The district-wide spelling bee was held in Brevig Mission this year. Schools from around the district sent three finalists each to represent their school at the spelling bee. The district plane was busy hauling students from fourteen different villages to Brevig Mission today. With the help of some students, the competition was broadcast over video conferencing equipment so parents and supporters from all the sites could tune in to cheer on their children.
C.O. was asked to be one of the judges for the bee. A tougher job than he at first expected. Sometimes the letters are spit out so quickly, it's tough to be sure of what exactly the contestant said. Fortunately, there weren't any controversial calls and it was a nice, enjoyable evening.
Early Sunday morning (1-23-10) C.O.'s Grandma Ginnie passed away. She had suffered a stroke the week before and did not recover. She was 93 years old. This is my memorial to her.
What do you say about a person once they're gone? The things that come to mind seem so trivial. For instance, Ginnie liked her toast burnt. When we inadvertently burn things, we call it "Grandma Ginny style". Her toasters never lasted very long since they were always cranked up so high. Why is that the first thing I think of? Toast of all things.
Baby blue, pink and lavender. I associate these colors with Virginia. She painted her world in pastels, her house is ablaze with blue, pink and purple and has been for years. It obviously made Ginnie happy. Her niece, Marcy, wrote a very touching letter one Christmas about her favorite aunt and how she admired the way Ginnie could use those colors to decorate. The letter was so well written, I'd like to see it again some day.
It's an understatement to say she had a most amazing memory. I had mentioned in a blog post last February about how simply hearing a phrase would jog her memory and start her singing a song. In the early days of dating C.O., I met some of his extended relatives. We ended up in the basement at Grandma Ginnie's house, while I lamely tried to pound out some tunes on the old pump organ, they were singing from a book of popular songs from decades gone by. All that to say, she knew each song by heart, even the second and third verses. Pop songs, hymns, poems and even silly ones her and her sisters had made up years ago would come back to her word for word.
Through the miracle of Facebook, I am connected with her great nephew, Brooks. After hearing of her passing, he shared this with me. "She had a wonderful spirit full of joy and song. I still remember some verses of a song she and her sisters wrote while awaiting rescue next to a leaking boat they had taken out on the lake--she taught me to the verses when I interviewed her and my grandmother for a 7th grade project. 'When you're sitting on top of a boat and you don't know how long it will float...what a thrill it would be a strong lifeguard to see... when you're sitting on top of a boat.' "
A few years back, we spent New Years Eve with C.O.'s parents and Grandma Ginnie. She was still living at home at the time and we decided to pull out the slide projector and look at her and Grandpa Charlie's old slides. There were pictures of holidays, their trips to the Caribbean and gatherings of friends and family. The funniest thing, the colors of the walls (light blue) and the way the furniture was set up was pretty much the same as it was the night we were viewing the slides.
Speaking of photo memories. I'm glad we captured this four generations photo last year at C.O.'s birthday gathering.
There are some memories that I experience second-hand from the stories C.O. tells and through old photographs. Like the time she took C.O. and his cousin out to Washington D.C. to see his Auntie Phyllis and to tour the sites, or how she would belt out "Up From the Grave He Arose" in the church choir on Easter Sunday. Stories like this will continue to surface from time to time. Now that she's gone, they'll be all the sweeter . . . trivial or not.
There were a few new roads built in Brevig this summer. The new roads have big metal guard rails just like you would see on a modern highway. There is really no need for them here, but I suppose it is some kind of federal traffic safety standard that says you have to have them.
Harold wishes that we didn't have the guard rails too. We now have a big crack to fix in his hood.
Our new place on the beach had a large steel pipe sticking out of the ground on one corner of the "yard". As soon as I saw it I thought that it should have some kind of decoration on top of it, a sign or something.
This last weekend I made a windmill to put on top of the pipe. I built it out of metal things that I salvaged from around the village. The blades are actually an old fan from one of the diesel generators that power the village. The tail is cut from the door of an old electric panel that I removed from our storage building. The shaft is made from and old snowmobile jackshaft spinning in bearings made from leftover sled runner plastic.
When the wind blows (seems like almost everyday) it looks great spinning around on the corner of our yard.
See that? There's the proof that we've achieved our goal. The goal being that Harold will eat and enjoy a variety of foods and not be a picky eater. Exposure to many foods, some mind games played by Mom and Dad and voila you have the above situation.
Harold has been on a carrot kick lately and way into his new Looney Tunes DVD boxed set that he got from his Dad. I'm not really sure if he loves carrots for the taste or because he is thinks Bugs Bunny is cool. Either way, some days we have to stop him from eating too many carrots so we can avoid an orange skin tone. It was pretty cute the first time he bit off a bite of carrot and asked, "What's Up Doc?" just like Bugs. We all had a good laugh over that one.
During one of his recent Looney Tunes sessions he requested some lettuce for a snack . . . actually requested it. "Well, I don't know Harold . . . I guess you can have one or two, but that's it until dinner," I said. Oh that statement's part of the whole mind game thing I was talking about. ; )
There they are, my lovely students for the current school year. I thought some of you might like to see the kids I am with all day. I have 10 students and a beautiful, spacious classroom. I love, love, love my classroom. I can't imagine finding a set up as amazing as this one anywhere else in the U.S.
Here we are proudly displaying the quilt we made in December. The students carefully painted Christmas themed picture in the squares with fabric paint and signed their names in the corners. The quilt was then given away at the school's annual Christmas program. I throw all of the kids' names in a hat, draw a name out and let the lucky winner gets to take it home. I do wish they could all have it. It's the 5th quilt I've done with my classes over the years and I just love how they turn out.
Andrea, to my left, is my classroom aide and my "right hand woman" so to speak. She keeps my days sane and is a huge help with the students. In fact, just today she took care of a poo situation that my stomach never could have handled. It's an understatement to say that I am very thankful for her.
You can see what's new at Brevig Mission School at our school blog. Check it out some time.
There he is, the big 3 year old. What a handsome, intelligent boy he's turning out to be. He has an active mind and an equally active body that can be exhausting but wonderfully entertaining. I'm excited to see all the changes year three will bring to his personality.
When I left for work in the morning, I said, "Bye Birthday Boy". Harold replied, "Bye Birthday Mom." He called me Birthday Mom a few more times throughout the day. =) There are a lot of duties that go along with being the Birthday Parents. The Birthday Mom did a mountain of cooking while the Birthday Dad cleaned, prepped the house and did the final food preparations for all our guests. But it was all worth it to see the excitement on Harold's face when our fourteen guests arrived. Harold spent a majority of the night jumping up and down or running from place to place. He was wired and very, very happy to say the least.
The coolest part of the party (for me) was that my parents and my grandma got to be there for the celebration. They joined in via Skype and saw Harold blow out his candles, they sang "Happy Birthday" with us and watched the gift opening. I LOVE when technology brings people together like that! I couldn't believe how natural it felt to have them "there". Needless to say, all the kids were pretty into it as well.
Since mid-December we have been without an internet connection at our house. After switching providers, we're back up and running. Yay!!! I'm secretly glad we were without service over Christmas vacation. It gave C.O. and I a chance to detox from our little addiction for a while. But it also meant that we were pretty skimpy on the blog posts. So, I apologize for the hodge podge of photos and story snippets but I wanted to document a few highlights from our Christmas in Alaska. I'm sure the grandparents will also appreciated a few Harold photos from the holidays.
Harold joined the other children to sing during the Christmas Eve church service. He didn't sing much but looked pretty cute just standing there.
Harold on Christmas morning with all of his loot. He was pretty stoked about his digital camera from Mom.
The week between Christmas Day and New Years Day is when Brevig hosts a variety of races (ATV races, three-legged, kids' foot races, adult sprint races, carry your wife etc.) during the day and Eskimo games and raffles in the evening. We were in Anchorage for a few days and therefore missed a majority of the games but were able to catch the festivities on New Year's Eve. The sled dog competition was held on the ocean ice right in front of our house. Harold and C.O. helped the mushers hold their teams in place while they waited for the other teams to get lined up.
New Year's Eve night we joined everyone at the multipurpose building for raffles and Eskimo games. We bought a few tickets but didn't win anything. Harold scored a popcorn ball, though, and had loads of fun playing with the other kids.