Friday, August 30

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, August 29

Hiking Portage Pass

heading up in 2011

heading up in 2012

heading up in 2013

Wow.  My hiking buddies have grown up!  Last Friday the weather broke for a bit and we decided to head up the trail on our last day of summer vacay together.  It was a busy day on the trail, but we made it to the top and some nice folks from Anchorage took this picture for us.

Stacy is trying to look through my sunglasses she told me.  She was a *little bit* tired at the top...

Portage is not a very long hike, but it's steep.  It's hard work for little ladies!  The view is always rewarding, though...

Portage Glacier from the top

Passage Canal from the top
I love these views, too...

Hiking is one of those restorative activities for us.  There are always those moments of bliss along the trail where it all seems totally worth it.  Following them (when they're not whining about being hot/tired/thirsty/hungry/bitten by bugs/cold) is that moment for me.  I try to keep it fun...let's be real.  They're little kids.  It's steep.  There's going to be some whining.  But.  I like to think that by gently nudging them on after a little water break that I'm also teaching them a life skill.  We can do hard things.  It's not easy, but doing hard things feels good.  So...we hiked to the top and you know what?  Downhill was easier!  Isn't that how life is?  Ups and downs, hard spots and easier ones.  So hike on, little ladies!  The hard work will be worth it!

Monday, August 26

First Day of School!

The girls were so excited this morning!!

It's my tradition to write a letter to the girls each year around this time.  I tuck them away for them to read some day when they are older.  This year though, I used this letter and changed a few personal details to make it more real for my kids (don't worry, the author of the original letter says here that she doesn't mind at all if you change it for your own use).  I shared it with them this morning before they headed off to school.  I am not going to lie...I cried.  And I cried a lot.  Not because they are growing up, or because I didn't want them to go.  I cried because this world is so rough.  Because as they grow, the job of navigating the world becomes our shared journey and will ultimately be their own path.  I want so badly to give them the tools to walk that path in a positive way, leaving their mark on the world.  

My letter:


Dear Girls,

Today is a big day…the first day of school!

Ladies – When I was in third grade, there was a girl in my class named Megan. Megan looked a little different and she wore funny clothes and she had a funny rash on her skin. Megan didn’t smile. She hung her head low and she never looked at anyone at all. The other kids teased Megan a lot. Whenever they did, her head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased her, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Megan, not once. I never invited her to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, she sat and played by herself. She must have been very lonely.

I still think about Megan a lot. I wonder if Megan remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked her to play, just once, she’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Kiddo, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Hey! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.
Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me. We will make a plan to help together. 

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Megan. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Megan could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Girls – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if the other girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.
We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me ladies, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are such lucky ladies . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.


Belated {this moment}

Ugh.  You know, usually I love scrolling back through pictures of the week and reflecting.  I enjoy choosing a moment to post here.  Last week though...the moments I wanted to remember were few and far between!  It was a rough one around here, people.  The best day was Thursday, when we spent all day in town after having been up until 10pm the night before and not sleeping in.  Yeah.  When that's your best day, you're nearing the bottom of the barrel, folks!

As I look back on it, I can pinpoint a few things that made the week tough.  It was mostly rainy, the kids were super-excited for the start of school today, they were coming down with the first cold of the season, and they were super-excited for the start of school.  Oh.  Did I already mention they were looking forward to the start of school?  That excitement, when paired with no real outlet for the energy created by it and then layered with feeling crummy, made for a week of fighting, arguing, yelling, and general malcontent.  When I tucked the kids into bed on Friday night and passed the torch to Scott as I headed to work on Saturday morning I felt like I had run a marathon.  But.  We all made it out the other side alive!  So...with all of that and some distance between that week and me here's the moment...

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, August 21


Oh what fun!  The last time we visited Iditaride the girls were 3 and 4.  They had so much fun, but Stacy didn't remember much at all about the whole deal.  Since both girls are Iditarod fanatics, it was the perfect outing for us to revisit.  Stacy chose it as her "birthday thing" so we went down while Scott's folks were here. 

We got a great tour guide, Justin Savidis, who has run several Iditarods.  It was cool to get his perspective on things.  Honestly though, it was almost as much fun to listen to the tourists and their excitement about the whole event.  I think we get a little spoiled living here.  Our house is into the Iditarod big time.  We have learned so much about the whole sport, the race, the mushers and the dogs that we have forgotten how foreign it seems to folks from outside.  Kelsey had a great time teaching other visitors all she knows about mushing...which is a fair amount!

It was a little wet this time, so I didn't get a bunch of great pictures, but kids and puppies...always a winning combination!

Stacy had a great time, so the day was a success!

Tuesday, August 20

My Birthday

Hi!  It was my birthday yesterday, so I was too busy being spoiled to pop over here and say hello.  My day started with breakfast cooked by Scott and a lovely bubble bath shortly thereafter that was drawn by the girls.  After my bath we hopped on our bikes and headed outside for a bit since the rain had let up for a bit.  We met Scott for lunch at the China Sea.  Scott made my favorite breakfast casserole for dinner and then we enjoyed delicious chocolate cake that he and the girls made for me on Sunday while I was working.  What a great day!!

Friday, August 16

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama.

Wednesday, August 14

What I Wish You Knew

Dear Visitor,

Welcome to Whittier!  I hope you have a lovely visit here in our little town.  Yes, I do live here.  Yes, year round.  Sure you can ask me a few questions!

What do you do here?
I don't mean to sound snarky, but we do the same kinds of things you do in your town!  We do life!  We go to work, make dinner, do the dishes, bathe the kids, do the laundry and watch TV.  We have our friends over for dinner, play board games, ice skate, sled, take our kids to the park, and ride bikes.  We think we're extra-lucky because we also get to have fresh seafood for dinner regularly, we can go to the beach every day, eagles and bears are our neighbors and we look forward to watching the salmon return each fall.  Oh yeah.  And the glaciers are pretty awesome, too!

Do you like it here?
Yes!  We love it here!  Yes, it has its ups and downs (I bet your town does too!) but at the end of the day we truly love this place.  Its breathtaking beauty, its extreme weather, its people...we love it all.  We choose to be here.  This is pretty personal, but we took a pay cut to come here.  We've gained so many things that cannot be measured monetarily!  We have an amazing family life.  We get to see each other every morning, and most noons and nights.  Our weekends are our adventure times, our quiet times, our comfortable times, and we cherish them. 

You know, some pretty amazing people live here.  I know you don't hear much about them in the news, but we do.  Some of the biggest hearts I have ever met live right here in 99693.  Whittier residents have their faults like anyone else, but when you need help they are right there to help you.  Every time.

Is it hard to live here?
I know you're trying to ask about all those crazy things you hear about Whittier.  Yes.  Living here is hard sometimes.  When the small town politics heat up and people are trying to pit you against your neighbors, living here is hard.  In the wintertime when 200 people all have cabin fever at the same time in the same building living here is very hard.  

But living here is really easy, too.  It's so easy to take my kids to school across the street, easy to hop in the elevator to get my mail, easy to swing by city hall on my way outside, and so very easy to pop over to a friend's house to borrow something, share something, have dinner, or just say hello.  While you are shoveling your roof and your driveway next winter you can think of me.  The only snow removal I am responsible for is the snow on and behind my car.  I am grateful for that every time it dumps, my friend!

Do you have a school here?
Yes!  And it's a pretty amazing school, too!  I'm a teacher (though I don't teach right now) and I can tell you I love our school system with my whole heart.  The teachers in my school and school district have the biggest hearts of anyone I know.  Teaching is never a job that ends at the end of the school day, but in a tiny community like ours it is even less so.  Our teachers open the doors of their homes to kids any time, day or night.  They are a living breathing homework help line, and for many of the kids here, our teachers are like family.  We see our teachers living their daily lives as parents and community members.  There's something very powerful about that!

I hope that answered some of your questions, and thank you for asking!  Each day when we step out of our apartment we try to represent Whittier well.  We like to think of ourselves as ambassadors of the community we know and love...which probably isn't the Whittier you have heard about.  We know our community isn't perfect, but we hope that when you go home you'll remember those nice folks you met in Whittier, Alaska.  We hope you have a great rest of your trip!

The Korbe Family

Monday, August 12


available as a freebie printable from here

Hello, friends!  I love quotes...the only thing I love more than quotes is illustrated quotes!  Thanks to Pinterest I have a spot to keep them all to browse through at my leisure.

I have another post or two to write and share before I'll feel "caught up", but I needed to take a little break today because it stopped raining for more than an hour.  In hasn't rained in so long that the streets are almost dry!  We've had an amazing summer here in Alaska for sure, but it started to sprinkle here in Whittier on August 1 and that turned to serious rain on August 3rd and it seriously has not stopped since!  We saw the clouds part once last week, but by the time we got our boots and sweatshirts on and rode the elevator down it was raining again.  Boo.  So today when Stacy said, "Look!  The fog is lifting!" (yes, she really says these things!) we all dashed around and got our boots on, stuffed raincoats into our bike baskets (just in case!) and took off.  We needed to!

We rode to the head of the bay where we watched the salmon, watched the eagles watching us, met some nice tourists, and collected a variety of beach combing treasures...

a *little* bit foggy this morning

the sun...trying so hard!

a great day for boots and beach combing

look at that face!

Kelsey's treasures

Mama's beach coming finds

 And now...back outside!

Friday, August 9

A Glacier Cruise

Glacier cruising is big business here in Whittier, but somehow we had never taken one.  While Scott's folks were visiting however, we remedied that situation!  We hopped aboard the Klondike to take their famous "26 Glaciers in One Day" cruise.  The cruise departs Whittier at 12:30pm and serves lunch.  The folks and I had the standard fish & chips meal, the kiddos had the kid's meal of a hot dog & chips.  Pretty good food and the chips were kettle chips.  I *love* kettle chips!

The cruise features a US Forest Service ranger who gives you a bit of history, geology, geography, biology, etc. along the way.  The ranger on our trip was Kathleen.  She was FANTASTIC!  During the cruise they also run a 'Jr. Ranger' program.  The kids complete some activities along the cruise and then are sworn in as Jr. Rangers at the end of the cruise.  Their first job as rangers is to tour the boat with a sea otter pelt for everyone to feel.  The girls loved it!

Here are some of the sights we saw along the way...

We pulled up nice and close to this gill netting boat and this deckhand showed off their catch...

So many interesting shapes and colors!  The raggedness and jaggedness of the glaciers was so cool to me.  And how about that super-blue spot in Surprise Glacier?  So cool!

It was really a great day...the weather cooperated for great glacier viewing and we ended the evening with a bbq up at Salmon Run with friends.  Glaciers, family, friends, food...who could ask for a better Alaskan day than that?

Crow Creek Mine

While Scott's parents were here we visited the Crow Creek mine in Girdwood.  The kids and I had first visited the mine several summers ago with my dad (see pics of that visit here), but they didn't really remember much about it so I had been planning to return this summer.  You can rent gold pans, shovels, and buckets or you can just sight see.  We chose to sight's such a pretty spot!

As we were getting ready to go there were some people coming in who were planning to pan, so this guy was showing them how to pan for gold.  The girls were fascinated!

We followed up our morning at the mine with a picnic at the Girdwood park and a stop at the Girdwood library.  A great way to spend a day with Grandma & Grandpa!

{this moment}

{this moment} - A weekly ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, August 8


Wow.  I am one spoiled lady!  For our anniversary, Scott arranged for our friend to take me flight seeing.  In a word it was fantastic!  A gorgeous day to take to the amazing way to see this beautiful state for sure!  We took off from the cabin on Amber Lake and flew southeast over Talkeetna and then looped around up over the foothills of Denali.  It was absolutely incredible!

A Weekend at Amber Lake

We had the opportunity to return to the cabin we visited last winter (read about those visits here and here) while Scott's parents were visiting.  This has quickly become one of our favorite retreats!   The cabin is located on Amber Lake and is far enough north and not coastal that it gets a bit warmer than Anchorage.  The weather for our weekend was p.e.r.f.e.c.t.!!

View Larger Map

sunset on Friday night
We arrived at the cabin around 9 on Friday night, unloaded and went to bed.  The next morning we set about exploring a bit.  Scott and I scouted out the fishing on Kroto creek.  Rainbow trout are catch and release fish here, so I had to let this guy go!

That afternoon we took the girls down to the lake so they could fun!

That evening we tried this Pinterest-inspired dessert, s'mores cones.  Yum!

Sunday morning the girls enjoyed some outdoor art time...

...and then we took them down to Kroto creek.  We caught another trout...

...but the kids couldn't stay out of the water for long!

On Sunday afternoon our friend who owns the cabin flew up in his float plane and took Scott, Chris and I for a ride.  That amazing experience will get its own post soon!

In order to hit the weather just right for maximum Denali viewing, our flighseeing happened late Sunday afternoon.  We returned to the cabin around 6pm, which would have made for a very tight no-stops drive home to make the last tunnel in to Whittier so we opted to just send Scott back to Anchorage with our pilot friend and the rest of us stayed one more night at the cabin.

Monday morning the girls spotted this bunny hopping around.  It's a domestic bunny that is somewhat of a pet, so Kelsey was able to catch it (with the help of some carrot sticks!) and we all got a turn holding it.

After we let the bunny go, we headed back down to the lake for some peddle-boating.  What fun!

Monday afternoon we headed home.  On our way south we took Grandma & Grandpa through Talkeetna and enjoyed some ice cream from Nagley's

We spent some time waiting in construction south of Talkeetna.  Waiting in construction is never fun, but with Denali in your mirror, how bad can it be??

It's not as magnificent as this view I shot as we pulled into Talkeetna, but still...Alaska never disappoints!

It was a great weekend...lots of fun, smiles, laughter and relaxation.  Just the way a weekend away should be!