About Me

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Fort Wainwright, Alaska, United States
Welcome to our blog! I'm Stephanie ~ proud military wife to an amazing husband for almost 20 years and mom to 5 crazy wonderful kids ages 15, 11, 9, 6, and 4 & 1 absolutely adorable 3 year old Yorkie! We love to travel as a family (cruises and Disney World especially) but for the next few years we'll mostly be exploring the State of Alaska with hopefully a trip to Hawaii too! We have been a military family for 15 years calling Fort Campbell, KY home for 13 1/2 years of it (proudly surviving 3 deployments while there as well as a year apart due to an assignment in Korea, and various TDY's mixed in) then VA for 6 months, wandering around Texas for 5 months, and now in Alaska for the next 3 years! Along the way we've made so many wonderful lifelong military friends - and look forward to making many more! I invite you to look back at our 20 day road trip to Fort Wainwright, Alaska (our new duty station in Fairbanks, Alaska). I documented each day of this amazing 4600+ mile journey! Be sure and tune in ever so often to check out our adventures in "The Last Frontier"! Dog Mushing, Ice Fishing, Skiing - you name it - we plan on giving it a try!

Monday, December 5, 2011

School Cancelled Due To Warm Temps- That's a first!

November 21st - December 5th, 2011

I kept meaning to update before the end of November, but obviously that didn't happen so this will be a lengthy post to catch up!  Life is just moving right along here in Fairbanks, Alaska.  And wow - what a difference a day or week can make.  I'll talk more about that later but first I'll get you caught up on what we've been up to!

So while the temps were still really low we did a little science experiment!  Click the video below to see what happens when a cup of boiling water meets -38 air!  It's pretty amazing!


It's been more of the usual here- Hockey practice twice a week and games every Saturday!  Here's a short video of Tristan's last hockey game- He is #88.  I am still amazed watching him skate around knowing that 2 months ago he could barely stand up on the ice.


Abby has swimming practice three times a week!  No swim meets since the one on November 19th but she has one coming up on December 10th!  We enjoyed going to her Swim Team Christmas party this past Saturday night.  She, Madison, & I went and had fun swimming then enjoyed a pot luck dinner.

Hope has XC ski practice 6 days a week unless it is cancelled for some reason.  She had her first race (a local one) this past Saturday out at Birch Hill.  This was for skating (in case you didn't know - I didn't- there are two types of XC skiing ~ skating and classic and she is learning both)!  It was a great learning experience and hopefully helped her get over her nerves before her next race which will be this coming weekend in Anchorage!  She has a friend from back at Fort Campbell whose family just moved here this summer and he happens to be XC skiing for his high school so they run into each other and he will be going on the trip this weekend too so I'm glad she sees a familiar face from time to time.  Here's a pic of them from this weekend!

I'm really excited she has opportunities like this yet I'll admit I'm nervous about her traveling so far but what can you do- you have to let them go and trust all will be well!  They will leave on Thursday around lunch time and drive to Denali National Park where they will stop for a 30 minute run then hit the road again for Anchorage.  Although it's only 359 miles - it can take sometimes take a lot longer than normal to drive there because of the weather and snow is expected the whole weekend!  

We had a nice quiet family Thanksgiving!  Ate, Skyped with my mom's side of the family, did FaceTime with both of Charles' grandmothers along with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles and siblings so that was a lot of fun to be able to see and talk to them even though 4800 miles separate us!

The Saturday after Christmas Charles and I decided to go ski for a few hours at Birch Hill!  It literally is just a little over a mile from our house!  There's just a few runs but it is going to be fun to just go ski for a while then drive right down the road and be home again!  We bought season passes and are currently looking for some used skis so we don't have to rent them every time.  The kids will all be taking ski and snowboard lessons as soon as the weather cooperates!  Anyways- we had lots of fun!  We hadn't been skiing in over 17 years- once the kids came that was just one of those things that never happened again.  We had thought about taking a family ski trip several times but the thought of getting little ones dressed in all that gear and skis, boots, poles, etc well- let's face it the ease of a cruise always won out!!  Here's a pic looking up the ski run and then one at the top of Charles!

December 1st was a special day!  Charles was promoted and we are proud to call him Major Allen now!  There was a nice but quick ceremony on the 1st at his office then a pot luck lunch.  Charles' Brigade Headquarters is in Hawaii and there is a small 6 man team stationed here at Fort Wainwright so his Colonel flew in from Hawaii to promote him and spent a few days at Fort Wainwright.  Friday night everyone from his work (all 10 of us (including spouses) and the Colonel went out to eat about 10 miles out of town to the Turtle Club and we had a really nice time!

Now let's take a look at sunrise and sunset differences since the last post I made and then I'll fill you in on the crazy weather we've had too then you'll understand my post title!

Last time I posted the update on sunrise and sunset it was this (On November 10th sunrise was at 9:09AM and sunset at 4:00PM  ~ On November 20th sunrise was at 9:43AM and sunset at 3:29PM)

Now see the difference between the span of this post- crazy isn't it?:  Our shortest day is fast approaching though and once Winter Solstice hits on December 21st then we will start gaining that sunlight back :)

Nov 21, 20119:46 AM3:26 PM5h 39m 44s

Dec 5, 201110:30 AM2:52 PM4h 22m 17s

The weather has been just plain nuts the past 2 weeks:  Here's a look at the highs and lows we've experienced!

                                HIGH       LOW
 November 21            -23           -37
 November 22              -1           -24
 November 23               2           -16
 November 24              -2           -11
 November 25              -4           -15
 November 26              -6          -25
 November 27            -10          -28
 November 28            -11          -23
 November 29              -7          -23
 November 30             14            -5
 December   1             10            -7
 December   2             25             2
 December   3             30             0
 December   4             41           28
 December   5             18            -4

This warm front actually prompted school to be cancelled today!  Is that crazy or what?  -38  school, XC ski practice etc life goes on like just another day.  The temps warm to 38 for a day and then school has to be cancelled- but trust me when it warms up and everything starts melting then less than 24 hours later it drops below freezing again - well the roads are like an endless skating rink!  Anyways- it's been a nice excuse to just stay in today and get caught up on some things like this blog!  Still had my homeschool kiddos do their work this morning but this afternoon they are all playing and watching movies together- sometimes they amaze me at how well they all get along!

We've had snow on and off since late yesterday so the roads are covered again!  It was really sad watching everything melt and I realized just how much I love the snow and yes- even the COLD!  We were all sad yesterday- the kids, Charles, me, and even Izzy just didn't like seeing our Winter Wonderland melt away!  Hopefully that was the one and only (rare Chinook wind to hit us this winter!)  Well- it's that time again ~ another hockey practice so I'll be posting again soon but in the mean time wishing all our friends and family a great December!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

-38 degrees... Need I Say More!

November 10th - 20th, 2011
All I can say is WOW! I kept trying to imagine what -30 would feel like... now I know! So let's start this post off with a weather update!

Here's a look at the daily highs and lows...
                                HIGH       LOW
 November 10            18             8
 November 11            22            -4
 November 12            16            -5
 November 13            13            -3
 November 14             0             25
 November 15           -13          -35
 November 16           -28          -39
 November 17           -30          -41
 November 18           -21          -36
 November 19           -23          -36
 November 20           -22          -37

And these temps don't scare away the bike riders, runners-- these people are just amazing-- it makes me laugh now thinking how in the south the whole town shuts down if there is even a chance of snow-- here it's just another normal day!

So looks like the negative temps are here to stay!  It's all about the layers now-- and plenty of wool!  My new best friends include my Sorel boots, my Smartwool socks, and my favorite fleece!

Our schedule got even busier this week ~ Hope started XC ski practice and it's every day after school and on most Saturdays!  Yes folks- that's 6 days a week!  I'm very proud of her for trying this and she seems to be enjoying it!  So I've officially opened my taxi service-- it runs each morning from 7:15 - 8:00 and again each evening from 4:30 - 6:30.  I spend a lot of time on the road these days but the perk is I'm getting a lot of practice in winter driving!

On Sunday the 13th, we celebrated CJ's birthday with my friend Betsy and her kids!  After the party we all loaded up the car and headed over to the University of Alaska Fairbanks sledding hill!  We had so much fun!  It was really cold- but after walking up the hill a few times you warm up!

Here's a video Charles took of me going down...

& Here's a video of Betsy and I taking the final run of the afternoon!

The 15th was a BUSY day!  I took Charles and one of his co-workers to the airport at 4:45AM so they could catch a 6AM flight to Anchorage (another one of those TDY things).  My taxi service was in full swing the rest of Tuesday!  Hope to school, pickup Hope from XC ski and then Tristan to hockey!  I think this is why I don't like to wake up in the mornings-- I know the minute I do it's just go! go! go! for the rest of the day!

One of Charles' co-workers wife called and invited me out with 3 other ladies for a Girls Night Out on Friday!  It was really nice meeting some new people and having a few hours to just get away and relax!  At home I'm always doing something- things for the kids, picking up the house, laundry, etc-- it just never ends so taking a little time to enjoy a few drinks and have "girl talk" was much appreciated and needed since Saturday and Sunday will be spent at the pool for a weekend swim meet!

Saturday, Abby and I left the house at 7:30-- I signed up to bring 4 dz cookies (baked those Friday night) and ice so had to stop and get a few bags for the concessions at the swim meet then get there to help set up the tables.  When Abby finished her morning swim events, I ran home to get CJ and bring him back to the pool with me.  Charles dropped Hope off at Birch Hill so she could watch a High School race and then he, Tristan and Madison headed to the Dipper for his hockey game.  CJ and I watched Abby's afternoon events then we all left the pool and headed to pick up Hope!  See what I mean--- CRAZY!!!   About 5:40 I remembered that Birch Ski Hill was having it's open house so Charles and I ran down the road to check it out and buy our early bird Family Season Passes.  We got our pictures made and then went back home and I took Hope and Abby back to get theirs!  Sometime this week I'll make it back over with the other three kids so they can get their pass picture made too!  The ski hill opens the 26th so less than a week til we can hit the slopes!

Just remembered I haven't mentioned the darkness yet!  Losing 7 - 8 minutes a day is just crazy and after a week you really notice how much darker it is!  On November 10th sunrise was at 9:09AM and sunset at 4:00PM  ~ On November 20th sunrise was at 9:43AM and sunset at 3:29PM

Everything about this place is unique ~ I suppose that's why we've fallen in love with it!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday CJ! We Love You!

November 9th, 2011

I can't believe it's been four years since our little surprise CJ was born!  Every single day he makes me smile and reminds me what's important!  He has the most incredibly sweet personality and just enjoys life every single second!


Abby (our 11 year old) well - those of you who really know her know she can be our little obnoxious child-- but on the flip side she is also our most caring and thoughtful child too!  She stayed up the night before CJ's birthday and made him a banner and had all of us come to her room to sign it, then she asked me to print out pics of CJ on all of his birthdays and she made little posters showing his 1st birthday, 2nd birthday, etc.... plus a lot of other little signs!  She woke up early on his birthday and decorated the stairs for him complete with balloons and streamers!  She was so excited she woke him up early to bring him downstairs where she also had a Happy Birthday video waiting on the computer for him!  We did just a little school work today but spent most of the day enjoying CJ!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

XC Ski Equipment-- EXPENSIVE!

November 1st - 8th, 2011
Lets just begin with the weather! It's still getting colder! Highs in the teens to low 20's and the lows are falling into the negative temps each night now-- -14 is the lowest we've seen! A few more days of snow so everything is white now! I can't begin to explain how CRAZY BUSY our lives are -- it's like we've lived here forever (even Hope and Abby said they felt like we have always been here so we must be all settled in) & we absolutely love it! November 1st I dropped Hope off at school then met Charles at Fairbanks Imports - dropped off the Volvo to finish up the winterizing! So I took him back in to work then headed home so the kids and I could start our day! Hope is joining the XC Ski Team at school so the night of November 3rd we spent from 6 - 9 at a local sports store that did a high school team night buying all the equipment -- yikes- and getting a crash course on XC skiing- I didn't know there were two types- skating and classic meaning you need two different pairs of skis, poles, etc-- The coach is a young girl - looks to be just out of college recently and lived here all her life-- super nice- she and her husband were flying out late last night to head to NYC where she is doing the marathon this weekend. Then the guy who helped us pick out all of her equipment is a volunteer coach - again incredibly nice- we've yet to meet someone who isn't smiling, positive, and genuinely happy. OH- BIG NEWS- Charles made the Major list for December - so December 1st he will be promoted and I can officially call him Major Allen :) Thank goodness-- his raise will be spoken for the next 6 months to pay for all the hockey, XC skiing, swimming expenses-- holy crap - it's crazy- but the kids are all having a blast and learning new things so it's worth it! I told Charles we just have to think of it as an investment for the next few years since at least Hope won't outgrow hers which was by far the most expensive. Finishing off the week was swim practice, hockey picture day and game- oh and Charles and I escaped for another date night! This time we tried an Italian restaurant downtown! It's nice to get out - just the two of us- even if it's just for a couple of hours. Unfortunately- while we were out Charles' phone somehow landed on the frozen sidewalk and the screen shattered- so guess where we spent Sunday afternoon- the AT&T store getting him a new one- he went with an Iphone 4-- I ordered myself the new 4S-- we'd been planning on upgrading soon anyways! Oh - and possibly the BIGGEST NEWS of all-- we added texting to our plan! I know- I know- most people can't believe we haven't had it until now-- but I just kept holding out-- the whole it's only $30 a month sends my mind multiplying and adding ($30 a month times 12 is $360 a year times oh let's say 5 years and now I've spent $1800 typing people messages that I could have just emailed, posted on fb, or simply pick up the phone and CALL! -- and $1800 could send me sailing away on a couple of cruises...) Oh well- gotta go call text some more people! :)
PS: I returned the really nice looking plastic shovel with the cool handle too-- I told Charles to get the metal shovel with wooden handle-- he disagreed and thought the plastic would be better-- it didn't work so well- I googled how to shovel your driveway-- First two words of advice--- 1)Don't buy plastic 2) Don't get the fancy looking handle
PSS: The metal shovel works REALLY well! :)