Monday, December 28

It Was a Merry Christmas

Hello everyone!  We're recovering from a sugar hangover here--so many baked goods, so many sweets, so many kind and generous friends and neighbors.  Santa comes to Whittier every Christmas Eve on a fire truck.  Here's Stacy's sweet face as she heard the sirens and knew Santa as approaching...

Her excitement was less about Santa (our kids have never believed in Santa) and more that Christmas was getting so close and feeling so real.  Either way...big smile!  Just before going downstairs we had decorated a boatload of sugar cookies.  Some for Santa, some for the Christmas Day community potluck.

We were joined by some friends including a friend of ours from Girdwood who is recovering from surgery on a broken leg courtesy of a snowboarding accident.  We got him all set up and comfy on our couch and then Stacy set him up with a side table and some cookies to ice as well.  Judging from his smile, I think he appreciated the effort.

After Santa's arrival we headed downstairs for our Christmas Eve service.  This service had two parts: the kids' performance part and the candlelight portion.  It was a good way to prepare for Christmas Day.  We left cookies for Santa...

And I finished up some last minute Christmas Eve sewing...

Christmas morning we got up a little earlier than usual and opened our friends and family gifts.  We had some friends over for breakfast, Skyped with my family and FaceTimed with Scott's family.  My favorite part of Christmas is always the gifts the girls get for each other.  I didn't get any great pictures of them opening them this year, but Stacy got Kelsey a nice pair of earrings.  She bought them back in October, super-organized little lady!  Kelsey got Stacy a hair feather kit.  Stacy got feathers in her hair at Forest Fair in July and loved it.  One feather had broken a few months ago, but the other was still hanging in there.  She's got a whole bag full now, along with the tool and the crimping rings. 

In the afternoon we went outside for a bit in the snow, then down to the community potluck.  It was a great way to spend the day...time with family, time with friends, time with community.  Hope all of you out there had a wonderful Christmas as well!

Wednesday, December 23


We did some caroling last Christmas and it was very fun!  It's fun to make people smile, even if it feels like there's not that many people to sing for because most of them are caroling along with you! Last night was our first night of caroling for this season.  We started on the 15th floor and worked our way down.  The kids wrapped up with this song in the lobby...

Good stuff, friends!  Merry Christmas!


This past Saturday the girls had their final gymnastics class of the session which was an exhibition where they got to show off their skills.  Although you can watch every class, Scott and I often ran errands or enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee during that hour.  It was fun to see how far their skills had progressed. We took classes at Aurora Kids and I cannot say enough nice things about them!  Everyone there is so kind and great with kids.  They were very accommodating and understanding, encouraging and kind.  I'd go back in a heartbeat! 

They each had a routine on the bars, on the floor, and on the beam.  I took some {blurry} pics of them both on the bars and then enlisted Scott to help by taking some videos as well.

Kelsey is very close to getting her back handspring...

We are taking a break from gymnastics for a bit.  The girls had lots of fun, but we are all ready to not be on the go every weekend for a bit and now that winter is here we like to plan our trips around the weather a bit more.  We'll reassess in the spring and see where we are.  Until then, we'll settle for cartwheels in the tunnel on the way to school!

Monday, December 21

Christmas Vacay

It's been a bit since I have posted here...hectic times!  Scott was gone for a week earlier in the month at a conference and then made a quick trip to Washington for his dad's birthday.  The girls and I managed to hold the fort down, even if I did fall into bed exhausted each night!  It was also the weekend of Saturday school which was a very fun day, even if it was school on a Saturday.  We did a maker fair for the kids, so they got to try all sorts of making and inventing things.  In the afternoon we got to go outside and play in the!

Then there was the famous week before Christmas Break where we were all just hanging on for dear life and waiting for the ride to end.  The kids did awesome every morning but afternoon was a bit more challenging.  Whether that was because of kiddo excitement or teacher exhaustion, we'll probably never know!

Thursday night was our Christmas program at school.  This year it was a collaboration between the church and the school which turned out very nicely.  Here are a couple of videos...

Church group songs...

Whole school songs...

I guess I missed the end of the final song where the kids got all excited over Santa arriving.  It cracks me up--they are so surprised every year!

Now here we are on the first day of Christmas break.  I managed to get in a run and a shower before noon so I am considering that success! :-) 

Tuesday, December 8

A Beautiful Drive

This weekend found me putting in some serious car driving time.  I attended a Christmas party in Anchorage on Friday night and was lucky to be able to spend the night it town.  Saturday I grocery shopped and met up with Scott and the girls after gymnastics and headed home.  Sunday the girls and I went back into town for a birthday party.  It was a lot of driving, but every time I find myself making that trip multiple times close together like that I am struck by how different the drive looks daily, particularly at different times of day.  I am so lucky to have one of the most scenic drives in America right out my back door!

Don't worry...I stopped before taking this one...

Photo credit for that last one goes to Kelsey.  It's handy to have big kids who can take pictures from the back seat while we are driving!

This week Scott is at a conference in Anchorage all week and the girls and I are rushing here and there back in Whittier.  They are involved in practices for a grand Christmas program at the church and I am *trying* to sew some Christmas presents and do all my teacher stuff too.  We have Saturday school this weekend, too.  It's a very fun day (a maker fair!), but even with it being pajama day, it's still school on a Saturday!

Hope you all had a good weekend...and are having a smooth week so far!

Monday, November 30

Thanksgiving 2015

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving...we sure did!  We left on Wednesday afternoon and headed up to our favorite getaway spot, the cabin on Amber Lake.  We spent the weekend with our friends and it was so refreshing!  We did lots of visiting, plenty of cooking, too much eating and some relaxing too!

The girls jumped and jumped and jumped...then jumped some more!  It was warm (above freezing!) and rainy while we were there, so the usual fun snow activities weren't quite as much fun as they often are. 

The girls played their first game of Scrabble this weekend in addition to spoons and dominoes. 

We also decorated these fun gingerbread houses...

It was a very restful and recharging weekend...for all of us!  We are so grateful to have friends that open their home to us whenever we ask.  What a blessing!

Despite the less than awesome weather, we did squeeze in a snow machine ride and I did ask Scott to stop so we could take a family selfie...

We arrived home on Sunday evening, just in time to unpack and have some dinner.  We were treated to this view as we traveled along Turnagain Arm on the last leg of our drive...

And now here we are at the end of Monday--not sure my brain was quite back to work at 100% today!  Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, too!

Friday, November 20

...on life...

Stacy chose a cooking magazine at the store last weekend--mini chef!
I am sitting here in at my kitchen table next to a sick little girl.  She is in her pajamas, I am wearing dirty yoga pants and the hoodie I wore to work yesterday, nursing my second cup of coffee.  My first sick day as a working mama again.  Well, except for the half day I took last month to attend a 5 minute follow-up doctor appointment, after a month of physical therapy for my hand because I fell in a creek at the end of the summer.  It's a long story.  Another time maybe...back to today.  It seems my weekly post here has degenerated into a string of "it's been a busy week for us" and I look back with wonder at the posts from a few years ago when I felt like I had so much to share and to document.  So much I didn't want to forget about our daily living.  Sometimes I forget that these days, though busy in a different way, are precious too.

Kelsey's flowchart for summer fun...

It has been *another* busy week.  A week made hectic by sick kids and mom and dad alternating taking days off to stay home with them.  A week that feels 100 years long when you're up with a vomiting child one night and two days later with the news that your other kiddo is suffering from a virus that is very painful and for which the doctors can offer little relief.  Sick days are different with bigger kids.  When they were younger, distraction from their discomfort was easier.  Novel toys, a bit more TV, a bath in the middle of the day...all of those things were effective in redirecting their attention from feeling crummy.  Big kids play with toys less, have decided they don't really like watching TV (one of my kids...just like her mama!), and are decidedly too big for baths.  Or so they think.  Until bedtime, when they break your heart with whimpering in their half sleep.  It feels like we often have one foot in the land of littles and one in the land of bigs.  Always growing.

But they are good, these days.  Big kids say great things like, "What can I do to help?" and "I already did it for you, Mom!".  Big kids know that their sibling needs some extra love and attention and step gracefully aside to allow it to happen.  They bring home news and homework from school for their ill sibling, peppering the whole family with stories of funny moments from the day.  They make you smile...just when you need it most. Then there are husbands.  Husbands who have hot food waiting for you when you come home for lunch, who take sick kids to the doctor, do the laundry, offer a sane point of view when you're on the verge of tears with sympathy for your kids, and who ask what you want for Christmas and then show up with the gift that same day because they want you to have what you want.  Yes...there is surely goodness in these days.

We went for a snowy walk last night.  It has been bitterly cold here for the past week and the wind has howled incessantly.  It finally stopped on Wednesday night, allowing the clouds to roll in and blanket us in a few inches of snow.  It's so pretty!

This weekend the girls have a church Thanksgiving performance followed by our first Thanksgiving meal of the week.  I'm hopeful that they'll both get to participate, but at this rate goodness only knows.  We'll keep on taking it one day at a time, making the decisions we need to make and finding the good in between the tough.  That's becoming our specialty...finding silver linings!

Friday, November 13

{this moment}

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

Inspired by SouleMama.

Monday, November 9

Last Week...

Last week sped right on by!  It was a short week for kids, but a long week for teachers with inservice on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We learned about being better writing teachers and I came back with lots of ideas--some of which I implemented today!  Change is good, even if it does throw us all for a loop!  Here's a picture I took on Thursday as we neared the end of our first day of 8 hours of sitting...

Yikes!  I didn't eat it all myself, I promise! 

Earlier in the week, Tuesday night, the northern lights were out bright in Whittier.  We first noticed them around 9:30pm.  Some friends and I bundled up and headed outside to watch for a bit.  It was crazy windy and we chose one of the most blustery spots in town so we did not stay outside too long!  It's always a treat when Mother Nature puts on a light show...

Scott woke the girls up to see the show...apparently Stacy got up while Kelsey proved impossible to rouse.  Poor K, she is so hard to wake up for the first few hours after she goes to sleep but she is always so disappointed when she misses something. 

Hope you all have a great week!

Friday, November 6

{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.

Monday, November 2


Hello!  I know I was absent from this space last week.  Scott was out of town last week, so I got my first week of being a working mama on my own.  Yowza!  We survived! It was busy, but we were still (mostly) smiling when Scott got home Thursday night.

In other news...Halloween!  I am so not sad that Halloween was on a weekend.  Not sad at all!  The teacher in me is not at all missing having the post-Halloween candy crash day as a school day.  We celebrated last weekend by attending the party at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center and then attended the skate party at school on Friday.  Saturday we carved pumpkins approximately 34 seconds after we finished breakfast and then went trick-or-treating.  A few pictures...

Kelsey as a friendly ghost
Stacy as Dorothy with her buddy Kennedy, a flower
me, as my beloved Cabbage Patch Kid, Harmony

Some Halloween memories...2009, 2010, 2012, 2013.

This week promises to speed by--no school Thursday and Friday for kids while we teachers are in Anchorage for inservice on Thursday, Friday, AND Saturday! Hope it's a good one for you!

Friday, October 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.

OK--a few words--twice this week I did my morning run in the pouring down rain and was so soaked upon my return that I actually dripped in the elevator!!

Friday, October 23

{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.

Monday, October 19

White Sunday

Last weekend we had a special treat in Whittier!  It was White Sunday which is a big deal in the Samoan culture and church.  White Sunday is the kiddo equivalent of Mother's Day and Father's Day.  It was explained to me that because Samoan culture focuses so heavily on elders, this is a day specifically focused on kids.  We attended White Sunday last year and the girls were invited to participate this year.  This year's service was also ecumenical.  There is lots of singing, dancing, and performing by kids.  The sermon was given by a young lady from the Samoan congregation and the whole thing was followed by a HUGE meal!

Here are a couple of videos for can spot my ladies in the front row...

There were several skits and in this one the girls were cast as demons who convinced someone to make a bad choice.  It was well done and they were so excited about it...until the dress rehearsal when these masks came out!  They were a bit scared of themselves, but they did a great job once they got a bit more comfortable with how they looked.  

Overall it was a great experience for them and very fun to watch!  Such a fun way to worship!

Friday, October 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.

Monday, October 12

In My Classroom

Here's my new home away from classroom.  A blank canvas, ripe for learning.  In a past life I might have 'decorated' it more, 'set it up' more, but I purposefully left it this way for a couple of reasons.  One being that I am teaching older kids this year and I wanted the space to not feel juvenile, another is that I have come to believe that the posters/anchor charts/wall hangings that we create together hold much more meaning for kids than anything commercially marketed.  For me, recording and displaying our thinking is much more powerful than hanging up a cute poster.

As a teaching team, we also decided to do away with desks this year.  We stored them and bought tables from Costco, used tables we had and plunged into the first day of school.  I'm loving it!  We have kids moving from room to room all day, so doing away with the 's/he's sitting in my desk' was a high priority for us.

With all of that in mind, here's a few quick phone pictures of my room...

Standing in the doorway, looking towards my desk and the back of the room...

From the doorway, looking toward the windows and the BTI...

From the doorway, looking at the front of the classroom...

From my desk, looking towards the front of the room...

Like I said, nothing too fancy!  Lots of open space and flexibility.  Just to the right out of the frame of the photo above is a huge bookshelf.  I have been so lucky to have lots of books chosen for us by both my mom and my sister in law.  Just before school started my sister in law sent a huge of box of books.  The kids were SO EXCITED to open the box and see what was inside.  I thought I would find space for the books on the shelf, but for some reason they seem to love to choose them from the box instead!  Who knows?!?  So the box stays on the floor back by my desk...cracks me up!

Here's the 'hard space' area of the floor and you can see the box back there...and my *kinda* clean desk...

Friday, October 9

{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.

Monday, October 5

Sunshine Stars

We had a fun weekend!!  Scott went up to spend the weekend with some friends and the girls and I stayed here in Whittier.  Saturday we ran a whole bunch of errands in the midst of the PFD craziness in town!  Seems like I make this mistake every year...going to town the weekend after PFDs are deposited.  Gah!  It was pure chaos at Sam's Club.  We also hit WalMart and JoAnn's but it was early in the day and not so crazy there.  We also visited a friend in the hospital, went to gymnastics, and Kelsey and I got haircuts.  And we were home on the 4:30 tunnel!  Why?  Because we wanted to have a lazy Sunday!

Our Sunday was much slower than Saturday.  We did some sewing, some baking, some cleaning, some playing and some lounging.  It was so nice to have a day at home to just do what we wanted to do.  In the afternoon we headed outside for a bit to soak up a bit of fall sunshine...

Funny how they can be at each other's throats inside and then we go outside and there is total peace.  Mama loves peace!  Mama also loves playing with her camera....


...sunshine stars...

And then the sun went behind the hill and it was chilly!  Since the girls had been playing in the water we didn't last long.

Hope you had a great weekend, too!