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

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

3 years ago...

I legally became a parent...not a mother, but a parent. I was awarded full legal custody of my brother, Avery, after a long drawn out court battle in which my mother was proven "unsuitable". Avery had lived with me for almost a year by then, so really its been almost 4 years that he's lived with me permanently. Four years has flown by and its amazing to think about how much he has grown and achieved since then. As I sat at the kitchen table helping him with his Pre-algebra homework, I remembered the kid that used to hide in the closet if you mentioned reading a book. That same kid reads for his own pleasure now and (usually) doesnt even need to be asked to do his reading. The kid that didnt know how to tie his shoes in the 3rd grade is now cooking dinner once a week. The kid that used to be jacked up on ADHD meds like a zombie, but still couldnt sit still because he was so nervous is now a responsible drug free Junior High Schooler who enjoys school, has all A's and B's, is a first place wrestler, and plays sax in the band. The kid that used to miss almost a day of school each week had perfect attendance for the entire school year last year. We certainly arent the perfect family, but I think we've done some pretty good things! I'm proud of how far he's (we've) come!

Bound to happen

I wish I could say it wasnt bound to happen, but it was. And it did. I got sick. After months of summer in great health, I am pretty unhappy about being sick. I feel like crap and cant stop coughing. I think all the hard work just starts to catch up with me...the extra hours and long days...the being constantly busy. I stayed home sick today and couldnt believe my eyes when I woke up and the clock read 2:30pm! WOW! That's like 16 hours of sleep. Even for me...that's alot. But I feel a ton better (except for this darn cough). It's the kind of cough that tickles your throat and keeps you up at night.

Avery came home from camping all worn out and Chandra's not feeling very well either. Even the dogs seem to have something....Rocky threw up a bunch of times yesterday and Taboo woke me up at all hours of the night last night to go out because he had diarrhea. I think it must just be a cold bug that Jack Frost brought with him when he came for a visit.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jack Frost was here!

I woke up this morning to a white tundra...It just doesnt seem like it should be so cool so soon. I feels like it should be almost October, not almost September. It seems like I should be going to Fairbanks for Thanksgiving in only a month, not two.
I already have that sleepy, chilled feeling that fall brings. The feeling that all you want to do is go curl up in your warm bed and nap the day away.

I got up at 9am this morning to watch the Green Bay game. It just the end of the 3rd quarter now. GB played well during the first quarter, then not so good in the second, but in the 3rd they've started playing well again. We'll see what the 4th quarter brings.

Avery went camping with the Boy Scouts last night, so he's not home and I've skipped church to stay home and watch the game. I'm enjoying my quiet football morning. If only I didnt have to get up at 9am to watch the game.

Smart kid!

Avery had a friend over on Friday night. They were sitting around the kitchen table eating a snack and drinking cool-aid, when his friend asked him...."if you could be any animal, what would you want to be?" Avery's response..."Whatevers next highest on the food chain."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rocky meets the Sax Monster!

Avery busted out his tenor sax at home for the first time last night and this is the reaction we got from Rocky. Can you just imagine what happened when he started PLAYING it?

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Fall is officially here. The autumnal equinox has passed. It actually came a few days late here with yesterday having 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The sun rose today at about 8:30 and set at about 8:30. The days are getting shorter and colder. We're still losing about 5minutes and 35 seconds each day. This morning it was dark for the first time that I remember when leaving for school in the morning. The days of midnight sunsets are long gone. And that means no more midnight sunset berry picking either, I suppose. It has frosted most nights this week and the daytime temp has been only in the 40's. While everyone who lives in the northern hemisphere get the joy of living with shorter days now, ours will get much shorter, much faster. A month from now we'll have lost about 4 hours.

It is jacket season for sure. We've been wearing them out of the house each morning. The truck is beginning to need a bit of a warm up each morning, but with $6 per gallon gas prices, that's pretty hard to swallow. Wrestling season, robotics season, and planning for the haunted house for the carnival are all upon us, and therefore, fall has come.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


We have bought our tickets and made hotel and car reservations! We're going to Fairbanks for Thanksgiving break and Avery's birthday. I'm really excited. I cant wait to go...too bad it's over 2 months away. We're making plans to go to Chena hot springs, North Pole, see the pipeline, and go skiing (isnt skiing a funny word?). I'm so excited! You can click on the map to see a bigger version and get an idea of how far away Fairbanks is from Bethel. The flight to Anchorage is an hour and the flight from anc to Fairbanks is another hour. I can't wait!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A day at the Pit

So, after bundling up enough to withstand 33 degree cold, I headed out to the pit to help with the cross country meet. I had never been out to the pit when it wasnt frozen and snow covered, so this was new to me. I drove up and parked along this trail that led into the pit, where everyone was parked.
It was a beautiful sunny day. By the time I got there, the JH runners were already on the starting line getting ready to take off.
Here are the first group of JH kids running by. I tried to encourage Avery to get involved, especially after hearing that he WANTED to run track, but apparently he DOES NOT WANT TO. I think he would be good at it, but he just doesnt have any interest.
The sand pit is basically just that...a big sand pit. It is the place where they dig up all the sand to build roads and maintain level streets, houses; basically everything. If you need sand(dirt), it comes from here usually. During winter, it's a great place to do some sledding. And, apparently during summer, it's a great place to do some doughnuts.
Trail markers for the runners to know how far along they are on the trail. No sign...that's okay. In Alaska, everybody knows how to improvise.

Planes were flying by all morning. On such a nice sunny day, everyone had there planes out for a spin. Many people own their own planes here.
This was my post. I was a spotter. My duty was to make sure that they followed the trail and didnt cut corners. Kind of a boring job, esp in between races when there werent any kids running by.
The moon was still out and was really neat to look at though.
Here are the first of the HS girls running by. We had almost 150 kids in town for this event. It was said to be the largest cross country meet that we've had in Bethel!
It was cold enough to be wearing mittens for the first time. I found some mittens for a dollar per pair this summer at Big Lots, so I bought about 10 pair. We go through them pretty quickly once winter hits. I was a bit taken aback when I looked down and noticed this deformation. Apparently, people who shop at Big Lots have really long pinky fingers. Doesnt it look weird?
The fall colors of the tundra are just beautiful. It was nice to spend some times outdoors before it gets very much colder. I finally settled on wearing my long john's top and bottoms, jeans, a tshirt, a hooded fleece sweatshirt, regular socks, fleece socks, mud boots, mittens, and an ear warmer. That's alot of clothes for so early in the year.
I think this pic is neat. The track markers through the fall colored tundra bushes.
I dont know why, but I like the way that the doppler looks. I just think it's cool. So, there's our doppler in the distance. I'm not sure what that tower is for.
Here you can really see the colors of the fall tundra.Finally, here come the first group of HS boys. They ran so fast. I was amazed. The Bethel sand pit course is a pretty rough course with lots of hills. You can see all the boys in the background running up one of the hills. Remember that you can click on any pic to make it bigger.
After I left the pit, I headed over to work for a few hours. I finally got some more of my poster hung on my walls so that it doesnt look so bare. I still need another book shelf and two bulletin boards hung up before I finish all of my decorating. After that, I went to wash my car. Then I hung at home for awhile and made dinner. After that, I went to some friends to try to figure out our final plans for our Thanksgiving Fairbanks trip. I really had a long day and I'm so ready for bed

Say What?

I'm getting ready to leave to go volunteer out at the sand pit for the cross country meet. I have to be there in about a half hour. It's been pretty chilly in the mornings lately, so I new I would need to dress warm. I threw on my long john's and pulled my jeans over them, then went to check the weather to see just how many more clothes I would need to put on. Wasnt I surprised when I read this forcast...

Mostly cloudy. Isolated rain or snow showers...mainly in the morning. Patchy fog. Highs in the mid to upper 40s. West wind 10 to 15 mph. Gusts to 25 mph along the coast in the morning.

It's 33 degrees right now. BRRRRRRRRR! I'm just not ready to wear my winter coat yet. More on the cross country meet and some other things later...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not Much

Not a whole lot new happening lately. Just been busy with lesson planning and trying to be a good teacher. I put some extra time into lesson planning this week and I really feel like it's paying off in the classroom. My kids really seem to be getting it and responding to it, so that's good. I really just dont have much to say lately. Hope you are all doing well. Anyone have an idea for a blog topic?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Here are some pics of my newly remodeled classroom. Basically what I got was a gutted room with new floors, walls, and ceiling. Here is the view when you walk in the door. I'm still waiting to get some bulletin boards hung and maybe another book shelf, so I havent hung all my posters yet.
Here is the view from corner opposite the door. From this view, it actually looks like a classroom. That big black, flat table is my robotics playing field. Robotics starts this week.
Here's the view from the corner opposite my desk. On the far side is the entry door that the kids come in.
And here's the view from my desk. I really dont sit at it too much during class.It's really nice to have a new, clean room, but it definitely still needs some work. That bare green wall is driving my crazy. I also dont have any lab space now that they demolished that big black counter that ran the length of the back wall. I'm sure I'll get it up to speed in no time.

Have a great week!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Funny Things They Do

Kids do the funniest things sometimes. This is one of my students from last year being silly. Here are some of the funny things they do/say that I've noticed lately (or noticed for awhile but never wrote about.

Students will wait to enter the classroom if I'm not in there. I dont know if this is something that other teachers have trained them to do or what, but it is a bit odd. Not all kids do it, but most do. Mostly it's just the junior high kids.

One of the favorite things for the kids to do is 'go walking'. I hear kids talk all the time about how they are going to go walking after school. Or on my student information sheet that they fill out at the beginning of the year, for the question that askes what their favorite thing to do is, many of them said, "go walking". There isnt much to do here in town, so that really is what alot of kids do for fun, not go for a walk, but go walking.

Another thing they say is 'play out'. They dont say, "I'm going to go play outside." No, they say, "I'm going to play out." or "Do you want to play out?" or on the what's your favorite thing to do question, many of them said, "play out". I think this is more of an English as a second language thing/cultural thing than the kids just saying funny things. Even the native adults say it too.

They call sweatshirts sweaters. They might say that they are wearing a sweater, but really they're talking about a sweatshirt, usually a hoodie. This too is more of an English as a second language/cultural thing, because the older population does it too.

Also, they just say "come". Like a kid might call my name and then when I look up at them, they'll just say "come".

Oh...and then there's Chandra's all time favorite..."thing". They call everything their "thing". A kid had hurt her hand and she said to her friend, "Oww, I hurt my thing!"

In other news...we have been having awesome fall weather, sunny and cool. The tundra barely has any green left in it. It's all reds and oranges.

Green Bay won today. Aaron Rodgers had a great game. and btw, the Jets lost.

I'm going to head over to school for awhile and do some planning for next week. I'll try to remember to get some pics of my classroom and post them so you all can see what it looks like now that it's been remodeled.

Hope you had a good weekend. I did!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Meet Jebediah

Avery has been bugging me lately for a haircut. There arent really any places to go to get your haircut in town and I dont know much about cutting long hair. I can do a short boy cut like a buzz cut or a fade pretty well, but the long skater boy look? I'm clueless. So, I told him that I really didnt know what I was doing, but he insisted. When it was all said and done, it's about 2 inches shorter and totally looks like an Amish boy cut. Here's Jebediah reading his bible...I told him that I'm not a really good sewer, but I could try my hand at homemade shirts and trousers next if he wants. We got a good laugh out of it, but he seems to be really happy with his new haircut.
And, just for reference...here's the before look.And for an even bigger reference...here's the one year ago look. He sure has grown up so much. This time last year, he was still a boy. Now he's a full fledged teenager. Scary.
Things are still going good for him. He's had a couple detentions for chewing gum, but hopefully that's out of his system. He choose to play the saxophone in band, which is cool because that's what I played in JH. He choose flag football for his Friday club. His new bike tire and innertube is on the way. He was switched into Pre-Algebra and is handling that well. He does his homework and chores every night without me even asking. We are making plans to go to Fairbanks this year for his birthday. Hopefully, we'll see some Northern Lights!

He is still trying to raise money for wrestling through Push-up-a-thon. If you would like to support Avery and the BRHS wrestling team, please let me know.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

You know what I think of when I think of September 11th? I think of Spain. I mean...I think of all the horrific awful things that happened that day. I think about walking into BGSU and seeing TV's pulled into the hallways and lobbies for people to watch. I remember how hushed everything and everyone was that day, the classes that were cancelled, the feeling of shock, the sober feeling. But inevitably, I also think of Spain. Let me example how this thought progression works...The first thing that I think when I think of September 11th is..."What year was that?" And then I remember it was the year before I went to Spain. And the reason that I so specifically remember that it was the year that I went to Spain is not so much because of the tighten security at the airports, although I do remember that, but rather because I remember what a laughing stock the US was in Europe. I remember how 9months later, September 11th was still being joked about by the europeans. I remember a feeling that many people thought that the US got what they deserved. It was kind of like, "HAHA United States, you've bullied the world for so long, now you got bullied back!" It was still a running joke. I remember feeling a bit taken aback that that was the sentiment, but later understanding why Europeans have this view of us. After watching the way Americans behave from their perspective, I see why they look at us that way. We're boastful, we're rude, we're egotistical. After awhile, my mind eventually wanders into reminiscing about the fun and adventures that I had that summer in Spain, and to the friends that I made. (Hola, Kas!)

I'm not saying this is right or wrong, I'm just saying...this is what I remember.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fall on the Tundra

Fall is showing its colors on the tundra these days. It is surprising to me how quickly the tundra changed from green to shades of yellows, reds, and oranges. Now that we live out in Tundra Ridge, we get to see more of the tundra. It is all around us. Here is the doppler in the distance.
Another patch of tundra more of a close up view. These pics are all from the weekend. It is even more golden now. It was really beautiful yesterday.
A closer up view. There are still some blueberries hanging on and the cranberries should be pretty close to being pickable now, although we dont have many of them around.
Here is a pic from the sunset that we had after that storm and amazing rainbow the other night. Beautiful. Because we are right on the edge of town, we have great views of all the sunsets right out our back and side windows.
I hope you are all having a great week so far. I cant believe it's Hump day already. Things are going really well here. Avery has a new tire and tube on the way for his bike. The I convinced the manufacturer to ship them out for us even though they are not covered by the warranty. I played the 'stuck out in bush Alaska, no Walmart' card.

Thanks to everyone for all the comments yesterday. That was awesome!

Monday, September 08, 2008

A Gift

We went for a walk Saturday evening and saw the most amazing rainbow ever. It was bright and sunny to the west where the sun was on its way down and a storm was coming in to the east where the sky was black as night. It was quite an eerie sight, but in the midst of it all stood this amazing rainbow.It had the most intense, florescent color that I've ever seen on a rainbow and the most distinct spectrum of colors. It started out as a small barely there rainbow and gradually got brighter and more intense as the storm moved closer to Bethel.
By the time we went inside, the storm was close enough to be covering our shirts with little speckled droplets. I was in awe by this rainbow. I literally had to tear myself away and go in the house before the downpour began. I took at least a dozen more pictures, if not two dozen.
After about a half hour of working up to it, the rainbow finally stretched itself across the expanse of tundra that we call home. It ended up being a double rainbow on both sides. You can see the double rainbow in this picture of the left side.
Unfortunately, the rainbow was much too grand to capture in one photo, so I had to settle for a picture of the beginning, middle, and end. The pictures, of course, dont even come close to doing this rainbow justice.
Here is the other side with another double rainbow. Again, the picture only captures a fraction of the magnificence of this rainbow. I could only stare in awe, snap photos, and smile giddily as I watched this rainbow stretch over Bethel, Alaska. Just another example of the beauty of Bethel. I've never experienced a rainbow like this and can't even describe the feelings of joy it gave me. What a treat! What a gift!

Have a happy week!

Rampin' it up!

Here's Avery attempting to jump the little ramp that him and his friends built in our driveway. Maybe this is why his tire is popped already...

Actually, I think it might have been a defective tire because both the tire and the tube blew out within' 15 minutes of him riding it. He's really bummed about it and the store that carries tubes for a 20 inch tire are all sold out. I'm actually surprised that there was even a store in town that usually carries them. I just got off the phone with the manufacturer. Tires and tubes are usually not covered by warranty, but because it looks like it might have been defective, they're thinking about replacing it. Hopefully I'll know tomorrow.

Packers are playing Monday Night Football tonight! I cant wait!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

New bike

After going through three bikes here in Bethel, we decided Avery was due for a new one. We went online and researched BMX bikes. We read reviews, looked at pictures, and compared prices. After a long Saturday night of online bike shopping, we ordered Avery a new bike. We tried to make sure it was one that was built pretty sturdy and something that he could ride at the local skate park. So, Avery was thrilled to get this big box in the mail.His bike is pretty awesome. It's a We The People Nova bike.
So, we unpacked it and put it together.
Then, he took it for a ride.
Too bad it came home with a flat tire...aaarrrrrgggg!

Black Box

I skipped church this morning so I could watch some football. I'm such a bad churchgoer once football season starts, but only here in Alaska because the games start at 9am. I wanted to watch Brett Favre's first game as a Jet. So, you can imagine my frustration when I came out to watch the game and all that the TV would give me was this....
Big black box covering the TV. The TV in Avery's room was working fine, so it had to be something with the TV, not the cable. Chandra suggested that maybe it was something to do with an out of whack closed captioning box. I change the closed captioning option and it worked! So, I did get to see some of the Jets game, but only the ending. The Jets and Brett Favre won, which is great for them. I'm still really disappointed by the behavior of Brett Favre over this whole retirement stuff. And I really wish people would stop assuming that because I'm a GB Packers fan, that I am automatically a Jet fan now, because I'm not. I was wearing my Packers sweatshirt at the Saturday Market yesterday and this guy walks up to me and comments that the Jets were playing tomorrow and wasnt I excited to see it. My response was, "I'm a Packer fan, not a Jet fan". What's up with that?

So, the Packers play tomorrow for Monday night football, which starts at 3pm here. We dont even get out of school until 4pm and by the time I get home it's usually around 5pm. I'll be able to catch the second half if I'm lucky. Yay! Football season. I'm just happy to watch football at all. Right now Dallas and Cleveland are playing. I love the sound of football in the morning!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Dead ducks and bird guts

Alaska brings many opportunities for gross boy stuff. Avery went over to his friends house last weekend and as we walked up to the door there was his friend standing there with a still warm Mallard duck. He was just kinda floppin' it around back and forth in his hands. When I picked up Avery the next day, he was happy to show me the intestines of one of the three birds that he had helped pluck and gut. Needless to say, he was so disgustingly dirty that I made him soak in a bathtub when we got home
Avery is having such a great year already. It makes me happy to see him so happy. And what wonderful experiences and adventures he is having. He is loving school and excited to start wrestling. He is reading like almost two hours everyday BY CHOICE! He had a craving for something sweet to eat tonight and whipped up some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies all by himself. He is making new friends and just generally really good spirited this year. He has a new top notch BMX bike on the way and is super excited about it. We have a skate park here, so he cant wait to ride. We went to the doctor for his sports physical today and he is also healthy as can be. I'm really proud of him. I'm looking forward to a really great year!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


Unfortunately, I didnt shout it as that title might imply. I did go play at the invitation of Chandra and her Yup'ik grandmother-in-law, Cecelia. Here's Chandra showing off her brand new Kaspeq. For an explanation of what a kaspeq is and to see what my kaspeq looks like, you can read all the posts I've written about them here. Kathy...I know what you're thinking right now...and when you steal this picture, I totally expect that you will AT LEAST leave me a comment :) We only played three rounds out of the 22 rounds that they were playing because we wanted to get home early since it's a school night. So, we stayed for about an hour. It was the first time that I met Cecelia, so that was nice. The Bingo hall was pretty much packed. Here are the cards I played...

this was a small "T" to win...i was 1 away on the top left side
this card was a large "X" to win...I was 2 away on the bottom left side
This card was a small picture frame (all the numbers that would create a box around the center). I needed 1 more in the top left to win...bummer. This card was worth about a $500 jackpot.
No luck this time. We're going to try again on Saturday, but this time we're going to play all the games and make a night out of it.

Another bonus to going to bingo? They have fountain pop...that's right...fountain pop! There are now four places in all of Bethel that you can get a fountain pop...the snack bar at the AC (grocery store), Brothers Pizza place out by the airport, Subway, and, yep, that's right, the bingo hall. ahhhh...how refreshing. I totally enjoyed my fountain Dr. Pepper while playing bingo tonight.

In other news...
Avery is doing awesome in school. He just switched out of 7th grade math and into pre-algebra today and he's really looking forward to it. He starts wrestling soon and has already gotten the paperwork to start fundraising for Push-up-athon. So, if anyone wants to donate, just let me know. All the money raised goes toward student travel to the wrestling competitions in other villages and towns around Alaska. Any help you can give would be appreciated.

Weather update...
It's been rainy and overcast these last few days. And a bit chilly too. I think rainy season is upon us. We've had highs in the 50's and lows in the 40's for several days now and drizzly rain everyday.

Sunlight update...
The sun rose at 7:45am and set at 9:42pm for 13hours and 57minutes of daylight. Twilight is at 6:59am and dusk is at 10:28pm for a total of 15hours and 28 minutes of visible light. Tomorrow will be 5minutes and 33seconds shorter.

Remember that you can check weather and sunlight info on the right side of the blog. It updates in real time.

Latest read...
havent seen this for awhile. I know. I havent been reading, but I finally got through a book that I started back in Ohio. I got halfway through it before I had to return it to the library before leaving for Alaska. Then when I got here, I had to request it through interlibrary loan and it took a couple weeks to get here. So, anyhow, I finally finished reading "Skeletons at the Feast" by Chris Bohjalian. It was a book about several people intersecting lives during WWII in Nazi Germany. It was based on the actual dairy entries of a Polish person trying to make it west through Germany. It is a wonderful account of the events of the war and gives a very personal feel to it, rather than just a textbook description, but it is a little dull. SoSo read, but if you like Holocaust reading then you would probably love it. Enjoyable enough to finish. Satisfying ending.

What else? Not much right now. Time for bed. Good night.