Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Kodiak, Year 2.

Another year, another Christmas in the great white-ish north! Unfortunately we were only white-ish, with just a light dusting of snow over night on Christmas Eve. I think I'd rather that than the 3-feet of blizzard-dropped snow we got last year, though!

We both left the cameras sitting on the ground for most of the day, so we don't really have any good pictures from the day. So I'll just tell you what we did!
We had big plans for a day spent in our pajamas, and we didn't have to change those for the most part. We took our time opening gifts, even breaking for the traditional monkey bread breakfast in the middle. With our bellies full, we started making our phone calls when Christina called and asked if we wanted to head out to Ft. Abercrombie for a quick hike/walk with the dogs. Still in our pj's at that point, we put on the warm clothes, tossed on our hats, and headed out for a walk. You don't throw away the opportunity for a hike on a beautiful sunny day up here, even if it is Christmas and you didn't plan to put real clothes on all day!

Jason and I left Brad and Christina to do another loop and headed home, with a date to meet up in a little while for some hot chocolate. In the meantime, we put ourselves together, and headed out to deliver some cookies to some friends in the neighborhood. Cookie delivery done, we changed back into pj's and Brad and Christina came over a little after 3-ish, I think.

Our hot chocolate turned into hours of chatting and laughing, and the next thing we knew, it was almost 7pm!! Though we had each planned our own dinner-for-two, we combined bits and pieces into dinner-for-four, and the good times went on until almost midnight! Lesson learned: never plan a short visit with the Andersons... it hasn't worked yet!!! We had a great time, though, and really enjoyed our low-key dinner and hanging out on the couch!

Of course, there were presents involved yesterday, with Jason getting a gift certificate to design a custom tap handle for his kegerator from Bass Custom Taps as his "big gift," along with a handful of other things he wanted. I think I was a little spoiled, though, since I'm now the proud owner of a gorgeous piece of metal sculpture from a local Kodiak artist. Jason (and his mom and step dad) had an octopus made for me by Mark Witteveen of Metallic Marine Art. The one I got looks a lot like the one at the top of the home page. I LOVE it and have been drooling over them since the first week we got here!!! Fred wasn't left out of the fun, either, though we mostly just used the wrapping paper as his gift! We did get him one new toy, though, which I lovingly brought back from CT when I was there in November. We think he likes it...

But, the best gift of all for us actually came a little earlier in the week. Well, it actually came a lot earlier than that, but we got a first glimpse earlier in the week...

For the four people who may not have heard yet (courtesy of a soon-to-be-Grandma who hasn't stopped telling people since November...), our family will be growing by one this year!!!!! Those fabulous little pictures up there are of our little "Green" Dorval, who will be making his/her appearance sometime around July 15th! The top picture is a great profile, and the bottom one is the baby's two little legs, kicking around in there. That was the first view we had of Green (so named because it's a gender-neutral color appropriate for either a boy or a girl!), and I instantly melted at that sight! I then said to Jason and the doctor (who probably thought I was nuts!), "Hey! There really IS a baby in there!!!" I'm still getting used to the idea of being a mom in just about 6 more months, but I couldn't be happier! We're very excited, and even more excited to finally be able to share the news with everyone!
We hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, and we wish you all a blessed 2009!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Shortest Day of the Year!

....and it was also the sunniest day of the week. Seriously, the sun came out for the first time since LAST Sunday today. I think maybe God has a sense of humor - the SUN only comes out on SUNday. Ha. It's not funny.

Moving on...

As the title of my post says, today was the shortest day of the year. That's not something I ever paid attention to when I didn't live in Alaska. I mean, I knew when the official first day of winter was (which was always funny, because it always seemed like winter started LOOONG before that first day), but I never really focused on the importance of the daylight associated with that. But, when you live in a place where the shortest day of the year consists of 6 hours and 30 minutes of daylight, you pay attention! For the record, tomorrow we'll have 9 more seconds of daylight than today. Yes, that's important, even if it's just 9 seconds. The key is that it's MORE than today.

So, what does the winter solstice look like in Kodiak? Well, this picture shows what noon on the solstice looks like. On the left-ish is the sun, just barely clearing the top of our neighbor's 2-story house. I actually took this picture at about 12:30, so we were definitely at the high point of the sun for the day!
There is much rejoicing in the Dorval household today - mostly by me - since we're officially on the downhill of this winter. Yes, winter will still last until sometime in mid-April (if we're lucky it won't go til May), but the sun will be out for longer and it will get higher in the sky on the days when we actually get to see it.

Speaking of the sun, as I said, today was the first day since last Sunday (it might've been Monday) that the sun made an appearance. After a week of rain and snain, the blue skies and bright orb in the sky were welcome visitors to the neighborhood. Between batches of Christmas cookies, we took the opportunity to head out for a walk at Ft. Abercrombie. It seems like a lot of other people had the same idea, too. We counted 15 cars in the parking lot on our way out. I think the most we've seen there on the nicest summer day was about 8 or so. Yep, we all were going a little stir crazy!

With that, I'll just share some pictures I took today... the camera finally came back out on a hike with me for the first time in months!

Ft. Abercrombie view: Notice the bit of ice fog on the water... it was just gorgeous out there.

Fred enjoying the view - and some time off leash letting some energy out!

This is why I need an even bigger zoom lens. That's an eagle on the rock.

And, finally, the money shot. It only took me about 10 minutes and too many tries to count, but I really wanted a picture of a water drop on the spruce.

That's the latest from Kodiak. Hope everyone is ready for Christmas and can take the next few days to relax and remember why we all go crazy getting ready!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Delinquent bloggers are the worst!

Don't you hate when you click on one of the blogs you follow regularly, only to discover that the slackers who own it haven't updated in over a month? Yeah, me too. So for everyone who's been asking (and that's not just a few people), here ya go... hold on tight because it's going to be long and picture heavy!
I'll start way back at the end of October, about a week after I last blogged. Jason and I go the chance to fly out to Chicago/Grand Rapids, MI for a weekend to go to my friend Justin's wedding. He got married on Nov 1, but we wanted to make sure we were there in plenty of time, so we actually flew into Chicago on the Thursday before, which gave us time to sightsee a little, and meet up with another friend, Sean, and his wife Katie (and to get a quick peak of their sleeping 3-month old twins, Brendan and Ben).
We didn't have a ton of time in Chicago - and we were exhausted thanks to the red-eye from Anchorage on Wednesday night - so we tried to make the most of the time we had. We walked down the "Magnificent Mile" and headed to the top of the John Hancock building to see as much as we could from there. They take your picture before you head up, and then put it against a Chicago-skyline backdrop. So, here we are on the shore of Lake Michigan!And, of course, I took pictures from up there, too. This one was one of my favorites.
It was a gorgeous day the day we were there, with temps up in the 50s, which was a nice treat for us! When we got done at the Hancock, we headed back down the Magnificent Mile, in search of something to eat.
Although I've never been a fan of deep dish pizza (a la Pizzeria Uno), we figured if we were in Chicago, we should probably eat like we're in Chicago. On a tip from Sean, we hit Giordano's, which is apparently "THE" deep dish pizza place. It took forever to get the pizza, which totally cut into our nap time, but the wait was definitely worth it. A tip from us - never get something bigger than a small to share between two people. We probably could've gotten a kid's size and been fine. There's a LOT of cheese on one of these things! Mmmmmmm!!!!!!!

Later that night, we drove out to Sean and Katie's house in a local suburb, completely misjudging how much traffic we'd see, and how much of a delay that would mean (we don't have traffic in Kodiak!!!). We were a bit late, but it didn't seem to matter too much. We had a great dinner with them that night at the Naperville branch of Rosebud (Italian.... mmmm!!!) and then wandered around Naperville for a while, just catching up. I hadn't seen Sean since I moved from NJ (he helped us pack up the house), though Jay had seen him a few years back. And this was the first chance we had to meet Katie - now I just wish we were closer - we had a great time with them!

From Chicago, we headed north to Grand Rapids for the main event - Justin and Sharon's wedding. We went to the rehearsal and dinner on Friday night, which was a great chance to spend some real time with the two of them. Again, this was the first chance we had to meet Sharon, but I've known Justin since my freshman year at the Academy. Saturday was the wedding. Jason and I were both in the sword arch (a 2-for-1 deal, as Justin said), and also acted as ushers at the ceremony. Following the ceremony, and a quick change into real clothes for me (YAY! A fancy dress! And no, I don't have a picture!), we drove around Grand Rapids with the wedding party in a trolley for a while, taking pictures and enjoying the scenery until it was time to head to the reception. Unfortunately, it was an early night for us because we had early flights the next morning from Chicago (3 hours away) back to Kodiak (for me) and to Portland (for Jay).

That brings us into November. Is this long enough yet??? November was pretty uneventful. Jay and I didn't see much of each other for the month. He was in Portland for the first week, came home for a while, then I left for CT (work/leave). He got called out on a 3-day case while I was in CT and didn't get home until the day after I got back, and then he left again the day after Thanksgiving, about a week later. It was a crazy month, though not much happened!
We did get to have Thanksgiving together, though, which was fantastic. We did a progressive dinner with four different households in our neighborhood, and had a ton of fun! Thanksgiving lasted about 10 hours, starting at Roger and Margo's for appetizers at noon, heading to our house for the main meal later that afternoon, then to Brad and Christina's for dessert, and finally to Beth and Zach's for after-dinner drinks. Here are a couple shots from the day.

I have some other pictures, but that's probably good. We had more food than we could possibly eat, so everyone took their leftovers home (it was progressive AND potluck!). I think we might have had as much food as last year, though, with 6 more people, though. So at least we got closer this year!! And, of course, ol' Tom the Turkey had to have his last flight. Jason thought it would be funny to introduce him to Fred. Ha.

Following another trip out of town for Jason (this time to Mobile, where it was colder than it was here!), we're now into December. The big business this month has been getting ready for Christmas, including tree hunting. We headed out to about the same general area as we found our tree last year, and tromped around for a while in search of that perfect wild tree. This year, we went with Brad and Christina (and Brad's mom), and Roger and Margo (new friends who just moved here this summer). Christina headed up a hill and took off at a trot, so we let her go, and stuck a little closer to the road. In an amazing feat of tree-hunting skillz, Jason managed to find us a tree in less than an hour - and I like it. Roger and Margo got one just a little while before us (that's Fred watching them haul it down the hill), and then Brad and Christina finally scored a little while after us.

Keeping with tradition, we chopped the top of a tree off - though I think we took more of it this year than the one we had last year. We still had to do some trimming once we got it home, but not nearly as much as last year! Here's Jason trying to cut the tree down... can you find him?

I had a bunch of other pictures to share, but I think this is plenty long enough now. So that's the last couple months in the Dorval household. I'll try to stay more on top of things. I have to admit that the onset of winter was definitely messing with me a bit, and I was having a hard time wanting to keep up with this stuff. My SAD lamp has made it back out of the closet, though, and things are back on track. Now you'll just have to wait for updates as I try to get everything done for Christmas! Anyone want to come bake my cookies for me?!?!

Finally, on the Christmas note, here's the (mostly) finished product of our tree hunt (we haven't put our glass and tin icicles on it yet). It's another beautiful tree... and yes, the star is touching the ceiling!