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

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hell week

This week is always my hell week every year because I am so busy with robotics and haunted house that I barely have time to breathe. Add on top of that, all of these things...

we just moved
my lesson plans were late
my formal observation was yesterday
the sophomore class that does haunted house are slacking
Avery keeps getting in trouble
I havent checked my mail for a week
Avery locked himself out of his new cell phone and I had to go get it fixed
I have to make a dessert for the church supper club
Avery has to make a dessert for the halloween carnival cake walk
I havent been eating right or exercising lately
I have a stack of papers to grade
I have labs to set up for in my science classes
Mom is coming to visit and I still havent bought my ticket to meet her in Anchorage yet
Our PFD checks havent come yet
I have to pay rent and deposit for this new place
and cant do that until i get my deposit back from the old place
but cant get that until I clean the old place
laundry needs done
the veggie box needs picked up tomorrow but I'll be doing haunted house
Avery has a wrestling tournament tomorrow that I wont get to see
I dont have my halloween costume ready yet

Add all that on and you get one stressed out, busy, tired, cranky person (me). I cant wait for my Saturday morning yoga! Hell week will be over soon...

Hell week will be over soon...

Saturday morning yoga will be here soon...
Saturday morning will be here soon...
I will sleep in Saturday morning...
I will wake up relaxed and rested on Saturday morning...

Hell week will be over soon!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A moving weekend

I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of the toilet gurgling and the water pump running. At some point in the middle of the night, someone had gone to the bathroom and the little handle had gotten stuck up. The toilet ran all night and completely drained our 500 gallon water tank. So, in a last act of crappy-apartment-dom, we were stuck in that awful place with ABSOLUTELY NO WATER.

I figured that was as good a time as any to move, considering it was Saturday and there was no way to get water, not to mention that I had already had my last delivery on Wednesday and had taken my name off the water bill. So, I went to see my new landlord and got the keys for the new place. Avery and I busted butt and got almost all of our stuff moved to the new place within 5 hours on Saturday. We moved pretty much everything except the kitchen. Then I had to go to dance class, a community concert, and a birthday party.

This morning, we slept in a little bit (9am for me, about 10:30 for Avery), skipped church, then went and moved the rest of our stuff. It took a few more loads to get the rest of the furniture from the living room and all of the kitchen. As of right now, we have everything moved and almost everything put away at the new place. All that's really left to do is to go back over to the old, crappy place and clean it so we can get our deposit back.

Needless to say...we had a BUSY weekend, but at least it is done. And we like the new place soooooooo much better. It is literally double the size of our other crappy place. It is two story, with the bedrooms and bathroom upstairs and the living and kitchen downstairs. I'll take some pictures and write up a post about the new place soon.

Right now I'm at school because I havent written my lesson plans for next week and my formal observation is on Tuesday...YIKES! Gotta go get to work....

Oh...and by the way...don't let that picture above fool you, we have a full 4 inches or so of snow on the ground now. I took that picture a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Avery got a chance to go 4-wheelin' with his friends this weekend. He had a great time and came home with his shoes covered with mud. They got stuck in the mud and had to pull the 4-wheeler out with another 4-wheeler. I was happy to let him go when his buddies pulled up and both had their helmets on. Good choices...they're starting to come around more and more often.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Winter came yesterday

And it looks like it's here to stay....

Forecast for Kuskokwim Delta
Updated: 7:59 PM EDT on October 23, 2009

Numerous snow showers. Patchy fog after midnight. Snow accumulation up to 2 inches. Lows around 30. Northwest wind 10 to 20 mph. Gusts to 30 mph along the coast.
Numerous snow showers in the morning...then scattered snow showers in the afternoon. Snow accumulation up to 1 inch. Highs in the 30s. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Saturday Night
Cloudy with scattered snow showers. Lows in the mid 20s to lower 30s. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers. Patchy fog. Highs in the lower to mid 30s. Variable wind 10 mph.
Sunday Night
Mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers. Patchy fog. Lows in the mid 20s to lower 30s. Variable wind to 10 mph.
Mostly cloudy with isolated snow showers. Highs in the mid 30s.
Monday Night and Tuesday
Cloudy with a chance of snow. Lows 30 to 35. Highs in the mid 30s.
Tuesday Night through Friday
Mostly cloudy with a chance of snow. Lows 30 to 35. Highs in the mid 30s.

Steppin' into the age of technology!

Avery and I went out and got cell phones the other day. We have had a company here in Bethel that has provided cell phone service for about a year now, but the coverage has been sketchy. They have increased their service and their service area. So, Avery and I went for it. We are both busy people with tons of things to do all the time and we need to be able to get ahold of each other whenever we are out and about. I am probably going to cancel the house phone, so I'll try to get ahold of everybody soon so that I can give you all my new number.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


We finally got some snow today! It is coming down pretty steadily, but the wind is blowing like crazy. The wind is coming out of the North and is blowing at around 30mph. That brings our 22 degree temps down to around zero with windchill. The insane wind has been blowing for three days straight now and it really does make life just a bit harder. Everything harder to do when the wind is blowing like crazy. Yesterday and the day before the wind was whipping all of the Bethel sand around, so when you went out it was like getting sand blasted. Now at least it is blowing snow, rather than sand.
It is really unusual for it to be this late for snow. Last year we got snow on the 3rd and the year before that it was the 6th. I'm happy to have the snow, I just wish we didnt have 30mph wind to go with it. Just last week it was still 50 degrees out. I dont really miss that. I'm happy for the snow. I hope there's a nice layer laid down quickly so that we can go snowmachining soon.

Our snowmachine is getting fixed right now and it should be ready within a couple weeks. I cant wait to go snowmachining. The engine is getting bored today, so the shop kids will get it back next week and begin the rebuilding process. I hope it all goes well and that the engine goes back together just the way it should. By having the shop kids here at school do the work, I am saving about $500 and I think they will do a good job. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Flat Stanley Visits Bethel, Alaska

Click on any of the pictures to make them bigger!Our friend Alyssa sent us her Flat Stanley from Huron, Ohio. Her 1st grade class read the book Flat Stanley, then sent their Flat Stanleys out to visit their friends around the world. Avery and I got lucky enough to have Flat Stanley visit us in Bethel, Alaska. We took him out around town with us today. We had a really good time showing Flat Stanley around. Bethel is a city of about 6, 500 people in the middle of the remote Alaskan tundra. We are about 4000 miles away from Huron, Ohio so Flat Stanley really had to travel far to make it all the way here. Actually, we are closer to Rusia, Japan, and China than we are to Ohio! Wow!We started our day at church. Flat Stanley joined us for the church potluck lunch. Here he is having lunch with Avery and his friend Nate. Flat Stanley even tried some of the local native foods. I didnt think the Herring Egg Salad was very good, but Flat Stanley thought it was DELICIOUS! While Flat Stanley was here, he also enjoyed Moose Stew, Caribou Stoganoff, and lots of different kinds of Salmon. YUM!We stopped down by the river to show Flat Stanley the view. He was pretty impressed that we have the second largest river in Alaska flowing right through our town. It is the longest free flowing river in the United States. It is also the longest river entirely within one state in the U.S. It took a few tries to teach Flat Stanley how to pronounce Kuskokwim River, but eventually he got it down. (cus-c0-quim) Kuskokwim in Yupik is a loose translation of a Yup'ik word to English. It is a compound word meaning 'big slow moving thing'.
Flat Stanley thought that the painted dumpsters in Bethel were a really cool idea. He thought it was neat that the people of Bethel were so artistic and had found an interesting way to turn something ugly like a trash dumpster into something beautiful like a painting. Some of the dumpsters even send out important messages to the community, like this one that encourages kids to brush their teeth. Bethel is the home of the biggest mid-distance dog sled race, the K300. The race starts in Bethel, goes up the Kuskokwim River to Aniak before the mushers turn around and come back to Bethel, where the race also ends. It is one of the qualifying races for the Iditarod. We get alot of big name dog mushers in town in January to run the race. We also have quite a few local dog teams and Flat Stanley got a chance to go visit some of the dogs.
Next, we visited the library and culture center where Flat Stanley learned a little bit about the native Yup'ik people who live in this area of Alaska. He found out that they have been living here for over 10,000 years and that they even speak a different language, where different clothes, and even eat different kinds of food than other people in the United States. He also learned that there are many people who live in small villages all around Bethel that come here when they need something. There are about 50 villages for miles and miles that use Bethel as a place to go shopping or go to the doctor.
Flat Stanley thought it was really cool and kind of scary how the houses are all built up so high off the ground on stilts. We explained to him that houses can't be built on the ground here because of the permafrost. He asked, "What's permafrost?" We told him that this was how the ground is frozen all the time because it is so cold here. That was when Flat Stanley figured out that he had forgotten his coat in Ohio and it was pretty cold outside. It's winter in Alaska already! Even though we don't have any snow yet, it was only 25 degrees today...that's below freezing! Brrrrrrrr.
We were really hoping that we could take Flat Stanley on a snowmachine ride, but there isn't any snow yet. We told him that during the winter when there's alot of snow, we can ride our snowmachine over to the other villages and visit our friends. Sometimes we just go out and ride the snowmachine for fun too, but we always wear our helmets. We told him that next time he comes for a visit we would have to find him a helmet that fits him so that he can be safe while he rides the snowmachine.Some streets even have snowmachine crossing signs because there are so many people that ride there snowmachines everywhere during the winter. Many people in Bethel don't even own cars because they ride their 4 wheelers in the summer and their snowmobiles in the winter. Flat Stanley also thought it was different that people here have to get water delivered to their house in big trucks instead of just having pipes to bring the water to your house. And all the roads were made of dirt instead of concrete!
We had fun with Flat Stanley. We hope he will come back and see us again! We're taking him to the airport in the morning so that he can get on an airplane and go back to Ohio. Flat Stanley was really surprised when we told him that there arent any roads that lead out of town, so you can't drive home. The only way to get into or out of Bethel is to take an airplane! Thanks for sending him to us, Alyssa! We miss you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Good Morning, Moon

The moon looked so cool over Bethel this morning. The sliver of this waning crescent moon was ablaze this morning. It was in a straight line with a planet (probably mercury, but possibly venus) and the rising sun. The scene was made all the more magnificent by the dawn colors spreading along the horizon and reflecting off of the little pond out in the tundra. This picture was taken around 8:30am. The picture, of course, does not come close to showing the true brilliance of the glow of the moon and mercury...they were so bright. Part of what made it really amazing to look at was that you could see the whole surface of the moon even though only one tiny sliver of the light side of the moon was facing us. Can you see the man in the moon? Cool, huh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Movin' on UP!

We're moving. I'm sick of this apt. We originally rented this place because the rent was a little cheaper($1000) than other two bedroom places(usually $1200-$1400) in Bethel. None of the utilities are included in the rent for this place, but after figuring it up using the estimates that my landlord gave me, it still seemed to be cheaper. I was estimating around $1400 per month with rent, water ($200), electric ($100), and heat ($100). That was my estimate.
Turns out the fuel tank for the heating oil is twice as big as they told me it is and this place is very poorly insulated. It is actually going to be more like $250 per month for heat. And the electricity bill is already $150 AND IT'S NOT EVEN WINTER YET! Unbelievable! I cant even imagine what it will be once it cold and dark all the time.Long story shorter...I'm going to end up paying around$1650 for this place and it is so totally not worth it. It is small and cramped. It is damp and moist and mildewy. It is in a sucky location. The parking is cramped. The neighbors are noisy. There's only a shower, not bathtub. The closets are small. It's cold.I figured if I'm going to be paying that much for a place to live, I might as well live in a place that I can enjoy. So..............we went out and put a deposit on a new apt yesterday. It is much more expensive($1590), but includes unlimited water and heat. I will only have to pay the electric, but the electric at this place will be much less because the heat is boiler heat, which doesnt use much electricity and because the water pump is on the landlords bill, not mine. And the apt is not moist, so I'll be able to hang more of my laundry and use the dryer less.

The new place is about twice the size of what we're in now. The bedrooms are upstairs so Avery and I will have more of our own space to get away from each other. The kitchen is kinda small, but it has a little counter to put stools up to. It also has a nice big, heated arctic entry with a hanging bar to hang all of our coats from. And it has a real bathroom with a tub. It is also right downtown, so we will have more options for walking places rather than driving all the time. The grocery store is just a block away, the library is across the street, and our church is right behind our apt building. I also know quite a few people who live around that area of town. I cant wait to move in at the end of the month!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

30 pounds!

Number 5 on the birthday list is officially complete. I've weighed in 30 pounds lighter for several days in a row now. Actually, I'm 32 pounds lighter, but I wanted to wait until I was sure that my weight was consistently down before I posted this. I, of course, cannot tell you what my weight is because it is still embarrassingly high. I've got another 30 to go before I can honestly say I'd be happy with my weight, and even then I would still be considered overweight for my height. At this point, I have only 4 more pounds to lose until I am considered NOT obese for my height. My goal is to not be obese anymore by the end of October and right now I am definitely on track to make it. This is the thinnest I've been since 2005 and I feel great! I dont have many clothes left that fit any more. I need suspenders to hold up the pants I'm wearing today!

Have I mentioned that I think the inventors of the Wii are the smartest people ever? I would never have done this if it werent for that Wii. Thanks Wii!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My life feels like a country song

I still feel sick.
My truck's runnin' rough (again).
My family is disfunctional.
I work long hours.
My apt is too small.
The man I love doesnt love me back.
My snowmachine's broke down and winter's coming.
It rains everyday.
My kid (brother) is misbehaiving.
I think I sprained/strained my back.
I'm broke.
My dog's dead.

I'm sure someone has written a country song that sounds something like that. If not, I've got some good material for them.

I think this is a good place to mention that country music really is the one type of music that I just cant get into. I've never liked country. I also dont like feeling this way about my life. That's why I havent written a new blog post for awhile. I just dont have much pleasant to say.

This too shall pass.

Friday, October 09, 2009

No snow...yet!

The last two years we have had snow already by now. Not so this year. It is still raining! Raining! Raining! That's all it does...rain. The mud is thick and soupy and everywhere. I am looking forward to it freezing up so that the mud will go away. I'd much rather have snow than rain and mud. It rained for a good portion of September like usual, but it is STILL RAINING. I'm totally ready for snow! And we have a big storm coming in off the coast and even flood warnings for the coastal villages. So...basically...more rain...blah!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sick and Voting

I know that listening to me go on and on about being sick is probably boring you to pieces right about now. I know that you're probably tired of hearing it, but that's all that's really going on in my life right now. I am stuck yet another day in the house on the couch, sick. My fever finally broke this morning, but the doctor (and all the other people who recommend stuff) says not to go back to school until 24 hours after the fever is gone. It doesnt really matter because I'm not feeling well enough to be back yet anyway. I do admit that I am feeling better this morning, but just not THAT much better.

I still pretty much have a box of tissues permanently attached to my nose. See that pile on the floor next to my spot on the couch? That is only from a couple of hours. I think Avery and I have ran through about 3 boxes of tissues since this whole fiasco began a week ago. Did you know that they make antiviral tissues now? They do! They are tissues with a middle layer that has blue spots. The blue spots have some chemical ingredients in them that claim to kill 99.9% of rhinoviruses type 1A and 2 (that's the common cold), influenza A and B (that's the seasonal flu), and RSV (that's a respiratory infection that small kids get). Nothing on there about killing H1N1. Oh, well.

Here's another weird thing I've noticed...Avery and I have both had the hiccups several times in the last couple of days. Normally, I dont get the hiccups that often and neither does Avery, so for us to have the hiccups at the same time (which we did yesterday, which was kind of funny), is very unusual. Maybe there's a link to the H1N1 virus and the hiccups? That's the only common denominator that I can see here. Of course we eat the same food, but that is always true. And it couldnt have been just one food item that we ate recently because the hiccups have been happening over the course of the last few days. I dont know...weird. So, I put up a new poll over to the right...how often to do get the hiccups?

I'm really bored of staying home. There's only so much sleeping a person can do. Which is alot when you are sick, but still. I've been spending alot of time reading my new Bible and reading some of the science magazines that I had neglected the last couple months. I also pretty much have all the papers graded that I can grade at this time. I've done everything a person can do sitting on one spot on the couch feeling miserable. I did some research on the stuff to do while we're in Texas for Christmas Break. I have a huge list of stuff to choose from now. I've made a couple of phone calls that I would normally not be able to make when I'm at school all day. Yesterday I actually left the house for about an hour to go vote(have to take the chance to exercise my American right, even if I did feel like crap doing it) and get some cold medicine and a new thermometer.

We had a pretty important ballot measure to vote on. It was whether or not to get rid of local option. Local option is a choice that the residents of Bethel made back in 1977 to become a damp community. This is when they choose that no alcohol should be sold in Bethel. Being damp means that we can still have alcohol here, but you cannot buy or sell it locally. So, you can have it shipped in from Anchorage or bring it back with you when you come in from somewhere else...but there are limits. Ridiculously HIGH limits... 10.5 liters of hard liquor, 32 bottles of wine, and 12 gallons of beer each month. That's plenty of alcohol for one person for one month! The state of Alaska is who decides these limits and last year when the state discussed cutting the limits in half to reduce the prevalence of alcoholism in rural Alaska, people freaked out! Part of it is that the people dont want to be under the thumb of the state, part of it is that one of the city council members likes to have a keg shipped in every now and then to keep in his kegorator at home and that doesnt fit under the 12 gallon beer limit, part of it is that the city says that if we sold alcohol then we could raise tax revenue from it. Alcoholism among Alaska Natives is a HUGE issue. Even though there are many valid reasons to consider becoming a "wet" community, I think that it would be devastating to the town and the surrounding villages by allowing unlimited access to alcohol. Read this article in the Anchorage Daily news to get both sides of the argument. I personally thought that the ballot measure was written in a very confusing way, where a yes vote really meant no and a no vote really meant yes. It asked to vote on whether or not we should 'do away with' the local option. So if you voted yes, you were saying that you want to get rid of local option, if you voted no, you were saying that you wanted to keep local option. I really think that the wording on the ballot could have been more clear, esp in a community where English is predominantly a second language among the people whom this vote will impact the hardest. I am anxious to see how the vote turned out. You can click on either of Bethels newpapers in the links section to the right to get the scoop...the Delta Discovery or the Tundra Drums. There is also a link there to the city council website. Click here to see the unofficial election results. I'm not sure if the 'local option' vote is proposition 1 or 2, either way, it looks as though we are going to become a 'wet' community, which means we will be eligible for 2 bars, 2 liquor stores and 2 restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages with food. This could really be disastrous for our community.

Another thing to vote on...Lego robotics is one of the finalists in Google's Project 10 to the 100. The winner will receive a lot of money from Google to complete their project. Seeing as how I coach a lego robotics team each here, it would be nice if they could benefit from Google's money. Click here to vote for enhancing science and engineering education partly through the use of lego robotics programs in schools. The deadline is tomorrow. Vote now!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


I'm sick. I dont like being sick. I'm sure I have H1N1 since Avery just got over having it. I dont see any reason to go to the doctor since they cant really do anything except tell you to ride it out since it's a virus. This is the second day that I've stayed home from school. Staying home is more difficult than just being there. There are so many things that I need to get done at school and lessons that I want to teach, but cant really have a sub do. My Biology kids are right in the middle of a lab and I cant have them finish until I get back because I cant have them doing lab with a sub there. BLAH. It's such a pain to be sick. I feel worse today than I did yesterday, more symptoms, new symptoms.

Fortunately Avery is doing much better and is back to school today. He still has somewhat of a cough, but that's about it. He was sick for 6 days and missed three days of school. Those are the first days he's missed for being sick since moving here.

Right now I miss Taboo alot. Normally he would curl up on the couch with me and keep me warm when I am sick. Normally he would be here with me if I was spending the whole day at home feeling miserable.

In other news...I bought are tickets to Texas for Christmas break. Yay!

That's it...there are other things to say, but right now I just want to go lay down.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

It got me

Last night, I had the first inklings that I might be sick. I tried to deny it, I tried to fight it. As today progresses, I feel worse and worse. There's no denying it...I'm sick. I dont want to be. I hate being sick. There are so many things that I need to get done today and all I want to do is lay down and rest. This sucks! And it's just starting, I'm sure it will get much worse before it gets better. Since Avery is just getting over the swine flu, I'm sure that's what I have too. And I'm sure that I will end up much sicker than Avery did cause that's just the way it works out. Blah!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Saturday morning

My Saturday mornings are shaping up to have a pretty consistent routine these days. And I'm really enjoying it! I've been making Saturday (esp. Sat. morning) all about me time. The best part of the morning is getting up naturally and not having to wake up to the most horrid sound in the world...the alarm clock. Saturday morning is the one and only day that I can wake up without it...that alone gets my morning off to a great start. Usually I wake up awhile before Avery, which gives me some quiet time to myself. I usually start the morning by opening all the blinds and letting some natural light in while I do yoga. I have really come to enjoy doing yoga on saturday mornings. It really makes me feel great for the rest of the day...peaceful and relaxed. Looking out the window this morning is a picture of fall. The leaves are all yellow and falling to the ground in surrender to the chill in the air. It's dreary and rainy today too, but in a very calming, relaxing, 'today is going to be a lazy day' way. After yoga, I usually brew up some coffee and sit lazily with whatever book I'm reading. Today I spent some time reading my new 1 year bible and I really enjoyed it. Then I usually do some blogging and have breakfast once Avery wakes up. There's usually some laundry thrown in there somewhere as well. Then I get around for the day and take a hot, leisurely shower (i'd take a bath, but we dont have a tub in our apt this year). Next comes the Saturday morning/early afternoon mail run. Avery and I go check the mail and do whatever other errands need doing. The rest of my day is usually just as laid back, regardless of what I'm up to. Then I have Tango class in the evening, which is where I must head off to now. I hope all of you have had a pleasant Saturday morning.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Raven song

Turn your sound up to hear it. It is also raining, so there's some background noise.

This raven is making the weirdest sounds that I've ever heard one make. We have alot of ravens here in Bethel. They are the town terrorists...they get in the trash and spread it everywhere. They are dirty scavengers. They are also huge. I bet this one is the size of a small dog. There is a Yupik legend that describes the raven as being the messenger of death. It says that if a raven follows you and talks to you, that you are going to die soon. Or something like that.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I got skipped!

Remember I was saying how awful I felt on Monday and that I was really hoping that I wasnt going to end up with the flu since sooooooooo many people have it? Well, I didnt. I admit that I didnt feel well most of the week, but today I felt fine...great, even. But Avery, on the other hand, has been infected by the H1N1 virus. :) He came to me after school on Wednesday and said he really wasnt feeling well and just wanted to go home rather than going to wrestling practice. I immediately knew he was sick if he wanted to miss wrestling. When we got home, his temp was about 101 degrees. His temp gradually rose over the course of the evening even though I was dosing him with Tylenol. It topped out at 103 this afternoon and I started flipflopping him on doses of Tylenol and Ibuprofen just to keep his temp down around 101. We finally went to the doctor and they did the nasal swab to confirm the flu. And those were his words...you have the flu. NOT you have the swine flu...NOT you have the H1N1 flu...just you have the flu. Thank you!

So...we took a trip to the grocery for some chicken noodle soup. Avery has been veggin' out in bed or on the couch all day. His symptoms arent really that bad. I little congestion and the fever, but that's about it. He has been begging me to let him go to school (he hates messing up his perfect attendance and not being able to go to wrestling practice), but doctor says no way. Have to wait until 24 hours after the fever breaks. They gave him an antiviral and told him that he should be good for Monday. By then, I'll probably have it. Booooooo!