My eldest brother, who lives in the L.A. area, keeps joking that living in Fairbanks is a little like living in George R.R. Martin's series "Song of Ice and Fire" (otherwise known as "Game of Thrones"). We do definitely go to the extremes, with an annual temperature swing of 140+ degrees (F). Frequently the summers, such as this one, are smoky. And the motto of pretty much everyone is, of course, that winter is coming. We spend all summer gearing up for the long, cold winters. Outside to do things, of course, but also to soak up the necessary vitamin D and to enjoy the sun while we can so that the winter doesn't seem quite so cold and dark. When I pick berries, it is with the knowledge that the season for them is so short and I need to get as many as I can to stock up for winter. I'm not alone in this.
This summer has been unusual, it's not just in my head. We've easily broken the old record for 80+ degree days (at least 36), when the average summer only has 11 such days. It's still smoky and the fires are flaring up with the lack of rain. (Over 2 inches less than normal.) The Tanana Valley Fair was in town and the old joke here is that fair weather means rain. Well, this year that wasn't the case. We haven't gotten any noticeable rainfall (a few drops here and there, but that's it) in what is usually the wettest summer month.
This is good in one way, because the family friends who've needed help creating a fire break around their property still need help. So Shane's been spending his afternoons up in the hills, helping to cut down, limb, and stack trees. He's not making the big bucks doing this, of course, but enough to pay for our most recent trip to Wasilla (for a kick-ass wedding!) and, soon, the snow tires we'll need for our car. I asked him how much more work he thinks is left and he said, "Probably they could keep me working until the snow falls." Ah. Well, it's good. Beyond the financial aspect, I can tell that Shane is much happier simply because he feels useful and productive again.
And now, the leaves are starting to change. It feels early to me, but I don't think that it actually is. I think that we're all a little confused by it, however, simply because it is still so hot during the day. It gets a bit chilly at night, but the days are scorching.
And now, we're even making plans to head down to the Mat-Su Valley once again to go to the state fair in Palmer over labor day weekend, with family. My first inclination was to be like, "Traveling, again? No." But to see family, it is worth it, even when I'll be 7 1/2 months pregnant at that point. I'm trying to remember that I feel extra tired right now both because it was a crazy week at work (which I don't want to go into, but I've never been so stressed out by work before) and because I'm getting over a cold. I blame Shane. He got sick first, then I got sick. I never got so ill that I felt the need to take time off work, but that was partly because I felt sickest over the weekend. Which, thankfully, gave me the time I needed to be super lazy and to recover. (I have a dr.'s appointment this week, anyway, so I'm sure I'll get checked out rather thoroughly then.) I made chicken noodle soup and we watched an entire season of a TV show online, and generally just took it easy.
The only thing we did over the weekend was to go to the Tanana Valley Fair on Sunday evening. We biked over to avoid paying for parking, then spent way too much money anyway on greasy, yummy fair food. We only go once a year, we figured (this was before the plans for the state fair), so it was worth it. And I discovered that my baby belly now sticks out far enough that drips and dribbles of food which would normally fall in front of me now land right on my abdomen. I had both gyro grease and blueberry stains from a crepe all over my shirt by the time we biked home. I regret nothing.
We saw "Goat Rodeo" in the list of activities and were super excited until a friend informed us that it was actually a one man band, not a rodeo. We were so hoping to see people roping goats. (Not raping goats, although that's not too far off the mark of what apparently did happen at the fair. Go Fairbanks.)
The next couple of months are going to be just as busy as the rest of the summer has been. Gearing up for birthday parties, the trip down to Palmer at the beginning of next month, and then the following weekend will be my baby shower, complete with a visit from my MIL. It will be fun, but I'm a bit tired just thinking about it all. I still have so many of my own projects that I've been wanting to get done that I have to work on. I did, finally, spend an evening cutting up an old flannel top sheet for reusable baby wipes, the draft dodgers I want to make for under the doors, and a rice heating pad for my aching back. However, when I tried to use my serger something went wrong. I must have threaded it wrong, but I'm not certain how. So I'll have to ask my MIL when she's here.
We're getting to the point in pregnancy where I think it's ok to start stocking up on some things. Our Fred Meyer rewards came in the mail (almost $10 off!) and some coupons, and a $150 gift card from a work program, so I'll stop there after my appointment later this week to grab some things off my list, like oats and dates and pasta and sticky hooks to hang curtains. I know I've mentioned this before but we're going to make and freeze as many meals and snacks as possible before Baby's arrival so that it's one less thing to worry about when we bring home our tiny new person. I still have all those craft and decorating projects I wanted to do as well, and organizing projects. Some deep cleaning of our apartment. (Heck, at the moment I'd settle for minimal cleaning of our apartment. With both of us being laid low for most of a week, and the traveling before that, our place looks like a bit of a dump.) I'm so behind. It will feel nice to make some progress on this stuff, finally. I've been putting it off for so long, not because I'm lazy but because I've prioritized other things. Now that I'm entering my third trimester, however, it feels just a bit more urgent to get things settled and ready for Baby.
Actually, I've got plenty of baby items on the list as well. A nasal syringe, thermometer, diaper cream, etc. Things that people say, "Oh, go ahead and register for that!" but I'd feel silly actually registering for. Seriously, a $1 bulb syringe? Baby nail clippers? They sell those in kits but all of the kits I saw looked cheap and had extra stuff that I didn't really see the point of. (And yes, that is after doing research about what kinds of health/safety items we really do need. I won't be leaving off my list things which will actually make a difference to my child's health and wellbeing.)
As strange as it seems, I'm a bit excited to buy these things. Not the purchasing itself, but the fact that we're getting so close to actually meeting her. I realized a few weeks ago that I'm not scared of labor, which I know a lot of women are. The knowledge is rather liberating.