Friday, November 18, 2011

Missing Fall in Mystic

The kids and I got to reminiscing about all of the fun things we miss about Mystic, CT, so I wrote a post about it for Trekaroo's blog. It was published today!
See it here.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day 2011

We feel like we are sort of carrying on part of a family legacy of military service in Alaska.  The LT's grandfather served in the Army as security for the Air Force base in Anchorage between World War II and the Korean War.  My grandfather was in the Navy and served as a postman in Sitka.

In Honor of Veterans' Day, the town of Homer had a really nice ceremony and parade today.  Several Coast Guardsmen participated, so Little Man and I went down to watch.  In true Alaska fashion, by the time the parade wrapped up and the bugle played at the ending ceremony, snow started to fall and a bald eagle flew over as if right on cue.  Looks like we are in for a snowstorm this afternoon through tomorrow morning!

October in a Nutshell

We have had a lot of firsts lately.  First long deployment.  First report card.  First time trick-or-treating in the snow.  First realization that we are officially small-towners.  And wow, are we one lucky family.

The last time The LT was stationed on a ship, Adventure Girl was just a baby.  In fact, she was born while the ship was in dry dock.  Ugh.  We have had a couple of short underways (or "deployments" to the rest of the military world) since arriving in Homer, but the latest one was the real test.  It lasted 4 and a half weeks.    You didn't hear much about it while it was happening because we aren't supposed to discuss the ship being away from home port while it's gone for security reasons (referred to as OPSEC, which you can learn more about from a great little poem here).  We weren't sure what to expect from the kids while Dad was away for so long, but we all managed surprisingly well.  That is in large part due to the wonders of technology, which have greatly improved just over the short 6 years since we last lived in Alaska.  We could email, which, while spotty at best, aided me in making "man" decisions like buying studded tires.  The kids also loved to type short letters to Dad and anxiously awaited his response.  It was also amazing to be able to Skype with The LT while he was in far-off places like Dutch Harbor, AK.  The same technology, along with Facebook, has made it much easier this time around to keep in touch with family and friends.  We don't feel as disconnected from our roots in Florida, and even the delay on the phone line, where you had to wait 5 seconds to make sure you caught the full sentence from the person on the other end of the phone before starting to speak, has disappeared.  Even so, Little Man and I met the ship at the pier upon its return, anxious to have our man-of-the-house back.

Since the ship's return, we have been busy.  In mid-October, we headed on assignment for Trekaroo to the Alyeska Resort, which is about 40 miles south of Anchorage (and 200 miles from Homer).  We really enjoyed our stay there and can't wait to get back sometime when there's snow.  You can read about the resort here.  Since we were so close to Anchorage, we headed to the city for a day of stock-up shopping.  We were amazed by the price difference of staples at the commissary at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson from what we pay in Homer.  The same peanut butter that we pay over $4 per jar for was only $2 there.  Same goes for flour.  Needless to say, I completely filled the back of the Pilot with supplies for the pantry.  We also made it to Target and the mall but were overwhelmed by traffic and people by mid-afternoon.  What a relief to head back to the mountains and the peace of the resort!  We learned that, while we specifically put Homer at the top of our list of places to live due to the road to Anchorage, we could definitely do without it and be perfectly happy.  We'd rather spend our weekends hiking than shopping, and can get everything we need in town, online, or from the big-box stores in Kenai and Soldotna.

Fall on the Homer hillside

Enjoying one of the last few non-winter-coat days of fall
The end of October brought our first visitor (my mom), Adventure Girl's first report card, and our first measurable snowfall of the winter.  All in the span of a week.  One of the best things about having family visit is rediscovering favorite places while showing them around town.  We went out to the Homestead Trail and the trails at Eveline State Rec. area and loved seeing how much they had changed with the seasons.
Getting silly with Grandma

The Homer Spit and mountains beyond the bay from Eveline

Kids being kids
Adventure Girl is doing fantastically in kindergarten.  We had our first parent-teacher conference and got her first report card.  We are really impressed with the elementary school here.  They have amazing technology, a support staff complete with on-site speech therapist (which is a good thing, since AG is back at it again), and the teachers truly care about each student.  They teach kindergarten like it is first grade, and AG is already reading, writing, and sounding out words on her own.  Math is taught in an algebraic form, and are already working on graphing (complete with x- and y-axis notation).  The LT and I were both advanced in school, but at this rate I fear that she may surpass us by the time she reaches high school.

We are spending each day of our time in Homer appreciating how fortunate we are to be able to experience living here, especially since it is only a very short 2-year tour.  It feels as though the clock is already ticking by.  This time next year, The LT will have already turned in his "dream sheet" for his next assignment.  This is one place that we really could stay forever.  We are also looking forward to some fun times coming up, including a family vacation to Honolulu thanks to The LT already being there for work.  The kids are already pretending they are at a luau and wondering if there will be crabs on the beach.  They can't imagine how a warm place exists just a plane ride away when our driveway (and most streets in town, for that matter) is a sheet of ice and they don't go anywhere without their mittens.  We're trying to do as much the "Alaskan" way as possible.  That means that last Sunday afternoon was spent at a friend's house, where the men were making steaks and sausage out of the caribou that they shot while underway.  I now have a winter's worth of meat in the freezer.  Recipes, anyone?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter on Halloween

It appears that fall is officially over in Homer.  We woke to our first snowfall on Halloween.  It has since melted and has been replaced with a windy wintery mix this evening, but left behind some very icy patches on driveways and walkways.  I now know why I needed studded tires!  I am very overdue on a few blog entries...a weekend at Alyeska, Adventure Girl's first report card, Halloween festivities, and more.  They are coming, I promise!  I have been a bit pre-occupied with my new pastime--sewing.  I signed myself up for a booth at a local craft fair the weekend of Thanksgiving, so I have been spending every free moment creating goods to sell.  Check out my Facebook page here and my Etsy shop here.  Here's a pic of the kids on Halloween to get you through to the next actual entry: