Friday, March 28, 2014

Here come the bears!

The daylight is staying longer, the snow is slowly melting, and spring is in the air. Most days it get's up into the high 30s and sometimes even into the low 40s- time to break out the capris and do some spring cleaning! The long days mean that we are getting a lot more done, but it does make keeping the kids on schedule with bedtime much more challenging! With the warmer temps and longer days we are starting to see more and more wildlife make regular appearances. It won't be long until those bears wake up from their winter slumber.

The drive back from skating lessons- around 8:15 pm and the sun is just starting to set!

With the changing weather comes the usual slew of seasonal colds, flus, and allergies. Noah kicked us off with a trip to the ER after his throat swelled shut at the beginning of his cold. After an Epi treatment he was feeling much better- and we now have inhaled epinephrine in stock here at the Hallam house for any future scares. 

 Giving a thumbs up in the ER

Noah has just now overcome his cold almost a month later, and the rest of us followed suit. Kids are much tougher than adults, however. A little cold (or a big one) didn't slow our kids down and we went non-stop all month, especially over spring break.

There are a couple of ice rinks here on the peninsula. The kids take lessons at the nice indoor sports center, but we have had lots of fun taking them over to the rink by the high school here in Kenai. It is covered, but open-air on the sides, and not heated so it can get pretty chilly. Despite the cold, it is close and almost free to skate there which makes it a great option for us. One of the fun things about living in a small town is that no matter where we go, we find friends that we know.

 Noah found some of his friends at the Kenai rink and played a good game of "pull your buddy around the rink with a hockey stick"

Grace is still swimming for the Peninsula Piranhas, and has practice twice a week. Her last meet of the season is coming up on Steve's bday (April 5). Noah has been learning from Grace's coach once a week, and we are hoping that he will be able to join the team over the summer. For now, while she swims he has formed a motley crew of little brothers that bring various electronics to entertain each other with during the hour long practice.

 One of our co-worker's sons is a good sport and sits with the little boys during practice, helping them with their games.

We kicked off spring break with a trip to The Moose is Loose (where else?) with friends. Noah has found lots of friends here, but his best buddy (also named Noah) and his little brothers have been favorites to play with. Noah keeps telling me that he wants a little brother, and asked me if he found a baby if he could keep it? Yesterday he came to me looking very sad and told me he hasn't found a baby yet. He's going to be one sad kid when he realizes that babies aren't usually left for 6 year olds to find and keep.

 Apple fritters with friends

Although based on some of the games that he is forced (not always unwillingly) to play with his sister...a brother probably wouldn't hurt.

 Noah won the round of Pretty Pretty Princess...saving this pic for his future girlfriend

We have had unseasonably warm weather this month, although the one day we decided to take a walk on the beach we got hit with rain. RAIN! Crazy Alaska.

Checking out the ice chunks on the beach 

By the end of the walk, Noah's umbrella was inside out and he was soaked and covered with mud from head to toe. Overall the walk was a success! :)

We have been very fortunate to have several friends that have lived here a long time take us under their wings and teach us how to do Alaskan things, like shooting, snowshoeing, playing hockey, and ice fishing! The kids absolutely loved our ice-fishing expedition. We went to a lake that is about 10 minutes from here and spent the day with friends on the ice.

Playing tag on the ice

 Grace "caught" the first fish of the day. As soon as it bit she handed the pole off to dad with a squeal...we have a ways to go before she will be a true Alaskan.

 One of Noah's catches

 Noah and Noah

The end of spring break hit the kids hard, they were pretty bummed when it was time to go back to school. I went over and met them for lunch on their first day back. I love seeing the kids in their school environment- they are so funny around their friends!

The playground is super icy right now as everything melts throughout the day and then freezes over night. Usually it is sanded but the sand truck doesn't work on Mondays, so the kids had to make due with crawling on their hands and knees. I was laughing pretty hard as I watched them. Other states would just keep the kids inside if slipping and falling was guaranteed. Not Alaska though, send 'em out and toughen 'em up. :)

On one of the first really sunny days we had a nice play at our friend's home. They have a sweet daughter that both of our kids love playing with. For any of you with two kids, you know how rare it is to find a friend that both kids, of opposite genders, can play with at the same time without someone getting left out or feelings getting hurt. The kids had fun exploring the woods around her yard.

Classes are going well, although very busy right now! I cannot believe we only have around 4 weeks left in the semester. There is still a lot to do before we finish up, but everyone definitely has spring fever- faculty included! I am loving teaching my composition course, and Steve still really enjoys teaching math (although it doesn't make him the most popular guy on campus!)

I am so proud of my mentee Marlene. She has one more semester before graduation, and has decided that she wants to use her training at ACC to go back to her village and work with the youth there. Her goal is to teach them healthy habits, and about how to respect their bodies. She wants to work to combat the drug and alcohol abuse as well as high suicide rates that are common in her village. She posted this update on Facebook yesterday:

The kids have discovered sleepovers. Grace likes friends to come to our house, she is our homebody. Noah on the other hand didn't even want to call me when he was spending the night at Noah's house. He told Noah's mom that he would just talk to me later. When I came to pick him up he was about to head out on a 4-wheeler ride and was not happy to see me until I told him he could still go 4-wheeling. I can't believe how fast they are growing up!

I am extremely excited for the coming months. We have many family and friends coming to visit us, starting right after our b-days in April (I am skipping mine this year...30...blech) through the end of the summer. It means so much to us that people are willing to spend the time and money to come see our life here.  My mom will get to come with me to see me teach, and Steve's family will be here for the ACC graduation ceremony in May. Many of our friends from AZ will be coming up on a work team to help out on campus in June with some building-updating projects. I am looking forward to sharing this special place with everyone that's coming. Our home is always open to any of you that want to come and experience Alaska (don't worry, I will protect you from the bears!)