I’m Andrea Engbretsen, baby-boomer, empty-nester, educator, enthusiator (okay, the last one’s not a real word – but I am very enthusiastic about a lot of things and hope I can instill some of my excitement on you!)!!
Thanks for joining me as I share this stage of my life with you – and what I don’t know, we’ll learn together!
I’ve been married to Mark for 30+ years now! We have definitely seen our share of challenges, but humor and respect have led us through more highs than lows! We are both working, but beginning to look towards retirement in a few years, putting us in those “in-between” years.
We do a “split” living arrangement – with Mark minding our house in Wasilla while I work out in “the bush,” renting a little place in Bethel, on the western coast of Alaska. Bethel, and the surrounding villages are all fly-in only, and are home to Yup’ik Native Alaskans (more on that later!). It takes a lot of flying, flexibility, and communication to make it work!
Family is everything to us! We have three girls, all in their twenties, spread across Alaska, California, and now New Mexico. Two are married, and have given us four (soon to be five!) wonderful grandkids. Two of my daughters and one of my grandchildren have struggled with autism and mental health issues, and I have become a passionate advocate for both, always open to sharing how I have navigated the health, education, and insurance worlds on their behalf.
Our Furry Family! This is Sophie and HarleyDavid, sister and brother a year apart. They are West Highland White Terriers – although they are seldom white. We also have a couple of cats. Pets can add so much to your life, I’m sure you’ll be hearing about them, too!
Where in the World I have lived on both sides of the U.S.
I was raised (as a youngster) and re-raised (mid-20s – mid-40s) in various parts of Southern California. In between found me in Pittsburgh and New Jersey (those awkward teens years), then New Hampshire and Boston (trying to find myself!). We jokingly say our “midlife crisis” brought us to Alaska, where we’ve called home for fifteen years now.
The Nest is NEVER Empty
I am on the go constantly. Whether I’m working, writing, crafting, or walking, I have learned to use my ADD to my advantage. I have become an excellent organizer and master of time management! I always need a creative outlet – hence, the blog, quilting, DIYing, etc.
Trippin’ I travel frequently for my work, and a little bit for pleasure.
The “Professional” Me
I was a stay at home mom and then started volunteering at my daughters’ school – so much and so often that they were finally like, why don’t you just go be a teacher? So I did! I taught special education kindergarten for seven years, and then when we moved to Alaska, I taught middle school language arts for several more years. I had a fun wedding and event-planning business called Designing Divas with my best friend, and was then a school principal. I am now the director of elementary education for a rural school district, overseeing professional development and instructional coaching for twenty-seven schools.
Not busy enough?
After two master’s degrees (one in literacy, one in administrative leadership) I am now working on my doctorate in literacy. I have a passion for books and reading – and have a mission to do all I can to promote literacy around the world!
Just Breathe, Beautiful!
My daughters with special needs were quite challenging through their teen years (well, always, really, but especially so . . . well, you get it!). We saw them through four hospitalizations, and sending one to a year-long residential treatment school. Throughout that time, no matter what was happening, my mantra was always, “Just Breathe,” from the Anna Nalick song. When I turned fifty, I got my first tattoo with “Just Breathe” across my wrist! I always see the good, the beautiful, in all people. A blog is born!
I certainly don’t need another to-do on my list, but I feel like I have learned a lot and have a story to share that may help someone else – whether they just need a little lift in their day, or some pertinent information on an empty-nester topic! I hope you will join me in this transitional journey, and maybe even get inspired along the way!