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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happenings in Tennessee... all the way to Alaska!

It’s 1:00am…. 

And it looks like the sun just set an hour ago, which is why I feel entitled to pour a bowl of cereal as my “evening dessert”.

Of course, by the rate my life has been going, I won’t get this posted until tomorrow morning (currently, its Sunday... so it was delayed quite a bit longer) since I came back to Alaska from our sabbatical/trips into the states with a totally new outlook on our life and living space.

…. Which means totally redoing things around here, along with some spring cleaning, followed by a new little challenge in a the form of a crawler, whom I am constantly chasing around and mopping my floor for 24/7…

...Ok, I feel much more justified in my decision to pour more than half of the box of cereal into my bowl now.

I apologize, on another note, for not posting anything while I was in TN. Life has never BEEN so busy! There was no time to eat, and much less to write for pleasure. Being back in Alaska now and experiencing summer, I have a few additional hours to start catching you up on what has happened between leaving Oklahoma and now.

As stated before: it’s summer in Alaska. What’s a summer in Alaska like? Well, I’ll briefly describe what we have experienced since arriving back last Wednesday. First off, there is all day sun, coming up at about 5:00 (or earlier) and setting around 11:30 (that is, it looks like dusk). The weather stays relatively predictable as well: if it’s not raining, then it’s gorgeous outside. However, gorgeous only reaches a high of 50 these days, so I end up wearing my winter long johns…. So much for summer attire! Most of your time is consumed with hiking, biking, fishing, and being outdoors. Considering you aren't affected by a setting sun, you have plenty of time to accomplish all that in one day, and still have time to walk the dog.

Anyways, it really doesn’t matter much since I will soon be back in the lower 48 yet again for ONE MORE WEDDING!

My brother and his fiancé are our last reason to come into the states for a while. I am excited to see them start their lives together as I have already gotten to be involved a little with their move from one apartment to their new cozy little rented space on the other side of town. I am sure Kassi will make it magical for them, so I look forward to seeing the transformation when we come to visit them AFTER they are officially Mr&Mrs.

We will start in Memphis. I flew in from Oklahoma, ahead of Andrew as I shared, and the calendar was already booked the minute we landed: Birthday parties, baby showers, dinners with family, LOTS of boys (Matthew’s guys were at the house all weekend, so it made for a full house), grandparent time, hanging out with the Thornburys, lots of relative time!, eating lots of good food, lunches with friends, soccer games, coffee with a sweet girlfriend, a sparse run or two, a trip down to Columbus to see  some close friends, and meeting up with Andrew, only to pack up a few days later for our journey into Knoxville…

Arriving in Knoxville, we traded parties at a Starbucks, where Elyse and I jumped into the car with Grandma and Grandpa, and Andrew continued on to his brother’s bachelor party. It was mother’s day weekend so by the time we met up with him at family brunch the next day, he was hardly coherent enough to really enjoy being with us all… he got no sleep (naturally) and was totally wiped… which made everybody else feel wiped as well, making mother’s day more of a national nappy day instead. While everyone napped, I got to ultimately do what I wanted to do: make chocolate chip cookies in an OVEN (since this was now a luxury item coming from Altus where we had none), run and read on the couch as the rain came down. To make it even better, Elyse slept a lot of the day, allowing me to enjoy some freedom from motherhood! Thank you Jesus!

Again, our week filled up fast with wedding preparatory, bachelorette parties, making cupcakes for the bachelorette parties, the grandparents all under one roof (what fun!), decorating for the wedding reception, fed baby, shopped with baby, shopped for baby, took time for a date, attended an exercise classes under our beloved boot camp instructor Staphanie, a yoga class at a downtown studio, celebrated more birthday parties and plenty of coffee runs (one of my favorite things about going home!). Of course, the main reason of going to Tennessee was for the wedding, so we had plenty of time to celebrate that!

From all of that up to the actually wedding, we kept chugging along on the crazy train as we surged full speed from one activity to another. It made me that much more thankful for the lazy days of Oklahoma (don’t let anyone tell you that Oklahoma is a waste of time… if anything, it’s a chance to soak in what a day in nothingness feels like as our American pace will always make sure we are not left with too many white spaces on our schedule). Nevertheless, we arrived home to start getting our lives back in order (and endured the debris the traveling tornado left our house in) and hang out with our friends, the Hasslers, who came to stay with us throughout their cousin’s wedding. It was definitely fun having two babies in the house…. Yet, another reminder that I want to make sure I am 100% ready for an additional Thornbury before officially start trying for number two! Anyways, I won’t get us side tracked too much on that (but don’t worry family… no babies for a while longer!). 

As the Hasslers pulled out on Monday, we packed up everything for a hike to some lakes to see if we could go fishing (it’s almost BIG fishing season here in Alaska, but Andrew just can’t wait long enough before he can take out that pole—so we went anyways!). The coolest part about this trail is we drove no more than 10 minutes from our house to the trail head. Yet this was no sissy trail either: we had 5.3 miles out to the lakes and it took the same distance to get back…. Totaling a little over 10 miles once it was all said and done. All that done with a talkative baby and a moose chasing us down the trail.

Yes, a moose was on the hiking report, but I am being a BIT dramatic. We didn’t actually get CHASED by an angry moose, but she definitely was a happy mover, making pretty good pace at that. She made it difficult for us to keep a “comfortable” distance from her.

It is now two daysafter I wrote the majority of this posting (told ya I couldn’t finish this on time!) and we have added another hike to the list: Pioneer Ridge. It was an intense hour and 40 minutes all uphill, enduring mud slides, snow and TONS of giant Mosquitos (aka: Alaska's state bird). Most of the work was felt when carrying Elyse. Andrew and I switched off in a rotation so to break up the intensity a bit, but most of the time, it was hard to battle the brush regardless of what you were carrying. We were traveling with a friend before we went our separate ways, and since it was quiet on the way down, we halted at my husband's lifted hand as he looked back at me quizzically. I heard what he was hearing: branches snapping under some large unknown mammal. It was heavy and slow, which really had us in a panic... And within seconds, we had picked up the pace, the can of bear mace unlocked, finger on the trigger. Until then, I had no idea how much God has wired us so beautifully in times of danger. In that moment, not even an angry mother bear who had been separated from her cubs scared me. The people I loved most and the strength God had filled my core with consumed me, and I felt ready for the worst.

Only once we got down the mountain did I feel the adrenaline leave me and I felt weak and timid of such things again. But not outside. It was good to know that God gives that to me when I most need it... Even if I didn't end up needing it at all.

Well, I have written way too much already in this posting. I'll share my Oklahoma thoughts and revelations on a later post... For now, it's time to celebrate Father's day, a weekend early ;)

Here are some pictures from the trip and our current Alaskan activities:

While in Tennessee, May 14th, Elyse turned 8 months!

...I got to drive my dad's new Porsche (Ow ow!)...

...Went to Barley's for some delicious pizza, a good hard cider in honor of our friend Jenn's birthday!

...The rehearsal dinner happened at Barley's actually. I would say we did a pretty good job in making it magical!

Our gift to Matthew and Leslie
(note to the couple: I want to try this mix sometime when we come to visit in December!)

A fun idea for the rehearsal dinner: You find your name and take a picture with a Polaroid, hang it and watch the wall turn into a piece of artwork! Makes a fun decoration as well. 

Us at the wedding:

Baby was anything but stationary, so we found ourselves in the back of the sanctuary:


A new friend: Eleanor!

Cuddle time with Grammy!

... and reverting back to childhood for myself ;)

Time with Uncle TyTy while he worked in his new workplace:

And finally, the trip home:

Elyse was a bit spoiled the first plane out. 
She even got her own seat!

..and her very own cookies.

Finally, home with Dada.

Time with friends, Shammah!

And a hike with friends: Lacy and Shammah!

...our hike to the lakes (the ten mile hike):

(fussy baby... concerned daddy:)

Yes. Snow. In May.

Our most recent hike:

...with our sleepy tag-a-long.

Go team Thornbury!

The rewarding view: 2500 feet.

...and the only bear we actually encountered was so cute, you could "squeeze her guts out" ;)

And good morning, Salmon Yumminess!!!!

We started Father's Day morning off with some FRESHly caught (from last year...) smoked salmon bagels with capers and cream cheese.

And our pup is enjoying all the table scraps, that's for sure.
Even made himself a home under the table for the occasional "opps".

Many more pictures and events to come soon

(hopefully I will be using my nice camera in later posts. Thanks for putting up with the Iphone for now)