Leaving Rural Alaska

Josh packed for days and days and days on end.

Our Sleep Number bed, all packed up

The boys' room

Our room
Our bathroom
Our living room

Our dining room

Books for days...
from both Josh's classroom,
and our personal collection.

Our kitchen
The boys' playroom
Marshall, Alaska
The old airport & rock quarry to the left;
The village in the mid-upper left;
The road to the new airport running horizontally across the mid-upper right.
(Photo courtesy of Josh's old coworker)
Picking up Josh for the last time at the airport.
What a relief to be done with that!
And then the boxes started showing up in Washington!


Our time in rural Alaska ended in the spring.  Our house there was left empty, our boxes (24 in total) shipped to us.  Josh beat them home by many weeks.  I have wanted to write this post for a while now, but I can't really put into words what our time in Alaska did for us.  It grew us and changed us in irreversible ways.  It was good and hard and wonderful and horrible.  I suffered debilitating anxiety & depression plus two miscarriages while living on the tundra, but I also rejoiced in being a stay-at-home mom, living in a brand new, beautiful house that I got to turn into a home, and was blessed to homeschool our twins for three years while we were there.  I met and loved and cherished more people than I can count from our time in Marshall, people that will forever be etched on our hearts.  Its confusing to say that some of our family's best times were spent in that village, and then in the same breath to say that it was time for us to leave that place, but that's how life is.

Our boys were ready for more, and our family was too.

We will forever look back on our time there fondly.  Attending Saturday Social every weekend, watching our three blue eyed boys play with a gym full of beautiful brown eyed children whom we had grown to love like our own; cozy Saturday nights spent watching movies with our boys, enjoying pizza Josh made from scratch; Friday night date nights, the boys tucked in their beds, Josh and I together on the couch relishing the quiet... So much family bonding, adventuring and learning.  It feels as if it were all a dream.  Kind of a far away time that has taken on a fuzzy quality.

How did we do it? How did we pack and travel and live like that? How did we manage without a hospital or grocery store? I don't know... but we did.  Somehow that way of life became normal and comfortable.  And I am forever indebted to the way we lived there.  Because now? Now I am grateful for the most trivial things: Consistent internet.  Sour cream.  Fresh fruit.  Walking the aisles of the grocery store.  I am grateful also for our backyard more than ever because of our time spent stuck within the four walls of our home in rural Alaska.  My friend Peter said that the best way to become grateful was to experience periods of deprivation followed by periods of abundance... I find this to be incredibly true. Both in terms of things (mainly food), and in terms of people (ie Josh).  I'm so happy to be living with him again after our year apart.  The small things, like him making the bed so I don't have to, or hugging me after a long day with the kids, bring gigantic bursts of joy, whereas before I don't know if they would have even registered.

When we were making the decision to leave Alaska, it was gut wrenching.  We felt confused and emotional and unsure.  The way I know that we made the right decision is that I am totally okay with being normal, cliche, boring now.  I don't care that we bought a house in a subdivision with a good school and that we plan on putting the boys in baseball and boy scouts.  I don't care that I'm a stereotypical stay-at-home mom who drives a minivan and makes cookies  for an after-school snack.  Settling into this new normal feels right.  I don't miss the adventure, the exoticness of that life.  It was a beautiful chapter for our family, one I will remember fondly, but it's a chapter that has closed.  And this new chapter? It's going to be just as great.



My Heart On Ice

Tonight was the boys' open house to meet their teachers.  We went classroom to classroom, turning in supplies and checking out desks.  I am so proud of these boys.  They were all so excited, wearing their new outfits and sporting their new backpacks.

We did well tonight-- the boys were polite and listened well and I enjoyed seeing their new classrooms.  But after I got them to bed, I lost it.  I played this song by Hilary Weeks and cried while I did the dishes, remembering how tiny the twins were when we brought them home, and feeling that it just isn't possible for Wyatt to spend an entire day away from me.

I'm going to miss them.  Plain and simple.  I'm going to miss them at lunch and in the quiet of the afternoon.  I'm going to miss them while I'm running errands and while I'm bustling about the house. 

In addition to knowing I will miss them, I am anxious about all that this next step brings.  Independence for Wyatt, homework for the twins, and above all, the twins' experiences being different.

Tonight as I described the morning drop off for each brother, I thought to myself, "And so begins the separation of the twins."  Their lives to this point, have been linear.  Here is where their stories diverge.  (Cue hysterical sobbing from their mother, and leaps of joy from the twins themselves.)

I am reminded of my absolute favorite first day of school quote, found just days ago on Kelle Hampton's beautiful blog, describing what it feels like to be handing over your littles to their teacher:

 “Oh hey, here’s a cooler with my heart on ice. Keep it beating for the next seven hours and then seven hours again tomorrow and then maybe another 180 days after that.”

Pray for me, maybe?


Great Grandma Pansy

"When you love what you have,
you have everything you need."



Around Here: Week 34

Meditating... on this gem from Eckhart Tolle:
"Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have."

Visiting... the doctor.  Wyatt had an appointment this week, the twins have an appointment next week.  I think it's smart to have an established relationship with their new doctor before I send them off to the germ pool school. ;)

Organizing... all my new bookshelves. Oh the joy that a stack of books can bring!!! (For me, and for the kids!)

Experimenting... with cloth diapering again as a means to save money. So far, so good!  (I had 24 bumGenius diapers left from my cloth diapering days with Wyatt.)

Reading... Home Field by Hannah Gersen. It took me a while to get into it, but I'm enjoying it now.  Only one more book club book left (What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross) and I will have worked my way through the whole summer list!

Exploring... our new neighborhood.  The boys hop on bikes or scooters and Carly rides in either her stroller or my Ergo, and we meander, taking in all the sights.  I'm loving it.

Road tripping... to Wenatchee (to the nearest Target) to pick up shelving for linens and other necessary items that we couldn't find at the Walmart in town. Wenatchee's only about an hour away and a lovely drive.

Looking forward... to fall, thanks to a sweet gift from my friend Ashley that arrived in the mail this week.  A beautiful dish cloth & set of autumn chapstick. Yum!

Enjoying... the dirt pit.  It entertains the boys for hours on end and feels like such a wholesome activity for three little boys!

Watching... the boys collect these strange seed/flower bombs from the neighbors tree.  They took off with a step stool, a grabber, and a plastic bag to collect the ones that dangle over the fence.  Now we have piles of them in our garage.  They look like slightly pokey tennis balls.

Feeling... Carly's new (razor sharp) tooth that finally poked through.  Thankfully she's only bit me a handful of times so far.  Yipes.

Working... on our front yard. Josh mowed the grass and we redid the front flower bed.  It's a small start, but it's a start!  Next up, trimming the roses that are blocking our front window!

Excited... for tonight when my sister & her fam arrive! We have a JAM-PACKED day planned tomorrow full of fun for our collective five boys & two baby girls.  I can't wait!



The Time We Grew Some Butterflies

Back in the spring, the boys and I ordered some caterpillars and learned all about the butterfly life cycle.  The caterpillars grew SO fast (!!!) and before we knew, it they were dangling on the lid of their little food box, ready to go into the butterfly enclosure. 

So we carefully relocated them, adding some baby oranges and sugar water for them to eat, and waited.  A few days later, they started emerging.  (Some of the red drops you see is from their emerging process.)

And a few days after that, we set them free.

The whole process was really simple and very exciting.


Thoughts on my Rainbow Baby

This picture was taken in our living room in Alaska exactly two years ago.  I was pregnant.  Secretly.  Excitedly.  Anxiously.

But the good kind of anxious. The kind that, every time you think of it, makes your stomach do flips inside you.  I couldn't believe I had been so lucky to get pregnant on the first try, and to have all my dreams coming true. 

Alas, they weren't.  

But for ten weeks I had day dreamed and envisioned this sweet fourth baby of ours.  I imagined him a boy, Reid Joseph, after Josh's best friend Joe, and was tickled thinking of a rounded belly, swollen with life in just a few short months.  Instead, as you all know, that pregnancy ended with a broken heart. Mine, obviously, and also our baby's. 

A few months later, we tried again.  And got pregnant again.  We day dreamed and imagined again.  This time imagining a girl, Bailey Kate.  By six weeks that dream had also turned to dust.  Not meant to be.

Five long months later, after declaring we were done, I had a sudden change of heart.  This wasn't how the story was going to end for our family.  Once again, we got pregnant.  But this time. It stuck.

Nine long months later Carly May, our rainbow baby, was born.  I had heard people say the cliche thing people say: "It was all worth it."  But I had no idea it could be so true.  

Carly was worth every tear, every bit of lost sleep & lost hope... She was worth all of it.


PS- Happy Seven Months to our sweet rainbow girl.  
You are the light of our lives.


The Separation of Twins

Not only have I decided this year to send my big boys, the twins, to public school, but I have also decided to put them in separate classrooms.  It's a hard decision.  One that I don't take lightly.  But it's also one that I made easily.

They will be going into third grade.  And it's time they had some separate experiences.

When I asked them what they thought were the good things about being apart, they said:
1) They will get to make their own friends.
2) Their teacher will know who they are.
3) They won't fight with each other in class.

When I asked about the challenges, Jack said, "Logan won't know where I am."

Which about sums up their concern.  Neither of them is worried how Jack will do.  They're both worried how Logan will do.  He is a classic firstborn.  A worrier.  A controller.  He is constantly doing head counts, making sure everyone is where they are supposed to be, and when something is new or changes, he's the one who struggles the most to adjust.

But it's because of his personality that I think separating needs to happen.  I want him to see that Jack can take care of himself.  I want him to be able to only worry about himself for once.  Also, I think it's time they be recognized for who they are individually, not who they are as a pair.

My decision is backed by something I read in One And The Same by Abigail Pogrebin, my twin guide book, as it were.  The author interviewed twin expert Joan Friedman (who is an identical twin herself) and she said:

"Twins are completely crippled by the fact that they had this other person with them all the time.  So they were always fine socially, comfortable in school; they always got a lot of attention.  But they didn't have to work for anything.  Without doing much, they were always 'so cute, so special.' 

 Resilience for children comes out of master of a challenge, or facing a fear.  And twins, with their ridiculous star power, lose out on mastering some of life's challenges... Twins need to get the message early that 'You aren't the same.  And that the two of you will end up in very different circumstances, just like you would if you were plain siblings.' It's never fair with siblings. It's never equal."

This is not to say separating twins is the right thing for everyone.  I trust that other parents know what's best for their twins just like I know my twins and what's best for them.

I am excited for Logan & Jack.  I am excited for what the future holds for them, in the classroom and elsewhere, and I'm anxious to see how being treated as individuals impacts them & their confidence.



All The Feels

With the move, I expected some misbehavior from the kids.  I expected tears and anger and some big time adjustment issues.  Instead I have only had occasional bedtime emotions.  And only from Wyatt.  I guess the twins are so used to this "on-the-go", constant-change lifestyle that it doesn't bother them in the least.  All those years leaving for Alaska in the fall have paid off.  

With Wyatt what usually happens is this:
I tuck Wyatt in, we say prayers and I sit in the rocking chair to feed Carly.  Then Wyatt rolls around a bit, talks about something random (like earth spinning really fast, "but we can't feel it") or asks me questions (like "Can water sunburn?") then he stops and says to me, "I feel sad." 

So I lay Carly down and scoop Wyatt up.  "Why are you sad?" I ask.
"I miss everybody," he tells me.

Even though it makes me sad that his little heart hurts, I am so, so proud of him for talking about his feelings and I'm so happy that just a hug from mom helps him feel better.  My hope is that with time he will see that we aren't as cut off from our people here as we were in Alaska.  Poor little buddy!



Our Farewell

Before we left town, my parents & sister threw us a little farewell so we could see everyone one last time.  Everyone brought items for our pantry (or their favorite cleaning products) which was just the greatest when we got here and had things we needed (like Magic Erasers and Italian Seasoning).  

It was a fun, laid back afternoon of visiting and watching the kids run around crazy!

Rainbow baby!!!
Nephew Ferris
Haha! My dad
Nephew Milo
Ferris & Jack
Wyatt, Milo & Jack
I am so relieved to be living within driving distance of my people.  After years of being so so far away, we can now plan weekend gatherings, birthday parties and other fun stuff all throughout the year!  I can't wait!