Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Help with your retirement planning...

Anybody that knew the Lackeys were traveling outside of Alaska would have been wise to purchase stock in all the major sunscreen manufacturers.  That is all.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Florida - On the Gulf

 We arrived in Camp Gulf on Friday, May 23 and parked our RV near the beach. The large campground was very full for Memorial Day weekend. The boys wanted to take a look at the beach, so almost immediately we tore the tags off our new swimsuits, boogie boards, and beach chairs and got ready to head to the beach. It was gorgeous! The sand was white and soft between our toes and the water was relatively warm. The boys and I walked out to catch some waves. There were a few that carried us to shore and we all four had fun. Mark enjoyed snapping pictures of us. The sun was starting to set and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.

I don’t know if anyone else has the same feeling when they arrive at the ocean, but for me, hearing the crash of the waves, feeling the sand between my toes, and smelling the salty sea air reminds me of many vacations I’ve taken to the ocean. As a young girl growing up, on into my teens, my college years, and vacations Mark and I have taken together, beach vacations rate among the best times I can remember. There’s something amazing about the power of the ocean, a single wave can toss me to the ground, carry me to shore, or be gentle and lulling. I could tell the boys were having a great time too and it was fun to share these moments with them.

Saturday, May 24 was an incredibly fun-filled day. Camp Gulf gave us a flyer of activities they had planned to celebrate Memorial Day. At the end of the day, we looked back at the flyer and realized we had done every single activity…and we even spent a couple hours boogie boarding in the afternoon. If you are curious, our day looked like this:

10:00am T-shirt Painting (paint your own Camp Gulf T-shirt); the boys all colored T-shirts and I colored a bag

11:00am – 1pm Hippo slide Free (a HUGE blow-up waterslide that normally costs money per ride); Jimmy and Luke took advantage of this, getting several rides in
3:00pm – Parade Decorating – Luke napped while Brennan and Jimmy decorated their new bikes for the parade
4:00pm – Memorial Day Parade – Luke still napping, Mom and Dad sat outside the RV and watched Jimmy and Brennan ride their bikes in the parade through the campground
4:30pm – Spray Ride – Brennan and Jimmy rode in a trailer that took them through several spraying stations
5:30pm- Fish Fry – YUM! (Plus, I didn’t have to cook!)
8:00pm – Outdoor movie, “The Nut Job”
What an exciting day!

Our internet connection is not very good here at Camp Gulf, so you’ll probably get this a few days late. However, I was able to connect to Facebook a few times and heard some tragic news about a family from my hometown. A couple I grew up with lost their middle son in a plane crash this week. While I can’t imagine the devastation his family is going through right now, I’m holding onto his mom’s words today, “Hold your kids, appreciate them, take vacations and camping trips. Work can wait. Trust me. We made this sacrifice and for that I will be eternally grateful....we are not promised tomorrow.”

Battleship and Jellystone

After leaving New Orleans, we planned to visit the USS Alabama in Mobile, but hadn’t planned where we were going to camp that night. We chose Jellystone Park, which is apparently a chain, in Elberta, AL. The battleship was a fascinating tour for three young boys. It was interesting to me to imagine life aboard a large battleship. Among the cannons and mess hall, the medical center was quite impressive, including an operating room! The quarantine room held sailors suffering from ailments like tuberculosis, influenza, and head lice. Another tourist mentioned the mattresses in sick bay look thicker than the rest of the beds on the ship and thought he might fake being sick to use the comfortable beds, a somewhat familiar issue.

The boys were excited to stay in Jellystone as they are fans of Yogi Bear. The campsite was very inexpensive and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. There were other campers, but we certainly had full run of the pool, splash pad, playground, basketball courts, and horseshoe pits. The boys played and played. They found frogs and lizards and huge pinecones. We decided to stay another night, because it gave Mark and me a chance to relax a little while the boys burned off lots of energy. It is becoming more and more eye-opening to me how much these boys are eating! We grilled hot dogs and chicken breasts one night and ate them with sliced veggies. The other night was spaghetti and salad. I’m shopping for easy things that don’t require many ingredients. Our fridge is pretty small, but it seems to be working OK. Our family usually does breakfast well and we’ve really been enjoying the inexpensive fresh fruits in the area. My only complaint about Jellystone were the bugs! There were some type of beetles that came out at night and invaded the pool. Mark and Brennan are still suffering from what I assume are mosquito bites, but who knows for sure in the south! If they are mosquitos, they are sneaky ones...unlike the huge ones that swarm around us in Alaska.

As we planned to leave Jellystone, Mark found a place to stay for Memorial Day Weekend. It would be a lot more expensive because of the holiday and because of the location…right on the beach! We drove another couple hours to Destin, Florida, making a couple important stops for shopping. We bought swimsuits, boogie boards, beach chairs, beach towels, umbrella, snorkeling gear, bikes and helmets for the boys, more groceries, and probably other things I forgot! We were prepared to spend some serious time on the beach!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Let's Talk Texas...

Texas is a big state... but Alaska is bigger.  For all of you Texans that might be reading... did you know that if you divided Alaska in half - Texas would be the third largest state?  But, I'll give you this... you have more miles of road, more roadkill, and more degrees above 80 than Alaska does.  You also have more professional sports teams, but more on that later.

I drove across Texas in 4 days - departing a Walmart Parking lot in El Paso on May 13 and leaving Texas in my rearview mirror (bonus points if can name the obscure country music reference...) on May 17.  Three nights and two days were spent in San Antonio - the parts of the city I saw were beautiful. I spent most of my day at the Riverwalk, but I also visited the Alamo (remember it?) learning a lot more about this particular portion of Texas history.  If you haven't been to San Antonio I would highly recommend a visit.  The "hill country" is beautiful and the Riverwalk is a true urban treasure.
San Antonio Riverwalk
Remember The Alamo!
I also timed my visit to allow me to watch game 5 of the NBA playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trailblazers.  I was in serious doubt whether this would happen or not, but the Trailblazers came through and won a single game in Portland to force a game 5 back in San Antonio.  The entire city is #GoSpursGo crazy and the stadium was twice as insane.  I had a great time watching the Spurs win game 5 (and the series) and I will be cheering for them throughout the playoffs.  #GoOldGuysGo

Razzle Dazzle...
The View From the Seats I Couldn't Afford

From San Antonio I headed east to Houston.  I had a ticket to watch the Houston Astros play the Chicago White Sox.  This will be one of 4 (at least) MLB games we see this summer.  I'd have to say that of the 4, this one will certainly be the least well attended.  The Astros haven't had a team to be proud of for a couple years now and the attendance showed it.  It wasn't a close game but the evening was beautiful and Minute Maid Park is very nice.  It also was a fairly exciting game.  Adam Dunn crushed a homerun, I made an amazing catch on a fly ball in the 9th inning (I fully expected to make Sports Center that night, but I guess they had other awesome stuff from highly paid professionals to show...), and on my way to the rental car after the game Adam Dunn (who is a very large man) was getting on a very large motorcycle and very kindly signed my ball for me.  I didn't even mention the "Long Haul Bombers" (here is a link - start at about 1:30) and the fireworks that followed the game.  The Astros might not have much to offer on the field but the entertainment value (for me at least) was sky high.

Just ask... I'll give you the play by play on this catch...
On the morning of the 17th I got up, packed up the RV and went to meet David and Lisa Brimberry, who now live in Katy, TX for lunch.  David and Lisa are two of the nicest people on the planet.  Rhonda and I met them at First Baptist Church Eagle River, Alaska during our very first Alaskan summer.  David took both of us (and a bunch of other - still in college - kids) on a float trip down the Kenai River, and later when the first snow came along he helped us find some used cross country skis and showed us how to use them. Rhonda and I are just a couple of people that have been blessed by David and Lisa - there are many many more on that list.  It was great to see them and spend a little bit of time catching up!

Upon leaving Houston I couldn't resist taking a brief detour south to High Island, TX to get my first glimpse of the ocean.  It was worth it.

OK... fine Texas... you have cool beaches and nice people too.  Thanks for letting me visit!


The boys and I joined Mark in New Orleans on Sunday night. We left our home and our sweet Nala in Alaska and spent almost 24 hours on airplanes and in airports. The boys did great, spending a good part of their time practicing their yo-yo skills. We took a detour on our Portland layover and took the light rail for some famous Voodoo Doughnuts.
Skidmore Fountain
MAX Red Line in Portland
Pink Princess Doughnut

When we arrived in NOLA, Mark had our RV all stocked up and ready for us.We slept very well, then got up the next morning to go exploring. We walked miles and miles around the French Quarter, saw the Mississippi River, tasted beignets, redbeans and rice, and blackened red fish. Our second day in New Orleans, we went to the Audubon Zoo and saw many animals the boys had never seen before. 
Mississippi River
Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Climbing Tree at Audubon Zoo

Eaglet Luke
Brennan with giraffes

Jimmy with Orangutan

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Family Foundations

May 9 - Finished up a list of things at work, but left many more things that will have to go on without me...  I work with amazing people and am very fortunate to be able to leave things in their capable hands for the summer.  They did decide that it would be best if my head stuck around though....

Then I rushed home (trying not to think about all the work I was leaving them) and packed my bags.  The family headed into Anchorage to spend the night in a hotel so I could catch my early AM flight.  We stopped for ice cream (first time in Baskin Robbins for the boys) and found a swing set to play on before bedtime.

May 10 - All about travelling... I flew Anchorage to Seattle and Seattle to Tucson where my parents picked me up.  On the Seattle to Tucson leg I sat next to an older couple that I might have found annoying on any other flight... They were loud (she was drunk... told me so when I sat down) but friendly and so much fun. The husband told jokes (good ones, told very well) the whole way down and she just cackled and I enjoyed it.  I'm sure the rows around us were ready to see the plane land but we had fun.  At one point I told them about our upcoming road trip and the husband got serious and told me how he lost his only son at age 8 to leukemia.  "Make the most of the time you have with those boys - you never know how much time you or they will be given.  There might be days when they are rowdy or getting on your nerves and the RV feels too small... remember you are the one teaching them about patience."  And then back to the jokes... I think it was the perfect place on that plane for me to sit down.

May 11 - Mother's Day.  I am incredibly fortunate to have been raised in a loving and caring family.  Both of my parents were educators and my dad has been a Baptist minister for most of the last 25 years.  It was great to go to church with them on Mother's Day and be reminded that families (especially mothers) are important.  Father's certainly have an important role to play too, but today it was about moms.... 

I also am blessed to have a mother for my own children that has a heart of gold.  I don't see a difference in the way she cares for her biological child, here adopted children, or any of the children under her care at work... they all are loved.  I wasn't able to be home for her Mother's Day celebration but I saw the pictures and it looks like it was a good one!

After church the road trip began...Odometer reading Lordsburg NM - 3,320.  We drove over to Las Cruces where one of my three brothers live with his wife and their 6 month old son.  Mom and dad came over too and we had a great afternoon together.  Spending a day like this with my family - the people that helped to build and shape my foundation really made me think about the awesome responsibility we are given as parents.  I hope that this summer builds memories and that we can look back on and say - we grew, we had fun, and we strengthened some foundations.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


We are so excited! Mark was awarded a sabbatical from the Rasmuson Foundation and will be taking the entire summer off with us. He couldn't think of a better way to relax and rejuvenate than packing the entire family