Friday, February 25, 2011

On The Run

Over the past year, I have become a runner. At first it was mainly to get in better shape, but over the months of training I have actually grown to like it. I ran my first half-marathon in October, and said I wouldn't do another one. Over this long, snowy winter I changed my mind. Needing a new goal to force me to get to the gym regularly, I signed up for the More Magazine/Fitness Magazine Women's Half-Marathon in April. That the course is entirely in Central Park sealed the deal for me! I even signed up on a team with my local running store, soundRUNNER, to keep me from backing out of it.

Every Saturday I get up early and drive the 40 minutes to the store to do my 8am long training run with the store's group--on the schedule for this week is 10-12 miles. I have never run outside (on purpose, anyway) when the temperature dips below 60 degrees until this winter. The day of the first group run in January, it was 10 degrees. I told myself that it couldn't possibly be colder than that, so if I could run in 10-degree weather it could only get better from there. The next weekend it was 8. I have actually grown to LOVE running in the cold air. Good thing, considering the climate of our new home. I also love training with a group. It pushes me to go further and faster than I ever would on my own. I completed my first half-marathon in 2 hours and 18 minutes. My only goal this time around is to beat that time.

Hartford Half-Marathon, October 9, 2010

With all of the rain, snow, and ice we have had lately, I have had to do much of my training on the treadmill, which gets really boring. The conditions are slowly improving outside, but I still managed to roll my ankle last week by slipping on gravel left behind by plows and melted snow. After several days off to let the swelling go down, it was back to the treadmill this week. I recently put this sticker on the back of my car, mostly to remind myself to keep going. With all of the moving stuff we have going on, it would be really easy to give up in the next month or two.

Luckily, all of the schools The LT needs to complete before the big move (nearly 6 weeks worth) have been scheduled and none of them conflict with April's race. I am reminding myself that this is the last time for the next two years that I can count on him being around so I can fit in my training runs and plan ahead for races. I'm hoping to complete a half-marathon in each state that we live. Surprisingly, there are several options in Alaska! The Mayor's Midnight Sun in June, the Skinny Raven Half-Marathon in August, and the Kenai River in September. Maybe I'll have some company on at least one of these races while we're stationed in Homer! Any takers?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Buried Treasure and Library Books

After looking over big-ticket items that we need to get rid of before a move (which, thanks to Craigslist, are already out of the house!) my next stop is always boxes that still remain packed from our last move. In this case, that means they have been sitting untouched in the garage for nearly 4 years. We did a pretty good job going through everything after moving into our Connecticut house (especially after having "lost" our Crock Pot in the move and finding it packed up with the old computer and labeled as "books"), but there is still a stack of boxes in the garage, collecting spiderwebs.

Prompted by the need for our references from our last move to Alaska, I went on a hunt the other night. It's amazing what we have forgotten that we own. While much of the boxes were filled with college textbooks (really, will I ever need my Organic Chemistry book filled with old exams?), I also came across several trash/treasure items. Included in a box of old middle school yearbooks were 2 full books of mini-discs for the mini-disc player that The LT just had to have while in college (and which never became the next big think as was hoped at the time). I also found my own baby book, complete with a family tree and tons of photos. One of my best finds was this book:

As you can see from the inscription below, it was given to my paternal grandmother, who I spent a lot of time with growing up, when she was 14. She gave it to me when I was 11.

We had this selection read at our wedding. The script I wrote for my brother to read along with it was still in the book.

What a find, especially because Grammy B is currently 83 years old and living in a nursing home under Hospice care. This is one of those things that belongs with us in the car rather than entrusted to the movers who had no idea what they were doing when they packed it up with my old clarinet and porcelain dolls (which also probably need to find a new home).

And, amazingly, I also found exactly what I was looking for. The kids had been asking what Homer looks like, so I wanted to find these books to show them:

One of the most important things for trip-planning is the Milepost. I found out 2005 copy, which was from our move from Kodiak to North Carolina. Unfortunately, our 2003 copy, which had more notes in it, is MIA. I think one of our Coast Guard friends borrowed it, but we never got it back. If you are the one who has it, please let me know!

For those of you who don't know of the necessity of the Milepost, it is a publication that is updated annually and includes mile-by-mile information on all of the highways leading to Alaska. We will of course be getting the 2011 edition but are waiting to see if the new ship sends it to us before forking out the $30 ourselves to get a copy.

Of course, after digging out these books, there was not a Homer photo to be found. Luckily, the kids and I have recently graduated from the fiction to non-fiction section of the children's room at the library, so we were able to find plenty of information on our weekly visit today:

Hopefully these books will give the kids a broader idea of what Alaska will be like, since right now Little Man only tells everyone, "We are moving to Laska. They have volcanoes!"

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Purging excess so we can stock up...does that even make sense??

Those who know me know that I am an organizer, a planner, and a list-maker. When it comes to our household, I am the one who keeps things on track, so naturally when it's time to PCS (or move, in civilian speak) much of the planning falls to me. Friends and family will not be surprised at all to learn that, 48 hours after learning of our new locale, I have already researched the necessities:

-What our monthly allowances will be (housing, cost of living)
-Potential sources of rental homes
-Preschools for Little Man
-Elementary schools (!!!) for Princess A
-An indoor ice rink and swimming pool (hooray) so the kids can keep up with their favorite activities
-A Starbucks in the local grocery store for when we need a little taste of the "real world"
-The daily catch limit on halibut (2 per person per day, or enough to feed a small army)

It is so nice to be going somewhere that we have visited before; we are familiar enough with the town to feel like we don't have to do much legwork ahead of time. But now that all of that is taken care of, I need something to do right-this-instant to get this show on the road. We still have about 3 more months here, about half of which will involve The LT being away at training for his new job...and there is a TON that needs to be done. Of course, I have a list:

Things to do
1. Apply for Alaskan Airlines mileage credit card and start using it ASAP to rack up the miles, making trips back to Florida (where all of our family lives) as cheap as possible.

2. Get passports for the kids. We will be going through Canada and it will be much easier if they have passports.

3. Get rid of everything we don't need.

4. Acquire all of the stuff we will need in Alaska.

Of course, there are sub-lists. Purging the house of all the extra stuff is going to be a big job. When we moved from NC to CT, we up-sized our house by about 1200 square feet. That means we bought new furniture without getting rid of any old furniture (and ended up with more house than we can clean or use). We also have 4 years worth of toddler toys that we have outgrown, and boxes and bags of clothing that didn't make the cut for resale at the consignment shop. Today it is all going on Craigslist or being boxed up for Goodwill. I am just SO thankful that a house is not of the list of things that need to be sold this time!

The basement in its current state...ALL of this needs to go.

There are also several things that need to be purchased in advance of the move, as things in Alaska are much more expensive than in the Lower 48 (although CT has proven to be a pricey place to live, so we may not experience as much sticker-shock as others).

-A car-top box for the 2-4 week road trip. We contemplated a pop-up camper instead, but I decided that my sanity would be in jeopardy if I had to be in the same car all day with the little people and then have to share an equally-tiny space with them at night, not to mention the thought of campground showers for 3 weeks.

-A "big boy bed" for Little Man (Thinking about the one here so that our future visitors will have the rare opportunity to share a room with a restless 3-year-old)

-Possibly a new television, since the one we have now is the "old-fashioned" non-flatscreen type from 2003

- A two-year supply of dog food

- A digital SLR camera, as my old-fashioned Canon Rebel that uses real film is now slightly outdated and in need of servicing. Recommendations welcome...I don't need anything fancy but do need to be able to take great photos of our journey.

-An entire pallet of Trader Joe's peanut butter

-As many K-Cups as we can stockpile, especially Island Coconut

I'm sure there is more...hopefully we can sell some of the old to fund some of the new. Off to Craigslist...

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Nomadic Newells on the Move

After nearly a year of no posting, thanks mostly to the wonders of Facebook, we're back! And we come bearing fantastic news: we're on the move again. We got word yesterday that The LT is "penciled in" as the XO of the CGC Hickory out of Homer, Alaska. Let me decode that for all of our non-military readers. By "penciled in" we mean that the detailer (the guy who decides where everyone goes) has called to say that we got the job pending the approval of the guy currently in charge of the ship (we call him the CO, or commanding officer). The XO, or executive officer, is the guy second-in-command. CGC stands for "Coast Guard Cutter." And the Hickory is a 225' buoy tender (Coast Guard trivia: buoy tenders are all named after trees except for the last one The LT(meaning my hubby, the lieutenant) was on, which was the SPAR).

The reactions we have gotten to this news have been rather comical. The first thing most people as is, "So is this good news?" The answer is: ABSOLUTELY! As you may know, our very first station with the Coast Guard, 2 weeks after graduating college and getting married, was Kodiak, AK. Being from Florida and having never thought of living anywhere else, that news came as a shock. I must have blocked "The Call" from The LT from my mind, because I certainly don't remember hanging up on him when he called from the Coast Guard Academy to tell me about his orders...but he swears that's what happened. Long story short, we fell in love with Alaska and have always hoped for the chance to go back to let our kids experience it. We have always said that Homer would be the most ideal place to move with the family as it is on the mainland (hooray for not having to fly on prop planes through the fog just to get home) yet it is still a small, authentic Alaskan town. Never did we imagine that it would actually work out! Homer was our number one choice on our "dreamsheet" (list we give the detailer of about 20 jobs that The LT would be okay with doing). Getting our first pick is pretty awesome!

I will admit, when we got the call yesterday, my first thought was, "What have we done?!" But since we have done this huge move (5000+ miles) twice now, we have a pretty good idea of what needs to get done before we go. After thinking it over, I realize that this is "what we have done" by requesting this job:
Given our kids a very rare chance to:
-travel the country (on the government's dime, nonetheless)
-leave behind a lot of unnecessary "stuff" and focus more on what we really "need"
-gain a greater appreciation for wildlife, mountains, and even volcanoes
-have a little adventure in everyday life.

So, we brought back the blog to have one place to chronicle and share this new adventure...and maybe even to be able to lend a helping hand to other families making the same sort of move. There are A TON of things that are involved with a military move to Alaska that you don't have to worry about when moving within the continental US (or CONUS, in military terms). This is considered an overseas move (OCONUS), will involve additional health screenings, shipping of a vehicle, special paperwork for the dog, and more. Blogging it will help us stay organized, and hopefully help others who are in the same "boat."