Sunday, November 4, 2007

Eagle River Nature Center Adventures

The boys and I went to the Eagle River Nature Center in a narrow canyon of the Chugach Mountains East of Anchorage this past September. The leaves of the Aspen were bright yellow-orange in stark contrast to the deep greens of the black spruce trees, the fireweed had gone from bright pink flowers to magenta stems, and the wild roses had dropped the petals leaving only the hips behind. To my surprise, there were still some salmon in the stream and where there are salmon, there will be bears as evidenced by their "droppings". I guess I could have taken a photo of it for effect, but I didn't, so you can breathe easy now. LOL Anyway, we went on a short 3/4 mile loop trail from the Eagle River Visitor's Center that takes you down to a boardwalk viewing area where you can watch the salmon swim and/or spawn. There is also a beaver den in the river, but we didn't see any of them froliking in the water.

Here is a picture of the view from the boardwalk. It's breathtakingly beautiful.

This is as close as I could to getting my boys to smile for the camera. LOL

.Cedric and Blake watching the fish

.Salmon swimming in the currentCedric pretending to be a salmon swimming in the water.

Cedric and Blake boldly march down the trail.

Blake didn't take these binoculars off his eyes for almost the whole walk

Lunchtime....finally...they worked hard from their grub. LOL

After filling their bellies, the boys got silly.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Halloween is usually snowy, cold, and/or blustery in Anchorage. That was not the case this year. Cool morning showers gave way clear, sunny skies and relatively warm temperatures for this time of year. My car read 45 degrees! What does this all mean? Well...this is the first year I was able to take both Cedric and Blake trick or treating around the neighborhood. We went to a few neighbor's houses, then came home to watch all the other trick or treaters and to eat some of the loot....errrr...I mean so the kids could eat some of their loot. ;-) Here is a picture of Cedric and Blake fresh from collecting their trick or treat loot.
Cedric in full batman regalia
Jim and I dressed up as 80s punk rockers. Why should the kids have all the fun?
Jim in his full costume. Some of the kids thought twice about taking candy from him. More for us! LOL

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Catch up post on Cedric

I'm going to play a little catch up here. These pictures are from the day before Cedric and his Pre-K classmates started Kindergarten. They all got their faces painted and rode rides until they were completely exhausted. At first Cedric was concerned because we didn't bring Blake. I told him this was a day for just Cedric and his friends. All the way up, Cedric was saying how he was going to miss having his brother at the fair. Of course, once we got there, Blake was forgotten and it was fun fun fun. Cedric with Spiderman face!
Two of Cedric's friends and their fun faces.
Here are some pictures from Cedric's first day of school. He was so excited to go that he marked off the days on a calendar for 60 days before Kindergarten started and he's still counting how many wonderfull days he's had in school. Cedric loves homework and even when he doesn't have homework, he practices his upper and lower case letters, numbers 1-100, and his spanish. I just hope his enthusiasim continues.
Here is Cedric playing basketball. This was Cedric's very first "game" a few weeks ago. It was just hysterical. Today he made a basket during the game and was oh so proud! I didn't get that on film, just in my minds eye. ;-)
Here is a picture from Cedric's first basketball practise. Looks pretty tough, huh?
Hmmm....not so tough in this one, but still dang cute. :-)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Vacation part 1.d...Fabulous Seattle

Seattle. Ahhhh Seattle. The weather was Seattle perfect....warm and humid. Our first night in Seattle we had dinner at this quaint little Italian place within walking distance of our friends' house. Seattle is just that kind of perfect walk everywhere you need to go kind of town. We had so much fun with our friend's, The Lanes (Dave, Lisa, Max, and Ollie). Dave and Lisa are Blake's Godparents and this was their first time meeting each other. Max and Ollie are about the same age as Cedric and Blake and since they are all boys, this trip was about ACTION! We went to the Aquarium.... I didn't get a picture of the moonfish exhibit because I couldn't get it to come out on the camera, but it was spectacular. There was this circular tank where the moonfish swam in circles. There were black lights that made the moonfish glow and you could walk under the arch of the tank. You just have to see it. Riding a Killer Whale in the Puget Sound... Blake as a moonfish... Cedric as an octopus...This was cool too. The octopus had a tube and could swim between two tanks. I tried valiently to capture the octopus....but ah well...another memory picture. ;-) Cedric and Blake checking out starfish and other fun tidal pool creatures... We played with our friends (Max and Ollie) at the wading pool.... Max and Ollie taught us how to launch foot rockets. Way cool and easy enough for anyone ages 2 to 100 to do. Fun fun fun. Watch out! Ollie playing with his hand held rocket launcher...nerf, of course. LOL Plus it only had a range of 2 feet. We also went to a Mariner's game. Here is the stunning view from the Mariners baseball stadium. You can just barely see the Space Needle in the distance. It was much more clear in person.
Cedric, Max, and Ollie are ready for action at the game!
Group photo with the Lanes and the Nelsons

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Part 1.c Nelson Vacation: Chicagoland

Finally, here are pictures from our Chicago portion of our vacation. I know, vacation was over a month ago, but I've got to catch up. Then I can tell you about all the fun stuff we've been doing recently. :-) Mostly we hung out at Grandma and Grandpa Nelson's house. The first 4 pictures are at a local park. This was the first time the boys had been on a spinning playground toys. What are those things called anyway? After spinning round and round, Blake's first attempt to walk was followed by a full body face plant. It was kind of funny, I have to admit and no he wasn't hurt other than being surprised that he couldn't just walk. Here Cedric and Blake share Grandma and Grandpa's hamock down by the river. This is a picture of 6 month old baby Zoey, my neice's daughter. Isn't she cute? We also went to the Brookfield Zoo. Here is a picture of Blake playing at the wolf exhibit. Aaaaoooooooo!
There was a baby polar bear....aaaaaahhhhh so cute!
And here all the boys enjoy the merry go round at the zoo.
This is Jim's prized photo from the butterfly exhibit. What do you think...should we enter it in a photo contest or what? It looks good enough for National Geographic to me.

We stayed with our friends Mark and Deb one night and they taught us the art of pirate poker and other crazy made up poker games. I'm not much of a poker player anyway, but the pirate game was crazy. Lets see, if you get a 6 you walk the plank and are out of the game, if you get a Jack, someone has to give you a card....or something like that. Plus, there were funny and loud sound affects like the sreeching bird to go with the game. Too much fun. I laughed more that night than I had in the whole past year, I think.

Coming up next...the final chapter of our vacation Part 1.d, fabulous Seattle.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Cedric's new glasses

Ok, soon, I'll continue with my vacation postings, but first I have breaking news. Cedric has glasses. We figured he was doomed since both Jim and I have to wear glasses. Cedric's right eye is much weaker. During his eye appt, he could read pretty good with his left eye, but couldn't read larger letters with his right. He's now can read the time (digital clock) now and I can see everything! He's also scanning the room as if he's seeing everything for the first time. The Dr. said it was good that we brought him in so early because the glasses will train his brain to use his right eye better and over time, his vision will improve. Plus during the initial eye exam, the Dr. was impressed with Cedric's ability to recognize all his letters and numbers from zero to 100, but most of all, the Dr. had never seen a 5 year old sit through the entire exam and be as responsive as Cedric was. I was beaming with pride. :-) Here is the before picture: Here is the after picture with the glasses. Doesn't he look handsome! And so grown up too.

In 27 days, Cedric will be going to Kindergarten. We are marking off the days on the calendar. Cedric is excited and I am nervous. I'll be sure to post those first day of school pictures.

Jim and Kristine mellow out at the Girdwood Reggae Fest

We interrupt the regularly scheduled (or not LOL) vacation series to bring you Jim and Kristine get some groove going at an Alaska styled reggae fest. OK...only the last two bands we heard were actually reggae bands. The next to the last band was H3, an Alaskan American Samoa reggae band and they were awesome! Jim and I had good standing position in the beer tent. We could see the stage perfectly and smell some unusual scents in the air....gee I wonder what THAT could be? Anyway, H3 warmed the place up after some lukewarm local bands made us wonder about that hefty price we paid for tickets. Of course, we knew the headline band, The Wailers, would come through and it would all be worth it. Jim was in a very special place when The Wailers started playing and no it wasn't from any herbs nor the micro brew beers. The lead singer of The Wailers sounded just like Bob Marley. Jim says frequently that the world would be a better place if everyone listened to reggae. After hearing The Wailers and seeing how happy and friendly the crowd was, I have to say, "I agree". Here is a picture of us. The Wailers are on stage, but you can't really see them. The festival was held in Girdwood which is a picturesque box canyon surrounded by spectacular mountains. Girdwood is about 30 min south of Anchorage. Alyeska ski resort hosted the show. We just breathed in the beauty of Girdwood and grooved to the sounds of mellow reggae.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Part 1.b Nelson Vacation: Fabulous Lake Tahoe.

Beautiful Lake Tahoe. We love Lake Tahoe. The lake is just this perfect deep blue in the deeper waters and a shimering emerald green in the shallower waters. It's beauty and amenities imediately bring peace to all who visit. At least the lake does this for us. Have I said how much we love Lake Tahoe? LOL And now we have even more to love. We stayed at Tahoe Taverns on the northwest shore of the lake. This was by far the best place we have stayed. We were walking distance to the Commons Park and beach, restaurants, shopping, the dam, and rafting on the Truckee river that we parked the car for almost the whole week. Plus, the condo complex we stayed in had a pool with a view of Lake Tahoe and a perfect sized little sandy beach for the kids and the kids at heart. ;-) You'll notice the fire in South Lake Tahoe was completely out except for hot spots by the time we arrived. Those firefighters did an awesome job keeping the South Lake Tahoe fire from getting to the waterfront. Thanks to those hard working firefighters, skies were a perfect blue. There was a little bit of a breeze the first couple of days, then high pressure built in and warmed things up. It was really hot for us thick blooded Alaskans, but we managed. LOL Here are a few of my favorite pics from Lake Tahoe. It was really hard to narrow it down. Lake Tahoe view from Tahoe Taverns pool:

Family photo. My boys are showing their true crazy personas in this one. We had just finished celebrating my sister's birthday at a nice restaurant on the lake. The kids were a little jazzed from the festivities and the spectacular mud cake that we all indulged in. Yum.

Here is a picture of the Tahoe Taverns beach. Perfect size and not crowded.

The boys playing at the Tahoe Taverns beach.

The boys playing at the Commons Playground in Tahoe City. Blake says "Yeeeeehaaaaaaw!

Wendy, my sister, wanted to go river rafting on the Truckee river for her birthday. We all thought that was a fabulous idea. I was a little worried about Blake, but he did fantastic. My sister, BIL, Dad, and Cedric went in one boat and Jim, Blake, my In-Laws, and I went in another boat. The float took around 3 hours and was mostly an easy float. There are a few rapids where you have to do a little navigating. one likes to get stuck on a rock. But mostly it was a calm little float. The water was quite refreshing. Luckily I was carrying a camera not designed for water, so I had the pleasure of metting out some wicked oar induced sprays on our partner boat and was spared return fire. HA HA HA! We saw lots of ducks with their little babies in tow. I got a pic of one of the baby ducks, but there is nothing like watching little strings of baby ducks swimming furiously behind their mother.

The rapids proved a little challenging for me since I was in the front of the boat with Blake. At first he stood between my legs, which was fine, but then he decided he wanted to sit next to me on my left side. This meant I couldn't paddle on the left side at all. On the last and biggest rapids, there was nothing I could do to help steer the boat and we got stuck on a big rock. Luckily, my sister's boat was right behind us and whether they wanted to or not, they ramed into us and knocked us right off the rock. Although, I could have sworne I heard them cry "ramming speed!" Nonetheless, we all were laughing and then it was all over.

Here are the pictures:

And we're off on our great little adventure.

Wendy's boat looking at ducks that swam right up to the boat. Picture of a baby cute! The 4th of July was the main reason we went to Lake Tahoe. In Alaska, it is too light for 4th of July fireworks. You can read a book at midnight outside, so fireworks really lose their spark during the long Alaskan summer "nights". Anyway, on the fourth my sister made this spectacular desert. It tasted better than it looked. Actually we noshed on fruit and cream cheese frosting all afternoon. Yum! After dinner and desert, we made our way to the Pier at Tahoe Taverns where we had a perfect vantage point to watch the Tahoe City fireworks. We could also see other firework shows going on around the lake. Cedric liked the fireworks, but covered his ears. Blake kept saying, "Ooooooh, aaaaaaaah, and Beautiful!" The boys and their flags. Aunt Wendy and Cedric. Papa Jim and Blake. Wendy, my InLaws, and my BIL on the pier waiting for fireworks. My Dad and his friends on the pier waiting for the fireworks. Grandma Pat was unable to join us for the festivities because her mother was on the verge of leaving this world. We kept Pat and her Mom in our thoughts the whole vacation. The pool also had ping pong tables. Cedric loved playing with Uncle Steve. Here Blake is getting a few pointers from Aunt Wendy.

Cedric got his first tennis lesson at Tahoe Taverns. The instructor asked Cedric if he had been practising. Of course, I'm proud of my athletic little guy.

Here is the Tahoe Queen and she is a real paddle boat. No visit to the Lake would be complete without a lake tour. There is no better way to appreciate the color of the lake. We rode out to Emerald Bay on the Tahoe Queen. The tea house and castle blend in with the surroundings perfectly and it's fun to fantasize about living in that bygone era and having afternoon tea in the middle of Emerald Bay.

And finally, we told our husbands to "GO JUMP IN THE LAKE"! And they did! Jim, Uncle Steve, and Steve's BIL Steve who flew in from Oaklahoma for the last two nights. The lake temperature is around 65 degrees in July, so it's refreshing to say the least.
"Are you ready?" "Sure...are YOU ready?" "Ummmm....I don't know....are you READY? "OK...ONE........TWO.........THREE"
"JUMP!!!!!!" Well....sadly that's it for Lake Tahoe.... BUT WAIT! Jim is going to jump in the lake AGAIN! And it's the Nestea plunge. Now THAT is refreshing.

All the guys were shivering but satisfied after their cool water plunge. Maybe Jim is ready for the polar bear plunge where they cut a whole in the ice and then people jump in? Then again.....maybe not.

Coming next: Part 1.c Nelson Vacation: Chicagoland