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Monday, August 31, 2009

My old dog

We dont feed Taboo many table foods, but popcorn is one exception. He LOVES popcorn. It all started with feeding him the couple of random burnt ones in each bag and now he comes to expect that we share our popcorn with him.

You know your dog is getting old when he started pooping his pants! Today when we got home from school, he had had diarrhea in his cage. It was really awful and it was EVERYWHERE. I still havent gotten up the courage to clean the cage yet, but Avery bathed the dog and I bathed the dog blankets. It was all very gross. I am beginning to wonder if he is going to be having trouble controlling his bladder/sphincter in his old age. I am seeing a day on the horizon where I might have to put him down and it makes me sad. He'll be 12 soon and his age is really showing. Not to mention that he continues to get more and more crotchety in his old age. He barks at the neighbors all the time now whenever he is out on his chain. It really is just kind of a hassle anymore to have him, but he is such a huge part of our little family that I cant stand the thought of NOT having him around. Any advice from people who have dealt with having an aging dog?

In other news...
I went out camping with the Scouts at the last minute this weekend. I got to go fishing for the first time and caught two salmon. I have pictures and more to come once I get some time to sit and write about it. I cooked up the fresh salmon yesterday and had a few friends over. It was great!

I was told today that I am going to be going to some SIOP training on Friday and will be have a sub in my room so that I can miss the day. I am happy to get some more SIOP training, but not too thrilled about being told 4 days before it is happening. Now I will have to change my lesson plans to prepare for a sub. I was also informed that I will be helping with the district wide SIOP training for our sight (BRHS) on Tuesday. Lots to get ready for.

By having Avery as a student, I am seeing even more what a great kid he is and how intelligent he is. He really picks up on things easily and then once he has it he retains the information. So far he is a great student in my class and is doing very well in his other classes.

It has been cold, rainy, and dreary these last few days. It got down to 34 degrees F a couple of mornings ago. The wind has been pretty persistent. I am anxious to see what this winter has in store for us. The last two winters have been so different from each other. I hope we get lots of snow because it sounds like the shop boys are going to be fixing my snow machine after all.

Thank goodness this weekend is a three day weekend. I need to catch up already. There is just always so much to do. I know there were other things that I wanted to say, but it really is time for bed already.

I cant believe it's September. How does it go so fast?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My new camera

I got my new camera in the mail yesterday. YAY! It's a canon sx110. I love it already. Except for the flash takes forever to recharge(4-5 seconds) and you cant do anything while the flash is recharging. Here are a few shots I took just fooling around with it yesterday...
It's got 10X optical zoom, which basically means it can zoom right up on stuff. it works really well. This is a picture that I took of Avery's room while sitting on the couch in the living room. See the books on Avery's bookshelf?
Here is how close I was able to zoom up on those books. I tried a couple more later and got them to turn out more clear. Great zooming capabilities though, eh? I do feel like I have improved my photography skills over the summer. I spend alot of time using my old camera to take pics of fireworks, which is the area that I wanted to improve. I got alot of great shots. My new camera is pretty much the same as my old camera, except better so I feel pretty comfortable that the new skills will transfer over to the new camera. Not to mention that I am going to read the owners manual for the new camera and learn how to do more with it. I am looking forward to playing around with it and taking some really great pictures. Number 21...check!I have FINALLY finished the book that I've been reading for the months of June, July, and August. I had read a different book during June and another during July, which I will count as my June (a Jeffery Archer book that I wrote about here) and July book(called The Wednesday Letters) for Number 2 on the birthday list. This one will count as the August book. I figured since I live in Alaska, I should read Micheners book entitled Alaska. I had enjoyed Hawaii so much that I started this one without thinking twice.
I really enjoyed the book. It was a great read, but next time I pick up a Michener book, I will not do so lightly. Over 1000 pages and three months later, now I can read other things. First and foremost, I will be reading a book that was written by a friend of mine from when I was younger. I cant wait to read it! I'm so excited and proud of him for accomplishing the goal/dream that he made for himself of writing a book. I'll share more about it once I've read it and have his permission to write about it online. He is in the process of finding a publisher now, so I dont want to do/say anything on here that would interfere with that process.
You can see how beat up my Michener book is...I've been dragging it around everywhere I went for the last three months. Now it can take its place back up on the book shelf.

In other news...
meatless monday is back. We had grilled cheeses and tomato soup for dinner on Monday night.

I'm making pretty good progress on my birthday list. Hopefully I'll be making it out of Bethel and cross off several during Christmas break. If I cant get out of town, I might end of with alot of things not done on the list. Either way, it's been fun. And I've still got 5 months to go.

My neighbor has two very overweigh little kids who run and stomp like crazy all day, everyday. They stay up late every night. I have noticed it every day/night that we've been here, but last night it got so bad that I actually had to go over there and ask them to be quiet. It was 11pm and they were stomping so hard that the whole house was rocking and swaying and the shelves and lampshades were rattling. Annoying!

It is a beautiful day out today. 60degrees right now and sunny, which is wonderful considering that it was 40 and really frickin' cold this morning. I was shivering. Now that first frost is past, hopefully I'll get some cranberries this weekend. Although the person who said they would take me cranberry picking to teach me how to do it is sick. Alot of people have been sick lately. Teachers and students alike. Even Avery wasnt feeling good last week. So far, so good for me.

I watched my first football game last night. I love football season! There's a game on right now, so I'm going home! Later. Have a supertastic weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Salmon eggs for dinner

Tonight I attended a chili and corn bread benefit dinner. In addition to the various assortment of chili and cornbread, there was also(in classic Alaska style) some salmon and some salmon egg salad. I've never tried salmon eggs before, so I took the plunge and shoveled a spoonful into my mouth. Contrary to what you might think (and to what I was thinking), they were quite good. They tasted just like salmon itself, but with a completely different texture. They werent squishy at all, which was what I was expecting. They had the texture of beans. Maybe like slightly undercooked baked beans. They were firm and waxy around the outside. It was interesting, but good. The salad part was quite spicy with cucumbers, some herbs, onions, and some kind of creamy white sauce. Surprisingly tasty!

I've been meaning to blog these last few days, but have been super busy and just not in the mood. Not sure why. Second week of school and things are going very well. I enjoy teaching so much. I've got the next few weeks planned out already and it makes me feel good to know that I have prepared good lessons for my students' learning.

A couple of events passed that I would normally have mentioned....First, my blogs bday passed on the 15th of August. I've been blogging now for two years. It has been fun and interesting to keep a record of my Alaskan adventure. Not to mention, that during the long, cold, dark winters my blog has saved my sanity on more than one occasion. Thanks to all of my readers for sticking with me. Now that I'm back in Alaska, my comment rate has gone back up again. Also, I wrote my 500th post not too long ago (this post is 503). I cant believe I've written so much on here. If you have a chance to go back, read some of the posts from my first year in Alaska. There sure are some interesting stories!
I think Taboo is rebelling. He has been being bad lately and just really whiney and annoying. I dont think he's happy to be back.

Avery started Boy Scouts back up tonight. They are out right now collecting trash from around the local park area as a part of their community service project.

I finally got my camera ordered. It should be here soon. I cant wait until it gets here...writing on the blog is just not as much fun without pictures to go with stuff. There are so many blogs that I've wanted to write, but didnt because I couldnt put up pictures to go with it.

We had the first frost this morning. It was so thick, we had to scrap the windows on the truck. Now it's cranberry picking season. Last time we were out berry picking there were alot of cranberries, but I didnt pick them because everyone says to wait until first frost to get them. People say they taste better after first frost. I've never picked cranberries before, but I'm going to try to this year.

Today was picture day at school already. Avery wore a nice white collared shirt with blue strips. He looked very handsome. He's doing well in school already. He's taking Algebra this year with the high school kids, so hopefully that will go well. Although, his science teacher told me that he was nodding off in class the other day :) He has been staying up late reading lately. I have a hard time telling him to quit reading to go to bed. And he is getting to that age where his natural clock keeps him up later and doesnt require quite as much sleep. I will be getting on him to get to bed a bit earlier tonight though. He is also going to be playing the trumpet in band this year rather than the sax. He asked me today if we could go to school early on Friday so that he can attend a private trumpet lesson with his band teacher. He is really looking forward to wrestling season starting. He will have a new wrestling coach this year so we'll see how that goes. I think he's hoping to add quite a few more medals to his collection.

Well, I think that's it for now. I'm going to do some reading a probably fall asleep on the couch. Good night!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

20 out of 30 ain't bad!

I have officially lost 20 pounds now! YAY! My graph on the Wii fit just keeps going down, down, down. I am really feeling the difference in my clothes. Everything is too big. I can't even wear the belts that I was wearing during summer because they are too big now. I am back into my smaller belts. I am down 5 belt loops now! I have been making losing weight a priority and it has been paying off. I have no doubt that I'll meet my Birthday list goal Number 5, which is to lose 30 pounds. Right now, I'm planning on meeting that goal within the next month or two, so by my birthday I should be down even more than 30. AWESOME! Everyday when I get on the Wii, I weigh a little less than the day before. Seeing that graph dip down is sooooo motivating!

In other news...
Number 6 on the list is also complete. I finished updating my photo albums and then left them in Ohio at the end of summer, rather than dragging them back here. Although now I kind of wish I would have brought this year's book at least so I could keep working on it as the year goes on.

It was cold enough to turn on the heat today. Blah...

Have you heard the Jack Johnson song 'Banana Pancakes'? If not, you should check it out. Good song. Great artist. My cousins got me into him this summer and I just bought his full album the other day. I've been listening to it alot these last few days, so I decided to make banana pancakes for lunch today. Yum!

Still no camera. I've picked out the one that I want, now I just need to figure out how to get it shipped here. That is one of the hassles of living here...shipping can be extremely frustrating. Best buy will ship to Alaska, but the website will not accept my address when I go to checkout. I tried 20 variations of my address and none of them will work. So today I called the Best Buy in Anchorage because they have a bush order department. I placed my order, but got a call a few minutes later saying that although there should be 6 of the camera that I want in stock, they are missing. Missing! Go figure. So, she's going to try to track them down and in the meantime I'm going to try to call the main bestbuy number and see if they can figure out a way to get it to me.

The first week of school went very well. The students are always so well behaved the first week. Week 2 coming up. I've pretty much got my lesson plans done for the next two weeks and have a good idea of what I want to teach for the next 4 weeks. That makes me feel good...knowing that I'm prepared...that I've prepared good lessons for my students learning.

Friday, August 21, 2009

100 letters

Avery and I played a really great game of Scrabble the other night on his request. It always amazes me how diverse an assortment of words can come from those 100 letters. Out of all the board games in the closet (we have many), the game that he/we most frequently play is Scrabble. Even when Avery has friends over to spend the night, they usually will play a game of Scrabble. How cool is that? I think it is so cool that a 13 year old boy likes Scrabble so much.

I have a love of words. I have for a long time. I think words are cool. In fact, when we recently received our new teacher laptops that the district provided, I made my screen saver words of the day. It's AWESOME! Ever since I started playing Scrabble, I have loved it. And now I have passed on that love to Avery and that makes me happy. And proud!

Take a look at the words that we ended up with the other night. Most of them you probably know, but here are a few that you may not...
a bundle of sticks or twigs bound together as fuel.
1 a small firework that burns with a hissing sound before exploding.
• a short piece of satirical writing.
• a short news item or filler in a newspaper.
2 a small, slight, or weak person, esp. a child.
3 Football a short kick on a kickoff.
• Baseball (also squibber) a blooper or infield grounder that becomes a base hit.
a peanut

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morning Fog

It has been slightly foggy most mornings since going back to school, but this morning you can barely see 50 feet. I told Avery this morning that in Ohio we would be having a delay for school already. It is kind of nice to know that life goes on as normal even when there is fog/inclement weather. Why do people get so worked up about weather down in the lower 48? It is not something that you can control, so why let it bother you? People here are so much more relaxed about things like that and, generally, dont get too worked up about it. I think that I am a more calm and accepting person for having lived here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Second day of school

The first day of school went really well. I was so exhausted when I got home that I fell asleep reading on the couch after dinner and didnt wake up until almost 11pm. When I finally did wake up, I had practically no motivation to work out, but I did anyway and was surprised to find that I've lost another 4 pounds. So, now I've lost those 3 pounds that I gained back after leaving Vegas early this summer, plus a couple more. Yay me! When I can see the pounds falling away like that, it really makes it easy to keep it up.

Today, I'm getting to see what all of my classes are going to look like on a daily basis now that the high schoolers are in the building too. So far it's been good. It seems like all of my classes have a really great groups of kids in them. But, then again, they are always well behaved the first week or so.

There are a few things in particular that I am really excited about for this year...
1. I have Avery as a student for the first time ever. It may go good or bad, but either way it will be interesting.

2. The graduating seniors this year are kids that I taught two year ago when they were sophomores in Biology. It will be the first time that I will watch a group of kids graduate that I had as students. Seeing them just this first day as seniors is really exciting. To know that I had a hand in their success is also a humbling thought. I'm proud of them!

3. The students that I will have in my HS school Biology classes this year are the students that I had two years ago in 8th grade physical science. This is the first time that I will have the same group of kids for a second round of classes. Again, it could go great or be terrible, but either way it will be interesting. These are kids that I developed relationships with when they were young JHers. Now they've had two years to mature and it will be interesting to see how they've changed and how that affects are classroom dynamic.

4. We have an exceptional group of 10 new teachers in the building. They are replacing a group of teachers who, let's just say, were REALLY READY for retirement. The new teachers all seem to be excited and ready to be great teachers. It is nice to be in a building where the people actually want to be there and are excited to be teaching.

Well, time flies when you're having fun...today is going by way too quickly. My lunch break is almost over...gotta go!

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of School

Today is the official first day of school, although it is only a JH day. It is nice to have the JH kids only on this first day to give them a chance to get to know the building and its teachers a bit better. I feel fortunate to work for a school that recognizes a need like that and puts together effective solutions for those needs. Our first day of school is very well laid out and includes a morning assembly where the principal welcomes all students while dressed up as some character from a popular children's book, a teacher scramble to get to know the staff better, scavenger hunt to find their classrooms and other important areas around the school, a mini-schedule orientation to go over the student handbook, locker distribution, an antibullying skit from the JH dean, and some cooperative team building games for the kids to get reaquainted with each other. It will be a hectic day, but certainly not for lack of organization.

I threw my camera in the trash a few days again, so this picture was taken using my laptop camera and it did not turn out the best. We're standing in my classroom and the lighting is awful. For the rest of you out there who are starting school today....HAVE AN EXCITING FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I missed a few

Turns out there were way more important people in town yesterday than I had known when I wrote yesterday's blog post. Here is a rundown of all of the people who were in town yesterday...

United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan
United States Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas J. Vilsack
United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Shaun L.S. Donovan
United States Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu

Governor of the State of Alaska, Sean Parnell
Alaska State Commissioner of Education, Larry LeDoux

Both the Governor and the State Commissioner spoke at the school during our teacher inservice yesterday. Isn't that special? I think so. It reminds me that Bethel really is a special place to be and it makes me sad to think that this will be my last year here.

And 4 (count 'em...FOUR) of Barack Obama's cabinet members where here in Bethel, Alaska (of all places). Click here to read an article in the local newspaper about their visit to Bethel and another village called Hooper Bay.

In other news...
As of yesterday, we still didnt have long distance or internet service.

We are having weather issues already. Yesterday and today have been rainy and dreary. Many village flights were already stuck in Bethel yesterday because of a low ceiling, leaving many village teachers stuck in Bethel. I thought that might happen and wasnt surprised when the teacher from Nightmute that stayed at our place during inservice came knocking last night after getting stuck in Bethel.

I finally got all of my boxes unpacked. I have very little to do now to settle into the new place. All I need to do now is put on the new shower head, find a desk for Avery's room, get a kitchen table, and buy an area rug for the living room. Avery's room does still need a bit of work, but he is taking the responsibility for most of that (as it should be). I just need to mount the TV on his wall and help paint his new nightstand.

I tried sushi for the first time today during lunch out with some of the other teachers. It was good. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities for my palate!

I wish I could take some pictures for you of Bethel right now. It's beautiful here. I was actually surprised by the beauty of it when we first got off the plane a week ago. It's easy to forget how beautiful it is here when it is covered in snow for 7 months and mud for 2 months, which is almost the entire time that I'm here.

After today, I have officially decided that instead of being called teacher inservice, it should be called TT (teacher torture). Today's presenter was awful. Terribly boring.

I've still been working out on the Wii everyday. I had originally lost 15 pounds this summer, but then figured that I gained about 5 back while in Ohio for the last few weeks, but in actuality, I only gained back 3 (which is not good, but better than 5). I am still doing something right though because when I tried to put my belt on this morning, it doesnt even fit anymore...it's too big. That means I'm down 4 notches on my belt now! Awesome!

Ok...time to go home. It's been a long day! We have a workday tomorrow, then the first day of school is Monday. How does the summer manage to fly by so quickly?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Important people

Bethel has two important people visiting today. The United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan(pictured above), is here meeting with representatives from our school district and teachers union. He is conducting a round table meeting to find out our views on NCLB (no child left behind). For as small and out of the way Bethel is, I'm surprised and happy that he came all the way out here. I think it's a wonderful that he is getting out and having conversations with people about issues in education. I also think that it is a show of Barack Obama's dedication to education that he is getting the US Secretary of Education out on the road. GOOD JOB!

Also in town today is the Alaska Commissioner of the Department of Education & Early Development, Larry LeDoux. He came around the school and introduced himself to us within our training sessions. He asked us questions, told us his views on education, tried to inspire us to use technology effectively, and welcomed us to contact him. How wonderful! It always amazes me that Bethel is such a visible place within the state of Alaska. I even met then Govenor, Sarah Palin, when she came to tour the school last year. I feel fortunate to live in a community and teach in a district/school where I feel like the voice (my voice) is being heard.
In other news...
The district inservice this year is better than usual. They've actually hired in professionals from mac and smartboard and various other companies to provide training in technology. AND the district brought all of the teachers from the entire district (400 teachers from an area the size of West Virginia) in to Bethel to receive training together. It is a nice opportunity to collaborate with the other teachers from the district and see friends.

I havent had internet or long distance at my house since being in Bethel. So, if you've called me and i havent called you back that's why. I went to get it hooked up yesterday. My long distance should be ready to go today, but my internet still wont be hooked up until next week. That's also why I havent been blogging much. I have internet access at school, but when I've been here these last few days, they've been keeping us very busy with inservice and training.

Our new apt is all unpacked and I managed to fit everything in.

I got some salmon out of the free fish bin the other day. SCORE! More on the free fish bin in another post.

My camera is officially dead. I am going to try to go online and shop for a new one, but until then the blog my be lacking in pictures.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Blueberries and the mosquitos that guard them

I've been doing some berry picking these last few days. There aren't as many berries this year as there have been in previous years. I dont know for sure, but I think it is because the weather has been hotter and drier than usual. In previous years, when walking around out on the tundra, it always felt like a squishy sponge, a bit bouncy as you stepped. This year it is hard and crackly as I walk through it. I have been able to collect two ziplock sandwich baggies full of blueberries, which is about half as much as would have collected in previous years by spending the same amount of time out berry picking.

The mosquitos have been tenacious in their defense of the tundra blueberries. Every time my foot met with the tundra a cloud of mosquitos were uncovered. I was wearing my mud boots, long pants, and a long sleeve shirt to keep myself from getting bit. It didnt work. Picking berries involves alot of bending over. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were able to bite my right through my pants and now my butt is covered with mosquito bites. UNBELIEVABLE!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Postage due

I had a boatload of mail waiting upon my return to Bethel. Included in the pile were a couple of interesting things...

1. I got my professional 5 year teaching certificate, but had to pay 51 cents in order to claim it. I think it is a bit ridiculous that the Alaska STATE department of education did not put proper postage on a document that is allowing me to teach in a state that has a hard time finding teachers.

2. I received a refund check from my cable company for 9 cents. Yes! 9 wopping cents. If you figure the paper to print the check cost 5cents and the postage was 42 cents (or whatever postage is now) and then there were the employees who were paid to handle the account, they lost probably about a dollar printing up the 9 cent check. I wont be wasting my time and energy cashing it.

3. For the last year or so, whenever my retirement account statements came in the mail, my stomach always did a flipflop knowing that inside the envelope would be a paper telling me how much money I was continually losing. This last quarter, however, my accounts have finally GAINED. YAY!

In other news...
We moved our last load of stuff into our new apt today. As I unload and unpack it all, I continue to think...there is NO WAY it is all going to fit into this tiny little place. I dont know what I'm going to do, but I guess I'll find a way to get it all in. The apt is not furnished, so we will have to work on collecting even more furniture, mostly tables (end tables, kitchen table, nightstands). Other than that, we pretty much have what we need. To tell the truth, I'm not too thrilled with this apt. It's really small, but other than that, the apt itself is not that bad. It's the location that I'm not liking much. It is in a little nook with about 10 other apts and the parking space is a jumbled mess. It also has absolutely no view at all. I'm so used to looking out my windows and having tundra all around me, not neighbors. I dont enjoy looking out my window and into someone else's. Well, I only have to tolerate it for 9 months. I think I can handle that!

ok...back to the unpacking...

Plenty of hours, thanks

We have made it back to Bethel safe and sound. Our phone is turned on if you would like to give us a ring, but the long distance is not hooked up yet so we cant call you, you'll have to call us! :) We spent ALL DAY today cleaning, moving, and unpacking our new (small) apt. ALL DAY...from 9:30 this morning until about 11pm tonight. I am exhausted!

You know how sometimes people will say something to the effect of that they would like more hours in the day to get more done? Well, I would have to disagree. Everyday this week has shown me that 24 hours in one day is plenty. I feel like I have had a week of 50 hour days. Time for bed and then another extra long day tomorrow.

miss everyone already! Love ya!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Avery has a magentic personality

First of all, let me clarify....YES, it says magentic, as in magenta, the color. Ok, on to the story...we ate lunch at the chinese restaurant the other day. At the end of the meal, we looked at our fortunes hidden within our fortune cookies. I asked Avery what his said and he replied, "It says 'you have a magentic personality'." And what does that mean, Avery? According to Avery, magentic means smell good. So, I asked Avery, "What you're saying is that your fortune is that you have a smell good personality?" Yep!

I asked him if there was any possibility it said magnetic. Ohhhhhhhhh. Smile.
Avery and I got to spend a super short 19 or so hours visiting with my friends who live outside of Chicago. Kassia and I were originally supposed to road trip from Vegas back to the midwest at the end of July, but because of my family emergency, the funnest part of my summer had to be cancelled.
But I was happy to at least get to hang out with them for a short time. Next year, we'll go do something spectacular, Kas!
Avery and I just got done sleeping for a couple hours in the airport. We can go get our rental car in about a half hour to commence with a mad dash to all of the big box stores in Anchorage for as many supplies as we can cram into 6 boxes. The ability to accurately gage how close a box/bag is gettting to the 50 pound limit is a skill that I have acquired after these two years in Alaska.

Also, as a testament to how we've gotten used to the Alaska way of life, Taboo ate all of the food that we brought for him to eat while we're traveling. Usually, he doesnt touch it.

We will be back in Bethel this evening and our old Bethel phone number should be hooked back up by Friday. Today's the last day that I'll be able to answer my cell phone, so if you feel a burning urge to call me, you'd better get on it. Thank goodness that it is still light out at midnight because we will need to move at least our beds into our new apt tonight.

Gotta go. Time to shop.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Just FYI

We are leaving for Chicago tonight. We'll be spending a night there before flying out tomorrow. We'll be in Anchorage Wednesday night and back in Bethel on the Thursday evening jet. Cant wait to see everyone during our two days of wonderfully, inspiring inservice! :) If anyone needs a patch of floor to crash on during inservice...just let me know!