Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Happenings

The end of the school year was a whirlwind of work and extracurriculars! I am just now getting to sit down to sum up the past two months because we have been going nonstop until now. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I am happy to have time to pause and reflect.

We kicked off the end of the school year with our student retreat at a camp outside of Soldotna. The students stayed for a couple of nights, and we went out during the days to hang out with them. Our kiddos love any time they get to spend with the students. Noah especially loved being included in their softball game!

That's Noah there in the middle left.

The last day of the retreat the students packed things up and headed back to town for our graduation ceremony. This is always such a great thing to see. It is encouraging for all the students to see their peers finish strong, and it is encouraging to the staff and faculty to see our student's hard work pay off. This year we had our first graduates in the Paraprofessional Ed associates degree program. In most villages the school is the main provider of jobs, so this degree opens a lot of doors for our grads.

After graduation, the staff had a wonderful dinner provided by one of the school's major donors. It was a great time for us all to socialize outside of our usual work setting. We are so lucky to work with such an amazing group of people!

The staff dinner was sort of the final "hurrah" of the semester for the faculty members. While we have  a lot of work to do to prep for next semester, we are able to do most of that from home. The ability to spend summer days with our kids is one of the biggest benefits to being in education, and one that we do not take for granted!

Steve's mom, Marsha, came to visit with her friend Louise. We were able to tag along with one of our friend's Montessori preschool classes on a tide pooling expedition in Halibut Cove, AK. This was our first trip to Halibut Cove, with is located across Kachamek Bay from Homer, AK, and is accessible only by boat. Noah was extremely disappointed that he came down with a bad cold at the last minute as was unable to go.
Grace and her friend Ella, ready to get on the boat to Halibut Cove.
On the boat to Halibut Cove

The ramp to the floating dock at low tide...tide swings are HUGE in AK. The tide swing in Halibut Cove has been as much as 28.9 ft. 
There was an amazing amount of marine life in the water at low tide

Our Captain, Clem Tillion, a former AK legislator, whose family was one of the first in Halibut Cove.
The view as you first enter the cove...breathtaking.
We have had many visitors so far this summer. Some of the most exciting visitors are all of the wildlife that we are beginning to see around again. These baby moose were just minutes old when we stumbled across them in downtown Kenai. We got to watch them take some of their first wobbly steps, so great to watch!

One of the fun things about having company visit is that we get to explore new places that we might not otherwise take the time to visit. I found my new "home away from home" in a small town called Hope, Alaska, an hour and a half outside of Anchorage. This is their tiny library's book sale room, located in a small building next to the one room library. The library isn't big enough to hold many books, so they regularly have to sell off the extras. I found some great reads for $1/book. :)

Noah and Steve are relieved that the ice is back in the hockey rink for the summer. Steve is still sad that there is no shinny hockey (pick-up games) until this fall, and has compensated by building a hockey "training" facility in our yard, complete with fake ice.  Can you say Alaskan red-necks?

Even though our kids are not gung-ho about hiking, we have been dragging them around on quite a few hikes in our area. It is just too pretty to not get outside right now! We have been having record-breaking warm weather all through June, and are trying to take advantage of every warm day!

Although we haven't been on campus nearly as much as during the school year, we have gone in to help with several projects. We have had meetings with the Provost at UAA to talk about course transfers, I met with the state authorization committee to answer standard questions so that we can stay authorized as a school in AK, and we have collected information to prepare for reaccreditation this coming year.   We also went in to prep this corner of the library for my new office!!! I am so excited to finally be moving into the library. Currently my office is in the hallway outside of the library, but with a new Executive Vice President coming on board at ACC next month we needed to shuffle offices to make room. In order to fit an office in this corner, we moved all of these cabinets elsewhere in the library and a team is working this week to build a wall with a door and window so that I can have my very own corner in the library. I'll post pictures of the finished project next time!

It may seem like we are cramming a lot of stuff into a little amount of time, but the long Alaskan days  give you plenty of time to get things done. The picture below was taken during the week of the solstice in June, at 1:40 am.  Now that we are past the solstice we are on the slow march towards winter...sigh. Never have I lived in a place where the seasons make such an impact on your daily life!

Another group of visitors we were excited to have this summer was my Grandma and Aunt. Noah knows that Grandma is from Wyoming, so he dressed appropriately when we went to pick her up from the airport.

Waving as Grandma's plane lands in Kenai
We had a great time showing Grandma and Aunt Erin the sights. We took them to the Kenai river (below), hiked through the woods that back up to our house, drove them to Homer, Seward, and Anchorage, and boated to Halibut Cove. It was an extremely full week, filled with lots of laughter and fun.
At the Kenai River

Hiking in our woods

The wildflowers are out in force right now! The picture doesn't do them justice.

Obligatory Moose is Loose trip

Watching Noah's hockey practice

Boat to Halibut Cove

Beautiful Halibut Cove

The last Sunday that they were here happened to be Father's Day. We took everyone to Seward to do the Kenai Fjords National Park tour by boat. Grace and Noah both made banners for Steve to hang in his office.

The whole gang in front of our vessel. :)

We saw lots of wildlife!

At one of the glaciers we saw they fished a piece of ice out of the water for us to hold.

Next week I head to Wyoming and Montana to visit family and attend my cousin's wedding. The kids are staying here with Steve so that Grace can do "Get out and get dirty" camp (through the wildlife refuge) and Noah can do hockey camp with the Brown Bears. They will fly out with Steve and meet me in Montana in time for the wedding, and then we get to bring Mema (my mom) home with us for a visit. The summer of family continues! We will soak up every minute of it this last month before it is time to get back into the swing of school for the fall semester.