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!!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hiking Adventures

We started our week off with dog sitting for this adorable guy, Tatanka. He is a fun loving dog who was delighted to soak up the sun in our back yard.  Having Tatanka for a few days really set in my heart (and the kids) that we want to get a dog.  I'm a bit hesitant only because Papa is going to be coaching so much this next school year that having one more responsibility on my shoulders may be too much.  So, we'll just keep looking and if the right dog for our family becomes available then we will know the timing was meant to be.
Our first hike of the week was to the South Fork waterfall with our friends.  It's a pretty short hike and the kids had fun seeing the big waterfall. 

Next up ~ Mt. Baldy
Sister has been asking and asking for me to take her on one of my big hikes I go on.  So, with Brother taking a nap, Sister and I headed for the trail head.

 I told her this was a long hike and she had to stay positive the whole way otherwise we'd have to turn around and head back down.

This girl just had way too much fun. It had rained the day before so some parts of the trail were a bit muddy. It didn't stop her - she had a blast!

Momma was so very proud of her for making it to the summit. You can see it was a bit windy up there, so I was holding her tight for fear she would blow down the mountain side.  The smile on her face and seeing the sense of accomplishment in her eyes was priceless.  

She must get her hiking passion from me, as I am finding myself out enjoying more and more of the hiking available in this area.  I just find myself feeling alive when I'm in the mountains and making it to a summit is not only breath taking, but exhilarating for my heart and soul.  This is Rendezvous Peak with the trail head starting in Arctic Valley.  A group of ladies went to the peak arriving at 8:45pm - I love the land of the midnight sun.  Even though it was overcast, the view from the top was still amazing. 
Three hikes in one week and it's not even the weekend yet - I love summer time!  I'll actually be starting to teach extended school year (ESY) next week for three days a week.  Papa and the kids are going camping and shrimping with Grammy and Pope, which will be nice that I will just be able to focus on getting ESY going and not have to feel guilty about staying late at school if needed with Papa and the kids waiting at home. Since Papa coaches so many sports during the school year, I told him teaching summer school was a way for me to help bring extra income in for our family.  Plus, with only 3 days a week - it will be the perfect balance of summer and a little bit of work :)

Hope you all had a wonderful week!

June 3rd marked our 9th wedding anniversary! 
(Where does the time go?)

Friday, May 29, 2015

May in a nutshell

What happened to May? 
I know, I know...

We officially recorded the sale of the house on May 4th. Leif and his dad did our first remodel/upgrade to our new house that very next weekend.  The carpet you see on the left was clear into the dining space and then there was really old linoleum in the kitchen.  So, we decided it would be easy to put a new flooring in before we moved over. 

Leif and his dad did an amazing job and the new floor looks awesome!

The next weekend was moving weekend and Mother's Day!
This is the kids idea of helping us move.  It was a weird move in the sense that we are just about a half a mile away from where we use to live.  No real need to pack things carefully - just load up a vehicle and go unpack it at the new house.  

We were so thankful for Leif's parents help and for a few friends who came to help lift heavy furniture and another set of friends who took the kids for a morning to let them 'be out of the way' I mean play.  I love that the first item in our fridge was beer. Well deserved after a very busy weekend of moving.

Mean while, school is still happening and we now enter the third week of May.  This was the last week of school and I think it was the longest week ever.  Between working late to finish up progress reports, to working late to get the old house all clean and ready for final walk through with our landlord, to celebrating Leif's birthday to Lukkas getting sick - man you name it and it happened this last week.

However being able to sit on my deck and enjoy a cup of tea in the morning sun - it just recharged me for the day ahead.  One day at a time, one task at a time - we made it through the last week of school!

Lukkas did end up sick with a slight fever and nasty cough (oh wait, me too and Leif - sigh... it's been a long month).  I couldn't take a sick day for the last day of school with needing to get checked out and such.  

So - he was my helper for the morning. I'm so thankful for an awesome principal who understands. I was also thankful that I didn't have much to do and we were able to get checked out and headed home a bit early on Friday.

And for the last week of May...

We have some awesome neighbors who baked us some cookies and welcomed us to the neighborhood. We are looking forward to getting to know them better. We already have young children about the same age in common - so that will be fun to get the kids together for play dates.

 The kids are loving our new house - especially the chalk wall.  I often find them in their little nook space drawing away.  The kids did go to day care this last week of May - 1) since we paid for it and 2) gave Leif and I a chance to finish unpacking and relax a little before summer kicks into full swing!

We hope you all have an amazing summer!
Now that this crazy month is over - I hope to return to weekly blogging about our adventures.