We are home!

 Whew! What a busy couple of days we have had... It all started Friday morning when we finished up packing, locked the door of our beautiful home, and rode with Mary, Susan, Joe & Krista and their kids, and Nick, to the airport.
We said farewell to Mary, who won't be with us next year, and shed some tears.  We will so miss that girl.  She was Josh's sanity when he was there alone, and she was my sanity when I'd been in the house too many days.  I am so happy to have met her, and was very sad to see her go.

 Soon we boarded our Caravan charter and the adventure began.  Susan was up front with Logan, Jack & Aaliyah in rows behind her.

 Josh was on the other side, with Wyatt & I, Joe & Khasia, and Krista & Khaila behind him.

 Wyatt was a perfect angel the entire flight.  We just gazed out the window, fascinated by all the geography below us.  We got lucky, and it wasn't too cold, but it was windy.  The flight was a bit shaky.

Lucky for us, we were able to make it Marshall to Bethel (about forty minutes) with no problems and landed safely with plenty of time to eat and let the children play while we waited for our flight to Anchorage.
While we were in the Bethel airport I met a woman in my shoes- SAHM to a couple little boys in a rural village- and it was so good to talk to someone who knows exactly what my life is like. 

Our stay in Anchorage was short & sweet. We landed, got our luggage, found our rental car, checked into the hotel and hit the mall. I was able to take Wyatt and shop for new (smaller!) clothes at Gap. I nearly cried (and did hug the girl Kelly who was helping me) when I found out I could wear a size ten.  My last pair of Gap jeans were a 16.
While Mommy shopped Daddy & the big boys got haircuts and shoes that fit.  Then we met back up for dinner at a restaurant!!! We ate at Red Robin where the boys got milkshakes and the baby tried his first french fry.
Before we knew it it was Saturday morning and we were boarding our final flight.  On this flight I made another friend, Julia, whose baby boy Joel was just edible! Thanks to our visiting, the flight went so fast, and I was blessed to have the third seat in our row empty.  The twins' behavior was perfect and the baby slept for most of it.
Before we knew it, we had landed in Portland and were making our way toward our family.

I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Our homecoming was heartwarming, just as I imagined it would be, and we felt so loved. There must have been nearly twenty people at the airport to meet us. It has been an awesome week, spending time here with Carol & Carl (whom we will stay with for the summer); spending time with Josh's sister Julie & her boys; and spending time with my sister, her boys & my mom at my mom's house.  Despite the rain we have had all week, we are happy to be home, and grateful for our loved ones.



 I just left the potlatch, which was emotional even for me, so I can't imagine how Josh must be feeling.  After we all ate, the elders spoke (in Yupik, and then someone translated the gist of it) and thanked the teachers for being there and for doing all they do.

 It felt good, as the wife of a teacher whose heart is in his classroom, to hear my husband and his devoted co-workers be thanked for their tireless effort in educating Marshall's youth.

 I am so proud of Josh.
I am proud that he moved here by himself in August,
and that when I left him at the airport so many months ago,
he had a smile on his face, and his excitement was palpable.

 I am proud that he got along so well with his roommate,
who became a very close friend;
and that he found a place among the staff here.

 I am proud that he endured the transition of us coming to join him
and am grateful that he has had nothing but positive things to say about us being here.

And lastly, I am proud that he survived his first year teaching.
That he was able {finally} to provide for our family the way he always imagined.
I love you babe.
You make me so proud.
Crazy proud.

my bathing beauties

 Today has been a little different than I had thought.  
I'm such a planner, that most of my work is done.

 So when Josh called today to invite us to lunch at school with him, 
we took him up on the offer and got out of the house!

 Wyatt is now at the stage where he DOES NOT like people other than Josh or I to hold him. 
He cried for four out of the five people who tried to hold him at lunch.

{baby piggies}
 The only girl he didn't cry for was Nichole, 
who looks a bit like me, and apparently has the magic touch!

{in these two jack still looks like he has a baby face}
It was nice to get out of the house, see some students, teachers & friends and eat a burger.

{love his pink cheeks}
And tonight the community is having a potlatch for us.  So while I am finishing up the last of the laundry and triple-checking THE LIST, I am also putting in and pulling out tray after tray of chocolate peanut butter cookies. 

{Oh, and blogging the last of the pictures in my "Alaska" file, 
so that when I arrive in Washington my "Summer" file can begin!!!}


Holy Packing!!!

 The last three days have been a blur of cleaning, organizing
and preparing the house for our three month absence.

Today I was finally able to actually start packing.  While the baby was sleeping, I planted the boys in front of the television to watch Dora & Boots go on adventure after adventure while I went nuts upstairs.

 This is what our (normally empty) banister looked like.

 And the upstairs hallway.

 And the boys' room.

 I set out clothes for today & Friday, 

 as well as jammies for each night.

 Then I separated what I will need at the hotel in Anchorage
from what I will need at Carol's when we get there.

Then we have carry on's, a tote, a cooler and all three boys' carseats. Whew.  I can't wait to be on that plane, because that means my work here will be done!

Before bedtime I managed to get everything into it's appropriate piece of luggage and I am as ready as I can be at this point.  I still can't believe that we are out of here in one short day.  But more than that, I can't believe we made it.  We have survived our first year in bush Alaska.  Josh survived his first year teaching, in his own classroom, and was even invited back for another year! (hooray!)  And somehow, I survived every transition, change & challenge thrown at me; from taking care of the kids on my own for five months, to traveling alone with Wyatt to see Josh in October, to moving in with Josh's parents, and finally to making the move to our new housing at the start of the year.  I know I will be sad come August, to leave our friends & family, again, but I do think it will be easier this year, with less unknowns.

We did this. We did it!  It's so surreal!


Care Packages {2011-2012 finale}

 The following is April & May's Care Packages, all combined to make one {awesome} post about all the love that came to us in the form of exciting mail & imaginary hugs in boxes the last eight weeks.
Thank you all so much!!!



I think I mentioned previously the awesome Easter decorations Josh's sister Julie sent us.  I wanted to show you all just how talented she is.

I now have an entire box of holiday decorations.  I can't wait to use them all again next year.
After all those boxes full of Easter treats, she sent us an airplane goody box, full of travel yummies for the boys, juice boxes and food for the baby. I am so excited to have new, special treats to entice the boys into good behavior while we travel!!!

Thanks, Julie!


Carl & Carl: 

Josh's parents sent us a bunch of boxes after they arrived home from their visit.  They sent the ingredients for homemade lasagna.  They sent whip cream, which the boys have loved having. And they sent Mothers' Day gift ingredients for Josh's classroom. Flower pots, seeds, dirt and a clear coat to keep the students' paint job safe when they were done painting flower pots for their mothers. The flowers are even growing, and that is the first shot of green I have had since I left Washington state back in January!



My sister. That girl loves to shop.  And I love to benefit from that! This month for her care package, she sent clothes for all three boys!!! From Gap for the olders and Carters for the younger.  The boys got these great orange & blue striped t-shirts as well as long sleeve waffle knit hoodie shirts, Logan's in grey, Jack's in Navy.  I love them!

And the baby got this aqua outfit from Carters. He looks absolutely precious in it.  Like an angel.

Thank you, Roxanne, for some much needed cute outfits for our arrival at home. 
I can't wait to see you!!!



My mom sent me a much needed mommy package.  In it were sleep masks (the sun is setting after 11:30pm now, and rising around 6am), my all time {favorite} Bic Atlantis pens, a set of {adorable} pajamas for Wyatt, and magazines featuring my favorite blogger (NieNie).  This is all in addition to the two books she pre-ordered for me that were fabulous! I could have died when I got that package of unopened pens.  Heavenly!

Jack talking to Nanny
I love how grown up he looks!



My grandma always sends us boxes full of groceries.  This month was a hodge podge of useful items.

The boys loved the little cereal boxes she included, and honestly, so do I. They remind me of camping as a little girl, choosing from the adorable boxes of Froot Loops or Frosted Flakes.  They also sent canned chicken, from Costco, our favorite! As well as pickles!

The boys have enjoyed making cookies from the cookie mixes and I enjoyed the licorice on movie night last week.

In addition to boxes full of helpful pantry items, she also sent me a letter and cards for the boys, with dollars tucked into them to spend at the store.  This time Jack bought a Kit Kat and Logan bought a Milky Way. It's his new favorite, just like his Uncle Dallas.



My grandma's best friend Shirley is the boys' adopted great grandma.  She always sends them cards for even the tiniest of holidays, and for Easter she sent the boys money! No measly dollar bills here- they get ten whole dollars to spend at the store.  They chose to buy chips and a box of cereal with their money, which I thought was wise!

Thank you great grandma Shirley!!!



My good friend Annie also sent us a box of groceries.  Granola bars, crackers, pudding, Tuna, Mayo, beef jerky, yogurt raisins (yum!), Ranch dressing and Apple Juice boxes.  She also sent me so spring happiness- a cheerful table cloth, and hand towel.

And for the boys? Kites!!! Scroll down to see pictures of our fun adventure flying kites on the tundra. Finally something useful to do with all the wind around here!

Thank you Annie! What a thoughtful gift!



I grew up across the street from Susan, Rulon and their family.  I was so touched to receive a box from her last month.  Susan works for a dentist, so the box was chock full of tooth love! (Ironically, last week, part of my upper left back molar fell out! Thankfully, I have an appointment the Monday we get back, and the dentist said he will fix it then!)  The boys adore their new toothbrushes, brushing timers, and incentive stickers.  They play constantly with the snakes & silly bands she sent.  I loved the chapstick, toothpaste & mouth wash, myself!

She also sent oranges, apples, Ritz, Cheetoh's, baby food and chocolate graham crackers.

Thank you so much Susan. 
Your package was joyfully received and very useful!



Mandy is one of Susan's five (!!!) daughters.  Mandy, mom of four, sent me the ingredients to make some awesome homemade meals, as well as bandaids, always useful and a hit around here, and kid medicine, also super useful.

My favorite items in her box, though were the tangerines and lemons.  Ahh, fresh fruit!  

Thanks so much, Mandy!


Kristi Hammack:

A fellow blogger and {internet} friend Kristi sent me a sweet card with, who'd a thought, Orange KoolAid!!! She heard about how it's my favorite and Fred Meyer in Anchorage doesn't carry it, so she sent like ten packets of it. Angel!

Thank you Kristi!  We've been loving it!

We love Kool Aid with silly straws!!!


Uncle Steve & Aunt Kathy:

My aunt & uncle sent us a box with Clif bars (I'd never had them before, now I {love} them!),
hot cocoa, some toys for boys, movies for us to watch on date night & a book, as well as some other groceries.  It was so nice to receive a gift box from them.

Thanks, guys!


New York Fan:

A follower I have had for quite some time, unbeknownst to me, recently commented for the first time on my blog, and then followed up shortly with a package.  Kasey over at It's a Powersful Life, sent me some books, magazines and a journal.  I was tickled pink over this box, full of things to bring me a daily dose of joy.

She also included postcards from New York, and a touching note.  I have since started following her blog, and love that I am meeting people from all over the place via my blog. Such fun!



Josh's sister Laura sent him books for his classroom, which he promptly took to work and set up on his bookshelves.  Thank you, Laura, for supporting his classroom!



My coworkers from Lincoln Elementary, where I worked prior to becoming a SAHM, sent me the best two boxes a girl of little boys could ask for! In it were white boards and white board markers that will be perfect for homeschooling.  I also got an Alphabet game (thanks Becky!), magazines (thanks Eva!), a Motherhood quote book (thanks Kathy!), potatoes, Legos for the twins (thanks Mary!), honey soap, granola bars, tuna, cards & boot warmers!!!  It came right as the weather was turning from good to bad, and was perfect timing for entertaining the boys, yet again, indoors.
You all believed in me.  You told me, on days I walked in crying, that I was a good mother, doing the best I could, and with your hugs & encouragement I made it through some of my darkest days.  For that, you will always have a special place in my heart.

I love you all!

Playing with Legos from Ms. Skinner & Room 102


I really can't express just how much all of your care packages have meant to us this first year.  To feel your love & support, thousands of miles away, made the days and weeks pass quicker than they would have otherwise.  I think we are all mail junkies now, excitedly making our way to the post office, our hearts quickening as we see the different size & shaped boxes stacked up for us there; then making our way home to the kitchen table where, camera in hand, we open each one, pulling treasures out one by one.

I can't wait for next year, to see the creative, love-filled boxes that will grace our table August to May.  In the meantime, our departure Friday means I will be seeing many of you very soon, and that is very exciting!
Thank you for thinking of us and cheering us on. 
Thank you for blessing us this first year in Alaska.