Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Who wants to come to dinner at my house?  These are our friendly quails that live in the neighborhood.  They waltz through the backyard several times a day... very fat and very happy. I try and get pictures of these fellas - but they no likey my camera.  They flew up in the tree JUST before I got'em this time.  We've considered getting a BB-gun... I mean, these suckers would provide lots of freezable meat!  I know what Uncle Lane would do!
If you don't like quail.... just find the gaggle of turkeys roaming around.  Guess they all feel safe as long as they stay in the neighborhood!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Christmas

In spite of the budget... we're not sending out cards this year.  Next year?  Probably.  BUT I picked out the ones I wanted to send... so you'll have to enjoy it here!  
MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!   (ps - this beautiful design came from TinyPrints.com)

Friday, July 23, 2010

California, here we... ARE

I know we're behind. Give us time, ok? First I most post and say... my dear husband's last post has made me cry on MANY occasions. He wrote it the day I flew out with one child on each hip and Mozzie (grandma Pernell) at my side to help. It was a sad, sad day and VERY bitter sweet. We had some rough times in Alaska and never got to enjoy it quite like we had hoped... but we had a VERY tight family of friends that we love dearly. We miss them all SO very much. Lily asks daily for all of her friends. She once told me "Well mom, we need to get on our airplane and go then" after I told her we couldn't go over and see her friends because they were in Alaska. She often times picks up her shovel and asks to go play in the snow as well! Our latest heartbreak was when we were all packed up in the car and heading to visit a new church. Lily was so excited and then... it made sense. "I get to play with Kinley mama? And Peyton?" Um... no sweetie, we're trying a new church...

That being said - the girls are doing pretty well. They've handled all the change... as well as you could expect. NOT that it has been easy. They thoroughly enjoyed their little vacation at Papa and Mozzie's house and all the extra attention, extra sugar, extra lack of rules... you get my point. They missed their Daddy but that was NEVER more evident than after we were finally all back together again as a family! Reesie Piece is a HUGE Daddy's girl. From the moment he walks in the door she wants nothing to do with anyone else and demands his every attention! If she hears a rumble outside - she goes to the door and waits for Daddy to come in! If he bypasses her for a moment - to use the bathroom, unload his arms, or to DARE kiss his wife or Lily first... Reese makes her general disapproval known to everyone within earshot! It's cute and endearing... and frankly, I enjoy it! Lily continues to be a mama's girl. She's still an emotional child... she can be the sweetest child in the world and is VERY in tune to other's feelings! That being said, she's also quite over dramatic with her own! She has potty trained, moved into a big girl bed and learned to ride her tricycle with ease. She's also learned that Reese is now wedging in on her toys, her turf and her quality "me" time! Reese is walking and trying to run, climbing on EVERYTHING, into EVERYTHING and gets VERY excited about doggies and birds! She has some baby talk going on, but no obvious verbal inclination at this point! She's a poor sleeper... but we have faith she'll get it figured out... EVENTUALLY!!

We're all enjoying our new home! It fits us beautifully and we really enjoy it. The kids love playing outside and we're out there several times a day! They've also enjoyed eatting the fresh (and rotten...) fruits that are growing around back including plubs, oranges (well, its' the neighbors tree... but we can read'em!), strawberries and apples -- and are watching the grapes grow and ripen on the vine! There are roses blooming that we hope to get pruned back and under control as well as several other beautiful flowers. They've both learned what "bugs" are. Reese doesn't care and will happily put them in her mouth. Lily flips out... she just wasn't accustomed to bugs where we were! But she's learning... and she likes to use the fly swatter. We've all gotten a little bit more vitamin D in our system and it feels good!!

Just a quick little update to say "Hi from sunny California" and we hope to be back with more! I'll try and get some pictures up eventually!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Closing thoughts about Alaska

So many great and terrible things happened to the Elston family while living in AK for the last 2 years and 10 months and 3 days.

With so many life events crowded into the first year of marriage it was bound to be one helluva ride. And, so it was. Marriage, moving, new job for Kristi, pregnancy #1, graduation, new job for Josh, 5 weeks in AL away from Kristi, packing, moving to AK, buying a first home, buying a first crib, painting a baby room and delivering baby #1 all thrown into year number one of marriage we thought we would never catch our breath.

I was busy learning my new job working many, many long hours when Lily came along on a dark, winter day, close to the shortest day of the year. It was -10F when we brought her home that first day. Then Kristi stopped being a nurse to be a full-time mom. Raising Lily for the 1st 9 months, with a tired stressed mama and a tired, stressed dad was probably one of the worst times of my whole life. Lily was miserable so, therefore, mama was. Mama was miserable, so, therefore, I was too. We hung on as best we could to God and to each other. We didn't find a church (and friends) for almost a year and a half. With no outlets for either of us and a sick baby, it all just seemed too much at times. We began to HATE Alaska and resent the beauty of it that we could only ever admire from our home window. With no energy to venture out with Lily, we just survived. Al the while, Kristi and I's relationship grew and grew. All for the better.

After Kristi took the time to figure out Lily's ailments things got better. Kristi found a lousy job, but it gave her time to talk and think like an adult, it gave Lily some time to socialize, and it gave me some peace of mind knowing that both were doing better. I won't tell the terrible stories of how we eventually found our wonderful nanny but I'm sure any parent could fill in the blanks about that, eh-hem, adventure. Peace came again, but only shortly, when pregnancy number #2 was bestowed upon our house. Just 8 months after Lily's birth news of #2 was already thundering down the halls. Suddenly, our house, and my paycheck seemed much smaller than before. Too shocked ourselves, we kept #2 quiet until halfway through the 2nd trimester. Baby two has to be different we thought. Easier to raise, no allergies, please God.

Reese Caroline came in the summer time, close the longest day of the year. She was born around 9pm but the sun was still out. God had been working on mom and dad while Reese was cooking so we both felt slightly more prepared. And, at least, we had a full wardrobe of pink clothes already purchased for her. Maybe my wallet can stretch farther than I thought. Reese is certainly mellower and less dramatic than Lily but also comes with food allergies. So be it. If we can deal with it with one kid, two shouldn't be too much. After all, buying dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free in bulk should be cheaper, right? Well, in Alaska it's not.

Today, we are more a family than ever. Kristi is the most wonderful mother. She's so loving, a wonderful teacher, a great discipline-er and still finds time to make a me a hot meal before I come home from work. I admire, respect, and love her with all of my heart. I love her more than when we left for Alaska, more than when Lily came, more than when Reesie Piece came, and more today than yesterday.

The Air Force was and has been very, very good to me. There's something intangible serving in the military offers me that gets me out of bed and off to work everyday. Most days I may even carry a smile on my face into work. God blessed me with the right job, the right boss, the right staff, and the right place all at the same time. Heading to CA, I feel quite prepared for my next position. And, I greatly look forward to the sun and a shorter winter.

Alaska is big. Huge. It's wonderful, majestic, and beautiful. You should come visit. You can't help but worship the Creator of such a place. Sometimes I think He made those mountain outside my front window just for me. Even though I saw the same mountain out my window everyday, I never grew tired of them. I never wished for another view. I was satisfied. What a rare feeling for me on this earth. But, make no mistake. It was never the creation that was amazing, it was only ever the Creator.

God is bigger than Alaska (which, by no small coincidence, is also bigger than TX). He's bigger than unplanned pregnancies and colicky babies. He's bigger than the 18 hour plane ride home to either TX or NC. He's bigger than school loans or home loans. And, best of all He's bigger than the struggles we've endured up here. Halelujiah, we've survived and, dare I say, even grown as a result of living in AK.

Kristi and I have grown closer than ever. Our kids have grown. I have grown a lot as a dad but am amazed at how slow my growth has been. Two kids and I still feel like I'm just figuring out how to be a dad, let alone a good one. I'm so selfish. But, I have learned one thing about being a dad so far- time is what matters most to kids. Their toys get old and they don't care about my money. But, they long for my time. My kids think I'm the coolest when I'm laying down in the middle of the floor with them, just being there with them, as if I were one of them. Jesus does the same thing with me. Cool.

I pray for blessings on blessings for the friends we have made up here. To the Wagners, The Rizer's, the Braquet's, the Schlei's, and the Wilson's...thank you. Thank you for going through our struggles with us; for consistently and lovingly offering to help us carry our burdens. Jesus used you to rescue us out of the miry pit (Ps 40). I learned how to love my wife better, be a better dad, and to know Christ and his goodness more because of you all, my friends. Thanks for sharing your love and your state with my family.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter Everyone!!! The Lord has risen!! He has risen indeed!!!
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What happens when you ask big sister to kiss little sister...

Reese is crawling... and pulling up on everything!

The girls are starting to play together -- of course in Lily's terms!

The first day of spring has sprung in Alaska... so we went sledding in the front yard!

And Lily's been driving... (me crazy... LOL)

And this post wouldn't be complete without our little dance party. Guess who's the break out star? I think her daddy taught her that little hiney-shake!