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

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Balls

 We got the scoop from some local people about where to go to see Christmas lights.  The lady that cut my hair told me about this neighborhood with the Christmas balls.  Christmas Balls?  Yes, you just have to see it.
It was pretty amazing to see these lit up balls hanging from all the trees in the neighborhood.  Very different and unique. Definitely worth driving around to see it!  I have a video that does it more justice, but it wont load just now.  I'll try again soon!  Merry Christmas from Cali!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas in Cali!!!

 We got off the plane and headed straight to Venice beach.  We had breakfast at a nice little outdoor open air diner with the view above.
 Then we spent the day walking the boardwalk from Venice beach up to Santa Monica pier.
 We enjoyed the walk in shorts and tank tops although most of the other people around us wore coats and scarves.
There were plenty of surfers enjoying the water.

 Before heading to bed that night, we took a walk from the hotel down the street to the 7-11 a couple blocks over to get a Slurpee.  We have to enjoy our chance to have a Slurpee when we can.
 New Year's Eve we spent the evening walking around Universal City Walk.  We watched the Hobbit in 3D at the IMAX theatre and had a good night.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Best Presentation!

 The robotics team this year won for their Sherlock Holmes video!  After all of the extra work the students put in on getting their programming working before the tournament, one of the kids dropped the robot and all the programs were shot.  Their video did win for presentation due to the hard work and effort of the team and our hard working video editor!  At least I can say that one person on the team learned a whole lot about video editing over the course of our season.
I think I'll take a break from coaching next year, particularly if the tournament is on the same weekend as the state wrestling tournament like it was this year.  While I was at the robotics tournament in Bethel with my students, Avery was at the state wrestling tournament with the wrestling team.  He placed third!  Can you believe it?!?!?!  3rd in the state...pretty awesome!  Go Avery!  Third this year, state champion next year!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Region Champ!

 On his birthday weekend, Avery was crowned Region 1 Champion!!!!  He had a great birthday and went undefeated the entire tournament.  He will travel to the state tournament next weekend.  Good luck, Avery!
In addition to Avery rockin' the mat this weekend, the Bethel team took state again for the third year in  a row!!!  They have been state champs all 3 of Avery's high school years.  Congratulations Bethel Warriors!

Monday, December 03, 2012

17 years!

Is is really possible that Avery could be 17 years old already?!?!?!?!?!?  He had to learn some tough lessons during his 17th year, but I have a feeling that this 18th year will be one full of good memories.  He has big plans for this year and many things on the list of things to accomplish.

Right now he has a baby for his personal life skills class.  The baby has a computer chip in it that tracks all of the activity.  He did surprisingly good with it although there were a couple of meltdown moments.  It has been fun to watch him grow and learn over the last few months.   Being a parent is still the most challenging thing I've ever done in my life, but it has also been the most rewarding.   He is becoming a man whether he likes it or not.  Less than a year and he'll legally be an adult!!!!!  Unbelievable!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Like usual, we enjoyed Thankgiving dinner at Ma and Pa Harris's house.  Good food, but especially good friends make Thanksgiving a great day.  It is the good friends that really make Bethel a great place to be.  If it weren't for great people/friends, I dont think I would have been able to tolerate living in such a remote place for so long.  This year, most of those people are talking about leaving next year. Bethel will feel very empty without good friends to fill it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Apple crisp

I got a load of apple in my Full Circle Farms box this week and am planning to make something for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I think I've just about perfected my apple crisp recipe so I guess that's what I'll do.  Being in Bethel has definitely made me a better cook.  I've always enjoyed cooking, but I feel much more intuitive about cooking and ingredient choice.  In the past I've been good at following recipes, but now I can easily open the refrigerator and cupboard to find something to whip together.  I have enjoyed my newfound ability to combine ingredients with success.

Oh...the things I've learned by living in Bethel!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Sherlock Holmes

When choosing a project for robotics, my students decided to research the use of nanobots in clearing blood clots from veins and arteries.  Then they had to choose a way to present their project to the judges...a unique and entertaining way to present their idea.  At the time I was listening to the Sherlock Holmes stories on my ipod and had shared that with the students.  They ran with the idea and decided to create their own version of Sherlock Holmes.  We gathered costumes and they wrote a script, then we spent a couple of days filming.  It was ridiculous and fun...we had a great time filming it!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Number 15: Experiment with bean cooking

 Garbanzo's soaking for hummus.
 Crockpot full of lentil soup.
This is the bean mixture that I've used a few times with veggies as a side dish.  It turns out good!  I've also used dried beans for the first time ever in chili and have plans to do my own baked beans from scratch sometime soon.

Number 19: Hunt and Identify Mushrooms

Every year when I go out berry picking I see lots and lots of mushrooms.  I've always wanted to take some time to try to identify some of them.  I friend lent me this really great, totally 80's mushroom guide.  It has a dichotomous key in it which makes it much easier to identify unknown varieties.  The difficult thing about trying to identify mushrooms in this area though, is that many of the species are unknown.  Some species are very similar to the species in this and other books, but they are really never spot on.  The other thing about mushroom identification is that their are many varieties of mushrooms that can have nearly the exact same characteristics, but one is edible and the other is poisonous.  That's the part that makes it nearly impossible to ever really feel okay with eating any of the mushrooms because you never really are certain about your identification.  The only mushrooms that I certain I can identify correctly every time is called the shrimp mushroom.  It is edible, but I'm still leery about eating it.  Maybe next year I'll start with just a little nibble, then work my way up from there.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Still Wrestling

Avery is still wrestling.  His season is going well.  He's seeded 6th in the state which is actually down from 4th a couple weeks ago after he had a "down" week.  He made it to the finals at the big Bethel Tourny last weekend.  He lost by points in the finals round to a kid that he has beat several times in the past.  Somehow, he lost a chunk of skin on his knuckle during the match and was bleeding all over the place.  They had to stop the match several times for blood.  They wrapped his finger, but it was clearly distracting him during the match.  This weekend he is in Nikiski.  His record for the year is 17-8 so far. He is hoping to place at state this year and get his name mounted on the wall.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween!

After that week when the Packers got screwed out of a win by those replacement refs, I knew what I was going to be for Halloween.  A blind replacement ref!!!  Avery reused his costume from 7th grade and was a parasitic twin.  He also went trick or treating for the first time in many, many years.   And he even gave me all of his Reece's.  I handed out candy for the first time in many years, but only have about 10 kids all night.  It was a fun halloween.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Puppy Play Date

 Ryder had a puppy friend over last week.  He is the only gray hound that I know of in town.  I thought they would play well together since they are both big, energetic dogs.

I took them out to the park and let them run and chase each other for awhile and they were ready for a nap when we got home.  I have had many people tell me that Ryder looks like he could have Gray Hound in him.  Seeing Ryder and Decky together makes me wonder if this might actually be the case.  They look so much alike and have such similar body shapes.  All the way down to the long tail with the white tip at the end.
They do have differently shaped muzzles though because Ryder is likely yellow lab too.  I really want to get one of these doggy DNA tests to see what Ryder really is.  I'm just so curious.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Just Desserts

 Just Desserts is a local fundraising event where people donate desserts to be sold by the slice, sold whole, and auctioned at silent and live auctions.  It is also a live concert.  Various local talent perform on stage.  They sing and dance and do comedy acts.  This has traditionally been one of our favorite events to go to every year.
 A whole big group of us get together and get a big table and all sit together and share our desserts.  Everybody gets to try everything!  This year, we celebrated a couple of birthdays while we were there. I went early and decorated the table with balloons and wrapping paper.
 It was a good time.  The musical numbers vary in their greatness, but we have fun through the good acts and the bad.  This year they were mostly good.
 The money that is raised goes to the BRHS Passport Club which is travelling to Germany this summer.    I always try to donate something.  This year I made a hummingbird cake with painted frosting.  It was easy to make the cake and frosting, but then actually frosting the thing was a little more difficult.  It took a ton of frosting to get it covered and I ended up making a second batch.
 Painting the frosting was alot of fun and something I'd definitely like to do again sometime.  It turned out beautiful.  My cake sold for $55 which realistically is not much more than it cost to make it here in Bethel.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Filling the Freezer

This year is the first year ever that I dont have any salmon put up in the freezer.  I was really stressing over how we were going to be able to afford to fill the freezer this winter with all that empty space.  One of my friends put our names on the moose call list.  Basically if someone has moose that needs to be claimed, they call you and you have to come get it right away.  My friend doesnt have a car so we agreed to split the meat if I would be the driver.  We got the call one evening and went straight out to get it.  The meat was from some Lower 48 hunters who got a big bull moose, but couldnt take all the meat back home with them.  They gave us two big 50 pound bags of meat.  I took one and my friend took the other.  After two days of processing it, I ended up with a freezer full of clean, processed, packaged meat ready to go for the winter.  What a major stress reliever!!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Blood Drive

For the last two years, my Medical Terminology class has participated in the Blood Drive in Bethel.  These are also the first years that there has even been a blood drive in Bethel because the logistics of having a blood drive in a remote place like this is pretty difficult.  I always like to get to donate because I have A- blood.  Anything - is pretty high need for transfusions and such.  I really like to have the opportunity to provide this experience to my students.  I hope the sense of giving back to the community with stick with them throughout adulthood.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


When you live in a place where materials are expensive and hard to come by, recycling becomes important.  Building and houses are often moved from one location to another.  In fact, just a few days ago I saw an ad for a house for sale for a really decent price, but it turned out that the price was so good because you had to move it off of the lot so you were only buying the house and not the land with it.  
There arent very many other things to do so following a moving building down the road may be the most interesting thing that happens in awhile.  There was a long line of kids hanging around the building watching its slow progression through the busiest part of town during the busiest part of the day.  There were cars cutting through the grocery store parking lot to get around it.  Interesting thing to see and a small reminder of what an interesting place this is to live.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Number 16: Read a Stephen Kind novel

It took about 6 weeks, but I was finally able to finish reading The Stand by Stephen King.  I asked many people for suggestions on which Stephen King book I should read and there were many people who suggested The Stand.  I really enjoyed reading the book and thought that King's writing style was very interesting.  It was a very long novel, but very engaging.  Some people would say that the book was slow and that it did not have very much action.  The foundation of the book definitely focuses on character development and the action happens subtly between the characters.  There really is no major, outright action.  The action is based on the interactions between characters and the core struggle of every human being to decide where they STAND.

First CC Medal

 Avery has been running cross country this year.  It's his new found passion.  He likes to run. 
 The Bethel invitational is held in the sand pit and is known to be the hardest course in the region. 
 Avery ran hard and held fifth place for almost the entire race, the in the last 100 yards, he put the kid in front of him in his sights.  
 He kicked it into high gear and passed him right before crossing the finish line.   It was the most exciting finish of the whole race.  Even though I only had about half of my voice, I still did alot of yelling and screaming.  I might not even have a voice left tomorrow. 
 Overall, he came in 4th place in the tournament and will be travelling to the regional competition next weekend in King Salmon.
It was his first CC medal and I'm so proud of him.  He pushed himself hard and his hard work paid off. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A little dog visitor

My most recent foster dog was a friendly and cute Beagle mix.  Unfortunately, this is the first foster dog that I havent been able to find a home for and we ended up sending him in to Anchorage for placement there.  I've really enjoyed helping with the Bethel Friends of Canines when I can!  There are so many less dogs on the streets of Bethel.  It's wonderful!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

God's gift to cinnamon rolls

Last year for my birthday, my friend gave me some real vanilla extract that she had made.  That day was the day that I learned what I'd been missing by buying the fake stuff.  I'll never be able to go back to the fake stuff again.  That was the day my homemade sourdough cinnamon rolls got the frosting they deserved.  And who knew that making your own vanilla extract was so easy and inexpensive?  This fall my friend gave me a jar of cinnamon extract, but I couldnt wait to have some more REAL vanilla so I gave making it a shot.  All it takes is 6 vanilla beans for every cup of vodka, a cool dark place, and about 6 months.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Puppy

I've really been enjoying being home with my puppy.  He's such a good dog!  I was expecting to come home to this big, over grown dog, but he's really not that much bigger than when I left.  He's such a funny puppy.  He bounces up and down when he wants food.  He throws his squeaky toys around the living room and pounces on them.  He's great for cuddling up with on the couch for a movie.  He thinks he fits in a little dog bed, but he really doesnt.  He's a funny dog.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


 Home is where you can dress up as a superhero and play golf in a gigantic sandpit just for fun.  
And no one will judge you.
In fact, they'll join you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A little time with a little man

Before heading back to Alaska, I was able to squeeze in a few extra hours with this little guy.  I just sat and held him for a long, long time.  The next time I see him, he'll be nearly a year old and so much bigger.  Time goes by way to fast.  I cant wait to see him next summer!!!  Oh...Kas...I have an idea...how about you and Ricky go on your honeymoon next summer and the boys can stay with me!!!!   Yes...good plan!  Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Wedding Bells

The grand finale of my summer was the wedding of Sadie and Ben Priem.  It was a perfect day!  It was sunny and the perfect temperature.  The bride had the perfect summer wedding dress and the groom sported a pair of sweet shades.  The wedding was beautiful and the reception was perfect.  The bride and groom arrived at the reception on the back of a shiny Harley Davidson.  There was a big tent and all the family was together, including a few members of the Bethel family.  There was a ton of food and it was all the best summer BBQ stuff.  Seriously, the best corn on the cob EVER; somebody said it was Amish corn.  We sat by the fire late at night and Ben cooked us breakfast in the morning.  It was really a great way to end a great summer!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Camping around Michigan

 Angie, Avery, and I took a 10 day camping trip that started along the SW coast of Michigan and covered nearly all of the state except the UP and the SE/Detriot area.  We covered alot of ground on our trip and saw alot of what Michigan had to offer.
 At Silver Lake, Avery decided to bury me in the sand and Angie crashed her quad in the dunes.
 At Sleeping Bear, we climbed the dunes and saw an amphibious car drive through the lake.
 Avery ran all the way across the dune to the lake and back.
 We checked out the beautiful northern shore and bought tea from the only organic tea farm in North America.
 In Mackinaw City, we got rained on for the first time during our trip.
 So, we built a tarp city and played cards and dice and enjoyed each others company.
 Except Avery who mostly sat in the rain with his phone in a plastic bag and texted.
The camping trip ended with a wedding in Bay City, Michigan, but I'll save that for another post.