Tuesday, December 23, 2014

vegas girls trip

I went on a girls trip to Las Vegas with my mom and Raina after Thanksgiving and it was just what I needed. It was my first time leaving Riggs overnight and I was pretty nervous about it, but it went just perfectly, he had a blast with his cousins and also got to have some one on one time with Steve. I was happy to have alone with with Raina, it's so rare with second children! Of course, it was also so much fun to hang out with my mom. We had soooo much fun.

We got there Wednesday and checked into our hotel right away. We were staying at the Aria, and neither of us had stayed there before (it's a newish hotel) and so we weren't sure what to expect. Other trips our family has stayed at the Bellagio and we really like it there. But we were pleasantly surprised by the Aria and really loved it by the end of the trip. It was really nice to stay in a new hotel where everything worked well in the rooms.

We got lunch and then took a nap - we were tired from flying all night, pretty sure Raina was the only one who got any decent sleep on the plane, my mom and I got about 30 minutes of actual sleep, and that's being generous, haha. Once we woke up we were excited to get out of our room and eat some dinner, so off we went.

My mom was in classes Thursday and Friday so I spent those days with just Raina, soaking in the huge tub in our room while she napped in the morning and then shopping the afternoons away. Friday my mom and I ate dinner at Johnny Rocket and shopped at the Fashion Show Mall after she got out of her class. Saturday we checked out of the hotel and went to shop at the outlet mall by the airport before heading home.

It went by way too fast, like vacations always seem to, but I was glad to be home to my boys. I can't wait for our next girls trip though, that's for sure! It's always fun to get away and have some time alone with my mama.

o u r   t r i p   i n   p i c t u r e s

checking in at the airport - someone was excited!

on the plane and snuggled into grandmas lap
(in first class...thank you mom!!)

she slept the majority of every single flight
and didn't cry on any of them. A little fussing
when she woke to nurse, but a little milk in her belly
and she was back into dreamland.

the lobby of the Aria...so pretty!

cloudy and rainy Vegas...a first for us.
the view from our hotel room on day one and then
on the day we left. of course it was sunny then, of course.

she slept so so good while we were there. I think that
might be what I miss most about our trip hahaha
(she hasn't been sleeping well at all since we got home,
waking every two hours most nights after 10:30pm)

all dressed and ready to do some shopping!

our favorite place to eat is at Olive in the bellagio
if you're lucky you can get a table out on the balcony
and watch the fountain show while you eat

we were right at the edge of the balcony, it was beautiful!

cozy in our solly baby wrap
when the carseat/stroller combo got old she was so happy to snuggle in with mama

her first taxi ride

the grounds of the Aria are beautiful

this photo doesn't really need a caption, does it?

dinner and malts at Johnny Rockets

I love my mommy so much. we loved lounging around
in our robes and wished we could have stayed longer.

she was such a happy girl while we shopped and shopped and shopped.

happy girl even though we were checking out

looking back at the strip from the airport
why did it have to be sunny and warm on our last day?!

pampered first class baby on the flight home

Monday, December 22, 2014

lately and slowing down the Christmas season

Sigh. My poor blog. I have been so absent from this space lately, both physically, as is evidenced by lack of posts, and mentally - I just haven't had the mental space to even think about blogging or my blog in general. It's hard to put into words what been keeping me so busy. I guess it can be summed up in one word...life. Life is just busy busy right now and so full and theres still so many things I want to do that I can't fit in. Blogging just hasn't been a priority for me right now, and to be honest, I've been okay with that. But don't worry little blog, I still love you.

You know what else I love? Instagram. It's such a good way to share little snippets of our life and have them there as a record for later when I've nearly forgotten about what we were up to at a certain point in our lives. It's faster than blogging and admittedly a lot less work. And you can print out little books with all your pictures and captions, thereby using Instagram as a journal of sorts. I use chatbooks and have loved it so far. I even made a few custom books for family members as Christmas gifts this year. So I guess my point is that even when this space is looking pretty bleak I usually take time once or twice a day to post on my IG account, so be sure to follow along with me @lifealaskanstyle.


Yesterday was Christmas Sunday, and it was so full and yet so laid back and relaxed and warm and cozy. We all dressed up and went to church, then headed downtown for brunch afterwards at the Valley Hotel (our favorite breakfast place by far in Palmer). Then we walked just down the street to Vagabond Blues for vanilla chai (me), green tea (Steve), hot cocoa (Riggs) and cookies/treats all around.

When we got home the kids went right down for their naps and Steve and I watched a movie together. I wrapped presents while we watched and am now pretty much done with presents, other than edible presents, which I'll be baking tomorrow. As soon as the kids woke up we got them dressed again and piled into the truck to head back to church for the Christmas program and yummy treats afterwards.

Yesterday was special because it really truly felt like Christmas, maybe for the first time this year. I've always loved Christmas so much, but it's been hard for me to adjust to being the main source of all the magic. I'm the one (well, technically me and Steve, but let's be real...mostly me haha) doing the decorating, and planning the fun Christmas outings, picking out the presents and then wrapping them with care, and teaching Riggs about what Christmas is all about. I don't get to be the one on the other end of that anymore, and it's definitely much more stressful and less fun than I imagined. It's a lot of work, even with the simplest of Christmas traditions and I'm still getting used to my changing role, nearly three years into parenting.

Yesterday was one of those days that made me realize what really makes Christmas so magical, it's about sacrifice and love for our family and friends. Jesus' life on earth was the perfect example of that, the example that we strive to imitate in our own lives. It's only by God's grace that we can even attempt to love those around us in the way we should, putting others before ourselves.

Baking cookies with our kids, despite the mess we know we'll be cleaning up after. Staying up late getting ready to host our friends for Christmas parties. Wrapping presents during nap time, and then rewrapping them after the baby rips the paper off five minutes after they wake up from their nap. Putting in extra time at Church to prepare for a special Christmas service. Baking hundreds of cookies for friends and neighbors. Spending half the day in the kitchen on Christmas day making that amazing Christmas feast for family and friends. The list goes on and on and on. Throughout it all, trying to remember the reason we're spending so much time making this season special.

Yesterday was winter solstice, and I thought a lot about it for some reason. This winter hasn't been ideal, and it's hard for me to get fully into the Christmas spirit when there's no snow. But I realized that snow or no snow, winter is a reminder of the amazing rhythm of God's creation. I love this quote..."the countryside sleeps in winter and within it lies all the potential of spring, summer and autumn." Instead of rushing around trying to decorate our houses perfectly, trying to get just the right gifts for everyone on our lists, trying to make every last party, trying to host the perfect party, we should be taking time this season, time to reflect and prepare for the year ahead of us.

"This is the solstice, the still point of the sun
it's cusp and midnight, the year's threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath..."
Margaret Atwood

I hope all of you have a magical Christmas week and take time to acknowledge and enjoy all the beautiful things God had graced you with in this life. Take an extra moment at each Christmas gathering to look around at friends and family and relish the time you have with them. Watch your children's faces as they experience all the magic of Christmas and let their joy and wonder seep deeply into your heart. Enjoy a plate of cookies cross-legged in front of your brightly lit tree.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Thanksgiving Recap

We had the most fun Thanksgiving this year with my whole family at a cabin we rented near Big Lake. It was probably the best Thanksgiving I've had personally in over five years, it was really special. Our family has been going through a lot with my grandparents going through the worsening stages of dementia and Alzheimers and it's put more of a strain on things than I really realized. Our family (my dad and mom, her siblings and my older sister mainly) had been caring for them personally since they moved into Anchorage from their homestead in Talkeetna in 2009 and after a lot of very hard changes, heartache and worsening health on my grandparents part we made the decision for them to be moved into the Pioneer Home here in Anchorage, specifically into the dementia ward where they receive round the clock care.

Understandably it hasn't been easy on a few different levels, but it has gone very smoothly considering and I'm very thankful for that. Thanksgiving was the first big holiday since their big move, and my parents and sisters and I decided to get out of town and spend the long weekend all together as a family (minus my little sister who couldn't make it home from college). We rented a really nice cabin on Beaver Lake (near Big Lake) bought a bunch of food and holed ourselves up to spend the holiday together.

We had bonfires, saunas, and hobbit-watching marathons and it was just the perfect way to spend Thanksgiving break. We all agreed that getting away together as a family needs to happen more often and I can't wait for our next chance to do just that.

just before loading everything in truck...I felt like we were moving haha