"A mind once stretched by a new idea can never regain its original dimensions." ~Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

"I'm dreaming of a white ?HALLOWEEN?" Well, it's snowing on halloween. It just doesn't seem right. Snow is NOT scary.

I love halloween, so whose evil joke was it that i be sick on Halloween? yes, that's right...i'm sick...again. It started with a soar throat on Monday evening, then yesterday at school I felt terrible the whole day. I woke up this morning feeling like i had 100 pounds of pressure inside of my head, but really wanting to go to school and see all my kids dressed up. Not to mention that I had my own costume all ready to go. So, I took a shower hoping to feel better, BUT NOOOOOO! The longer I was up, the worse I felt. Finally, I broke down and called for a sub. What a crappy day to be sick. I went out at about 3:00 to go get some cold medicine and OJ. I also had to drop off my rent check (due today) and pick up my veggies (the furniture store is closed now and they sent an email that said the veggies HAD to be picked up today). I was out for about an hour and by the time I got home I felt like I had been beat up or something. I was tired and aching all over. I made some chicken noodle soup and now I am going to lay back down and sleep while Avery goes Trick or Treating with his friends.

Happy Halloween anyway!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My first salmon!

I cooked my first salmon dinner last week. I was given this salmon fillet by my kind neighbor at school, the other JH science teacher. She is a native woman and she also told me the native way of cooking it. Lay the fillet out in a baking pan. Cover it with a layer of mayo(not miracle whip). Sprinkle it with season salt. Bake 40 minutes.

I'm not a big salmon fan. It's a bit too fishy for my tastes. I prefer mild white fish. BUT MAN...was this good. I was scared that my first try wouldn't come out too well, but it did! And what a HUGE fillet. I never realized salmon where so big. Native people eat alot of salmon. It is a big part of their subsistent lifestyle. They eat it so many ways...baked, canned, dried. They love it! The lady that gave the fish to me was telling me that she sometimes eats salmon for breakfast.

Monday, October 29, 2007

1st place

Avery took his first 1st place medal at the tournament in Kwethluk this weekend. He has earned many 2nds and 3rds along the way, but never a 1st. We always knew he'd get over that hump eventually, but we didn't think it would happen in his first season in Alaska. These kids are tough wrestlers. He was excited about it, but I was bummed that I couldn't be there to see it. He called using his friends calling card on Friday night and when I got home from the carnival, he had left a message. He said that Friday night, he lost his first match and won his second. Then when he called from the airport on Saturday for me to pick him up, he said, "Do you want to know how I did?" I said, " Yeah, how'd you do?" He said, "Oh, nothing much, just first!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween party!

We were invited to a Halloween party last night at my principals house. There were many teachers there, among others. There were lots of kids all dressed up running around, some of them were even students from the high school. It was a good time and almost everyone was dressed up. There were pirates, draculas, a crayon, miss wisconsin, miss minnesota, miss disfunctional, sleepy the dwarf, a mad scientist, elvis(what's halloween without elvis?), and a couple of germans. Avery was a hippy and I was TigerLily, an indian girl.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What a night...

You know you've got a good haunted house when...

10...you have to explain that they cannot exit the same way the entered
9...the line is halfway across the gym
8...kids trip over each other to get out the door
7...some people skip parts just to get out sooner
6...adults come out wide eyed
5...people scream for their mommies
4...mothers are shielding their kids eyes
3...kids come out clutching on to any random member of their group
2...teenagers are scared to go in
1...kids come out crying (real tears)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Adventure for Avery

Avery will be going to Kwethluk this weekend for wrestling. Kwethluk is a village about 30miles up river from us. He flies out Friday at 1pm and flies back Saturday at 3pm. He's pretty pumped. How exciting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Treats from Anchorage

Ok, so I know it's been awhile since I went to Anchorage, but I just had to share these pics. Bethel is a damp community, that means you can possess and drink alcohol, but cannot buy or sell it. So, if you want to have alcohol, you have to bring it in to Bethel from somewhere else...like Anchorage. So, we stopped at the liquor store and stocked up.
I also bought dog food when I was in Anchorage. Here it is coming over the conveyor belt at baggage claim. It's really interesting to watch the kinds of things that come through the baggage claim in Bethel. Behind my dog food is a huge bag of rice. Everything is so expensive in Bethel, so when you go to Anchorage, you always make sure to bring back as much stuff as possible. You can carry three checked bags, one carry on, and one personal item if your flight is only within the state(usually you're only allowed two checked bags).
It was so funny/strange to see this package marked "ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE" come out of the baggage claim. I wasn't the only one with alcohol by any means either. there were probably about ten or so other people who were bringing in alcohol from anchorage. Now, it's not like I drink very often, but it's just the idea of being able to when you want to and since you can't stop by the store for a six pack, you have to keep it on hand. I think I'm pretty well stocked now.

In other news...it has snowed a little each night for this week. Having snow on the ground really does a good job of keeping the mud in check. It's pretty too...nice white powdery flakes.

I dropped my truck off this morning to get it's engine block heater installed. We will all be plugging in our trucks soon. I'd say about 75% of vehicles in town are trucks. hardly anyone drives a car, except the taxi drivers. I took my first taxi this morning to school after I dropped the truck off.

The carnival/haunted house is Friday. I'm really looking forward to it. It will be fun and I will be glad when it's over. I have taken on too much lately and I need to focus back on my teaching and not so much on all this other stuff.

Avery has been better this last week or so. His attitude is back to normal and he's staying out of trouble at school. He finds out today if he will get to travel to Nunapachuk this weekend for wrestling. He got his eligibility form in and did some fund raising, so that means he should be going! I wish I could go too, but i've got to be here running the carnival games with my 8th grade robotics kids and the haunted house with the 10th grade class. I came in this morning and had a huge grim reaper, lying on my desk!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Wrestling pics

See the previous blog post to watch a video of Avery pinning one of his opponents. I had a few more pics from the tournament, so I thought I'd go ahead and post them.

In this pic, Avery is wrestling the kid from Kotzebue that he lost to. Avery is on top.

Break for a bloody nose. Avery got a major gusher during he first round. It took along time to get the bleeding under control. Surprisingly, he wrestled better when they resumed the match. The guy in the whitish shirt is one of the coaches.

Here he is after he came back from the bloody nose, trying to get that kid down, to no avail. He lost this match.

Here he is wrestling one of his team members. He eventually pinned this kid (see video). The other coach is the guy in the bright yellow shirt sitting on the sidelines.

Here is Avery with a couple of his buddies after the tournament was over. The kid on the left spent the night last night and we're going to take him home right now.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

First Tourny of the Season

Avery's first wrestling tournament was this weekend at home in Bethel. The gym had two full size wrestling mats laid down and the whole school was full of kids. We had teams in from all over western Alaska. The teams that come from out of town stay at the high school and sleep on the classroom floors. The principal told us at the beginning of the year that BRHS is the biggest bed and breakfast in Bethel. The tournament ran ALL night Friday night and most of the day today. Last night they started wrestling at about 6pm and ran until about 10:45 at night. Avery wrestled his last round last night at about 10:30pm. We got home at about 11:15pm last night. I ran the concession stand with the 8th grade robotics team, so I was exhausted when I got home. I was at school yesterday from 8am until 11pm. Long day! Avery lost his first match last night and won his second.

This morning we were up at 6:45am and at school by 7:30am. I ran the concession stand all day again with the robotics team and Avery wrestled two more rounds. He won the first one with a pin and lost the second one to the same kid he lost to on Friday night. The kid was really tough and Avery almost had him the second time. He was from Kotzebue which is WAY up north. The tournament was over today at about 1pm. Avery didn't place, but lost to the kid that placed third in his weight class...that means he got 4th. I think he did awesome for his first tournament in Alaska. These kids are tough and wrestling is their thing.

In the video...This is Avery's third round and he pinned the kid. He is wrestling one of his teammates, another Kilbuck wrestler. The ref is Avery's teacher.

One more interesting thing...I was amazed by how busy the concession stand was. We earned a TON of money! I mentioned to another teacher how surprised I was that the concession stand was so busy during a wrestling tournament because back home hardly anyone ate at the concession stand during wrestling tournaments. He made a good point...back home we could go out to eat before or after or in between rounds, but here, there is no other place to go eat. Eating at the concession stand IS like eating out for the people here!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A quarter of the way there!

Today is the end of the first quarter! It's hard to believe nine weeks of school is over. A quarter of the way there. Time flys! Pretty soon Thanksgiving break, then Christmas, then spring break, then summer. Amazing!

Here are some pics of some of my classes. You can see the pics bigger/better if you click on them. you should notice that they are mostly Yu'pik native, about 60%, with a spattering of white, black and asian mixed in. I really like my kids! they are hard workers...most of them.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Alaska Day!

This is just one of those funny "only in Bethel" kind of pics. I thought you'd enjoy this!
Happy Alaska Day! Let's go ice fishing! One of my students told me that I was supposed to drink a red bull and eat a burrito to celebrate. Not exactly sure what that's all about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

No pics today!

Well, blogger is apparently having problems with uploading photos because I tried to upload a photo for my blog today and it said that it was unable to do so, but that blogger was aware of the problem and trying to fix it. Hopefully I'll be able to upload some photos again soon. Until then, I thought I'd just give you an update on things.

Things are really good for me at school. My students are really great. They are very attentive(most of the time) and just generally better behaved and more focused on their school work. The staff here is great too(most of them) and our administration is very supportive and effective. I learned yesterday that we are NOT a title I school, which I was surprised to hear. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but i'll find out eventually. I'm really busy...too busy...that's really my only gripe about school, but that's how it always is. I take on too much...it's my own fault. I am coaching the 8th grade robotics team. It has been a great experience so far. They use legos to build robots and have missions that they must accomplish using their robots. I am quite impressed with the program. At first I thought it was going to be cheesy, but it is actually pretty cool. Each year, they have a theme. This year the them is alternative energy. I have a link on the right side of the blog if you'd like to learn more. My team consists of 8 students. they went to the state competition in anchorage last year as 7th graders, so i am anticipating that we will be going again this year. they decided they wanted to fund raise to cover the cost of t-shirts for the team, so this weekend we are running the concession stand during the wrestling tournament and next weekend we are running two games at the halloween carnival. robotics is definitely keeping me busy. I am also one of the advisors for the 10th grade class. the 10th graders are in charge of the haunted house at the carnival each year, so i'm helping with that too. we have a pretty good haunted house laid out, but we havent started putting it together yet. the carnival is on the 26th, so there's not much time. I really wish i had all of my halloween decorations. I love halloween and it's a really big deal here so that's cool. I've heard that this carnival is kind of THE event of the season, so that's cool. I'm excited about helping with the haunted house, you all know how much I LOVE HALLOWEEN.

Avery will be wrestling in his first tournament this weekend in Bethel. Next weekend he will fly out to a village called Nunapichuk for their next tourny. Thanks Edna...for donating to Avery's push up a thon. He did 45 push ups in 1 minute! Wrestling is going well for Avery, but I'm sorry to say that he has been having some troubles at school lately. He has been getting in trouble at school. Nothing major...just little things, but still more than he has in the past. I'm not exactly sure what the deal is...a combination of a new place, new friends, and puberty, I think. He is still at the elementary school because his school is a 3-6 building. They do something called the "phase system" here. There are no grades. students take tests after learning something to prove that they are proficient in that subject before they can move on to something else. This lets students progress at their own level. It really is a great system and a great idea, but coming from a world of grades, its hard for us. I have for so long relied on grades as an indication of how he is doing in school, but there are no grades so it's hard for me to know how he is doing. He did tell me last night at dinner that he just passed several phase tests, so I guess that means he is doing well. I am hoping to meet with his teacher soon to find out.

Taboo has a cold in his eyes...it's kind of like when humans get pink eye. He's pretty miserable, but other than that he's doing pretty good.

It is cold here. It has been below freezing for well over a week now. The snow we got this weekend is still on the ground with no sign of going anywhere. the sun has been shining during the day, but it does not warm things up really. we are down to about 10 hours of daylight. we lose over 5 minutes of daylight each day. it is still dark in the morning at 8:00 when i come to school. It gets light at about 9am and dark again at about 7pm. pretty soon it will be dark when we go to school and when we come home. come november, december and january, it will only be light for a few hours while we are at school and that is it.

Dont forget to write me comments...many of you are getting better at it. I love hearing from you, it gives me something to look forward to. And if you do write a comment, be sure to check back at that comments section because i usually respond to your comment with another comment. I miss everybody! I everyone is well. love and hugs...and besos!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Think about me

Next time you're cussing out the gas pump...think about me! The good news is that I only have to fill up about once a month (which IS good news, because we only get paid once a month). The bad news is it costs about $150 to fill my tank. I'm only getting about 12 mpg. I've only put about 500 miles in two and a half months. Which is alot, when you consider there are only about 35 miles of roads, but not much when you consider I was averaging over 1000 per month back in Ohio.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

2 inches...at least

Brian and Janelle~ I got your invitation to the wedding today. I'm so excited for you, but bummed at the same time because I can't be there. The invitation is beautiful...I love the ribbon! I'll be thinking about you and hoping that everything runs as smoothy as possible from now until the big day. Miss you!

We got our first REAL snow today. We woke up this morning to about 2 inches on the ground and it has continued to come down all day. Winter came so fast and is in full force now. It seems like just last week that it was warm and rainy. It's been below freezing for about a week now! It just seems too early, but everyone said it would be here soon. Who scrapes their windows in October? Me, I guess! The snow seems more slippery than usual, but maybe I'm just imagining things. I almost slipped three times just walking from the truck into the post office.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Here is a transcript of the letter I got from Avery's wrestling coach today...

Kilbuck Wrestling is having its annual Push-Up-A-Thon. This is done to raise money so we can travel to the villages to compete in tournaments. We also raise money to send qualifying sixth graders to the State Middle School (Tanana) tournament in the spring. All proceeds go directly to Kilbuck Wrestling, which consists of grades 4-6, boys and girls. The Push-Up-A-Thon is simple. You pledge a wrestler for as many push ups as they can do in 1 minute. They will come to practice on Friday, October 12 and do as many push-ups as they can in 1 minute. However many push-ups they do in 1 minute will be multiplied by the pledge amount you promised. If you wish to make a straight donation, you may do so. Please make checks to Kilbuck Wrestling. Example: $1.00 per push-up or $25.00 flat donation. It cost approximately $100.00 per wrestler to travel to the villages and $600 per wrestler to travel to the Tanana tournament, so any donations would be greatly appreciated. Travel is based on several items:
  • Eligibility (academics and behavior)
  • Fund-raising (wrestlers who bring in donations get picked first)
  • Practice attendance
  • Overall attitude and effort
So, who wants to donate? Let me know...we're really hoping that Avery will get to travel for wrestling and see some of the villages in the region. Avery is already doing very well in wrestling. Even my Junior High and High school kids are talking about him. Everybody wants to know what weight class he's in and if he ever won state. He wieghed 97lbs when I took him in for his sports physical two weeks ago. That's 12 pounds heavier than he was last year at his last tournament of the season in March. 12 pounds in 7 months...he's growing so fast. I think he'll probably drop a few pounds just by going to practice...they practice everyday after school from 3:30 to 5:00. That's 7 and a half hours per week! Their first tournament is on October 26th in Nunapitchuk. Everyone says Bethel has a really strong wrestling program, one of the best in the state.

Here's a pic from last years wrestling season...

Feeling better...
I am feeling much better today, although my throat still hurts a bit and I still feel run down. I finally have my voice back, at least most of it. It is still a little hoarse. I spent all of Friday feeling like crap. I did end up staying home Friday and sleeping most of the day. Saturday my throat/voice was a bit better, but my body started feeling sore. I thought sure I was on my way to the flu. On Sunday morning, I woke up feeling about 90% back to normal...thank goodness. Today I am about 95% back to normal. Thanks for all of your well wishes.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

SNOW...that's right...SNOW!

I took a video of our first Bethel snow, but the file is too large and it won't load on the blog. It is a cool video and I'll try to figure out a way to post it. So, for now you'll have to live with a still pic.

So, it's official...our first snow in Bethel happened on Friday, October 5th from about 4-5pm. It came down pretty good off and on for about an hour. Big, fluffy, white flakes. The ground is still too warm, so it didnt stick, but it still snowed. Avery was just coming home from wrestling practice when it started coming down pretty hard. It's been in the forecast for about a week now and it finally came. It's strange how quickly the seasons change on you here. It rained everyday in September and then we turned the page on the calendar and BOOM...Snow! It's cold now too, below freezing most of the day yesterday. It was just 60 and rainy the other day and now all of a sudden it's winter. At least we've got our winter gear taken care of, but i still need to get my truck winterized. I have to get an engine block heater at minimum, maybe even a oil pan heater and a battery blanket, too. People have said you need them all when it's gets really cold, others have said the more you get, the more you have to plug in. Electricity is VERY expensive here. Everyone is very conservative.

Snow...and on October 5th, no less.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Bethel From Above

These are some cool pics I took of Bethel as we were flying over on our way home from Anchorage. Click on them to enlarge! Enjoy!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I've Lost It!

I've lost my voice. At first, I thought I had lost it in Anchorage from all the hooping and hollering at the club. But it still hasn't come back yet and my throat has started to ache. I felt like crap at school today, just completely worn out and run down. I'm thinking about taking a sick day tomorrow. I really probably should, but I really don't want to. It's just harder to stay home than it is to just be there. I dont know...I'm debating. I slept for awhile after school, now I'm up late, but still not feeling well. Hot then cold, cold then hot. Can't sleep now.

Well, anyway, there are so many things I've been meaning to post on the blog. I'll try to get around to some of it soon. There have been several people who have emailed me lately and told me they were checking the blog. Hope everyone is well. Keep the comments coming...love you guys! Miss you too!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Anchorage Mountains

Last weekend in Anchorage was like stepping back into the country after being gone in some far off third world place. The had paved roads, street lights, booming shops and restaurants, trees, and ...mountains. It was so nice to get a glimpse of something other than flat tundra. On Friday after we got off the plane, we caught the hotel shuttle to the hotel(days inn), then headed straight to the mexican restaurant next door for two HUGE margaritas. After thuroughly stuffing ourselves and having the drinks...we had a nice little glow. My friend from Anchorage met us at the restaurant and took us to a sports bar called the SeaGalley. We stayed there and had drinks for awhile before heading back to the airport to pick up luggage(they had put it on an Alaska Air flight because our plane was too heavy). After that, we headed out to the club, Chilkoot Charlies...AKA Koots. It was a pretty cool place. The concept of the club is just like Pierre's...5clubs in one. Except Koots is about 5times smaller than Pierres. We had a good time people watching, dancing the night away, and stumbling into random conversations with people that we met. This one guy was too funny...one time he got himself so worked up...his gum came flying right out of his mouth. Which reminds me...people are gumaholics here. I've never seen so many people who chew gum constantly. Well, anyway, on Saturday, I spent the day running errands mostly. Although, I did get to see the Harry Potter movie, which was awesome. Saturday night my friend from Anchorage took me to this great restaurant called the Cattle Company. Then we went out to that club again. We saw a live band perform and they were quite good. They did a rock version of Rianna's song "Umbrella", which worked out surprisingly well. The pic above is the view of the mountain from our hotel window. The snow line was about halfway down the mountians, there should be snow by the time we go back.

It was just so nice to get away for the weekend and let loose a little. Anchorage is a nice little city, doesnt seem like a HUGE city. I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Avery's weekend without me

While I was away in Anchorage for the weekend, Avery was being watched by three other new teachers here in Bethel who have become our friends. They live on the next street over(we can see there house out the window), so it was easy for them to keep watch over him and Taboo while I was gone. They had a skate night in the gym of the elementary school and Avery dressed up in a chicken suit!