Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 - The Year of Alaska

I can't believe it's New Year's Eve. This year has flown by! 

The last few years, we've gotten in the habit of finding a word or phrase to characterize the year. This year was definitely the year of Alaska. When we moved there, I had no idea what to expect. And when we suddenly moved back to Texas, I had no idea how much I would miss Alaska. It has a piece of my heart. And always will. It's no surprise that my best memories of the year came from living in Alaska. 

I thought it would be fun to do a short recap of fun happenings from each month this year. 

January - 
We celebrated our first anniversary at the Hotel Alyeska. Nathanial pulled out all the stops and had so many surprises for me during the weekend. 


February - I ran my first freezing 5k. Let's be honest, I did it for the scarf. 


March -
So much happened in March. We got to experience the Iditarod and all the events that went along with Fur Rondy. My favorite was running with the reindeer. It was incredible! I also ran a St. Patrick's 5k. It was -3 at the start and my hair froze. The sunroof on my car randomly exploded as I was going down the highway. 


April - We celebrated Easter, Nathanial's birthday and I ran another 5k. 


May - The lights went out while we were attending a performance of Sister Act. This is also the month my running training group started. 

June - This is the month we got the most sunlight. We took full advantage by replanting our flower bed at midnight and watching a baseball game that didn't start until 10 p.m. I ran a 12k. My parents came to visit in the midst of a heat wave. 


July - Nathanial's grandparents came to visit us. A story I pitched at work got picked up by all the local outlets so I was on the news quite a bit. I ran a half marathon. 


August - I had the best birthday ever when Nathanial surprised me with a behind the scenes tour at the Wildlife center. We got to feed the animals! Nathanial's parents came to visit and we all ran a 1 mile race (complete with Alaska shaped medal). 


September - We attended the Alaska State Fair. We picked vegetables at a farm over Labor Day. 


October - This month it snowed for the first time this year. We found out we were moving and moved two weeks later. 


November - We started adjusting to life back in Texas. We closed on our house two days before Thanksgiving. I ran the Route 66 Half Marathon with my father-in -law. 


December - We got the house in order and spent the month with friends and family. We hosted our first (and second) Christmas. 


What a year! 


Monday, December 14, 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The first thing people want to know about our time in Alaska was how we handled the weather. It makes me laugh to think about it because dressing for Texas weather lately is much worse than dressing for Alaska. 80 degrees in December is crazy. 

Despite the warm weather, we're doing our best to be in the holiday spirit. We celebrated all weekend long. 

Friday night, our Sunday School class did an "As Seen on TV" white elephant gift exchange. We almost walked away with the clapper (clap on, clap off) but it was snatched up at the last second. 

Saturday afternoon we celebrated Christmas with my brother and his family since they'll be traveling Christmas Day. It was an afternoon filled with fun and lots of laughter. 

On the way home, Nathanial's car kept giving us weather alerts. That was especially exciting since we had his company party that evening. 



We got the worst of the weather on the way to the party. Once we were parked, it wasn't an issue. The evening was an elegant affair complete with magician. 


After church on Sunday, N hung a mirror over the mantle and helped me with some other projects around the house. I love how the Christmas decor looks. 


Here's our dining room. It was green last week. It looks so much better now! 


Can I just keep Christmas decorations up year round?


I just got this table on Friday. I love it and the Christmas prints from a talented college friend but am still figuring out how to style them. 


Even our dining table is festive!





It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Now if we could just get the weather to feel like Christmas. 



Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Weekend of Animals: Zoo Lights and Christmas Parades


I'm happy to report I escaped the land of boxes and got everything unpacked. Our garage is crammed full of said boxes so I'm pretty embarrassed to open it these days. 

I spent the rest of my time last week running errands and trying to decide how to decorate the house. This house is shaped a lot differently so what worked in our Alaska house won't work here. It's a little daunting. 

I was especially overwhelmed at picking paint colors. Unfortunately that part hasn't gotten any better. The painter is 3/4 of the way done with the downstairs and I still can't decide if I like the color. Fingers crossed, that's just the paint fumes talking. 

Friday night, we hung out with our niece and nephew while their parents were at a Christmas party. We played a board game some friends of our introduced us to and had a blast. Saturday we saw them again as we watched the Baylor game. This meme pretty accurately sums it up. 


We also took in our community's Christmas parade. That kind of thing makes me love living in the suburbs. My favorite parts were the miniature donkey - I now need one - and the Polar Express float. 



Saturday evening, we met up with our friends Mason and Ashley, and convinced them to drive downtown to see the Zoo Lights. Neither husband was too impressed (with traffic, the hour long line to get in, or the LED lights, even though there were over a million of them.) They were good sports though. It was great getting to spend time with old friends. 

Found a moose!


The giraffes stole the show. 


Sunday, we went to church and got ready for the painter. 

I'm hoping he finishes today and I can decorate the Christmas tree without looking at this. 


The previous homeowners really liked color. I love avocado but not on my wall. Stay tuned to see how we transform the space. 


Monday, November 30, 2015

Weekend Recap: A whole lot of boxes

This year I celebrated Black Friday by dressing in black and mourning the fact that we would spend the foreseeable future unpacking. 





Don't get my wrong, I LOVE our new house and am so happy to be reunited with our belongings after their voyage from Alaska; I'm just not thrilled at the prospect of unpacking from now until forever. I've seen beautiful mountains and they are not made at cardboard. 



After lots of work this weekend, we are finally making a dent in the boxes. Not to be confused with the dents the movers made in the boxes and every piece of furniture we own. No really. Our stuff has never looked worse. I'm really perplexed as to how everything could be so damaged when they used 5 pieces of paper to each item. We're in for a long process of paperwork, but fingers crossed we should compensated for the damage. What's a huge gouge on a headboard run these days? 

I'll also be getting to go on a shopping trip since the only box that didn't make it was my shoes. Oh well. Some of my heels probably needed replacing anyways. 

Besides unpacking, we spent our weekend watching football. Our cable provider can't make it out until next week (which is mostly disheartening because of all the good holiday movies I'm missing) so we watched games at wing places near where we live.  I'm ok with not having anything buffalo flavored for a while. Friday night's game was terrible 1) because my team lost and 2) because Buffalo Wild Wings soft drink machine was down. We take Diet Coke very seriously in the Wells house. 


I'm hoping to be done unpacking tonight and then be able to focus on fun stuff like decorating over the next few days. We'll also make it a priority to repaint as the previous owners had a love for bold colors (looking at you lime green and brown dining room).






Thursday, November 26, 2015

What Where They Thinking: Movers Edition

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I'm still trying to come to terms with the weather in Texas and 90% humidity and 80 degree temperatures aren't helping.

It was great to get to spend the holiday with family. And even better to get to eat my mom's cooking again. Hooray for family and good food.

I represented Alaska during my time in the kitchen with this cute apron my mom bought on a trip years ago. 


My favorite part of the day was probably when my grandma decided to go lay in my nephew's hammock. She's usually not one for adventure. It became even more funny when my nephew got in it with her. 


Nathanial and I headed back to our house (the one we bought in Texas, closed on earlier this week and I still haven't blogged about) to start going through the sea of boxes that the movers brought yesterday. This move is proving to be much worse than any other so I'm sure this will be the first of many posts  on the subject. 

There were several moments in the midst of unpacking where I wondered what the movers had been thinking. 

Here are a few:
- Moving policy said no liquids but they packed a scrubber brush FULL of dish soap. I'm glad there were 5 pounds of paper to absorb the blue Dawn that leaked everywhere. 

- They put a painted canvas (a one of a kind masterpiece might I add) paint side closest to the cardboard. With sharp objects in the box. 

- They packed the racks to our kitchen sink. The one that's still in our Anchorage house. 

- They packed paper napkins and a plate holder together. 


- They packed a beverage dispenser and Pyrex dish inside a laundry basket. This is especially impressive considering each of those items had been in a different room. 


This is only a few boxes in. There's no telling what else I'll find.

Tomorrow you can find me Black Friday shopping in boxes. Remembering the stuff I already had and figuring out where it goes. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Embracing the Silence

This weekend I ran my fourth half marathon. Life right now feels like a continual state of running a marathon so I thought I might as well get a medal out of it. 


We started the weekend by attending the wedding of one of Nathanial's good friends. It was at a beautiful ranch so we got to spend a few days hanging out with guys from Nathanial's childhood and enjoying the outdoors. There was a lot of laughter and not much sleep. 



Once the bride and groom made their exit, we started our trek to Oklahoma. We drove through the night which involved lots of singing and Diet Coke. 

We got in a few hours of sleep and then headed off to the race. It was a brisk morning for the Oklahomans but I was in heaven with the cooler weather. 

I noticed before the race started that my music didn't seem to be playing correctly. I didn't give it much thought since the event was pumping in loud music at the start line.  But when the gun went off and I could only hear the background track, I knew I was in trouble. I found a position that the headphones seemed to work normally in but that was only if I didn't move which proved problematic while running. At one point I tried to forcefully keep the headphones in position but that resulted in the jack breaking off inside my phone and the rest of the headphones being in separate pieces.

Nathanial offered me a new set of headphones when he found me on the course around mile 2.5. He was even sweet when I said I needed his phone instead. I had just turned on the Pandora Spinning station when his phone jumped from 30 to 1% battery. I gave up and decided to embrace the silence. The route was beautiful and there were enough spectators to keep it interesting. The early miles flew by but around mile 9 it got brutal. That could have something to do with the fact that my legs decided they were done around that point too. I ran through my ever growing to do lists and did lots of praying and soul searching and finally the finish line appeared in view. 

I didn't have any goals for this race outside of finishing. I took some (a lot) of time off of running at the advice of the physical therapist I visited for leg and foot pain. I only started running again after moving back to Texas and most mornings didn't go much further than a mile.  Three weeks of one-milers and three hours of sleep and I still made it to the finish line. That's a big success to me even if it meant my worst time ever. 

The course had quite a few hills but it's absolutely a race I would do again. I had so much fun - silence and all.

Oh and the start line had confetti canons. It was everything I thought it would be. I need more confetti in my everyday life.

 

 




Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Changes

I started to write several times since my last post but got overwhelmed thinking about where to start. So much has happened in the last few weeks. We left Alaska and moved back to Texas where we've been staying with my incredible brother and sister-in-law who have graciously allowed us to live with them for a few weeks.

It still doesn't feel real. Probably because I only have 10 shirts to choose from (thanks hubby for giving me a hard time about packing) and because it's hard to find a routine when you're sharing a car and working remotely.

I'm still amazed at everything we have been able to accomplish in such a short timespan. It's been a whirlwind but I wouldn't trade it. I'll be the first to admit I wasn't thrilled about moving to Alaska. I had no idea what life there would look like. I also had no idea how much I could love a place until we found out we were moving and would have to leave Alaska. I am forever changed because of my time there. It was a more incredible experience than I could ever have imagined. In some ways I'm disappointed to be back from what seemed like the grand adventure of a lifetime (I'm looking at you humidity and traffic) but mostly I'm excited. Excited to see what this next chapter holds. I'm also excited about the Mexican food and family time. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fun and Not Fun

Fun.
Going to the season opener hockey game and screaming and cowbell-ing your heart out.


With my friend Monica. 
N was there too but he's doing this new thing where he won't smile for selfies. 


Fun.
Coming up with ways to avoid your million mile long to-do list.  Things like going to the movies, scheduling a last minute photo shoot, and binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

Not Fun.
Realizing that the movers come in two days.  And you'll be leaving the state in 5 days.

Fun. 
Trying new restaurants that never got crossed off the list.
 
Pretty decent chicken for a place that couldn't be further from the South.

Not Fun. 
Having to eat out constantly because showings at your house mean you can't go home.  Now if one of those people would just buy it!

Fun.  
Getting moose themed gifts from your sweet friends because they know how much you love moose.

Not Fun. 
Telling those same sweet friends goodbye.  Note to self: telling yourself you won't cry doesn't work very well.

Both Fun and Not Fun.  
A farewell lunch from your church family. The same one you've spent the last few holidays with. This time it was even complete with moose chili.


Rain aside, we couldn't have asked for a better last weekend in Anchorage. We are so blessed.


Friday, October 16, 2015

Big News

Cricket cricket.

I've struggled with writing a new blog post because so much has been going on. Where to even begin.

First, thanks for the prayers based on my last post. God worked in a big way. A tumor was found in my best friend's infant son but the most recent scans show they were able to get it all. Such a relief.

Nathanial and I found out last week we will be moving back to Texas SOON. As in, by this time next week my house will be completely empty, soon.

There's not much that's great about this expedited time frame, but on the plus side, it doesn't give me much time to linger in my feelings about it.  People keep asking how I'm doing, how I'm handling having so much going on, and the truth is I don't have a choice. The move is happening regardless so I can either be steamrolled by it or roll with the punches and try to whittle down our ever growing to do list.

We got very little sleep over the weekend - shout out to my friends with newborns, I'm more than happy to bring you coffee from now on - getting our house ready to list. It's been on the market since Monday and since Monday I've felt like I was living in a museum.  We've had several showings so fingers crossed, one of them wants to buy it. Until then, we'll continue having the most spotless house on the block and spend every night playing what's different here.  After Monday's showings, my couch and bed pillows were messed up.  Way to get into the house buying experience, mystery buyers.  Other showings left the shower curtain and doormats askew. One set of buyers didn't even manage to close the screen door. I said I didn't want anyone buying our house that couldn't figure out how to close a door, but N said he didn't care as long as they could pay.  True that.

We're also in the process of selling N's truck which means we'll get to buy a new house and a new car when we get to Houston.  Apparently our marriage motto is big changes in short time frames. We still like being around each so I guess it's working. :)

There are lots of other logistics either in the works or still to be determined. For now, I'm just really thankful for N, a God who I know has everything under control, awesome family and friends willing to help in whatever way possible and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

And because I need to take advantage of Alaskan things for this blog while I can, enjoy this scenery.





Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What Really Matters


I try to keep it light on here. It's more fun that way and I get less worried phone calls from my family. 

Yesterday I was planning on writing about clinging onto fall and the things I'm loving this season. Then my best friend called with hard news. The kind where you just want to curl up in a ball and cry. The kind of news that makes everything else seem so trivial. In those moments as I struggled to find the right words, I realized how few things that we place importance on really matter. 

I wanted so badly to be able to say something that would help, but I didn't know what to say. I wanted to be able to do something, anything, to make it hurt less for her. To make the situation better. There was nothing I could do but turn it over to God.

I don't know why hard things happen.

But I do know that whatever the circumstance, God is in control. My faith is a core part of me and how I live life.  Yesterday as I struggled to wrap my head around what was happening to my friend, I couldn't help but think of how even in those dark, and hard moments God is there.  I can't imagine going through life without the promise of that.  I'm thankful for an all sovereign God - one who is in control and has plans greater than I could ever imagine, but is also a God who comforts and provides peace, who knows how tough life can be and is there each step of the way.

And that's what really matters.

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail."
 Lamentation 3:22




Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fall is Over

Family and food aside, one of the things I was most excited about during our trip to Oklahoma was getting to go to Hobby Lobby.  The leaves in Anchorage turned several weeks ago and visions of pumpkins and "Happy Fall, Y'all" signs danced in my head.

My options for fall decor in Anchorage were the same as my options for any decor - Michael's, which is better for crafting than decorating; Walmart, ew, I hate that place;Target and Lowe's, which surprisingly doesn't have much in the way of cuteness this time of year. So needless to say I was downright giddy about shopping at the Hob Lob! I don't know how they did it but their merchandise selection has gotten even cuter over the last year in my absence. I wanted one of everything. Luckily for my husband, my purchases had to travel back by airplane.Unluckily for my husband, he got to carry the new doormat I had to have as a carry on.  That was fun while sprinting across the airport in the middle of the night...

My fall dreams were short lived. We had to scrape our windshield at the airport and have had to most mornings since then too.

In a few short days, we went from this:





(Oh hey cute rug from Oklahoma)


To this.


I woke up like this.  

The first snow of last year left me in tears because all of the streets were frozen and my 10 minute drive to church turned into 20 minutes of terror with my car slipping all over the place and refusing to stop.  I don't have four wheel drive, because Houston didn't need it, so driving in winter in Alaska isn't much fun. Putting on snow tires made a huge difference and outside of the first snow, I made it through the winter without any problems. I don't have the snow tires on my car yet because it usually doesn't snow until late October and the city bans certain types of snow tires until Sept. 30 (today).

So this morning when we woke up to three inches of snow, Nathanial and I both talked about working from home. Then we realized we were out of Diet Coke. And decided to go in.  #priorities

(Also, to avoid worried calls from my Grandma, it should be noted that it's much warmer today and there's no ice.)


My poor flowers :(


Pulling into the office. The campus I work at has pedestrian bridges which connect all the buildings so you don't have to go outside once you're inside. It's a nice feature on a snowy day like today.


Here's the view from my office window.

On the plus side, snow means warm boots and wool socks. And nights of curling up in front of the fireplace. I don't hate it.  At least not yet anyways ;)