Thursday, November 25, 2010

8 Months

8 whole months since birth day. Julia's latest development is that she'll head into a room that nobody else is in to explore on her own. She used to follow me like a shadow, but now she's willing to head off on her own, for a little while. I don't actually know how long she would stay in another room alone, because I shadow her now. Our house is pretty safe, but it's near impossible to get all the cords stashed away out of sight, and she's getting more curious about drawers. She LOVES the bathroom drawers. It is mostly the shiny gold knobs on them that fascinate her, and she is learning to pull them open. She hasn't yet realized that she can pull everything in them out though. She has another knob that she loves. It is on the drawer of the little table that holds the tv. The knob is wood, and mouth level, so she stands there, bouncing with happiness, pausing every couple seconds to make sure she can still chew on the knob. When we have the tv on, she reaches up and smacks the screen, staring with wide eyed wonder at the images. She is getting pretty good at feeding herself small finger foods. Cheerios are no problem, and today I gave her chunks of sweet potato. She liked that a lot, but was pretty indifferent to the canned peach chunks. She drinks water regularly, so I have to remember to give it to her. If I forget for awhile, she gets pretty cranky. My solution is to put a sippy cup on the floor. She needs some help tipping it to the right angle if it isn't completely full but this way she finds the cup when she is thirsty. She's developing a bit of stranger fear now. She'll sit on someone's lap fine for a few minutes, then suddenly the lip quiver starts. Her sense of humor is developing too. The other day she blew a raspberry on my belly, and when I laughed, she laughed, causing me to laugh more, causing her to laugh more.

For thanksgiving, we joined our landlords Henry and Bambi, and our other neighbors Jane and Marion for a traditional thanksgiving feast. I loved the stuffing. Julia loved the sweet potatoes. Dave loved the green bean casserole. What's not to love about thanksgiving?

And in a fit of holiday madness, I stuck Julia in a christmas dress and took photos of her for our christmas letter. We even went outside for a couple. I don't know what got into me, but I did get some cute photos.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Science Fair

The latest tooth photo. Those little buggers are sharp!

This week I went upriver to the next village over, Stony River to chaperone 4 of our upper elementary girls at the district science fair. Julia came along too, but Dave had to stay home and teach. The girls were super excited about going, and squealed for the entire plane ride. (all 10 minutes...) They spent the first afternoon attending sessions on things like Mars Rovers, telescopes, and robots, they had a live Skype session with a NASA educator, and they got to go inside a planetarium, a large inflated dome and see a presentation projected up against the dome as if it were the sky. I had been in one before, but this presentation included tidbits about Native Alaskan beliefs, such as that the star cluster Pleiadies, commonly known as the seven sisters, but to different Alaskan groups they are known as a litter of fox cubs, a fish, a polar bear and hunters, and herring caught in a net. Julia was really enthralled with the images, especially when there was a big round planet projected. Then she'd wave her arms frantically in excitement.

On the flight

Alfreda and Leanne's project, "What would acid do to teeth?"

Chelsea and Ashley's project, "How do you make a balloon rocket?"

Creating their own planet rovers

Alfreda's rover, named Bug

Twister got the girls over their shyness with some of the other kids.

Julia's traveling high chair is turning out to be way worth the $40. 

And a smile for the camera.

The kids all slept in the school, and I got to sleep in teacher housing. The 2nd day was more sessions similar to the first day's, and my event of the morning was dealing with the biggest poop I have ever seen. Somehow little Julia defied the laws of gravity and managed to poop up, clear to her shoulder blades. I of course didn't realize this, so I started to change her in the hall, thinking it would be a quick job. Wrong-o! She was noncompliant with the idea of a diaper change, and was really pissed when I had to strip her down and scrub her back and arms and knees and heels with wet wipes. All this, as kids with rockets are running in and out through the front door that was three feet away, letting in lots of cold air to make the process more unpleasant for Julia. But we overcame all presented challenges, got her into a new outfit and managed not to get poop on any one else but me. Soon after that we had to go catch our flight home again, and our life drifted back to normal. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mid November

The school put on a veteran's day assembly full of songs and poetry and a presentation of certificates of appreciation to the village's veterans. There was quite the range represented. 1 coast guard, 1 navy, 1 air force, 2 army, 1 marine (though he is stuck at his lodge upriver until the ice solidifies), and combined they served in about 10 different countries. 2 of them were drafted, 3 were volunteers,  and one was a female career Major.
I didn't even know that the Coast Guard went to Vietnam. It was neat to hear some of the vets express gratitude for the recognition, especially those who were serving at an unpopular time. I've never been overtly patriotic, but I was pretty moved by the assembly.

And after, we had the red, white and blue cupcakes and coffee.

Yesterday we got a nice bit of fresh snow, so a couple of us went out for a ski. The frozen portion of the river is reaching out farther and farther from the bank. someone had driven their snowmobile along the ice, so we felt safe skiing along the edge of the bank. Some folks have been out ice fishing too. You can see sticks marking the holes. Mary Rose, the preschool teacher caught a nice pile of graylings, but the school kids were not having any luck. For fishing lines they have short willow sticks tied with a bit of line and a hook with a tiny bit of red yarn to look like a salmon egg. I'm not sure if Mary Rose had fancier equipment or not.

A couple days ago I did some watercolors with the kids at school. They liked doing it so much that I'm thinking of other projects to do with them. Thanksgiving decorations is what comes to mind, but I'm somewhat at a loss for what sort of decor would be appropriate. They don't really get much color here when the leaves change, and it was so long ago now that using the standard fall leaf motif seems a little odd. I asked Susan, the principal if they would know why objects like corn are symbols of Thanksgiving, but she didn't think that this group of kids had been given much if any background in the Thanksgiving story. (maybe they will this year) but until they do, creating pilgrim hats and corn shucks and native american headdresses just doesn't really seem appropriate. So I'm not really sure where I will go with the next art project. I want them to feel a sense of success and pride, and it has to be easy enough for a 1st grader and interesting enough to engage 6th graders. No problem, eh? 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

Julia's been mastering the fine art of using her fingers to pinch up cheerios. She's pretty good at it now and spends a great deal of happy time in her high chair consuming them. She's also learned to drink water from a sippy cup, and seems to enjoy that too. she was kind of perplexed by the taste of water at first, and would gulp and gasp, but now she's pretty used to it.

The sunrise this morning was beautiful. It lit the entire west riverside and water up in frosty orange.

The sun must have been hiding above some thick clouds, because this is all I could see to the east. 

There's a fisheries specialist at the school all this week, doing fish-based projects with the kids. Yesterday they were dissecting a salmon, and we got to take home the remains, which were huge. I made a salmon pasta dish by adding cooked, deboned salmon flakes (just a baked chunk) to some jarred tomato sauce we had on hand. (augmented with some extra garlic sauteed in olive oil and finished with some fresh basil and parmesan)  It was pretty darn good. I also made soup stock out of the head and some vegetables that I'm planning on making into chowder tonight. I'm also baking more of that overnight rising bread. I've tried adding cracked wheat and wheat germ to make it a little wheatier, and that seems to be working.

Julia, meet Salmon

The kids at school were decorating red, white and blue cupcakes for the veterans day assembly which will be tomorrow morning. There are five vets in the village here, and I want to send love to my favorite vet, my dad. Happy veteran's day, Dad.

Friday, November 5, 2010


10/30 to 11/5
thus endeth a 8 day internet outage!

The school hosted a halloween party on saturday for the kids and families. Dave and I were bumblebees, and Julia was our flower. Good thing halloween wasn't any later or Julia wouldn't have fit in her costume! The kids got to play all sorts of games like musical chairs, relay races, sack hop, fish tank, bean bag toss, tug of war, and there was a cake walk, jello eating contest and pizza and treats for sale. I ran the face painting booth that also dabbled in pirate themed temporary tattoos. very popular, those.

how fast can you suck jello through a straw?
the get dressed-get undressed relay race
Trick or treating happened sunday night, and was actually kind of anticlimactic, as there were only about 5 kids to come by. Some had gone to Anchorage, and some were stuck across the river. Until the ice freezes solid enough to drive on, three of the school kids are stuck on the other side. We did take Julia to a couple houses, though she was pretty indifferent about it. 

the trick or treaters, traveling bush alaska style
(meaning a kid as young as 7 is often driving
other kids around on the 4 wheeler or snowmobile.) 
Julia seemed curious about the candy
other news:
Julia's getting another tooth, right next to the first one. I couldn't believe it. Six days apart!
She's also learned to clap, and it is the first thing she does now when she wakes up. She sits up and then claps, then goes about making sure I'm good and awake.

the teeth

Dave is going to teacher inservice in another village. He'll be gone from wednesday afternoon to saturday evening, so Julia and I are holding down the fort. I borrowed a sewing machine for a few days, so I'm mending and working on some small projects. Julia's hand-me-down snowsuit was missing one of the foot covers, so I knitted some out of red yarn, felted them and sewed them on. Pretty snazzy, I thought, but not 10 minutes after I finished sewing them on, I got word that the original missing bootie had been found. Sigh.
the booties
Julia got a PC shot and I got a flu shot at the town clinic. There's nobody living in the village to work the clinic, but maybe twice per year a traveling nurse will come to town for a few days.
the clinic
I've also been trying a new way of making bread from the cookbook My Bread by Jim Lahey. It's a simple dough that is barely combined, then left to rise slowly at room temperature for 18 hours. The slow fermentation develops the gluten that is a result of kneading in most bread recipes. After the 18 hours, the bread is shaped into a round ball and left to rise on a floured tea towel for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile you heat a heavy dutch oven style pot in the oven at 475 for 30 minutes. You flip the risen loaf into the hot pan, put the lid on and bake it for 30 minutes covered, and 15-30 minutes uncovered. I'm pretty pleased with the results. The bread is crusty, full of bread flavor, and the texture is chewy, with nice holes throughout.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seven Months

Oct 29
This is the first month that I've missed recognizing Julia's month birthday. She turned 7 months old on october 22nd, and I realized it 4 days later when Dave commented on the change. She's getting much more stable while standing, holding on to the chair or bookshelf, and she's learning to walk along the edge of the couch. She can even navigate over my feet to get around me when I'm sitting on it.

You can see just a sliver of tooth right above my fingernail

Last night and the night before brought several more inches of snow.

The ice is stretching farther and farther out from shore

sunrise, 9 30 am

Today the kids were carving pumpkins in school, as part of a math lesson. Along with carving, they were measuring, weighing, counting seeds, collecting data, ect. Julia had her own tiny pumpkin to gnaw.
Rashaun, Sam, Dave and Miguel taking dimensions
Chelsea, Mattie and Alfreda scooping innards to be weighed

Tatiana, Honey and Angela, carving a face

Honey, with the finished result

Happy Almost Halloween