Monday, June 30, 2014

The next chapter is about to begin

3 kids, 2 parents, & 1 final PCS move across North America.
1 Ferry ride out of Alaska = 2,500 miles
1 truck for the road trip = 3,000 miles.
Returning home to be with family...again...and for good!
A 23-year Air Force Retirement, celebrating a long, decorated career.
New doors opening to learn & grow as a civilian & as a "Mr."
The opportunity to be in leadership at the school where my teaching career began.
The chance to work side-by-side & have a more widespread, positive impact on students, parents, faculty and the community.

The journey continues as we say goodbye to Alaska today and "see you again soon" to the friends that have come into our lives;
The next chapter is about to begin.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

And the journey continues...again

I haven't talked much about the next step in my career now that we are moving on.
Matter of fact, I have kept quiet about job opportunities up until now.
The main reason is that I'm a little superstitious as well as I just don't think social media is the proper place to discuss until the deal is done.
That brings us to the developments over the last month, and more specifically, this week.

I applied for a few assistant principal positions back home in the school district I have spent my entire career in.  Lucky for me and quite different from the situation I found myself in when we first arrived in Alaska, I have a large number of networking connections, I'm still quite familiar with the organization, I have a good professional & personal reputation, and my two mentors are still very much in the thick of things in their respective schools.

With all of that said, there has been a couple of snags I've had to overcome this month, including purchasing a last minute plane ticket to fly home for a proposed interview.  Unfortunately, the school board did not approve the funding for that administrative position just days before the interview was set to take place.  Good thing it was just a small fee to use the airline credit later on this year. 

Another snag was a scheduled interview was due to take place on the same day that our packers and movers were arriving.  As anyone who has moved (especially across the continent) can imagine, flying home on short notice, even a turn & burn, would be extraordinarily difficult for Brian to handle with the kids underfoot.  So with that situation on hand, I was granted a phone interview from 5000 miles away.  That interview took place this past Monday.

That morning, the kids and Brian headed out the door early to meet the packers at the house and also to give me about an hour to get mentally ready for my phone interview.  Never having done one of these before, I was a bit nervous because I was so used to the comforts and convenience of shaking peoples' hands, smiling and making eye contact and having the ability to read their body language as I answered their questions.  However, with some last minute pointers from Brian and peace & quiet throughout the hotel room, I got myself ready and waited for the phone call.

The phone rang exactly on time.
The interviewer, who I actually have not had the pleasure of meeting yet, introduced everyone in the room who was on the conference call and we individually exchanged "hellos".  Out of a 7-person committee, I personally knew 5 of those folks.  This was definitely to my advantage and helped offset the 5000 mile distance.  After the 30-minute, 8-question interview was complete, I was kindly told that I would hear back within the next few hours today.  TODAY?  Wow, a decision was being made today and the newly appointed Assistant Principal would be presented by the superintendent at the School Board meeting tonight.  Holy Cow.  Talk about a quick turnaround answer.

I thanked the committee for their time and their accommodation for the phone interview while they wished me well & thanked me for the interview.

Just two hours later, the phone rang & again, it was the interviewer.
She thanked me once again for the interview and then said, "On behalf of the Superintendent, we would like to offer you the position of Assistant Principal."

Just like this time last year when I was blessed and humbled to be given the opportunity to stretch my wings and continue my journey in a different direction in my education career, once again another door has opened and I'm anxious, eager & ready to step in help make a positive impact and difference in a place that is home to me.  A place where I have spent my entire teaching career.  A place where I know the traditions, the culture, the expectations, and the people.
I'm going home to Indian Territory.
I'm truly excited to be the new Assistant Principal of Choctawhatchee High School.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The moving inquiries

The kids' questions have been going on for months.
This week, however, it has been nonstop.
Their curiosity, concern, and inquiries have been all over the map, but there is no denying that I have answered. ONE. MILLION. QUESTIONS. this week about the packers & the moving truck.
Here is a taste of what has been thrown my way:
  • How many boxes will they end up packing with our stuff?
  • Why do they use so much tape?
  • How many different sizes of boxes are there?
  • Why aren't they packing up the oven & bathtub?
  • Which box has my red Matchbox speed racer car with blue & black racing stripes?
  • Are they going to pack all of my Barbies in the same box - they might get lonely if they aren't all together?
  • Are these guys experts? 
  • Do they really know what they're doing?
  • Can I help the packers pack?
  • Will they promise to bring all of my toys to Florida?
  • Are they gonna drive the truck all the way themselves?
  • Will the moving truck beat us down to Florida?
  • Are they gonna stop at Disneyland also?
  • Do you think we have too much stuff?
  • How did we get all this junk?
  • How come I'm only allowed to bring one suitcase?
And might I add too that may of these questions have been asked multiple times...and answered by me multiple times.  At this point, I'm so done with prepping & packing.  The packers are done.  The truck is gone. The house is now empty. 
Thank the Lord.
One more thing that is checked off the list.
The next question from them will be "are we there yet?"

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Throwback Thursday: What a difference 3 years can make

Summer 2011 -
The Great American Road Trip from FL to AK
(Ages 4, 2, and new)

And now we are heading back to where we came from.
What a difference 3 years can make:
Summer 2014 -
The Great American Road Trip from AK to FL
(Ages: 7, almost 5, and 3)

Quick Catch Up

Sorry for the lack of blog posts the last several days;
This has been our life thus far this week:
Monday started out looking like this...
By Tuesday, the entire top floor was packed.
Thomas & the girls thought it was so awesome to go around the house reading the labels on every box, especially all the ones that had their own names on it!
By today, it felt like a closterphobic cave with boxes piled to the ceiling & in front of the windows.
The great news is that tomorrow everything will be crated and ready to hit the wide-open road on the truck and head south to Florida.
And then with an empty house, we will be one step closer to saying a final goodbye to friends & Alaska after calling this beautiful place "home" for the last 3 years.
 I hope to pump out a few blog posts that I've been working on in between packing, realizing how much dust is actually in my house and trying to stay sane as Brian & I navigate the beginnings of the next chapter of our lives that is about to begin.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Prepping for the move: My observations

  • Once baby items were stashed away in out-of-sight places, I forgot about them.  It shouldn't be a surprise at all when I say that I've purged baby spoons, bowls, plates, little toys, and even one bottle I found.
  • I hate to dust. And I have found a lot of it!
  • In order to keep my sanity as I'm prepping & clearing out things, I've succumbed to just letting the kids "help" so that they feel like they are apart of this moving thing AND more importantly, I can get some work done instead of just listening to constant questions and complaining.  Their "helping" role includes counting things, putting things in containers/trash, finding the missing pieces and even coloring a label identifying what's in the container.
  • When we moved up here to Alaska almost 3 years ago, I doubt I had done one tenth of the sorting, cleaning and purging I've done this time around.  But in my defense, I just had a baby when the movers arrived last time.
  • How do people stay in one house for years and years and not be forced to lay eyes on every. single. thing. they. own?  Despite this being exhausting, I wouldn't want to have a house load of piled up crap, or stuff stashed in every nuke and cranny that I don't really need.
  • Once again, packing clothes for a huge temperature swing is challenging.  Alaska (for 5 days on the Ferry) has lows in the 40s and then all the way to Las Vegas (in the 100s) and then on to Florida (hot & humid in the 90s).  Gheez.
  • I know I'm being productive each day.  All day long.  My question then is WHY aren't my lists getting shorter?  Instead, my lists get longer AND there are more of them.  Crazy town.
  • Out of complete concern for her clothes that she wasn't taking in her suitcase, our fashionista actually asked me "do the packers really know what they are doing?  Are they experienced at this sort of thing?  How exactly will they pack up my clothes?" Yes folks, I'm serious.
  • I'm hoping that unpacking our things in Florida is smooth sailing with the amount of work we have done on the front end.
  • I can't even imagine doing all this prepping if I was still working.  Holy Gheez.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Our first week in Alaska

With our departure from Alaska fast approaching, I thought it fitting to take a peek back at the kids during our first week up here.
Boy, has three years really flown by.  And of course, look at how much they have grown.
 When we arrived in the summer of 2011,
Thomas was 4,
Abby had just turned 2,
and Marilyn was 9 weeks old.
I venture to say that there will be some folks that don't even recognize the kids when we return home to Florida in less than a month.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Mastering the bumps

I'm starting to think Abby is now my daredevil child.
At 4 years old, she has now mastered the bumps on her bike.
She is growing up so fast.
I did not authorize this.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Partying with best friends

Our birthday boy got to wake up to a morning celebration...
 complete with a birthday breakfast!
 We did something a little different this year to celebrate - Thomas brought his best friends to the movies for the weekend opener of How To Train Your Dragons 2!
What a blast we had!
 Afterwards, we headed home for cupcakes, birthday wishes and a competitive game of Nerf War!


Thank you so much to everyone - near & far -  who helped Thomas
celebrate his last birthday here in Alaska!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Alaskan Skies - the Float Plane Ride

This past week, Brian and I had an opportunity to experience Alaska from a different vantage point - from the skies in a float plane.
This has most certainly been something that we wanted to do, but time just kept slipping away from us.  That is until one of my SHS teachers, who is a pilot, offered & insisted he take Brian and I up for a tour around the region before we left. 
Ummm... you don't have to ask me twice!
I'm no stranger to flying in a small Cessna plane - my dad is a pilot & I grew up flying with him in his plane.  And although they are essentially the same kind of plane, adding the water element really was pretty exciting.
 The co-pilot
 From the moment we took off from the water, the sights was spectacular and the view was worth a million dollars everywhere we looked.

 The city of Anchorage (looking west) with all of its parks & trails amidst the business of downtown & midtown was no less than beautiful also!
 I absolutely loved the fact that we flew right over SHS (and Trailside ES)!  What is so much more clear now to me is why we would regularly have moose & bear visitors on campus - with a location right up against Hillside Park, we are practically in the animals' backyard.
 Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm & the Chugach Mountains.
 Yes, that is a glacier right in the middle.  This was just one of MANY we got to see!
 Flying over Prince William Sound. 
I think this was by far my favorite part of the trip - the mountains, the islands & the glaciers!
Did I mention the glaciers?
Spectacular and unbelievable at the same time. 
 The pristine beauty is just so breathtaking.
  Did I mention the glaciers?
 Whittier is one of the small towns on the Kenai Peninsula where fishing is prominent, glacier & wildlife tours go out of as well as cruise ships & the Ferry depart from.  In fact, in just over two weeks, this is where we will say goodbye to Alaska from.   
 Speaking of glacier tours, here's one of the boats approaching an enormous glacier.
 As we headed back to town, the waters of the Turnagain Arm were out (low, low tide) and it looked magnificent.
 A huge thanks to John Fick - English teacher extraordinaire, extreme Alaskan biker, and former bush pilot - for the wonderful opportunity to get a personal tour from the Alaskan skies! 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Friday Night Leftovers (after birthday edition)

  • When I look at Thomas now, the first thing that comes to mind is "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!"  It's hilarious.
  • The big birthday bash is tomorrow even though we celebrated extensively yesterday!
  • We have officially said goodbye to the baby NUKs - I couldn't be more excited and Marilyn has hardly skipped a beat!  I'm sure I'll get a short blog posted about that soon. 
  • I have so many lists right now - luggage packing lists, food/menu items to have on the ferry lists, school registration lists, job/interview topic/response lists, roadtrip/travel lists, & moving/packers list to just name a few. My brain is going crazy right now.
  • In the last few weeks, I've been extremely disappointed in folks that I thought would extend a friendly goodbye/happy birthday to our family/kids.  But alas...I guess not.  Brian continues to remind me that my happiness and certainly our family's happiness is not determined by what other do/say or don't do/say.  I know he is right - I just need to move past it regardless of my expectations of others.
  • The kids had their annual checkup/school physicals this past week. Abby is the only one who needed shots and she was a rock star when she had to get several "kindergarten" shots.  Words can't describe how proud I am of her because this was the first time in her 4 years 10 months that she didn't cry or lose it at the doctor.
  • It becomes more clear to me each day that Marilyn is our jokester in the family.
  • On that same note, Thomas is the people-pleaser and Abby is the helper/boss of our crew. 
  • Abby is obsessed with her hair growing long.  Daily she asks me to take a picture of her so she can see the length in the back.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy 7th Birthday, Thomas!

Happy 7th Birthday to our not-so-little boy!
A lover of pizza, hot dogs, & hot chocolate;
A daredevil on his bike, a Lego creator & a Nerf gun fighter extraordinaire;
A super-duper reader & mathematician, inquisitive scientist, & YouTube-watching addict;
What a year this is going to be as you continue to lose more baby teeth, start 2nd grade, get back on your Daddy's boat to fish, jump waves at the beach, learn how to swim, and probably convince your Mommy & Daddy to let you play video games!
Watch out world - Thomas is now Seven!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Seven years ago

Seven years ago today, I was 41.5 weeks pregnant.  I was large, uncomfortable, and swollen. I was ready to be a mom for the first time.
Seven years ago today, I woke in the middle of the night knowing my labor pains had begun.  I woke Brian and we walked the dogs several times around the neighborhood at 3:30 AM to help ease the pains. 

Seven years ago today, we did the 40-minute drive to the hospital only to be told that I needed to dilate a lot more before baby would be ready to arrive.
Seven years ago today, I labored all day at home, hardly slept, and ate very little.  By evening, we headed back to the hospital - starving and still pregnant - to finally welcome our baby boy.
Seven years ago today, after 32+ hours of labor  & pushing hard for 3 hours, my doctor finally threw up her hands in dismay because my first little bundle of joy wasn't even budging.
Seven years ago today, I had no idea that my completely normal, healthy pregnancy would end with a C-section to bring our baby boy into this world.
Seven years ago an amazing little boy was about to be born.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


M: Hey, what's under there (as she points)?
Anybody: Under where?
M: HAAAAA!  You said underwear!

As Thomas shows everyone his tooth that just fell out:
Me: That is cool beans, bud! Congratuations!
M: Beans?  Where are the beans?  I thought that was a tooth.

The girl takes everything literally:
As I come out of the bathroom with my glasses on (and my contacts out):
M: Did you just take your eyetacts out?

Mixed Breed:
As we are all watching a National Geographic animal show, she sees what appears to be either a crocodile or an alligator:
M: Whoa!  That was a big Cracigator!

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Milestone for Abby

Abby has been insistent.
She has had her mind set on doing this.
In just less than an hour, this is what our big girl was doing.
Not too shabby at all for 4-years old.
No turning back now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mud Factor Run

 Today was another new adventure for the Hecks...
A 2 mile Mud Factor Run!
Complete with tattoos and bandanas, Daddy, Thomas & Abby took on the muddy obstacle course!
For kicks we called them our Little MFers!
 Meanwhile, Marilyn & me were the photographers!

 Coming through the trail run portion of the Mud Run...

 This boy LOVED it!
 And this girl loved it too, but there was no way she wanted any part of the mud!
 When they got to the massive climbing wall, Abby did have reservations about the height so decided to bypass it and wait for the boys on the other side.

 Look at Thomas' reaction as he & Brian finished the climbing wall...
 More mud

 Brian at the top of the finish line mud slide as he watches Thomas make it all the way to the bottom.
(I'm so bummed that I missed getting a picture of him sliding down)
 As expected, Abby skipped the muddy slide and ran to the finish line...squeaky clean!

 My favorite picture...
Our Mud Runners!