31 December 2013

Alaska Happenings: September-December

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Hello friends! Due to pregnancy, school, and sheer laziness, I have not blogged many happenings these last few months in Alaska. So, in the spirit of closing out this year before we ring in the new one, this post is going to be a quick recap. Basically, Hubs' last few months can be summarized as work and football, and mine can be summarized as school and baby-growing.

Football Season
Hubs loves saying we haven't done many "Alaskan" things because I'm pregnant. While that may have been true for the first month or so, the reality is that we haven't done many "Alaskan" things because of football. After we got the keys and our property shipment back in September, we spent most of our time lounging. Hubs had time off work, and we needed the rest after the long drive and a ton of new changes. We went from no cable for the first three years of marriage to getting cable "because it's football season". Needless to say, our weekends have been spent in our living room. Hubs loves all things football, especially his fantasy league, and has felt deprived for the last few falls in pre-deployment training (2010), Iraq (2011), and phase one of EOD school at Ft Lee (2012). So, this year, he has done his darnedest to overcompensate. I would say it was a complete success. In fact, all of Hubs dedication paid off (literally) when he won the Heaston Bowl- first place in his fantasy league. However, I would also say that I've been counting down the days til February 2nd and that us getting cable next fall is going to be an almost impossible sell. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy football. I just don't enjoy competing with it.

A few weeks after we arrived here, the FRG had a company cookout. The FRG (Family Readiness Group) serves service members and their families in many things from group gatherings and meal chains to being the key communication resource during deployments between the company and the spouses. Most military units have an FRG and is internally run by the spouses in conjunction with company leaders. This particular company's FRG had been almost inactive until about a month or so before we arrived. Another wife fairly new to Alaska has a great deal of experience in setting up and running FRGs, so she has resolved to establish a cohesive and effective group. The cookout was the first group event when we voted in volunteering spouses to leadership roles. We met maybe most of the families that day, and some of the wives asked me to go consignment sale shopping for our new addition the next day. We have attended a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with FRG, and I'm excited to stay involved. The few friends I have here are wives I've met through the monthly FRG events and I'm glad to have the group!

Kodiak, AK
One of the jobs of an EOD unit is to be on call for any potential ordinance threat within a specific radius to their location. In October, Hubs, one of his team members, and two other team leaders went on a call to Kodiak, AK. The coast guard base there is referenced in the movie, The Guardian. Here is Hubs' account:
"I flew with three other techs to Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak on Kodiak Island, AK. It is about 250 miles south of Anchorage. The Coast Guard official took us to some marine markers they were holding which they found washed up on the beach. We took them to a remote location on the island and disposed of them by detonation. Then he drove us back to the airplane and we came home. Kevin Costner was not seen."
Basically, it was a super fun mission to go blow something up. Not only that, but they got to experience  a flight over southern Alaska on a beautiful, clear, fall day. Here are the pics.

Hubs brought Jessie this rare treat that he found along the path they took in Kodiak. The treat disappeared short after.

Jessie's First Romps in the Snow
Our first hike after the first small snow.

A Fake-out Marriage Retreat
Hubs had signed us up for a battalion wide Strong Bonds Marriage Retreat at Alyeska Ski Resort. It was an all-expenses paid weekend getaway and we were so excited! We had called the week before to set up Jessie's stay at a Pet Smart on the way. Well, when we got to the Pet Smart, they informed us that we did not have the correct records for her shots. Being the thorough dog-mom that I am, I knew she was up-to-date. We drove almost 45 minutes back to our house to get every receipt and vet record from her entire year of life before driving to the nearest Pet Smart- about 10 minutes from our house- to ask if we had the adequate information before heading out again. Surely, if we can get her into Canada and back into America, we have what she needs to stay at a Pet Smart. Apparently, to be boarded, Jessie needed to have a shot that is not given at the vet without specifically asking for it. Hubs called to say we weren't coming. We concluded that there was some protection over us or Jessie that day. So, we ordered Mexican food to go and got home to find we had no heat in the house. Here is the documentation of that weekend:

Jessie's Obesity Scare
I took Jessie to the vet for shots and her annual heart worm test. What we thought was a little ten or eleven pounder clocked in at over sixteen! The vet told us to cut back on her food, so we stopped free feeding and put her bowl out twice a day. It's not much different really. We realized, it's not that she ate a ton, but more that she is so much less active since we moved here. She sleeps all the time. That makes two of us. Other than the embarrassing scale situation, Jessie was a great patient. The little weirdo wagged her tail each time she got a shot.

This is our fourth married Christmas and our second Christmas tree.

Our first Christmas was spent in Nashville with family. We had our wedding reception and the wonderful surprise of Hubs' dad getting leave (army talk for vacation) to come home for Christmas from deployment. We spent the last part of our visit in Gatlinburg with Hubs' parents.

Our second Christmas was right after Hubs returned from his deployment. A few weeks before he came home, he made the call that we wouldn't make the trip to Nashville for Christmas. He only had about a week off at Christmas, but was given a longer leave the end of that January. He decided our time would be better spent at the second, longer leave time. Being on patrol for the previous 6 months made him weary of an 11 hour drive both ways, and difficult circumstances on deployment had him needing time and rest before having to accommodate certain conversation and interaction. Our times in Nashville are jam packed and full of family. It is so wonderful, we love being 'home', but it can be exhausting, and he wasn't ready. I was so proud of him for making that difficult decision, especially with the backlash that came with it. At first I was sad we weren't making the trip, but then seeing him grow and get stronger each day of that short break was all the evidence I needed to know he made the right call. He slept and ate and watched TV. I watched him get color back in his cheeks, a smile back on his face, and the energy back that was sucked dry. Like watching a flower bloom. We picked out our first Christmas tree at our first house, and we'll never forget it. We had a wonderful trip to Nashville just a few weeks later and stopped on the way back for a sweet post-deployment honeymoon in Gatlinburg.

Our third Christmas, we were back in Nashville with family. It included another Gatlinburg trip, this time with the Hopkins crew.

This year, we didn't make the trip for many reasons- mainly the money it would take to get plane tickets from Anchorage at the holidays. We stayed here and had a laid-back Christmas. We had our tree right after Thanksgiving. Hubs somehow know how to pick out the best one on the lot.
This year, we decided to decorate our fir for our gender reveal- see it here!

Christmas morning, we made cinnamon rolls, gave each other stockings, opened presents from family, and made full use of FaceTime. It was hard to be away and in a weird new place, even though it is a beautiful winter wonderland here. We're getting there though and are so grateful for our relationships that are built on something more than the miles and are proving more long-term than the long-distance.

I think that pretty much catches us up! I'm resolved to post happening updates at least monthly instead of quarterly from here on out. But I can't make any promises…

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