Monday, November 14

Mama's Weekend

Waaaaay back in September we kicked off the year with a teacher inservice.  Our inservices are always Thursday and Friday events, about half of them even add in a Saturday for extra fun.  Although it's not my favorite schedule, it makes sense for the district to conduct them this way. We have to fly teachers in from villages, so 2 or 3 day long inservices make more sense than single day trainings that many larger districts can host.

September's inservice was of the two-day variety, so Scott took the girls up to Trapper Creek for a long weekend and I got a couple of days at home on my own.  Saturday of that weekend was beautiful, so I took myself outside and for a little hike.  As I write this it is slushing outside--these sunny days seem so far away!

It was such a lovely way to spend a bit of time outside.  It's been raining here for what seems like forever, so looking back on the sunny days of fall makes me smile.  Such a fleeting season, fall.

Sunday, October 30

The Fair!

We continued our Labor Day tradition of going to the AK State Fair with our friends.  We've been doing this long enough now that the kids rehearse the order of things in the days leading up to the fair. 

First the moms get their Denali Cream Puffs (aka fair day breakfast!)...

Then we go to the petting zoo...

Next up are the huge veggies...

Then we visit other animals...

Then we take some random pictures on our way to eat lunch...

We visit the kids area...

We visit the exhibit halls...

Then it is FINALLY time to ride the rides!

It used to be that at least someone would fall asleep on the way home, but this year they all stayed away.  All the way home!  Impressive, given that I have one kiddo who is a devoted car sleeper. :-)  It's always fun...even if it's a bit wet as it was this year.  Until next year, cream puffs....

Read more about our fair days in 2011201220132014 and 2015.

Monday, October 10

First Day of School

Since we've been in school for almost two months, I figure the time is right to share the girls first day of school pictures...Yikes.  I am so behind!!  I am finishing up first quarter report cards in one window and sharing first day of school pics in another.

It's a good year so far!  I found that the great thing about teaching in a small school is that there isn't that weird first week of school time when you're bonding as a group--we all know each other and any new kids quickly come into the fold.  It's a pretty sweet deal!

Washington Week Three: In Battle Ground

From Ft. Stevens we headed north to Ocean Park.  Scott's sister and her husband have a little beach house there.  We met up with them and Scott's parents to enjoy a weekend at the beach.  We spent a lot of time in the sand...

Which meant that we spent a lot of time cleaning up from the beach!

One highlight for the girls was flying kites.  We drove into Long Beach to a kite shop and picked them out, then took them out to the beach to fly.

Another highlight of the weekend for the girls was the dogs...

They *love* to play with dogs...luckily both my family and Scott's family have plenty of pups to keep them busy!

We headed back to Battle Ground Sunday night and spent the week there.  The kids went to the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa, we played outside in the water, the girls learned to drive the "gator" and did lots of little farm chores with Grandma and Grandpa.  We spent a day on the river when it was so hot we could barely stand to walk on the beach.  I didn't take many pictures because I was handling ropes and such, but the girls wake boarded and skied on the river.

Midweek Scott pulled of the best date ever for my birthday.  Some friends of ours had purchased a beautiful 1952 Cadillac which he arranged to take me for a ride in to a cruise in.  I had the time of my life!

I love old cars, so it was very fun for me to get to ride in one and then walk around the cruise-in.  So fun!

We celebrated my birthday with lots of friends and family.  Scott's folks were so kind and let us host a BBQ at their house.  We had tons of fun with silly string at the beach, so we bought a bunch more and had twice as much fun that night.  It was so fun to celebrate with family!

It was roughly 587 degrees, so this Reeses blizzard cake was a huge hit!  The next day was my 20th high school reunion.  It was lots of fun to catch up with folks.  It was 843 degrees that day, so we all tried to move as little as possible, including not taking any photos.  Yikes!

We had a movie night with Scott's sister and her husband.  Stacy learned to make a phone call...yes, it actually works...

Kelsey kept Freckles company through The Wizard of Oz...

These three do their best to keep Carhartt's t-shirt division in business!

And then it was time for us to head home.  You can always spot the Alaskans at the airport...

Yes.  those are tires.  Not ours, but Amazon wouldn't ship them to our friend here in Whittier, so we had them shipped to Scott's parents' house and then we flew them home.  We love Alaska Airlines and their Club 49 luggage policy!

So long, PDX...until next time!

Sunday, September 11

Washington Week Two: On The Road

Our second week of vacation was spent traveling around Washington in our truck and camper.  I had forgotten how much I love our camper!  Rewind a bit to life before Alaska and before kids.  Scott bought the truck when he graduated from college and moved to Alaska the first time.  He moved home a year later, and bought the camper a year or so after that.  We used it fairly frequently.  He worked construction, so summer camping was nearly impossible but we were able to camp in the fall and winter.  The camper was perfect--mostly loaded all the time, throw some food in it and hit the road.  Dry in the rain, warm in the cold.  We even honeymooned in it!  Then came two kids in two years.  We took Kelsey as an infant, but toddlers and campers 4 feet off the ground terrified me so we parked it.  We last used it in February of 2009--we spent a night in it 12 miles from home because Kelsey was 3 and infatuated by the idea of camping (Thank you "Micky Mouse and Goofy and the Big Bear Scare"!).

Fast forward to the summer of 2016.  We lived in this thing for a week and it was SO MUCH FUN!!  The girls are the perfect age for this!  We all had fun schlepping across the state with our shelter on our backs.  It was so easy to have our clothes and food with us.

Our first stop was Kennewick. My dad's two sisters live there with many of their kids and grandkids.  Since we had missed the family reunion in July as well as the 2015 reunion, we wanted to catch up with people.  Scott and I were so glad we made this stop!  We spent two days and nights in Kennewick.  The girls got to meet many cousins they hadn't met before or didn't remember meeting.  They got to form relationships with my aunts and uncles and hear stories about my grandparents that were different from the ones they hear from my dad or me.  My aunts and uncles organized two big family meals and several outings for us. We could not have asked for better hospitality!

While we were there we also visited The Reach which was quite an experience!  I grew up with all of this just a few hours away and had no idea!  I learned so much about the Manhattan Project in Washington.  The deep patriotism of that era still impresses me.  Whether you agree with nuclear weaponry or not, it is hard to argue that the sense of unity in the US was deep.

Leaving Kennewick we stopped in in Moxee to visit Scott's cousins.  They have three small kiddos in the heart of hops country.  It was fun to swing by and visit them and get to know them better.  They have a big backyard with a pool and a trampoline, so the girls made themselves right at home.  Passing through Yakima we visited the famous Miner's .  Somehow we had never visited there in our 4 years driving back and forth from Ellensburg to Washougal & Battle Ground.  It was fantastic...and HUGE!   Here is Scott packaging up our leftovers to store in the camper.

When you're in Eastern Washington you stop at a fruit stand.  If you're in Yakima you stop at THE fruit stand.  It's what you do!

Then you smile because no one else like Aplets and Cotlets so you get to eat them all yourself!  And there's antiques...and Pyrex...Andrea's happy zone right here, folks!

One person's antique is another person's day-to-day trash can.  We are still using these quite effectively at our school.  Maybe we are sitting on a goldmine??

We continued on into Ellensburg that afternoon.

Pictures cannot show the depth of beauty as you enter the Kittitas Valley.  The patchwork of fields separated by strips of asphalt. The Ellensburg water tower in the distance.  It moves me, even 20 years later!

We swung by Jerrol's which was the off campus bookstore when Scott and I were in college.  Since actual college textbooks are apparently a thing of the past, the inventory there looked a bit different.  We picked up sweatshirts for the girls, a shirt for me, and a hat for Scott.  I envisioned a pic of us rocking our CWU gear, but that hasn't happened yet!

We drove around campus, but the kids were too tired by this point to get out and hike around much.  These are from other points on the trip, but you get the idea.  Something about that Cummins diesel just lulls them to sleep!

That evening we went to Roslyn, where Scott and I had our first date 20 years prior.  We ate at Village Pizza and walked around a bit.

We spent the night at the Eagle Valley Campground in nearby Cle Elum.  It was truly a hidden gem--I'd highly recommend it if you're in the area.  The kids loved eating breakfast in the camper.  It's the little things!

The next day we headed over the pass and through Seattle.  We purposely took I-5 through Seattle, just so the kids could see and experience it.  We got stopped in traffic and everything...they weren't so impressed with that part, but they did like seeing the city out the window.  We stopped in Olympia to visit an old friend of Scott's who is now a Catholic priest.  It was so fun to catch up with him!  We also found a Sonic...

From Olympia we headed up to Mt. St. Helens.  We covered some ground!  It was late in the afternoon, but we pushed through and made it up to the mountain that night.

We got to Johnston Ridge after the visitor's center had closed for the day and needed to leave the next morning before we could get back up and back so we had to settle for some signs and an interpretive walk.  Luckily the signs were great and Scott and I have enough knowledge about the eruption and the area to make it meaningful for the kids.  We left planning to pop back up some time when we are down visiting.  It is really not far from Battle Ground, so an easy day trip.  We spent the night in Castle Rock and headed for the beach the next morning.  Our first stop was at Fort Stevens State Park.  It was a great experience!  We paid for the truck tour which is provided and hosted by the Friends of Fort Stevens State Park group.  The truck tour and the friends volunteers made the visit for us.  They made the experience memorable and connected it to history so well for the girls.  I vaguely remember visiting Fort Stevens as a kid, but I didn't remember that it had its beginning during the Civil War.  A deep history!

The base jail was another highlight.  The volunteers there were outstanding as well!

Ft. Stevens is also home to the wreck of the Peter Iredale which we visited.  Sadly people were climbing all over it, so I didn't take any pictures of it.  Here we are on the beach, though!

It was a beautiful afternoon in the park!  From there we headed north to Ocean Park to meet up with Scott's sister and her husband along with his parents at the beach house.  I'll tell you all about it next time!