September 2018

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Oh man, I really have been trying to get myself in gear and get back on a regular posting schedule but for some reason I’ve just felt so much busier lately! Hopefully I’ll get better at getting projects finished and getting them up on the blog…but no promises! Here’s my monthly meanderings:

  • This month we took a short trip to see Kenai and Soldotna which are really cute little towns that are right next to the ocean. I went for a short run and found this gorgeous wildflower park (the above picture)! A sign there said it’s one way the city contributes to a healthy ecosystem. It had me all heart eye emoji and seriously wondering why every town doesn’t do this???

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  • Speaking of exercising, my cousin here invited me to go to her Zumba class with her. It’s a good workout and nice to be sweating with a buddy but I don’t know, I just don’t really love it. It definitely gets my heart rate up, which I guess is the goal right? But going makes me think “Wow. I am crazy uncoordinated.” I’m pretty sure if I could see a video of myself Zumba-ing that would be the end because yikes! 2F0A7A2A-AD5D-4572-9567-6C93482D2221
  • It seems like most houses here in Alaska (I house shop even though I’m not buying a house it’s normal mmkay?) do not have carpet and ours is no exception. Only the girls’ bedroom has carpet and I’m not going to lie: sweeping is the worst! The ol’ postpartum hair loss is still in full effect, not to mention we have a dog! I couldn’t/wouldn’t justify the buy right now, but I’ve seriously been thinking that if we ever bought a house with non-carpet flooring, I’d buy a DJ Roomba for sure (yeah, yeah, I know it’s just a Roomba, but why wouldn’t you make it a DJ if you knew it was a possibility?).

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  • On a similar note, we are living in a duplex and I have yet to meet the neighbors BUT judging from how often we hear Frozen from over there, I’d say our girls would get along really well. Ha!
  • I’ve been eating this delicious salad most days for lunch and loving it. And, surprise! Wendy actually loves it too! Maybe that’s not surprising…there is peanut butter in the dressing…

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  • Alaskans are so dramatic. And time will tell if their drama is warranted but seriously everyone is like, “The winter is coming…” and “The darkness is coming…” Like stuff straight out of a horror movie. I would say, “Yeesh! Chill out, guys! You’re making it worse!” But I’m too busy having a panic attack because ohmygosh IT’S COMING!!!!

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  • As for the girlies, they are both growing so much. It is crazy! Greta is now 6 months and just like clockwork, I had to pull out her 6 months clothes. It is a beautiful relief that she is growing so well! She’s also learning (a little too) quickly and while I can’t say that she’s crawling, exactly, but she is definitely inch-worming around (what??? why aren’t you staying little a little longer, please???) and sitting up without any help (just lots of padding in case she gets tipsy). And Wendy’s always been pretty good with Greta, but this month she’s developed a stronger affinity for her baby sister. She asks to hold her regularly and will baby talk her ear off when they’re face to face (Greta in the carrier and Wendy in the grocery cart). It is adorable and, honestly, a relief. Sisters are the best and I hope they always have a strong relationship. Wendy has been talking so much lately. She can even “read” me some of her books (don’t get excited, just the ones that have like a picture of a duck and you’re supposed to read “duck.”). She can sing the first part of the ABCs and Row, Row, Row Your Boat. And when I’m cleaning she’ll yell, “Keen up, keen up!” Because she knows and loves that song too. She’s a giant stinker to poor Jaeger dog and loves to make him growl. Ugh. We’re working on it. I’m really grateful for my babies and the opportunity I have/ choice we made to have me stay at home with them. We might be richer had we chosen a different life but just richer in a different way.

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Grandma’s Sunbonnet Sue

During our time in Idaho over the summer we were able to “help” out while Ben’s mom and grandma readied their homes to go on the market. And I do say “help” with full quotations because with two little ones running around we really only offered the teeniest little sliver of assistance on all that needed to be done (can you put negative slices on the pie chart? Because now that I’m thinking about, I think we may have just-read:definitely- added to the load).

Anyway, Grandma’s property consisted of plenty of land, two houses and several out-buildings which she and Grandpa built over 40 years ago. As you can imagine, this added up to quite a lot of stuff to go through, much of which, I suspect, hadn’t seen the light of day for years and years and years.

One such box was peeked in and sent my way because the contents of the box appeared to be mostly fabric. Happy to add to my fabric stash, I started digging through the box to see what I could glean.

I had no idea what a treasure I would find in that box. Among yards of fabric I found these:

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A neat little pile of Sunbonnet Sues, appliqued with a steady hand, wearing an assortment of colors and prints.

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I asked my mother-in-law who had sewn these and she confirmed with Grandma that it had most likely been sewn by Grandma’s mother, Great Grandma Dutch.

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I’m excited to add these little Sunbonnet Sue blocks to my stash and hopefully I can get the quilt finished that Grandma Dutch started.

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Here’s a picture of Grandma and Grandpa Dutch. I never had the chance to meet them, but I hope that I can learn more about them as I work on this project. Family history is cool!

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Books Lately

It’s no surprise I’m late to the game with reading technology, but have you guys ever used the Overdrive app? It sounds dramatic but that app has seriously changed my life!

Here’s my two cent plug about Overdrive before we get into what I’ve been reading lately. My mom introduced me to the app right after Greta was born. And by that I mean that she literally took my phone, downloaded Overdrive, got me logged in and even picked out a book for me to read. Since then, I’ve literally only checked out books through Overdrive. I still love regular ol’ paper books and we still absolutely go to the library. But reading books on my phone has all sorts of convenient aspects.

For one, holding a phone while nursing is about ten times easier than holding a book. Now, instead of just having social media to browse, I can be reading. I’ve pulled out my “book” pretty much anywhere and everywhere when I have an extra minute or two to be reading. Also, the fact that I can browse in the comfort of my own home is incredible. My browsing days vanished after I had Wendy, when entering a library with a baby became a game of Russian roulette.

The down side for me is that it’s just one more instance where I’m on my phone and I hate that that’s what my kids see. They don’t see that I’m reading a book. Oh well.

If you haven’t, you should really give the app a try (or whatever digital system your library uses) and see if you like it. I mostly check out eBooks, but we’ve downloaded audiobooks as well for road trips and stuff. I have absolutely loved using it.

***Steps off soapbox***

Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

About: a mom who goes missing under peculiar albeit hilarious circumstances and Bee, her daughter, who searches high and low to find out exactly what happened to her mother.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5, rounded up) Out of 5 Stars: This is definitely a lighter read that’s not meant to be taken too seriously. There were parts that had me laughing out loud. I thought the characters were rather realistic but the storyline was far from boring. The format was a little hard to get used to on Overdrive

Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy

About: Even though she’s overweight, Willowdean has always been comfortable in her own skin. That is, until her coworker Bo starts showing interest in her. Suddenly self-conscious, Willowdean pulls a stunt she hopes will help her regain her carefree attitude: she signs up for the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3 out of 5 stars: I wasn’t completely head over heels for this book and I kind of felt like it didn’t take complete hold of the opportunity it had in sharing a love-yourself-regardless-of-how-you-look message but it was cute and fun and overall an enjoyable read. And it really made me want to see the movie.

This is Our Story by Ashley Elston

About: Five friends go out on a hunting trip. While all the boys are claiming that what happened was an accident, none of them are willing to come clean on the details of what happened that day. The only fact that is clear is that one boy died on that trip, and one of the remaining four pulled the trigger.

⭐️⭐️2 out of 5 stars: This story had a lot of potential which is probably the only reason I finished it. Unfortunately, I felt like the story was sloppy with many key points being explained in a really crappy, hard-to-follow way. It felt like the author’s first novel (even though it’s not). I also hate it when mysteries give you clues all along the way only to have the conclusion be something that you could never have figured out on your own. This was one of those stories.

Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

About: Rich gave up alcohol many years ago, but as he struggles to make his way up the stairs one night, he realizes he’s traded one addiction for another. Overnight he decides to overhaul his fast food diet for one entirely plant based as well as to get back into exercising. In a matter of months he’s testing his limits by completing an Ultraman race-which includes over 300 miles of swimming, biking and running.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4 out of 5 stars: Ben and I listened to this one on audio while traveling during the summer and we both really enjoyed it. His story of being an alcoholic was riveting and his transformation from couch potato to Ultraman was interesting, if not inspiring. He’s a little bit preachy, but I didn’t think it was overbearing.

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

About: Popular comedian, Jim Gaffigan explores what it entails to be a father to five kids in the middle of New York City.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️4 out of 5 stars: This is another one we listened to and, again, both enjoyed. Some of it is amusing and some of it is laugh out loud material. If you have children, you are guaranteed to find something in here you can relate to and laugh at. It’s pretty clean although there were a couple jokes (in my opinion) that bordered on sacrilegious (although they’re just one liners). I’m sure the book is great but since he is a comedian, listening to the audiobook was great entertainment.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

About: Samantha’s mother is very clear about how much she disapproves of the large, rambunctious family who lives next door. But when her mother is busy with a new campaign, Samantha finds herself being pulled back to the Garrett’s house again and again. Just as she finds herself falling for Jase, something unthinkable happens. Samantha suspects she has the answers, but telling the truth could cost more than she can imagine.

⭐️⭐️ 2 Out of 5 Stars: To me the author wanted to write a romance but knew she needed some sort of “plot” and “climax” (I know! The very idea!) As a result, you’ve got an okay teenage romance (it’s a YA book but definitely geared for older teens) with an incredibly lousy plot progression. The big issue didn’t present itself until more than halfway through the book and it was probably the dumbest problem I’ve ever read about in a book. I kept reading because I thought surely something bigger and more worthwhile was coming (it didn’t). The redeeming quality of this book was that the Garrett’s family is big (like 8 kids) which is basically unheard of in the literary world and the author did a great job projecting a happy chaos.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

About: Tom and Isabel live a quiet and remote life alone on a small island where Tom does the important work of a lighthouse keeper. After years of infertility and miscarriage, a boat washes ashore their tiny island carrying a dead man and a wailing infant. Tom and Isabel must make choices and live with the consequences of those choices.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5 out of 5 stars: Fraught with moral dilemmas and allegorical language, this book reminded me of literature I read in high school. I’d say this book is definitely love it or hate it in nature. I ended up loving it, as imperfect as the characters were. I should warn that the story could very well be a trigger for anxiety, so read with caution.

August

August was so busy. Maybe we should just assume that all the months are busy these days. Here’s some of the months happenings:

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Ben started work up and we love his schedule. His work day ends in the early afternoon which has afforded us the opportunity for lots of exploring in our new area. This past weekend we were able to drive to Seward to camp for a night. And while the trip came with an incredibly stressful moment for me (think inconsolable screaming baby at 1 a.m. in the middle of a close quarters campground-yikes!), it was also lots of fun and really gorgeous. Seward is a common stop on Alaskan cruises and it makes sense why. While we were there, Ben did some fishing and caught 4 salmon. And yes, fresh caught Alaskan salmon is as delicious as it sounds.

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I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this but I have a cousin who lives right here in the same town as us, which is kind of random but has been totally awesome. My cousin and her family have gone far and above to show us around town and offer tips on Alaskan living. They’ve had us over every Sunday for dinner and we see them throughout the week as well. Wendy is wild for my cousin and her kids and I’m not joking when I say that within 20 minutes of Wendy waking up she’s asking to go to Michie’s house. We love, love, love being close to family.

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I knew that Alaska would be chillier than the lower 48 but I don’t think I was quite ready for just how cold it’s been. It’s honestly feels like November weather-not August weather. And I definitely wasn’t ready for all the rain we’ve gotten. It’s recommended that people in Alaska take Vitamin D supplements during the winter since there’s so few daylight hours. I already started taking them because I could feel the cloudiness putting me in a bit of a funk. Luckily, the past week or so has been filled with sunshine, of which I’ve tried to take complete advantage since I know it’s limited!

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August means birthdays for both Ben and I. This year we kept things very low key but still had fun going on hikes and hanging out with family. Ben requested pie on his birthday which always makes me incredibly nervous. Ben’s family is very particular about pies. They are pie people and seem to have been born with a gift for pastries. Because of that I avoid making pie so as not to mess everything up! But, I dare say, this year was a success! I made 4 pies for Ben’s birthday and I think they all turned out great.

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We’ve loved all the outdoorsiness that Alaska has to offer and we’ve been trying to take advantage. We’ve been berry picking a couple of times and it is honestly one of my favorite things ever. It’s a little bit addicting! I’m hoping we can go at least a time or two more before berry season is over.

Driving the Alaskan Highway

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Driving the Alaskan Highway was quite an experience. After making the over 3,000 mile trek, Ben said that when we move back to the lower 48, we’re just getting rid of everything and flying back. But, honestly, I enjoyed the drive enough that I’d do it again next summer.

 

The final stats for our trip:

Springville, Utah–>Wasilla, Alaska

3,141 miles

5 days

72 1/2 hours spent in the car

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We’ve been incredibly grateful for the support we’ve gotten from family throughout this process. One huge thing was that Ben’s mom let us borrow her Suburban to take the trip up. Having us all fit in one vehicle saved us a ton of money.

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We rented a U-Haul trailer to take as much of our stuff as possible. We had to get rid of quite a bit, but stuff is just stuff. Another huge blessing was that my dad came with us for the drive! This was huge because I hate driving (I only drove one stretch that was 2 or 3 hours and that was enough for me) so Pa was able to swap back and forth with Ben which afforded all of us the opportunity to take naps when necessary and also let me spend lots of time sitting in the back with the girls.

Oh yeah, we drove that whole way with two babies under two! I really can’t take any of the credit. The girls did amazing.

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One of the biggest stressors for Ben was crossing the border into Canada.

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Ben was sweating bullets because we were carrying firearms in the trailer  (pun not intended but still found amusing;). Despite all his research regarding this and all his documentation, they still stopped us at the border and put up a stink. So we had to turn back to U.S. soil until Ben got ahold of someone who could legally ship his guns to him (the U.S. border patrol gave us a reference so it wasn’t difficult).

It set us back a bit, but we had a chance to reorganize the trailer to distribute the weight a little better (which enabled us to exceed the 65ish m.p.h we’d been attempting). Dropping the guns off ended up being a good thing. No longer carrying them made it possible to drive through a couple of Canada’s national parks.

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We drove through Banff and Jasper and I cannot tell you how gorgeous these places were! I think we hit it at just the right time. Everything was in bloom, the weather was perfect. It was amazing.

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Add a trip to Banff to your bucket list! We didn’t have much time to explore, but I think it’d be amazing to spend a few days hiking around. We asked the worker at the entrance what was a Don’t Miss Experience and he recommended the Columbia Icefield (technically in Jasper). I realize now that he might’ve just been trying to divert some traffic (it was crazy busy), but it was really incredible to see!

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That ended up being the perfect stop for us too. It was a short hike up to the glacier, but enough to get my heart pumping and my calves burning. It was a much needed break from sitting in the car for so long!

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We also stopped at a waterfall outlook. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was beautiful! The water in Banff/Jasper is the gorgeous clear, blue-green. I couldn’t get enough of it.

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I think the girls appreciated a little time out of their carseats as well.

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So, Canada is huge. We drove up through Alberta and seemed to be in Alberta for so long! We finally made it over British Columbia and upon doing so, we went to a Walmart and picked up a map of Canada in case our phones weren’t working at major junctions (a very real possibility). Right after entering B.C., we hit Dawson Creek (not the TV show), which is the official (I’m pretty sure) start of the Alaska Highway.

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It’s almost like you could feel the change which sounds cheesy but I’m totally serious.

It was like, “Adventure ahead!”

After Calgary, Alberta, we didn’t hit any cities, and definitely starting in Dawson Creek, towns become farther and farther apart. There are small towns and services about 100-150 miles apart, but mostly we just passed through beautiful mountainous countryside.

Since the Alaskan Highway is famous, there were several touristy type spots to stop along the way.

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This is the sign post forest in Watson Lake, B.C. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to walk around, but there’s a pathway through it with signs on signs on signs from all over the world.

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So awesome. We were able to spot several signs from near where my dad grew up in Montana just from the road.

The scenery along the highway was stunning the whole way of our drive.

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There was a playground at one particular rest stop and as we were stretching our legs and letting Wendy run around, my dad noticed some wild raspberries growing. He also found some strawberries and edible puffball mushrooms. Many stops after that weren’t complete until Wendy had a fistful of raspberries.

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Another awesome thing about driving so far north and where there’s not a huge population is all the wildlife we saw. The above picture shows this huge herd of bison we passed.

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They were huge (even the babies were big!) and there were a ton of them.

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Here’s a couple of bighorn sheep that we saw (ha! I think that’s what they are…maybe goats?).

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My favorite to see were the bears! We saw a few other ones and I know they can kill you but I still think they’re really cute.

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We stayed our first night in a hotel, but after that we took advantage of the campgrounds that are along the highway. Again, it’s enough of a tourist destination that there were plenty of safe, affordable options. We camped two of the nights and one night we stayed in that cute little “lodge” pictured above. With camping, there is a little bit of a risk for bears, but such is the Yukon. The farther north we got, the more daylight we had. Until our last night on the road, we were pitching our tents at 11:30 with full daylight. It was a strange sensation.

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I had such a good time on this trip and I’m really glad we made the drive! Honestly, if you enjoy road trips and camping, I would highly recommend you make this trip (although I would personally only want to do it one way…turning right around to drive back sounds…awful).

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July

July, in short, was a wild ride. It was packed to the brim, not just with activities but also with emotions. It was crazy and definitely one for the books.

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Let’s start off at the end of July with some of our craziest happenings: We moved back to Alaska! Yes, this is as crazy and as unexpected as it sounds. It wasn’t even a full month ago that Ben interviewed and was offered a job up here. And, yet, I am writing this blog post from America’s 49th state. Life is like a box of chocolates.

If you want the whole spiel:

This whole year has been filled with uncertainty. When Ben wasn’t accepted into any of the programs to which he’d applied, it really threw off our balance. We’d discussed for so long whether or not we should have him do a PhD and it seemed so right. So as he applied, I think in the back of my head I knew that it was possible that he wouldn’t be accepted. But I also knew that having him apply felt right. It felt good. So as he applied, I thought, “just have faith and everything will work out.”

A couple months ago, in the midst of our trying to figure things out, Ben made the comment that faith is painted as this beautiful thing but that really faith is ugly. I think I know what he’s saying. When Ben applied for PhD programs, I thought I had faith that everything would work out. Looking back, I think I only had faith that he would get accepted. In my mind, him being accepted was the only way that “everything would work out.” There was no alternative option. But Ben was rejected and suddenly the thing I was supposed to have faith in (him being accepted) was no longer a reality. I felt frustrated mostly in myself. Why had I felt so strongly that this was the next step for us? And if I was wrong about that, how could I even trust myself to interpret the spirit correctly?

At this point, I felt like I had two ways to perceive my reality. I could say that I’d been wrong, the spirit hadn’t guided any of my decisions and wouldn’t be guiding any future decisions. Or that I had felt prompted to support Ben in applying for PhD programs for some reason and that Heavenly Father had a plan for us and that I just didn’t know what it was yet.

I decided to go with the latter, which isn’t to say that it was easy. In fact, it was really, really hard. I thought and hoped that our answer was right around the corner. Hey, so Ben’s about to graduate…maybe we could get some guidance over here? And Okay, well I’m sure you know that Ben graduated and the thing is we still have NO idea what we’re supposed to be doing. But explaining to Heavenly Father that I was past due on my expected timeline didn’t seem to make any sort of difference.

I feel like going so long without answers made me question my ability to interpret the spirit. I felt like I could justify any inkling that came into my brain and make it out to be divine intervention. It became a very real battle in my mind, trying to figure out what was inspiration given by the spirit and what was just me, making things sound better or worse than they were.

Over the course of many months, Ben applied to several jobs. He was offered a couple and even accepted one in Idaho but none of these came with any sort of spiritual confirmation. Of course, I would talk myself into any of the potential jobs and then work to convince myself that maybe I was listening to the spirit. But I think deep down I knew that it was a stretch and that what I really needed more work on was having patience.

Rewinding a bit, when we were still in Flagstaff, I encouraged Ben to apply for jobs in Alaska (can you imagine that this was my idea? Ha! It still seems crazy to me, but it’s true). In a complete reversal of roles, when I made this suggestion, Ben was not at all excited or motivated. But he found an expo for teachers in Alaska and dutifully sent in his resume.

After accepting the job in Idaho, Ben mentioned to me that he’d been emailed by a couple of school districts in Alaska. The fact that he was even telling me about this made me feel like it was something he was considering. Why mention it at all if he wasn’t? He hadn’t signed any contracts with the school district in Idaho so I told him that if he was interested in pursuing it, I supported him. We talked about what it would mean to move to Alaska. We considered what the rest of our summer would look like. Getting ready for bed that night I stopped to consider what a good day I’d had. In a rush, I realized that the goodness and happiness and light that I felt, that was the spirit. That’s what I had been waiting for.

Everything after that happened in a rush. The pieces of the puzzle started fitting together and before we knew it, Ben had a job offer. This time he accepted it and we both felt excited and happy.

The truth is that I don’t know why things had to play out how they did. I’m not sure why we had to wait so long to know where we were going. I don’t know why Heavenly Father let us struggle and question and hurt.

But.

I do know that we have a Heavenly Father and that he cares about what each of His children are doing. I know that He is invested in us, interested in our lives. He does have a plan for us. I also know that the spirit speaks to us in a specific way so that we can understand. I feel like this experience was important for me to realize that I can understand the spirit. I spent months wondering if what I was thinking was the spirit. But when it finally actually was the spirit, I knew.

My sister has this mantra that she says: “If it’s meant to be, it will work out perfectly.” And in our case, it was just so. Things fell right in to place as we planned our crazy move, even down to the girls’ birth certificates arriving the very day before we left. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what is.

The deets:

Ben got a job here as a high school Spanish teacher. The town we’re living in is about 40 minutes outside of Anchorage. I’ve been telling people, “Don’t worry, it’s on the road system,” which I’ve come to realize is completely meaningless to anyone who hasn’t experienced the Alaskan Bush. Basically, though our town is fairly small, we won’t have to go without any conveniences like we did when we lived in the Bush. We have schools, doctors offices, Walmart, Target, Panda Express, etc., etc., all within less than 10 miles of where we are living.

Since announcing our move, the number one question I’m asked is if I’m excited. I think people might have the idea that Ben drags me around to all these crazy places we’ve lived. While he usually can be pegged as the mastermind behind all of our exotic (it’s relative) moves, this time the blame is on me. As a result, I actually am really excited and happy to be up here.

The second most common question we get is how long we plan on staying. This is a question I feel incredibly ill prepared to answer because if life’s taught me anything it’s that you can’t plan on anything for certain. The most honest answer is that I think we’ll be staying at least for a few years. But we’ll see.

We drove up here (!!! if you can imagine!) and it was quite an adventure. I hope to do a separate post on the drive soon!

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In Other News…

As if this post isn’t long enough, here are a couple of other July happenings:

Wendy Bird has started talking a lot more and it has been so incredibly fun. Watching her progress brings so much joy and shameless mama pride. She started whipping out words and before we knew it she was forming itty two word sentences of things that were happening right in front of her (“Poppy shoe!” when Grandma’s dog, Poppy, started eating Wendy’s shoe 😂). But she’s started talking about things that aren’t right in front of her and we’ve been able to get a glimpse at how her little mind works (“Cheekies, Nana, nice.” And, “Connor, Becky, fun.” Reminiscing about the good times she’s had with family.). Of course her words aren’t perfect and there’s a certain amount of frustration for both of us when I don’t understand what she’s saying but it seriously just makes my day to hear her sweet little voice say things like, “thanks, mom.” ❤️

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Greta Bean has been growing so fast which has been a huge contrast to Wendy. She’s rolling both ways now and on our big long drive to Alaska, my dad couldn’t get over how sweet Greta was. And she is pure sweetness, hardly every complaining. I’m interested to see what personality traits stay with these babies of mine because right now Greta is pure patience through and through. She also loves snuggles and is actually very ticklish which is super fun.

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Family time: What a blessing that we were able to spend our last month in the lower 48 with family. Despite all the craziness everyone was handling, we were still able to enjoy quality time with our siblings and parents. We spent many a nights eating Chinese food and staying up way too late but looking back now, I’m sure glad I let that happen.

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June

To speak my truth: I don’t really love the GBOMB approach to monthly reviews.

There. I said it.

I love posting a monthly review. I love remembering the stuff I did that month. I love looking through the pictures.

But I hate having to think up stuff that fits in the “Bad” category. Life can totally suck sometimes. There are ups and downs. Most of the time, though, I forget the downs. Or I learn from them (or hope to someday learn from them). But with social media too often portraying the sparkly life we want people to see, I always think, “No, I need to be real and post genuine stuff, good and bad.” So I sit down at the computer and rack my brain for all the crappy stuff that’s happened in the last month aaaaaaand I hate it. And now I’m thinking it’s not very genuine at all because that’s not how my mind works most of the time.

So. For now, I’m hanging the old GBOMB up. Retiring it, if you will. Maybe not permanently. We’ll see if I can come up with something to replace it with (any ideas are more than welcome!).

But, for now, here are a few highlights from June:

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Oh, they say when you marry in June…: (Ten points to anyone who knows what that’s from;). Ben and I celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary! I know there are billions of people who’ve been married longer than six years but I still feel very accomplished every time we hit another year. We drove up to Utah for that weekend and, while we didn’t do anything extravagant to celebrate, we did eat at the Happy Sumo as well as Leatherby’s so I’d definitely call that a success. The day after our anniversary we went to the Living Planet Aquarium and had to reminisce a bit because we did the very same the day after our wedding. Ha! It was fun.

I feel incredibly lucky to be married to Ben. I think I hardly knew what I was getting when I married him. But, lucky for me, he’s an infinitely better man than I had originally thought. I’m certainly grateful that he’s mine, that I get eternity with him. Being married to my best friend brings a happiness that can’t be found elsewhere. Our life’s not perfect but I love it.

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We left Flagstaff: Let me just say that moving has been on our minds for months now. We’ve weighed our options time and time again after every shift in our possible future. And honestly, we didn’t ever feel like we got any sort of strong answer about moving. But we did come to a point where we realized paying rent was draining our limited money faster than anything else, so why stay when Ben was done with school and, subsequently finished working at NAU? We decided to “move” (meaning store our stuff and live with Ben’s mom) and things moved incredibly quickly after that. Within a week we had our stuff in boxes, my mom and dad came down with a trailer, we loaded up, cleaned and pulled out of town. Leaving Flagstaff was difficult. Just looking at the above picture makes me teary eyed. We really love it there and will always have fond memories; that was where our two babies were born after all. But onward and upward, right?

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Job search update: So…I don’t feel quite ready to share everything about Ben’s job search just because things are still shifting and up in the air. But know that it’s going well and there are things in the works. All good things, all good things; )

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Summertime: This summer hasn’t gone at all as we had planned but I’m super grateful for the extra time we’ve had to spend with family. I got some bonus sister time when we went to Utah at the beginning of June. And in the few weeks we’ve been living with Ben’s mom we’ve been totally spoiled with good company. Things have been crazy and busy but we’ve been surrounded by loved ones and that has made the uncertainty so much more bearable.

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May Review

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May was totally packed. I think about Ben’s graduation (which happened in the middle of the month) and it feels like several months have passed. We’ve had some serious ongoing uncertainty but the month was filled with family and fun which has been an awesome distraction.

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Good

  • We’ve been with extended family basically the whole month of May which has been awesome. At the beginning of the month, Ben’s mom and nephew came out. They were joined by 3 of Ben’s sisters as well as my parents for graduation. It was an adventure fitting everyone into our tiny apartment but we had a blast!
  • Ben had several graduation parties/award ceremonies that we were able to attend. It just made me so grateful that he had the opportunity to be in this specific program. His cohort and his professors have been totally supportive and awesome. We feel really blessed.
  • Ben graduated!!! I think of where we were at when Ben started this program and it legit feels like a lifetime ago. Graduation day had me fighting off tears because I’m just so darn proud of my husband. Ben and I always joked that we were probably the only people in the program’s history who’ve had two kids in its duration. But even with all the changes and adjustments, Ben’s handled everything very well, graduating with distinction and making all of us very proud.
  • All of our visitors stuck in town a couple days after graduation and we were able to have a picnic in Sedona at Crescent Moon Ranch as well as have a day at the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. It was fun to take family to some of our favorite places around here.
  • We also had Greta’s baby blessing the same weekend (yeah, we were busy). We just did it at home so that Ben’s family could be there but it was very sweet and I’m grateful that family could be there for it.
  • Ben has had a couple of job interviews which has felt something like progression toward the next stage of life.
  • After those interviews, Ben and I headed up to Twin Falls to visit family. We had a water balloon fight, went to the parade of homes, attended a cousin reunion, ate at our favorite restaurant, and just spent time with everyone. It was wonderful.
  • Two years ago my family had a reunion in the mountains of Colorado and this year we were able to go to the same place. It was a miracle that everyone in the family was able to make it. And my parents went all out planning activities for the weekend. We had a tea party, a pioneer trek, four-wheeling, slideshows, games, hiking, delicious food and treats, and an awesome dance party. It was so fun watching Wendy interact with cousins who are her age (Greta made the 8th granddaughter in a row on my side-all ages two and under!).
  • Wendy had her LAST nutritionist appointment! They mostly ended it because Ben told them we’re moving (it’s true…we just don’t know when or where…) but they did say Wendy’s growth was doing well. I truthfully don’t know if they would have ever let us stop going if we were sticking in Flagstaff…

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Blah

  • Driving around town is totally fine but for long road trips we have definitely outgrown our car. Someday we’ll be able to afford something bigger…but for now we’ve had to rent. We rented a RAV 4 for the weeks we were out of town. While it was nice having extra space and working air conditioning, it makes me see red every time I think of how expensive it was. Bleh.
  • Mingling with so many kiddos makes it difficult to walk away unscathed. Wendy got sick the last day of our reunion. She was up most of the night with a fever and a cold. And just wanted to be held all day. Ben and I got sick too. Luckily the worst of it was short lived.
  • Ben raced some of my brothers on a three-wheeler, ended up falling off and getting into some stinging nettle and sustaining some pretty nasty bruises. Not to worry-his main bruise gave him a softball sized lump on his lower back which provided lots of entertainment when coming up with late night charade topics.
  • I mentioned Ben had some job interviews…we haven’t officially heard back from either of them. All the waiting and not knowing and not being able to decide anything has been very stressful. Not a fave.
  • Colorado was super fun buuuuuut with so many of the kids being so young it was hard to feel like I got all the one on one time I wanted with my siblings and their spouses. During the day, much of our time was spent entertaining and keeping an eye on the little girlies. Luckily, the cabin we were in has a huge separate space where we were able to meet at night after the kids had gone to bed. We spent that time playing games, chatting and drinking delicious mocktails.

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On My Brain

  • I always think that during the summer, I’m going to start cranking out beaucoup blog posts. But in reality, it is the time where blogging gets set to the side. So forgive me if blogging is spotty this summer.
  • Obviously something that has been on my mind a ton is what our next step is. I always think I’m a pretty patient person but then something happens or I get placed somewhere where I realize I’m terribly impatient. This is one of those times. But someday we will have a plan and a place to go. Meanwhile…
  • I’ve started watching This Is Us and I really love it. Pretty much every episode makes me feel like I’m about to cry. But I like how the show gives me things to think about. It makes me consider how I’d respond if I was in a similar situation.
  • While I haven’t started actually packing, I have thought lots about it. You’d think with how many times we’ve moved in our marriage that I’d be a pro…but I’m still trying to figure out what the best way is.

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Sew Together Bag

Hey! I actually sewed something!

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I’ve had a heck of a time getting my act together on any and all crafting projects lately. Part of it has to do with my unpredictable newborn schedule…and part of it has to do with the fact that we cleaned everything up for guests to come and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to bust out all my sewing supplies yet (madness and messiness will certainly ensue).

But before guests came, I had the pressure of coming up with a Mother’s Day gift for my mom which lead me to finally sewing this bag that I’ve had my eye on for quite awhile.

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I don’t remember where I first saw this bag, but the moment I saw it I knew it would be perfect for toting around the pieces to my La Passacaglia English Paper Piecing Project. It’s been in the back of my mind ever since.

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See? It has so many pockets! Perfect for all the teeny pieces associated with EPP! The bag is called the “Sew Together Bag,” and I got my pattern here from Craftsy.

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This was my first time making any sort of bag so I was a little bit nervous. The pattern instructions themselves were mostly pretty good. Some of the steps were a bit confusing. But luckily someone in the reviews had commented that there is a step by step sew along on the Quilt Barn Blog (find the sew along here) which helped a TON because it has pictures!

I made this particular bag for my mom for Mother’s Day (she’s not doing the La Passacaglia, but she has some other EPP projects going on) but I’m really excited to make one for myself! It didn’t take too long to complete and I really love how it turned out. If only every sewing project only took me two evenings to complete…

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Books Lately

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The Broken Road by Richard Paul Evans

This Book: chronicles the life of a man named Charles who, despite growing up surrounded by poverty, finds overwhelming financial success. He’s discovered this success comes at a price and, after a series of disturbing events, Charles finds himself wondering what it would be like to get a second chance. (It’s based on a true story).

What I Thought: 

  • I really liked this book. I’ve never read Richard Paul Evans before but his writing style is really easy and enjoyable. It’s obvious he writes to portray a message but the story was interesting in and of itself as well. It was also refreshing to read something that was totally clean.
  • This book is just the first in a trilogy (and book #2 doesn’t come out until May). I didn’t realize this when I started reading so I was frustrated at the abrupt ending. Just be warned, if you do read it, that the ending leaves you wanting to know more!

Should You Read It?: I would recommend this without reservations.

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Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

This Book: begins with a private jet falling into the ocean. The only survivors are a 4 year old son of a millionaire and a nobody struggling painter. What happened in the moments before the crash? Was it an innocent accident? Or was something more sinister at work?

What I Thought:

  • After reading so many YA books, this one definitely had a more mature voice and that was a nice change! And I liked how the book was written. Interspersed throughout the book were chapters talking about each of the people who had been on the plane, their personal histories and any clues about what happened leading up to the crash.
  • This book would probably be considered a thriller but in my opinion it was a pretty tame thriller. Meaning, my postpartum, anxiety-ridden mind was able to read it and still fall asleep at night. I was grateful for that.
  • I truthfully really enjoyed this book BUT I was pretty disappointed in the ending. It was the kind of ending where I guessed it right off but immediately thought, “That’s too obvious, it’ll be something more crazy.” But no, it was just kind of a boring ending. Having said that, I still really enjoyed it.

Should You Read It? I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys thrillers but is kind of a wimp (just me?).

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Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

This Book: was written by Gilbert, in a way, as a means for healing. Following a drawn out divorce and a painful broken heart, Gilbert is determined to fight through her depression and find peace. So she takes a year long trip spending 4 months in Italy (eat), 4 months in India (pray), and 4 months in Indonesia (love).

What I Thought:

  • I know I’m late to the party (like, waaaaay late), but I can see why this book has gotten so much attention. It’s very well written and I could see how it’d be really easy to relate to.
  • This book was definitely meant to be a sort of journal of spiritual discovery. Honestly (and not trying to sound superior in any way), I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at spiritually so more than anything I enjoyed it mostly for the travelogue. It got me seriously craving some Italian food (can you crave something you’ve never eaten?). And I loved reading about the herbal healing in Bali.
  • I thought the section on India was boring and seriously lacking. I mean, I enjoy yoga quite a bit but I’m not a huge fan of meditating (at least not in the sitting cross-legged and humming sense)…so I guess it makes sense that I wouldn’t want to read chapters upon chapters about someone else meditating for hours on end. Blech. Boring.
  • This point contains a spoiler, so skip it if you don’t want to be spoiled;). As part of her year of self discovery, Gilbert commits to avoiding romantic relationships during this time. She says she wants to, for once, just let herself be without the influence of a partner. And she spends a sufficient amount of time whining about how difficult this is. But then she ends the book with her hooking up with–and eventually falling for–some gorgeous Brazilian man whom she meets in Bali, but don’t worry, reader!-it’s on her terms! As if, obviously, the pinnacle of any year long spiritual journey would/should be a romantic relationship. Meh. Lame ending, in my opinion.

Should You Read It? I think a lot of people would really enjoy this book and even maybe learn from it. The book has been referred to as priv-lit (can’t argue that…I mean, who has the means to quit life for a year so they can aimlessly go travel?), so if that kind of staged-means-for-a-book bothers you, then definitely steer clear. Otherwise I’d say it’s worth giving it a try.

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Entwined by Heather Dixon

This Book: is a retelling of the fairytale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. In this version, Azalea and her 11 younger sisters lose their mother to illness, and in having to comply with mourning rules, are unable to do the one thing they feel honors their mother’s memory: dance. But the castle in which they live is enchanted and one evening they find a secret passageway that leads them to a magicked pavilion. The Keeper there invites them to come back every night…but soon he starts asking favors of them…ones they’re not sure they can keep.

What I Thought:

  • Overall I liked this book. It wasn’t my favorite in this genre, but it was definitely unique and enjoyable.
  • I did think that it moved a little slowly at some points. And I kind of got bored of all the dancing (I skimmed lots of the technical terms). I almost stopped reading it towards the beginning because nothing was happening, but it picked up right after that.
  • I thought the villain was extra creepy. Like too creepy…? But I admit to being a wimp.
  • I did really love all the relationships in this book. I thought all the characters stayed true to their personalities, which I appreciate. And the romances were sweet and believable and not overwhelming.

Should You Read It? This book, with it’s magic and princesses, definitely has a particular audience. If you’re a fan of the genre, I’d say it’s, again, not my favorite, but still pretty good.

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What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This Book: starts off with Alice waking up from a serious fall at the gym. The most recent things she can remember-buying a fixer upper home with her husband, learning she was pregnant with their first child-apparently happened 10 years ago. A lot has changed in 10 years and 39 year old Alice starts putting together the pieces of her life that lead her to this place the 29 year old Alice never imagined she’d be.

What I Thought:

  • With how often I read, it is a surprisingly rare occurrence that I read a book I’m completely in love with. So let it be known that I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. I seriously loved it. I thought it was unique, fast paced, intriguing. I loved the questions it brought up. I loved the ending. The last chapter was so good. To me, it had a clear message and it made me cry. Loved it.
  • I don’t have any real complaints about this book. I will say that I thought the Frannie storyline was unnecessary but I didn’t hate it.
  • My first Liane Moriarty book was Big Little Lies which I totally loved. I wanted to read any Liane Moriarty books I could get my hands on! But I read Truly Madly Guilty and The Husband’s Secret and was decidedly disappointed. The writing was still good and the storyline intriguing, but they just didn’t hold my attention in quite the same way. I’m so glad I gave What Alice Forgot a try and although it wasn’t nearly as juicy as Big Little Lies I think I liked it more!

Should You Read It?: I’d happily recommend it (although it does have swearing).