Friday, May 30, 2008

Soldotna, Day 2

Believe it or not, C.O.’s Uncle Al and his friend Chuck from the North Shore in Minnesota, were in Alaska and staying near Soldotna doing some fishing. So, we took Saturday morning to drive down to the campground he was staying at to say hello. It was nice to visit, have some lunch and hear a little about their fishing.

In the evening, we drove with Lyndi, Michael and Ellsi to Kenai to check out the local market and walk a little on the Kenai Beach. Harold enjoyed throwing rocks in the water and even eating a few. We had planned to fly kites but oddly enough the wind was not blowing. I guess this rarely happens. But lucky for us, when we got back to the Miller’s home, where we planned to BBQ, there, the wind was blowing like crazy and dancing in circles. But we all braved the winds and ate very quickly.

I guess the sound of the waves put Ellsi to sleep.

I think Harold could throw rocks in the water all day long.

Soldotna, Alaska

We drove down to Soldotna in the afternoon making our way through the Chugach Mountains to see our friend’s Lyndi and Michael. We also got to see their beautiful little girl, Ellsi. Harold felt the urge to give her a kiss on a regular basis. We plan to use the kissing photo to embarrass them in about 10 years from now.

Shortly after dropping our things off at their house, we drove over to some relative's home where Lyndi’s grandparents homesteaded in the 1950s. Their first meal in Alaska, on May 30th, was chicken and mash potatoes. So every May 30th they have a family get together and eat chicken and mash potatoes. It was yummy and fun to be a part of their family tradition. Lyndi’s family is 100% Finnish and proud of it. They reminded me so much of the Lindula side of the family that I felt like I was at home, not 2500 miles away in Alaska. To really emphasize the fact that we were at a Finnish gathering, we all took a sauna, even Harold. Aunt Carol was proud that their sauna would be the place of Harold’s first sauna. At first he was kind of nervous about the whole thing, but after he was given some water to splash in, he warmed up to the sauna experience. We didn’t torture him by dunking him in the lake, just being outside without any clothes on was bad enough. What a great night!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Alaska Railroad

We left Fairbanks on the Alaska Railroad. We thought taking a nice slow train ride through the country would be a nice way to experience the scenery between Fairbanks and Anchorage. It really was a great trip. Trains are nice because you’re welcome to walk around as much as you’d like. This is a bonus when you have an active toddler. Harold had a nice time on the train. He wore his engineer’s hat, which looked adorable and got him some extra attention from the other passengers. We sat in quite a few cars throughout the trip but our favorite was the “Tiki Railcar”.

Seemed strange to have a Tiki Bar on an Alaskan railway, but the bar tender said it had been purchased from a train in Florida, so there you go. It had some fake palm trees that had little clear stones near the base. Harold had a great time carrying those stones around, putting them back and then picking them out again. The rocking motion of the train also made nap time pretty easy. We spent a total of 12 hours on the train but it went fairly quick. We had dinner in the dinning car, talked with a few people, got to see Denali (it was a clear enough day so we could see all the way to the top), saw some wild life and many spectacular views. I highly recommend the trip.

Once in Anchorage, we picked up our rental car and stayed with our friend Crystal. We had a chance to catch up and introduce her to Harold.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We made it into Fairbanks. It was a close one. It had been snowing in Brevig for the past couple days and the cloud cover was pretty low, both in Nome and in Brevig. But fortunately we did make it into Nome with only a small delay. Once we arrived in Nome we caught our connecting flight to Fairbanks. That plane had to be de-iced before we took off. It's the end of May Mother Nature! Our short flight into the interior made a world of difference in the weather. It is 55 degrees, not a heat wave by any means but very comfortable and everything around here is so green. Many lovely shades of green. It makes me happy.
Our friend Lesa picked us up at the airport and brought us to her house. Her family has been just great to us. They are feeding us, letting us borrow a car and are putting us up in their R.V. Right now their watching Harold so C.O. and I can get out a bit without him and later today are taking us on a boat ride down the river that runs through the city. Aren't they lovely people?

Harold is having a great time so far. There are so many new things for him to explore. Sometimes he sits in quiet wonder, which is a very unusual state for him. He is also working on eating his weight in fresh fruit. Here's a photo of him playing with the Meath Family Dog, Maggie.

As we start on our summer vacation and see all the time spread out before us, we realize why we are living this lifestyle. Can't beat two full months off together as a family.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Intense Week

It's been a pretty intense week for those of us working in Unalakleet. I got some photos that I think really captured my (and perhaps my co-workers') mood as I progressed through the week.

Beginning of the Week

Middle of the Week

End of the Week

Picture of the Day

This one's too cute to keep to ourselves.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Work Week

A few educators from around the Bering Straits region flew into Unalakleet early this week for an optional work time. Like so many things out here, professional work weeks are bit different than what most people are used to attending. First of all, without any hotels available, we all stay in the school, sleep on air mattresses, and get to spend A LOT of time together.
Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to create rubrics to further explain the standards we use to teach students. The district uses a wiki site to host our rubrics, lesson ideas, resources etc. Anyone in the world can add ideas to the site.

We are working in groups based on subject area. I'm working as a part of the math team. Here's my groupies.

Within our group we split up into our age specialties. I've primarily been working with Anna from Elim. Here we are with our game faces on.

Throughout the week, groups are sure to share their work with others to receive feedback and encouragement.

In the evenings, we get time to hangout, play (instead of work) on our computers and bond.

There are some parts of this system that can be tiresome. Being in the same building, morning, noon and night is exhausting. Sleeping in classrooms and showering in the locker rooms is not always so comfortable. But alas, it's the price we pay for teaching in such a great place.

Here's the crew.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Picture of the Day

I have decided to try to post one photo a day. So far they have all been new photos, but I didn't take any good pictures today (besides the one that AnnMarie already posted). So I guess I will have to use an old photo on occasion.

Have you ever seen a wheel with 3 lug nuts?

Court Appearance

C.O. and I had a court date set for today. The business at hand was to finalize Harold's adoption in Alaska. It was all complete in Guatemala but needed to be done in the U.S. as well. Fortunately, we were not required to be at the Nome courtroom in person. We were able to do everything over the phone. We rose when the judge entered, raised our right hands, took an oath, the whole bit. Everything went just fine and one of the final stages in Harold's adoption is close to completion.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Picture of the Day

"Helping" dad with the dishes.

Balancing Love and Jam

The past couple weekends I've been helping to clean out the freezer by using up the last of our berries. Too many wild berries is a good problem to have, me thinks. I decided to make jam out of the blueberries and syrup out of the cranberries. We've had the syrup a few times now. It turned out yummy. Not too sweet and not too tart, that's the balance I'm trying to achieve with jams etc. As C.O. and I to do a taste test during the cooking process, he errs on the side of tart and I err on the side of sweet so it usually turns out just right. That's why we're a good pair, we balance each other (and our preserves) out. Here's a picture of the "fruits" of my labor. I end up giving a lot of it away. One family cannot reasonably consume that much in a year.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Paul's Visit

This weekend our friend Paul Hamilton paid a visit to Brevig Mission and was able to stay with us for a few days. Paul and I taught together for 3 years and he has since moved on to Portland to attend grad school. We learned that he is enjoying his new title as a "Spencorian" =), yes it's obscure and is not exactly a self proclaimed title. He recently had the opportunity to travel to London to meet with a Cambridge professor about his essay on Spencor's epic poem, "The Faerie Queene". Sounds impressive huh?

Paul was invited to be the graduation speaker for the senior class and did a great job. You can read more about it here.

It was nice to catch up with him and get a dose of the Paul we came to know and love. =) Here's some photos I snapped when Paul was deep in thought while talking with C.O. and I. I think they capture him well.

Hope our paths cross again soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy Moders D_e

I got this note on my desk yesterday. I must say it is pretty stellar writing for a kindergarten student.

"Happy Modrs Da_e Amree"


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spring Time in the Arctic

It is spring time here in Brevig and everyone is getting ready to out walrus hunting and going to spring camp. We are on a large bay called Port Clarence. Because it is protected the ice stays here longer than out on the ocean. The ocean ice is starting to breakup already but the ice in Port Clarance will probably last until the middle of June. To get out to the open water people tow their boats across the ice with a snowmachine. Sometimes people will stay out at camp (on an island) until all the ice melts, then the snowmachine is carried home in the boat.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Spring Has Sprung

The temperature hit 50 today. It's a great feeling when winter finally looses it's grip on us. Here's some photos we took when we went on a little family outing this evening. Notice the position of the sun in the sky. Photos were taken at about 9:00 p.m.