Rise and Shine On

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My new blog! It’s time to retire my old one. If you are one of my subscribers or found this randomly or want to connect (spy) with me… here’s my new blog. I may share it publicly on Facebook when the time comes, but I’m not sure who the audience is. It’s me writing a public diary, as I travel through life :) I hope to post once or twice a week. I miss writing for fun, uncut, unedited! :)

http://riseandshinealaska.blogspot.com/

Please check it out! Because if you’re reading this for any reason, I’m sure you know me well and I welcome your viewing!

Christmas Note: From Isabel to Killian

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Found the letter below on our computer this morning. I remember Isabel trying to show it to me, but I did the Christmas “zone out” and wasn’t paying attention. She does these cute little things for him all the time and never gets burned out by it, which tells me well duh she loves him (as siblings should), but also he is very important to her as a friend.

They really are best friends and get along. When they don’t it’s usually because of a learning curve… like Isabel teaching Killian to do something the right way then getting frustrated with him. But they don’t really fight. But why would they? He is not going to use her jewelry or wreck her art kits. She is not going to steal his toy cars. He is not going to be mean to her (she’s way bigger than him). Friends are never going to be a competitive issue. She still thinks he’s adorable. He still thinks she’s a fun teacher. This will all change in a few years, but for now I’m soaking it in.

If you have sibling kiddos, think about what you love best about their relationship. How do you encourage it? What are some of your favorite memories of them together? As mine grow up, I make sure they do it together. We try to be as open and honest with each other as possible. My favorite memories are our little adventures like road trips, the beach, and the night time chaos rally they do before bed time.

Here is the letter from Christmas 2014:

Dear Killian

your mom has told me you want a bouncy bike and you’v been shooting big scores this cristmas season if you know what I mean. Good news and bad news. We will start with bad news. The bad news is the elves have never heard of a bouncy bike. So we will give you something els. Witch brings us to the good news. The good news is your sister Isabel saw me last night and sence she saw me I asked her if she wanted to work with me and she said yes. she said she would lend you a present you two better share.the score now still good.we will haved to see season if you know what I mean. The score so far is probably nice list. Movinng on.

Warm winter wishes,

           saint nicholaus

It’s December Already?

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…it feels halfway over, and it’s only just begun!

We’re all busy. That’s not new news. In the McClure household we all have our priorities, then meet at the dinner table and be with each other. In ways of playing Mad Libs, watching our shows (Masterchef Junior, The Amazing Race, blackish, etc.), do some homework, or work on our own little projects to help clear our minds.

Isabel is in basketball and stays busy with school. I am often counselling her on how to survive being a little girl surrounded by uncontrollable circumstances in school. I am happy to say it has made a world of difference for her and she has been super great these past few days!

Killian loves Preschool and has been improving greatly in his ice skating. I’m so proud of him! It’s nice seeing them get better at their skills in different areas. He has been a real joy.

Rane and I are adjusting to the idea of owning the family business. We knew it was coming and essentially were warned about owning it ten years ago. It’s looking to be about that time, so we’re praying a lot about it. We’ve also been very in love the past few weeks. It’s been a really sexy holiday season for us. I even shared that over our Thanksgiving dinner when we were all asked what we were thankful for. “My amazing husband of ten years. The sexiest, hottest guy ever. And for “this morning” that we shared together. *big hug, big kiss*”

He was mortified. But oh well.

I’m getting the kids snow clothes together and overnight goodies. They are staying with grandma tonight and I’m off to cater one of the fanciest Christmas parties ever. It’s a church that does it every year and it’s basically their prom. I’m excited though, because I like this kind of stuff. Going to pick up Isabel early, then drop the kids off.

Tomorrow I told Rane I want a full on date night! Dinner and a movie. Maybe some Christmas shopping to get it out of the way.

I finished a coming of age story told in the middle of a Sri Lankan racial cleansing genocide, it’s called Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera. I just started Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. It’s already an amazing, mind blowing book. Up next on my list is All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, which I’m very excited to read. I read The Train to Warsaw this year, so as you can tell I’m a sucker for other parts of the world’s civil wars. I feel like, I learn a lot. Also, our whole family is in love with the library so you can check out a bunch of new books with no guilt of buying them.

I better get going. I’ve really enjoyed the past few weeks and can only hope the next few weeks were I’m so lucky again. With family, the balancing act of life is an easy choice. I can say no and not feel bad about it any more. Every now and then I get to say yes to things, but overall, I’m pretty happy just being happy with the people closest to me. Life is good.

Give It Up

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You can’t control how others think about you, don’t try. Sometimes it’s futile. Other people’s perception is their own crutch, don’t make it your problem.

If people are distant, even if you need them, it’s ok. Not everyone knows when you “need” them, and sometimes they’re not in the right head space anyways so it might be better in the long run.

Instead of being hurt by others apathy, don’t make it about you. BE YOU, regardless. Be sweet and kind.

Being happy is about looking inside and knowing you are loved by God. Take that and grow.

Look at your insecurity and say, “You think you’re better than me? You’re not.” You will feel empowered. Stomp it to death. Insecurity kills relationship.

If your close people can’t compliment you (but seems to compliment everyone else around you), find competition in you (when you are 100% not competing), are jealous of you, act rude to you, and overall aren’t supportive… give it to God. Get over it quick. If you don’t, it will become bitterness and resentment. Then consider that it’s time to find new people.

Find people that love you. Be with those people. Find people that encourage you. Find people that have time for you. That want to be with you. People that aren’t constantly trying to impress or to be impressed.

I need genuine, real, authentic people.

People that make you feel special are so important, but also, be that person as well.

People are never better than you and you are not better than them. Stay humble to this. Dollar signs, pretension, and body image are weak guidelines to character. Don’t fall for that. Goodness and righteousness is strength.

I’ve meditated all day on becoming the kind of person that I want to be around myself. It’s bait for the good ones. And let’s you know who you need to give up.

I really am beautiful, strong personality, fun person, silly, hilarious, insightful, intuitive, loving, and kind. I’m a good person. I hate competition, hidden agendas, passive aggressive or unsupportive behavior, selfishness, and bad attitudes. I can be myself by remembering I am loved by my Creator, by my family, and am a strong woman in and out of this world. I have a deep spirit that forever longs for growth and the constant splash of newness on my soul. I’m pretty awesome and as long as I know and embrace that, that’s all that matters! I can soar! I’M FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Day Three: Flying Amongst The Reds

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I usually wake up quite early for a potty break, but this morning it was 7am. I was up and moving by 8:30am, so we ate our yummy breakfast and hit the road to drive a little ways to the Sonoma Canopy Tours.

The drive out wasn’t too far away and went from big hwy, to little hwy, to a two laner down curvy roads, past many small vineyards and through little charming towns the size of your hand. The trees towered over the road and gulfed you in the sense that you were driving through a tunnel almost :) These tiny towns had tiny stores and tiny boutiques. It would have been nice to visit them, but we were on a schedule.

we thought we were late, because we took a left instead of a right on the Bohemian Hwy. We pulled up and got situated after a bit. We met a family of four; The dad Mark was hilarious and kept us laughing the entire time, the mom was laidback and enjoyed herself, and their two boys were older in their mid 20s. One was fabulous from San Fran and the other was straight with a full beard. They were a very fun family, easy to get along with. I looked like I could’ve been their big sister, they were Thai mix Hawaiian or something (didn’t ask), but they were such great people.

Ok so after introductions, we drove down a bit to get harnessed up. And guess who grabbed Rane and I and shook us saying, “It’s Rane and Kasi!!!” Dean from yesterdays tour! The two couples that were hitched for 35 years and reminded me of Aunt Heidi and Aunt Sari. We were all so excited. Their group was right before us, so as they walked up, we were in training. It was really fun and AWESOME to see them.

Our two guides were probably mid 20s and I wasn’t sure how it was going to be. Later on they said their hesitancy was because they’ve gotten weird groups before and long story short, they wanted to be sensitive. But that all melted away with the dad, Mark, that just kept teasing them. The guide told me he was happy the dad harassed him, because it’s something his family would do and is refreshing. Refreshing. That is what being around laidback, hilarious, honest new people feels like. You cut the bullsh*t awkwardness out immediately and just act like family. I freakin’ loved that.

 I was the only one that squealed and hugged the tree like a koala. I didn’t realize I was nervous until we were up there looking down. LOOKING DOWN. Gahhh! It was scary! But a weird kind of scary. Not… terrifying. Not… nervous. More like… you’re out of your mind. It was high up. I think 800 feet at the tallest? After a while you get familiar, but then the guides shake the tree while all 8 of us are on a tiny platform. I was like, why o why are you doing this!? Brandon (a guide) told me that Mike (the other guide) has never done that on the tours and was surprised. But we were all so game. We were so down with whatever. Although Mark, the dad, had lots of words whenever the guides would do anything. It was like, he was their father scolding them (in a hilarious way).

Our experience was fun, ofcourse, and we all supported each other. The last part was some bridges, a gorgeous spiral staircase, and then repelling down a giant redwood. So… repelling is a straight shot falling down, but holding a rope. I can get over zipping horizontally. You see and feel everything. Repelling is like, being pushed off a cliff. It doesn’t feel natural. You’re supposed to swing around on your own. Well, Brandon felt like a brother by the end of the trip so when it was my turn… instead of me swinging myself around, as I said outloud, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m supposed to…” he pushed me. I was like, “Ahhh!!! Oh my God!” And had an honest look of fear on my face, but then laughed (as he predicted I would) and the weight counteracted with the pulley and I slowly drifted to the ground.

The tour ended and it was a nice time. Flying through and over the trees from platform to platform was freeing. Your body is hugged by the straps, so you feel/are safe. When you get used to the handiwork of it, you’re heart soars. Your mind is gone and you fly. You just breath in what being human feels like. Powerful, but humble. Exciting, but curious.

Afterwards we had a nice little drive to the mall again real quick (got the wrong size bra). Got all hooked up from BevMo! and became members (lol, it’s free and they were running a good promo). Grabbed a couple goodies from TJ’s. Then we went to In-n-Out. It was pretty darn good and Rane’s first time. Then we went to a small wine tasting for Asanti winery. Then we were pooped out and got room service for dinner. So tired.

Bummed, I will not be blogging about Seattle. We will be walking around and enjoying our old city tomorrow. I can’t wait to take pictures of the place and possibly see an old friend. Then we fly to Anchorage and drive home really late. The next day will be kids, unpacking, then hitting the ground running. We have a super busy week next week, but instead of thinking about it, I think I might fall asleep in this giant marshmallow bed one… more… time…

Day Two: Wine Time

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Ok, I literally just felt my way through the dark to find the laptop, tripped and cursed, then tried to take the cord out of the wall discreetly and knocked everything over by Rane’s nightstand, to which he jumped a mile, and I felt bad. But if I don’t blog on yesterday I might forget!

We woke up and went to a delicious and abundant breakfast buffet in the restaurant hooked onto the hotel. They had dry goods and pastries, some fatty sausages/bacon, and the usuals of little potatoes, french toast, etc. Their cheesy omelet in the chaffer was riddles with tomatoes, chives, and sides of Tabasco. Why do I not cook breakfast more? Before the guilt sets in, I’m sitting down eating.

Side note: If you book a hotel or B&B, I highly encourage Booking.com. We got our place for a deep discount PLUS a free possible upgrade in room (which happened!) and free deluxe breakfast every morning. Booking.com Try it!

I wore a shirt dress type frock (ha) with spandex and tank top underneath. Thank the Lord Almighty I brought my hoodie. It wasn’t cold, but there was a wee chill in the air and sleeveless would’ve looked way out of place. I didn’t get to wear it like it was Florida, but the NorCal weather now is like Alaska summer weather. Don’t go far without a layer or two?

We stepped on our tour shuttle to meet 5 couples. All above the age of 50, all of them were kind, funny, and mellow people. Two couples were best friends and on their 35 year anniversary, two couples were travel junkies (and probably more around early 70?) from South Carolina, one was a Christian couple from Chicago on their 25th anniversary, and the last couple was picked up after us. They were our age, on their 10 year anniversary, and have a sweet 2 1/2 year old at home. They were all a hoot and we got peppered with Alaska questions… Rane and I are used to that when we go anywhere so we felt prepared :)

The best friend couples reminded me of Aunt Heidi and Aunt Sari. Rane concurred. Spunky, fun bartender lady with rockin’ hair that talked about looking like a circus tent, but insisted we were best friends… she was the first to get tipsy. Aunt Heidi. The other friend wasn’t quiet, but not outgoing, and although she was opinionated, you just kind of loved that about her? Aunt Sari. Their husbands were great talkers, great convo, and made me laugh a lot.

The South Carolina couples spoke to me in bits throughout the tour. One of the sisters whispered how she’s been with the other sister for too long on this trip and it was time to go home (LOL). They didn’t sit by each other on the bus, but that’s what tours are for, meeting new people. They all did an Alaskan tour previously and they said it was their favorite. Their accents are MY FAVORITE. No y’all’s really, no hard twang or highs and lows of pronunciation. It’s very romantic. (I love all accents btw. but this took the cake.) Wehll, ahh do be-lieve it wuhzz vary niuhss and haad a nephew from Shawlette.

The tour started and everyone was friendly. Our driver is the owner too, he was really upbeat and fun (well ofcourse, right?). Our first winery was a dream, my dream really. I grabbed the wrong cable so I can’t upload my camera on the laptop (the whole reason we brought this hunk of garbage in the first place). I’m bitter. But anyways, it’s a hobbit hole, with cobblestone, stone steps, a wooden whimsy door, and big wooden doors to open up the storage for the barrels. The winery host did an excellent job and we were on cloud 9. Fieldstone Winery had a notable cabernet, maybe our favorite of the day, but we ended up with a petite syrah, which Rane and I both liked. None of us spit in the bucket, but instead drank what we wanted and poured the rest out. (By the end of the trip, we had a very, very mild buzz).

Next stop was J. Rickels Winery. It was rustic and smaller, but not THAT small. Again, the host was gracious and took us through their “flight” of wines. This one was a gem in my opinion. The first two were my favorite. Obviously the first one screams Kasi, but the second one felt like your relative’s winery. Just a rustic homey place. They farmed what they could handle in order to produce the best quality wines. It reminded me of spending the summers in Washington and watching my boisterous French uncle clean his pool and trim the hedges around his yard. Just waking up smelling the adults drink coffee in the other room and feeling loved. Omfg. That almost made me cry. ANYWAYS. We bought the most wine here, thank GOD we did. It was good.

Side note: Dea hates wine. She doesn’t do it. So she said, bring back chocolate. They have a very sweet, delicious dessert wine. It’s a smaller thin bottle. They dipped the whole bottle in chocolate a few times, then swirl chocolate around it for a cute look. It’s wrapped in plastic and a bow, so when you unwrap it, the chocolate falls off into the plastic and then it pairs with the dessert wine. SO both of them can enjoy it! MIND BLOWN! Bought. Also bought one to share with my besties on my birthday :) (A plain bottle, I’ll buy my own chocolate).

We ate a little lunch. Rustic bread, cheese, fruit, and a killer quinoa salad. Good to soak up booze (plus they put water in front of us every 5 minutes). Sat across the Carolina’s and just listened.

Side note: All the wineries shipped for a fee and you can join a club to get their wines regularly. BUT Alaska Airlines ships a case (two total for Rane and I) for free. Free. Free. Free. from Sonoma Country or any west coast wine country area (WA and OR too).

The next winery was UPTick. I did not like any wines at this winery. I did love the host and the setting. All these wineries were on vineyards ofcourse (tour!), but this was panoramic gorgeous. I got so mad and went BAHH when I realized I didn’t take any panoramic shots! When Rane asked, what’s wrong? I told him and we went BAHH!!! It was like… too beautiful that it made me forget. I will let you google UPTick, but it has the most soul and meaning. In a way it’s a memorial for the owners friends. He worked hugely on Wall Street in NYC and was very successful. He lost a lot of friends on Sept 11th, 2001 and then sold his stock, moved to the Dry Creek area, and now has a successful, clean, modern winery.

Side note: An acre in Napa costs $1 million. No. Joke.

Our last winery was Vizlay Winery. It was like J. Rickels, smaller, farm-y, but still beautiful vineyards you’re sitting in while you get the flight. The daughter of the place gave us our last tasting. It was excellent wine. We bought two Chardonnays. We were sure we hated them, but this was full creamy, buttery flavor. She also gave us a “future” (not bottled or sold yet) of their first zinfandel from the tap (a huge hopper with a spout)! It was very delicious. They had a Five Wine, that was bordeaux style. It had grapes from malbec, cabernet, and I forgot the other three (but wrote them down).

It was a nice day. I was sad and not ready for it to end. From 10am-5pm if you feel that way on any tour… it was a GREAT tour. The day ended with getting lost in the dark and getting stressed out, then being fine and eating anywhere. The food was horrible, but the place was big a gimmicky and fun to be in. But the food was horrible. So we went to the hotel’s fancy place and had dessert. It cleansed the palate and we were happy again hahaha!

Now it is the morning of ziplining the Redwoods! I’m excited. I’m excited to buy souvenirs for friends and family. I’m excited to finally eat In-n-Out burger. I’m excited to trade the wrong size bra for the right size, but I’m still happy bc I get to visit VS again. But now, I need to shower and then go eat some breakfast! THAT I DIDN’T MAKE!

Side note: We do not have the money to be here much longer. It’s like Vegas. As much as I’d like to stay longer, it seems wise that we were heading home tomorrow. Trying not to think about it too much and just focusing on beautiful Redwood pictures! :)

Day One: Sleepless in Sonoma

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Oh my word. What a day. As we drove to Anchorage, our excitement was tangible. Rane and Kasi’s Excellent 10 Year Anniversary began! We laughed a lot and immediately loosened up. In the airport we weren’t bored, because we had each other. The plane ride from Anchorage to LA was about 5 hours long and it was a red eye so we could spend an “extra” day in Sonoma. It. Was. Worth. It. From Anc to LA to Sonoma County (aka WINE COUNTRY!) we bobbed in and out of our zombie sleep mode. Then we just got it together and drove around town!

As we flew into Santa Rosa (the actual city, but people say Sonoma, because it’s sortof like when people call Kenai: the Peninsula) you literally fly over and next to vineyards. Vineyards everywhere. They’re not very bright, but they’re a dull brown and green. Not exactly lush tropical setting, but the beauty is in the nature that the bush/tree makes a grape that we eventually make wine out of. It’s a beautiful process.

Long story short: God has been deeply into this trip. Our car and hotel room was upgraded. Our massage was discounted. I got a free bracelet with my purchase at Victoria’s Secret. Mary, a lady that worked there, really helped me find my perfect size. She was just great though, as a person. People keep helping us. Everything has lined out and been perfect timing. We pray before and during this trip. In everything we are trusting God to keep our kids safe and ourselves. But really? We are just busy having fun!

First, we drove around. After getting comfortable, we visited the mall (Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works), Trader Joes, BevMo (to show Rane the prices of booze are insanely good compared to Ak), and made plans for the week! Even though we were tired, we ended up doing a couples massage at a cute little spa. It was clean and the ladies were very nice. Rane was nervous, and I was a little too. It was fun, he got the experienced hardcore lady and I got the tiny, cute one. They were both very kind.

We had dinner at our hotel’s restaurant, but it’s actually a legit fancy place! Not like a Vegas, this is great, but really it sucks place. The food was good. The drinks could’ve been better though, I didn’t like either of our cocktails. (Shhh, don’t tell. Rane loves cocktails when we’re on vacation.) ;)

Rane has been a saint. He kindof is anyways, but we’ve really had such a blast. We are like a new honeymoon couple. We flirt, we play, we’re silly, and we’re just in love. This makes me happy. I even said it outloud during our massage, “I am happy.” And we all laughed and Coco, my masseuse, said, “Good! I’m happy too!” :) We are this way at night when the kids are in bed and many moments throughout the day, but we really share our time with them and just about everyone else in our life. But right now it’s just us!!!

All in all the first day was a big success. We have breakfast in the morning, then wine tours from 10am-5pm…. WHEW. Looking forward to it, but time for bed!