Monday, September 26, 2011


September has been another busy month.  We both thought that we would have more free time here, but work has once again consumed us.  Having keys to the school does not help someone who is a workaholic. 

The girls are adjusting well.  Claire loves her teacher.  She loves studying math and science!!  She has made some really good friends as well as Cate.  Cate is enjoying preschool.  She is going by her first name, Ella, at school.  We thought she needs to get use to using her formal name rather than a nickname.  She likes being called Ella.  Some of the kids in the village call her Cate and some call her Ella.  We have tons of kids at her house each day.  We love this because it was one of the things we hoped for when we moved here.

We got a dog!!  Her name is Mocha.  She is two years old and is half dachshund and half husky.   She looks like the native muskox found here.  She definitely takes after a husky in the fact that she loves to run.  We are all becoming very attached to her.

We bought our first native Eskimo art this month.  We bought a walrus tusk carving of seals on a mammoth tooth.  I also bought an ornament and barrette made from seal fur.  My friend AnnMarie made me a traditional Eskimo shirt called a kuspuck.

What's a muskox??  We have herds of reindeer, caribou, moose and muskox around here.  Muskox are a cross between a cow and ox.  They have upside down horns and are very hairy.  Our neighbor killed one and these pictures are of the remains. 

There is no need for a car here, but an ATV...well that's another story.  We bought a Yamaha Grizzly 750, which is now our new family car.  You want believe how many people you can fit on an ATV!  The Grizzly is mostly for John, who has become a fan of riding out onto the Tundra.

I have traveled to many beaches around the world, and have never once found a starfish.  Who would have thought that I would find a rocky beach covered with them in Northern Alaska.  We have collected tons of these awesome creatures.  We have found tiny starfish all the way to large ones.  I never get tired of collecting them.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On your mark, get set, go!!

The school year has officially begun, and we feel we are running a marathon.  We always feel this way at the beginning of the year, but this year is different because I am teaching a new grade level and John is teaching six different classes.  We have been working, working, working!

 Claire started second grade, and is adjusting well.  She loves her teacher, Miss Amy, and she is fitting in with her classmates.  She misses our house and her grandparents, but she did say that she liked it here.  Claire loves the nature!  She has gone berry picking,  has tried dried fish, found a couple of starfish, rode on 4 wheelers, and continues to add to a massive rock collection.

Cate started preschool on August 31.  She is loving her teacher, Mrs. Liz!  It also helps that we know Liz and have eaten at her house several times before school started.  Cate enjoys all the attention she gets from the other kids.  They love carrying her and playing with her hair.  Cate also has made good friends with a student in my class who is a sweetie named Grace.  We had to take Cate to the clinic to have a tb test for school.  She was not happy, and screamed so loud the whole village probably heard her.

I am teaching first grade this school year.  I have 12 sweeties!  Two are identical twins who usually dress the same each day.  The only way I can tell them a part is by a freckle above the eye that one twin has. I am learning a new reading program, which is taking me sometime to figure out.  I have a smart board in my classroom, which is also something I am having to learn, but I love it.  I have a para pro who helps me all day!!  This would be unheard of in Georgia!  Her name is Pauline, she is a local, and she is awesome!!  I am also learning Eskimo words and facial expressions.  When you ask a question, if the response is yes, they raise their eyebrows.  If the response is no, they scrunch their noses.  I have found myself doing this as well.

John is loving the outdoors!  He and several other teachers have set a net to catch salmon.  Our freezer has several bags of fresh Salmon we filleted ourselves.  Fresh salmon is sooooooooooooo good.  Our kids even love it!  John is struggling with prepping for all the different classes he is teaching.  We both feel there is not enough time in the day to plan. 

The people here are great!  The village has been so welcoming.  It is nice to go to the store and people know your name.  The teachers here are also super.  We have made great friends with our neighbor, Jennifer, who is from Washington state.  She is the English/ Social Studies teacher for the upper grades.  We love her, our kids love her, and she makes living here so much fun!  We also love the Rudstroms who are from Minnesota, the Anderson's from Oregon, the Alston's from Idaho/Washington, John Lycan from West Virginia, Greg Melvin from Oklahoma, Karen and Alan from Oregon, Hannibal, our principal, from Montana, and Amy Norman who makes me feel like I am at home every time I talk to her because she is a southern belle from Georgia too!

 Ginger who is also a teacher at the school, has lived in the village for more than 20 years.  Her husband is the Lutheran pastor, and they have raised four children here.  Their oldest daughter Abby has been baby sitting for us.  She watches Cate in the morning until 10:30, when it is time for her school to begin.  She has been a blessing for us!!