Ansa’s story about Alaska

My family traveled to Alaska for a week in February. We were able to see Mt. Rainer in Seattle, Washington, which was astounding! Alaska is larger than the entire midwest. (Pic 1)

Landing in Anchorage took us over the Alaskan Mountain Range (Pic 2), the biggest mountains I have ever seen. We were staying in Soldotna, and the drive there took us around the Cook Inlet.

We witnessed a “bore tide”. This tide is a “rush of seawater that returns to a shallow and narrowing inlet from a broad bay. It happens after an extreme minus low tide created by the full or new moon”  http://www.alaska.org/advice/alaska-bore-tide.

We toured a wildlife preserve and saw all the local animals. (Pic 3) Our home for the week was on the Kenai River. The sunrise occurred at 9:30 am! Notice the long afternoon-like shadows. (Pic 4)

Midweek, in the middle of the night, we were able to see the northern lights (aurora borealis). It was amazing to see greenish clouds wiggling in the sky. The glaciers’ residue gives some of the rivers an amazing color. (Pic 5)

We went North to Seward, named from William H. Seward, the Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln. He helped with the purchase of Alaska from Russia. The Iditarod Trail https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iditarod_Trail starts here and it is a big fishing and tourist town. (Pic 6)

We went south to Homer, the halibut fishing capital of the world. A popular spot in the summer is the Homer Spit. It is crowded with campers and fishermen. (Pic 7) We also saw a moose, in town, across from a local coffee shop. (Pic 8) We also went to Anchor Point – the furthest west you can travel on any road in America! With all we saw, we barely scratched the surface.

Alaska Trip - Ansa Thomas

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Ansa’s Attachments

Ansa becomes attached to things more than my other two children. (She is 8-1/2 now.) Currently, she is in her hoarding stage, where she pulls things out of the trash can to save. She has been doing this for the past year.

I do not know what it all means, and I’m not overly concerned about it. I do know that Ansa has a big heart. She is one of the most loving kids that I have ever met.

For example, each morning when I come downstairs, I meet Ansa, who is rushing toward me for a big hug. I do not recall a time in the past few years where this has not happened. Perchance she misses a hug in the morning, she makes up for it during the day.

On “missed-hug-mornings,” she will say, “Daddy, I did not give you your good morning hug” and then she will open her arms wide while moving toward me. It is a beautiful thing.

The Other Side

Attached to her daddy is a good thing. But then there is the other side. For Ansa, she becomes overly attached to everything. She dreads seeing things leave.

Last night we were finishing the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away. We started it the night before. (The children missed some of the parts because they were not appropriate.) The story is about a FedEx guy, whose plane goes down and he floats up on a deserted island. There were a few packages that floated up with him.

Wrapped in one of those packages was a Wilson volleyball. The volleyball became Tom Hank’s only companion while on the island. He called him Wilson. After four years of struggle, Tom finally had a plan to escape from the island. He took Wilson with him.

He spent several days on a raft, and during a big storm, Wilson became detached from the raft and floated away. Upon realizing this, after waking up, Hanks tries to retrieve his best (and only), friend.

He frantically swam out to him, but upon realizing he was losing his raft, he had to make a choice: rescue Wilson or save the raft. He chose his ride.

Tom’s acting was stellar. The crying, yelling, and groaning was convincing enough to move Ansa to a place where only a long, 30-minute hug could bring her back to feeling better again. (It also took one Netflix episode of My Little Pony.)

Little Ansa is a big lover. I hope she never loses this quality as she works on letting go of the non-essential things.

Ansa’s Birthday Adventure

There’s a birthday happening in our home five times a year. These are typically the most fun, festive, and celebratory times of the year for us. Each year we try to take a week to isolate and direct our affection toward a specific family member.

A part of these celebrations are what we call our birthday adventures. The adventure can be anywhere from one to three days, or a series of isolated events throughout the week, where we go to as many restaurants and other places that provide free things for birthdays.

For example, in our area you can receive a free sandwich at Firehouse Subs if you show them your driver’s license on your birthday. For us, that’s five sandwiches because there are quite a few Firehouse Subs in our area.

Lucia collects coupons all year. And the children are registered with a myriad of birthday clubs. There is always more than we can accomplish during any of our celebration weeks.

The cost is about a half a tank of gasoline and just under $25 due to some of the coupons being buy one, get one free. If we paid for all the food we received, it would be between $75 and $100.

The way it works

We don’t go in and eat at any of the restaurants. We chart out a general course in our heads. We then begin hitting the restaurants. We provide the cashier with a coupon, receive their offer, and skedaddle to the next place. It’s kinda like a food sprint.

We are somewhat persnickety about what we eat, so it goes without saying, these are big time cheat days as far as the quality and the quantity of the food consumed.

It’s totally random food consumption. One of the items we received today was a single round waffle from the Waffle House. We also received two blizzards from Dairy Queen. And then there were four tacos from Jack in the Box.

Starbucks provides us with a Venti double chocolate chip frappuccino, with two shots of raspberry, double blended, and whipped with chocolate drizzle. Say that real fast. (I save my “stars” and when I get twelve, they give me a drink of my choice, which ties in nicely to our birthday adventures.)

The type and quantity of the food, drink, or gift does not matter. We all share regardless of what it is. It’s not about the items, but the joy of being together, laughing a lot, and making a memory.

Our van becomes a mobile, amalgamated, smorgasbord of eclectic culinary odors and delights throughout the week. Typically we will take one day and go way over the top. That’s the day the birthday celebrant takes all their gifts in the van and opens them along the route.

Thomas Tips

  • Lucia uses the Hip2Save Coupon Site to collect most of her birthday coupons.
  • You can follow Lucia at Thomas Tips if you’re interested in getting great ideas to bless your family and friends.

I would love to hear from some of you. What do you do to celebrate the lives of those you love the most? Maybe we can emulate some of your ideas.

Ansa’s birthday adventure

Ansa' Birthday Adventure

Last Saturday was Ansa’s 7th birthday. Amazing. How can this happen? Our traditional celebration is to see how many restaurants we can go and get free food from on our birthdays. Lucia begins collecting coupons and birthday gift certificates a month or so in advance. The kids also belong to various birthday clubs.

Most restaurants do not require you to buy an additional meal or item. Some do. We began early Saturday morning and went late that evening. It was a simple plan. We hit the restaurant, got the food, and headed to the next restaurant. We didn’t dine inside any of them. We didn’t have time. It’s all about hit and run.

We began at Culver’s who offered something on her birthday. They were not open when we got there, so we went to the next place. We’ll go back to Culver’s later this week. We then went to Chick-fil-A and got a bagel, bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit. Lucia also went in with a coupon and got something else. I don’t remember what it was.

The kids are great about sharing, so they divided up the food. From there we went to Krispy Kreme and got two dozen donuts, which require us buying some of them with the coupon. It was a great way to energize the kids for the long day ahead. (As you can see in the pic, Ansa hit overload by the end of the day.)

We then hit the Dollar General and picked up my all-time favorite crème cracker things. Ansa picked the strawberry flavored ones since it was her birthday. The pack was one dollar. (BTW, Lucia and I did not eat any of the food because we have stopped eating junk, for the most part.)

Then we went to Zaxby’s and got a birthday meal, which I don’t remember what that was. We also loaded up on free ice because they have the best ice in town. We take our Tervis cups to get their free ice.

We incorporated this birthday adventure with a trip to the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. Saturday was the day of their annual bike sale. This year we bought Tristen and Hadyn their adult bikes–small size mountain bikes. We had to go and pick them up. This also gave us an opp to hit the Biltmore bike trails. We had our other bikes with us.

Once in Asheville we stopped at Starbucks to get a free drink. From there we went to Ingles to get some free popcorn and a free 2 liter Pepsi cola. From there we made our way to the Beacon Drive In in Spartanburg, SC, which did not offer anything free, but this was a favorite place for the family.

Ansa went to the Beacon on her second birthday to get a banana split. On Saturday she got her banana split and big tater (large order of fries.) It was dark by this time, so we did not go by Westgate Mall to get their free bread sticks. We’ll do that when we go back to Culver’s, but go to the Haywood Mall instead.

During the trip Ansa opened a present at each stop. We laughed a lot. They ate more sugar than what one would think is humanly possible. It was a fantastic, fun-filled day, with a lot of good memories which they will talk about for a while.

The next food birthday adventure will be mine. I can’t wait.

Ansa learned how to ride a bike

The past four weeks I have been taking Ansa, at her request, to the cul-de-sac to teach her how to ride her bicycle. Logan and Loren, the next door (two doors down) twins are a month older than she is and they have been riding for about two months.

Ansa was properly motivated that it was time for her to learn how to ride a bike.

We probably practiced for 12 or so of those days. Well…yesterday was the big day. Ansa took off and became an official bike rider on May 10, 2011.

Her tongue was wagging and her teeth were glowing as she could not stop smiling as she went around and around and around and around the cul-de-sac.

She only had one little spill that hurt her. She fell off several times on her own. Thankfully it was a tragic free day. She would ride straight for the neighbor’s yard, after jumping the short hump/curb and dismount in the grass. It was sorta cute.

She is stoked.

My back is quite grateful.

Ansa Hit Haydn With a Hammer

The other day in the school room Ansa picked up a hammer and hit Haydn in the left butt cheek. Haydn cried. A lot.

He had a bruise on his butt from that one. I don’t think Ansa realized how heavy the hammer was or the danger of wielding it.

She made full contact with her older brother. Though she was sorry for what she did, it didn’t takeaway from the disciplinary consequences.

Don’t Hit Your Spouse

We have taught our children that the way they treat each other is a snapshot of how they will treat their future spouses. For example, Haydn knows he has “three wives” in our home, his mother and two sisters.

This “let’s pretend” idea also applies to Ansa. How she treats her “husband” is a clue to her future. After the hammer swinging incident, it was apparent that we have some work to do.

Her husband will be grateful.

The Good News

I’m thankful she didn’t hit him in the head. And I checked on Haydn’s buttock today. It seems to be fine.

No bruise. Just a crack.