I keep waiting for reality to set in. To wake up from this dream where I’m surrounded by mountains, living with my family in a beautiful place filled with adventure, amazing people, and the things we value the most in life. But this isn’t a dream–its now MY reality. I get to live, breathe, and be what I’ve always wanted, longed for, and worked for. After a full year of living full-time in our sweet, little town of Cordova in coastal Alaska I’ve had the chance to look back at how far we have come, as a family and me, as a mom, wife, and woman.
The boys and I, heading on a jet plane to Alaska!
A year ago we packed up all of our belongings (after getting rid of so much stuff!) into a 6x6x12 trailer and headed for Alaska, the Last Frontier. My husband, Jason, drove up our minivan packed with our first month’s essentials and made the 3000 mile journey in less than 5 days. Needless to say, he drove like a mad man while I traveled with the 2 boys on an airplane. WORST. FLIGHT. EVER. Little did I know that we all were sick with Influenza (me too while I was already waist deep in morning sickness) and when we got off our plane and to our hotel, we were all miserable. After 2 nights in Anchorage and a 7 hour ferry ride we finally arrived to our rental home for the summer and I couldn’t have been more relieved. Cue sleeping in bed for a full week to recover from sickness, sickness, and moving!
That first month flew by in a haze of pouring rain that came from all directions, net mending at all hours of the night, and explorations led by the youngest two–they were the ones that kept on going. I spent most of my days laid up in bed sick as can be but after I passed that 18 week mark I felt as if I rose out of my grave and came back to life! We were lucky to have a visit from my in-laws and with them came ALL OUR STUFF! They drove our trailer up from MN and after 1000+ miles and 7 ferry rides, they made it! Now it felt like we could finally move in and claim this place as our home–well, at least for a few months.
Fishing season came a little too fast and it came on hard. During the first few weeks my husband is usually gone for two, 12-24 hour openers a week (more like 2-3 days and home for 6 hours and so on…) but the fishing season started with one 12 hour opener and then BOOM! 36 hour, 48 hour, 48 hour, and so on! We barely got to see each other and that romantic notion that somehow making the move to live in the town where he worked so we could see each other MORE quickly faded away. It left me feeling quite drained and a bit dismayed. The upside was that I had a brother and 2 friends in town for fishing so we had some company to break up the monotony of me solo parenting the boys ALL day and ALL night. Family and friends are such a blessing!
After I stopped feeling sorry for myself and decided to embrace this life we had chosen for ourselves, the summer was amazing! The warm weather was endless, the sand and dirt pits always entertained, the berry and mushroom foraging was epic, and the lake even warmed up enough for us to swim. It was the quintessential “Minnesota Summer” but here in Alaska where the night slipped in for a few hours and the energy of the town seemed endless (sunsets and sunrises were only spaced apart by a few hours of darkened skies). Although we didn’t get to see “Poppa” much, with a concerted effort to change our attitudes, we never felt closer to living our dream.
The thing with dreams though is they are hardly ever easy–they require work! My husband and I spent 3 years remodeling a home while living in it with 2 small children (even birthing one in our home, Merrik) and those days got so long. We would feel defeated at times but it always helped us keep perspective if we reminded ourselves of the WHY? CORDOVA. FAMILY. MOUNTAINS. That was our “why?”. We wanted to live here while the kids were still young in a community that valued the outdoors, that played in the mud, wind, rain, sand, sunshine, and anything in between, and valued helping each other out. The close knit community that is Cordova has truly been such a blessing–they have become our new, extended family. We celebrate together, we share laughter, we share tears, and you can always count on someone to come through for you. We needed that. I NEEDED THAT. That sense of belonging, that sense of purpose, and the sense that someone needed me too. Cordova gave us the breath of life we had been searching for, longing for.
While Cordova has been our “home” back and forth for many years as we traveled up for the first month of fishing season, it never truly felt like home until we boarded the ferry back to Cordova after birthing Marabelle (the newest addition) last November. There are no options to birth in town unless you want to do so unassisted. While most everyone defaults to Anchorage for birthing we decided to deviate from the norm and head to the much more slow paced and seaside community of Homer, AK. We had to be there for 5 weeks (I had required some closer monitoring with my heart so we were there longer AND baby girl decided to cook an extra week) and it felt so long to wait and wait and wait for Marabelle to come–I just wanted to meet her already! Apparently she was waiting for the super moon (just like her brother) and then bam!, our world changed once again. We could finally go back to our new house that we had closed on just weeks before her birth and finally, FINALLY settle into our Alaska dream home.
So here we are again, busy getting ready for the fishing season after a productive winter of a garage addition, plenty of outdoor hiking, skiing, and family time, as well as moments of complete exhaustion due to the life that is YOUNG CHILDREN. Our life may not always be perfect, it may never even come close to it but right now, right here, it sure feels like we are finally living the life we were meant to, the life we have longed for, and the life we were MADE for. Me, as a mother, wife, homemaker, fitness junkie, food maker, food forager, musician, adventurer and my family, as a unit always striving to be better as we are not complacent with GOOD–we want our life to be the BEST. As we prepare ourselves to once again be Dad: Gone Fishing, and Mom: Full time with 3 kiddos, we have to remind ourselves of why we are here, why we wanted this, and why its all worth it. To remind ourselves that we need to put in the work in to get the life we want. To put in the work that turns our simple dreams into our reality.