2016 was full. I didn't realize how full it was until I started gathering all the photos for this post; it's been quite a year! It's the first in two years that didn't involve a move, something I loved (a lot). Fairbanks has become home and life up here offers so much. We're minutes away from adventure, we've found our favorite restaurants and shops, the people are awesome, and we've found our community. To put it simply, we love Alaska and we love life.
It seems kind of sad to say that our new year started cold and dark, but it did. There's no lack of things to do in the winter though; I kind of wish life would slow down a bit more in the winter, but instead our calendars stayed full. Almost immediately after the new year started my sister Laura had an art show at a friend's studio. It was fun seeing everyone's reaction to her work, and Viggo had a blast running around and eating all the refreshments.
Rob's St. Barbara's Day ball was in January too, so I got to work on my dress once all the holiday festivities were over. This was the first time I designed my own dress and I loved how it turned out. My friend did my hair and makeup for me and it was fun to be all fancy! Social events are kind of tough for me, but I put up with them so I can dress up. (because how often do you get to do that in the real world??)
Since I can't just toss the kids out the door to go play on the playground in the winter they can start getting a little crazy. So, we love the children's museum for getting the crazy out! It's smaller than most children's museums, but they've packed a lot of fun into the space (and it makes it easy to keep track of four kids running around).
The winter light is so soft and beautiful. And when it hits the snow and ice everything glows. We may not have much light in the winter, but what we do get makes it worth it.
The kids did ice skating lessons all winter and they are getting good! It definitely reinforces the idea that it's easier to learn stuff when you're young; I was on the ice lots too but did not pick up skills anywhere near the rate they do.
Messy little toddler face. I think the first half of the year Viggo watched his brothers wondering what on earth they were doing, then the second half he just threw himself in the mix with them.
In February I said goodbye to a dear friend! Marla and I clicked instantly so it was really hard to see her and her family move on. The four of us ladies had lots of fun in the 9-ish months we had together and our kids all did too. We're so grateful for all the wonderful people we've met during this crazy life, but the sting of saying goodbye never gets easier.
We have our 'Alaska bucket list' and, of course, one of the things at the top is to see a dog sled race. And it happened! We got to watch the start of the Yukon Quest! It runs from Faribanks, AK and Whitehorse, Yukon and the starting location alternates; we got lucky and it started in Fairbanks this year. We stood on the frozen Chena River (I'm not going to lie, I kind of had to take a deep breath before taking a step on there) and got to watch all the teams run by maybe a foot away. Viggo LOVED cheering for all the teams, but the older kids had more fun jumping off a friend's dock into the snow. It was pretty cold so I kept the breath picture in there so you can get an idea just how cold. We didn't stay to see all the competitors since we all started to get a little cold after awhile, but I was impressed how long my kids lasted (especially since they were rolling around in the snow and I'm sure got plenty down their shirts).
Oskar and Viggo got to do a little bit of modeling! It's always kind of funny to see how the fashion industry's always advertising in the wrong season, but when your kids are modeling summer clothes when it's negative temperatures outside it takes it to a whole new level. Also, I actually conditioned Oskar's hair and brushed out all of his tangles for these shoots and I couldn't get over how pretty his hair looked (he's got my hair color too).
Viggo got a haircut! Right about his 18 month birthday, so he got to show it off at his checkup. I was so sad to see the curls go (and may have kept some...) but he loved not having hair hanging in his eyes. Viggo is my easy one to take to the doctor; he loves just checking everything out in the room while we wait for the doctor. He cracked me up later when we were waiting at the lab though; he decided to move out of the chair next to me and park it down the row. I keep telling myself it's because he wanted a better view of the tv instead of him not wanting to be seen with me.
I was on the news! My friend Crystle started a Mom-trepeneurs group here and the local news did a little story on it.
And the highlight of the Cub Scout year: the Pinewood Derby! Max designed an awesome car (the Half Sodeo) and had a blast racing it and cheering for his friends.
I put a little photo studio set up in a corner of my studio and had lots of fun taking pictures of the boys (especially since outside shoots are a little tricky when it's really cold out). I really love this series because I photographed them just as they are; snotty noses, wrinkled shirts, backwards shirts, and lots of attitude.
Viggo got a baby swing to put on the Gorilla Gym for Christmas and it has been a big hit. He's gone to sleep many times swinging in that thing.
More studio shots. These kids are crazy, but I love them anyway.
I squeezed in as much crafting time as possible this year! I made some little moccasins (among other things), and tried my hand at cross stitching people (this is my friend Crystle).
MREs for lunch! A staple for military kids. (the kids have fun trying them, but overall aren't fans)
Some of what Viggo got up to over the winter; lots of naps snuggled up to me or Laura and insisting on going out in the snow no matter how he was dressed.
Yula is still loving the snow. She spends as much time as we let her outside, taking naps on the snow. Makes me wonder how on earth she ever survived life in El Paso.
We got to go ride in a dogsled again! This year we got there earlier so Rob and I could ride too. Another thing knocked off the bucket list!
I've never been attached to my hair and like to change things up. I like my natural hair color so don't have any desire to go the hair dye route, but after seeing a new friend's awesome hair and finding out hers was permed I wanted to try it too. Thankfully I have Audra to rope into my crazy ideas so I took the plunge and got curly hair! It was lots of fun to do, but I don't know that I'll ever do it again because the process is intense. My hair is really thin but there is a lot of it so it took all day. The results were so fun though; it's been awesome to have curly hair! It is still curly nine months later; it's relaxed a lot, but there's still enough curl that I don't need to brush or do anything to my hair (which is AWESOME). I'm guessing at this point it'll just have to grow out to go away completely because it doesn't seem to be getting any straighter (and I'm not complaining).
After church shots of these two knuckleheads.
Our Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet was Star Wars themed this year so you better believe I dressed up! I hope to have a costume for very occasion someday.
What homeschooling looks like most of the time. I've got kids coming out of my ears.
Me and the boys in our Easter duds! Don't let our springtime outfits fool you, there was still snow on the ground.
Just having fun in the arctic; shopping with these cool dudes, and an ER visit to retrieve a bead out of a nose.
And before I knew it it was time for another hard goodbye. Audra left me too, and I miss my skiing/hair/thai food/party buddy. I'm shy and introverted but she brought me out of my shell and made sure I did lots of fun stuff. We took one last visit to Denali on her way out of Alaska and it was the perfect way to say goodbye.
Then Rob took command! It was earlier than we were expecting and both of us were so nervous to take on this huge responsibility (I'm the FRG Leader, so I help with the spouse/family member side of things). We became part of a wonderful unit though, and are so grateful for the wonderful soldiers and their families that are in Charlie Battery with us.
I'm enjoying being able to wear dresses again after so many years of nursing babies!
I'm also trying to get projects that have been on my to do list for forever done. One of those was making new seats for our patio chairs; I love the fun IKEA fabric! (and the cute Viggo)
I'm still in love with indigo dye, and the whole dyeing process in general. One of my favorite indigo pieces is the one above; it took about 2 hours to tie the whole piece of fabric up, but it was worth it to get those results! Any time I pull out the dye buckets this is the sight in the laundry room afterwards. Indigo for days!
Laura entered into another art contest and we had fun going to the opening reception. She didn't win anything this time, but it was fun to see people's reaction to her piece.
And it was spring! We went to shearing day at a local farm and loved seeing all the animals (and buying yarn...) and the boys loved the mud (thank you breakup). Before we moved to Alaska I'd always wanted BOGS (a type of boot) but had nowhere to wear them so never got any. Well up here they're my no. 1 shoe of choice, and the boys all have some too. Makes the mud a piece of cake.
The boys and I took a walk at Creamer's Field once most of the snow was melted. It was pretty brown overall, but we saw lots of little buds forming on all the plants.
Then at the beginning of May we went to HAWAII!
It was an amazing trip. Words can't adequately describe Hawaii; English just falls flat. We felt enveloped in love the whole time we were there; the people are incredible and the island was incredible and we realized one week there was nowhere near sufficient. The trip started off with a historical tour of Ford Island where we learned so much about Pearl Harbor. Our guide Miss Jessie is probably the most knowledgable person about that day so I just soaked it all up. The rest of the time was full of beach visits, fire dancing, beach lounging, amazing food, beautiful vistas, cliff jumpers, visiting the temple, getting family photos done, shaved ice, making friends, more beach time, and soaking everything in. Oh, and taking lots of photos!
Right after we got back from Hawaii (like, the day after) I got my wisdom teeth out. Unfortunately, I didn't say anything funny after waking up so no hysterical videos. I slept a lot and dealt with some migraines afterwards (I had an exposed nerve in one of my sockets) so it took me longer to get back to normal than I was expecting. Thankfully you only have to do it once!
Then Nick turned 6! Birthdays are the best. Nick is the first one of us to have a birthday every year so he kicks off our season of birthdays (we have 1-2 a month from May to September).
We went for a walk with friends at Creamers Field about a month after the last one. It's amazing the difference a month makes here! This time everything was green and lush and beautiful. The one downside to all the though is....
The mosquitoes. We welcomed swelling mosquito bites once more. Joy.
We ended up having a really rainy summer. It got to be a bit of a drag after awhile, but it did mean lots of rainbows! I think we've seen more rainbows in the year and a half we've been up here then the whole rest of my life combined. It's amazing.
I started a garden this year and it was a huge labor of love. Thanks to Rob's field time I ended up building the boxes myself and hauling all the dirt and and everything. The two photos were taken about a month and a half apart; everything got WAY bigger than I was expecting! I followed lots of advice on spacing from gardening books I have, but they were all written by people in the lower 48 so I've learned that Alaska is a bit different. Thanks to the endless sunlight everything gets big fast. And nothing beats harvesting your own vegetables! We didn't get as good as a harvest as we were hoping thanks to the rain (the last half of the summer saw hardly any sun because it was raining so much) so we savored everything we could.
We joined a CSA too so got farm fresh vegetables every week to supplement what we grew ourselves. When I signed up they had an option to add on a flower share so I went for it; in addition to our weekly vegetables we got a beautiful bouquet. I loved having fresh flowers in the house all summer!
Then it was time for one of our favorite summer time activities: the Midnight Sun Festival! Unfortunately it was rainy for it, but we managed to have fun anyway. Our favorite part is the food so we stuffed our faces. And the kids loved these free hats Alaska Airlines was giving out.
On the solstice itself I went on a midnight hike with some friends. It was rainy for this too, but we loved it anyway. We hiked Angel Rocks and it kicked my tail like it always does. All the photos were taken around midnight/1 am so even with the clouds cover it's still pretty bright!
Probably my number 1 bucket list item is to be in the Arctic Circle on the solstice and my birthday (the day after the solstice). Unfortunately Rob wasn't able to get off for the solstice, but he got the next day off so off we went to Coldfoot camp on my birthday. Once you're past the Fairbanks North Star Borough (going north) you are in the wilderness; the Dalton Highway that takes you up to the Arctic Circle and beyond is the same road the Ice Road Truckers show people take. The drive was beautiful and we almost got the Yukon River when our car started having some issues. Since we were in the middle of nowhere we decided instead of risking breaking down and potentially getting stuck (there's also no cell signal once you leave the borough) to turn around and go back. It was disappointing, but ended up being the right decision since the car stopped moving right outside Fairbanks. Thankfully after cooling down we were able to start it back up and make it home so prayers were answered (and we met some awesome people; there is still good in the world). It just means we will have to do the trip in 2017 and I told Rob this time we will be up there for the solstice too!
And that is the first half of the year! Next up is the second half.