Monday, July 27, 2015


 This summer certainly has been filled with many great adventures which has given me much to think about. Between hiking alone or with friends, to day trips with the family, to my summer school teaching position, to whatever else may come I have grown and changed into a stronger woman this summer. Facing challenges can be a very difficult time, but when you break through and can see the positive growth on the other side, it makes the journey memorable.

As the seasons begin to change in my neck of the woods, I plan on walking forward with a new found strength not only in myself but in my relationships with friends and family. 

Before fall fully takes over, we are making the most of every last day of summer!

We enjoyed our local "Bear Paw" Festival 

especially the cotton candy after having two very good listeners and no complaining about what rides they were not big enough to ride yet!  I definitely have some thrill seeker children as they wanted to ride the "Zipper" 

We've done a couple more camping trips to Whittier hoping to stock our freezer with shrimp and halibut.  I couldn't resist snapping a photo of their early morning snuggles. 

Enjoying sunshine and just running around - I love that these two can make any situation fun. Papa and I were busy helping our elderly friend with her garden and house projects and I over hear these two making up a game about the store was by a big tree and they were pretending to grocery shop with the different things on the ground.  I love their imaginations.

We also had a visit from our cousins! Nothing serious with them of course - great to see family!

All this time this summer with Papa's family, has me missing my family.  So, with summer school coming to an end this week, the kiddos and I will be boarding a plane late Friday night to head to Wisconsin for a week!  Crazy!?! A bit - yes... but looking forward to one more summer adventure before we settle back into the regular school year.  

I hope you all are enjoying your summer adventures!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday Sweet Girl!

Can we say that someone is very proud and exited to be 5 years old! 

Yes, our sweet little girl is 5 years old today. She is full of life. It doesn't matter if she is working on a project, practicing her school work (because you know she's going to be starting school this year - just ask her ;) ) or being outdoors - she is always giving it her very best. 

She was surprised this morning with opening her big gift from both grandparents and Momma and Papa - a bike!  A little adjusting with the length of training wheels and handle bar position and she was off...

maybe a little to quick for my heart.  
As I took this photo with my phone, I couldn't help but tear up a bit.  My babies riding away from me... each day a new level of independence is gained, which should be a celebration and is... however, this Momma's heart just wants to hold on a little bit longer.  

After a fun morning of riding her bike, we had a special lunch at her request... Carl's Jr. (Gag, blah.. who's child is she? ha,ha,ha)   Papa and I could recall one other time we had been to Carl's Jr, and for Sister to be so confident that is what she wanted for lunch.  Papa and I just laughed. After lunch, we burned some more of that 5 year old energy off at one of our local parks...

You'd think our day was done, but we invited a few friends over for a taco dinner, birthday cake and presents of course.  

(Taco dinner in the lawn of course!)

(Sister made the 5 and then supervised Momma's position of the other decorations)

The grand finale for the evening...

holding a real baby!  She's held this little guy many of times, but just loves it every time!

I'd say this sweet girl had a wonderful day of turning 5! 
(She was asleep before her brother - which almost never happens! HA!)

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Week of Summer Adventures

This past week, I had the week off from teaching summer school and my goal was to have an Alaskan staycation kind of week.  Monday we packed a lunch and invited some friends to join us at Lake Hood to watch the float planes.  This has become our Monday routine it seems this summer, but it was nice that I didn't have to put some time in at the school before we had lunch this week! 

Tuesday we made a trip to Girdwood (it's only about an hour from our house) to go hiking on the Winner Creek trail.

I had read that this trail was mostly flat and wide - perfect trail for a family hike.  

Papa and I were both very pleased with our little hikers. Their enthusiasm for the outdoors just warms my heart and I hope that it will continue to be a source of enjoyment for them as they grow up.

After hiking in 2.5 miles, the real treat was taking the hand tram across the Winner Creek Gorge. Sister loved this adventure while Brother was a little less sure.  Either way, it was a great experience that the kids have continued to talk about throughout the week.

After hiking in on their own will power, we gave the kiddos a ride on the way out.  It was definitely a great family outing that created fond memories for everyone.

Next on our Alaskan Staycation week was a trip to Seward (About 3 hours from where we live) to the Alaska SeaLife Center. 

The kids really enjoyed being able to see the different types of sea life.  One of their favorite parts was waiting for the Stellar Sea Lion to swim by - he is huge! 

They also enjoyed the touching pools and thought it was great to gently touch these animals.

Thursday found ourselves invited to join some friends for a hike near Eklutna Lake.  The kids were a bit bored with all the walking and not being down by the water to throw rocks and so decided to make dust angels.  Silly dirty kids...

There was more dirty to be found as we had to leave the group early for other plans we had for the day and Momma went the wrong way...

Yep - we some how found the muddiest path back even with all the dry ground around us.  The kids thought it was hilarious and well, I did too. 

The afternoon of this day was some alone time for Momma to hike another mountain top.  My friend, Heidi, and I decided a little cloud cover was not going to stop us from reaching the summit of Flat Top Mountain. 

I will definitely be doing this hike again in order to see all the amazing views. However, it was also an experience to just hike in the clouds. 

It was awesome to reach another mountain summit this summer and be able to share the experience with my amazing friend!

We ended our hike with a visitor! We were so thankful this area formed a circle and we were able to keep ourselves a safe distance from this little guy as he was munching away. 

It truly has been a great week of quality time with family and friends.  I return to summer school teaching next week but not before we celebrate Sister's 5th birthday on Monday! (How can this be?) I'll be sure to post all about her special day.  

Happy 4th of July!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hiking & Camping - this is what summer is all about!

In my previous post, I shared my adventure with Heidi and our hike to Blacktail Rock.  Here is a panoramic view of our hike - Mt. Baldy is the small peak on the back left and then we hiked the whole ridge line to the upfront peak on the right.   Of course I captured this view of our previous hike on one of my hiking adventures this past week.

Previously, I thought I had hiked the summit of Mt. Magnificent - turns out I was wrong. I was at one of the many false summits.  So, I headed out to try and reach the true summit this week.  Thinking I had made it by the Alaska State Flag flying at the top - only to discover I was at the top of Tucker Mountain.  The view of the valley was breath taking and it was a great place to stop for this evening hike.  I was probably another hour or so away from the summit of Mt. Magnificent.  Definitely going to find that summit before summer is over!!

My friend Anna and I took a hike this week to the top of Harp Mountain. It was great to overlook a different part of the Chugach Mountains. 

 The day had been mostly cloudy and finally got sunny and warm around 6:30pm. So once we had our kiddos in bed - off on a hike we went!  
We have so much fun together and enjoyed our summit beers! 

Not to mention a beautiful sunset on our hike back down.

A new adventure for this summer was an invitation to do a brewery bike ride.  Why not?
It was a great time to meet up with both old and new friends.

The Anchorage Brewery is stunning!  If you get a chance to stop in, it is so worth your time.

The kiddos have been busy hanging out and doing adventures with Papa since I've been working 3 days a week.  They went camping with Pope and Grammy again this week and I was able to join up with them on Friday.  Unfortunately, Whittier was in its true form with wind and rain.

We did have fun teaching the kids how to play Go Fish

and of course we still had to play outside. I'm not sure if you can tell how soaking wet these two are, but we literally dumped water out of their boots. They had so much fun jumping and splashing in all the puddles.

We ended our trip early because the weather was just too windy and rainy.  It's not safe for the kids to be out in the boat to help with shrimping when the seas are so rough and no fun to try and keep two active kiddos busy and happy in the camper.  I'm looking forward to having this week off with the kiddos and Papa.  I think we are going to try and take a day trip to Seward and go to the Sea Life Center this week. I think the kids (well, me too) would really enjoy it.   
For now, it's laundry and some much needed showers after a few days of camping!  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Slow Down Summer!

Slow Down Summer!!

Here we are almost 2 weeks from my last post and boy have we been busy.  The week of June 8th found Papa and the kids doing some shrimping in Whittier.  The kids had a blast! I was starting my summer school teaching job and was very thankful the kids and Leif were happy camping.  My expectations of my summer school teaching is a complete 180 degrees than what I thought.  It was a very long week and I was thankful that I could just focus on getting the program up and running and knowing that my family was having a great summer adventure.

(Digesting S'mores and waiting for the sugar to kick in!)

I did make sometime for myself to relax after some very long work days. 
I've been wanting to hike Mt. Magnificent here in Eagle River - so I did! The peak above my head is the first false summit. I just loved the wild flowers and the sunshine in my face! Happy (almost) Birthday to me! Turning officially mid-thirty is not too bad!!

I was so excited to see the chocolate lilies on my hike as I have not seen them since our time in Cordova.  I love these beautiful flowers and to see them up in the mountains just made me smile even more. 

The last false summit before Mt. Magnificent (peak on the left).  I wish I could fully express the way my heart and soul feel when I'm up in the mountains.   

I also spent some time hiking some flatter ground with my dear friend, Heidi, as we got together to officially celebrate the end of school, our birthdays, summer and life.

A short drive to Kincaid Chalet and down to the coast we went! It was was an amazing evening on the beach followed by an excellent dinner! 

This past week was just as packed!  Having Papa and the kids home was good and the weather just continued to be hot! I mean, hot by Alaska standards. Hitting 80 plus degrees for multiple days in a row is just not something we are not use to.  The kids had fun running through the "sprinkle-a-late-or" as Brother calls it and keeping Papa busy while I worked this past week.  I only work 3 days a week, but it's an exhausting 3 days.  I will forever appreciate my 'normal' job during the school year after this experience this summer.

To keep my mental health in a positive place, I told Papa that I needed this summer to be filled with hiking and quality time both for myself and with the family. Up first - quality time for myself which means another mountain peak to climb. 

Black Tail Rocks 

First Heidi and I had to summit Baldy

and then we headed along the ridge to Black Tail Rocks.

The final summit is the last peak on the left and I went all the way! Heidi was content to enjoy the views from the last false summit.  
This hike is beyond words. 

Heidi and I at the last false summit.

A view of the valley

and the official summit of Black Tail Rocks!  I can't even find the right words to describe this day. Quality time with Mother Nature and with a deep and true friendship was just the way I needed to start this weekend!  

Yes more hiking - a family hike today with another family.  We headed to Thunderbird Falls which is a very short hike and wide trail for the kids to be able to run and enjoy. 

 More quality time in Mother Nature and this time with family and friends.  
My heart and soul are full as we go into the rest of the weekend.  

I'm sure I'll find myself finding new and old hiking trails as summer continues. I wish I could express the experience of being in the mountains and then again, maybe it's just meant for me to savor in my heart, mind and soul. Regardless, I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of our adventures.  This week to come will be full of me teaching and Papa and the kids meeting up with Pope and Grammy to do more camping and shrimping in Whittier.  I hope to go join them on the weekend.  

Happy Father's Day weekend everyone!!