Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Staying in the far North

Well, decision time has come and gone. We're staying in Alaska for another year. It was a hard decision to make. The opportunities of Montana versus the financial benefits of Alaska. We weighed and discussed and fought and discussed and cried and discussed. Part of what tipped the balance was that the Montana state ed office refused to give Dave an answer about whether or not he'd have to take more classes for his elementary admin license until he sent in fingerprints. Well, maybe in the rest of the US that is no big deal, but for us it would have been an $800 flight to Anchorage to get them done. And if we'd taken the time to do so, we would have lost the opportunity to have the job here, as it would have likely been hired out at the Anchorage job fair this weekend. We won't be staying in this village, but moving next door, so to speak, to the village of Chuathbaluk. It's pretty similar to this village, but Dave will be the Lead Teacher, which is sort of a teacher-administrator hybrid position that fills the void from when one principal serves many village schools. We'll still have Susan as our principal which is a nice continuity. I'm actually fairly tired of thinking about it all, so instead I'm going to give you photos of what we've been up to. In Craftyland, I made a wooden Waldorf-style sunburst toy for Julia. Any carpenter would look at my crooked cuts and sigh, but I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out. I used a old fashioned hand saw to cut the sun points, and then I tracked down a jigsaw to cut the inner arcs. I should have tracked down the jigsaw first and saved myself the hassle of the hand saw, so lesson learned. I sanded it all down with very fine grade sandpaper, since that was all I had around. It took forever, but got the job done eventually. Then I used nontoxic watercolors to stain the wood and sealed it with a beeswax finish. I actually used a beeswax based lavender and peppermint headache soother balm, since it was all I had on hand, so the toy smells amazing. I used a piece of scrap wood, so I didn't have any dimension choice, but if I did, I'd make it a little wider. It is a bit tippy since it's only about an inch wide. 


I'm also working on a new knitting project. A friend asked me if I could re-create her hat, a vintage scandinavian pattern, which was starting to fall apart. I purchased some Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash Sport in colors that were fairly similar, and started to copy the pattern. The brim was a easy k1 p1, and the pattern above it wasn't too hard to copy. I just hope the decreases at the top are easy to decipher too.

High fashion in the north

Kiley giving Julia a ride in the kicksled

My mom sewed and smocked this adorable dress for Julia out of an old pillowcase embroidered by my great-grandma.
Oh, and two more teeth are coming in, left and right of the lower front two!


  1. Hi, what wonderful crafts youve been making! To get the bright colours for your sun stacker what kind of watercolour paints did you use? It looks great. How nice of you to replicate your friends favourite hat, it looks like it will almost be identical! That is so sweet that your little girl has embroidery from your great grandma on her dress:)

  2. It was just a simple, cheap crayola non toxic watercolor set. I popped out the disks of paint and covered them in water in a little dish until they dissolved. I was a little concerned when a small amount of the watercolor rubbed off when I polished the beeswax finish, but since Julia's been playing with it, I don't see any more coming off on her skin or clothes.
    thanks for the compliments!

  3. Sorry that things didn't work out for you to make a move this year. Guess we will miss you when we come through Montana. I am sure it is hard to make these big decisions about the future. It will all come together, and what a super experience for you both way up there in the North. I am amazed at all the sewing you do and all your crafts. You are so talented and a good model of a mother for Julia. Love keeping up with you on your blogs and also seeing your posts on FB. Carolyn

  4. I love the way your puzzle turned out- I have been wanting to make one of these for a long time and I think you've inspired me to give it a try- I was thinking of making a rainbow so that my monkeys can make a tunnel to ride their cars through.
    nice to find your blog-
    I read back a few post and it brought back a lot of memories for me- when my husband was doing residency we moved to Detroit where the cost of living was low- and juggling student loans and trying to figure out how to feed four on 100 a month.
    I am glad that you made the decision to stay- it will be worth it in the end- I am so glad we lived where we did when it made sense to.
    Anyway- nice to meet you

  5. I think your sunburst puzzle is wonderful!! I have never worked with wood before, and wonder if it's one of those things that I would fall in love with if I did :).

  6. Love your sunburst very much!