of the cake is so, so good.

I don’t know what recipe he used, so here are three.

 

What I’m Doing…

Eating: takeout Chinese food.

Watching: Frasier reruns on Netflix at this exact moment. Teen Mom OG because I’m a sick human. British cooking shows.

Reading: the remaining thirty pages of The Book Thief weekly reading assignment so that I’m back on track with my students in time for lit circles tomorrow.

Listening: Christmas music and the How Did This Get Made and Young House Love podcasts.

Avoiding: grading SOOOO many papers. The news. Most social media.

Anticipating: 9:00 pm so I can go to bed without feeling too bad about it.

Making: cinnamon and dried fruit ornaments. Those are two distinct things. Not one weird thing.

Buying: all the Christmas presents and 25 tiny items to go in my new advent calendar. I’ve wanted an advent calendar since forever. It’s surprisingly hard to find tiny items to fit inside each door.

Failing at: getting my child and dog hair appointments. They take the term “ragamuffin” to new levels.

Attending soon: two meetings at work I would prefer not to, Rolo’s winter piano recital, the Nutcracker ballet at the high school. Maybe Coco.

Enjoying: my happy light! It sat unused on a windowsill at home for two years before I remembered to take it to work. I forget it’s on behind me and think the sun is out.

Experimenting: with the Nightshift feature on my phone. It’s weird because it turns so orange, but I think it actually does help me sleep better to turn off the blue light on my phone for the last hour before bed. Try it!

These Get Later Each Day

Something interesting happened today!

No, it didn’t. It would have been nice if something had though.

I can’t think of a thing to talk about tonight.

My 7th graders peer edited, and my 8th graders worked on citations. We all spent some time on clauses. It was an amazingly boring day all around.

Since I’m sitting here behind Rosalind watching her look through photos on my old phone, I’ll steal two of my all-time favorites to share. Or re-share as the case may be.

Angry baby person cracks me up.

Just Passing The Time

A colleague of Sergio’s made all the people in their office these lovely wreaths that smell like Christmas heaven. It makes me very happy. I took the picture so close to hide that my counter is messy.

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I took a Buzzfeed quiz today that asked me to rate how pictures of peeled fruits make me feel, and in return, it would tell me what bothers me the most. Though I am currently evaluating this sentence as I hear it in my head, and therefore also evaluating my life choices, no Buzzfeed result has ever pegged me quite so perfectly. Nothing brings me closer to thinking I could become a violent human than this particular act.

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It’s usually around this point in the month that I call in my favorite internet animal, Phteven, to fill blog space and make myself giggle. However, this year, I feel I need to introduce you to my new favorite funny looking animal, Ludwik. I follow him on Instagram. I would question my life choices about this, but I just did that in the last paragraph. We can all accept that I waste a lot of timeĀ and brain space on useless crap. I’m not that ashamed.

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I Remembered, For What It’s Worth

There is a decent chance that I am going to forget to post before I reach the end of November. Now that Thanksgiving and the vacation are behind us, and I have the house 92% decorated for Christmas, I can’t quite get it through my head that we are still in the month of November. I feel an intense, albeit arbitrary, need to finish the November posting goal because it will be the only thing I set out for myself that I actually manage to accomplish. NaNoWriMo was an utter failure for me. I got frustrated, I got behind, I got so far behind I felt frozen, and then I didn’t do anything at all the week of vacation because I didn’t take my computer. Now I’m just focusing on hitting at least the halfway mark in the next few days, and I’m only worried about that because I don’t want to be the weakest link on the school NaNoWriMo group goal.

On the one hand, I bit off way more than I could chew for the month of November (I had some reading goals going as well), but on the other hand, I achieved my goal of getting through November without hating everything and wallowing in the dark and cold endlessness of this month. So…yay!

Perhaps I can go back now that I have fully failed with a more chill attitude and pull out any tiny amounts of writing that might not be total crap and build from those. Or I can start from scratch and do my own personal NaDeWriMo because December is long and dark as well, and this will be the first year that we have not gone home for the holidays. The need for distracting myself may not be over quite yet.

Here are the last few pictures I took in Denver. We spent most of the last day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. We were there for hours and only made it through three of the exhibits. That place is extensive! Highly recommend!

Climate Readjustment

Colorado bid us goodbye with the only rain we saw the whole time, but it came with a nice view.

Alaska welcomed us back the only way it knows how.

So we’ve spent today starting to cozy up the house. Rolo got a good start on her own tree. I, on the other hand, lost my motivation just after the big tree reached a standing position.