8.23.2012

{day to day}


I think I have the weather to blame for my somewhat introspective, thoughtful mood lately.  I have been spending my days focused on my boys, their needs, my responsibilities and our time together. I lost my old life with the twins when Wyatt joined our family, and making time during Wyatt’s afternoon nap to do pre-school with them has been such a joy. I feel like in parenting three at once, I am often missing special moments with each one individually.

The boys look forward to pre-school each day, and while it is generally less than an hour, I am excited for their attention spans to grow, and for their little brains to soak it all in.  This week we are doing the letter A, the number 1, the shape SQUARE and the color RED.  Those are the goals. Recognition of letters, numbers, shapes & colors.  That’s it. I am keeping it simple both for myself and for the boys.  Each day I am also reading an educational book and discussing any questions they have.  We also practice cutting and do some kind of art project, to keep it fun!

{Yeah... that's the view out my front window right now!}
Today we read a book on Feelings and I asked the boys about specific feelings. These are the answers I got. Jack said he feels HAPPY when he is proud of (his cousin) Gustav for writing his name.  He said he feels SAD when Daddy goes to school.  Logan said he feels MAD when Jack takes his toys.  And he said he feels EXCITED when we go camping. “It’s pretty much fun,” he added, holding his fingers up, continuing on with, “You can go fishing… swimming… do smores…” I could eat them sometimes!

When I am there, doing school with the boys, I am channeling my home school guru, Josh’s older sister and my best friend Julie.  She has homeschooled her three boys for years, and she is my motivation.  I know if she can do it, I can do it.  I am excited that already the boys recognize the letter A, and can attempt to write it, although it looks more like an H than an A. Hey, it’s a start!

 In addition to finding time each day to spend with the big boys, I am trying to make sure I spend some quality time on the floor, playing with Wyatt.

 His favorite toys are containers with lids and the pop up toy where you push, pull & turn the nobs to make the animal doors pop open. He also adores opening drawers & leaving surprises in them, like his taggie or his brothers’ Legos.

 His favorite time of day is bath time, and he is a super naughty splasher!

 He is getting better about staying in the playroom with Logan & Jack, joining in whatever they are playing, which they have been surprisingly tolerant about.

 He hates when Josh goes to work and gets so excited when he gets home.  His favorite treat right now is this freeze dried fruit (mostly he just eats the strawberries) my sister-in-law found for him and he has four teeth on top and four on bottom with which to chew them.

 As soon as we got here, I feel like his language just took off. It has been so exciting!  He can sign and voice “more”, “water”, “done” and “bye”.  He also voices “hi”, “hello”, “cracker” & “thank you”.

 When he wants to nurse, he pulls on my shirt.  We are still nursing.  I had planned to quit while we were home shortly after his first birthday, but then I talked to my doctor and apparently breast feeding for two years can reduce your risk for breast cancer by 80%.  I have talked to my grandma and it seems that maybe her family has the breast cancer gene, which means I could be at risk. So if nursing Wyatt a little longer can reduce that risk, I am all in.

I am happy to be home with him all day, every day so he can nap on his own schedule and not be pushed onto the twins’ schedule.  I left him only a couple times while we were in Vancouver, but each time I had trouble enjoying myself, worried over how he was feeling without me there.  I always thought, when I used to be a baby-sitter, that parents who felt that way were weird! I just knew I’d want a break from my kids when I had them! And while going out without the kids is nice, and I do need adult interaction time without my three little distractions, I just really feel that my place is at home right now.  There will be time, when they are 6 & 9, for me to have a life outside our family, but right now, I belong here with them.

 Yesterday Josh had orientation for University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) after work.  He will be taking two classes toward his Masters of Education in Counseling this fall, and let’s just say his plate is going to be very (very) full!

 While he was gone, the boys and I made tortillas and then made enchiladas.  They were awesome helpers, and I thought maybe if they helped make them, they would eat them.  I was shocked when it had that exact effect I had hoped, and they each ate one & a half enchiladas!  Every new food they add to their repertoire is exciting to me!  They even ate the leftovers at lunch today!

Well, I think that's all I have for now.  Just a little update on our day to day life, figuring out our new routines and settling back into life in the bush!

{nine}



{Miniature golfing, plus baby :: May 2012}
It’s our anniversary month. 
On the 8th we celebrated nine years together.  
 The first five years are kind of vague, thanks to the passage of time.  

{Family Photos :: November 2011}
And the last four years are kind of vague, thanks to sleep deprivation courtesy of the kids!  The great thing is that we are enjoying today. We are each supporting one another in following our dreams; me being a stay-at-home mom and home-schooling the boys and Josh teaching while working towards his masters degree. We both have our hands full, but we are happy.  And that counts for something.

{Together as a family, embarking on our big adventure :: 2012}
 We are overjoyed to be back in our own house, doing our thing, 
establishing a routine and settling down after a summer on-the-go.  

{Garibaldi Train :: June 2012}
 We have re-established date night, and I have to say being in the village has confirmed for me that there is no excuse for not having date night each week with your spouse.  For us, date night means a home made pizza & movie once the boys are in bed.  That’s it.  We keep it simple, but let me tell you, we both look forward to Friday night as if we had HUGE plans to hit the town.  That is our time to be together, and to let everything else wait.

{First swim as a family of five :: July 2012}
As I was writing in our anniversary album I had the opportunity to reflect on the last year of our marriage. Our eight year anniversary was the first we ever spent apart.  Josh had departed for Anchorage the day before, leaving me with a six week old baby and three year old twins to raise on my own while he began teaching in Marshall.  We spent five long months apart, talking everyday and found strength we didn’t know we had.

{Headed to Alaska :: January 2012}
 By Christmas our “Alaska House” was complete and in January we were reunited as a family, living together once again, in Marshall.  I was so grateful to have my husband and co-parent back in my everyday life.

{The day  he left :: November 2011}
The journal also asked about the most memorable moment of our ninth year of marriage.  For me, it was an easy one.  Hands down the most memorable moment was November 17th when Josh surprised me with a visit home to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  It was the best moment of my life, seeing him there, from 2000 miles away, on my front walk.  It felt so good to touch him.  To smell him. To hug him.

{Family Swim :: August 2012}
The last question it asked was “Words our friends would use to describe us as a couple”, 
so I turn to you, my friends, to answer this last one for me.   
What word or words would you use to describe Josh and I?  
 Crazy perhaps?

Thank you in advance for sharing!

8.20.2012

here

  Today I am in a thoughtful state of mind.  
Everything feels deep and real.

 I think it would be easy, very easy, for me to look backward. To look back at all I left last Wednesday. To see my mom crying as she hugged my big boys.  To see Julie's eyes looking into mine, telling me she loves me so much.  To see Samuel reach for that sweet baby and hold him, knowing that he was really going to miss him.  To see Josh's dad crying watching all of us.
I could easily close my eyes every morning and weep (like I am right now) for all that was there.

I could think back to the moment in the security line when, as I cried silent tears that refused to stop, Jack buried his bug-eyed glasses into my thighs and let out a sob the likes of which I have never heard from a four year old.  The hiccupping cry that followed shattered my heart into a million tiny pieces and I wondered if we were making the right decision.

I could focus on how much work it is to travel with our many small children, or the fact that the co-op didn't have eggs or flour for the last week, making baking for my family very difficult.  I could focus on the devastating news that today in Marshall a man was lost in the river.  His boat was found, floating alone, un-manned, and the state troopers came in on a plane equipped for a water landing to search for him.

But instead, I must place my focus here.  I must turn off all those noisy channels and let my eyes rest on those three blond babes I came here to raise.  I was re-reading In Praise of Stay-At-Home-Moms by Laura Schlessinger this afternoon, and it reaffirmed what I am doing here.  I chose this. I knew we could stay in Vancouver, Josh subbing and me working at Lincoln.  That was an option.  

But really  not.  When Josh left for work on Thursday last week I held that baby on my hip, a twin flanking either side of me in the Arctic Entry, hugging, kissing, wishing Daddy farewell, and the tears of protest on Wyatt's cheeks almost crushed me.  I cannot even imagine if those tears had been for my own departure.  I am so incredibly grateful for Josh.  For his willingness to support my being home; for his willingness to do what it took to get a job; for his willingness to let me follow my heart.

 This quote on Nie Nie's blog spoke to me as well today:
 "Do the best you can through these years, but whatever else you do, cherish that role that is so uniquely yours and for which heaven itself sends angels to watch over you and your little ones. Mothers, we acknowledge and esteem your faith in every footstep. Please know that it is worth it then, now, and forever." 
-Jeffrey R. Holland

The baby has been waking up at night, sometimes once, sometimes twice, and we were attempting to rectify this situation by having him cry it out at bed & nap times, putting himself to sleep.  Then this afternoon I had a revelation.  How about I make my own rules? Wyatt may very well be our last baby.  I am certainly not making any permanent decisions, but if he is my last, I am going to treat him as such.  So this evening I broke the news to Josh.  I will be nursing & rocking Wyatt to sleep until further notice.  When his night wakings start to bother me enough, I may change my mind, but for now, I am content to hold my sweet baby in my arms as he sleeps.  Deciding that I could make my own decisions was so freeing! (And, Josh was fully supportive.)

And isn't that exactly what this whole journey is about? Not just my Alaska journey, but everyone's journey? Discovering within yourself the ability to make & live by your own rules?  Sure, living in rural Alaska provides its own challenges, and I will overcome those as I happen across them, but so much of it is choosing to be happy.  Here

I choose happy here by playing music in the afternoons & having "dance parties" with the boys.
  I choose happy here by lighting candles and making what could just be a house a "home".
I choose happy here by rejoicing in my three boys (perhaps not all day, everyday, but most days) and by turning to my husband as my best friend.

I also want you to choose happy here. Wherever here may be.  And your happy may not make sense to anyone else. That's okay.  Your happy only has to make sense to you.  For example, this summer, I found two new favorite songs.  It is embarrassing to admit to the world what they are, but they make me happy, so to prove my point I will tell you.

The first is Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen.
The second is What Makes You Beautiful by One Direction.

They are just so dang "poppy" & cheerful.  
I can't help but "get the moves" as Jack & Logan would say, when I hear them.

 So when you  hear them on the radio, smile to yourself, let your hips shake and think of me, being a dork, rocking out in the pilot, completely humiliating my children.  Meanwhile, I will find joy here.  Joy in reuniting with other teachers who (thankfully!) came back; joy in students happy to see us; and joy in so many natives welcoming us home.  

I will promise to find joy here,
if you promise to be happy there.

"When one door of happiness closes, another opens; 
but often we look so long at the closed door
we do not see the one which has been opened for us."
-Helen Keller 

8.18.2012

home

 So after three days of traveling on three airplane rides with three semi-obnoxious children, we are home.  I have never been so happy to be home as I was on Wednesday. It's not that I was dying to be in Marshall  necessarily, especially since summer had just arrived in the Northwest as we were leaving, I was just so sick of being on the go with our whole family.  Packing and re-packing luggage & the diaper bag... I was so over it!  I told Josh I could have kissed the gravel at the airport!

 That said, if I am being honest, travel with the kids was not too bad.  The first flight felt way longer than three and a half hours, perhaps because it was past the kids' bedtime and none of them would sleep.  And I couldn't stop weeping.  Also, the man in front of Jack and I kept looking back to give me dirty looks when Jack would put his feet on his chair. Hello! He is four. I am sorry that his feet touching your chair is making you crazy, but if you'd prefer, you can sit back here and hold the screaming thirty pound baby and tend to the demands of said four year old, and I will happily take your seat (butt kicking and all) and read the book I naively put in my purse with the idea of reading it whilst my children slept on this flight. {sigh} Jerk.

 We arrived in Anchorage around nine local time, and got our rental car.  We found McDonald's for the twins, fed them since they had run out of meals by the time they reached our rows on the plane (!!!) and put them to bed.  We followed suit shortly.

 For being in a hotel, I have to say all of us slept fairly well.  I think my hysterical sobbing the day we left made for a good nights' sleep the first night, and our insane day of shopping and errands all over Anchorage made the second nights sleep also welcome.
I have discovered about myself that airline travel is not my forte.  I tolerate it alright, but truth be told, the entire day before I leave, I have diarrhea. Isn't that horrible? Once I am on the plane, I am fine. Thank God.  But it's that whole "Catch the plane on time, get the kids settled, make sure I'm not missing something (or someone)" that freaks me out.  It is truly horrible. And it happens every time I fly.
Sorry for the TMI.

 After a day spent shopping (mostly for our Walmart bush order- groceries I shopped for and Walmart will ship to us) and an evening swimming, we promptly went to bed.  Good thing, too because we were up bright and early the next day to catch one of two planes that would eventually get us to Marshall.
Anchorage to Bethel the flight was okay.  The plane felt really small and crowded.  I was grateful the baby slept the whole ride and we arrived safely in Bethel.  We had a five hour layover in Bethel, which has a terminal the size of our living room.  We managed okay, feeding the kids lunch and napping them on a huge bench, but were nonetheless ecstatic when our flight was able to leave earlier than planned.

 It took about forty minutes or so to reach Marshall, and from the air I got some fabulous pictures.  I was happy to be seeing Alaska from the air minus the snow. It is so beautiful.  We looked for moose and bear, but no luck.  Josh has seen both from the air before, and I am so jealous!

 Getting settled in at home has been really peaceful.  I have enjoyed unpacking and organizing things the way I want.  Minus the crazy rainy/windy weather and some scheduled (unbeknownst to me) power and water outages, things have been pretty smooth. The twins are overjoyed to be back with their toys, and the baby is happy to have so much room to crawl after his brothers.  
We moved Wyatt's crib upstairs, so all three boys are sharing a room again, as they were at Josh's parents house this summer.  I love having all three of them together in the same room, and so far it is working beautifully. Especially at nap time because the twins don't have to be near as quiet now that Wyatt is asleep upstairs instead of down.
The arrival of Wyatt in their room also meant something exciting for the twins- bunk beds! Josh and I put their two beds together and now they have big boy bunks.  It makes their room super cozy and now I just can't wait for my mom's quilts to arrive for them, and Julie's art to come-- then their room will really feel complete. Oh! I also got a great deal on a rug at Walmart in Anchorage, so that should be here soon as well.  I can't wait to post before and after pictures!

 I have gotten right back into the swing of things here.  Our routine was my sanity in the spring, and it has been my sanity this week as well.  I made bread already, and this afternoon I plan to make some tortillas.  Last night was Friday night, which meant date night for Josh and I. He made homemade pizza (delish!) and we watched Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio.  I may or may not have fallen asleep on the couch after eating my pizza.  (Hey! It was hard work settling back in here... Sister needed some rest!)

 The twins have adjusted just fine, already telling me who they want to call, and who they want to paint pictures for back home.  Wyatt, however, has been having a hard time.  He wails any time I walk past him, or go into a different room. I think he has yet to figure out that only one door actually allows me to leave the house!  It will be nice when he calms down a bit about being alone or without me in a room.  He is getting into lots of no-no's and I am just watching to see what (if any) child proofing things I am going to need to be ordering from Amazon.  Mostly he just likes to close his fingers in the drawer in the kitchen and the playroom.  So far the wooden stairs have not been too much of a draw, and I am thankful for that as we don't have a gate.


 Our first night back in our own bed was divine, and with the rain, climbing out of bed each morning has been torture. It is so dreamy to imagine lounging in there as long as I please. Tomorrow that dream will come true- Sundays are my turn to sleep in! I cannot wait!
Sundays are also the day I am supposed to make bread, and I was hoping to make some to share with our neighbors, but we are out of flour and the co-op has no flour, so I am out of luck.  The co-op is pretty much out of everything right now, so I am anxious to get my hands on some eggs, soda and flour when they get in new shipments, even if it does cost an arm and a leg!!!

 So I am kind of rushing through this because my oh-so-generous husband sent me here out of the goodness of his heart and is back home with all three littles.  I have so enjoyed the quiet, the ability to update the blog and check my email.  Oh, how I miss the internet!  Josh is narrowing down what service he wants to get, and once he decides, we will order it and I will be back up & blogging from the comfort of my own living room.  Meanwhile, I will have to steal moments away from the house, trudge over to the school in the weather, hunker down in Josh's classroom and check things out that way.  Last week, it just never happened. Not sure if it will this week either, so you may not hear from me again until next weekend.

Meanwhile, if you are thinking of us, feel free to send us a care package! 
(Am I allowed to be so blunt? It's my blog, so I guess I can do what I want!)
Your care packages are really what get us through the long days stuck indoors.  We are hoping for a reprieve from the wind and pouring rain, but I'm not holding my breath.  So keep your letters, boxes & support coming.  We thrive on it!
I have updated the Care Packages page at the top of the blog (link here) and it has some ideas of things we want or need as well as our address.  I hope to be able to blog again later in the week, and perhaps share more pictures of our summer adventures.
{{happy weekend}}