So today it's a list, and at some point I might choose to elaborate on any of these things. Or not…we'll just have to see. In no particular order:
1. We live in Alaska now and it's kind of awesome. It's also strangely like living anywhere else, which, after all these moves shouldn't surprise me but somehow does. I ran errands yesterday (kid-free - hallelujah!) in Anchorage which is all of twelve miles from my house. It's just a city, but after being someplace that only existed in my mind it's kind of weird to see that it's like so many other places with its mega-stores. It's just that I keep my eyes peeled for moose and think the mountains are pretty great.
2. Today's April 7th and it snowed all morning. And I'm not bothered by it in the least. Yes, I see all of my Facebook friends talking about the 80 degree sunshine and I see pictures of people enjoying the beach, but I'm content. Quite honestly, that surprises me. I love warm weather, I love the beach. I know that if we were still in South Carolina, we'd be wearing shorts, grilling out, riding bikes, enjoying flowers and leaves on trees, etc. But we're not. Instead we're glad we can at least see the grass that's still brown and I'm a little nervous because the bears are going to wake up in the near future. My house is cozy, the sun is warm (and already stays up almost later than I do) and the people here are nice, so I'm content.
3. We're back in a squadron and after three years away, it feels amazing. I haven't even been to an official function yet (unless you count a ladies' crud tournament) and it still feels like coming home. Ite doesn't hurt to have so many old friends and acquaintances here. Some of our favorite people live here and we seem to finally be reaping the benefits of being the old people in the squadron.
4. Millie is getting so old and, even worse, really showing it. It's the bell-curve of life, I suppose, but she's up multiple times every night to go outside. I think she aches all the time, her back is shot, we know she has arthritis in her hip and now she seems to be favoring a front paw, too. It's not a good time for us to be living in a two-story house because it seems to be really hard on her. It's so annoying to wake up so much but it's also so sad to think that I can't remember the last time she sprinted across a yard or chased down a frisbee.
5. Natalie has suffered the brunt of this move. She's not enrolled in school up here for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that there was so much other stuff to figure out and preschool fell by the wayside and the options are few. Therefore, she's stuck with me all day every day. We're making the best of it, but a five-year old really shouldn't be having to help unpack a house. I feel kind of cruddy about it, but it is what it is. The house is close to being settled-ish so hopefully we can make up for lost time with some fun outings pretty soon.
6. Speaking of Natalie being five, she's been pretty funny since her birthday. She woke up that morning and asked if she looked bigger, she's told me that there are words she didn't know when she was four but now she does and she truly believes that she was instantly bigger, smarter, funnier, etc. on March 15th. I wholly support that notion because, why not? It also marked the first time ever that I had to buy my kid's birthday cake. We'd been in Alaska for 36 hours when her birthday rolled around, so no baking was happening. She was upset until we went to the store and I let her get the one that was completely coated with sprinkles. To quote her, it had at least a thousand hundred sprinkles on it and was awesome.
7. Wyatt is kind of awesome, too. We yanked him out of a class he loved in a school we all loved and dropped him off in a brand new place with brand new people and a different way of doing things and he has flourished. I think the first few days were hard on him but he kept a (very) stiff upper lip until he really felt good about his new school. I'm not sure I would've been brave enough at his age to do what we asked of him and I'm really proud of how he's handled it.
8. Moving is hard. We've moved three times in as many years and for the first time this one has kind of kicked my tail physically. It doesn't help that something about the ferry seems to have triggered a serious round of migraines that I can't quite shake, but I almost feel like I'm getting too old for this. I'm really hoping Alaska turns out to be a three-year assignment as promised because we all need some time to actually settle in.
9. South Carolina was the first assignment I was ever mad about. It wasn't a place we wanted to go, it wasn't a job Jeff wanted to have and (surely you know where this is going) it was so good. I'm slow to learn! It's always the people that make a place, and Sumter was no different. It stretched us in new ways, specifically teaching us how to put ourselves out there a little more to make friends since we didn't have a squadron, and it was just so good. I don't necessarily miss the place, but I sure do miss the people.
10. America is amazing. Not as in 'America is the best country in the world' but it is, geographically, amazing. Our driving adventure through 13 states was a huge bonus to us. Rest assured, we realize that we're lucky to be afforded the opportunity to spend nearly three weeks traveling and we made the best of it. I hope the kids remember some of it but moreover I hope we're raising them to appreciate the diversity of our country and its people. All four of us are already plotting the return trip to the lower 48. So as much as this lifestyle is challenging and, at times, exhausting, it is also full of unique opportunities that I never would've imagined for myself.
11. This is the first time we've rented a house sight-unseen. It's also the first time we've moved someplace without having visited first. It's worked just fine, which is great. What's even better is that our landlord gave us permission to paint the kitchen. I know some of you enjoy red walls but I never have and probably never will. It's just not me. It's even less me when the adjoining walls are verging on mustard. With exception of having our entire house painted in Virginia, it's the first time Jeff has suggested hiring a painter. I'm delighted to say that a funny little gentleman named Mark is hard at work in my kitchen, eradicating two red walls and two mustard walls while I'm going about my day.
12. Like a mullet, our house is business in the front (normal neighborhood) and a party in the back - a forest that quickly drops to the river. I love the sense of living in the wilderness but I'm a little sad we can't have bird feeders because of the bears. I'm also a little paranoid that I'm going to look out and see a moose on the deck, but until then it's good. It's also a little ironic, because as I was unpacking our pictures I came across the woodblock print from Japan that my parents bought me for my 30th birthday and it looks strikingly like the view out my current back door. Maybe I was subconsciously choosing this for myself way back when.
13. It's been nearly a decade since we moved to Japan. How can that be? I'm plotting a return visit courtesy of space-a travel and the assignment gods who've placed a handful of good friends in Okinawa for the next few years. Wyatt is pretty excited to see his first home, too, and to visit said friends. I really hope we can make it happen.
14. I saw this quote by Gabrielle Zevin last summer and it summarizes my life, and my kids' lives, so well. It's so perfect I might have to redesign the blog header.
They should tell you when you're born: have a suitcase heart. Be ready to travel.