Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pretty ok sorta good!

We took a quick trip back to Sleetmute, the village we were in last year. The reason for going was to chaperon a basketball tournament, and we had a great time seeing all the kids from last year and getting to know some of the Chu kids better. Julia had a great time playing with the younger kids and even latched onto a few of the older ones. She wouldn't turn down an offer to go look at the salmon fry swimming in their tank. She didn't like the basketball buzzer which was unfortunate, since it sounded about every 15 minutes all day long. Fun banter was exchanged continually between Dave and his old and current students. Whitney, a former student informed Dave that our team was "pretty ok sorta good" I think that's a pretty huge compliment coming from Whitney!
While the games were being played, she drew pictures for hours on end, assisted by many of the older kids.

It was a great feeling to know everyone who walked in the building and drove by on snow machines. That is one part of moving that I really hate, the long getting-to-know-you stage. In Sleetmute, for 24 hours, I knew everyone! It made me a little sad that we chose to move this year, but looking at our old house reminded me of what living it it was like! tiny!!!! It was really fun to see Kiley and to see what a year does to a child's vocabulary. She was talking in sentences! Julia was very impressed with Kiley's toy selection and we got to take a couple of retired toys back with us.
Since getting home we've settled back into our routines. Julia's getting more opinionated about what she does and does not want to wear. Today that worked out, but some days, not so much.

She told dad that her baby was reading. Quite the literary choice, eh baby? 
And more tea parties!
I saw a bird the other day which seemed unusual enough for me to whip out my camera and take some pictures. Besides village dogs, you don't see much wildlife in the winter. (Perhaps because of village dogs...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A funeral and a trip.

It was a normal week, starting with the arrival of our full circle CSA order. Nothing makes me happy like a box of excellent produce delivered to me! (even if it costs $70!)
Julia and Dave were hanging out.
We were having lots of tea parties. Tea parties have pretty much taken over lunch. I set up finger foods like cheese cubes, frozen peas, orange slices, salami, oyster crackers, and carrot rounds, and fill the mini tea pot with juice or milk. It's served up on a tray on a blanket in her little pop up house, and I stick my head in to join her. She is getting better about stopping pouring when the cups are full, but I always make sure it's a blanket that needs a wash soon anyway under us.
Her frostbite had healed up nicely, just a pink skin patch to remind me. Then I got the news that my grandma Carroll, who I call Bestemor had passed away. This was not unexpected, as we had been told a few days earlier that she was entering the end of her life, but I think the death itself is always somewhat surprising. I knew that I wanted to go to the funeral, and immediately made flight reservations. That afternoon, Mike came up to get us and we stayed the night in Aniak.
It was warm, in the upper 30's and we didn't know if there would be a better time to get to Aniak so we opted to go early, rather than stressing about it the next morning. Having friends in Aniak has been incredibly helpful to our coming and going and we owe them a ton of gratitude for being so willing to shuttle us around. Julia was just getting over a stomach bug and I thought she was fine, but she threw up a couple more times, making me a little nervous about the upcoming flights! We left Aniak about 1 pm, slightly delayed but that was not a problem as our flight leaving Anchorage wasn't until 2 am. This was unfortunate, but there really wasn't anything to do about it except get cozy in the airport. A hotel room just didn't seem worth it, as we'd have to have been waking up at midnight anyway.
Julia made the acquaintance of all the stuffed bears.
and she made good use of the entertainment I had packed.
The airport was really quiet, which was nice. We took over a whole corner and watched movies, made phone calls, took millions of trips to the potty (don't tell TSA, but I LEFT my stuff UNATTENDED while I took her to the bathroom!!!) and made as best we could of a boring time. At 10 pm, the desk opened, and we survived security. At 1 30 am, she finally fell asleep, 20 minutes before it was time to board the flight. Lady luck was amazing to me, and I got an empty seat next to me. Julia slept on that with her feet up on my lap and we had a decent flight to Phoenix. Lady luck left, however and we missed the connecting flight to Minneapolis. I had to wait at the gate for Julia's backpack carrier to arrive, and I thought I had 10 minutes to spare, so we went to the bathroom. We did not have 10 minutes to spare, and they closed the gate. I cried while the employee got me on the next flight. It was a 3 hour wait, which all things considered wasn't terrible. It could have been a 12 hour wait! Julia napped and I listened to podcasts. Our original arrival time of 2 pm bumped back to 5 pm, and I was so tired when we arrived that I felt sort of drunk. Like I wasn't thinking clearly at all. My brother Christopher met us at the airport and helped me with getting the rental car arranged. I was so furious when they told me that the fee for a car seat would be $12 a day. The fee for the car was $11 a day!!!! I was so mad that I later went to target and bought a booster seat for $16 and returned the car seat, saving myself about $80. I headed to my friend Andrea's house where I untimately camped for most of the trip. She has a son, William who is 4 months younger than Julia so it was a perfect place to stay, full of toys and friends and already babyproofed.
Julia referred to William the whole time as "baby" even though they were close to the same height. They were even dressed alike when we arrived. The next few days were a blur of family and friends and funeral arrangements.
My aunt Jean's house, with Jean, Mom, Aunt Judy and Uncle Bob all discussing things.
Julia and Christopher. She thought he was pretty ok, especially when he'd let her play with his phone!
I didn't take many photos at the funeral, though now I wish I had. It was a really nice service, with Chris and Mom giving great eulogys, among many other speakers. Keeping Julia quiet was job enough for me. After the service was lunch, with so many people to talk to that I could hardly eat. After that was the burial, with all the somewhat odd nicities such as fake grass covering the dirt pile. they wouldn't lower the coffin until we were all gone, which I thought strange too. Even in facing death, there's so much denial in our traditions.
After the funeral was over, I still had several days in Minnesota, so I lined up visits with friends and arranged activities for Julia. The Children's Museum was amazing. Some highlights: A light room that changes color with a button.
sensory balls
and scooters
and hidey holes.
water tables
and more water tables. We could have spent all week there!
but instead we went to Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
the babies liked the rented stroller
and the giant fish
2 feet long!
did you know that if you feed poison dart frogs a different diet they stop being poisonous?
I loved watching the brown bears swim and play

and the little bearded monkeys were soooooooo cute!

the tropical feel of the conservatory was soooo great in January.

even if Julia wasn't about posing for pictures.
Julia was an instant fan of our friend Anna and they played together an entire evening while mom and I got to eat and talk with John and Christie.
we scooted up to St Olaf to check out the art show

before we said a sad goodbye... Next I had lunch with some college friends though I have no pictures to show for it. Julia was most impressed by the remote control fire.
I moved on in visits to our friends in Rochester. Angie and Aubrey and Trevor had us stay the night even though Julia had come down with another bug and was throwing up again. Now that is a sure sign of good friends. Hosting a pukey toddler. We made a brief visit to the Ice Bar in downtown Rochester to admire the ice sculptures.

I liked the Knight Bus
Aubrey was very excited to see Julia. I wish she hadn't been sick so she'd have been more fun.

With regret, we said goodbye to Rochester and spent our last afternoon at Christopher's house. Julia loved the dog Freya so much she wouldn't stop petting her, even while she nursed.
We popped her up on Grandpa's antique bike for a quick photo. Chris has plans to continue the legacy of riding it in the 4th of July parade.

Chris took us to the airport again, and we got ready for the long trip home.
I have no photos to show for that either, since every appearance of the camera resulted in demands to hold the camera.

The flights were ok, I guess. She threw up twice, both times as we were landing, but I was ready with the pukey bowl and we managed pretty well. We got on at 5 pm and by 1 am we were in Anchorage. We had to hang out in the airport until 7 am, then pick up a rental car to go to the grocery store. We got the shopping done and hung out more at the airport until 10 am, when we got on our last flight to Aniak. Dave was there to meet us, and that evening we were back in Chuathbaluk, thanks again to the snow machines of Mike. The weather was still in the upper 30's so the trip was not unpleasant.
and one last photo of Alaskan awesomeness, is this changing table that Mike built anticipating their baby's arrival this spring. No Ikea out here, but plenty of birch!
We're finally feeling all recovered from the stresses of travel, and somewhat recovered from the emotional ups and downs of the trip. We're getting back into our pattern of living and looking ahead to spring arriving shortly. In a month or so, I'll probably be going back to Klamath Falls to take the last part of Anatomy and Physiology while Dave finishes the last month of school, so I'm starting to look around and think about how to pack for the summer. Ack!