Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our little family to yours!! 

We had a beautiful day here in Alaska.  The temps were fairly warm, but not warm enough to melt away our white Christmas! We woke up early, opened our presents, took naps, watched movies, cooked a big dinner, and went to the beach with Specks.  It was an amazing day and I could not have asked for more :) 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Happy Christmas Eve!

The picture above is of Cody and I last year on Christmas Eve.  We've come a long way in the last year! At this time last year we had only been living in Alaska for three months, we'd been living in our apartment for only a couple of weeks, and Cody and I were both working low-paying jobs while we held out for our dream jobs (me-waiting for a teaching position, cody-waiting to get hired as a behavioral case manager).  This year is a much different tune! We have made our house a home, we've settled into our own traditions, and we are no longer struggling to make ends meet.  What a difference a year makes :)

It is tradition in our little family to open a pair of pajamas and a game on Christmas Eve.  Our evening will look a little something like this…

6:00pm- Dinner (prep and eat)
7:00pm- Watch the original cartoon version of The Grinch
7:30pm- Open Christmas Eve gifts (pj's and games)
8:00pm- Play a few rounds of whatever game we bought this year
9:00pm- Splurge on some Christmas treats before bedtime
9:30pm- Head to bed to read, snuggle, and drink some warm tea

I will hopefully have a few more posts to share about Christmas over the next week because….I am heading home! I will be taking a trip back to the Chicago-area to visit my parents this week.  Cody and Specks aren't coming with me so I will miss them dearly.  However, it has been fifteen months since the last time I saw most of my family so I am pretty jazzed.  I hope all of you have a beautiful holiday season! :)

What are your Christmas traditions? 
Are you doing any holiday travel? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Day In The Life: Alaskan Teacher

6:00am: Usually I am hitting snooze about this time.  Zzz….  But, then I somehow make it out of bed to walk the dog, primp, and eat breakfast.

Shameless bathroom selfie before work. 
7:20am: Leave the house (in the dark) for work and make the ten minute drive to the elementary school.   Typically this involves getting stuck behind a school bus. Cody and I carpool fairly often because we work at the same school.

8:00am-3:00pm: School! I have students in my classroom at this time.  The rest of the elementary school gets out at 2:30pm but because my classroom has two sessions (AM and PM) each class has to be the same length. The AM class is at school from 8:00am-11:30am and the PM class attends from 11:30am-3:00pm.  This makes for a pretty crazy schedule and some long days for me but I really like my job so I don't complain…much ;)

I try to do a cooking activity with my students each week (this teaches math, reading, writing, and practical life skills).  This particular day we made homemade hot cocoa! It was perfect to sip on after our "winter adventure."

Headed out on our "winter adventure" at 9:30am and it's still not completely light outside! 
3:30pm: Leave school (in the dark). Depending on the day I head home and take Specks for an extra long walk or hit the gym.  I try to split my time pretty evenly between these two things.  Specks takes walks every day but I try to do longer strolls/hikes a few times a week.  That is getting a LOT more difficult on weekdays though due to the lack of sunlight.  We have to wear reflective vests when we want to walk at night so that cars can see us.

Snowstorm as I leave the school! 
4:45pm: I usually am either picking up the house or doing some at-home classroom prep at this time.  For classroom prep I usually spread out at our teeny kitchen table.  Also, cleaning our house is a pretty speedy activity because the house is so tiny.  I suppose this is one perk of being a renter? Haha.

5:00pm: Start cooking dinner.  I cook almost all of our meals but usually once a week Cody will cook or we will go out to eat at one of the few local restaurants (Juneau is seriously lacking restaurants).  On this particular night we were having Tomato Soup with Feta & Spinach Grilled Cheese! 

6:00pm: Eat dinner with my future hubby :)

7:00pm: Usually around this time Cody and I will play cards, watch a movie, do a project, etc.  This is a pretty quiet time of the night at our house.  On this particular day Cody was feeling really under the weather (side note: it turned out to be pneumonia-he's on the mend though).  So, he made a little bed up on the couch so that he could be sick in peace (I am a CRAZY sleeper and so is Specks).  Specks had other ideas about Cody's peaceful bed though…

7:30pm: Get ready for bed.  I am usually showering, making tomorrows coffee, packing my lunch, laying out clothes, possibly watching an episode of something on Netflix, and doing any last minute prep for the following day.  My job requires quite a bit of outside prep work (I don't actually get a "planning period" due to the crazy schedule) so I am working on stuff at home pretty frequently.

8:30pm-10:00pm: Get into bed.  Yes, I am an early to bed kind of lady.  I am someone who needs relaxation/quiet time each day so I make it a point to get in bed super early each day so that I can do a little reading. I try to read for at least an hour every night, it makes me feel so relaxed and puts my mind at ease.

Mostly, my days look like the days of any other teacher.  The biggest difference is probably environmental.  The constant darkness that accompanies my days in the winter is something much different.  Or, going to school in two feet of snow and playing on the playground even when the wind chill is -10° (in Alaska you have to go outside unless temps are lower than -20°).  Another huge difference is the content that I teach.  We focus on tribal values and Tlingit culture. This is something that would probably be frowned on in classrooms in the Lower 48, but here it is embraced and encouraged.  Elders come to our classrooms to act as storytellers, families teacher native dancing, we regularly learn songs in the traditional Tlingit language.  It is a fascinating experience!  Overall, my days are much like they would have been in Illinois.  But, there are these few glaring differences that make the experience so meaningful and wonderful.

Do you have any similarities/differences to my day? 
What is your favorite part of your day? 
What makes your day unique? 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Life Lately: November Wrap-Up

November was a wonderful month in Juneau.  We started the month with some downright amazing weather (sunny, warm, etc).  We couldn't escape the snow forever though.  By mid-month we were buried.  And, because this is Alaska, we will stay that way until April.

Oh well, we didn't move to Alaska to enjoy a tropical vacation!  The month was gorgeous though and I took a TON of pictures.  This post is essentially a photo-dump of all of my cool pictures from the month that I never shared.  So, here's a little peek into what a typical November in Southeast Alaska looks like…

This month we ate delicious food…

enjoyed amazing views from the house…

wandered around this beautiful state...

spent a ton of time with friends…

snuggled the puppy…

spent too much time prepping the classroom…

and enjoyed this kooky-crazy life we are living in the 49th state! 

What did you do this month?
What was you favorite part of November?