Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greetings from us here in Santa Land!

On Angel's birthday in September

So we’ve decided that after several months of being in Alaska now and being somewhat settled in, it was probably about time we did some checking in. We arrived toward the end of July and after over 2 months of living out of a dingy apartment style hotel room, called TLF (temporary lodging facility), we finally were offered a house! Originally told we only qualified for a 2 bedroom, last minute we got word that there were some issues moving the current people from that home and we were told we get a 3 bedroom just down the street from the first one. Talk about being overly exited! It’s a 3 bedroom quad-plex type home with 3 stories, including the basement we have downstairs. Downsides are that now we have A LOT of stairs to take to get laundry from a bedroom to the laundry in the basement, the layout of the main floor is borderline insanity and the basement is unfinished so feels dark and dungeony with it’s exposed drywall and concrete floors. However I will say the upsides are that we now have a fenced in area for June to go outside, we have a guest bedroom set up (take that as a hint family!) while still having a nice separate room for the baby, 3 bathrooms instead of 1, huge kitchen… See what I mean? Few cons to this house and believe me, we have complained more than once about them and probably still will, but at the end of the day we have a home and it’s more than big enough for us and our growing family. Guess you can’t complain too hard when looked at from that perspective, I suppose? Note to self on that one… J
Front View of Our house!
Well moving on, we’ve entered into our very first winter here and everyone tells us that this is actually very mild compared to what it usually is by this time of year. Scary thought let me tell you! We’ve had lots of snow already and while it’s not staying there yet, we have experienced our first nights in the negative temperatures. Two nights ago it got down to -15 and the high for the following day was something like -4. To explain, this is COLD…. Bone chillingly cold.. But, not quite the same as we sort of anticipated. There isn’t any wind to make it feel more intense and there isn’t really any moisture in the air either, that would tend to make a chill feel worse. It’s something you have to prepare for. No grabbing a coat to run out the door or forgetting to get the car running to defrost, you must have a zipped up coat with gloves and a hat and that car better had been running before you get in it to go anywhere. The air stings your skin and burns breathing it in, so going into it for more than a minute or two while not bundled and ready, is not so fun. We got an auto start put into Ryan’s truck since his truck sits outside but decided to hold off on Angel’s car since it stays in the garage, we now decided after one experience that getting one on Angel’s car is now in the budget as well. Coming out of a doctor’s appointment that took a few hours when it was about zero degrees outside, coat not zipped and gloves or any other cover on, was all it took. It felt too cold to hardly move and then waiting in that parking lot for the car to warm up enough for my joints to grip the steering wheel, was an eternity, and made us second guess not having it. For how hard that was on an adult, we can’t imagine bringing a baby out of a building after that period of time to get into a car that cold to head home.
Bear Lake, just down the street from our neighborhood and where we take June to run. The lake was just beginning to freeze over.
But anyway, do keep in mind again that the cold is actually bearable if you just prepare yourself. (So not an excuse to not come and visit if you were thinking it. Another hint!) Plus the upside is, it’s not gotten to our darkest point yet and the snow outside covering everything is amazing. It looks like a winter wonderland! We actually had snow before Halloween, so it was pretty comical that all the Halloween decorations that people had out were covered in a pretty white blanket and didn’t seem so scary or spooky anymore. Actually what is even more interesting is that, being here were it’s already white and being a few miles from the North Pole, people are already putting up their Christmas décor. It sounds so tacky to those of us that are very used to having set seasons and knowing when was appropriate to decorate to each. But you can’t help it here, the Autumn is so short that you have what seems like a couple of weeks of the falling leaves and then boom just cold and then the snow begins. We put Fall décor around the house and outside but didn’t put up Halloween and even our décor looks kind of silly. So many houses already have big blow-up Santa’s and snowmen and their Christmas lights up that we think that if the weather allows, maybe this weekend we’ll decorate for it too. In my humble opinion, the darkness approaching and the cold outside gives us leave to have some décor up for a little bit longer, which will brighten things up and bring us some extra cheer that we sometimes feel like we need. Very exited to see all of that stuff on and around our house now, the only worry is that our living room is a laughable sized cubicle that hardly fits us and any furniture in here so not sure where we’d have a Christmas tree. We’ll figure something out though because no house of ours will be truly complete without some sort of tree. Too many special ornaments that mean the holidays to not have anywhere to display them!
The new stockings we ordered for our little family! Look we're going to be a mom & dad!!
Oh and the Aurora Borealis has already come out to greet us since we’ve been here! Two nights we have gotten photos. Interestingly, the night it was most visible to the naked eye, we didn’t get as great photos but the following time we got word that there may be some lights in the sky, we couldn’t see them very well but drove out in the hills and the camera caught some absolutely amazing shots. The vivid greens that literally dance in the sky and even some purple just seem surreal. This is one of those things that are a reminder from God that there are some truly beautiful things in the world and no matter how we may feel about being here; we are blessed to experience some of that greatness.
The Aurora and it's reflection over the lake near our house.
 Taken here on base, in person it looks like holes just opened up from heaven and shines through!

Also taken here on base, look at those pinkish purple hues!
Well as you know, we are finally taking our turn and preparing to invite a new member of the Hall and Tompkins family and she will arrive here at the end of next month. As you can obviously tell, it is a going to be a little girl and we have decided to name her Grace Elisabeth. She is our amazing grace and if it weren’t for some of this pain and discomfort in feeling her grow, it almost couldn’t begin to seem real for us still. Talk about another one of God’s blessings and he’s bestowing it upon us. As I’ve made pretty clear I imagine, being in Alaska is not out ideal, but she will be born here and that some how makes it seem a little more beautiful to me. She’s currently a little over 5 pounds and we’re at 33 and half weeks as of now. Her nursery is coming together beautifully, complete with her daddy painting it just for her. To be honest, it’s by far the nicest room is the house! We’ll definitely share pictures after the final touches. And all in all, we just can’t wait to meet her and love her and to have the chance to let the rest of the family do the same. It’s a time like this that we miss everyone all the more and hate not having everyone we love to share all of this with, that is by far the most difficult part of being stationed so far away. But in the grand scheme of things, just another couple of years and we will be able to move closer again, making it all that much easier to see everyone and let our Gracie know her family.
Taken about 5 weeks ago, looks like we've got a few in there doesn't it! Please disregard that lovely swelling..  J
28 week 3D ultrasound, couldn't get her whole face because she's a snuggler

 I suppose it’s time to close this out for now, we apologize for not updating it regularly to keep you all abreast and as promised before, we’ll try our hardest to keep posting more often. Hope you enjoy these few photos and just for the sake of protecting Ryan's amazing work, all of the photos on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Ryan Hall. So much love from us up here near the North Pole and remember to be good this year, we have a special “in” with Santa you know, we’re practically neighbors! J
Welcome to where it's Christmas all year round!

Momma and baby moose wandering here on base