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Thursday, December 1st - Fiery sunrises and a trip to the Santa Claus House

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it,
the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.
~Andrew Wyeth~

This morning, as I was chatting with Steve online, I glanced out the window and watched another day dawn. These late sunrises are absolutely breathtaking, and I'm glad that they come later in the morning. That way I don't miss them.

The sky was painted with fire this morning - a deep orange-red that gradually grew from the horizon upward as the minutes passed. I took my camera and ran outside into my side yard to capture the display more completely. I also turned the webcam toward the window so that Steve could enjoy the view. While the image wasn't as breathtaking via the webcam, he could see that day was finally dawning, even though it was after 11am.

At noon, I picked up my friend Nik and her daughter, Neena, and we went to lunch. We spent a little time chatting over our meals, as Neena found a million ways to interrupt the conversation or distract her mother. She is a precocious little girl, with an abundance of energy. I think she was just a bit antsy and wanted us to hurry up with our meal so we could drive to our next destination - the Santa Claus House in North Pole.

I made a pit stop at the North Pole post office to send off some more packages and cards. I like having my cards cancelled there - with the telltale North Pole stamp. Especially at Christmastime.

I love the Santa Claus House during the holiday season. I enjoy it at other times of the year too, but during the holidays it really lifts my spirits. I made a decision not to decorate my house this year, since I'm flying out to Madison before Christmas and won't be home until after the new year. I'm just not in the mood to pull the boxes in from the garage and put up the tree, etc. without Steve here. It's OK though. I'm not depressed about it. I'm sad that Steve isn't here for Christmas, but I'm not sad about not having decorations up. I can drive around town or go to my friends' houses if I want to see decorations. It's just too much work this year. However, I fully intend to enjoy the decorations at the boys' place. I hope they have a tree. If they don't, I'm getting them one. :) Even if we have to go to a tree farm and pick out a Charlie Brown tree.

So - getting back to my day - I went to the Santa Claus house to browse the ornaments and look at the vintage Santas that stand guard around the store. I love these Santas! They are tall (more than 70") and high priced (near $1000) - and totally impractical - but they are really lovely. I also love the angels, and the Native Alaskan dolls. And there is a beautiful carousel horse there too.

Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance -- a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
~Augusta E. Rundel~

The Santa Claus House has changed the way children get to see Santa. At least it's different from the last time I was there at Christmas. Now, you get a number, and you can continue to shop. One of "Santa's helpers" calls out the number over the PA system. This is much more efficient. The last time I was there, there was a long line of hot, cranky, youngsters waiting for their turn. Neena had to wait for 4 others before her turn came up.

Neena wasn't so sure about this man in the red suit and his wife wearing a matching red suit. Especially when they started pulling her jacket off of her before they pulled her up on their lap. Nik and I walked around the perimeter of the setup, taking photos as they tried to coax Neena to talk about what she wanted for Christmas. At one point, we disappeared from sight and poor Neena must have thought her mama had abandoned her. Her sweet little face went from apprehensive to terrified in a split second. Even a candy cane didn't help. Why is it that so many kids are traumatized by Santa? Here are some photos of Neena that I took:


 
 

We drove back to Fairbanks in time to catch the sun going down. I stopped at the golf course to take a few photos before driving to the school to pick up Nik's son, Devon. After dropping them all off, I came home - admiring the subtle colors of the sunset, and the frosted white colors of the trees. It's amazing how often I can look around me and think to myself, "Wow... Alaska is so beautiful!"

I can't believe that Christmas is so near. Once I get home from visiting the boys in January, I will only have to wait about 2 months or so before I get the chance to see Steve for an R&R visit. I can't wait to see his face right in front of mine. It will be heavenly to hold him again. It's been 3 months already. I have to admit that the time has passed quickly. I hope the remaining 9 months do too.

Saturday, December 3rd - 100 days
 

 

One hundred days since Steve deployed. More than 14 weeks. Two thousand, four hundred hours. And we've still got a long way to go.

When he left, I couldn't even envision what life would be like 100 days in the future. How would I cope with his absence? How would I get through all the worrying? It hasn't been an easy 100 days. But I've survived. And so has he - and that's the most important thing.

I miss so many things...

Having morning coffee with him.
Taking Sedona for walks together.
Staying in lounging clothes all day and doing nothing but watching movies.
Taking long drives up the Steese, or down the Richardson, searching for moose and admiring the beauty that surrounds us.
Going out to dinner and flirting across the table. Staying home to eat and flirting across the table. :)
Stolen kisses in the kitchen - just because.
Laughing together.
Holding hands.
Cuddling.

Hopefully, Steve will be able to come home for R&R (rest & relaxation) at the end of March or beginning of April. Just in time for our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years. It amazes me sometimes. Not because I never thought that Steve and I would be together for so long, but because I still feel like a newlywed when I'm with him. He is a wonderful husband and an incredible man. And I'm so blessed to have him at my side. Oh, how I miss him!

 
Sunday, December 4th - Brrrrr!

Yesterday, I went downtown for the Winter Solstice Festival. It was -30F. Needless to say, there weren't too many people out and about. I took a few photos, but mostly concentrated on staying warm. I never turned the truck off - even when I got out of it. I wasn't the only one. This is the time of year that you will see idling vehicles in parking lots all over town. It's not the best thing for the environment, and can cause ice fog when conditions are right. But the alternative is quite uncomfortable. It's hard to explain just how cold -30F and below is. It's so cold that the nylon outer part of parkas and gloves makes the cracking sound of plastic when you move.

There were sleigh rides, but no takers. I don't blame them. I could barely stand out in the elements long enough to take a few photos, let alone climb into a wooden sleigh and do a lap around the park. The few photos I did take weren't the best quality. I don't know if the cold affected the camera or not, but it certainly affected the photographer. *grin*

This photo of the team of horses was a little too blurry for me in its original form. So I took it into my photo editing program (Photoshop) and turned it into a black and white photo. Then I went one step further and used one of the filters to give it a watercolor texture. While it's not a traditional photograph, I do like it. I can envision it on a holiday card or on notecards.

On another note - and before I end this entry - I'd like to send out a huge THANK YOU to my friend Karen for having me to her house for lunch on Friday. Not only did I enjoy a delicious salad and warm soup, but awesome conversation as well. Karen is a loving, giving, woman who is always a pleasure to spend time with. I'm so glad we met!

Thursday, December 8th - HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY DARLING HUSBAND!


"A soulmate is someone who has the locks to fit our keys,
and the keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to
open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be
completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for
who we are and for who we're pretending to be.
Each of us unveils the best part of one another.
No matter what else goes wrong around us,
with that one person we're safe in our paradise.
Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings,
our sense of direction. When we're two balloons,
and together our direction is up, chances are
we've found the right person. Our soulmate is the one
who makes life come to life"
~ Richard Bach ~

Happy Birthday, Steve! I love you MORE!

Friday, December 9th - Horses and Dogs: A visit to Jan DeNapoli's

Yesterday, I took a drive out to Two Rivers to visit with my friend, Jan. I really enjoy visiting Jan's place and seeing her dogs. Yesterday's trip was an added treat, as I got to meet the two newest members of her "animal" family - Tucker and Chief - two geldings who now share Jan's life.

I left the house before noon, as the sun was just beginning to brighten the day. We've had such warm weather lately (while the rest of the country freezes), and while I've enjoyed getting out and enjoying it, I also get nervous when I drive on the hilly roads around Fairbanks. The snow is melting, and the roads are icing, but fortunately my drive to Jan's was relatively uneventful. I would have liked to have visited for longer, but with the sun going down before 3pm - and my aversion to driving on unfamiliar roads after dark - I could only stay for a couple of hours. Regardless, I had a wonderful visit and took a lot of photos.

At the picture to the left, you can see Tucker (on the left) and Chief. Tucker is 7 years old and Chief is about 12.
"Sarek"
"Molly"
"Rocky"
"Nermal"
Jan took the photo at right of me and Chief. I haven't spent much time around horses, but Chief seemed to like me. It was nice to get so close to such a beautiful creature. You don't see too many photos of me on the other side of the camera lens. Jan snapped this photo of me while I was preparing to take photos of the dogs.
Tuesday, December 13th - Sudden Fever, Dog Bones, and Birthdays

I got hit with a 24-hour flu bug again. The odd thing about this illness is that my only symptom was a fever (102.4) and the muscle aches and weakness that come with a fever. It hit me suddenly, and I still don't know what caused it or brought it on. I took a long walk with Rachael on Sunday. We leashed up the fur kids and headed off on the bike path. It's been months since we've been able to walk, and having temperatures hovering at 13F (above zero!) made us both antsy to get out and get some exercise. We dressed in layers and were both relatively warm. We walked about 3 miles, but on the return trip I started feeling extremely fatigued. I attributed it to walking too far after months of being relatively sedentary.

Later Sunday evening, Rachael and I went to Susan's to watch Extreme Home Makeover (a regular 'date' for us). Susan made the most delicious beef stew and cheesy puffy appetizers (I don't know what they are called!), and a dessert that looked marvelous. I had a bowl of stew and one cheese puff and I knew I was burning up. I couldn't wait to get home and crawl into bed.

Steve called about an hour later and I at least got an opportunity to whine about how lousy I was feeling. Even from thousands of miles away, his voice soothed me and made me feel loved and cared for. I'm really glad he called. Although we have the opportunity to chat and webcam via computer, talking by telephone is a rare treat.

I was asleep by 11pm. With the exception of getting out of bed to make myself two cups of cocoa and a microwave dinner, I slept on and off for the next 18 hours. When I got up this morning, I was fine. I had my energy back, no fever... nothing. It's the oddest thing I've ever had happen to me. Obviously my body was fighting something off.

I stayed in today anyway -just to be on the safe side. I got some much needed cleaning done around the house, took care of some chores I let slide while I was sick, and worked on a final batch of Christmas cards. Tomorrow I have a few errands to run, and I look forward to getting out of the house and getting some fresh air.

Also, tomorrow is my birthday! I wish Steve was here to celebrate with me. With our birthdays being so close together, we've always chosen the weekend that falls between the two dates as our "Birthday Date Weekend", and go out for a nice, romantic dinner and maybe a movie on one of the nights. On the other day, we take advantage of the few hours of daylight to enjoy each other's company on a drive, music playing, holding hands, enjoying the passing scenery. I really miss having Steve here to celebrate growing another year older...together.

I have plans to go out with the girls tomorrow night. There's a comedy show playing at the Arctic Oasis here on post. We're planning to have dinner beforehand, since the last time we went to a comedy show at the Oasis, the kitchen was closed and we had planned on eating there. I'm looking forward to going out. If I can't have my husband home with me, having my friends around me is the next best thing.


The other day, I went out running errands with Rachael and Susan (it's more fun to run errands in a group!) and picked up a huge rawhide bone for Sedona. I figured I'd take it to the kennel with her when I drop her off next week. It will give her something to chew on and get her frustrations out. It's huge, so I'm sure there will still be plenty left next week. She was so happy to have this new chew toy and spent hours gnawing on it. The funniest thing was when she'd carry the bone through the house and bang it into walls and furniture. At one point, the cat walked nearby and Sedona grabbed up the bone indignantly and carried it off into the other room. I can just imagine Airborne wrapping her little cat jaws around this monstrosity and carrying it off. Then, last night, in my sick stupor, I heard a huge clanging and banging down the stairs. I thought that Sedona had fallen down the stairs, but didn't hear her yelp. I got out of bed and looked and there was the bone at the bottom of the stairs. I don't have any clue how she even got it up to the top of the stairs, but it was apparent that she wanted it on the lower level. Maybe the cat got too close...

Only about a week until I leave for Madison. I'm really excited. I can't wait to see my kids. I miss them.

Friday, December 16th - Birthday Love and Weird Weather

Wednesday night, in celebration of my birthday, we had plans to go out to dinner at Boston's, and then meet at the Arctic Oasis for a comedy show. When we got there, the doors were locked up tight, and there wasn't a sign posted anywhere that the show was canceled. There were several other cars in the parking lot who were also there for the show - people obviously dressed up for a night out - and they were just as aggravated as we were. I've already called and left a message of complaint on their answering machine and I'm going to email the MWR office about the issue.

With our plans turned upside down, we headed back to Boston's to have a couple of drinks. We had a few laughs, fun conversation and a good time even though things didn't turn out the way we planned. A gentleman at the bar bought us two rounds of drinks when he found out we were military wives of deployed husbands. He wished us a Merry Christmas on the way out. That was an unexpected and very nice gesture!

Just before I headed out with the girls, I got a delivery from the local florist. Steve sent me a long stem rose, a teddy bear, and two balloons for my birthday. It wasn't the surprise it could have been because the florist called ahead of time to make sure I was home. With the weather here, you can't just drop flowers between the two doors and call it a delivery. They'd be dead in a matter of minutes. Likewise, the balloons would be a limp mess as the volume of the helium inside decreases with the cold. Despite the fact that the gift wasn't a true surprise, it was exciting to receive a delivery that was ordered from halfway around the world. And then yesterday, I got the most beautiful birthday card from him. The sentiment he penned inside was very special and brought a tear to my eye. Knowing that he had chosen the card, and sealed the envelope, and placed it in the mail himself, made me feel as if we had touched across the miles.

I ran a few errands with Rachael yesterday. We have discovered just how much fun it is to run mundane errands when someone else is along. The upside is that we get everything done that we need to, while having some laughs and conversation. The downside is that we usually stop and grab something to eat - which isn't real easy on the wallet or the waistline! On the way home from running around, huge fat flakes of snow fell from the sky. It was absolutely gorgeous. It made me feel festive and Christmas-y for the first time in a long while. I even took a little bit of video and emailed it to Steve to share the white stuff with him.

And then, this morning, I opened my front door to a blast of warm air. It was 41 degrees! I watched the drip, drip, drip of melting snow as it came off the roof. I took advantage of the warmth - shoveling the driveways and busting up the thin layer of ice beneath the snow. It's still *nice* out. In fact, right now it's colder in Philadelphia (and many places in the Lower 48) than it is here.

I had last minute things to take care of today in preparation for my trip. While I didn't accomplish as much as I'd have liked, I did get a few things done. Only a few days now!

Monday, December 19th - Pastel Sunrises and Lunch with Friends
You've got to get up every morning
with a smile on your face,
and show the world
all the love in your heart.

~ Carole King ~

As I get closer to leaving for Madison, I've been writing tasks lists and taking care of last minutes details. Today I had to run a few errands and I wanted to get an early start. Steve got online at his 'usual' 9am hour (9pm where he is), which was wonderful. I love being the last person he talks to before he closes his eyes at the end of a long, hard day. And he loves being the first person I talk to before I start a new day.

Despite the late sunrise (and the laziness the morning darkness causes), I was dressed and out the door as the sky began brightening. There was fog hanging low over parts of the landscape. The birch trees were coated in frost. The snow was pure and bright - untouched in so many places, but for the tiny footprints of snowshoe hares or ravens. It was a stunning morning.

Instead of heading to my first stop, I drove down to the golf course here on post. I parked along the side of the road and watched the sky turn from pale pink to hot pink as the sun appeared over the horizon. The moon was bright in the morning sky - adding a magical touch to the pastel palette of colors. I stayed for about 30 minutes, enjoying the morning peacefulness, before heading off to my first stop.

Later this afternoon, I met Gip and Carmen for lunch at Sam's Sourdough Cafe. It's been a while since I ate at Sam's, and I'm going to have to remember to go back again soon. It's near the university, and I don't drive to that side of town very often now that I'm not working. But after having lunch there this afternoon, I'm going to have to make it a point to go back more often. The food is good and filling. And it's a favorite of the locals. Always trust the locals!

The three of us shared a lot of laughs and fun conversation. We talked about everything from growing up in an era when kids could take off on their bikes, and pedal for miles and miles without worrying about being abducted, to driving tractor trailers and pulling down Christmas decorations strung in small towns. I really enjoyed myself, and having a few hours of respite in the middle of an errand-filled day was exactly what I needed. To make it even more perfect, the drive home was under brilliant orange skies as the sun started heading down. I took the longer way home - through the downtown area - and thought about stopping to get photos of the Christmas lights, but wasn't dressed warm enough to stand outside for any length of time. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I'm having lunch with another friend. I've also got to finish getting the house tidied up. On Wednesday, I'm taking Sedona to the kennel (I'm going to miss my girl!), and then having dinner with Dianne at Gambardellas. It's been a long time since I've had dinner there. I'm really looking forward to it. Dianne is going to be stopping in to check on Airborne while I'm gone. She works at the hospital here on post, so in the event we have any really bad weather, she can spend the night here instead of making the long drive home. I am so thankful that she's going to stop in and talk to Airborne. We've left Airborne unattended for almost a week before, but boy does she harbor some resentment when we get home! At least hearing Dianne moving around in the house will let her know that she hasn't been abandoned.

I don't know if I'll have a chance to update this journal again before I leave for Madison, but I fully intend to update while I'm there visiting. The photos won't have anything to do with Alaska, but they will have everything to do with two of the people I love the most in the world - my sons.

Tuesday, December 20th - Alaska Sunsets

After lunch with my friend, I drove past Birch Hill and continued on the gravel road which leads to the A-frame homes just off of post. The ice fog was hanging low over the horizon and the sun was already on its way down. With the thick fog, the sun looked like a huge orange ball in the sky, instead of a bright glow. I just had to get photos.


Birch Hill Rd

Birch Hill Rd.

Sunset and Ice Fog

Orange Sun

Sun in Ice Fog

Please send good thoughts for a comfortable and uneventful plane trip tomorrow night. I'll be flying overnight, so I hope to catch a few hours of sleep (if possible). That way I'll be much more rested when I get into Madison on Thursday morning. You won't hear from me again until I get settled with the boys.

Saturday, December 24th - Happy to see my KIDS!

My flight from Fairbanks to Madison was relatively uneventful. The flights were only delayed a little bit, but there were no other problems. I did get a little stressed out when I got to Minneapolis and saw that my flight to Madison was canceled! I later discovered that they had to use a bigger plane and just changed the flight number. I got into Madison only 15 minutes later than scheduled.

Chris and Becky were waiting for me. It was so nice to see their faces! Brandon had to work, so we decided to run by Home Depot (where he works) to see him on the way to the apartment. He was sitting out in the parking lot taking his lunch break when we pulled up. I saw a smile stretch from ear to ear when he saw me in the back seat. I think my smile was bigger than his. It had been 3 years since I had seen him. The last time I saw him, he was preparing to go to Iraq with the Marines. He hasn't changed too much - except for lots of facial hair. I'll never understand why he wants to cover up such a handsome face with fuzz, but what do I know? I'm only the mom. *grin*

We waited for Brandon to get home from work and headed out to have dinner at the Olive Garden. There is no Olive Garden in Alaska, and I have missed the unlimited salad and breadsticks. What surprised me most of all was the total bill. After several years in Fairbanks, I've become accustomed to higher prices when dining out. The tally for four people was about the same as it would be for two in AK. I like that my spending money is stretching so much further here. I'm glad I brought an extra suitcase with me to take home some goodies.

Yesterday, I woke up totally refreshed after sleeping for almost 10 hours. Thanks to jet lag and the lack of sleep on the plane, I had a good rest. Chris had to work, so Brandon, Becky and I went Christmas shopping. I was continually amazed by how less expensive things are here as compared to Fairbanks, but I was also dismayed by the level of chaos that surrounded me. Madison is congested. There is an obscene amount of traffic - particularly around the mall - this time of year. People are downright rude to each other. We almost got hit by an SUV as we were walking across a parking lot because the driver was speeding. While I am drawn to certain aspects of being in a big city, at the same time I long for the more laid back lifestyle in Fairbanks. I do have to admit, that I'm having fun with all the shopping though!

Today, Brandon had to work. He'll be home shortly and I'll make dinner for everyone. I've been enjoying the role of 'mom' to my kids. Tomorrow I am making a Christmas ham and the fixings for dinner. Gifts will be opened and I'll probably take a lot of photos. We're going to go exploring downtown after Christmas. I want to check out the shops and the Capitol Building.

I've taken a few photos to share:

Here are a few photos I've taken of the boys, Becky, me and the pets. Pandora is their boxer, and JiJi is the cat. I'll be taking more photos I'm sure. I especially love the black & white photo I took of Becky. I think she looks a bit like Angelina Jolie in it. :)

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th - Christmas Fun

We all slept in this morning. I got up first and started the coffee brewing. The others followed within the hour. There was lots of paper flying and huge smiles all the way around. We had a light breakfast of toasted bagels. I'm cooking Christmas dinner for us this afternoon. We're having a ham, mashed 'taters, veggies, rolls, and pie for dessert. Other than that, we have no plans to do anything but hang out, watch a movie or two, and relax. Tomorrow, Chris has to work, but Brandon and Becky are both off. I don't know what the plan is. Not really much else to add, except to say once again how happy I am to be with my kids on Christmas.

I took some photos this morning.


Chris, Me, Becky, Pandora, Brandon

Pandora

A little creative editing

JiJi lazing in front of the fireplace

Brandon and Chris being attacked

Collage
Tuesday, December 27th - Exploring Downtown Madison

Yesterday, Brandon, Becky and I ran some errands and picked up a few last minute (and Christmas sale) items for some of Becky's family members. Later, when Chris got home from work, we drove down to State Street. On the way, we stopped to drive through the Holiday Fantasy in Lights at Olin-Turville Park. It was very reminiscent of Callaway Gardens in GA, although not as large. Oversized light sculptures lined the road that looped through the park.

When we got near State Street, we found a place to park and decided to walk to Capitol Square and then down the street. State Street features block after block of specialty shops, art galleries, gift stores, women's boutiques, ethnic shops, theaters, museums, restaurants and outdoor sidewalk cafes. It links the Capitol Square with the University of Wisconsin campus. There are quite a few bars and restaurants on State Street too. Since we went down after dark (and after 6pm), the shops and galleries were closed, but the bars and restaurants were open. We weren't in the mood to eat or drink - merely to get some night photos - so we walked a short way. The wind was really picking up by then and we were all freezing. (I'll say it again - this weather is so much colder than AK with these strong winds!)

After getting a few photos, we headed home so I could cook up some spaghetti and meatballs and hot meatball subs with mozzarella cheese melted on top. The kids were famished and everyone wolfed down the food. I think they like having me here preparing meals for them. And I do enjoy doing it too.

I got up with Chris this morning as he was getting ready for work. Soon after Becky got up and Brandon followed. We're trying to convince Brandon to let us take the car and go shopping, but he's worried about us driving in all this traffic because we're both unfamiliar with the area (Becky hasn't done much exploring on her own), and Chris called and said the roads are slick in areas. Since Brandon is playing with his new XBox, the odds of us getting out of here anytime soon are pretty low. Tomorrow, everyone has to go back to work. I'm either going to be stuck here at the apartment, or I'll be driving someone to work so I can have use of the car. We'll see how agreeable the boys are to that.

Photos from State Street (click to enlarge)

Wisconsin State Capitol

100 State Street

Overture Center for the Arts

State Street

Church Courtyard

State Street view toward Capitol

Orpheum Theatre

State Street coffee shop

Here is some additional information about the photos above:

  • The Wisconsin State Capitol is 284.4 feet high from the ground floor to the top of the statue on the dome - just three feet and one-half inch shorter than our Nation's Capitol in Washington D.C.
  • The exterior of the Capitol is constructed entirely of White Bethel Vermont granite. The Capitol dome is the largest dome by volume in the United States and one of the largest in the world. It is also the only granite dome in the United States.
  • The Overture Center for the Arts originally opened in 1928 as the Capitol Theatre. In 1980, after several years of decline, it reopened as the Madison Civic Center. The 2,251-seat performance hall is designed and constructed for exceptional acoustics and an intimate theater experience.
  • Opening in March, 1927, the Orpheum Theatre remains the most intact example in Madison of the early twentieth century movie-vaudeville theatre.

Tomorrow night, we're going to see Trans Siberian Orchestra perform at the Alliant Energy Center. This weekend, I think we're going to try to go to the free Henry Villas Zoo. Other than that, everyone's just been enjoying some much needed relaxation.

Thursday, December 29th - Concerts, Cemeteries, and Cats

Yesterday, I drove Chris to work, and then took Becky in. This way I'd have Chris' car at my disposal to do some shopping. I wandered through the mall, and stopped in JC Penney to look at ball gowns. I really enjoyed myself going over rack after rack of clothing. There were a lot of after Christmas sales going on and I parted with some spending money on some sweaters and shirts that were deeply discounted. It's been so long since I shopped in places outside of AK and the prices stun me, because they are so much less than Fairbanks! No luck in the ball gown department. Everything on the racks was heavily picked over for holiday affairs. I'm going to try again tomorrow or next week - perhaps trying out one of the bridal shops to see if they have any discounted racks.

The concert last night was very good, although our seats were definitely the 'nosebleed' section and off to the side, as opposed to a straight on view. I was also disappointed that I couldn't take my camera. The photos would have been awesome, as the light show was quite incredible with lasers, snow (fake), spotlights, fire, etc. It was a long concert (nearly 3 hours); the first half was re-enactment of their latest CD - "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" - and the second half was a long jam session. We enjoyed the second half more than the first, but the light show was amazing throughout and the musicians were very talented.

Today, Chris was off from work, so we spent the day together running errands. I mailed off a care package to Steve. Hopefully it will get there as quickly as the others have been getting there. It's full of Hickory Farms summer sausage and cheese, etc. He loves to snack on stuff like that when he's got some time off and can watch a movie or two.

Chris took me to one of the local cemeteries today. I saw it from the road when I was driving him into work yesterday and wanted to visit. I love old cemeteries, with their old marble statues and large headstones. I wanted to take a few photographs and Chris asked me if I'd take a few photos of him with his guitar in the cemetery (it's a 'rock star' thing).

When we got home, I got started on noodles and dumplings for dinner. I've been promising I'd make it for the kids while I was in town, and tonight was their lucky night. It was delicious, and they enjoyed it too. We have so many leftovers in the fridge. I really hope they eat it before it goes bad. I don't think they cook at home very much with their work schedules. I was happy to have dinner waiting for them when they got home from work. It's good to be with my kids.

We don't have any plans for New Years Eve, which is fine with all of us. Our only plan is to have a relaxing night at home, sipping champagne and perhaps watching movies. My kind of night. I just hope I can stay up until midnight!

Photos taken today:


JiJi enjoying the fire

Madison Cemetery

Chris

Brandon
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Go to January, 2006

©2005 Susan L Stevenson