Friday, February 27, 2015

A (Semi) Video Update!

Hello from sunny Alaska! While the rest of the country is covered in snow, we are thawing nicely up here! The sun has been re-emerging this week, and temps are slowly rising (although today was in the teens again, surely just a fluke.)

We have been soaking up as much of the sun as possible this past week, but most of February was spent in survival mode. With several weeks of rain at the start of the month, we were stuck indoors quite a bit. Noah was very busy with hockey, Grace is doing her piano thing, and Steve and I have been working hard at ACC. Consequently, I don't have many pictures to share (I am sure you are devastated!) Here are a few favorites from a recent walk to the beach.

While preparing to travel to Arizona in a week and a half, I put together a quick video update for all of our friends that support ACC financially, and/or like to keep up with how our students are doing. We will be sharing this video with supporters in AZ, but I wanted to share it with all of you as well. I apologize for the corniness of the beginning- believe it or not it took around 20 takes to get something even that mediocre. :)

The semester is flying by! One fun thing that has been happening on campus is the start of a pen-pal exchange between our students and a great group of Cambodian 3rd graders. These kids crack me up, every picture and video they send is so typically "3rd grade"- I see Grace in every one of them. They may have different 1st languages, different cultures, & different upbringings, but they still all love Frozen. :)

Our campus pastor, Amanda, is friends with the teacher of this class, and they have enabled the exchanging of letters between our students. The Cambodian students sent us a video introducing themselves, sharing their likes and dislikes, and asking us about Alaska (they have never seen snow). When our students decided to write them letters (which Amanda scanned and emailed so the 3rd graders wouldn't have to wait) the Cambodian students were so excited that they immediately grabbed their markers and paper to write our students back- even though they were supposed to be leaving school for the day.

It has been really interesting learning about the history of Cambodia, and the horrible genocide that occurred there in the 80s. Most of the nation's educated people were slaughtered, leaving very little hope for the future children of Cambodia. These third graders have the opportunity to attend school, which will help educate them so that they will be less likely to become a victim of the horrible human-trafficking that occurs far too often there.

One of our students ***Dolena *** (I promised to put her name in lights- larger, colored font is the best I can do) took the initiative to make a video to send back to the kiddos in Cambodia. Her video beats mine hands down! 

Dolena also has a pretty great blog! Check it out at if you want to get a student's perspective on life as a student at ACC, amongst other things.

We will be traveling to AZ for spring break in just over a week. Hopefully we will see many of you while we are there, please let us know if you would like to get together! I can't believe we are already half way through this semester. Time flies when you are having fun. :) Love from Alaska!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Let there be lights!

There are many unique things about living in Alaska (or the far North.) Peculiar fashion trends, lack of defined parking rules, and abundant wildlife are just a few examples. One of my favorite "bonuses" of living in the North are the nights that we get to see the beautiful Northern Lights. Auroras can floor you with a sense of wonder and awe, and make you feel very very small. 

We had a wonderful Christmas this year! We were able to stay here in Alaska, which was so nice. Living far from family and friends we are often the ones that make the trip to spend holidays with those we love, but this year we kept things simple and stayed home. The kids were so excited that they could actually wish for gifts that were larger than a carry-on. :) A couple of days before Christmas Steve's parents joined us in Alaska for a Hallam Christmas extravaganza. The kids love picking up friends and family at our tiny airport where we can watch them getting off the plane and meet them right at the door.

Our holiday was spent baking, doing puzzles, and resting.

Steve's dad flew out of Anchorage, instead of Kenai, so after we drove him into the city, we stopped by the Anchorage Zoo for Zoo lights. Our kids have always loved the Phoenix Zoo lights. This was a very fun experience, but very different from the ones in Phoenix! First of all, it was freezing cold. Next, the zoo is very small, about the size of a small farm (with some polar bears living on it.) These differences just added to the adventure, and I can definitely see this becoming an annual event.

New Years was spent with family and friends. Living in Alaska means you can watch the ball drop at 8pm and call it a night!

The last part of our winter break was spent ice fishing, playing hockey, reading, and playing with the kiddos. It was wonderful to go into the new semester feeling a bit more rested than usual.

After one of the warmest winters to date, we finally got some snow a couple of weeks ago. It seems that snow is here to stay for a bit as the temperatures continue to hover around zero with no sign of change in the near future.

Grace discovered an "ice rink" under the snow from all the freezing rain we had earlier in the season.

Noah is still playing hockey, and working very hard to improve his skills. When he is not on the ice he is in our living room, practicing his "lifties" (what he calls lifting the puck off the ice to score.)
During our recent Peninsula Winter Games, his team won the Mites division of the tournament. He was so excited and wears his "champion" sweatshirt with pride (every day...I have to wash it nightly.)

Taylor....well Taylor is surviving. She does not love winter, and spends much of the day sitting on our heating vents trying to warm up her paws. Our poor Arizona dog.

One thing that the cold clear days bring are beautiful sunrises and sunsets. It is so nice that we are actually getting some real sun these days. Each morning we get a few more minutes of light, and it is starting to become noticeable on the drive to work in the morning. I didn't realize how much I have been missing the sun until it returned after several long dark months.

Steve and I are continuing to love our work at ACC. The library has become a second home for me (can you spot our Valentines day heart made of books?) and we are seeing more and more students use our resources each month. My goal is to make the library a place that fills a need for every student at our school. With our student body growing, one of the recent uses for the library has become extra classroom space! Two of our smaller English classes have been meeting in the library, and Steve is talking about holding his Methods of Biblical Interpretation class in the library a couple of times a month.

While I am thankful that we had a restful break, as we enter what many locals call "Freaky February" when cabin fever usually starts to set in for everyone, I am especially thankful for our busy school-year schedules.  Nothing beats cabin fever like a little hockey/piano/teaching/mentoring/learning.  I love seeing all of your Facebook posts and blog updates, thanks for staying involved in our lives up here in the far North!