Monday, May 25, 2015

End of Year Thank You Gifts & Hello from Alaska!

Hello!  These last few months have been a whirlwind (you too?!) and I cannot wait to have a minute to just relax and breathe this summer!

Now, let's get on to the little thank you gift I just gave to a few volunteer-at-home parents this year at our Muffins with Moms event.  I bought a few of these ADORABLE mugs from Walmart (they were $3.50 each), 2 packs of Werthers Coffee candies/Nips coffee candies, printed these coffee-themed thank you cards, tied a little ribbon onto the handles I had tucked away and voila.....pretty simple thank you!  They were so easy to make! I'll bet you can think of someone to give one to, so I made them generic enough to give them to coworkers, parents, your own child's teacher...anyone! Click below to grab the cards for free!
We also gave our volunteers this little photo using these "Thank You" letter posters. Click below to grab them for free!  
I am so excited to finally have a minute to introduce myself! Okay, now a bit about me. If you don't know who I am or have never heard of the Tongass National Forest, you're probably giving your computer screen a sour face at the word "Tongass" right now. It's okay, I'm about to get your head out of that gutter. It's pronounced "tawn-gus." Now, can we move on and never remember how you used to say it again?? Here's some proof in case you're still doubting it's actually the name of a forest.
A few things about me: I have taught 2nd grade for 7 years now. I started making and selling clipart almost 2 years ago. I have a wonderful husband and 2 sweet boys. This is a photo I took on Easter morning a few weeks ago of us at the beach.
So, a little history. My great great grandparents arrived in Skagway, Southeast Alaska during the Gold Rush.  My great great grandfather made his living running a pack train (leading mules with people's luggage and supplies) on the Chilkoot Trail.  They eventually made their way to Juneau (not far away) and my family has been here ever since.
Shameless of my favorite clipart bundles inspired by my own gold rush heritage ;)
I work in an elementary school in the middle of a valley know as the Mendenhall Valley, which was carved by the Mendenhall Glacier.  This is one of the best views of the glacier...check out those beautiful and gigantic fireweed flowers in the foreground.
And here is a pic my brother took of the northern lights above the same  glacier (different viewpoint) was at 1:00 in the morning, I was sound asleep :)
And if you visit Juneau in the winter, you can even hike right across that same glacial lake and into an ice cave!
Or maybe posing in cool introspective thought next to an iceberg frozen on the lake is more your style...
A few misconceptions I should address sooner rather than later:
We do not live in igloos. We do not use dog sleds for transportation.  We accept the dollar.  Alaska is part of the United States, not a territory, but a STATE. It is connected to the rest of the continent and not in a little box next to Hawaii as your map might lead you to believe.  It is HUGE. Bigger than Texas.  If you know someone in Barrow and ask me if I know them, I might ask you if you know someone on the other side of the country. Yes, our population is small (Juneau has about 30k people), but we are spread out on a large scale.

The funny thing about our state, is that in addition to being shown as small on a map, it is never shown in the correct location.  Every year, students LIVING IN JUNEAU, think that we are an island off the coast of California (this is usually how a map displays Alaska).  Here's a little Alaska humor showing how crazy it would be if we just showed inaccurate maps everywhere:
There are many very different regions of AK, and Southeast AK is along the coast...ocean, gigantic mountains everywhere, glaciers, spruce trees, the works.  Northern AK (Anchorage and beyond) is where you might picture tundra, moose, Eskimo, Iditarod....Juneau is very far way from that area and in fact, land-locked (travel in and out only by ferry or airplane).  I cannot count the number of times I have been talking to a customer service agent for a company that tells me "There is a store in Anchorage, you could go there."  Not likely, buddy.

Weather: We are in a rainforest, which means it rains. All. The. Time. Seriously. An average of 62 inches a year and during about 2/3 of the year. But...on the bright side, when it's sunny, you are reminded how lucky and fortunate you are to live in a tourist destination (we have anywhere from 2-5 cruise ships arrive daily from May-September).
 It snows on and off from about November to March, rains on and off throughout the other months.  May, June and July are our summer season months.  It is light out until about 10 or 11 pm in the summer, and is only dark for a few hours before the sun rises again....a crazy feeling when you are camping and the birds are singing in the middle of the night because it is getting light at 3!
Thankfully, I am able to take advantage of this beautiful city on occasion with my 2nd grade class. We were given a free whale watching cruise (courtesy of a super sweet grandparent who works for a boat charter company) and I snapped this shot with my cell phone! #donthateme
So, if you ever decide to take a trip to Alaska, first, make sure it's May-July if you want a good chance of sunshine, then make sure you stop in Juneau and at least say hello to me!
And that's it! Until next time,


  1. Thanks for the updates. I was actually at a party and cringed when I heard someone ask a guest from Alaska if she lived in an igloo. You're right - Alaska gets short-changed on maps - I never realized it was as long as the east coast! Wow - pretty amazing!

  2. I loved reading your story! We have been on 2 cruises to Alaska and LOVED it!! The first visit we went to the Mendenhall Glacier and the rainforest and the second time we went whale watching. That was one of the coolest things I've ever done! We hope to go back in 2 years for our 20th anniversary. Thanks again for sharing! :)