I haven’t been that active on here lately, but I feel like December is the perfect time to sort of just slow down and soak up the holiday season. I can’t believe we’re just 10 days from Christmas, and with temperatures consistently below freezing lately, we’ve sort of been in this funny mix of hibernation and survival mode. Nevertheless, we’re here, and we’re trucking along! While I do have some year-end wrap-up posts to share soon, right now, we’re enjoying the calm before the proverbial storm of the holidays.
Little Bits of Life Lately in Alaska
At every duty station we’ve lived, I’ve tried to take the time to sort of collect my thoughts here and there and put them down into words – if only to look back later and see the things we lived through, what we loved, what we enjoyed, and the challenges in all of it.
My photography business is slowly but surely finding its footing here, but not without its own unique set of challenges. Guys, it’s cold. I’m a natural light photographer, and I think that I’m pretty dang adventurous, but my last session was -10F. Yes, you read that correctly. Most sessions are mini in nature, simply because we can’t be outside too much longer – especially in photo-worthy clothes. I’ll be honest though…the photos and the backdrops are bar none though, so it’s been really neat!
The kids are doing great in their sports. It’s been so fun to watch them grow in their jiujitsu, and they look forward to competing again in April. I love that there are more sports options here though, I’ll be honest; we ended up pulling Porter out of hockey because it was too much to juggle jiujitsu, swimming, and hockey.
Homeschooling is trucking along. Some days are great. Other days are really challenging. The kids miss the constant busy-ness we had in Korea, and that’s been hard for all of us, but they’re both learning and growing as little scholars, and I love it. Mieke, too, is slowly but surely learning her alphabet to prepare for Kinder next year.
We have amazing neighbors! The kids all get along so swimmingly, and we spend at least one afternoon a week outside in the snow. We mamas plunk ourselves down in lawn chairs in the snow, and we sit and watch them play in the dark until we start to freeze. Then, simply rinse and repeat.
For those who didn’t know, we lose a lot of our daylight in interior Alaska during the winter. We’re about to start gaining sunlight after the winter solstice, but we get down to just under 4 hours of sunlight a day. Right now, the sun rises at 10:51 AM and sets at 2:39 PM. It’s really cool and really different!
The cold has been a challenge for sure. We’re used to cold, but this is cold. Finding the right gear for each of us has been a special challenge, and even your average heavyweight Smartwool base layer isn’t enough to get by. When I start my car in the mornings now, I actually go out for those 30 seconds in my parka, mittens, and balaclava just to start it because, yes, we only have a one-car garage. We plug mine in overnight and swap it into the garage once Ryan leaves for work.
There are always growing pains with a big move, but this move from South Korea to Alaska has been the hardest by far. I’ve kind of toyed with being super honest and forthright here with being positive, but I finally decided that I didn’t want to just err on the side of toxic positivity. I want to be honest. It’s been hard. We miss South Korea so much. Even with all its challenges, there is so much good there, and we thrived as a family. Alaska is gorgeous, but it’s literally comparing apples to oranges. One doesn’t equate to the other.
Things are expensive. We are good with our money, and we had hefty savings when we left Korea, but this move definitely chipped well into that. So, for those of you who think “the military pays for you though,” allow me to dispel that notion. Moving, even when they move the bulk of it, costs a lot. It’s also taken a long time to gain clientele again for my business, which is our proper second income.
The Bottom Line About Life Lately in Alaska
I don’t write any of my posts with a “woe is me” mentality, but rather just to be honest. Moving is hard. Displacement is hard. Growth in new places and actually planting yourself there is really hard. I never want anyone to just think we all simply adapt and overcome. If you, too, are struggling in those growing pains, you’re not alone! Things do and will get better, but it’s okay to really be in it at any given time.