The Day I Went Dog Sledding

Posted on Aug 17, 2015 in Travel Traumas

The Day I Went Dog Sledding 0

Normally if you were to ask me if I’d like to vacation in Alaska, I’d tell you, “Hellz no.” I think of Alaska and I think of: Cold. Snow. Bears. Salmon. Sarah Palin.  I don’t think: Vacation!

But then if you were tell me that Alaska is actually stunningly beautiful and you can enjoy it from a swanky cruise ship and your parents are going so you won’t even have to really take care of your kids, I’d say, “Let’s leave immediately.”

So that actually happened.

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See? Stunningly beautiful.

Damon, the kids, and I had an opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise with my parents and we obviously took it. While Alaska was never one of my must-sees, it has been on Damon’s bucket list for years. He envisioned bear sightings, salmon fishing, kayaking through fjords… Meanwhile I envisioned enjoying the scenic views while sipping the cruise line’s unlimited free wine. It was a win-win.

(In reality, we were traveling with two small children so none of the above happened.)

This is what kids do on cruise ships: Wander into bars.

This is what kids do on cruise ships: Wander into bars.

On our first night on the ship, my dad announced he had a surprise for Damon and me. A surprise? My interest was piqued.  What kind of surprise could he possibly have planned on a cruise ship?

“I’ve booked you two on the helicopter ride/dog sledding excursion when we’re in Juneau. Mom and I will babysit!”

Um… Say what?

Damon was excited. I was terrified. And confused.  I’m not a huge fan of heights. Or animals, for that matter. So going up in a winged death-mobile to hang out with hundreds of dogs on a glacier is not really my thing.

“Are you excited?” my dad asked.

“DAD! DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?”

“Your husband will enjoy it.”

“BUT WHAT ABOUT YOUR DAUGHTER?”

“You used to be adventurous,” he said.

“I have children now. Children who need their mother not to die in a catastrophic dog sledding accident.”

My dad just laughed at me. “It’ll be good for you,” he said.

A massage would be good for me. An uninterrupted nap would be good for me.  A treacherous expedition* to the top of a flippin’ glacier? Not so good for me.

Had I done something to him? Was this some sort of vendetta? Did he realize that if Damon and I died, he would get the kids?**

I almost didn’t go. Really. This was pretty much exactly the opposite of how I wanted to spend my precious vacation (and free babysitting) time, but I put on my big girl panties and went anyway, knowing I would never hear the end of it otherwise (assuming I survived.)

My friend, Guy, and his mother, Lisa, were also on the excursion.  Once at the airport we listened to a safety briefing in which we were reminded of things like not getting too close to the propellers of the helicopter. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Clearly no one but me remembered the story of the poor model who lost an eye and had her face and arm disfigured by a moving propeller because YOU CAN’T SEE THE MOVING PROPELLER! WHY DID NO ONE TALK ABOUT THIS!?  We then signed a terrifying waiver – which I actually read – in which we agreed to assume responsibility of the dog sled should the musher become incapacitated. Seriously? SERIOUSLY?!  And by the way, what the heck is a musher?!***

Our mode of transportation.

Our mode of transportation. Does that look safe to you?

At some point a man-boy appeared to escort us to the helicopter.

“He looks like he’s 12,” I muttered.

“I don’t think he’s the pilot,” Guy whispered.

Guy was correct; the twelve-year-old was not the pilot.  The pilot looked closer to 16.  It was very reassuring.

 

Cool, calm, and collected.

Cool, calm, and collected.

I plastered on a smile and boarded the helicopter.  My stomach dropped as we took off.   We rose over the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier and – oh, hey! A mountain goat! And then we landed.  It was about a seven-minute ride. OF SHEER TERROR.

Okay, not really.  I found it a bit nerve-wracking, but the awesome views were a good distraction.

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So big deal. The helicopter ride was not all that perilous – but we still had the whole dog sledding in the middle of a glacier thing to contend with.  Most of what I knew about dog sledding prior to this – which admittedly was not much – had been informed by movies or television, and involved images of rabid dogs wildly careening through a snowy tundra until they violently crashed, severely injuring their hapless handler. Not confidence-inducing stuff.

We exited the helicopter and were greeted by the owner of the camp who explained the history of the camp and what we would be doing, and introduced the mushers who would be driving us.

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The mushers all seemed sane and competent, which was a good sign. But really, these people choose to live completely isolated in the middle of a glacier with only a handful of other mushers and 200+ dogs – so they must be a little nuts, right? And we were going to trust them with our lives?

Apparently, yes.

Damon, Guy, Lisa, and I boarded our sled, with Damon “driving” in the back, and off we went!

Damon driving the sled.

Damon driving the sled.

There was no careening. There was no crashing. It wasn’t even that cold. It was like It’s A Small World in snow.

The dogs took us around about a mile loop, stopping every few minutes so we could switch seats and pet the dogs, ask questions, etc. It was all very tame. And actually kind of fun.  I mean, check out the scenery.

Our team.

Our team.

 

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier.

Pretty spectacular, don’t you think?

And even I – one of the most animal-adverse people you could meet – had to admit the puppies were kind of cute. I even held one. It was a big moment for me.

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Though I hated to admit it to my dad, the excursion was one of the highlights of the trip. If you ever go to Alaska, I would certainly recommend it.

And the best news? I still got my massage.

Below are some of our other highlights of our trip. Enjoy!

 

Viewing eagles in Sitka.

Viewing eagles in Sitka.

 

Elisabeth was super impressed on our bird viewing/nature walk.

Elisabeth was super impressed on our bird viewing/nature walk.

 

Ziplining!

Ziplining!

 

Duck Boat tour in Ketchikan.

Duck Boat tour in Ketchikan.

 

View from our balcony.

View from our balcony.

Stanley Gardens in Vancouver.

Stanley Gardens in Vancouver.

 

*This is a tad dramatic.

**I’m pretty sure he didn’t think that through.

***A musher is a dog sled driver. Duh.

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Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children)

Posted on Jun 11, 2015 in My Kid Stole My Cool, Pinterest Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That (Sorry, Second Children) 2

Sweet baby James turned one about two weeks ago.   I know. I can hardly believe it myself.  To say that his first year was one of my most challenging would be… entirely accurate.  Like, it was soul-crushing, haven’t-slept-through-the-night-in-a-year, crying-in-the-shower stressful and exhausting. Not that it’s his fault. But between a baby, a deployment, a cross-country move (international for my husband), a home purchase and a renovation, life got a little overwhelming. Not to mention my kids were sick ALL THE TIME.  We basically lived at our pediatrician’s office. And the gastroenterologist’s… the urologist’s…. the ENT’s… the ER. So while I hate to see James turning into a toddler (too fast! too fast!), I am looking forward to a calmer second year. And befriending someone other than my child’s doctor. One can hope. And maybe in this second year, James will finally start to get near the amount of attention his sister did at his age. I like to think the craziness of the last year contributed to the unequal attention Elisabeth and James received as babies. But let’s be honest – James is a second child. It was never going to be the same for him. Before James was born, I accepted that his baby stage would never exactly mimic Elisabeth’s. But I convinced myself James would not suffer second-child neglect. I believed I could cuddle/play with/read to/lie around doing nothing with James just as much as I had with Baby Elisabeth, without Toddler Elisabeth feeling totally abandoned. I also believed I could do so in a way that wouldn’t make me totally insane. This is called delusion.  I quickly learned that life with the second baby is completely different than life with the first baby.  Mainly because that precious resource you had as a first time parent – time – is now quite scarce. I finally understand why I am so much better adjusted than my two younger brothers. Sorry, Second Children. (I’d apologize to third children, but third children are too laid back to care.)   So here you have it. The most obvious signs of...

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So This is 30

Posted on Apr 23, 2015 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool

So This is 30 0

Last month I turned the big 3-0. Trying to distract me from my impending physical and mental decline, my husband invited several of my oldest and dearest friends to town to “celebrate.” Here’s how the weekend went. Kim arrived first, having driven from Pennsylvania. Soon after she arrived, we had to go pick Jess and Molly at the airport. I could not remove my kids’ car seats from our Highlander, so we drove Kim’s minivan to the airport. Car seats and minivans. PARTY ON, PEOPLE! After our last guest Megan arrived, Damon passed out champagne and we got ready to hit the town. Lesson: drinking champagne while bottle-feeding your baby will elicit judgment from the babysitter. Damon dropped us girls off at a restaurant where we met another friend, Brett. Once seated we immediately complained about the noise level and squinted to read the menus. Then we played a little game called, Guess Your Server’s Age. Do not play this game if you want to keep your ego intact. You’ll think she’s your age only to discover you could be her… significantly older cousin or former babysitter. As it was not only my thirtieth, but also Megan’s and Brett’s, our barely-legal server brought us out three free desserts. I think she felt sorry for us, but no matter. Three free desserts was about the most exciting thing to happen to any of us, and also slightly dangerous. After all, our metabolisms aren’t what they used to be. In some misguided attempt to recapture our youth, we went to the bar across the street after dinner. The bartender gave us birthday shots, which were essentially sugar-water. We were all secretly thankful, because no way we can handle shots without a wicked hangover anymore. We had a spirited conversation about Beyoncé and Taylor Swift (We’re young! We know pop culture!), and then admitted we were all exhausted from kids/work/travel and needed to sleep ASAP. The next day we went downtown for brunch and massages. While discussing whether or not to order mimosas, one friend said, “Oh, I can’t. I’ll have to...

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The SnotSucker

Posted on Mar 5, 2015 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool

The SnotSucker 0

Hello there, Interwebz. It’s been awhile.  A lot has happened since I last posted, but I’ll fill you in on all that another day.  Suffice to say, I have been existing in a sort of  semi-conscious state for several months. The baby. He does not sleep. I thought he would have grown out of the not-sleeping thing by now, but no. It’s torture. (No, really. Chronic sleep deprivation is literally torture. I think Jack Bauer taught me that.) But all this is unimportant compared to a life-changing invention that I’m about to introduce you to.  Ready for it? It’s called… The Snotsucker. Yup, you read that right.  The Snotsucker. Before I fill you in on this amazing/disgusting invention, a little background: It’s March. And it’s snowing. And it’s been snowing for pretty much ever. And Elisabeth has been in school approximately two days in the last month. And I am very much going crazy. Which explains why my first post in almost six months is about a nasal aspirator. Please send help in the form of babysitters, vacations to tropical islands, and tequila. Okay, back to the Snotsucker. You savvy moms out there are probably already well-acquainted with this. It is the thing to have to effectively clear your baby’s nasal passages.  I mean, they sell it at Nordstrom so you know it’s trendy.  And who doesn’t want a trendy nasal aspirator? Well I sure do! As I just mentioned it’s March and apparently I live in Siberia and for the past five months everyone in my house has been circulating The Crud. For those of us with well-developed fine motor skills, blowing our nose is not an issue.  The baby, unfortunately,  frequently has a bulb syringe shoved up his nose to suction out all the boogies. And there are oh-so-many boogies. With the Snotsucker, the baby still has a foreign object shoved up his nose, but one that much more effectively clears out all the snot.  It’s seriously amazing. And I’m not even being sarcastic. It all started when I was wandering around – you guessed it –...

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The Problem Child’s Perspective

Posted on Sep 14, 2014 in My Kid Stole My Cool, The Kids Are Actually Cute

The Problem Child’s Perspective 1

Mom, I think we need to clear the air. A few days ago at the doctor’s office, you called me, “your problem child.”  You said it in that high-pitched baby-talk voice while smiling and tickling me, which makes me think you were kinda-sorta joking.  But I think you were maybe also kinda-sorta serious. Is it because of the ringworm? Look. I have no idea how I got ringworm.  You’re the adult. You figure it out.   I get it.  It’s weird.  I have been exposed to absolutely nothing that would give me ringworm.  After all, we never go anywhere on account of me screaming every time I get in the car. But looks what happens when you take me out in public! I GET NASTY FUNGAL INFECTIONS! Can you blame me for shrieking the entirety of every single car ride? It’s my only defense!  And besides, all the rest of the time I’m pretty much the smiliest, happiest baby ever, so I think you’ve got it pretty good.  But back to the ringworm – let’s just chalk this up to one of life’s great mysteries.  I have it, now move on. Could it be this allergic colitis thing? Is that why I’m the “problem child”? I hear you complaining about not eating dairy anymore.  Or egg.  Or soy, which according to you is in everything.  And I know all you want is to dig into a massive pizza with a side of ice cream.  (And real ice cream. Not that coconut milk crap.)  But seriously, Mom.  First. World. Problems.  I’m the one bleeding from my gut, remember? Is a little sympathy too much to ask? Besides, the vegan cookies you baked can’t be that bad.  I mean, you ate the entire batch in like, three days. Or maybe it’s because I don’t sleep?  I don’t really understand what the problem is.  I just love you so much I want to hang out with you all the time! That’s a good thing, right?  I know that since daddy is deployed and you’re on your own for now that the nights are...

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Sleeping in Pee: The Joys of Being a New Mom

Posted on Aug 28, 2014 in Adulthood Stole My Cool, My Kid Stole My Cool, Pregnancy Stole My Cool

Babies, anyone?  Engagements, weddings, babies – they seem to happen in seasons.  And if ever there was a baby season, it is now.  I know of at least 20 (probably more) women that have recently had babies or are due in the next few months.  As I’ve been a mom for almost three whole years and now have TWO children, I’m obviously an expert on all things motherhood.  But that didn’t stop me from absolutely panicking right after James was born.  There he was, this tiny baby, entirely dependent on me.  And there I was, struggling to get him to nurse, exhausted (and he was only a few hours old!) and convinced that I would not be able to do this newborn stage again – the sleepless nights, the non-stop nursing, the unexplainable crying.  Nope, couldn’t do it. That moment passed, thankfully, but I think it’s a pretty common feeling among the mommy set.  In case anyone needed a reminder, being a new mom is hard.  And scary. So I want to share a few things I’ve learned with these new moms and moms-to-be, whether they’re having their first child or third. 1)   Step away from The Google.  Seriously.  Everything you read will convince you that you’re failing as a mother or your child is dying.  Probably neither is true.  Admittedly, I need to heed my own advice here.  I recently convinced myself that my daughter was dry drowning and that my newborn son would be developmentally stunted from lack of sleep.  Get this – dry drowning is extremely rare, though the interwebs would lead you to believe otherwise.  My daughter was fine.  As for my son? Maybe he will be stunted due to lack of sleep. But I don’t need Google reminding me of that.  Neither do you.  So back away. 2)   You may only wash your hair about once a week.  Accept this and move on. 3)   Same goes for shaving your legs.  Not a problem if your baby is born in November.  But if you have a spring or summer baby, invest in maxi dresses. 4)  ...

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