We are moving to Nikiski / Kenai--give me all the dirt! - Mothering Forums
Alaska and Hawaii > We are moving to Nikiski / Kenai--give me all the dirt!
brightonwoman's Avatar brightonwoman 05:17 PM 05-08-2009
So, DH has just accepted a job in Nikiski.
We've never been there, and frankly don't know much about it... We've lived in rural southeast for the last 2 years, and are pretty excited to get to a bigger city (we've been in a town of 70 ppl), and to someplace that's on a road system! It looks like the climate there will be similar to southeast, which is appealing.
So, here are some questions...

If it were you, and you had a job in Nikiski...where would you live? in Nikiski? In Kenai and commute? In another town? (I don't even know names!)We will probably rent for a year or two, but then would like to buy some land probably and build (just an acre or two...enough for chickens and a few sheep or something).
DH is a school teacher, so our tiny budget is a big consideration...also we have a dog (an indoor dog, though not a little one ) so if we're renting that's gonna have to figure in...
Can you give me an idea of what we should expect to pay to rent a 3br place around there?

Is there a farmer's market in the region? (Kenai or Soldotna presumably?) Any natural foods stores or local co-ops I can get in on? I hear there's a new walmart going in, but I'm very anti-Walmart.

I am pregnant--I'll be about 22wks when we get there, and probably looking for a (natural) hospital birth. I understand there's just one hospital choice there? In soldotna? Can anyone recommend a good provider? Maybe someone with an office a little closer to Nikiski? (Although I'll make the drive if that's what it takes to have a good provider of course.)

I'll be wanting to find a pediatrician who is delayed/selective-vax friendly if possible (I don't mind being obnoxious about it, but I'd rather not have to!)

My kids haven't been to a dentist in over a year. i looked at past threads and found one recommending "Gentle Dental"--any thoughts on them? The 2yo has never been to a dentist, and the 9yo hasn't been in over a year, like I said...both are the kind of kid that has a hard tiem sitting still, but of course I don't want one of those dentists whose idea of pediatric dentistry is to just drug the kids...our last dentist was really good at working with kids (and with me ) and he also had flatscreens mounted in the ceiling over the chairs, so DS could just watch a movie while they worked on his teeth...that worked really well

How about homeschool support groups/resources? We haven't decided whether the 9yo will be home or ps next year (he's been ps thus far), but I am feeling the prompting to keep the door open, so I'd like to start learning my options sooner rather than later.

thanks in advance for any help you can provide in response to my many many questions!!!!!!

roadfamily6now's Avatar roadfamily6now 11:43 PM 05-08-2009

The only thing I know about Nikiski is that we looked at a Coon Hound there at a foster home. The guy said they don't get many lookers there so he sent the dog back up to Kenia to get adopted.

Congrats on the new job!!!
katiesk's Avatar katiesk 01:51 PM 05-09-2009
I'm from Fairbanks, but I presently live in Homer...if I were working in Nikiski I would want to live either in Nikiski or further away from Kenai. It is so nice and secluded in that area, and you are still close enough to Kenai and Soldotna to quickly drive in whenever.

If I were moving there sight unseen, I would probably try renting in Nikiski and check out the area while renting.

There is probably a Farmer's Market in Kenai or Soldotna. There is a nice one in Homer too.

I don't know about providers...my home birth midwife (in Homer) will go to Kenai or Soldotna for births, I think.

I don't know too much about this area, we have not lived here for too long. It will be so exciting to come in from Pelican though! We moved here from Bethel, and I felt like I was on vacation for like, a year.
isras1's Avatar isras1 11:04 AM 05-10-2009
Well, where to start? I grew up in the Kenai/Nikiski area. So I'll share some stuff here but feel free to send me a PM.

Firstly: congrats on your pregnancy and Happy Mother's Day. You are right about there being only one hospital, in Soldotna. I worked as a doula there for a short while and the nurses (back then) were great and I had good experiences with the few nurse midwives (my friend sings praises for Nancy Nelson) I came in contact with. From my experience and understanding, the center is pro-natural birthing. It probably helped that there were two free-standing birth centers having a positive influence and contributions to the health care community, IMO. There is just one birth center open now, Woman's Way Midwifery. I highly recommend them (if your into that option), you and your dh may appreciate that their center is kitty corner to the hospital. You will need to commute to Soldotna for most of your health care needs, whichever your choices are- can be a 40 min-1 hour commute (depends where you are living in Nikiski). But for perspective, Kenai is only a 10 minute drive from Soldotna.

Living in Nikiski versus Kenai. Well... depends on how you guys feel about commuting and what you are looking for in a community. The Soldotna/Kenai/Nikiski area are towns that began as boom towns and that transient feel hasn't entirely left, IMO. So each town will have its own flavor, but Nikiski (as well as the other outlying communities, Kasilof & Sterling) has little to offer towards town stuff. There is a grocery store, liquor/beer stores, bar, many churches, 5-6 restaurants (go for Charlie's Pizza versus the other pizza place, but they have good lunches), video store, and 2 gas stations with misc stuff here and there. A sense of community was hard to find when I was there as a kid and I think it is due to the fact that people are more spread out- but that is improving. I have several friends in that area. The pool/gym is great and the old elementary school (next to pool) is a place for community classes, workshops, exercise classes, and the homeschooling community goes there for open gym days. Which school will your dh be working at?

As for where to live, it all depends on your lifestyle preference. Certainly more outdoor activities to be readily accessed at your doorstep in Nikiski. The commute isn't terrible from Kenai, between 20-40 minutes. Would be a bit much from Soldotna, an hour perhaps.

As for renting in Nikiski, it is more rural per se, so price could be more affordable. Not sure how the rental market is versus Kenai (check out ads in Peninsula Clarion, alaskalist.com, craigslist. com)... between $900-$1400. For example: this one http://Alaskaslist.com/1/posts/17_Re...Apartment.html is in a nice part of Nikiski, has a more rural subrub feel and is close to a lake. It sounds like you are moving soon, so if you didn't have a place lined up yet, I would recommend doing a vacation rental.

The land is more affordable and much prettier than Kenai (IMO) because there are lakes EVERYWHERE and its much greener. But I wouldn't say its like southeast (I lived in Ketchikan for a summer), the cook inlet doesn't lend that oceanic smell/climate but it is lusher there versus Kenai. Good smelling woods in the summer. BUT, the oil refineries are in Nikiski. The beaches are fun: miles and miles of rocky beaches in Nikiski and the sandy beaches are in Kenai.

Farmer's Markets are in both Kenai (by visitor center) and Soldotna (by the mall). Natural food stores is lacking these days, but you'll find stuff at Cadre Feed Store in Soldotna and Fred Meyer's has a decent selection of organic produce. Local co-ops, the Full Circle Farms is the most popular. If your into crunchiness, its not readily visible but they are there.....
brightonwoman's Avatar brightonwoman 11:07 PM 05-10-2009
Originally Posted by isras1 View Post
There is just one birth center open now, Woman's Way Midwifery. I highly recommend them (if your into that option), you and your dh may appreciate that their center is kitty corner to the hospital. You will need to commute to Soldotna for most of your health care needs, whichever your choices are...
Oh wow, there's a birth center down there? I so :heart you right now!! That's actually my ideal, but I had feared that that wouldn't be an option in a smaller city. (When my last baby was born there was only one birth center in the entire state, so I'm still a little shell-shocked at how many there are here!!)

DH will be at Nikiski High School...I have no idea which part of town that is. Before we moved up here DH had about a 25min commute, so he doesn't really mind that. Is there a good library around there? He 'reads' books on tape on his commutes
I looked up our denomination and our church congregation meets in Kenai, so we'll be going into there at least weekly. From what you said about Nikiski, it does sound like I'd go into Kenai or even Soldotna at least a couple of times a month anyway, so living closer to Kenai (maybe between Kenai and Nikiski) seems like it might be a good idea. I'll keep that in mind as we start househunting.

We actually are not needing a place quite yet. We are leaving here in only a couple of weeks, but we're going to drive to Anchorage and then put all our stuff in storage. My in-laws are flying us down to stay with them for June/July (it's where we used to live, so we have a lot of family/friends down there and are excited to see them all). We figured 2 months of a storage unit was cheaper than 2 months of rent SO, we'll be back August 5, and that's actually when we'll be needing a place. I'm hoping that I can make arrangements long-distance via phone/internet so that it's ready for us to move in when we get back.
Thank you for the housing links though, I will use those as a starting place. That apartment looks AWESOME, gosh, do you think it would still be open in august?! (I think I may call the lady and ask her to put us on some kind of backup list in case she doesn't have it rented by then.)
isras1's Avatar isras1 05:35 AM 05-13-2009
I'm glad I could help. Renting a storage unit is a great idea, enjoy your time with family and friends!

To answer some of your questions: Yeah, I'm happy to hear that you can have the kind of birth you wish for, I forgot to mention that the midwives at Women's Way Midwifery also does homebirths.

Living between the towns could work, but I would estimate that you would probably be going to Kenai (at least) once a week. For example: the prices at their grocery store are similar to rural prices. That's awesome that they have your church in the area, that'll help in settling in. There's not a public library in Nikiski, but both Kenai and Soldotna have one.

Take care.
brightonwoman's Avatar brightonwoman 03:00 PM 05-13-2009
Originally Posted by isras1 View Post
the prices at their grocery store are similar to rural prices.

There's not a public library in Nikiski, but both Kenai and Soldotna have one.
Both very helpful things to know. Thanks!
PaulaJoAnne's Avatar PaulaJoAnne 03:40 PM 05-13-2009
Homer now has a wonderful Health Food Store, so the bit longer drive every few weeks would be well worth it if you are needing things from one.
zoshamosha's Avatar zoshamosha 07:04 PM 05-13-2009
I lived in Nikiski and commuted to Kenai for work. I later moved into town (kenai). Nikiski is beautiful, but the area is really NOT crunchy. I don't think there are any natural food stores or farmers' markets IIRC. Homer has all that kind of stuff--it's about 80 miles away. I'd usually go into Homer once a week or two.
nik_907's Avatar nik_907 05:56 AM 05-18-2009
Wow I can't believe all the views this link has received already!

Well congrats on the move and all that jazz. I currently live in Nikiski and personally LOVE it. Although I don't like where I'm living but Nikiski in general is a wonderful very family friendly area (I promise it might not seem like it but there are TONS of families here) we tend to be stretched out but that is where going to tot time/ home school activities/ library activities come into hand because you tend to meet tons of people this way.

If it were you, and you had a job in Nikiski...where would you live? in Nikiski? In Kenai and commute? In another town?
Live in Nikiski OR Kenai, but preferably Nikiski as in the winter you will appreciate the shorter distance more.

Is there a farmer's market in the region?
They have one in Soldotna & Kenai - VERY TINY and limited. I love to support these type deals but when groceries are cheaper at the store a block away you gotta do what you gotta do. Although hitting them up at the end of the day is the best option as they usually don't want to leave with anything so you can usually get good prices. In Kenai it is located by the visitors center during the summer & Soldotna it is located by the Kenai River behind Don Jose's on the Sterling Hwy. headed towards Homer (coming from Anchorage/ The "Y")

Any natural foods stores or local co-ops I can get in on? I hear there's a new walmart going in, but I'm very anti-Walmart.
Natural Food Stores: Cadre (Small and a bit expensive but sometimes you can find stuff there that you can't through Fred Meyer & your supporting local; Fred Meyer has a decent Natural Section and you can order bulk and receive 10% off (JIC u didnt know); Save-U-More (kinda like a small town costco place that orders bulk items from Costco & other stores) has a natural section that offers Trader Joe's products, organics, and bulk items. Produce isn't the best though! I shop personally through Azure Standard. www.azurestandard.com it's a monthly coop - me and a group of friends trade off pickups once a month as our pick up location is located in Sterling (about 45-hour away) and just rotate, it makes it much easier as we all have little kids and our pickup person is AWESOME! You can usually get most items cheaper including shipping then with Fred Meyers. But in some cases its cheaper to order bulk through Fred Meyer as you don't have to pay for shipping. For produce I either order from Azure, Full Circle Farm (I stopped ordering though but it's great to try it out if you want to experience them but most of the stuff you can also pick up at fred meyers and its not very cost effective since your paying more for it to come to you. A close local pickup is at an organic coffee shop on the outskirts of Kenai going towards Nikiski called Funky Monkey) Walmart is suppose to be coming in this summer - I'm anti Walmart as well but someone put it into perspective for me when they made it very clear that down here whether its walmart, fred meyers, safeway or anywhere they all carry the same items its just a matter of finding the better deal because either way the money is going to the same people in the end.

probably looking for a (natural) hospital birth
- this is attainable your best bet would be to meet up with Dr. Anderson (He works at central peninsula hospital and has his own family practice down the road too) he has delivered practically the whole peninsula as he lives 5 minutes from the hospital and is always on call. He has the lowest Csection rate (although he did mine) out of the 3 doctors you could ask for the other 2 Dr. Behrens (she is csection HAPPY) and Dr. Barton they share the same building are both up there on the csection scale. Dr. Anderson will encourage you to go naturally but to him that also includes: forceps, vaccuumn, pitocin & other items that only encourage a csection. They also state that 4cm is 'active labor' apparently just to keep you in the hospital. I also spoke with a nurse there a month or so ago and she stated they have about a 50% csection rate.

I'm attempting not to be one sided with this conversation but I used Woman's Way Midwifery and basically the head midwife gave up on me after 12 hours with water broken, only recently did I find out that she has 'many' transfers' which makes me question her morals as she just might not be in it for the right reasons - then again this is my opinion and only hearsay. But her 'transferring' me inevitably contributed to me ending up with a csection as she took away my rights to choose what I wanted and when assisting me at the hospital DID NOTHING only gossiped with her assistant the whole time as I lay there in agony from Pitocin - did not comfort me, accept 10 hours later reassured my husband a csection was what was needed. Conveniently my section was at 930PM. Ever watch business of being born if not I recommend it. There is 1 other midwife whom does Home births (she did my prenatals) and you also have the local natropath Dr. Huffman who can take you on as his wife is a midwife in Homer who travels I believe. I am 41 wks prg right now and have my traveling midwife here with me and shes great! Much better than anyone I could have ever expected here as she has over 30 years of experience and has assisted in hundreds of births - let me know if you need contact info. Also Kelly at woman's way really hates doing homebirths supposibly because its out of her element and well it's not so easy to transfer when your not right across the street from the hospital. Once again just my opinion but I wish I had known these things before I interviewed her. Anything else pm me.

I'll be wanting to find a pediatrician who is delayed/selective-vax friendly Dr. Anderson referred to me and my husband as child abusers because we refused vaccinations. Dr. Russell is okay with Delayed/selective and has much better bedside manner. Dr. Huffman (Natropath) is wonderful as I don't believe he gives vaccinations but I believe he might. We do not vaccinate so I've never had to ask - (his office also takes medicaid/medicare/payments plans & insurance)

dentist haven't gone to one locally so I will have to get back to you on that one. There is one in Homer who refuses to use Flouride or mercury for fillings. Let me know if you would like their contact info. Allot of people go to Aspen Dental but I have no personal exp with them.

How about homeschool support groups/resources? MANY, I know personally some friends are using IDEA. There is Raven Correspondence and some others. They do allot of activities it seems or get togethers. At the local rec center they have a tot time and after that they have home school gym (for the older kids) but the home school groups only attend once a month or so for the most part its empty as everyone attends tot time here!
these websites are very helpful some people post on it from the Kenai others are from Anchorage/ Mat-Su valley.

Nikiski has a local grocery like pp mentioned - I never go into Nikiski unless I'm attending a women's group meet up or something else! They have a post office but I use the one in Kenai as I'm in Kenai at least once a week if not more. Trust me you'll be visiting Kenai allot more once you know the area.

your sig says you have a 2 year old - so do I and if anything now you have a friend! I also know others with tots & older children. You'll fit in fine and depending on where in Nikiski you live your husband will be right down the road from work. Yes its true the crunchy tree huggers are hiding but we're here swinging from one tree or another. It's always great to know more are being added to the community for sure! I hope I have helped answer some questions in a non-negative manner. I just feel I need to be honest with people especially when it comes to my experiences in life so that hopefully they can figure out what works for them with the best of luck!

other groups to consider joining:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/KenaiP...guid=299320305 (great if your needing anything as someones always giving away stuff. Especially if you lose anything from the move)

pm me if u need anything.

~N :
isras1's Avatar isras1 08:29 AM 05-18-2009
Originally Posted by nik_907 View Post

I'm attempting not to be one sided with this conversation but I used Woman's Way Midwifery and basically the head midwife gave up on me after 12 hours with water broken, only recently did I find out that she has 'many' transfers' which makes me question her morals as she just might not be in it for the right reasons - then again this is my opinion and only hearsay....

Awesome input Nik. I'll have to check out Azure. A friend just informed me of the gluten-free store on KBeach Rd (by Sav-U-More), another option. Funky Monkey is very cool, I really like how they changed the whole building (there are holistic healers a few doors down).

I'm so sorry to hear you had a bad experience with Woman's Way Midwifery, I pray that your imminent delivery is a good one. I am curious of who your traveling midwife is, I've heard someone else mention her but I haven't learned her name. I am hopeful of needing one by next summer and dream of a homebirth.

Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you don't mind me probing but I am wondering to myself as to why Kelly transferred you to the hospital. I know that CDM's have a limited scope of practice once their client moves out of the "normal" range and into the high-risk category. I do know (because I used to work with one) that CDM's cannot knowingly deliver a women who:
(1) has a fetus in any presentation other than vertex at the onset of labor
(2) is a primigravida with an unengaged fetal head in active labor
(3) any woman who has rupture of membranes with unengaged fetal head, with or without labor
(3) experienced the rupture of membranes at least 24 hours before the onset of labor

If any of these incidences occurred with you, maybe you can find a little peace. Yet, I am disappointed to hear that they didn't continue to support you in the hospital. It does make one question, it perhaps sounds like burnout. I say that because I have 8 friends that went with her (about 2 years ago) and had good experiences. I recall a conversation I had with an L & D nurse at the Soldotna hospital awhile back, in regards to Woman's Way. Before she opened her practice, there were some midwives working in the area that had the tendency to transfer their clients to the hospital too late for a natural birth experience. Hospitals call these kind of transfers "train wrecks". So, I guess by bringing in clients before things get to bad could prevent this. IKD, such a delicate issue. Its good to hear different perspectives/experiences.

I have heard that Amy Huffman with Rites of Passage Midwifery travels for homebirths (she lives in Homer), but I don't know how far she'll travel. I like that her husband is a naturopath, that makes a good team. I too concur with you that Dr. Anderson is fantastic. He is pretty hands-off and because of that, I would recommend hiring a doula if he is the primary caregiver. I am grateful that we have so many options of where we can give birth.
katiesk's Avatar katiesk 06:09 PM 05-18-2009
Amy Huffman attended my home birth last April. I really liked her for the most part...and would recommend her to most people, but would also want to share some details about my experience...so pm me if you're interested.
brightonwoman's Avatar brightonwoman 02:13 AM 05-19-2009
Wow Nik THANK YOU!!! Such a lot of fabulously helpful information!!!
Yes, I have a 2yo, and I'm delighted to 'meet' another crunchy mama who will live near me! Woohoo!! We won't get there till early August (we're spending June/July with family in another state) but when we get in I'll try to remember drop you a PM.

My older son may be in public school, and may be homeschooled (or something else)...we don't know yet. He's been ps thus far for various reasons, but we try to evaluate each year on it's own, and I kinda have a feeling that change is due this year...this last year there have been some problems (mostly due to a totally inept teacher but we couldnt' pull him because that inept teacher also happened to be DH's boss...oh the politics in a town of 70 get so messy!) ANYWAY, yeah, I don't know what we'll be doing, but it may well be just me and the toddler (and then the newborn), and regardless I'm always up for playgroups and mommy-nights and knitting circles (I had a most fabulous crunchy mommy book club before we moved up here...oh how I miss them!!)

I don't think DH will be on board with a homebirth, especially if we live more than 5-10 min away from a hospital (which we'll probably live in Kenai, so we would...).He just doesn't feel comfortable with it, and I feel like we both need to be comfortable with it because it's both our child... Anyway, my other DS was born unmedicated in a hospital, and that went pretty well...so if I can find a good OB or CNM I'm ok with that. I would really like a birth center, so I plan to look into that first, but I'm not closed to other options. I appreciate having some names, and I can always interview people (and see who my insurance covers!) before I decide.

Thanks for the advice on the pediatrician and homeopath--I'll look into insurance and see who's covered. I heard "Gentle Dental" recommended on another thread as being good with kids, so I was planning to check with them first, but I appreciate other recommendations too. My 2yo hasn't ever been to a dentist yet, but I'd like him to at least get his teeth 'counted' by the dentist so that he can get comfortable with the idea...

I'm very much at home with planning ahead and ordering in...we've been here in Pelican for the last two years and EVERYTHING has to be ordered in, because it's not possible to buy ANYTHING locally. I'm excited at being able to go to any kind of store and pick my own anything! My mom likes AzureStandard too, and the co-op sounds great. I may have to get in on that. I've gotten Fullcircle boxes out here, and they are awfully expensive...so I think I'll try other options before considering them again (they are just literally the only option out here). Our hope is that within a couple of years we'll be able to buy/build a house and put in a garden, so we'll be able to grow a lot of things ourselves anyway. (ooo I can't wait, I havent' had a garden these last two years since we've been here, and I miss my old gardens so much!!!)
grumpybear's Avatar grumpybear 06:26 PM 05-24-2009
as far as doctors go (for giving birth), I'd have to say that your best bet would have to be Dr. Anderson.
I guess a lot of people are put off by his bedside manner (or lack thereof), but personally, I've had nothing but good experiences with him. He is a family doctor but IMO, probably has the most experience with OB care. He also has the lowest c-section rate and probably is the only doctor here who is willing to do VBACs.
He looooves babies, I've got to tell you. Of course he does not have the pediatric demeanor that Dr. Russell has (we love him too) but he really has a good heart.
I went to Woman's Way but ended up having a transfer (water broken past 24hrs without going into active labor). I had good experiences with both hospital and Woman's Way. Dr. Anderson was my backup doctor so he was present during my son's birth. The hospital nurses are great. They did what they could and never pushed drugs on me so I did end up having a painkiller-free birth.
As far as doulas go, I know of two. Farrah Collver and Verna Isham. Both are great support so I guess it's just a matter of who would gel with your personality well.
Also, we selectively/delay vax. We go to the public health office for well-baby checks as well as vaccinations. We go to Dr. Anderson/Dr. Russell/Dr. Huffman (whoever is available first) for any illnesses. Neither one of them have really delved into our vaccination practices. Although Dr. Anderson is very, very, very PRO-vax. But except for the one reply that he gave me ("why would you want to do that?!") after I asked him about delay/selecting vaxes, I never got any flak from him afterwards.
Dr. Anderson is very candid though so he does say what's on his mind without filtering it. Personally, I find it endearing. I could see though how some may not like it. And oh, I also like that he does not freely dispense medication/antibiotics for any illness.
As far as dental - my son goes to Aspen Dental Clinic in Kenai. They have 2 pediatric dentists coming in from Anchorage once a month. Pros-they have a pediatric dentist. Cons-they're always so busy that I feel kind of rushed. Which is not very good since my son takes a longer time to warm up to the practitioner. So I think we might make the switch too.

As far as kids' activities, Nikiski has the rec center and whenever we go there to use the pool, they always have activities scheduled.
During the winter, there is a playgroup at the Kenai rec center twice a week and the library in Kenai is great. They also have storytelling times scheduled weekly.

oh and other practitioners -

Peggy Conway, CNM - she partners with Dr. Behrens and is in Soldotna

Dr. Terry Elliot - is in Kenai. She just moved offices so I don't exactly know where she is. I don't know much about her except that my son saw her once (when none of the Drs. mentioned above were available) and she seemed like a nice doctor.
nikiskite's Avatar nikiskite 11:26 PM 07-06-2010
Nikiski is quite a unique community. Before moving here over 5 years ago I researched pretty extensively the Kenai, Soldotna & Nikiski areas. What I found was that some areas of Kenai & Soldotna had such restrictive covenants we couldn't park our travel trailer or race trailer that we bought to move ourselves on our own property which was a deal breaker for us. Nikiski is unincorporated so the post office is a contract station. Nikiski is referred to a lot as North Kenai. The high school/middle school is right off the main road (Kenai Spur Hwy) so your husbands commute to work no matter where you decide to live should be easy from the main road. In Nikiski the Spur Hwy is plowed first and then the other main roads. After that the smaller roads are plowed. We keep our roads plowed and the borough man comes and widens them for us. We couldn't get out some days and can't wait 1-3 days to be plowed out.

As none of my children were born in AK I can't help you there. One of the teachers wives at the high school works in labor & delivery at the hospital though. The teachers are a great group. I do know that VBAC deliveries are discouraged throughout the US due to malpractice issues and insurance companies. My 1st child was a C-section and my other 3 were VBAC's. If I was to have any more children I would have to use the hospital as have been high-risk every time and midwives have never been an option for me.

If you decide to send your 9 year old to school he would attend Nikiski Elementary. The principal just took a job in administration and there is a new principal there from Homer. Is he in 4th grade? My youngest son, who is 9, is a 4th grader this year. The teachers for this year are Mr. Boyle, Mrs. Matson & Mrs. Johnson.

Nikiski activities are the Nikiski Clean up Day & Fun in the Midnight Sun which are both over for the year. The pool is a great asset to the community and is free to residents who own property in Nikiski. The slide is extra. People come from Kenai, Soldotna, Homer & other places to use the pool. Stormy Lake is good for swimming & boating. There is an island in the middle you can camp on. Daniels Lake is good for fishing and boating. Ice fishing is popular in the winter and so is skating if you live near a lake. A lot of the lakes have leaches some more than others.

There are libraries in Kenai & Soldotna but there is a new small library at the rec center as well ran by retired librarian Denise Cox.

A commute to Kenai will vary by where you might live in Nikiski. Our commute is 15-20 minutes to Kenai, Soldotna is another 10 minutes. Love/hate Walmart. This one is pretty lame and you have to watch prices but I do appreciate the choice and it has been helping with prices at the other stores. In Kenai there is IGA, Three Bears, Safeway & Walmart. Fred Meyer is in Soldotna. Clothes options are Fred Meyer & Walmart or Anchorage or online.
I don't like the regular produce at Fred Meyer the organic is a bit better. It goes bad faster than IGA, Safeway & Three Bears. I'm not that impressed with Walmart's produce either but pick up some here and there when it looks good and I'm in there.

Gentle Dental is in Soldotna. Aspen Dental does have the specialists come down from Anchorage. They are a community health clinic so they are reimbursed by the feds for each encounter which means each time you come in. If a lot of work needs done it could mean a lot of appointments. KPBSD uses RBMS currently for insurance. There is one dentist who lives in Nikiski, he has an office in Kenai. If you would like more information please PM me.

Fred Braun is a local real estate agent who lives in Nikiski. There is another agent who lives in Nikiski also but I forget her name. If you need more leads for rentals or places to buy let me know and I can put more feelers out. I'm assuming you need at least a 3 bedroom. There is a limited number of apartments in Nikiski and rentals. As in any community there are good areas and bad areas. July is a big rental month for B&B's & other temporary lodging.
August can be busy as well.

I've used Azure Standard in the past but haven't used it up here yet. Sav-u-more is a good store that I find unusual things there and items I can't find at the other stores. For a garden I would recommend building a greenhouse as plants do much better in them. If you don't have one you can grow tomatoes in a house. They will die outside. Pumpkins do great in Nikiski. The proof of that is the state fair pumpkins from Nikiski from the last few years which were very large. Raspberries are wild in Nikiski as are strawberries. There are also some other edible wildberries which I can recite off the top of my head and would have to consult my berry book. Rhubarb grows very well in Nikiski also.

Lots of trees to love in Nikiski. Lots need cut due to spruce bark beetle though and rot. Winds will drop a lot of them also.

I love Homer's Saturday market and get fresh herbs there sometimes. The Homer Spit is a must see. Most of the businesses close on the spit in the winter. The Islands and Ocean Center is free. Anchorage has a good farmer's market, a zoo, H2O Oasis waterpark, and a new museum. There is an awesome winery in Homer. Besides Charlie's Pizza we also have Kassik's Brew Stop in Nikiski. M&M Market is great if we run out of something. Tesoro and Chevron sell gas.

Hope this helps. Enjoy your time with family and welcome to Nikiski whether you move to Nikiski or not.