Thursday, September 22, 2011

I love fall

Unfortunately many of our attempts to go camping this summer have been thwarted.  Mostly by me, being pregnant and sick and not wanting to have to fight the bears when I inevitably would have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  But Matt really wanted to go at least one more time before it got too cold (and then we'll have a baby to add to the mix).  It worked out perfect to meet up with our friends, Anne and Chad, at Eklutna Lake.  The sentimental aspect of this trip is that almost exactly a year earlier we had met them on a group camp out with our church at the same lake. Doesn't that give you warm fuzzies inside? :)

It turned out to be a perfect weekend to go.  I could breathe through my nose.  The weather was perfect (a bit chilly, but not rainy).  And the trees were all sorts of fallish colors, so the drive was beautiful.  Fall lasts about a month up here, but I do love it while it's here.
Gotta have the campfire to make a camping trip complete.  Along with our trusty truck tent and their A-liner camper. We were safe from the bears.
We did a stroll down to the lake the next morning - after enjoying a fire and some warm drinks - to let Mocha swim around and enjoy the beauty of the lake.  It might be one of my favorite spots.
I love how the water is so clear and still.  Such a peaceful place.
So this happened about 2 weeks ago.  And now all the leaves are falling to the ground and the mountaintops surrounding us are covered in snow.  Already. Sigh. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nesting Instincts

My urge to be crafty actually came to play this weekend. I went to the craft store picked up this wooden "M".  At first I was going to paint it (technically have Matt paint it), but then I saw these cute yarn letters online.  So I decided to go for it.  I had to use lots of hot glue (the slants on the letter were surprisingly challenging) and kill time with the TV as background noise.  I'm excited how it turned out - as it was questionable in the midst of the process.  The best part is if one day we want to move it out of the nursery, the "M" will be appropriate anywhere in the house.
I also decided I wanted to make the crib mobile.  I found this beauty online, but I'm afraid my attempt this weekend may have been a flop.  Certainly did not turn out like I had hoped - or maybe I'm being too critical.  Either way I think I'm going to have to start over on that one. I guess since there is now snow on the mountains , it will be a good winter, house-bound project.

Here are a couple pictures to document Madelyn's (and my) growing progress.  Apparently she's over 1.5 pounds now - though she surely feels like more!  I'm also feeling her kicks so much I'm beginning to be able to distinguish her active times.  I'm already entering week 26, which according to some books means I'm in the third trimester.  Wahoo!

I finally went on antibiotics for my cold/virus (after 5 weeks, mind you) and though I feel better, it's still lingering...whatever I caught took a toll on my body.  We also have started our 12-week natural birthing class.  It has been so informational!  The premise of 12 weeks is that it takes about 3 months for a person to create new habits - and in this case a healthy diet, appropriate exercises, relaxation techniques, etc.  It's also been great to get Matt informed and on the same page...while I could spend hours reading about pregnancy and birth, he probably doesn't.  We will also learn about breast feeding and how to care for a newborn.  My ultimate goal is go natural - and I think the biggest obstacle of that method for me is overcoming the fear of the unknown and the understanding that God created our bodies to give birth - so He has given us the power to do it.  I in no way condemn anyone who uses or has to use alternative measures - even I am not discounting getting a little pain relief if it gets to be too much - but I think it's important to have a goal in mind.  So that is what we are striving for.

Anyways, I think Mocha (our other child, my firstborn) is realizing that things are changing.  She's been quite mopey. Her "room" (where she spends her days) has turned into the nursery, which probably doesn't help.  I've read dogs have a sense of pregnancy, which is probably making her jealous...and our baby isn't even here yet!  Who knows...but she's this is how she looks at me every day when I come home.  Makes you feel sorry for her, huh?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Perfect Peace

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You."
Isaiah 26:3

Yesterday I admitted an honest feeling that I didn't think I'd ever have.  Matt and I were discussing that if there were the rare chance we could move back south (or even to the lower 48 - which I guess is technically "south") sooner rather than later, would we want to?  

The last couple months have been filled with peace and joy for where God has me in life.  It probably helps that this Alaskan summer was about a billion times better than last summer - the weather for starters was sunny and warmer than last (though I may have complained a little bit too much about 60 not exactly being "warm", but it's really all relative).  I've realized that though it took time (because it always takes time and it's easy to forget that) God has given us a handful of really good friends.  We are in a phase that is exciting as we anticipate the arrival of our first child in a few months.  Looking back I have loved how being so far from "home" has given Matt and I the chance to really solidify and ground our family.  I believe this move has grown us closer much faster than had we stayed where it was comfortable.  And I believe that if we stay God will continue to use that aspect as we learn to be parents together.  I also know that a move would require starting all over again, which seems a little overwhelming and exhausting after just getting through the roughest stage of the current move. 

And thus as much as I miss the didn't-realize-they-were-so-special aspects of the South - like the people, food, churches, heat, ability to drive outside of your state - and as exciting as it is to me to get a new home to decorate (sad, isn't it?  2 in 2 keep our streak alive we need to get a move on), I am in complete peace of whatever God's will is - take me there.  There will be joys and sadness either way, but He will sustain, grow and teach me through it all. 

Anyways, our conversation was completely hypothetical since the chance to move early is extremely rare, but then again you never know what God has up His sleeve (story of my life!).  I'm just thankful that He has brought me to a place of contentment.  I didn't see myself ever getting there.  Sure, I don't particularly want to stay in Alaska forever (goodness, thinking about a lifetime of these winters make me depressed!), but I'm ok for a few more years.  I rest in knowing that wherever we live - God has a purpose for it.  Maybe I'm finally seeing little parts of that purpose I am thankful God has opened my eyes to it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Current Loves

My mind is all baby lately.  Which doesn't seem unreasonable, since it's hard to look past my protruding belly as I look down. I cannot wait to meet our little Madelyn! It makes me so excited I wish it was her due date, and not necessarily because I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore (though sleeping on my back or stomach again would be nice), but because I want to hold her in my arms.

But until then I have been keeping myself busy creating a little haven of a nursery for our coming daughter.  I have a ways to go, but I'm in the process of gathering little things that I love...

Like the crib bedding my mom bought her.  I love the soft colors and flowers and birds.  I'm not really a "girly girl" who enjoys pink and ruffles.  So this seems like a perfect balance to me.
I also love the prints I bought on Etsy.  I look forward to purchasing some over sized, white frames to hang them on the wall when we are back south in a few weeks.  Did I mention we will be checking quite a big of luggage on the way back?
Matt has been doing a lot of painting for me lately.  He's certainly more of a perfectionist than I am, which is great since that means that we will have very quality things!  Such as this rocking chair.  It was given to me my first year of teaching by a parent for my classroom.  It used to be a dark wood color, which was very beautiful, but did not mesh with the idea I had in my head for the nursery.  So I had Matt paint it white.  My mom offered to make us some cushions and pillows that will add the decor (and create a more comfy spot).  We will be picking that fabric out too when back in Texas.  I hope it to add a splash of color throughout the room.
I found this mirror (that used to be black and hanging by our front door) at JoAnn's on clearance.  I was so excited, because as I've mentioned it's hard to find anything up here in Alaska, much less cute and affordable.  And of course when I found it was a girl, I knew this thing that to be painted to go in the nursery.  Now I just gotta figure out where it's going to hang...
Then I got my first cloth diapers.  My old college roommate, Abby, informed me of this great online deal, so I decided to go ahead and make the first plunge.  Since I'm kinda new at this and the reviews online are very overwhelming, my current goal is to buy a few different kinds to try before buying in masses. That strategy might change, who knows.  But here is my first sample...GroVia.  The only downer - they are pink. (If we have a little boy one day, I don't know if Matt will let him wear them...)
And of course these little socks make my current love list.  My friend, Anne, bought these for Maddie.  I LOVE the socks that look like shoes.  Especially these.  I can't wait to put them on her. :)
I'm sure my list will expand and eventually come together.  Right not there seems to just be ideas and not so much execution.  Thankfully I still have a few months to bring it to fruition.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

a new, hobby

I don't like bandwagons, though I find myself jumping on them quite frequently (but who doesn't, really?).  However my new one is pinterest.  It was really confusing to me at first, what it was and how it worked and why people kept "following me" when I didn't know what that meant.  But I quickly figured it out.  And now I may spend too much time strolling the site thinking about being creative or crafty or trendy or baking something.  When in reality I just like to look at the pictures and decide just maybe I can do that one day - one day (soon!) when I'm at home able to try to be creative and not sitting at my desk job living vicariously through others awesome creations.  I dream of having the "mom blog" that so many have and sharing my impressive secrets with the world.  But for now, I'll just stalk others to gain my inspiration for that future date.  

Currently I'm obsessed with dessert recipes.  Maybe it's my sweet tooth that has come out in full force the last few weeks, I guess little Maddie likes her sweets like her mommy.  I just have to be careful to keep that one-pound-a-week thing in check.

I keep printing all these recipes out...and never make them.  So they are stacking up on my kitchen counter for me to look at each time I reach into the cupboard for some store-bought M&Ms.

Some of my favorites include:
Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
or these
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
or these
No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Chocolate Truffles
or these
Inside-Out Carrot Cake
...need I go on? Because I could...

If only I could muster up the energy to actually get the ingredients and bake them.  I have found myself gaining inspiration and buying the cream cheese and such just to watch my baking goods go bad in the fridge while I lay on the couch.  So I stopped buying them and then find myself not wanting to go to the store if I am in a baking mood.  Oh the dilemma of life. 

I blame it on being almost 6 months pregnant and having a head cold that has officially lasted an entire month.  My immune system is apparently shot for the time being.  This 2nd trimester folklore of 'feeling the best in your life' has actually been a sleepy time of rejoicing when I can actually breathe through my nose.  Maybe the 3rd trimester will be glorious. :)  Here's to hoping... 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Denali National Park Bus Tour

Recently we also visited the Denali National Park.  Since they do not let cars drive down the one road within the park (to preserve wildlife), they offer bus "tours" of various lengths.  We opted for the middle option...of 8 hours.  You can get on and off to hike and just pick up the next bus that comes along and they stop at any wildlife sightings so everyone can balk from the bus windows.  I would certainly say it was an experience, but probably not one that I'd want to do again.  That is a LONG time to sit on an old school bus (especially at 5 mos preggo). And there were some very narrow turns on a very steep cliff - not my favorite.

But since we went at the beginning of fall, we had beautiful views of changing colors.
A picture of the bus (doesn't that make you want to just jump on and join us?).
A picture of us on the bus.
We were graced with the beauty of Denali/Mt. McKinley as we got closer.  It sadly got covered up very quickly with clouds.
We also saw quite a bit of wildlife.  They animals surprisingly come very close to the buses.  It was definitely nice to have that safety of being inside the bus.
A Lynx (apparently a very unique sighting).
 Some Dall sheep.
A grizzly bear (or three).
And then of course goofing around with some moose horns.  Those things are heavy!
Just checking off another Alaska to-do.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Helicopter Ride

I would admit we have gotten to do some pretty crazy things while living here in Alaska.  And many of them are just by chance based on who we have met (and God's grace for putting those people in our lives).

For example, a couple weeks ago it was a sunny, warm evening and several of our neighbors had a little social circle going on outside - you know the kind with the lawn chairs, drinks and lots of chatting/laughter?  So Matt and I went and joined them for a little bit.  We were discussing how Matt's parents were coming up soon and one of our neighbors offered that he take us out on his helicopter one day.  What?!  Yes, he owns a helicopter (and a plane).  Sign us up!  I've never been in a helicopter before and was excited about the opportunity.
It was amazing!  Sadly, it could only hold 3 additional people, so Matt and his gracious attitude offered to stay behind and let me go.  I'm hoping that one day in the near future he'll take us out again and Matt can experience one of the best ways to see the Alaska land. 

Downtown Anchorage
For over an hour, he flew us over the city, skirted the mountains and headed over to a glacier that you can only get to by foot (and apparently a helicopter).  It was beautiful!  He was able to fly really low and close to the 100-200 foot high glacier wall so we could really take it all in.  He even found a little patch that he was able to land on so we could get out and walk around.  Maybe one of the coolest, most unique experience we've had up here.

Landed on the glacier for a picture!
We are definitely blessed to have great neighbors around us.  I think I'm going to have to bake him some cupcakes or something this weekend. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nursery in Progess

With Matt's dad in town we thought it'd be an ample opportunity to move some of our gigantic furniture around.  Plus our crib (that they so graciously purchased for us) came in just a few days prior, so it worked out perfectly.  And I have been a bit anxious to get it all started. 

Originally the plan was to make the current guest room (that I had just redecorated, pictured below) the nursery and just move the bed into the office.  I had even picked the "orange" because it was very gender neutral and made curtains that could flow with many a decor and picked bedding that would match the current office walls.  So much forethought...however, there were a change of plans.

When we found out it was a girl, I had already fallen in love with a particular nursery bedding.  And it didn't match the orange wall.  Sad day.

BUT it did match the office grey walls wonderfully.  Plus the orange room is a bit larger and would accommodate a queen size bed, two huge bookcases and a computer desk much better anyways. 

So the decision was made to reverse the swap....
 the office before the switcheroo
The bookcases and computer desk were moved to the orange room - and the piano to the grey room.  There is no way I could have aided in the process, so I am thankful Matt's dad was there to help.

Next came putting the crib together.  Now let me tell you about this crib fiasco.  I live in Alaska. NOBODY ships to Alaska.  Have you ever noticed that there is an asterisk on most websites that say "except to Alaska and Hawaii".  I never thought that'd apply to me...but there are on 99.9% of websites, of which I quickly, depressingly learned.

Unfortunately, I had fallen in love with a certain crib (see a theme? at least I stick to what I know I like:)).  It wasn't some obscure crib either.  Even Walmart sells it.  I found about 15 retailers that sell this beautiful piece, but alas, after many, many, many phone calls not one would ship it to me in Anchorage.  UPS wanted to charge $600+ dollars.  Hah.  I couldn't put it on an airplane because of  security that required I had to have a background check, etc - and then it would still cost several hundred dollars.  It was a frustrating experience to say the least. I figure we will be using the crib for Madelyn along with any other future children we I wanted to really like it and not just purchase one of the 5 available in Alaska already.

Until we thought outside the box a bit.  I could put it on a ship. Literally, a barge. After all that's how all our belongings arrived when we moved here.  I called about 6 different places and settled on the lowest price (which was still ridiculously high, considering most places ship for free in the lower 48 these days).  So I ordered our crib and changer, shipped it for free to their Washington office location and then got charged an arm and a leg to get it put on a barge for 6 days to arrive in Anchorage for us to pick up.  As my sister put it "it's very prehistoric".  Eh, do what you gotta do.

So the process of putting it together began.
The changer is actually going in the guest bathroom down the hall since my goal is to do cloth diapers.  I hear it's easier with a toilet/running water nearby.  I'll let you know how that goes.
 And then completion.  Oh so proud parents we are. Now we just need a baby (and well a mattress).
And then remember this purchase? 
 Well, Matt has been working pretty hard and I have to say it looks wonderful with the crib. 
My mom even bought the bedding and it just arrived too!   Thankfully we have a long weekend ahead so I can go crazy get some decorating and such done.  I really want to put a painted white tree coming up over the crib.  But we shall see what happens. 

And though you can see my big ole belly growing the pictures above, here I am at 21 weeks.  I am already in week 23 and still getting bigger! 

The North Pole

This past week the in-laws were in town.  We did some (and by some...I mean a lot of) traveling around Alaska.  I think we may have been in the car more than anything else. But we were able to see many things that we probably would never have seen if we hadn't sacrificed and drove.
Luther and Leah posing with Denali
After hitting up Fairbanks (and not much that is there considering it's the 2nd largest city in Alaska), we visited the North Pole. 
Yep, a fairytale town of Christmas.  It's where Santa's house is.  Even the light poles are painted like candy canes.  And Santa resides year round for all the giddy-about-Christmas tourists like myself. 

Naturally we met and chatted with the happy fellow.  And even got him to personally sign a classic book of The Night Before Christmas for Maddie's future holiday celebrations (if she doesn't get here before this years, we will have it for the year to come).

Christmas is my favorite.  I love everything about it.  Always have.  It was a place of bliss. :) 

We also visited the iconic pipeline that in a roundabout way landed us in Alaska. 
And an ice museum where they house ice sculptures during the winter months, so you don't actually have to visit when it's 40 below outside. 

It was a good trip, though I look forward to not having to make that drive again in the near future. :)