Saturday, November 16, 2013

Reflections are good for reflecting.

Today is one of the more beautiful days I've seen in Pilot. It snowed last night and is about 25 degrees. The river is starting to freeze up along the edges and there are huge chunks of ice floating down. I don't get out of the house during daylight very often now, as our day shortens, so I figured I better take advantage of today. 

The sun rise was beautiful this morning.
This is at about 10:30, out our guest bedroom window. 

I had a friend join me on my walk down to the river. 

A perfect reflection.

When I got down to the river today it was so beautiful I didn't want to leave, so I just kept walking. While out on my walk I realized that since the water is so much lower the cliff that usually keeps us from walking any further along the river was no longer submerged, so I walked around it and just kept on walking! It was awesome to see some new territory, and it was even more beautiful than where I had started… Here are the pictures from my discovery:

The shadows are blue.

Here are some pictures out our living room window of the river and the village. This place is so much more beautiful with a little dusting of snow. The houses are so bright and cheerfully colored, and when the snow covers up the mud it looks like a paradise. If only we didn't have those stupid power lines always photobombing my village pictures. 

I'm feeling really happy today. It could be the sunshine, or the snow, or just the fact that I got out of the house today and was able to be active and breath some fresh air.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Wild Weekend in Western Alaska

This last weekend was an eventful one. I really should be catching up on my sleep, but instead I'll catch ya'll up on our life!

It's starting to get cold around here, finally. The river is freezing up, and it has been snowing more regularly. I think this time it might finally stay, although today it rained after it snowed, but not enough to completely melt it. Here are some pictures from around the village this week.

On Thursday night our assistant principal came up to the house to tell us that due to some personal issues and politics, I would be chaperoning with Max for the middle school district wrestling tournament. I was super excited, because this was the first time I would be getting out of the village since we arrived! I was told to pack my bags, and to pack extra clothes because some bad weather was coming in (foreshadowing). I wrote sub plans for the second half of the day on Friday, because we were supposed to leave at 1:30. The weather came, and I ended up leaving at 3:00 with 8 kids, because only 9 people can fit on a caravan and Max had left earlier that morning with one more kid. We hurried up, drove up to the airstrip, and hopped on the plane. I realized I probably should have taken my airsickness medication when I got on the plane and the wind was already shaking it and it smelled like fuel. I coached five 7th grade girls through putting on their seat belts, and we were on our way. TURBULENCE. Holy cow, we were flying all over the place. The girls were screaming like we were going to die, or like we were on a roller coaster. It was a short trip, but about 5 minutes before we landed one of the girls woke up from her nap and promptly puked all over the aisle of the plane until we landed. When we landed the pilot looked back with disdain in his eyes and handed the poor girl a roll of paper towels.

I just wrote 2 paragraphs with the gory details of the weekend, then realized I probably shouldn't post it because it could come back to haunt us, but long story short, there were some serious discipline issues.

The face-off before championship matches. 

While we were in Scammon Bay there was some the worst flooding in recent history, which resulted in a sunken boat, 5 boats that floated away, a shipping container that floated away, like 30 propane tanks that settled on the runway, a flooded runway, and a pod of confused beluga whales who also almost ended up on the runway. When we woke up in the morning, the day we were supposed to go home, we found out that the FAA had closed the runway until it was repaired. Max, being the wonderful guy that he is, gathered up the boys on the team and headed down to the runway to see what he could do to help. He and the boys spent 2 hours picking up the mess, moving boats, and walking around in the snow. By the end of the day, we were able to get out of the village. Max sent me with the same 8 kids, headed home on a caravan, and he and another wrestler waited around for a 207. I thought we were in the clear, but I was wrong.

Normally that is all tundra, not water… 

He works out. 

Bering Sea flooding

Scammon Bay

That boat shouldn't be on the airstrip.

Sunrise @ 10:30

Diesel spill

About half way to Pilot the pilot radio'ed back to me and asked if it was okay that we land in Saint Mary's because there was bad weather in Pilot. I said that was fine, and figured we'd have to land for a while and then we'd get home. Wrong again. The pilot radio'ed back again about 2 minutes later, and said Saint Mary's was now out of the question, and our option was to either go back to Scammon, or land in Mountain Village. Again, still thinking we'd get home, I told the pilot to go to Mountain, because it was closer and I didn't want to turn around and go all the way back. Wrong again. We landed in Mountain and the Assistant Principal picked us up and let us know that we'd be sleeping in the library. A few hours later, Max and his other wrestler randomly showed up. I didn't think I'd have any help, so I was incredibly relieved.

We spent our third night on the floor, and were starting to feel the bruises in our old hips. We woke up bright and early Monday morning, after having emailed my lesson plans in for a sub to teach my class. About 10 minutes after we had woken up, and before some of the girls even got out of bed, they came in and told us our plane would be there in 20 minutes. Thank goodness! After a few more minor mis-haps, I flew co-pilot in the 207 with the 2 kids who wanted to go home the most, and Max and the rest of the team followed suit about 20 minutes later. We made it into Pilot, after an awesome fly-by and corkscrew landing, no one puked, and our pilot didn't even text and fly like he usually does.

When I got back, I called into school, incredibly tired, but the sub wasn't cutting it so I got asked to come in as soon as I could. When I got back, I was shocked to see… All my supplies were still where I left them, the kids were mostly happy to see me, and they actually listened to me once I reminded them that their teacher was back. That felt really good. It is starting to feel like I have better control over them as a whole. There are still those few outliers, who get sent home regularly for pulling doors out of door frames, or punching instructional assistants, but as a whole, they have been quite manageable.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Trying to be Thankful…

I know that November is a month about being thankful for all that we have, and I have so much to be thankful for…

I am thankful for having a loving family that taught me to be a respectful and kind adult through modeling those behaviors from day one.

I am thankful for having someone by my side day in and day out who understands my frustrations, and helps me to be positive even when I don't want to be.

I am thankful for a job that pays me enough so that I can live how I want to, regardless of how frustrating that job might be at times.

I am thankful for the opportunity to live somewhere so different from the place I call home, and I am thankful for all that I am learning while we're up here.

I am thankful for being home in my warm house, after a good day at school, but a very frustrating evening.

On another note....

Max and I have been encouraged to partake in cultural gatherings by many people, especially the postmaster, Abe. He is one of the elders who is in charge of eskimo dancing. This is what eskimo dancing is, even though its from a different area:

By the way, today was a beautiful day, and Max and I had a wonderful afternoon walking around in the sunshine. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A list of things I miss, and other updates too

(In no particular order)

1. My dog

2. Cheap food
3. Beer
4. My family
5. Woahink
6. Fingernail polish remover
7. My Chacos

8. Temperatures above 30 degrees
9. The clothes I left behind
10. My pony
11. Fingernail polish remover

In other news…

Quarter 1 is done! Our conferences are on Monday, which means Monday and Tuesday are both short days! I haven't met many of my students parents, which means I sort of don't know what to expect but I hope that some of them show…
I also finally got a social studies curriculum, which is nice because I was really struggling teaching Alaska state history, having never been in Alaska and having never taken an Alaska state history class myself.

Overall, my classroom is getting a bit easier to manage. I've had some help from the administration, and the principal gave me the go-ahead to go super strict on my class. The first day that I implemented it, kids didn't believe that I was serious, and by the end of the day I had 5 kids that had been sent home. Since then though, they believe me and have been giving me a little more respect.

Speaking of respect, one of my students punched another student's mom this week.

Halloween was great, other than having to teach kids on the day when all they can think about is candy. But we made it through! The kids all dressed up at the end of the day, and then we did a parade through the school where the 6th graders picked up the 5th graders, and then they all came and picked us up, and then the parade continued through all the other classrooms (except through kindergarden, who the parade leader forgot about) and into the gym. There were judges who picked the best costume from each grade, and everyone took the kids pictures. It was QUITE cute.
Around 4:00 the kids started swarming up the hill toward teacher housing, where they knew they would get the most candy. We went through 3 bags of candy, and saw some pretty cute kids, and some pretty greedy adults who had their 1 year old asking for candy, and also had a bag of their own to fill (like the kids candy wasn't for them also…).

Max and I were ninjas. He made me a duct tape sword. 

Looking at the weather widget on the side of this blog, it says that it feels like 3 degrees out, despite the fact that it's really only 26 degrees. I believe it, I just walked to the post office and the dry cold air hurt my nose. Our mudroom is officially an arctic room now, as it is about 20 degrees colder than the rest of the house. Thank goodness we have 2 doors, to keep the house a little bit warmer. This week the weather report has a low of 10 degrees, and it's also supposed to snow quite a bit in the next few days. I think we're about to have snow (for the rest of the year) finally. The natives are very confused about why it's still not snowy out. They're tired of rain, and melted snow. I'm excited to see some real snow, and some actual snow build up. Maybe we won't have to go down quite so many stairs from our house to get outside!

We're into November now, so maybe my next post will be something about me being thankful… Who knows though :)