This last week was just not in my favor. I had a baby with a serious sleep strike going on. I woke up each day irritable and short tempered. That attitude overflowed onto everything I did. It seemed as if the kids were intentionally being terrors and trying to get under my skin, when the reality is that I was just acting like an asshole and being a bad mood Betty was the cause of all my strife. After a day where all hell broke loose, instead of pouring myself a stiff drink that night, I filled up a large glass with water and raised my white flag. I went to bed early and defeated and tried to be very intentional with my thoughts when I fell asleep; that tomorrow would be a better day.

I woke up, still cranky, but determined to get this monkey off my back. While still chilly, we have had some incredible weather lately, and I had an itch to get out and shoot. I figured fresh air and a heavy dose of vitamin D could cure my blues. Sharky hopped in the back of the car and we left the house early afternoon, just as both boys were ready for a nap. The setup seemed perfect. They both fell asleep quickly. The warm sunshine beaming through the windows, and the open road ahead of me, it was bound to be a success.

The boys slept the entire time and while I didn’t get off the beaten path to much, there were plenty of places for me to stop and let the dog roam free and stretch, and for me to crawl on top of the car and shoot.

I felt refreshed. I felt renewed. No one will contest that spring in Alaska isn’t beautiful. I came home pleased with the shots I had and happy to have something to edit that night. Noticing though that I needed to clean my screen. I did my very best to hold off letting the kids use my IPad, but I eventually broke down and they are allowed to watch on it at times. Consequently, their grubby little fingerprints covered my screen.

We got ready for bed that evening, all of us cheerful from the days activities. I tucked Hayden in and whispered that if she got up early the next morning, that I would let her skip the school bus and take her to school. Stopping to get breakfast on the way. Who wouldn’t have sweet dreams thinking of McDonalds breakfast!?

I grabbed my camera on our way out of the door, knowing that I could probably get a couple chances at some great morning light, while we burned off some time before that 9 am drop off.

Man. I felt so productive and proud that I had turned my bad week around. Until I noticed when I went to post the photo above on social media. I had cleaned my IPad screen, yet that pesky spot I had noticed on my photos from last night was still there. With a sinking feeling, I grabbed my camera and quickly scrolled back through all my latest photos. That spot was on all my shots. That smudge was not on my IPad but on my FREAKING LENS!

I spent the next few minutes cleaning my lens and wallowing in self pity. I was heartbroken that my photos now had a flaw that was completely preventable and my own fault. I scrapped the Instagram post I had started and removed the other photos from the Scrapbook Sunday post they were set to be in. Ugh.

That smudge nagged me all day. The smudge had teamed up with the monkey and made their way to my back.

It took me a while to realize that my own perspective was the cause of my frustration. There is a solid chance that most of you won’t even notice the spot. Or if you do, it’s not as distracting to you as it is to me. Perhaps this was the universe trying to tell me to get over myself. There isn’t a single person out there who doesn’t have struggles. Our imperfections and flaws are what make us original. Unlike anyone else. My baby who can’t sleep through the night will grow into a toddler who wants to sneak into my bed. Soon, school age and arguing about bedtimes. My three year old that gets into all sorts of mischief will eventually be to busy with his own life to need me to clean up his messes. That little spot that “ruined” a few photos is insignificant. I didn’t leave the house that day with the intent of getting award winning photos. I needed a fresh start, and I got it. Maybe that’s what our imperfections are there for. Reasons to make us step back and realize when we need a fresh start. And if that’s the case, things are going to stay fresh around here for a long time. 🙂

our escape from the arctic

My original plan was something along the lines of ‘”Our Tropical Vacation” but I wanted to add a little more drama to it; catch your attention. Did it work? 🙂

It has taken me longer than I expected to get this post done, but it’s been nice to have time to unwind and get back in my groove. Looking back at pictures now that it’s been a few weeks, makes me appreciate the time we had away from home even more.

The idea behind this trip started after we returned home from our last escape from Alaska. Having just gotten back from the northwest, we were still eager to get a break from winter. Andy was working nights, and in his spare moments texting me throughout the evening. A couple days shy of New Years and we both agreed we still had an itch for a warm vacation. On a whim, I searched Airbnbs in Hawaii and stumbled upon on what was a pretty incredible deal. I forwarded it to Andy to have a look. Never having been the one to really question an adventure, he told me to book it. The rest luckily, fell into place smoothly. By New Year’s Day, flights and rental car were booked, we even got my sister in law to join us, and we were headed to Oahu the very next month. WOO. HOO.

I think what I was most excited about, apart from the obvious (warm weather, ocean air, relaxation) was seeing the kids experience the ocean and all of its wonder.

As you can probably imagine, traveling with three small children in tow, has it’s challenges. We hit gold with our Airbnb though. It was a (private) attached guesthouse with our own lanai looking out over the water. Our host was an incredibly sweet 74 year old retired couple (Alvin and Pat), who had their 7 year old granddaughter (Averie) living with them. The kids instantly hit it off with her, and in no time at all Hayden referred to her as her Hawaiian sister. It felt like home away from home. With a full kitchen, we rarely ate out, and instead cooked majority of our meals at home. Each morning, everyone was up with the chickens in time to watch the sun rise up over the horizon. The kids would race out in their pajamas and swing, while the rest of us soaked in the warm morning sun and drank coffee. If I could bottle up a mood, it would be those very mornings. A fresh cup of coffee in my hand, the air humid from the early morning rain, the sounds of water lightly crashing up over the stairs leading from the yard, and the giggles of the kids racing to see who can swing the highest.

Alvin and Pat had paddle boards, kayaks, and an assortment of floaties available for us to use. We purchased sand toys for the kids to build sand castles, but ended up only having a couple beach days away from home. The rest of the time, we used the gear at the house to swim or paddle all around the bay. Arm lengths away from the kids running around the backyard. Steps away from our beds where little people could lay down and nap when they needed. We kept the fridge stocked with snacks and all our favorite sandwich fixings. Each night, we barbecued for dinner and eventually our new found friends started joining us, and it became something we looked forward to at the end of each day. We swapped stories and learned about each other’s home life. The kids got to see where Averie’s elementary school was, and Alvin brought over bowls of rice each night and even treated us to some incredible teriyaki beef he prepared. He had already lived such a full life and he and Andy had hours worth of stories they indulged in. He even unveiled his vintage cars and took Andy for a few rides during our visit.

The winters in Alaska are long. Often we get snow by October and this year it most likely won’t be completely melted for another month. If we are lucky. We needed a change. Sunshine and days spent in a single layer of clothing. There were a few days that we had wanted to take the kids to places like the Sea Life center or different parks, and we ended up bagging those plans and just staying at the house. Those days turned out to be my favorites times during the trip. The kids ran all over the yard and played. We made drinks and laid out in the sun. No agenda, no where to be. No one was worried about home work, laundry that needed to be done or dishes that sat in the sink. Our only priority was reapplying sunscreen.

Often we packed lunches and would head out for the afternoons, with no real plans. Usually finding a new beach was on the agenda, and we made sure to stop at the local fruit stands. Our fridge stayed stocked with fresh fruit and juice for each day. There were a couple days we did touristy stuff, but I’ll save those details for their own post. Each evening we returned home before the sun set, and prepped for dinner. Getting back in time to watch as the tide slowly crept out and we were able to go down below the yard and walk the small stretch of beach that appeared. The kids would scream and run from the small black crabs that would start to gather on the rocks, and each day I found a new piece of coral to add to my collection to take home.

Since coming home, there is rarely a day that the kids don’t ask about us returning to Hawaii. Especially as the snow continues to fall around us and spring is taking it’s sweet ol time arriving. It’s not hard to day dream about being back in paradise, so until then I’ll continue to look back at posts like this and revisit all the incredible memories we made.