It’s been 7 weeks of parenthood and I still don’t really have anything intelligent to say about it. This little girl has just fit right in to our family. She loves sleeping and hates to be woken up; she likes music and being outside (especially outside concerts); enjoys baths and yoga; and she tolerates lots of Hershey kisses. In general, things for O and I are alot the same, but different — there’s alot less uninterrupted sleep, alot more conversations about poop, and breast milk on everything. But we’re still finding time for yoga and floating the river, going out to breakfast on weekends, taking lots of walks, drinking beers on the deck, and posting 8.000 baby photos on Instagram (all just as fun when done in a state of perpetual tiredness). While I continue to process, here’s some photos of Ainsley’s room… A combination of O’s hard work and a whole lot of generous friends and family created a pretty awesome space for this little lady. A before photo (as in, before we moved in — for us, this room had previously been both a guest room and an office): We started with the rug, figuring it was gender neutral enough, and went from there. O stripped & re-textured the ceiling, and handled all the painting (I supervised). I was nervous about the paint color — it’s a little bit bold — but I think it turned out great. And I think any kid who makes their parents wait 10 extra days to meet them is likely bold enough to handle teal walls. The dresser we already had (Craigslist!), with a little paint on the hardware and a changing pad added it makes a perfect dresser/changing table. The paneling was wood before, deciding to keep it but paint it white was O’s idea and is one my favorite things we did. We’ve managed to girl-y up the room with leftovers from the “Welcome Ainsley” party my fantastic friends threw for us. The bookshelf we already had too, it got a coat of paint and a TON of gifted books & toys (including leftovers from when O & I were kids) to fill it up. One of my favorite things about the room is that every time I look around, it just feels full of love. Pretty much every part of this room was either gifted to us or handmade by one of our relatives or O and I (mostly O). The bunting over the crib is from our wedding (made by aunt & sister using my grandma’s sewing scraps), the crib itself as bought with a gift card from one of my elementary school special ed teams, everything on the walls is special (pieces by sister & my dad, frames built by O, a fingerprint tree from the party), the rocking chair custom built and hand delivered to Alaska by my mom & stepdad, and the pile of beautiful handmade blankets we got are just some of the reminders of how loved she — and all three — of us are. So far, looking around at these things and feeling my heart get a little fuller makes hanging out in there at 3 am a little easier. Four years ago we moved to Alaska with an air mattress, a TV, two camping chairs and a ton of gear. Two years ago we moved into this house and still didn’t have anywhere near enough furniture to fill it up. It appears that is no longer the case. In addition to all the things that we got for the nursery, we’ve also added a guest bed and a futon to accommodate all the visitors. I think we’ve definitely crossed over to like real, serious grown-up status — I have a baby, I own my car, and my house is full of furniture. I even have stashes of cash (“for emergencies”, but so far we just keep using it for ice cream) and 9-volt batteries (for smoke alarms? I don’t know?) in my kitchen. And if that doesn’t scream responsible adult, I don’t know what does.
Ainsley Olivia Fallon arrived at 12:42 am on May 12, weighing 6 pounds 9 ounces and measuring 20 inches long. We came home from the hospital a week ago today — One Week DOWN! ;)
I’m hopeful that at some point in the near(ish) future I’ll process all these emotions and start sleeping more than an hour at a time, and when that happens I’m sure I’ll write something super profound about becoming a parent… Until then — I can’t even believe this is real life.
Nope, I haven’t had that baby yet. But thanks for asking!
So, since I’m still pregnant, Saturday mornings are still for blogging… When I chose to call this blog “The Journey Is The Destination” four years ago (based on a super awesome quote from this super awesome guy), I was really only thinking about how the hell we were going to get from Colorado to Alaska in one piece… I wasn’t at all expecting that the title would become completely relevant to planning & re-planning a wedding, building a marriage, buying a house, growing a human and — if the last few weeks are any indication of what the rest of parenthood has in store for me — basically the rest of my life.
I’m pretty much as pregnant as a person can get. One of the midwives who did our monitoring earlier this week saw me and said “Alright! You are living large! Literally.” Thanks (he –yes he– is actually really wonderful and obviously, hilarious). On our daily 2-mile walk last night a woman driving by yelled from her car “Oh my God, you’re so pregnant and beautiful! Happy Mother’s Day!!” A stranger. In the middle of the street. O was like, “Uh… do you know that lady?” Nope, just another person who wants to point out how amazingly pregnant I am. But in a nice way. Most people are very nice. Telling me I look great (because that’s what you say) and that you “can’t even tell you’re pregnant from the back!” (uh-huh. right. pretty sure you can tell I’m pregnant from space). I get alot of “Whoas” and “Wows” when people ask about my due date and then find out it was a week ago and don’t know what else to say.
My google searches for “ways to induce labor” are getting more and more frequent and appearing more desperate. I’ve done just about anything you can find on the internet from eating two fresh pineapples to making “labor cake” to stimulating oxytocin in almost all the ways you can read about (do so at your own risk). I’ve raked leaves, moved firewood up and down stairs, done a ridiculous amount of yoga and even “ran” (it was really a fast walk, I am 10 months pregnant) up a hill at the end of a dog walk earlier this week.
We went through some weird stuff earlier on in this pregnancy (like visits to a specialist cuz of concerns about an increased risk for pre-term labor — ha!), so I’m very grateful to be hanging out with a full-term kiddo cozy in there. And I am feeling incredibly fortunate to still be tolerating pregnancy this well. O and I have come up with lots of creative ways to kill time: re-watching all our favorite youtube videos (this one, this one, and this one mostly), cleaning closets, buying these for the nursery (that’s my sister the mermaid-photographer), starting the garden, having coffee dates, brewing beer, listening to the new Alabama Shakes record on repeat (baby’s first concert!), hanging out at the airport (of course), and making leisurely trips to Fred Meyer for one item at a time. He’s riding the emotional roller coaster with me like a champ, and I’m pretty sure he’s enjoying eating cake, sleeping lots, and binge watching The League and Orange Is The New Black with me. So we’re a week past a completely arbitrary date assigned based mostly on my educated guess (which, if we’re being honest, was not all that educated to begin with). This kid is obviously on it’s own schedule and O and I are, once again, just along for the adventure… So I guess props to my 26-year-old self for being wise beyond my years and props to my yet-to-arrive kid for helping me to feel like a philosophical bad ass one last time.
Another month of pregnancy gone, another bathroom renovation done. After a few more weeks than we were expecting (although considerably fewer than the last one took), our second bathroom is updated and beautiful. Oren did pretty much all the work this time, cuz as it turns out not being able to breathe paint fumes, bend over for extended periods, or lift anything heavy isn’t super conducive to being helpful with house projects. But I supervised and opened beers and he did a fantastic job. The progression… It was brown and pink and beige before, with mismatched laminate flooring and mostly almond-colored fixtures. Not beautiful. New tile on the floor, same vanity stained dark & with drawer pulls added, refinished counter top and sinks, new faucets, new toilet… New trim, new shower curtain and new paint… It’s beautiful. And functional…Which makes for a much happier 9+ months pregnant wife. Only a couple more weeks til we’re sharing this bathroom with a third person. The countdown to being a family of three is on!
Two months ago my last post had pictures of the bump on the beach… In a pretty stark contrast, our most recent outing was the start of the Iditarod, moved north to Fairbanks this year due to a weird, weird winter. The race, which runs 900+ miles across the state, usually starts in Anchorage and teams head North to Nome. Due to lack of snow, this year’s race started in Fairbanks and headed West to Nome. The Monday morning start all but shut down the whole town, roads were closed, entire schools took field trips (including one of mine, so technically, I was “working”), and Fairbanks definitely showed up to cheer on the teams as they headed down the trail.
We only lasted through about 25 teams (of 75) before we bailed, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime — or at least once-every-ten-years — opportunity, the last time the start moved to Fairbanks (it’s only happened twice in 42 years) was in 2003. And who knows where we’ll be 10 years from now…
We wrapped up 2014 at home and then rang in 2015 with family, sunshine, lobster, sailing, and swimming. We had our Christmas early, opening all of our presents as soon as possible (we did better than last year though). We roasted pork loin, frosted cookies and ate potica (chocolate potica! amazing).
And as per tradition, we spent our actual Christmas at the airport. Where else?
Then it was adventure time. And because Alaska is far… from everywhere… it turned out to be a pretty good one. We were lucky enough to be “gifted” a trip for Christmas from my mom and stepdad, a chance to come spend a week with them in the British Virgin Islands.
After nearly 48 hours of travel to 5 airports on three different airlines and an unplanned overnight in Puerto Rico, we arrived in the British Virgin Islands to meet the fam for a week of sailing.
While the captain, first mate and crew (aka — Jock, Karen and Abbey & Devin) beautifully handled the jib & the genoa and picked out the best mooring spots, we got to hang out with the other non-sailer — my pirate rock-star brother — for just a few days…
Then he had to leave early to go do this…
So then we hung with these two, who could easily live in the ocean.
Oren spent most of the rest of his time free diving and chasing squid, turtles, and sting rays with them, while I spent alot of time napping, snacking, and swimming in circles around the boat. Keep an eye on their blog for some of the dozens of amazing underwater photos they took while I was sleeping and eating cheese.
It was a fantastic week of family, food and sunshine and even though it was FAR, it was worth it. We made a long stop in Chicago and a quick stop in Denver on the way home (quicker than originally planned, air travel is good for practicing patience, which apparently we’ll need lots of come May?). Not sure that everyone should try flying 5,000+ miles at 23ish weeks pregnant, but I’d definitely do it again. As our baby family grows, the chance to spend even a short amount of time with family at the start of this new year was pretty special.
And even with mechanical delays, weather delays, unfinished flight paperwork causing delays, flights that don’t exist causing delays — it’s pretty hard to be in a bad mood at any airport with my airplane-loving husband…and pinkberry.
Another good reminder that (as long as there are plenty of snacks) the journey is, in fact, the destination.
It’s been a while. Like four months since my last post here. (Thirty may have come easily, but apparently the aftermath of 30 really got me). And since then, O has managed to acquire another gun and we’ve got two new kinds of protein in our freezer. Our house mostly looks like grown-ups live here now and we’ve started renovations on the second bathroom. We had a few more rounds of wonderful visitors and had a fantastic Friendsgiving with our Alaska family.
We’ve learned that Fall lasts approximately 2o minutes in Interior Alaska, so trying to make the most of that kept us busy for a while. After the rainiest summer EVER (seriously), we got lucky with a pretty gorgeous fall and some well-deserved sunny days to fill with heavily armed hiking, a road trip south, and a few more projects crossed off the list.
Cedar came to visit.
We took these girls on our annual trek to the top of Angel Rocks, just as the first hints of fall started to show.
Then Cedar and Hersh kept me company while O went on a caribou hunting trip with Josh and Brian…
They drove 10 hours north to get to this place. 10 hours. And were still in Alaska. They could have kept driving for at least another 2 hours before they hit the ocean at the top of Alaska. And we live 6 hours north of the bottom (which isn’t really even the bottom bottom, it’s just where the road system ends). I mean, this state, seriously. I could write a whole post on how ridiculous this is.
The very next weekend, we drove down to Anchorage to help christen Alaska’s newest concert venue, the Alaska Airlines Center, by getting up close and personal with the Alabama Shakes.
And on the way back we made a stop in Talkeetna.
Where we ate cheesecake for dinner by the river and tried to take a normal picture…
We’ll have to keep trying. Then the leaves changed.
Oren went hunting again. This time more successfully.
And we ate a few of the Spruce Grouse that he killed, cleaned and cooked without any adverse side effects (and it wasn’t terrible).
We refinished the deck and finished the bedroom furniture.
Then the leaves fell, the temperatures dropped, the snow started and it was winter… That means snowy runs and (finally–after two years of trying in three different spots!) successful set line ice fishing for burbot.
It’s been a mild winter so far, and we’re right in the depths of the darkest, coldest part. It’s still tough to prepare for and get through the months of dark and cold, but we’ve been doing our best to compensate with headlamp skis after work and breakfast in front of the happy light. And even though it’s dark and cold for too long, I still find myself getting excited for 6 straight months of cute boots and a new jacket. Or two.
Especially because part of the aftermath of 30 has been some ridiculous weight gain. Or maybe the difficulty with jacket zipping is more attributed to something else…
Like the fact that I’ve spent the last five months growing a human (see, I really did have a good excuse). Baby Fallon will be joining the party in May of 2015… Can’t wait to see how much time I’ll have to spend on blogging then.
Sometimes I forget that we live in Alaska, but never for very long. There’s frost & freezing temps before the end of August, 60 pounds of salmon in my freezer, and moose on my drive to work to gently remind me.
I’m a little late with this post. Our actual Alaska-versary is during the first week of August. We arrived in Fairbanks three years ago (welcomed by a freeze warning — appropriate) after having forced Hershey to do this for nearly 14 days…
With a truck and a trailer full of gear, we made our way from Colorado to Alaska stopping to — literally — eat breakfast on the road (not alot of traffic in Northwestern Montana) and lunch at the bottoms of glaciers.
And we’re still here, three years later. Like I’m sure alot of people do, we totally thought: “One year. We’ll try it for one year, and if it’s not fun, we’ll bail.” But we’re still here. Because it’s still fun. Maybe even more and more fun all the time.
This whole summer has been one fantastic adventure after another.
With trips to Chicken, Seward, and Valdez; a very rainy 13 mile run; days on the lake and berry-picking hikes; floating the river, camping, and processing fish on the deck; landing on a glacier; furniture building; seeing the length of the Denali park road; garden nurturing and back-yard raspberry gorging — it’s been a very full, and very “Alaskan” couple of months.
And we’ve had some of our favorite people come and share the adventures with us, which made it that much more fun.
Sure, sometimes, it is a little cold (like today — turned on the heat this morning for the first time since June). And it’s still hard to be away from the people we love. But this place is amazing. Every single day. So three years in and I don’t think we’re be packing up too soon. Which just means there’s still time for the rest of you to come visit…
Thirty came surprisingly easily. And quietly, without a lot of fanfare… or sunshine. Exactly as I had hoped, except for the lack of sunshine part. Definitely the coldest, rainiest birthday I can remember; but 50 degrees and rain rain rain made it a good day for sleeping late and waking up to lots of birthday love (thanks, everybody!).
And then I spent the day doing pretty much whatever the hell I wanted, which included 90 minutes of yoga, 90 minutes of massage, 90 minutes of guitar, and enjoying a delicious dinner made by my husband (he offered to take me out — but that would have necessitated showering and wearing pants — neither of which were things I wanted to do).
1. Grow vegetables. And eat them! Yay! The lettuce, tomatoes, and broccoli are doing super well in the garden. Peppers, cucumbers, and brussel sprouts are doing less well… Whatever.
2. Learn to make a kick-ass pie. Oreo Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie. Oh yeah.
3. Learn to break dance. Fail. I quit hip hop. But I gave it a good run and occasionally bust out in a mean kitchen moonwalk while making dinner or eating pie.
4. Go to an air show with my husband. Learn about airplanes and win at life.
5. Learn to play more than 3 chords on the guitar. After 2 weeks of class, I’m somewhere in the neighborhood of 10. Turns out maybe I really am a Koshak after all…
6. Run another 1/2 marathon. And damn if it wasn’t the most memorable one yet. Not my fastest 13.1, but definitely the fastest I’ve ever run 13 miles with my husband in pouring rain, 30 mph winds, and ankle deep mud while dodging moose.
7. Do more yoga. Eh, more is a relative term. This is a new life goal.
8 & 9. Under promise & over deliver. Mostly at work — commit less but contribute more. Oh god. Only 11 days of summer vacation (which I’ve spent the last month of working!) left.
10. Be part of a flashmob — Check! Not just any flashmob, a NYE marriage proposal flash mob extravaganza with ribbon dancing.
11. Celebrate 365 days of marriage. Being married is pretty fun so far…
12. Meet our new niece. And watch my husband fall in love with her.
13. Join the board of a community organization. Appointed to the Mayor’s Early Childhood Development Commission.
14. Seriously edit my closet — get rid of 30 items. And now I get to buy new stuff. Win-win.
15. Read 10 novels. Killed it. Titles down: 1- “The Meaning of Wife”, 2- “Saving Max”, 3- “The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing”, 4- “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”, 5- “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, 6- “The Invention of Wings”, 7- “Tide, Feather, Snow”, 8-“Under the Banner of Heaven” (I didn’t actually finish this one), 9 – “Brain on Fire”, 10 – “Me Before You”, 11 – “Orphan Train”, 12 – “Glitter and Glue”, 13 – “Push”, 14 – “Summerhill”
16. Decorate our bedroom like real grown-ups live here. Bed, check. Nighstands, almost.
17. Help O with a house project without spilling, breaking, or ruining any part of it. I used a tile saw, I painted the bar, I stained the bed and sanded the nightstands. I’m pretty much the best helper ever.
18. Hear more local music. Chickenstock, Garden Concerts, CD release shows, steel drum concert, and a piano competition. Success.
19. Purchase a cocktail shaker and learn to make legit cocktails. Pretty much determined that the kind of adult beverage I like don’t require a shaker. Gin & Tonic –nope. Mimosa–nope. Beer, Wine, Hot Toddy — nope. Coffee with Bailey’s, Hot chocolate with Bailey’s, ice cream with Bailey’s, Bailey’s with… Bailey’s — nope (what? it is winter 8+ months a year, after all).
20. Figure out what kind of wine I actually like… I know what I like, and the majority of wines that cost less than $15 are it. And I’m okay with that.
22. Go to the shooting range and shoot. This is a to-be-continued item. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will…. If there’s gonna be guns in our house (which O just keeps acquiring), then I might as well know how to use them.
24. Try to take a more active role in our finances… Um, I’ll have you know that back in April I emailed all of our tax information to the accountant’s secretary. And I may have actually checked the bank account/credit card balances before I ordered $$$ worth of new wardrobe (which happened after I drank most of a $10 bottle of wine).
25. Volunteer more. Arctic Winter Games made taking care of this one pretty easy. Next up, I think I’ll be offering up my dramatic talents as an “injured passenger” at the airport’s triennial exercise.
26. Go backpacking. This is another to-be-continued item. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will…. One of the really crappy side-effects of over-delivering (#9) as a young professional (that needs an appropriate wardrobe, see #14) and making sure there are finances to be active about (#24), is that it makes having time for extended adventures kind of hard. We’ve floated the river from our house repeatedly and slept in the tent in the backyard (why not?), but when we’re both working more than we should be, taking 2-3 days off to go wander through the mountains? Not so much.
27. Convince my dog that she’s a dog and not a person (just kidding, that’s never gonna happen). Doesn’t matter anyway, she’s the best.
28. Pay it forward (buy coffee or groceries for the person behind me in line) at least twice. If I ever get rich I’ll do this one. Until then, I think I’ll continue my charitable contributions as I’ve done in the past — delivering coffee to the airport on 40 below mornings, donating to our local public radio station, animal shelter, and bike share program, and contributing to my friends alcoholic tendencies.
29. Have better posture. My posture is awesome.
30. Make a “Life List”. Item number 1) Stop making lists and go do something fun.
This 30 before 30 thing happened on a total whim. I’ve done some internet research and most people write these kinds of lists with at least a year or more to accomplish their goals and come up with some crazy ideas (see some here). I did mine in January. And unlike alot of the examples I’ve seen, I wasn’t really worried about this so-called “milestone birthday”, or feeling like my life was slipping through my fingers, I mostly was just bored on a Saturday morning and wanted to give myself a list of things to do in the first half of 2014, just to see how much of it I could do. And the fact that I was turning 30 seemed like the perfect excuse.
Knowing I would only have 6 months, I tried to keep my list fairly realistic, (no “visit all 7 continents” or “read 100 novels” or “circumnavigate the globe”) and I think I’m going to be successful in crossing most of it off before my birthday next week (!). But yesterday, one of my fantastic loyal readers (you know who you are) got me thinking about how many other things I’ve done in the past 6 months that weren’t on my list, and/but/or may or may not have occurred because of it…
1. Grow vegetables. And playing “Guess what I made with rhubarb today?” pretty much everyday when O gets home from work. (is rhubarb a vegetable? I don’t even know). So far I’ve made bread, jam, muffins, salsa, pickles, and about 15 variations on rhubarb-berry crisp.
4. Go to an air show with my husband. Since then (and party because of the “Let’s see who can name more kinds of airplanes” game we played for a good portion of the 6 hour drive — not my idea), my airplane knowledge has grown kind of exponentially. I’ve got the vocabulary down and even though I don’t have a clue as to what half of it means, I am totally owning my aviation knowledge by association.
5. Learn to play more than 3 chords on the guitar. And realize, while practicing chords (of which I now know 5) on the couch, drinking tea, listening to the rain, and thinking about the other members of my guitar class — all of whom have a good 20+ years of life experience on me — that I might be 30-going-on-65. And I’m okay with that.
6. Run another 1/2 marathon. And damn if it wasn’t the most memorable one yet. Not my fastest 13.1, but definitely the fastest I’ve ever run 13 miles with my husband in pouring rain, 30 mph winds, and ankle deep mud while dodging moose on the trail.(10 minutes to race start, in the car, debating whether or not to actually run or just go eat donuts)
10. Be part of a flashmob. And now I think that these two gentlemen who got engaged at the NYE marriage proposal flash mob extravaganza I was in are my BFFs. Whenever I see this couple around town (which is fairly often, apparently they live in our neighborhood), I totally feel like I know them and should say hey — even though they have no idea who I am.
12. Meet our new niece. And then have her come visit, and watch my husband fall even more in love with her.
16. Decorate our bedroom like real grown-ups live here. You guys, the bed looks SO good. No pictures til the nightstands are done too… But through the process, I now know that sandpaper comes in different grits, particleboard costs less than real wood, and all about polyurethane (although I did just have to google how to spell it). And I can add sander to the list of power tools I’m gaining experience with.
21. Visit 3 new places in Alaska. And be reminded of why with O, anything can be an adventure. No plans for a day in Seward? No problem… How about a walking tour of the town’s murals, camper shopping, lunch at the brewery, a trip to the Sea Life Center while slightly intoxicated and ice cream cones with views of the ocean? Super fun day.
28. Pay it forward (buy coffee or groceries for the person behind me in line) at least twice. This one really has turned out to be harder than I thought. We try to refrain from buying coffee often, and when I do go, it’s usually for the purpose of delivering it to the airport (getting up at 4 am is not easy, even for 30-going-on-65 year olds), so I feel like essentially, that is buying it for someone else. I also somehow manage to always be grocery shopping with people who must either a) have 5+ children, or b) be stocking up for months or c) both, so this has not happened. I think purchasing $250+ of groceries for a stranger would be in direct conflict with list item #24 (being more financially responsible — which I’m calling a success), so I think I’ll continue my charitable contributions as I’ve done in the past — donating to our local public radio station, animal shelter, bike share program, and my friends alcoholic tendencies.
Other non-major, not-on-the-list accomplishments? I’ve managed to clean one thing a week in our house (like, things I never clean often enough — the coffee pot, behind the refrigerator, windows, closets, oven, the sink, the dog) for most of the summer. I’m learning to perfect my grocery store procrastination efforts and have come up with gourmet dinner ideas from a near-empty fridge. There’s a good amount of yard work that’s been done (and a good amount of complaining about it); including building my first (teeny tiny) retaining wall and coming up with a temporary solution to keep our yard from flooding during the rainiest summer, like, ever. And I’ve maybe gotten over my fear of getting blood drawn (maybe. I did it once without passing out, that’s a good start).
I’ve still got a week of 29 to go, and while I think I’ve done a pretty good job of learning new skills, trying new things and accomplishing most of the goals I set 6 months ago, I think that mostly, the list has served as a reminder that finding tiny adventures & successes in every day is really a major accomplishment in its own right… And that totally sounds like something a 65-year-old would say, so I suppose I can add aging 30 extra years to the things “not on the list, but accomplished”.