01 November 2010

autumn pictures!

Sitka has a pretty drastic change of weather in the Fall, something almost completely unfamiliar to Arizona. I would be lying if I told you that I was completely prepared for what was in store for us, but the transition wasn't nearly as bad as some our our friends and family had feared. The summers here are mild, topping out at about 73°F. There's usually some mist or fog in the mornings, the afternoons feature short stretches of sunshine, and the evenings are overcast and cool. There was a clear division between the last days of Summer and the beginning of Autumn, though. Mist and fog turned to heavy rain and gusts of wind, the promise of sunshine stretched from every few days to every few weeks, and the evenings brought more chill to the wind and rain than there had been previously. The mountain peaks rotate in and out of their white wintry coats of snow every week or so. There is so much rain that it washes the snow away that frequently. A couple of weeks ago, a storm blew in at 75mph, with gusts up to 85. It took out the city's electricity, so we were running on diesel generators for a few days and the residential areas were on rolling blackouts to save money. With all of this weather, though, life doesn't stop in Sitka. People still walk and ride their bikes to work. The schools still let their students out for recess. Hunting and fishing continue and the trails still get used. Everything continues on just as it did the day before, maybe just a little more bundled up.

In the midst of adjusting to all this, I've been trying my hardest to "do as the Sitkans do" and just get out and ignore the weather. Seren still goes to the playground as long as it isn't raining too hard and I've been on at least one hike in the rain. There seems always to be something going on downtown, whether it be a parade, a sale, a carnival, or a charity walk/run and we try to take advantage of those things when they come up. That said, here is a whole slew of pictures of us (mainly Seren and Porter) celebrating our way through the past month.

Blowing bubbles:
It was probably about 50°F outside, but Seren was having so much fun!

Seren's 4th birthday:

Monster cake!

Seren's first impression of the cake.

Blowing out the candles.

One piece for Seren.

For anyone wondering why her sweatshirt says "STEPHEN" across it, this is the very same sweatshirt Seren's Baba (Cindy) made for Stephen when he was about the same age.

One piece for Porter.

Note the lack of cake on his fork.

That's a happy boy.

Carving our Jack O' Lantern:

Porter is very interested in what I'm doing and Seren is supposed to be picking seeds out for roasting later.


And lit.


My little monkey and my big cowgirl, ready for candy.

I love the banana sewn into the pocket of this monkey costume.

The entire downtown area was a zoo with all the trick-or-treaters and their families!

My vote for best costume of the evening: "Lobster in a Pot"

Two things in this picture: 1) Porter's chocolate face just enhances his costume, doesn't it?, and 2) that white stuff on his costume is hail.

26 October 2010

going inactive

This is the post that surprises nobody. It is the one in which I observe that it's been nearly a month since JoElle or I posted anything, and that we don't seem likely to post again soon. It's the post in which I mention that there is plenty going on, but that we don't have the time nor motivation* to share with the frequency that we once did. It is also the one in which I mention that we don't want to kill the blog, but do want to assemble a list of people to notify when we post new things (seriously, email me or the wife or leave a comment here with your email address [don't worry, we'll read and delete your comment so that your email address isn't on the internets for holycrapeveryspambotintheworld to steal it] if you want to be put on the mailing list for new posts).

Since you, dearest reader, have put in the effort to come here and see what I had to write, I might as well go ahead and give you a mini-update! Today marks the culminating day of the Region V Southeast Honor Fest, better known as Honor Band or Honor Choir to the participants. I brought one student, a tenor, and have had a great time interacting with students and colleagues. This is the second time that I've gotten together with the music teachers of the region and the second time that I've loved working with my peers this year! This trip has been lots of fun and productive, considering I've managed to meet two of the titans of music in Sitka (the local guitar and music studio guru and the middle school music teacher who is widely considered the backbone of the public schools' music program). I've also gotten to perform in a mens' ensemble (they made me sing a brief solo, even!) and to play claves on a choir piece.

I love my job/Alaska/this region/my colleagues.

*Quick note on motivation: With the way that our schedules have rapidly filled up, JoElle and I have both found ourselves frequently mentioning that we should post about something in here and then not getting to it for long enough that it loses its freshness. It's hard to write something urgent, interesting, and good when it feels like old news.

07 October 2010

another trip to the e.r. and school at home

On Sunday afternoon, we took Porter to the emergency room to evaluate a cut on his upper lip. Porter was in his room playing with Seren when he decided that his cd player no longer belonged on his shelf and proceeded to pull it down by the cord... onto his face. (No heavy metal jokes, please.) He cried for all of 3 seconds before resuming whatever it was that he was doing previous to losing a fight with a small electronic device. Seren seemed almost entirely unconcerned with the event, as Porter usually kicks up a pretty good fuss when there's something serious going on. However, there was a bit of blood to be cleaned up, his lip was pretty swollen, and there was some defined bruising on the inside of his lip, so we decided to take him in to be seen at SEARHC. Stephen thought it would be a good idea if I called ahead while we were loading the kids into the car, just so that the medical staff could pull his chart or whatever before we got there (I did this, mostly to humor him because I've never had much luck with calling ahead with an IHS facility). After we parked, it took no more than 15 minutes to check in, let them see Porter's injury, and walk out with a topical antibiotic. These people are amazing. In the end, it's just a cut and Porter should still be able to grow a full moustache in the future with no problems. Afterward, he didn't let his battle wound affect his ability to polish off a burger and some fries at McDonald's.

In other news, Seren has started Preschool at home. Thanks to the wonderful materials and lesson plans provided by my mother, Seren is learning to read, write, and count to 100 under our own roof. This decision to home school was not an easy one for us to make because, though we like the idea of being the only ones to influence her development (read: poison her mind), we would actually far prefer her to be able to get the peer interaction she has been lacking since birth. Our hope is that she will work hard this year and possibly be admitted to Kindergarten next year. Only time will tell. For now, she has already developed a healthy habit of waking up, getting dressed, and asking me if it's "time for school." She's really enjoying it and I am too!

Seren's "classroom" area

Seren's calendar: she adds the number and says the date each morning

One of her first completed assignments

I've been enjoying Seren's schooling, too, since she's begun really looking forward to my return from work so that she can give me very enthusiastic hugs and kisses and then tell me all about her day. Because he copies all that she does, this means that I get really good hugs from Porter, too (he's even jealous when he doesn't get his turn fast enough)! --S

06 October 2010

Fortress of the Bear

A couple of weeks ago we went to Fortress of the Bear for their family event (free admission) to visit the facility and see what it's really all about. It's a bear sanctuary, of sorts, designed to permanently house two very special bears, but also to give a temporary home to any bear that is captured due to residential concern or that is rescued with injury. The enclosures are made from two abandoned water clarifying tanks, each 3/4 acre in size. The bears are fed outdated produce, baked goods, and dairy products that are donated by the local grocery stores, a donation that reportedly saves the city and businesses more than $10,000/year in waste disposal. There are plans for a museum and gift shop and there are already a good number of volunteers that proudly serve the cause. They have a snack shop and a petting zoo, and are doing everything they can to educate people about the diminishing bruin population.


Porter and the miniature pony

Seren, Porter, and Stephen peeking in on the petting zoo animals

Miniature pony & sheep

Seren petting goats

Temporary residents

Temporary habitat for fostered bears

Permanent residents

Showing off

"Wave and say hi!"

Permanent habitat