16 August 2010

part 2

Thanks for hanging there, guys! Here are the rest of the updates, just like I promised.

Last weekend we attended the first ever Sitka Seafood Festival, where we enjoyed a community free-for-all parade; community vendors, displays, and booths; live entertainment; fresh seafood; games, such as fish-head toss (like egg toss, but with fish heads); face painting; and just a great show of support and enthusiasm from the entire community. One of the performances we saw was a group called NANDA, which did a sort of rock & roll-circus-ninja-action-comedy-dance-movie thing they call "The Jacket" performed live on stage, but synchronized to an audio recording for the narration, music, and special effects. They are four pretty awesome guys and very talented acrobats based out of Washington (state). If you ever have the opportunity to see them perform, DO IT. You will not regret it. The highlight of the show, though, was when they had just completed a particularly intense fighting scene and amidst the silence of the audience and pause in the audio from the show, Seren piped up very matter-of-factly and said, "Silly boys!" Our entire section was laughing and agreeing with her!

Speaking of Seren, she and Porter are doing very well. We were in a crunch for a while there, trying to find care for the two of them while we were both working, but it seemed every option in town was far more expensive than we could reasonably afford. However, just this Friday, we found a full-time sitter who will take them both into her home where she lives with her husband, two teenage children, and a 5-year-old son, whom Seren has already gotten to know a little bit and play with. We really think it's a good match for our kids and for our situation and are very thankful that we are able to afford this solution. We have also decided not to put Seren in preschool yet because the rates are so prohibitive. Instead, I will continue to provide basic education for her at home. We looked at the state standards for Kindergarten in Alaska, and found that she's halfway there already! She's well on her way to reading, she counts and does simple addition and subtraction in her head, she's getting really good at character recognition and she's starting phonic recognition, she understands chronology and has relative spacial awareness, and she's even learning how to draw pictures and letters of the alphabet without any assistance from us! We are very proud of her and know that once we are able to put her in school, she will be just fine. Porter is also advancing nicely. He has a few phrases he uses in repetition now. "Peek-a-boo!" and "tickle-tickle-tickle" are frequently heard when we are playing with him. He's still not walking, but he's purposefully letting go of whatever he's hanging on to while standing to balance now and his efforts get recognized with tons of praise and applause. His appetite has only become bigger since we moved out here... he even eats more than Seren at just about every meal! As he gets taller, he's beginning to become a little leaner, but he's still a solid kid, and very strong. He has gained a few new teeth since we left Arizona, too. This puts the the tally up to 10: four on the top front, plus two top molars, and four on the bottom front.

Stephen had two classroom days last week and has in-service all this week to prepare for school to start next Monday. He's excited to get back in the saddle and he seems to (still) have great support from the school for his program, so he's really enjoying getting everything set up.

We will continue to try to post updates to the blog as often as possible, but please be patient while we adjust to our new schedules. We want to share all we can with all of you, but if waiting an extra day or two to post here means an extra hour in the evening to cuddle with the kids, or take a walk, or take the kids to the library, you can bet that's probably what we're up to.

15 August 2010

updates (pt.1 of 2) & apologies

I'm going to start by apologizing to all of our dear readers who have missed us for the last... how long has it been? Almost two weeks? REALLY??? OK, I'm so very sorry for making all of you wait that long to hear from us. It is entirely my fault because Stephen (and a few others, you know who you are) has been after me to post to the blog for almost that long and I really dropped the ball.

So without further ado, UPDATES!

I'm working now, as you should all know from Stephen's last post. Random House is treating me as well as can be expected in the retail world. The owners are good people and shrewd businesspeople. I handle the front sales floor on most days, which keeps me running around quite a bit, but I've learned a lot of interesting things about Russian fairy tales and traditions and Native Alaskan artists and their works. I've talked to Olga Borland (the owner, who is in the store on most days) recently about my employment and she says she's very impressed with my work ethic and that she intends to keep me past September, which was originally my seasonal cut-off date, as off-season pick-up help during inventories and store re-organization before the next tourist season rolls around. Until then, I'll continue to work about 35 hours per week in the store, as I have been for the last 2½ weeks.

Some of you might not yet know that we received our shipment from Arizona, which means that we now have a house full of boxes, packing material, and household items we don't need, in general. It's amazing that we purged so much stuff before we left and, after having lived out of three suitcases for 6 weeks, we realize now that we didn't need about a third of what we packed up to go with us. Lesson learned, we're slowly putting our home together the way we want it and getting rid of everything else. The good news in this is that there is a consignment clothing store nearby for nicer items and two donation centers in town for everything else, one of which is a Salvation Army store attached to a real Salvation Army church. The only significance in that is that neither Stephen nor I could ever remember having seen a Salvation Army church before, but both knew they existed somewhere.

There are plenty more things for me to write about, but rather than make this post too long and difficult to read, I'm going to invite you to stayed tuned to the blog and join me again either tomorrow or Tuesday for the rest of the updates. :)

03 August 2010

four weeks

Today marks our fourth week in Sitka. In some ways, it feels like we've always been here. In others, well, there's a lot still sinking in.

JoElle has gone off to work for the first time since before Seren was born. She worked largely out of the home where we last were, but now she's in a job where she's being paid an hourly wage to work somewhere that has a dress code and everything. She's working for the Russian America Company at Random House downtown here, and seems to really enjoy the work and her bosses (although adapting to the hours has been tough on all of us).

Porter seems to be really settling in and enjoying himself. We set his crib up as a daybed, which he hated for one night and then realized that he could roll himself out whenever he gets bored with napping. This has resulted in FAR shorter naps. He's also getting around well enough that he is being a real pain to his sister.

Seren has been loving it here. Whether she's going for short walks to the store or the mail or whether she's heading out to pick salmonberries or play with the daughter of our landlords, she loves where we live. Every couple of days, she begs us to go to the library, which is her favorite spot in town! She also loves the Whale Park.

I've been working on setting up our house since Thursday, when all of our worldly goods were delivered in brown paper wrapping. Almost everything arrived undamaged, and I've been going around seeking out places to store things and trying to figure out where all of our things are (not all of the packing was done in the most logical manner). I've also been working on figuring out a day care/preschool solution for the kids, as Seren is of preschool age (although the cost of sending her may be an issue - is it really $250-$300 a month everywhere for only 10 hours a week?). Since our household showed up, my work getting my classroom and office inventoried and set up has taken a back seat, but I'm glad to have my bike back so that I can start commuting.

Music teachers: Alaska has some of the simplest standards I've ever seen. On the one hand, this is awesome because it means that the bar is set low. On the other hand, there are detailed standards for math, science, social studies, and English. I guess at least I know what the priorities are here?

I know that it's going to sink in at some point that we actually live in Alaska, and the huge distances are going to become a reality instead of just something that I understand intellectually. For now, every time I open up a library book or get a piece of mail and see "Sitka, AK" written, it throws me for a little bit of a loop. In a good way.