Thursday, January 29, 2015

Widdymac Enterprises

A few weeks after we got here, my mother -in- law asked me if I would want to be her assistant.  She's a realtor and has many tasks on several committees and programs in the state to help with real estate law and regulations. She also teaches real estate continuing education classes. When she's not showing houses, she is always quite busy with some meeting, and is very knowledgable and has a TON going on.  To keep things easier, she asked that I get a business license (and pay my own taxes). She drew up a contract and she started throwing things at me to help her with. 

So that's how Widdymac Enterprises was born and I have a license to do business in the state of Alaska.  Mainly I handle many office tasks that she just doesn't have time to do.  I help her stay organized with filing, databases,  assist in classes, help publish her quarterly newsletter, mailings, etc I'm also working on her social media presence and will be working on her websites as well. Its not a ton of hours, but I'm picking things up, LEARNING a bunch about Real Estate (something I knew nothing about).  But its pretty perfect because I can set my own hours, work when I want (with some deadlines).  She has appreciated that I've come up with ideas and been trying to think of new things she can do get the marketing side of her business going a bit stronger.  Some ideas have not worked, but she sees that I'm investing my own time trying to solve problems she is facing.  Somethings work, some don't and its ok.  

I can pick up more business from others if wanted and I could decide later that I want to get a Real Estate Licence - whether to sell or just to help in other tasks that I can't do without being licensed.  

I may stick with it forever, or I may not.  Its all still new and exciting and possibilities seem pretty endless right now.  

Moving On

At this point in my life, I'm kinda tired of packing... and moving.  But it happened again this last weekend.  We started looking for our own place to live a couple weeks ago.  Its an exciting but stressful process.  Our application was accepted and we got the keys last Friday night.  We had some things ready to go, but because of plans for the rest of the weekend we weren't able to spend our first night here until Sunday.  

Remember we got rid of pretty much everything - and what we didn't get rid of (mostly sentimental stuff) is still in storage in Utah.  Grandma and Grandpa bought the kids beds before we got here, and David and I are sleeping on a spare queen mattress until we have money to buy one we want. It is ULTRA firm - which is not our style of comfort.  Its slightly better than sleeping on a rock, though, so we are grateful.  We bought a dining table and chairs (that need some love), an older TV, armoire and king sized bed frame from David's boss.  We got some hand-me-down dishes and kitchen things from Grandma and Grandpa too.  Now the fun begins of getting things organized and things unpacked.

Its pretty expensive to rebuild the household supplies.  But its kinda been fun to think about my style for this place and such.  No fun purchases yet really.  For some weird reason I really look forward to having a gorgeous bathroom.  (maybe its because I love to take a long hot bath) But right now, i can't fathom spending $25 x 2 bathrooms for cool curtains and more for fun soap dispensers and pretty, fluffy towels.  So, I have boring white curtains.... for now.

We are waiting for one more W2 so we can file taxes and then hopefully, we will get a couch to sit on with our refund!!  (and a comfy soft, fluffy, sinkable bed).

There are a billion reasons why as adults, you don't want to live with parents again, and a billion more why parents don't want their adult kids to live with them again.  Don't get me wrong... our relationship is still really good, and we all still love each other... but space is good!! Even if its only a 1.5 miles. We are so grateful for all the help we've received from all of our family in this transition. And it is SO nice to have our own house, with our own rules and way of doing things.  

I realized the other day, that I am truly happy.  I'm really happy to be in Alaska... of all places. I never thought that would happen, let alone that I would want it!  I'm happy with my kids, their schools, they choices they make and who they are.  Im happy with me and my little job (I'll update that in a min). and feeling productive that I'm making a difference and using my brain for more than dinner plans. I'm happy with my relationship with my husband.  There have been plenty of hard times when i didn't think he and I would make it... but here we are still happy, still like each other a bit!  I haven't felt happy with everything like this in a long time.  Its like we have been going through the motions of life, getting through one day to the next, trying not to drown.  David and I both feel very free and at peace here, and like our lives have possibilities here.  Its exciting! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cross your fingers

We put in an application for a townhouse about a mile from where we are staying today.  Trying to find affordable housing has been really difficult.  Many of you have wondered what prices are like here, so I'm here to share...

In Chandler, AZ, we had a 1300 sq ft townhouse, 3 bdrm, 2 1/2 bathroom, 2 car garage place that we paid $1000 for rent.  Now that was a few years ago now, so with inflation maybe they are charging $1200.  When we moved to West Jordan, we had a 900+ sq ft apartment, 3 bdrm, 2 bath. We paid $960 per month.

Finding anything closer to those prices here in Anchorage, puts us in some pretty dodgy neighborhoods.... Once place was down right scary!! After seeing that one we decided to pay a couple hundred extra for safety!! We found an adorable, but tiny apartment a block away (keeping kids in same schools) for $1500 and that INCLUDED utilities.  We jumped at it, but the owner, a cute older lady who lives there too, needed to back out before anything was signed because of a family emergency.  Hrumph!

So the application we put in for today is for townhouse with 1400 sq ft, 2 car garage, 3 bedroom 2 bathroom place. Its about a mile or so away from where we are right now. Its $1595 per month NOT including utilities!  YIKES!!! The master bedroom/bathroom is down stairs by the garage, and the rest of the house was upstairs.  I'm kinda liking the idea of a nice separation from our bedroom and the kids's rooms... or even the living room.  Maybe I can really  make our bedroom a sanctuary from the craziness that comes with 3 boys.  1400 sq ft is massive for us.  And with growing boys that sounds awesome!  I imagine it being a place where we can stay for a couple years until we are finally in the position to buy a house.

I'm not positive if the kids (at least the younger 2) will be in the same school.  I'm not stressing about it at this point.  I figure I can cross that bridge once we know if we got it or not, and possibly get an exception at least for the rest of the school year.  We should know in a couple days... and we could move in this weekend!! YAY!!

Now, before we moved, we pretty much got rid of EVERYTHING.  And we have not brought what we kept up from storage, yet (SOON!!)  We have no furniture, no kitchen things (except my Bosch Mixer).  We are starting from scratch!  Its kinda exciting, until I think about the cost involved.  Grandpa and Grandma bought the boys beds before we arrived, so they have that.  David and I have been using a queen bed that we can bring with us too (but will be replaced soon because its not super comfy to us)  Grandma is purging her kitchen and giving us duplicates that she may have to help us get started.  David's boss is selling a bedroom set for David and I and dining set, and TV for cheap, so we will probably snag those too.  We bought some pots and pans, a toaster and iron and ironing board today because they were on sale.

Are They Crazy??

One thing we've noticed around here, is that Alaskans are either really brave, tough, rugged people... or they are plain crazy!!

Take, for example, Fat Tire Bicycles.  I had never heard of them before and when I googled them, my results came up with tons of images for them on the beach.  The wider tire is great for riding your bike through the sandy beaches.  That makes PERFECT sense to me.

But Alaskans use it for major transportation around town.  Its not just kids trying to get outside to play. Plenty adults are very serious about it and don't own a car, just their bike to get them where they need to go. You will often see someone riding their fat tire bike, with groceries dangling off the handle bars. The wider tire gives better traction in the snow and ice. You can even buy studded bike tires.  That just cracks me up for some reason.

More power to them, really.  But I really like my heater in my car (even though it really hasn't gotten THAT cold, yet). And I really don't like FRIGID air in my face.  Then, add my klutziness as a factor and I really don't think this would be a safe choice for me.  

I think they are crazy!!

This is something we think is pretty cool.  Maybe its because I know so many "skaters" in Arizona that I appreciate this.  Or maybe its because of my life in Vermont and Utah with all all my skiing and snow boarding friends... but this makes a lot more sense to me.  Its a skate board - minus the wheels, with a ski added to the bottom... a "SnowSkate".  We've seen a few of Zach's friends ride them several weeks ago (when we had fresh snow and no ice).  Who ever came up with this is genius if you ask me!  

Friday, January 9, 2015


Seward is a small fishing town about 3 hours south of Anchorage. It is home to the SeaLife Center and offers many tours that are very busy in the summer.  In the winter, its a sleepy little town. It is on the Kenai Peninsuala, and nestled in Resurrection Bay.

We went down to the SeaLife Research center and really had a great time.  Its not a typical Aquarium, although we kept referring to it as one. They are a field office for marine biology research here.  In the summer they offer a lot more exhibits and interactions. We enjoyed looking at the fish, octopus, starfish, seals and puffins.

A Puffin. Elliot was quite disappointed that there are no penguins here, But  really liked this guy.  Once he got back in the water, he started splashing around and getting us cold and wet. They boys named him Bomber.
This is a cute Momma Giant Octopus. See all that white stuff she is cradling?  That is her eggs. Once she lays eggs, she stops eating in order to protect them. She will soon die once the eggs mature. 
We later enjoyed a nice lunch at a local restaurant called "Chinooks" (which is named after the native word for King Salmon) The meals were large and David and I shared a Country Fried Steak that was THE BEST.  They used tenderized sirloin instead of tenderized round steak so it was very flavorful and tender.

SEA OTTERS! They were enjoying their lunch while we were having ours!

This is a local celebrity... the Giant Chalktopus. He can be found inside Chinooks Restaurant.  

I LOVE the mountains here.  There is something quite majestic and magnificant about them.  I can't figure out what it is.  The mountains in Utah were much higher, and I loved them. But Alaska mountains are just different.  My Dad loaned me his "old" digital camera, one much more advanced than my current abilities.  I've enjoyed toying around with it to take some great pics of the area.

Mt. Alice on the the other side of Resurrection Bay

It was 17 degrees in Seward, with the sun shining.  I loved being able to see the snow whip around in the wind. I was grateful I wasn't up there! 

This is the Sun rising as we arrived in Seward.

This was the sunset about 20 miles south of Anchorage.  Because of the position of the sun, really low on the horizon all day long, the sunsets seem to last forever.  Sorry if its grainy.  I took this one with my phone while in the car.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Christmas in Alaska is pretty magical. This is the 2nd Christmas Zach, David and I have spent here. (we came in 2003) But this was different since we are no longer visitors. We had a gorgeous real tree this year (usually have fake ones because we are cheap... I mean broke). The smell of the pine really does add to the festive atmosphere. We had fun decorating the tree with Grandpa David and GramAnita. And I think it looked amazing!

Christmas Eve, my kids get to open one present- which is always pajamas. I found some great Star Wars shirts and matched them with sweat pants for Cannon and Elliot, but I had found some great fleese Star Wars pants for Zach. They were a hit, and everything fit well. The kids did really good actually staying in bed that night too!  (Amazing!!) 

Christmas Morning, we brought the kids downstairs together to see the stockings. I love the boys faces, with the excitement, sense of wonder and Christmas tree lights glimmering in their eyes. The big hit was the Lego table/wall Grandpa David made. It was installed, wrapped and waiting to be opened last. 

It's got 9 gray 15x15" Lego base plates to create a wall and 8 green 10x10 base plates for the floor/table area. There's space to hold 3 storage bins to sort all their Legos so there is no reason to have any pieces left out for stepping on! It's pretty awesome! It's actually screwed into the wall for stability and safety. Wrapping it was much harder than anticipated.  GramAnita and I were trying (failing) to make it pretty. Grandpa David ended up just covering it in brown paper and painters tape. 

There isn't a Lego store in Alaska, and building this was an idea that came after we visited the museum, so we were waiting on UPS to get the orders on time. Our last ones came December 23!! (Expected delete very date was December 16!). Just in the knick of time!! We were pretty nervous! I'm so glad it did!! it's been so fun to see what the boys come up with!! I guess I'll save that for a future post!!

David got some Ice Cleats for Christmas... Maybe Santa needs to get me some too!!

The Unwrapping of the new Lego Table/wall


Papa (Sarah's Dad) always wraps presents kinda crazy.  We call it "Papa Wrapping" and my kids look forward to it! 

He sent cash, rolled up, and was dispensed in a can, decorated by his girlfriend, Ruby. 

Slippy strikes again

Several years ago, my darling brother Jeff and his "funny" friends gave me the nickname "Slippy" after I slipped on some ice in Vermont. My falling and hurting myself is a pretty constant thing. I can't begin to count the umber of times I've stubbed/broken toes, stained my ankles, bonked my head. I have bruises that I can't account for because I'm a klutz!!

Christmas afternoon I actually forgot to bring in the sleds we bought for the boys from out in the shed. So after the craze of building, creating, engineering on the Lego table died down, we went out to get the sleds. We'd gotten about 2 inches of fresh snow that morning, which Zach had just shoveled off the back deck. I took one step off the first step and both of my feet came out from under me. My backside slammed down on one step, and my left hand went out behind me to brace my fall. My thumb slammed against the corner of the step. My kids and hubby rushed to my side and asked repeatedly if I was ok. (They're so sweet). Now-- when I get hurt really badly-- I get quiet. It's about the only time I get quiet too. I was SILENT.  I wanted to cry, and swear, but didn't do either (so proud!!) we got the sleds out, and I went inside to get some ice. 

About an hour later, David and I decided I should get my hand checked out. It was sorta swollen. It was starting to bruise in weird ways. If I took ice off of it- it hurt like crazy!! So we went to Providence Medical Center and had X-rays done. Turns out I broke my thumb  (technically the head of the first metacarpal bone). It's a crack- so nothing had to be reset (thank goodness). And I have a splint on my thumb until January 5 when I get to see a specialist. I'm hoping no surgery!! 

With all the back problems I've had in my life- my back is doing really well. My backside has a horrible bruise on it. Don't worry I'm not posting any pictures... And non have been taken! Here is the only "visual" you need--- the bruise takes up about 1/4 of one butt cheek, and is the color of eggplant.  Its an uglier bruise than my thumb. 

Never had a cast before. I was always curious what it was like. After a few days of a splint, I can't say I'm eager for the next few weeks. Showering is a pain not only because I can't get it wet, but having 2 opposable thumbs is something I have taken for granted. I miss my thumb!! Doing my hair is becoming a joke. How do you hold a hair dryer with 4 fingers one the one hand and try to style with your other hand? The doctor gave me a prescription pain medicine--- but I can't get the darn lid off... And never mind the dumb blister packets the medicine is in (inside that "childproof" bottle).  I'm so glad my kids are bigger and can do most things independently. This one handed mom is struggling! 

But my favorite "frustration" is when my kids are getting all bundled up to go sledding and the struggle getting their coats zipped with their gloved hands and want ME to help? Arg!! 

Darn sleds! 

*** Update.  I got an email from the hospital about logging on to see my records. I did and the radiologist said it was NOT broken.  The first thing I did was cut the cast/splint off and then realized how much my thumb kinda liked it.  OUCH!  But the freedom was nice, and showering without plastic bags on my arm was delightful.  I bought a removable thumb brace. It is so nice to be able to wash my hands and take it off at night and sleep much more comfortably. 

When we went to the specialist, he agreed that it was not broken, but understood why the ER doc thought it was broken. He said it was sprained badly and that the brace I bought was perfect and I should wear it for 2-4 weeks.  It is definitely feeling better. It gets sore if I try to use it too much, and my grip is pretty weak, but that will heal in time!  
The cast/split

After I cut the cast off.  The bruising isn't as ugly as it was.

The boys made sure we felt "WELCOM" when we got home. They ran out of room for the E.