our roots

After a six week wait, we received the results from our recent DNA testing.

The data confirms our family is a mix of European and Native American composition. There weren’t any surprises in the report. Our origins trace back to Germany, Poland and Latin America. A few educated guesses related to our ancestry timelines were also included. I was hoping for a few more details, but happy our samples were enough for the testing.


last great race on earth

Last Saturday, we attended our first ceromonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race! We are thankful to great friends who invited us to watch this amazing race from their favorite spot along the trail!

We enjoyed cheering on the mushers (dog drivers) and their teams of 12-16 sled dogs. A list of the 2019 mushers (dog drivers) can be found here.  Most of the sled dogs are Alaskan Huskies.

The official restart of this awesome dog sled race was the next day, beginning in Willow, with the finish line approximately 1000 miles away in Nome. It takes 8-15+ days to complete the trek.

A little research tells me that the Iditarod began in 1973. There is a northern route for even-numbered years and southern route for odd-numbered years.

I find this a truly fascinating sport and love following the mushers and their pups! Take a peek at: https://iditarod.com


snow removal

During the past month, the snowflakes fell in abundance. It was beautiful and dry.  The dryness took some of the chill out of the air. We spent lots of time playing and sledding in the snow.  We shoveled snow daily, often several times a day.

Winter driving in Anchorage was a new experience. After a fresh snowfall, it takes a while for the city to clear the secondary roads. The snow piled up on the street of our neighborhood.  It was deep and our van, equipped with snow tires, slid along as I tried following the ruts of previous vehicles. As we entered the main streets and highways, they were much clearer. 

The tricky part is the temperature hovers around freezing and forms ice below the snow. It makes for a pretty slick drive. Instead of school cancellations for snow days, in Anchorage we have ice days.

celebrations

This month began with the birthday of a new year, 2019! The festivities continued with Epiphany as we celebrated the coming of the Christchild to the Gentile world. Two birthdays and placement anniversaries filled us with joy & thanksgiving followed.

We spent wonderful moments together, exchanged small gifts and enjoyed delicious food. During these special times, it is difficult to be so far away from immediate family but video chatting continues to keep us connected on a regular basis. Our new friends in Alaska fill in the gaps with lots of love and laughter.

ethnicity reveal

This week, our family of four completed and submitted samples for DNA genetic testing. The genetic analysis requires a vial of salvia, which can be an almost impossible task for a young toddler so we decided to wait until our little ones were a bit older.

My husband I found it a struggle ourselves to fill up the vial. No food or drink 30 minutes prior to “submission.” Big & Sweet Pea did a great job. It took a while, but they were persistent. We encouraged them to rub the outside of their cheeks while thinking of their favorite foods. I also had them smell some lemon YL Essential Oil. It worked and 30 mintues later, the vials were sealed and ready to go.

So far, the laboratory has confirmed the arrival of Big’s sample, we are still waiting for confirmations of mommy, daddy & Sweet Pea’s. They estimated 3-4 weeks for the results.

Adoption is a tremendous blessing for the four of us. We can’t wait to learn more about each other! Stay tuned for our results…

residency

This month we officially became residents of Alaska!  In other words, we received our Alaska Drivers’ License! 

We waited to apply for our Alaskan Driver’s License at the DMV until we had a “semi-permament” address.  In preparation, we took a few online Alaska driving practice tests at home. I think I went through over 100 different questions.  The good news, there were only 20 questions on the exam.  We both passed. Completed Form 478. Submitted the required identification. Aced the vision test. Paid the fee. Took our voided Texas Driver’s License. Half-smiled for the camera. Waited 2.5 weeks for our Alaska Driver’s License to arrive in the mail.

I almost applied for a Class C (commerical) instead of a Class D (regular, non-commerical) License as I relied on the information from my Texas Driver’s License. There are a few differences between Texas and Alaska driving in classification and road regulations.

Alaska is part of the USA, yet in many ways it feels like living in another country.  In the faces I see, the languages I hear, the foods I taste, the scents I smell and the customs I try to learn – I find hues of Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Last Frontier. It is amazing to be in one place with constant reminders of my past. I am proud to be an Alaskan, even if I am a Cheechako.

Cheechako – A very important word for visitors to know. A cheechako is a newcomer to the country. The name is usually used in the pejorative sense, such as when someone displays a lack of skill or understanding in the ways of the wilderness. The opposite would be a “sourdough.” alaska.org/advice/speak-alaskan

in the dark

We moved into our rental house in November. Since our arrival, the bulbs of the track lighting in the living room have played electrical chairs (taking turns flickering on and off). The daily aftershocks add movement to their placement. One day, they all decided to stay off, after some crackling and shedding a few sparks.  At that moment, we notified the landlord and relied on sunlight a few hours and a lamp and moonlight (we are still waiting for blinds or curtains) for the rest of the time. Big and Sweet Pea love it as it is the perfect place to play flashlight games.

This morning, the electician arrived. As he climbed the ladder, he already figured out the problem, but wanted to do an inspection before confirming.  The transformer was missing a part which left a loose connection and effected the entire fixture. It is no longer in working condition or safe to use.

Until the landlord purchases a new light fixture and contracts the electrician to install, we will continue to enjoy the moonlight and flashlight fun!

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frozen

Winter has arrived. The temperatures have plummeted to the single digits and even to negative numbers this past week.  The still silence is broken by the chattering of our teeth whenever we are outdoors.

The littles ones are trained.  When someone says, “it is so cold out,” their response “welcome to Alaska!”

There is an amazing beauty to this season, the sparkling white covered trees. It is called hoarfrost.

HOARFROST: deposit of ice crystals on objects exposed to the free air, such as grass blades, tree branches, or leaves. It is formed by direct condensation of water vapour to ice at temperatures below freezing and occurs when air is brought to its frost point by cooling. Hoarfrost is formed by a process analogous to that by which dew is formed on similar objects, except that, in the case of dew, the saturation point of the air mass is above freezing. The occurrence of temperatures below 0° C (32° F) is not enough to guarantee the formation of hoarfrost. Additionally, the air must be initially damp enough so that when cooled it reaches saturation, and any additional cooling will cause condensation to occur. In the absence of sufficient moisture, hoarfrost does not form, but the water in the tissues of plants may freeze, producing the condition known as black frost.  — ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA

The forecast for the rest of the week has a high of 13 F with snow showers and freezing rain during the beginning of next week.  We continue to adapt to the climate change from the sunny desert of El Paso, TX.

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2018 reflections

The last day of the year.

Our family’s 2018 was full of adventures.  Roadtrips, family & friend visits, birthdays & wedding celebrations, multi-language work in Latin America, a move from the desert to snow covered mountains, three homes in three months, new congregational ministry, new faces & places, earthquake, dust, snow, wildlife and many things in between have filled our days.

We are thankful for the abundant blessings from God this year as well as the challenges which have drawn us closer to our Savior.

We pray that you may end the year and begin 2019 in Christ.

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