Oct 29, 2014

fur for fall

vest: forever 21// shirt: old navy// jeans: ag jeans// hat: target
shoes: zara// bag: michael kors

Confession: I have an unhealthy obsession with faux fur. Or maybe that is the healthy obsession, and the unhealthy would be real fur? But, I have quite the collection going in my closet. I just think they are such fun pieces to have around. They add that extra punch to an outfit. Whether it be subtle with a plain tee and jeans. Or dressed up. Or with a colorful flannel, where the fur then becomes a neutral. It just all makes sense. To me. 

Furthermore, I would like to wear this outfit everyday. I just think it is so fun. And with the weather here in kind of a weird place where it is freezing cold, yet no pretty snow to look at, I just want to wear color to liven up the mood. 

I hope you all are having a great Wednesday. We are getting super excited for some trick or treating (specifically me). 

Oct 28, 2014

let's talk baby names

Baby names! Such a huge responsibility entrusted to two twenty something year olds. You are giving them the name they will say "here" to on their first day of real school. What they bubble in on their SAT's, what the Price is Right will call out when they get their chance to play. BIG things!! So with this fourth baby we decided to go ahead and let Ace name him or her. How thoughtful of us right? I mean he is four, he has friends at school with some pretty decent names. He has named all his stuffed animals, and little army men. It's just time he starts contributing to this family. So the other night he asked what the baby's name was. I told him we weren't really sure yet, but I would love for him to give me some ideas. He ran so fast to grab his notebook, where keeps all his latest and greatest ideas. So we sat down and brainstormed. This is what he came up with ^^ 

Not bad right? Pretty gender specific if you ask me. Which by the way we do not know the gender just yet. Making that appointment is on my list of things to-do. Sorry baby numero cuatro, tis your life now. But we should be prepared anyway, I mean we got a 50/50 chance here. 

On a more serious note, Ace is not naming the baby. But he thinks he is so we are going to let him continue with that train of thought. But we really do need to think of a name. Ace and Avalon came easy to us. We knew from day one that if we had a boy his name would be Ace. Avalon was of course the girl name we picked out five years ago. Pierce's name became his name 24 hours before I went into labor, and I text Chris while he was in OCS to let him know the change. I mean he wasn't going to be at the birth so I figured a simple heads up would be fine. Thankfully he agreed with the last minute switch and all is well. Now we find ourselves with a little bit of a challenge, we semi agree on a boy name. And we have no girl name....at all. Not a one. See when you give the rest of your children non-traditional names, you have to continue with that theme. Even though we have thrown out the idea of a John. Not a bad name at all, but he might look at us later and say John? You have Ace, Pierce, Avalon, aaaand John? Do you see the dilemma or are we just crazy? -and to be noted still no girl name. 

I will admit that I am the one with the most outrageous names, and Chris has to rein me back in and say "you know he or she will interview for a job someday". Now our middle names have always been family names, so we aren't too out there. But I open it up for discussion!! Tell me how did you pick a name? Did you search babynames.com? Did you go off the meaning of a name? Family name? Great great grandfather's sister's name? Lay it on me, I'll have Ace go get his notebook. 

Oct 26, 2014

real talk | life in alaska

This week officially marks our two years in Alaska!! Kind of crazy for this military family that is used to moving just about every 18 months or less. But I am glad that we have been in one place long enough to explore, have a baby, and get ready to have another one. We have just about a year left and we really intend on living it up. Four kids in tow. But I will admit I wasn't always that enthusiastic about this place. If you have ever read this post, the undertone is quite negative. Which going back and reading now is kind of awful. With that post I get a couple emails a week asking me about life in Alaska. I almost always reply to those emails with "I may not be the best person to ask". Chris on the other hand is a good person to ask on this subject since he has immersed himself in all things the last frontier. So I thought I would try and check in from that previous post. Inquiring minds...this ones for you!
When we first moved up to Alaska I wasn't exactly in a good place. I was in what I thought was the first trimester from hell (this baby is laughing at Avalon's efforts) I hadn't eaten a morsel of  real food in months. I just got out of a car with two toddlers for twelve days, winding roads, and cold temps my body has never felt before. Needless to say I wasn't exactly a Georgia peach....get it...Georgia peach...we just drove from Georgia to Alaska. Never mind. Anyway, I took a look around and saw feet of snow, my bones felt like ice, and it was dark much of the day. It was like a shock to my system. As we got settled in I pretty much refused to do anything. I didn't feel like going outside. I didn't feel like shoveling snow. I didn't feel like defrosting my car 15-20 minutes before I left my house. While Chris was more like the abominable snowman. Just outside all the time. Going from place to place exploring on his downtime. It wasn't until after I had Avalon that I really snapped out of it. The snow was melting, the temps were rising, the sun was staying out longer and longer. And then summer arrived and I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. Alaska transforms into the most amazing place. People are out everywhere, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, hunting. I loved it. This was also the time we really started to explore places outside of Anchorage. We tried to eat at almost every restaurant downtown. It was like Chris knew he had to pack everything into that first summer because Kelsey was about to go back into hibernation mode. When summer came to an end we decided to do something a little different for our next winter. We decided to invest in the gear we needed to have fun in the winter with three small kids. I think that is the biggest mistake we made when we found out we were going to be stationed here, we bought stuff in the lower 48. You don't know what you need in Alaska until you are here. Locals will give you the ins and outs of the good brands, where to buy things, what not to waste your money on. We had to find these people, and we did. Chris has more friends at AMH  and REI than people I have in my phone book. It has really helped us be able to continue to explore all year around. Last winter was not so bad. Well except for the horrible melting and freezing craziness that was going on for months. But we still tried to get outside everyday. 
To answer some questions, yes things are more expensive in general up here. For example, Target and Toys R Us, prices will be higher. There are so many times I will find something in those stores and whip out my phone to see how much it is online and sure enough it is less. So instead I will go home and order online for in-store pick up, or Target stuff I will order with my redcard and have it shipped free to my front door. Also Amazon is a huge place to order things cheaper. Alaska has no sales tax, which is nice, but I find prices higher on most things. GROCERIES- probably the number one question I get asked about, milk at the commissary right now is $5.19. Safe to say this family who goes through 2 gallons of milk a week, not including Almond milk does not buy milk at the commissary. Instead I go to Target or Fred Meyer. I think we grocery shop at 5 different stores because we find better prices. We also try and shop at the smaller locally owned places. The Natural Pantry downtown, New Sagaya City Market, both of these places have good prices on some things, but great sales on produce as well. We are also feeding a family of five, almost six. So if it is just you and your wife moving to Alaska it may not be sticker shock for you. For us, it was. 
Toddlers in Alaska. Another huge question I get, what is there to do with kids in the winter. Well, if your kids are anything like mine, they want you to spend 30-45 minutes to get them all in their snow gear so they can run around in the cold for 30 minutes and come inside. When Chris is home he can get them to stay out for longer when they go sledding or skiing. But when it is just me with three kids it is a little tougher. So yes we have to find things to do. I can say Anchorage does not have a ton of indoor things for kids during the winter. You have a couple indoor play places, the museum, library, indoor soccer fields, and that is about it. Trust me once you have gone to Bouncing Bears seven times in the first two months of winter, you are left scratching your head until the weekend. But, it is doable. Your kids acclimate to the cold right along with you. They still go out for recess at school until the temps drop below 10 degrees. So again, invest in the right gear for them so they stay toasty and warm. 
Other things to take into consideration are tire costs, you switch them over twice a year. Studded or non-studded will be your choice. Do you need a 4 wheel drive car to live in Alaska, NO. My Pilot was not 4wd and I made it two years just fine. I had studless tires as well. Did I slip and slide...sure. But I never got stuck. Now I have a minivan, also not 4wd, but I have winter tires. Also windshield repair, just add that into your yearly expense. In Alaska they do not use salt on the roads, it attracts moose, and when it melts the runoff could get into the streams, and lakes. So they put down gravel, little flying rocks just looking to crack your windshield. We have replaced two so far. My advice would be to not fix it right away, wait until breakup. 

Also housing, another huge question. Housing prices are much higher up here. When we lived in Georgia, or even Arizona we had the same square footage, and three bedrooms with huge backyards. When we moved to Alaska our first house was three bedrooms, same amount of space, no back yard (house was on the side of a hill). That house was more than double what we paid in those two states. Then add in your heating bill and you are looking at crazy numbers. Now we were renting, so obviously much higher monthly. Many military families end up buying. Again, is it doable, absolutely. 
Moral of the story is, I am a warm weather lover at heart. I grew up in Las Vegas, triple digit heat is what I like. Before living in Alaska I probably went skiing twice in my life. I was the kid that would go down the hill once and then head back to the lodge for some hot chocolate. It has taken me awhile to embrace Alaska. But living here is a once in a life time opportunity. Chris is from Philly, and spent much of his teen years in Maine. He will even tell you that the winters are much different from anywhere else. If you are looking for a more "city" vibe I would stick to Anchorage. You get the best of both worlds. There are many of your main stream stores, Nordstrom, Target, Sephora, Bass Pro Shop, REI, Costco. You don't have that in the other small towns in Alaska. So I feel fortunate we got stationed here and not Ft. Wainwright in Fairbanks. Having lived in Vegas, Seattle, Arizona, and Georgia (frequent trips to Atlanta), I can say Anchorage has some of the best food I have ever eaten. Not just crab and salmon (which fresh salmon is a whole different ball game) but pizza, greek food, sushi, burgers. There are so many hidden gems here. With everything when you move here, you have to be willing to find these places. Get out, spend a little money along the way. This may not apply for people looking to permanently make a home here. But for military families where you probably didn't have a choice in moving to Alaska. Don't do what I did and waste anytime feeling sorry for yourself. So many places offer military discounts, slope days for military families, and so much more. Really get out there and embrace all that Alaska has to offer.

This isn't all to say that I still don't have my days where I just want an In N Out Burger and a stop at Homegoods, neither of which we have. But I will live. I may still kick and scream every time I have to shovel my car out of my driveway for the hundredth time. I may get a little aggravated when I am 45 minutes late to picking Ace up because someone hit a moose. Or when I find a really great piece of clothing online and they DON'T SHIP TO ALASKA! But I wouldn't change being stationed here. When we leave I know there are so many things I will miss, and I won't be able to find somewhere else. So my advice is to really do your research. Ask a lot of questions. Be open minded. Get ready for a change. But change is good, so embrace it! Most of all get some bear spray, a bear gun, some mosquito repellent and have some damn fun!

*Obviously this is only my experience in Alaska, please don't send me hate mail if you disagree. You can see more of our adventures at the Alaskan Adventures page at the top of the screen. If you have questions I can always try and answer them, or hopefully point you in the right direction. 

Oct 24, 2014

a mommy app

Out of all the apps on my phone I have never had a pregnancy app. I know crazy! Three kids and countless iPhone's you would think I would have something on my phone telling me what week of pregnancy I am in, or how much my little peanut weighs, and what the inter-workings of my body is doing. But alas I have not. Things change people, a couple weeks ago I was introduced to a mommy app. A cute app for the busy mom, and even some fun kids games thrown in there too (see you know this was designed by a mama). 

I think the really fun part is that it has other featured blogs, shops, and instagrams. I mean anything to broaden my social media addiction I am all for. The kids love the games sections, Avalon particularly likes the bubble game. It is an all in one if you ask me. I can jot down questions for my next OB appointment, which I still have so many. Like "is it normal for me to sleep in 45 minute increments?" or "you're positive that my skin itching this bad doesn't indicate I am allergic to my child?" have I ever told you how much my OB loves me? He does, the whole office just loves when we roll up in the minivan! Anyway, I can keep all my radical questions in this app, and hand my phone off to the kids so they can play the games while we wait for the doctor. And wait, and wait, and then have him show up for five minutes to tell me everything is great. When did this post turn into a play by play of my appointments....I don't know. 

But check out the app, it is available for the iPhone and Android. Take the mommy quizzes, which have proven to me that I know nothing about motherhood. But I refuse to admit defeat, I will get above a 40% at least once! And keep all your kids birthday's straight by giving them each a designated page. The app that just keeps on giving folks!

*special thank you to a mommy app for sponsoring this post. but of course these opinions are all mine.