Friday, February 10, 2012

Working Mom Life

Kelly, over at Kelly's Korner, is having a link up for working moms. Since I fit that category I thought I'd join up and write a post about my job.

For those of you who are just meeting me my name is Ann. I live in Fairbanks, Alaska with my husband Dan and our two boys, Jonathan and Jason. Dan and I are both teachers. He teaches 7th grade math at North Pole Middle School and I am a building substitute at Ladd Elementary School.

Being a building substitute is a busy but very fun job. I'm assigned to one school and I show up there every day. If no teachers are out for the day I spend my day helping out in classrooms around the building. Some days I read with kids others I help them with math. Basically anything the teachers need help with I'm there to help.

When a teacher is absent I get to teach in their classroom. One of the advantages of being a building sub is that I already know most of the kids, I know all the school rules, and the kids know me. As a result I don't get mistreated. The kids know that I'll see their teacher when they return and that I will definitely see them again. I really enjoy getting to build a good relationship with the students.

Another distinct advantage of being a building sub is that I don't have to do any of the planning or grading. If I know the teacher well I might grade the papers I collect but I take nothing home which means when I'm home I'm just mom. It's wonderful to be able to leave work at work. Although I would like to have a classroom of my own in the future this really works for our family right now.

My tip to other working mom's is to find a routine. When we all get home from school my boys know its dinner then homework. After homework is done they can play until bed. Having that schedule helps eliminate fights over when homework is going to get done.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you'll come back again!

The Brough Family
Ann, Jason, Jonathan, Dan

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Duck Pond

I absolutely love watching my kids creativity. Between the two of them they have so much fun pretending and playing. One night Jonathan created a little duck with Duplo blocks. After having some success with one duck he decided to make a family of ducks. Jonathan and Jason had an absolute blast playing and pretending with the duck family.
Aren't those cute little ducks? :)
A few minutes later I noticed Jonathan was digging through our bin of Duplo blocks, pulling out all the blue blocks and putting them inside a circle he'd made with train tracks. When I asked him what he was up to he said "Mom ducks HAVE to have a pond to swim in!" as if that was supposed to be obvious to me... Needless to say we have all had a lot of fun playing with the ducks in the duck pond.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bed Time

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jason. Jason liked to sleep with so many stuffed animals that there wasn't really room for him left in the bed. There was Froggy, Baby the Giraffe, Blue, Angel the whale, Laugh a lot Bear, and a poor ducky smooshed under his knee. But he sure is cute!

Monday, January 23, 2012


This weekend was the Annual In-House Tournament for St. Jude's. This was the first year Jonathan was able to participate. Last year the tournament was at the end of his first week of Tae Kwon Do and there was just no way he was ready to participate. This year he was super excited to be able to raise money and participate in the tournament.

The tournament was divided by gender and age group. Each participant had the opportunity to participate in three skill areas; board breaking, pattern, and sparring. Since Jonathan is a yellow belt, white belts don't spar, he was able to participate in all three areas.
Breaking his board.

For the tournament they used practice boards but he has broken actual boards. For some reason he was very timid today, probably nerves, and had trouble breaking boards but he did well enough to tie for 3rd place.

Doing his pattern.

Jonathan had been practicing his pattern at home quite a bit and was very confident that he was prepared. His practice and confidence paid off with a 1st place finish.


There were only two yellow belt boys who were participating in the sparring portion of the tournament so Jonathan was guaranteed at least 2nd place. Both boys started out a little timid but once encouraged to go for it Jonathan went for it and came away with another 1st place finish.
Jonathan and his three metals.

I'm so proud of him. He set a goal to do his best and try to metal in all three categories and he met his goal. He was super proud of himself too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Yellow Belt #2

Ever since Jonathan started Tae Kwon Do last January Jason has wanted to do Tae Kwon Do too. Kids can start classes as young as three as long as they are 100% potty trained. Jason turned three in April but unfortunately wasn't taking too quickly to potty training so despite his constant nagging he was unable to start Tae Kwon Do. When he finally (after 2 or 3 months) realized that not being potty trained was why he couldn't do Tae Kwon Do he was suddenly very motivated to potty train. His mantra became "If I potty train I can to Tae Kwon Do." By the end of August he was 100% potty trained and was able to start lessons in mid-September. Last week he earned his first belt promotion from white belt to yellow belt.
He was super happy.

Jason's yellow belt is different from Jonathan's yellow belt. Because of his age and general abilities Jonathan was able to start right up with regular Tae Kwon Do. Since Jason is so much younger he does a program called Tiny Taeks. This program moves at a slower pace than regular lessons and is specific to younger ages. They learn all the same stuff but have different belt promotions and different requirements. Jason is in the Little Dragon class, which he thinks is super cool! When Jason graduates out of the Tiny Taeks program, about age 7, he will enter regular Tae Kwon Do as a full yellow belt, like his brother is now.

Both the boys really love Tae Kwon Do and we are both very happy that they have such a good outlet for all their boy energy, especially in the winter!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Jason has always had problems with his ears. His ear problems go all the way back to his 6 month check-up. He's 3 3/4 now so these problems have been ongoing for over 3 years now. If you want the full rundown or need a refresher check the label ears and all my previous posts about his ears will come up.

We had a reprieve last winter and he only had 1 ear infection the whole winter. I thought maybe we were done with ear infections, maybe he'd just grown out of them. Unfortunately I was wrong. He got his first ear infection in September and by mid-December had been on 5 rounds or antibiotics. Finally I got fed up, switched Drs, and asked the new Dr about tubes. The new Dr said he would recommend tubes now given his history. So on December 20 we got a referral to an ENT.

Now being so close to the holidays I figured it would be after the first of the year before we could get in for a consult. Imagine my surprise to find out that they had an appointment available December 29! I didn't have to think long on that one. We met the ENT who said Jason was definitely a good candidate for ear tubes and said to go ahead and schedule surgery.

When I talked to the lady who schedules surgery for this dr I told her the next available appointment would work great and mentally began thinking about time off of work, a sub for Dan and all those details that I obsess over. I was shocked when she said he had an opening January 4. Not the most ideal way to spend our last official day of break but it also meant no one had to take time off of work. Dan was slated to return to work on January 5 but I didn't have to go back until the 9th.

Our report time to the hospital was 7am. Oh boy was that hard for us. We were on vacation. We had grown accustomed to going to bed at 3am and getting up at 10am. Never the less we made it, very tired, to our check in time.

Jason got all hooked up and dressed for surgery and then he got to watch some cartoons with his trusted friend Froggy. The whole surgery was super quick. We spent more time waiting in the room before and after surgery than he spent in surgery. Everyone Jason met was so enamored by him. He had his sweet, charming personality turned up to 10 that morning.
After surgery he came back to the room complaining that his ear was hurting. Poor baby he couldn't understand or process why his ear was hurting so much. We had to stay an hour after the surgery was done just to make sure he didn't have any complications from the anesthesia. Once we were clear we headed home and all took a glorious nap.

Jason woke up from his nap just as happy as could be. If you didn't know he had surgery you never would have guessed it. He was chipper and joyful the rest of the day. He has his two week post-op appointment today. I feel like things are going well but we'll see what the Dr says. He is also going to get custom ear molds made so he can take baths again. Right now we are stuffing his ears with cotton when he showers. Maybe ear molds will work better??? Dan said they didn't work for him but I'm willing to try, after all technology has come a long way since he was 3.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Moving to Alaska: Day 11

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
Miles traveled: 588
Total miles traveled: 2571

Believe it or not Whitehorse is quite the buzzing tourist attraction in the summer. Getting a hotel was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated and we ended up staying in a strange little hotel. There was no air conditioning in the rooms and believe it or not it was quite warm. We had a hard time falling asleep partly because of the warmth and partly excitement of our last day on the road.

The hotel did have an interesting display in the lobby.

That is two bull moose racks permanently locked together. There is a photo of the skeletons in at the top of the picture, if you look close. The story goes that one fall a pilot flying over the area saw two bull moose with their antlers locked together. Knowing they wouldn't be able to get them apart he made note of the coordinates figuring he could go back and salvage the meat after nature had taken its course. Then winter came and the weather got bad and the pilot was unable to return to the area. When he finally returned in the spring all that was left were two skeletons. He took the racks and donated them to the hotel as a tourist attraction.

Before we left Whitehorse we went down to a little park in town that runs along the banks of The Yukon River. Let me tell you that is one fast moving river. The banks were such that there was no getting close and to be honest I don't think I would have anyway.

The Sternwheeler Klondike is also on display and we took a few moments to check out the exterior of the ship. Sternwheelers played a huge part in the settlement of inland areas in Canada and Alaska. We didn't do more than look around and snap a picture because we were ready to get on the road! It seemed like there was probably a lot of fun and interesting stuff to do in Whitehorse if you were up for more than passing through, but we weren't so we didn't.

After leaving Whitehorse we pretty much just drove and drove and drove. We stopped briefly in Haines Junction for some gas a snack and continued on our way.

At this point the road started getting pretty rough. There were hundreds of frost heaves and the bumps and potholes in the road made travel slow going.

One of the only stops we made on between Whitehorse and Fairbanks was at Lake Kluane. The scenery was breathtaking and we made sure to take many beautiful pictures including a family picture of all of us sporting our Vandal gear. We also took this opportunity to run and stretch little legs and skip some stones before continuing on the road.


Once you leave Canada near Beaver Creek, Yukon there is about a 13 mile stretch of road between Canadian Border Patrol and United States Border Patrol. I'm honestly not sure which country we were in at this point. We had left Canada but had not entered the United States. It was odd. Some where in this stretch was the official Welcome to Alaska sign. You can't imagine how excited we all were to see this sign. Even though we still had several hours of driving a head of us it was comforting to know we were in Alaska.

The "big" town you come to once you cross into Alaska is Tok. We stopped in Tok long enough to grab some snacks, and caffeinated Mountain Dew which Dan was very excited about, fill up on and then we hit the road. Ok Dan and I also stopped for a silly picture.

The official end of the Al-Can is in Delta Junction, Alaska. This is where the Al-Can meets the Richardson Highway which is the road into Fairbanks. So although we had reached the "end" of the Al-Can we still had another 2 hours on the road. Still the excitement was building as we knew we were about to reach the end of our trip.

At the End of the Al-Can. From Dawson Creek, BC to Delta Junction, AK.

It was just a little windy in Delta... or a lot windy. Dan was seriously worried that he might lose his hat while we were there. Fortunately the hat was not lost and we continued on our way.

Somewhere outside of Delta Junction we were welcomed by two moose crossing the road. A fitting welcome to Alaska if you ask me.

We ended up arriving in my parents driveway in Fairbanks at about 10:30 pm. We unloaded the necessities, let the kids play for a bit, and headed to bed. Dan had a job interview the next morning and needed to be at least mostly coherent for it.

And that's the story of how we got to Alaska. It only took me a year and a half but I finally got the story all told! If you missed any parts of my story I'll put links to days 1-10 at the bottom of this page.

Coming soon I'll post my thoughts and advice for someone wanting to travel the Al-Can.

Moving to Alaska
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7
Day 8
Day 9
Day 10

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


December 31, 2011
3:00 pmAs of December 21 we are finally on the gaining end of daylight. 4 minutes a day doesn't seem like much but believe me it makes a HUGE difference. Before break the sun was down by the time I went out for afternoon duty at 3:30. Now when I head out the sun is still just above the horizon. Its AMAZING! Spring is on its way. Something I have to keep reminding myself of while its -30 outside. This picture was taken by my mother-in-law, who LOVES sunsets, during her visit.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Christmas Card Picture

This year I decided I wanted to showcase Alaska's cold weather on our Christmas card. So on one very cold day, though not the coldest we have had, we parked at a near by coffee shop and headed to the University of Alaska Fairbanks sign. The walk was less than 1/4 of a mile but at these temperatures cold gets cold fast. All 5 of us, my mom went with us to take the picture, were pretty cold by the time we got there. We had time to snap two pictures and then we needed to head back. The boys were starting to complain very loudly. The first picture we took turned out really good. This actually ended up being our Christmas card picture. And before you worry we had hats and hoods we just took them off for the picture. We wanted to make sure people could see our happy faces!
The expression on Jonathan's face sums up how we were all feeling. We were cold and really ready to head back and warm up.

So Merry (late) Christmas from the Broughs!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Brough Family Vacation

In September my in-laws decided that they wanted to come visit for Christmas. December is not exactly the ideal month to make your first ever trip to Alaska. In fact I'm pretty sure it's the exact opposite of ideal, especially if you're coming from a warmer climate like Portland, Oregon. Never the less up my in-laws came. They arrived on December 26 were greeted by a balmy -10. No seriously it was balmy. After several weeks of -35 and colder in November anything above -15 now feels warm. Its weird I know but that's life in Alaska. While they were here they actually got to experience both -42 and how warm -20 feels afterward.

I had to chuckle a little when I saw my mother-in-law all bundled up at -15. We were total opposites; she was as covered as she could get and I'd forgotten to put on gloves because it felt warm. Too funny!

After a quick stop for dinner we headed home for Christmas Round 2. In addition to gifts from the grandparents we had also saved all our gifts for each other to open that evening. We had a great time sharing stories, opening gifts, and watching the kids playing with their new toys. I even took advantage of another camera in the house and got out from behind mine. Turns out I can be rather silly when allowed to appear in front of the camera, as you'll see later.

Jonathan absolutely knocked it out of the park with his choice of gift for his brother. After spending several hours shopping and agonizing over the options Jonathan very thoughtfully chose to get his brother a doctor kit.
As you can tell from the look on Jason's face he was absolutely THRILLED with his gift. He immediately opened the box, put everything in the dr. bag and got a stuffed animal to examine.
Apparently Cody, Jason's special bear, needed his ears checked. What can I say, you play what you know. Since October Jason has had 5 ear infections and ended up getting tubes a few days ago. But I digress.

Jonathan only asked for one thing for Christmas this year. He desperately wanted the Siddeley Lego set from Cars 2. You can only imagine his disappointment when it didn't show up on Christmas day at AG and Granddad's. He got a lot of cool stuff that he really liked but was bummed there was no big Lego set.
Needless to say he was pretty darn excited when it showed up under our Christmas tree. He had a great time building the set and has had even more fun flying Siddeley through our house.
See I told you I get a little silly when I get in front of the camera. I have no idea what is happening here but apparently it warranted a goofy smile.
Oh that's a nice one!

We had a great Christmas. Dan got me a board game I've wanted for a really long time. I gave Dan a CD he's wanted for a long time and a Star Wars shirt. My in-laws LOVED the photo book I put together of our trip to see them this past summer.

And once the kids were bedded the adults stayed up way too late playing board games, card games and Wii Bowling. It was a great day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Christmas

Ok, we are 2+ weeks removed from Christmas. A new year has started, school has started so I feel a little silly posting about Christmas but with company in town I just didn't have time to post. So as silly as it feels I'm doing a quick post about our Christmas.

The boys put out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. Jonathan was quite concerned that Santa wouldn't like the cookies because they weren't frosted. We assured him that Santa likes any cookies. Jason also made reindeer food at daycare which we put out for Santa to take to the reindeer.

Jason was super excited to see his stocking. The first thing he noticed was a Lama Lama plush from the Lama Lama stories. He was pretty excited, although Lama Lama has not yet been invited to cuddle at bedtime. He watches from the teddy net above. Santa totally spoiled the boys. Jason got candy and toys and games and books and puzzles. He was one happy camper.

Jonathan was very pleased when he saw his stocking. He loves the Skippy Jon Jones books, if you haven't read them you totally should, so he was pretty excited to see Skippy peaking out from his stocking. His excitement grew when he discovered Skippy was a puppet. Jonathan got candy and toys and games and books and work books and a paper airplane making kit.

Mom mom always fills stockings for Dan and me with some little fun items that we want or need. I got some cool sharpies, a crock-pot recipe magazine, makeup, candy, and some other stuff. Dan got batteries, shave gel, grading pens and a variety of other things.

Dan got to open his BIG Christmas present first. Normally this would be saved for last but this present was rather big and taking up too much space in the living room. My dad was sure Dan would know exactly what he was getting the moment he saw the big box but Dan was clueless. He was pretty excited when he saw the DeWalt box and even more excited when he realized it wasn't a used box it was actually what the box said it was, a 10' compound miter saw.
After we made some space in the living room there was room to take our annual family picture in front of the Christmas tree. There were far fewer out-takes this year than there have been in years past. Sometime I'll have to post all the pictures from our first Christmas married until now just to see how we have all changed!

One of my favorite gifts was my new lasagna pan. I fell in love with this cute red and white polka-dotted pan several years ago. This year my mom got it for me. I'm so excited one because its super cute and fun and two because I parted with many of my baking dishes when we moved. I can't wait to use it!
Mom and I were pretty pleased with our wrapping this year and as I sorted though pictures I noticed we took quite a few pictures of our pretty wrapping so I thought I would share one with y'all.

Last but certainly not least were the gifts that my dad had purchased for us all on his own. See Mom does most of the Christmas shopping and just signs Dad's to the packages. But there are a special few that are picked out and purchased by my dad. This year the boys got bunches of movies and we all got
and iPad. I also got a brand new laptop. My laptop was on its way out. I'll spare you the details but it basically wasn't functional anymore and would cost almost as much to fix as a new laptop. I'd lived with a paperweight of a laptop for over a year, hence the lack of blogging, but since I need to take a few online classes this wasn't going to suffice for much longer. I had mentioned this to my dad and he decided I should get a new laptop for Christmas. I was soooo excited!

We had a wonderful Christmas with my family. We are so blessed by them and so blessed that they live 4 short miles away.

Next I'll post about second Christmas with the other grandparents, their first trip to Alaska, and how they liked -40.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Not Quite Soup

If we'd had soup for dinner Jason would have been face down in his soup. Instead he's laid his little head down on the table during dinner. He didn't get a nap and just couldn't handle it any longer. He looked at me and said "I'm tired," then he put his head down and was out.

We were at AG's house for dinner and since Jason was so soundly sleeping we moved him to the bed and the boys ended up spending the night at AG's house. That kid will sleep anywhere!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Break Over

Well it was a wonderful, fun, relaxing, busy and family filled 2 1/2 weeks but today it's back to all things normal. Today we go back to school, back to Tae Kwon Do, back to getting up early, back to making lunches, and back to routine. Break was nice but honestly we need to get back into a normal routine. The kids are starting to go a little crazy not having any "normal" in life. I definitely need to make sure that we have some sort of routine this summer or by the end of 3 months at home we may all be COMPLETELY CRAZY! So here we go head first back to "normal."

We had a wonderful visit with my in-laws and a fantastic Christmas. Santa was very very good to us. I'll blog about all that later, right now four empty lunch boxes are screaming to be filled.