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Updated: 2018-03-06T15:43:22.980-09:00


A new month!


Maybe this time I can get my act together and keep up with this ol' blog of mine!  :-)  I'm sorry for my absence.  If I'm totally honest, it's been a rough several weeks.  The combination of Tim working continuously long hours and Robby being smack dab in the middle of the terrible twos and Charlie  being, well, Charlie has left me exhausted, drained, and with no real desire to do much.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love it here in Alaska and have made some amazing friends.  It's just that sometimes I feel like neglecting the blog (which also means neglecting all of the blogs I follow) keeps me from feeling stressed, like it's one more thing I have to do.  I also feel like the blog world can be a lot of "look what I'm doing, I have it all together", when really, we are all barely holding on most days!  So I end up reading blogs and feeling worse because that mom painted canvases with her five children while they were dressed in their finest clothes, then she roasted the perfect leg of lamb AND her children ate every bite without throwing a single morsel on the floor.  I either want to hand my children over for her to train them or I want to find her three nannies and steal them!  Even though I think I'm doing a good thing by avoiding the blog world, really I find that I'm missing that outlet of sharing with my friends (most of my blog friends are college friends and I LOVE seeing what they are up to in their lives and getting to see their children grow).  So, instead of being hard on myself because I'm not homeschooling my children while running Junior League and making meals for all my neighbors, I'm going to just share my life and what we're doing up here.So with that, here is what we did this past month. The boys and I went to the Alaska State Fair with some friends.  It was a blast! "That's a big punkin, mama!" As much as he loves firetrucks, he was so shy to explore this one.  Dusty came for a visit, so Robby was excited to have him wave to the trash man with him!  :-) I bought my first pair of mint jeans.  I was so excited to find these on super clearance at Target! This video cracks me up!  It's actually just a 1 second clip that Mandy took and I put it back to back to back to back...his voice and the way his little shoulder goes up and down just makes me laugh! I had to get a PSL on the first day it was back.  It was iced, but it was still delicious! Robby did some water coloring.  He didn't quite get the concept of what he was supposed to do, he thought he was supposed to mix all the colors in the paint pallet.  Oh well, he had fun! I went on a wildlife cruise with a friend.  Sadly, since it was one of the last ones of the year, there wasn't much wildlife to see.  But we saw a lot of beautiful scenery. The Sams Club in anchorage moved to a brand new location right outside of the base.  We had to go check it out and watch a movie about Alaska on 70+" TV. We had the first fire in our fireplace.  It was glorious! Shoes were made out of styrofoam... ...and dump trucks were taken in the car. I take WAY too many pictures on our street but every single time I drive down it, the view takes my breath away.  The mountains are actually closer than they appear in the pictures.  You can see a little bit of the termination dust on the peaks (that's what they call the dusting of snow on the mountain tops since it signifies the termination of summer)I made lettuce wraps for dinner for the first time.  They were SO good! Oh, just another picture of a fire.  I'm obsessed, good grief! This picture doesn't do the view justice!  This is just about 5 minutes or so from our house.  I drove the boys out this way because there was road construction so Robby we could watch all the dump trucks and steam rollers.  We ended up getting stuck and what I thought would be a 30 minute thing, ended up being 2 ho[...]

Five On Friday!


This is my first time to join in on the Five on Friday fun!  {one}I am absolutely loving all of the pharmacists Tim works with.  We get together each Thursday night for Taco Thursday.  Each couple takes turns hosting and it is seriously a blast!  Everyone gets along so well, including all the spouses, and we just have a fun time talking, eating, and sometimes playing games.  It's nice to have a group to just hang out.  {two}Yesterday, we went to the grocery store and right before I got out of the car to unload the boys, I looked back and saw them trying to reach each other. They are good about sharing their snacks and things by reaching across the middle seat but this time they were just trying to hold hands.  It was so precious!  When they finally got a hold of each other's hand, they both giggled.  I love little moments like that between my boys.{three}Speaking of little moments, Robby has started taking it upon himself to give Charlie little lessons on the proper way to do things.  It's hilarious to hear from another room, "No, Charlie, we don't open that door" or "Charlie, be gentle with that".  Last week, they were hanging out at the bottom of the stairs and Charlie was asking for Daddy.  Robby said, "Daddy's at work, Charlie, he's not here.  He is working with pills."  It's just cute to hear him explain things in his tiny voice.  And it's also cute to watch Charlie looking at Robby with his big blue eyes listening so intently.  {four}Charlie is getting really good at communicating what he wants.  He's pretty clear, but generally sticking with one word at a time (except for "thank you" and "bye-bye").  He will also repeat what Robby says, same inflection and tone, but in gibberish, but he hasn't actually started saying sentences.  This morning, Tim was getting ready in the bathroom and Charlie went in saying "Hi, Daddy!  Hi, Daddy!  Hi, Daddy!"  I got so excited because it was his first sentence!  A small one, yes, but it's a start.{five}I'm thinking about making a weekly beauty post.  Either covering one of my favorite products or a particular look I like.  What do you think?  I'm going to try to be more organized with my blogging so I will be more consistent. [...]

Major catch up time!


We have been really busy since we got here and blogging hasn't really been on my mind!  Getting out and exploring has been our number one priority while the weather has been nice.  We were told that the entire month of September is rainy and it's looking like most of August is like that as well.  Here is a quick rundown of what we've been doing!We went on a hike at Lake Eklutna.We went to Seward to check out the aquarium.We made new friends.We went to Mirror Lake.We had a visit from Aunt Mandy.We went to Robby's first movie in a theater.We went to the zoo.We visited a reindeer farm.We celebrated Tim's 29th birthday.It is so beautiful up here!  I'm ready to stay here forever but Tim told me I need to make it through a winter first before I start scheming ways for us to stay![...]

Day 15 of the Great Adventure: Tok to Eagle River


This was it, our final day.  We would finally make it to Anchorage (well, Eagle River, same municipality) and begin this new chapter in our lives we had been anticipating since February.  It would finally be real, because to this point it still felt like a vacation rather than a move.  But before I go on, I must make a confession about the brevity of the post.  Randi and I were unimpressed with Alaska.  There, I said it.  British Columbia and the Yukon had been so truly beautiful and grand that Alaska just didn't measure up on day one.  The drive to Tok was actually kind of ugly.  It was basically a lot of 'evergreen swampland' and not the grand views and sights we expected.  What we failed to realize was that we would begin to see those sights on this part of the drive and everyday since arriving at our new home, but we were kind of jaded and really didn't take many pictures of this day's drive.  With that said, this part of the drive was really pretty, we saw a giant bull moose along the way (no pictures), and the beauty of the state really began to unfold.  We just didn't take very many pictures of it for whatever reason - honestly, most of it would not have photographed well from the car and we didn't feel like stopping much, we just wanted to get to our house and clean our the cesspool of a car we were riding in.So, with consciences clean, we embark on our final day.  Last day, Brutus.  Let's do this.First, we shall fill up.  See?  Much cheaper than Canada, still pricey, but easy to swallow after that past few days.  Also, what is that option in the middle??  88.5?  I couldn't help but snap a picture, I had never seen such shenanigans at a gas pump.  We opted for 87.Not sure what was happening here, but ay-ay, Robby.Our first view south, things are looking up.  Still 55 MPH speed limit though : ( This picture and most of the rest in this post are our poor attempts to photograph Mount Sanford.  From Wikipedia - Mount Sanford is a shield volcano in the Wrangell Volcanic Field, in eastern Alaska near the Copper River. It is the third highest volcano in the United States behind Mount Bona and Mount Blackburn. - Pretty cool, huh?  Anyway, as one might expect, our pictures turned out poorly.  Enjoy!This is the Matanuska River - The Matanuska River is a river, approximately 75 miles long, in Southcentral Alaska. It drains a broad valley south of the Alaska Range known as the Matanuska Valley - We took some pictures of it as well. While the drive was pretty, it was slow going, windy, and on narrow roads with some large drop-offs to the side.  This pretty well did away with my "I'm not texting I'm taking pictures of things" method of photography and Randi was trying to pacify the children who, we believe, had had enough of being in the car.  We finally made it to Palmer, about 35 minutes North of our destination, changed some diapers and grabbed drive through food (Robby had not yet figured out there are not "Chicken Lays" (Chick fil a) up here and was asking for some *tear*) and jumped right back on the road.  We wanted to enjoy the beauty of the rivers and mountains more, but at this point, we just wanted to get there.  We figured we'd have three years to enjoy our surroundings. I apologize if this is anti-climactic, but other than the joy/relief of finally arriving at our new house (rental - if you're wondering) it WAS kind of anti-climactic.  Still, we were so happy to have made it.  The boys immediately loved that it had stairs and that there was a play room for their toys to be strewn across.  We unloaded our stuff, gave Brutus a rinse at a car wash, made a run to Target, and settled in for the night.  Since that moment, this house has felt like HOME.  We love it here and would make the decision to come here a million times over if we could.  We bo[...]

Day 14 of the Great Adventure: Whitehorse to Tok


Alright folks, we're back.  The past couple weekends have taken us exploring all over this beautiful land.  But it's Sunday night and in an effort to stave off bedtime and the inevitability of Monday morning, I bring you an entry from our journey.  Today we would finish the Canadian leg of the trip and enter into Alaska.  Very exciting for us, though we loved Canada so it was just a tiny bit sad.We're going to 'Alaka' so we had plenty to smile about (or make horrid faces in the kid's case).   If you're still following along on your maps (Google Maps is the best, true that. Double true!) you'll notice that Whitehorse to Tok is not exactly a straight line, as has been the case this whole trip.  We would make it south-ish to Haines Junction, then turn north for the eventual border crossing.  In any case, we were in for some great views and memories. These two pictures are a good summation of what we looked at between Whitehorse and Haines Junction:  tree-lined highway and snow-capped mountains.  Haines Junction is aptly named.  This is where, if you take the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Bellingham, WA to Haines, AK you will necessarily drive to in order to either go to Whitehorse and the rest of Canada or to get back to Alaska (since you go from WA to AK but have to drive through Canada to get to the 'mainland' of AK).  It is a very small town but has some nice little eateries.  We stopped at the Village Bakery for restrooms and food.  I got some sort of baked cheesy pastry with a Bison sausage in it.  I should have grabbed a few more. mm mm.  Tempting as it was to continue straight, we turned right. The views The ride, going strong Coming up on the largest lake in the Yukon, Kluane Lake (kloo-AHN-ee). There she is, full of trout, pike, and grayling says the Milepost The lake was beautiful and really really big.  It took quite a while to drive around it.  But we needed a potty stop and I had been waiting the entire trip to stop at the next "town".  I had heard of the legend of this place and how the roads beyond it deteriorate into an unpaved mess of holes and dips.  This is where things would get rough and tumble and I would earn my stripes as an expeditionary explorer extraordinaire (you get the picture). Destruction Bay, YT, population 55.  The famed Talbot Arm Motel offering full services from fuel, restrooms, food, lodging, restaurant, and the ability to call for emergency services.  We stopped and emptied our tanks but resisted the urge to fill up the 4Runner.  We had more than enough gas to make it to Tok and I figured even expensive Alaska gas had to be cheaper than the nearly $6/gallon rate we faced here.  So we picked up some chips for the kids (as had become a daily ritual) and moved on. The Destruction Bay Lodge, aka, the other building in town.  So, real talk, the road really did cease to be paved immediately after town.  However, that only lasted for a few miles and we had decent pavement for most of the rest of the way through the Yukon.  The horror stories I had been told were from folks who traveled this stretch after the previous couple winters which were some of the worst on record.  This past winter was relatively mild so the roads didn't suffer quite to badly. A couple shots of the White River.  I made a point to stop and take these pictures because I had 'found' this river and another like it on google maps while planning the trip and promised myself I would stop and take in the grandeur of them.  Well, the first one was a lot prettier but everyone was asleep so I didn't want to stop and wake them.  Speaking of everyone was asleep.  I got bored and started to throw caution to the wind.  The speed limit out here was around 90 km/h or like 50 MPH.  NO WAY.  Wide open roads and zero poli[...]

Day 13 of the Great Adventure: Dease Lake to Whitehorse


When we last spoke, I was complaining about the heat and mosquitos in our hotel room.  Well, morning came (after I had fallen back asleep from the mosquito bites at 4am) and the room had cooled, though it was still quite a bit warmer than outside, and the mosquitos weren't quite as vicious (they were all over our room though).  Still, we got to look out to a beautiful sunrise to begin our day.The sunrise in question.We were not in a huge rush to get out of town in the morning... because the gas station didn't open until 9 o'clock.  No really, it was Sunday.  So we let the boys play for a while while I loaded the car.Family picture, still smiling.  Today we had the excitement of entering the Yukon Territory as motivation.  The boys with their daily 'treasures' from Lala.Good news!  The gas station is open.  Bad news! This is the middle of nowhere Canada and gas was $1.59/L or somewhere around $6.36 a gallon.  At least that was $114 Canadian so we made out like bandits in US dollars ($112).  That's ok though, we would only need one more tank in Canada and this was the most expensive gas we encountered. Made a left out of the gas station and headed north to the Yukon!But then we stopped about 20 miles later to throw out some diapers.  The bright side was that we actually got to see Dease Lake itself for a few minutes.The fairest damsel in the land... with a bag full of trash.  Fun times!Not too long after we got back on the road we encountered a patch of unpaved road.  It lasted a couple of kilometers and then returned to pavement.  We then happened upon a bridge and, again, it had water under it.See?Fun, windy roads (reminder: that's 60 Km/h) leading to beautiful views.This day we were not in a hurry.  If there was a photo op like this, we pulled over and took it.The boys were chugging along in good spirits, mommy's iPad contributed to this in no small way.We didn't get a ton of pictures along the rest of the Cassiar highway, but we did get a drive-by shot of the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store. Fun fact, the Cassiar Mountain Range is home to around 90% of the jade in the world.  We didn't stop, I only buy jade on the black market from China.  Can it be??Yes!  We've made it, and Robby and I can finally adopt our recently given names.  A fellow from work back at Randolph told me that after we left he would ensure that my legacy grew to legendary proportions.  He said he would tell tales of "Yukon Tim" and other fanciful tales.  So I took this home and told Robby that he would be "Yukon Robby" soon which he liked very much.  Once we made it to the border I informed him that we had made it to the Yukon and soon we were a whole Yukon family: Yukon Daddy, Yukon Mommy, Yukon Robby, Yukon Charlie, and Yukon Annie.  He made sure not to leave anyone out.We only stopped for tourist pictures this once.  If you check the map from where 37 intersects with the Alaska Highway, you will see that it crosses back into BC and then back into the Yukon for good.  This seems like unnecessary mileage to cover, but these dang mountains keep getting in the way of a perfectly good straight road.This sign is a good indicator that you have reached the end of the Cassiar Highway.  Mainly because there isn't any more road on the other side of it.  Also, because the only options are for the Alaska Highway (which is a good thing when you're heading to Alaska).  Clearly we had a decision to make, but first we decided to top off the gas tank and empty our bladders.So we turned into the only gas station/place of business at this junction.  Seeing as I had geeked out over the "North to Alaska" sign back in Kitwanga, I though this sign was equally cool and worth photographing.  It may seem weird to go south to get to Alaska from here, but Alaska has it's 'lower arm' (not an officia[...]

Calm Afternoons


The past several days have been glorious!  It's been sunny and in the 70s. While we have had errands or other things going on in the mornings, after naptime we have made sure to spend time relaxing and playing outside on our front porch. We don't really have much of a yard or patio, so that's why we like to play out front. That and the amazing views!  :-) I turn on Pandora, let the boys play and I just sit back and breathe.Watching the neighbor boy mowing the yard. They were thoroughly entertained!Annie was hot, tied to the porch post and getting bitten by mosquitos. Poor girl can't catch a break. #prayforannie[...]

A New Moms Club


While in San Antonio, I was a part of the MOMS Club of Schertz.  I met some wonderful, fun women in the club and it was really hard to leave them.  Before moving up here, I checked out the MOMS Club site (it is an international club, so check and see if there is one in your area!  It has been an amazing support system for me as a new mom!) and found the Eagle River chapter.  The second day we were here, I sent an email and got the information about some meetings I could attend to get to know everyone.  I was supposed to go to a playdate on Tuesday but it didn't work out, so I went today.  We met at a park here in town and I got to meet some great ladies.  I'm looking forward to doing all kinds of fun things with them and getting to know them better.  The boys didn't socialize a ton, they just kind of went off and did their own thing.  But I had fun!  And, honestly, the MOMS Club is about the moms!  The boys loved sliding, playing with rocks and rolling in the sand volleyball court.  :-)Rocks!  My precious!Whose big hair is that?  Good grief, get out of the picture! ;-)What?  It doesn't go in my mouth?!Busy boy![...]

What I'm Loving Now: Part 2


Several months ago, I blogged about some of my favorite things and I think it's time for a follow up.  I'm still loving the things I posted except one and am going to tell you about its replacement. Dr Jart+ BB Cream-This bb cream is unlike others that I've tried.  It's not greasy or really dewy, it just provides great coverage and reduces the redness I have around my nose really well.  I don't use a primer under it or powder on top of it.  It sets perfectly and lasts all day!  I apply it with this brush in order to get it all blended well.  The brush also helps me to not use much cream for each application because it's not absorbing into a sponge or a my fingertips.  If you have a Sephora near you, go and have them apply this bb cream on you with this brush and you'll see why I love it!Benefit's Fake Up-I had seen and read about Fake Up for a while but hadn't actually used any because I wasn't convinced it was better than the Maybelline Highlighting Concealer that I was using.  Well, when I was visiting my friend Kasie before we moved, she mentioned she was using Fake Up and loved it.  That was enough for me and I hightailed it to Sephora when I got home to try it out.  I went with the lightest color instead of the color that matched my skin so that it would work as a highlighter as well as a concealer.  I apply it in a triangle under my eyes and tap until it is blended.  If you notice it is too cakey, try not putting any foundation/bb cream in the area where you are applying the Fake Up that way you aren't layering them.  Urban Decay Lip Junkie in Naked-I love this lip gloss so much, I have gifted it to several people.  I love the color - it's not too pink, it's not too neutral, it's just the right shade.  Goldilocks would love it.  Also, the gloss isn't sticky and it lasts for quite a while.  I have two tubes, one in my bag and one in the car so I am never without it!  Lancome Hypnose Star Mascara-This is the last makeup product, I promise!  I got this mascara as a sample and I love it.  The brush is tall and fluffy if you hold it one way, then adjust it differently and it is short and skinny.  That way you can target different parts of your lashes with a quick roll of your fingers.  I only apply one coat and my lashes looks super long and full.  Once I'm done with this sample, I plan to get the full size.  I also really like Benefit's They're Real but the Lancome mascara wins tonight because of the brush!Arbonne RE9 Facial Cleanser-Recently, I started noticing lines on my forehead that weren't going away.  They are always staring back at me when I look in the mirror.  So I decided now was the time to put away my Clean and Clear and get some grown up skincare!  I love the RE9 line from Arbonne but my favorite product is the cleanser.  I use just a little bit and it gets rid of all my makeup (including mascara) with barely any scrubbing.  It's amazing!  I also love the Renewal Masque.  It makes my face so smooth and bright (after the redness and tingling goes away!)Hulu Plus-Since cable is ridiculously expensive up here, we have decided to just go with the trusty rabbit ears.  That's fine for my morning news and watching Ellen in the afternoon but then we are left with not many options for evening TV.  We have pretty much exhausted all of the TV series on Netflix, so I signed up for Hulu Plus.  LOVE it!  I have already watched several seasons of shows and I like that I can be caught up with various shows that are airing now instead of having to wait for 6 months before the episodes show up!Oregon Cafe Chai Latte Concentrate-I'm not a coffee drinker.  I can't even stand the smell of it.  I know, I'm[...]

Fun at the Playground!


When we first talked to the people who own the house we are renting, they told us about a school just down a little path two doors down with a great playground.  I've been busy unpacking and setting up the house but this afternoon after nap time I decided we would go down and check it out.  A bonus was that Tim got off early from work and met us down there about 30 minutes after we got there. I decided to let the boys walk instead of putting them in the double stroller.  They loved it! What you see in this picture is about all of the trail.  It's not long at all and then you're in the school parking lot.   Big boys with their juice boxes!The beautiful mountains as the playground's backdrop! Cheeeeeese! How Charlie likes to slide... And how Robby likes to slide. "What's that mommy?" (They were clouds) Charlie LOVED the swing! Robby hated them.But we found a happy medium and Robby pushed Charlie.Slides!Getting up there with a little help from daddy.KaiKai enjoyed the slide, too!Too busy drinking to smile.Daddy's turn to push!We are going to LOVE having this park just down the street.  It's an easy walk for the boys but I can also load them up in the stroller and go for some runs on the trails all around the school.  We can't wait to explore more of our little town of Eagle River![...]

Day 12 of the Great Adventure: Smithers to Dease Lake


Awake and ready to go!  Family shot for the day shows us still smiling.  How could we not be?  We're in the middle (literally/geographically) of Beautiful British Columbia!  Seriously, it's beautiful, green, mountains everywhere, rivers and creeks full of water (this is a big deal to a Texan, our rivers and creeks tend to lack the wet stuff).  By this point in the trip, I'm loving Canada and trying to fully embrace it.  I (Tim) grew up playing hockey, watching movies like Strange Brew, Canadian Bacon, and CBC's Hockey Night in Canada with Don Cherry (not a movie, it was actual hockey games).  It took some convincing of people in high school that I, in fact, was not Canadian (mostly in jest, but still).  All this having been said, I had to get donuts and coffee from Tim Hortons.  I had to, it's the Canadian Dunkin Donuts.  I don't know for sure, but Canada probably runs on Hortons.  Mission accomplished.  We acquired a half-dozen assorted delicacies and a couple of chai teas (I chickened out on coffee, I was uncertain of the facilities down the road, and coffee has predictable results).  The donuts were good but... different, I will stick with Shipley's.  Of course we don't have those in Alaska, so I'll probably just lay off the donuts for a while.  Randi doesn't eat donuts anymore as they are essentially 'gluten-Os'.Robby says, "YUMMY DONUTS!" (He didn't really say that)Charlie is a big fan of sprinkles we all discovered.  He nearly ate his body weight in donuts."Thank you for your prayers"Spoiler ya'll, Annie made it.  The whole way.Some of you might be wondering why there are so many pictures of 'Brutus' on this trip.  Well, a couple months before the trip I joined the forums for advice on all things 4Runner.  In return for advice and well wishes I promised pictures and narration of the trip.  I have failed miserably so far to post said pictures and narration, but I'll get to that later.  So this picture was taken at the Petro Canada station at the junction of highways 16 (Yellowhead Hwy) and 37 (Cassiar Hwy).  Hwy 16 continues west to Prince Rupert, BC on the coast while 37 heads north to the Yukon to the Alaska Hwy.  By the way, I'm a huge geography geek and this trip fed that geekiness quite a lot.  As such, I would urge the reader to open google maps (in a separate tab or window please) and check out some of these routes.  You really don't appreciate the scope of the drive and the expanse of Canada until you do, and you really don't quite get it until you do the drive in person.  It's huge, like mind-bottling huge (please see the movie Blade of Glory for reference on mind-bottling) and beautiful the entire way.Enough of that, NORTH TO ALASKA.  This was actually in the parking lot of the Petro Canada station.  It was about now that things started to get really really rural.  We were heading to Dease Lake, the largest town left in BC on this route and it has a population of 303.  While stretching our legs we met a nice older couple from Iowa who were pulling a BIG travel trailer and vacationing around Canada.  Randi and the wife chatted about family and nice things, the husband and I talked about how sucky the roads were.   That bridge was immediately after the right turn out of the parking lot on the Hwy 37 side of the parking lot, onward north!Our view as soon as we crossed the bridge, a preview of things to come.  Also, as is the case with all of the roads around these parts and north, there are two main seasons of road conditions:  covered with snow and under construction.  Our trip, thankfully, took place during the latter phase.  Shortly after this pict[...]

Day 11 of the Great Adventure: Kamloops to Smithers


Day 11... Randi had originally written a brilliant and hilarious post for this day but the spotty wifi at our hotel Smithers, BC managed to not save the draft.  So now you get my version of things, I don't write with as many exclamation points and I was largely focused on driving, so I hope you'll enjoy in spite of all this.  If you check the map, this was our longest distance after the lower 48.  We had intended to go from Kamloops to Prince George for the night and then to Smithers, but we could not find a vacancy there so we combined two days into one and would arrive in Alaska a day early. This was the bus that parked us in for a little while Friday morning, it was full of filthy tourists from other countries, the nerve.  Thankfully, I had made friends with the bus driver, who was awesomely  Canadian (we made it, eh?),  and he moved the bus when we were ready to leave.  As we left for an 891 kilometer day, we needed caffeinated sustenance, so we stopped at Starbucks, eh.  Well, chai tastes different in Kamloops, but we soldiered on (#firstworldproblems).    The boys got their treasures from Lala for the day (Charlie seemed particularly fascinated with his bag) and we hit the road.A view of Kamloops, neither of us are particularly gifted photogs so we'll spare you 20 pictures that all look vaguely like trees and houses, but Kamloops really was a pretty place.  Like most of BC it has a river running through it and plenty of greenery.I'm going to let you focus on this picture for a moment.  This picture was perhaps our favorite moment of the trip.  Randi had a mishap with her contact cleaner thingy the night before so she spent the day in glasses.  Randi can't see in her glasses.  Like, she can make out shapes and colors, but she can't really see.  You'll notice the furrowed brow, the pursed lips, the pure effort to see... anything.  This occurred at the Husky gas station on the way out of town.  It was our first fill up in Canada and we were feeling the pain of $1.33/L (roughly $5.32/gallon) so Randi thought she would snap a picture to document this financial travesty.  The thing is, we had just taken the daily 'family selfie' and she hadn't switched the camera back to the rear camera.  In her hurried rush to snap the picture, she managed to not realize that the front-facing camera was on and snapped this gem for our mutual laughter.  It took us a few minutes to stop laughing before we could safely depart.The intended target of the unintentional selfie.  This was the cheapest gas we saw in the Canadian portion of our trip.Family selfie, ready to roll. Kamloops Lake, gorgeous, full of water.We found the Jet Puff Marshmallow farm!That was one tasty Ritz cracker (no racist undertones intended).The above picture and many to follow are more of Kamloops Lake and the beautiful landscape surrounding it.  This type of scenery was pretty common throughout British Columbia.  It really is a beautiful place.There was a scenic lookout point from which we took many pictures that looked pretty much identical.  Hopefully there is not too much repetition above."It's a long train, mommy!"There are no words... I don't know.Those Old Dutch Popcorn Twists are basically buttery salty Kix consistency corn snacks, and they are delicious.  We bought several bags on our journey and they rarely lasted more than about 30 minutes after being opened.  The Diet Coke tasted the same, but one side of the label was in French.  This was mildly disappointing as we had hoped there was a Canadian analog to Mexican Coke Lite.  It's the same as 'American' Diet Coke.After a rather long, tiring, thoug[...]

Day 10 of the Great Adventure: Seattle to Kamloops


We were relieved that our first day on the road after a 3 day break was a short one - only about 6 hours!  We left Willy and Darlene's house around 9:30 and got out of town around 10.  Washington is so beautiful!  The weather was wonderful the entire time we were there and today it was rainy.  We stopped to get gas in the car, fill up our gas cans with "cheap" gas, and change diapers before we crossed the border.  The boys had fun in the front for a few minutes.Our last picture before we crossed.  We both felt SO weird.  I cannot tell you how it felt to know we were really about to start the journey to our new home.  Several people have asked me after the packers took our things if it felt real or after we drove away from our home if it felt real.  It did not feel real until that moment.  Here is the little road on the way to the border.  I am loving all the tree lined roads!It took us a little under 2 hours to get to the Canadian border and we were there for about 45 minutes.  Tim was told at his base that all he needed to get through the Canadian border patrol were his orders and his ID.  Well, that was not the case.  Thankfully we had his birth certificate and his expired passport with us.  The boys and I all had special passports to cross.  Some of the ammo we had in the car had to be surrendered because hollow point is illegal in Canada.  But other than that, it was a pretty smooth crossing. Once we crossed and got out of the first little town, we were blown away by the beauty of all that was around us.  We saw numerous waterfalls.  I think I squealed every time I saw one!  Absolutely breathtaking.  All the little white lines you see in these pictures are waterfalls.  The mountains were gorgeous.  So majestic. These pictures don't even begin to do it justice.  Like I said, it was raining and these are just pictures from our phones.  The fog was crazy once we got to the top of the mountain.  We really couldn't see very far in front of us and I could only see slight darkness where the trees were. Naptime.  The best time. This is when we first drove into Kamloops. Apparently Kamloops is the "Tournament Capital of Canada".  Whatever that means! Once we got settled into our hotel, we got out and walked around for a bit then found a place to eat.  It was so nice to get into town around 4 instead of around 7.  The boys had just woken up from their naps and were happy to be out and doing things.  The boys' meal came in a pirate ship.  Really cool and probably the main reason that Robby ate well! When we got back to the hotel, we took the boys swimming.  Well, Tim did.  I forgot a crucial part of my swimsuit...the I just put my feet in the water and hung out with Robby near the stairs since once around the pool with daddy was enough for him.  Charlie is our little fearless fish though!  He loved every minute of it! The pool was heated but once the boys started shivering profusely, we decided to move them over to the hot tub!Tomorrow is a really long day, but we are looking forward to more of this beautiful country!  In case you follow either of us on facebook or instagram, we don't have an international plan on our phones so we are only updating when we have wifi.  We are hoping to find a starbucks about midway so we can touch base with our families, then again when we get to the hotel. [...]

Days 7-9 of the Great Adventure: Fun in Seattle


Due to inability to find any hotels available in Oregon because of graduation weekend, we decided to go all the way to Tim's brother and sister-in-law's house in a long 12 hour day.  Willy and Darlene live in Issaquah, just outside of Seattle.  They hadn't met Charlie yet and hadn't seen Robby since October.  We were so glad to get there and relax for 3 days!  Ethan and Lizzie loved playing with the boys and were so good with them!  Their house is on an acre of mountainside that is backed up to a national forest.  It was such a beautiful place to rest and relax.  The boys loved playing outside and exploring.They have a rhodesian ridgeback named Ty.  When he and Annie were near each other he just looked like an xxl version of her!And here are way more pictures of them playing outside than anyone wants to see!  :-) Having a stick sword fight with Ethan! Riding your bike while holding your trains is really hard! Charlie loved collecting and playing with all the sticks! Sweet train loving boy! Ethan and Charlie had quite a few stick wars!Finally handing the trains over to Lizzie's bike basket. Trying on daddy's hat for size!I was so proud of Robby for riding his bike down their driveway.  It was kind of steep and he just laughed the whole way down!  "Jumpy jumpy jumpy!"There's no doubt about it, Daddy is Charlie's favorite!Ethan and Lizzie's last day of school was Tuesday, so we waited for them to get off the school bus!Isn't their bus stop so adorable?!Some playtime after baths!They have two birds.  Annie tried to attack them the entire time and Charlie loved them!  Here he is feeding one.Willy and Darlene insisted we take a date night while we were there.  Well, insisted might not be the right word.  They just mentioned the idea and we jumped on it!  We were ready for a break!  Willy told Tim we needed to go see the waterfall in Snoqualmie.  It was beautiful! After that we had dinner at Ivar's Salmon House.  No lie, that was the best meal I have ever had in my life!  I love seafood and it was incredible!  If you are ever in Seattle, you must go there! The last day we were there, we needed to run some errands, but first, a stop at Top Pot for donuts!We needed to go to Ikea for more train tracks, among other things.  Robby loved the little carts and Ethan did a great job keeping an eye on him!Charlie was so interested in the washing machine.  Willy decided to put him to work and he loved it!Here is there backyard.  It truly is beautiful! The morning we left, the boys raided the pretzels in the snack cabinet! We tried to get a good picture of the cousins together right before we headed out.  This is what I got instead... We had such a wonderful time!  Thank you, Willy and Darlene, for having us![...]

Day 6 of the Great Adventure: Redding to Seattle


We knew this day was going to be long, but we didn't realize it was going to start out with such excitement!  We started out early and got going.  About an hour into the drive, Robby started screaming.  I knew what that scream meant.  I tried to calm him down in hopes of stopping what was about to happen but it didn't work.  He threw up.  Everywhere.  In the middle of no where.  In the mountains.  We drove a few miles and came upon a tiny gas station where were could clean him and the car. This is my "oh my gosh, throw up everywhere" face, I guess! That box on the back of the car came in quite handy for this! A pretty photo op came of the situation, though. The mountains of northern California were beautiful! Please ignore my reflection in the window and look at the beautiful trees and the lake.  Don't you just love iphone pictures taken on a whim?! Robby loved this bridge!  But then we got stuck in traffic.  Major traffic after being on the road for 10 hours.  It wasn't fun but we kept telling ourselves we were almost there!  Charlie hadn't taken an afternoon nap for some reason so he was quite delirious!  He fell asleep pretty fast after we started going again! Pretzels and ipad!  He's set!We made it to Willy and Darlene's house after 11.5 hours on the road.  We are hoping this is our longest day of the trip![...]

Day 5 of the Great Adventure: Huntington Beach to Redding


It was sad to say "good-bye" to Tim's grandparents.  The boys had such a blast with them and Robby kept asking to go back after we drove away. On the road again after a day off. We had to switch drivers because Tim was just too tired to keep going (just kidding!)! He did think that was the funniest thing, though! We kept ourselves entertained thanks to some trail mix...We decided that we would just grab some dinner then head to the hotel when we got into town. I was tired of fast food so we got Outback to go.  I have never been so happy!  :-)  And the hotel where we stayed had pack n plays for us so we didn't have to unpack them and they had these great bags for the boys' baths.  Townplace rocks! While Tim was out getting gas and ice, Charlie danced in front of the mirror... ...and Robby played with a nightstand that then fell over on him.  I think he learned the lesson not to stand in a drawer again!Annie wanted to get in on bathtime with the boys![...]

Day 4 of the Great Adventure: Huntington Beach


These are only the pictures that I have on my phone.  We have lots on our big camera that I will post in a few days.  We got some great pictures of the boys with their Great Grandparents!  I'm so happy we had this time to make some great memories with them!Robby woke up and immediately wanted to play outside. He was out there ALL morning!  Great grandma came out and played with him for a while and Charlie joined him after a bit.Tim had to get the oil changed in the car so while he was there he met up with a cousin of his that he hadn't see in about 20 years! Once he got back, we went to see some friends from JBU. Tyler owns a screen printing business that is thriving in Costa Mesa. He and his wife, Allison, had their baby girl about 7 months ago. We grabbed some lunch and ate at the shop while we caught up a bit.After naps, we all headed to Tim's aunt and uncle's house in Mission Viejo. Robby and Charlie loved their backyard!  They played in the grass, picked oranges, and ran around the pool. Later on they got in the hot tub. We can already tell that Charlie will be our little swimmer!  After dinner and some chatting, we headed back so the boys could go to bed and we could repack the car. Tim was able to rearrange everything so it all fit better and he could see out of the back more. Now, all that needs to be loaded in the morning is our overnight bag and the pack n plays. So much easier than all the previous nights!  [...]

Day 3 of the Great Adventure: Flagstaff to Huntington Beach


It seems like we just cannot leave at the time we say we are going to leave!  Loading the car takes about twice as long as we think it will and the boys' breakfast takes a while. But the important thing is that we got on the road, right?! The boys enjoyed a little more time on the balcony while Tim loaded up the car.Knowing that tomorrow we get to wake up and not get straight on the road gives us something to look forward to!  The boys did pretty well. My mom sent me little treasures for each day on the road for the boys to open. They are loving the anticipation of treasures from LaLa! Something did not agree with Charlie and he had quite a few diapers that needed changing. The first stop we made, both boys required complete outfit changes and 15 minutes later we had to stop again for Charlie. At the first stop, there was a kind lady that helped me with Robby while I was trying to get Charlie all changed. I couldn't thank her enough!  The upside of our stop 15 minutes later was there was a fire truck in the parking lot that honked and the firemen waved to Robby! We stopped in Barstow for lunch. As soon as Tim got out of the car to get yet two more outfits for the boys, a guy walked up to him with the "very embarrassing" story of leaving his car and wallet in Barstow...yes, we were in Barstow. The guy was extremely high on something and Tim just looked at him and said "This is not a good time."  While I conducted the diaper and clothing changes, Tim walked Annie and gave her water. We partially rolled the windows down and left a bowl of water for Annie while we ran in to eat a quick lunch. When we came back, we had a nice note from a concerned citizen. At least we know Annie is being prayed for!We were happy to exit into Newport Beach and roll the windows down and smell the wonderful ocean air! We went to eat at a SoCal favorite: wahoo's! Tim's grandparents enjoyed the boys and played with them a bit before bed time. Thankfully, we get a break tomorrow and can enjoy this beautiful weather![...]

Day 2 of the Great Adventure: Muleshoe to Flagstaff


This day was a little rough driving-wise. The boys were great but the wind was horrible. With the skybox on top and the hitch mounted storage tray on the back, we felt every single gust of wind. Tim was fighting against constant wind the entire time then there would be random gusts that would nearly run us off the road. The big trucks were having problems and we passed a road construction vehicle that had blown over. BLOWN OVER. It was crazy.As much as we are excited to see the beauty of the mountains in Alaska, we enjoyed the beauty if the flat, rocky terrain and the plateaus. We are realizing that the last 30 minutes to an hour are going to be that witching hour with the boys. Totally makes sense because that's how they are at home that last hour before Tim gets home. So we just turn up the music and car dance until we make it to our stop!  We decided to grab some dinner before we checked into the hotel instead of unpacking then getting out again. The boys were so happy to be out of the car!When we walked out of the restaurant there were some test trucks in the parking lot. They were new 2014 Chevy heavy duty trucks and they had them all wrapped to cover what they looked like.  The men who were testing them were covering them in tarps and locking them down. A security guard was even by them!  That was a pretty fun thing to see. We got checked into our hotel and the boys explored the balcony! We had hoped to get there in enough time to take the boys swimming but that didn't happen.  They were exhausted and went right to sleep after bath time.We were right behind them on the sleep!  It's amazing how tired we can be after sitting all day![...]

Day 1 of the Great Adventure: San Antonio to Muleshoe


I need to post a disclaimer before these trip posts get started: there are going to be way more pictures than most of you want to see and of things most won't really care about but this is to update our family, too, and they love all these minor details!  :-)Today we started out not quite as bright and early as we had planned, but at least we got going, right?  We packed as much as we could last night. In the middle of packing the backseat and the skybox, we went inside then I heard a weird noise. I looked outside and it was POURING down rain. We ran out and closed all the doors and the box. Things only got a little damp but I'm glad we realized it when we did!We got up early and packed up all the last things, like our air mattress and the boys pack n plays. Even though we planned how we were going to pack everything, it took a while to actually get it all in there in a way that allowed Tim to see and for nothing to rattle.Our set-up includes a rear hitchmounted tray that is carrying a large weatherproof box and two gas cans (that are for use in Canada).  The load on the tray has to be evenly distributed so it doesn't cause the car to lean on one side more than the other.  And we also have a Yakima skybox on top of the car.  The things that are in there and in the box on the back we don't need during our travels, we just need them while we were in the house here and once we get to the house in Alaska because we are going to be without all of our things for over a month.  The boys were excited to finally start the "'venture to Alaka"! Tim and I walked through our house one last time. I cried. It was the first time I allowed all the emotions to hit me. Seeing the first home we ever bought completely empty and knowing we would never live there again was pretty hard for me to handle. Thankfully, we are blessed to be renting it to some friends of ours from church. The Lord completely took care of us in the situation. After we stopped to weigh the car (we have an extra 1600 pounds on the car!) we hit the road.The boys did great and took naps at their regular times. We have their white noise sound on my iPad so I just stuck it back there when it was time for a nap and they slept great! We made several stops, including lunch at Wendy's house (everyone has to have a house, according to Robby, so it couldn't just be Wendy's!)We got to Muleshoe around 6 and were greeted by Catie, Gus, and Maddie!  The last time we saw them was in February so we were really excited to stay with them. We realized Monday afternoon that we were overdue for a tire rotation so Tim decided we would get it done once we got to our first stop. The perk was they are 30 minutes from the New Mexico border so he had an extra hour to get it done because of the time difference!  We ate dinner from our favorite panhandle Mexican restaurant that night. We've really missed Leal's!  Tim had one last proper Texas Dr Pepper before we left! After we bathed the boys and put them down, we stayed up until after midnight talking. They are such wonderful friends and I'm glad we could make our trip work out to see them one last time. I can't wait until they come see us in Alaska in a year!  [...]

Charlie is 1!


Yesterday our baby turned 1!  I can't believe we survived this year!  We had his party today with both sets of grandparents.  It was fun and out sweet boy had a blast!  I'm just going to prepare you that this post is really just a bunch of pictures.  I'm too tired to really write much!  :-)Getting ready pictures Opening his present for Uncle Josh and Aunt Catie He loved the bear! Now from Uncle Willy and Aunt Darlene He loves it! A book that makes lots of animal noises from Grandma and Grandpa Sandbox from Grandma and Grandpa, barn toy from mommy and daddy, and musical ride on toy from LaLa and Pa! We tried to get grandparent pictures and this was the only one we got before he started screaming because he wanted down! Tim had to keep the tradition alive Success! Love that sweet face!Clean me, Daddy!He started really walking on his own Thursday, so he wanted to show off his skills after he ate his cake!We had a blast and were so blessed to be able to celebrate our baby boy with our parents!  [...]

Fun at the zoo!


Some of our best friends, Josh and Catie, are visiting us this weekend.  They got here Friday afternoon. Since it was my birthday we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, Mamacitas. Yesterday morning we went to the zoo.  The boys are having a blast together!   Gus and Josh checking out the bears Charlie just hung out in the stroller but he had a great time My big boy and me Robby and Gus watching the ducks Since we told them they had to hold a hand if they got out of their strollers, they decided to hold each other's hand.  So precious! Robby checking out the crocodile The mommies We hardly ever get a picture of all four of us!   He loved the birds! Pretty worn out after a long morning![...]

What I'm loving right now


I always enjoy when bloggers post about things they are using that they love.  When Robby was first born I really loved reading about baby/mommy things people enjoyed (or didn't enjoy - sometimes that's more helpful!).  Then after Charlie was born, I really enjoyed reading about workout tips, calorie counting apps, and over all fitness advice and things people were using to get healthy.  Now, I'm obsessed with beauty things - makeup, hair, clothes - I love it all!  So here are some products I've purchased recently that I love and think you will too!Maybelline Highlighting Concealer-This stuff is amazing!  After you apply your bronzer and blush, just swipe this under your eyes and along your nose (kind of make a triangle with one corner being almost to your tear duct, one corner being your nostril, and one corner being the outer corner of your eye) then blend.  It hides those horrible dark circles I have but it also brightens my face so I instantly look refreshed and alert.  Love this stuff!  The Nude shade is pretty much universally flattering.Urban Decay Naked2 Palette-I am absolutely obsessed with this eye shadow palette.  There are so many combinations of colors you can do to make different looks.  I love to create a smokey eye for the evenings or just a natural look for every day.  I had several gift cards that I used towards this purchase so I didn't have to pay the total out of pocket but I would definitely have paid it all.  It is well worth the money. I got it at the beginning of December and it looks like I haven't even touched it even though I have used it every single day since I used it.  As soon as I got it, I started scouring the internet for tutorials on different looks.  I have about 7 or 8 looks written down and I keep it in my makeup bag so I can follow the steps for looks I know will turn out great.  But sometimes I just make something up as I'm going.  I might have to do a post about the different looks I have.Suddenly Skinny Tank Top-Maybe it's just me, but ever since I had my boys, I wear a tank top under almost everything.  I just feel more pulled in and put together.  I think having the boys so close together, my skin might never be as taut as before.  Also, I didn't get any stretch marks anywhere on my body except for four above each of my hip bones.  So if I'm wearing a shirt, even if though it's long enough to cover everything, and I bend or reach for one of the boys and my shirt comes up on my side, I get really self conscious about them.  Anyway, I had been using just regular cotton tank tops from an outlet store but they were starting to fall apart.  I started the search for some new ones but I couldn't find any that I really liked.  They just didn't fit like my old ones that I loved.  I finally decided to look in the shapewear section at Target and that is where I found the Suddenly Skinny tank top.  It's not super restricting but it holds me in and just looks like a regular tank top.  It also doesn't roll up on the bottom, which is super nice.  The price is really good, too, since it's about what I would have paid for a nice regular tank top.  I will say, this does not make you look 10 pounds lighter and cause you to be 2 sizes smaller, it just smoothes things out a bit.Old Navy Rockstar Skinny Jeans-It took me quite a while to jump on the skinny jean wagon but I[...]

A Trip to the Fire Station!


My Moms Club that I'm a part of had a little field trip to the fire station yesterday. Since a lot of the dads were off work several of them went, so Tim tagged along with us! Robby was do excited to see the fire trucks. He talked about them the entire 25 minute drive, then when we got there he was pretty shy about it all. I got some cute pictures though! Daddy with his boys! Pointing to the fire trucks as the doors were raisingThere they are!Fireman Charlie!Fireman Robby!Charlie really wanted to see what was in there. He would not let go of the window!I love this picture!This was precious because Tim squatted down in the grass and Robby immediately had up squat down, too! :-)Trying out the fire hose! Really, Tim just wanted to try it out and used Robby as an excuse! We had a fun morning! I'm glad Tim got to enjoy it with us![...]