Barron Updates

Let’s play a guessing game. See if you can guess which update belongs with which Barron. One of us just got back from above the Arctic Circle. One of us has spinal subluxation. One of us no longer has a palate expander! One of us has no updates but does have an achy back from sitting in the bleachers at swim practice every other day and also currently at this exact moment.

Give up? I know it was a tough game.

Sergio went to Barrow! It’s actually called Utqiaġvik now, but I was afraid if I didn’t introduce it as Barrow then you might be confused about where he was. To put it simply, he was at the tippy top.

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Sergio is that much closer to being a real Sourdough. He has managed three winters in Alaska already, and now he has gotten above the Arctic Circle as well. He did not manage to see any polar bears which, believe it or not, is a real possibility.

Eliot has been diagnosed as having pretty much the only thing that afflicts poodles. Spinal subluxation. There isn’t much to be done but hope he doesn’t get worse and keep him comfortable. The vet was really impressed with how spry and healthy and happy he seems in every other way than his back popping like popcorn at the slightest touch and the mild ataxia of his back legs. Since he seems mostly fine and happy, and he’s already pretty darn old, the course of treatment is steroids, keeping an eye on, and cuddles. With any luck, that treatment plan will keep him going until at least 16 years old.

Rosalind got her palate expander off on Tuesday! It was actually pretty lackluster since it turned out to be loose anyway. I guess Rolo could have popped that sucker out just about anytime she wanted to. She was very excited to use the roof of her mouth normally again. We are very excited that she will no longer make terrible noises to dislodge food from above the expander.

There is nothing going on with me at all. My entire life seems to be taking Rosalind to her stuff. I am not kidding about these bleachers. They are concrete.  I think they have been specifically designed to torture people. I’ll keep doing this on Tuesdays and Thursdays and most Saturdays because Rosalind seems really happy with swim. She placed 2nd (backstroke) and 3rd (freestyle) in her first swim meet. Perhaps the pool is the place for someone with limbs so long they can’t always keep them organized! But I guess that is really a Rosalind update again. Oh! I watched Gremlins for the first time last week. It turns out that Sergio is not the only one that has Steven Spielberg gaps in his upbringing. I legitimately did not know it was a comedy. I’m proud of myself that I knew enough about it to fast forward through Phoebe Cates’ monologue about Santa/her dad/fireplaces and save myself that conversation with Rosalind! Mom success!

Look! The light is going already, but at least we are creeping up on almost unlimited sunsets and sunrises.

Sunset on Plack

Not Afraid To Lay It All Out There

Sometimes you notice a trend among the blogs you read where everyone writes about the same topic somehow. This week that trend among my favorite blog fodder seems to be “What’s in my bag” fare.

If these people actually live their whole lives in as organized a state as their bags make them look then it’s clear why they are more successful at life than I am. Do you know that last weekend while I was waiting on Rosalind’s haircut to wrap up, I found two giant rocks in my purse?

Rocks

Not little pretty pebbles. These were full grown adult sized rocks that Rosalind had put in a never used pocket of my purse while we were in Seward. So I’ve just been unsuspectingly toting those around for a month.

Let’s take a look at the purse of someone at the intersection of Not Very Put Together Ln. and Parent Ave.

Purse contents

  1. I have my wallet! It’s probably the only thing I actually need to carry other than my keys.
  2. I have my car keys. Not pictured: my work keys and Harry Potter lanyard. Not pictured because I am wearing it. Harry potter because I am a middle school teacher just really into Harry Potter.
  3. There is a family sized bottle of ibuprofen because that’s what I could find one morning on my way out of the house. It has served me well. It’s far too big to carry around all the time though. It is next to a bottle of off brand Claritin that is at least two years old and expired some time ago. Still works.
  4. There is a piece of mail requiring phone calls that I have made a time or two already and gotten exactly nowhere. On top of that piece of mail is a bank envelope containing a check that I deposited using my phone MONTHS ago. I have carried it around ever since because I don’t know what to do with it, and it hides in a conveniently almost never opened pocket. On top of both of those are my daughter’s most recent Girl Scout badges. We just did a marathon iron on session of all of her badges from last year, so there is a decent chance these will never make it onto her current vest before she bridges.
  5. There’s one of several stickers I’ve been given in return for charitable donations. I don’t know where to put them, so they just sit on my bookshelf at home, or in this instance, hang out in my purse all the time.
  6. There is a $40 Barnes and Noble gift card that I bought for an event that I wasn’t sure was a gift event. It wasn’t. So I’ve just been carrying it around so that I can eventually spend my own money. I haven’t spent it yet because my family has a book hoarding problem.
  7. Why, yes, that is a 20 peso note with some British coins on top. Don’t you carry that around all the time? Rosalind took them to Girl Scout Show and Tell last week.
  8. That polished aquamarine heart thing is another rock addition to my purse courtesy of Rolo.
  9. The folded white paper is directions to Rolo’s swim goggles. I have NO IDEA why they are in my purse. None of us require instructions for swim goggles.
  10. Three, count them, THREE chapsticks. Lose one, buy another. Repeat. My house is covered in these as well.
  11. A pack of gum I bought for the plane ride to Mexico at the beginning of summer.
  12. A lollipop that Rosalind can’t eat with her braces but wants to hold onto for one day when they are off.
  13. My workout headband. I’ve been looking for that.
  14. Four, count them, FOUR pieces of Rosalind jewelry.
  15. Various trash and one coveted SweetnLow that will now go in my desk at work.
  16. Also not pictured purse contents: phone. Because I was using the phone to take the picture.

This is my purse at it’s best. I consider this nearly cleaned out. Notice there are no receipts! Or rocks straight off the ground! Progress.

I Wrote This Yesterday

I am sitting in my car listening to music on our old iPod that we recently found. I’m sitting here because Rosalind is attending a birthday party of a classmate. We got here at an awkwardly late time. I knew we would be late, and I warned the party parent of that fact when I RSVP’d, but then we were later than that. I had wanted to drop Rosalind off and go home for an hour or more before picking her up, but the weird time we got here made it questionable whether it was worth going home at all, so I didn’t. Now I’m watching the minutes tick away at a mind-numbingly slow pace. Why weren’t they ticking by this slowly when I was breaking speed laws all the way back from our Fairbanks appointment, huh?

I think I made the wrong decision by not going home right away. It’s definitely too late now though. I would want to be back 10 to 15 minutes before the party ended anyway, so I would not even get parked in my driveway before having to turn around. I hate awkward timing.

If you are wondering why I don’t just join the party like a normal person, the answer is that Rosalind told me she had brought a jacket. Then she said she hadn’t. As I stood chatting with other parents, I noticed the chill in the air. I offered Rolo my very long sweater, and she gratefully accepted. I walked back to the car in my tank top. It was brisk. Would anyone like to guess how many Rolo jackets I found when I checked the backseat? Three.

I would take a picture of the landscape for you to show you that not only is the air brisk but that we are fully in our fall color phase as well, but I can’t. My phone is dead. Also the reason I’m listening to the old iPod instead of a podcast or something.

This day has been marked beginning to end with examples of my failure to Responsibilitate. Rolo had her first mock meet/time trial for swim this morning. We were running a little later than I intended (still early to the meet but without time to stop for coffee first), and I worked to make sure that I had brought her competition style suit, cap, goggles, and extra underwear for afterward. Guess what I didn’t remember? A towel. Or water.

So, let’s see…

  • Missing lucrative swim supplies
  • Extra late to a birthday party (partially due to going to the wrong destination first)
  • Didn’t check that my kid had actually brought a jacket before leaving the house
  • Didn’t check that my kid had actually used her eyes to check the backseat for other jacket type items before giving up my jacket
  • Dead phone
  • Poor decision making to not book it straight home upon arriving at the party

I blame it all on having to be somewhere at 8 am on a Saturday for the first time in…uh…since high school maybe? Threw my whole day off to have to hit the ground running on a Saturday. Dislike.

Guess what we’re doing next Saturday at 8 am? Same damn thing. Is this my life now?

The Revisit

Guess where Sergio is? He’s in Bethel!

Well, I guess he is actually flying over lots of tundra toward Anchorage where he will then get on another flight to come backward to Fairbanks. Because nothing with Bethel is ever straightforward.

It’s been two years since either of us have been to Bethel, but per Sergio’s job duties, he is supposed to go out periodically and check on the workings of the more remote offices. How much was he looking forward to returning to Bethel? Well, he only put it off for two years.

Here is my single most favorite dispatch so far from his less than 24 hour visit to Bethel. Backstory: he went into the AC store for old times sake/coffee.

“I bought a sandwich which was labeled as a sausage burrito. It was round and clearly not a burrito, but I assumed it was a sausage sandwich. I opened it and it was a chicken and pickle sandwich.”

I know this isn’t very funny to anyone that hasn’t lived in Bethel, AK, but for me it embodies everything you would ever need to know about living there and tickles me endlessly.

I should note that Sergio emailed that information to me because AT&T does not work in Bethel. We only communicated through email and iMessages when he was in the vicinity of wifi. We also tried Facetiming when he had wifi, but that had about as good and steady a connection as you would expect.

To sum up: I am glad to have experienced living in Bethel however I don’t miss it with even the tiniest shred of my being.

Here is the stellar view from the best hotel in Bethel.

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Easing Back to Normal

I tried to come in a with a space-filling blog post sometime around Tuesday, but it dissolved into a mess almost immediately. It has taken some serious adjustment to reacclimatize to my work schedule this year. I recognize how lame that sounds. Working! *Whiny voice: so hard!

I think there are a few things at play this year.

First, this is my 10th year in the classroom! How crazy is that? The tenth year in the classroom seems to be the one where I KNOW what I want to do. Like, I know how the room should be organized and decorated, what books I need and when I need them, how my lessons should sound and when they should occur, and just exactly how MUCH I need to fit into each day/year. That’s a wonderful feeling. It is also exhausting. I no longer need to fly by the seat of my pants because I can prepare for everything in advance. So I have. Case in point, more than one other teacher has come into my room and called me OCD. ME! I want to take this imaginary certificate proving my organizational prowess back to my 7th grade teachers and show them I turned out just functional enough to pretend I’m organized for brief spurts of time. Why my 7th grade teachers? Because they are the ones that gave me the superlative award for “Girl With the Messiest Locker.” I’m not bitter. Had they given me an award for “Girl Probably Fermenting Alcohol With Forgotten Snacks Under Mountains of Paper and Also Probably Hosting a Family of Rats Down There Somewhere,” it would have been closer to the truth than the vast understatement of “Messiest Locker.” I think they would be proud of me.

Second, we changed the schedule to a rotating block. I have only positive things to say about this schedule change, but it definitely took some getting used to at first. No single day of the week runs on the same schedule. Prep is always different. On Mondays, I don’t even have a prep. Since I volunteered for lunch detention duty first quarter, I don’t even have a lunch break. You can imagine that by the time I get home from the Monday afternoon staff meeting (of course they fall on Monday), I am not at my best as a human. It takes until about Wednesday to recover.

Third, I’m not just readjusting to my own schedule, but also to Rolo’s. She has homework, piano, social wants, scouts, and soon swim two nights a week. Her schedule alone is enough to keep a couple of people busy.

Fourth…I don’t remember. I’m sure there were more reasons. I’m tired and losing my brain function.

But enough about that. The last two days seem to have been the magic turning point at which the classes started functioning without constant intervention and instruction from me. Hence this post finally showing up. Aren’t you so glad it did? I know it’s been a real page turner.

Happy long weekend, everyone. Let’s consider donating to worthy causes. Here’s a link to places offering help other than the Red Cross. Not because I have anything against the Red Cross (though I’m aware of the controversies). I just think let’s spread the help around, ya know? I’m considering pets and diapers?

This Is A Stall Tactic

Back at it again! With the going to work that is. I’m probably going to go ahead and take a couple of days to readjust to the constant social interaction that turns me into a zombie after hours for the first few weeks. I’ve made you this picture post to enjoy while I go recover from two whole days with kids. Before you scoff, realize that yesterday I did not go to the bathroom from 5:30 in the morning until I got home at 4 pm because I didn’t have a single moment where I wasn’t handing out schedules, guiding students, teaching class, opening lockers, teaching kids to open lockers, helping kids find their bus, reminding kids to put that backpack back in the locker because we still had another period to go, comforting kids that were overwhelmed and on the verge of tears, and so forth and so on. I should note that though I don’t teach 6th grade, I am located in the 6th grade area of the school. It’s chaos down on this end for about two weeks.

Today I remembered to take the time to find a restroom on my lunch break. See how quickly I learn things? *Editors note: I started this post yesterday and couldn’t even make it through before I zombied out on the couch and then fell asleep in Rosalind’s bed at 8 pm. So really this is Friday’s post.*

Anyway, here are some pictures from the last week or so that aren’t Seward related. First, we hung out in Anchorage before picking up Retha and Eugenio. We spent our first night doing one of our favorite Anchorage things – lounging in a hotel bed watching tv with the air conditioner running full blast. We also ordered Indian food delivery. It was glorious.

Next, we took a day out for the Tanana Valley Fair which has become a tradition for our family during inservice week. Who doesn’t need to see a pile of baby piglets once in a while? We ate fair food, saw animals, and watched Rolo spin around and around until her tickets ran out.

We had some s’mores in the back yard while alternating between Dr. Hook and the Hamilton soundtrack. There are so few mosquitos this year. Alaska is much easier to enjoy during a low mosquito year.

And finally, we went back to work and school.

Seward

I’m sure you all know that feeling when you are making your in-laws process out all the fish you brought home from Seward on a makeshift system in the backyard and then you have to stop what you are doing to make sure the bull moose that is eating along the slough isn’t going to decide to come visiting too closely. I mean, you KNOW that feeling, right? Everyone does.

Have I ever uttered a more Alaskan run-on sentence? Nope.

In honor of Sergio’s parents coming to visit again this year, we planned a trip to Seward. Our big event while in Seward was that we planned to go on an all day fishing trip. To say that this worried me is a vast understatement. Let me number the ways –

  1. I don’t fish. Why do I want to do this?
  2. Would any of us get sea sick?
  3. Is Rosalind going to be good for 10 hours on a boat?
  4. Will it be cold?
  5. Will it be wet?
  6. Will I cry when someone catches a fish and I have to watch it die? Would Rosalind?
  7. Will Rosalind fall off the boat and die in the frigid Alaskan waters? (Hey, nobody said being a parent doesn’t breed some very morbid thinking).

So before I get into which of the above came true and which was not an issue (spoiler: Rolo did not fall off the boat), let me just chat about Seward as a destination first.

Often when people find out that I live in Alaska, they first bring up any number of Alaskan television shows where people fish, or homestead, or antisocial people live off the grid. I pretty much immediately say, “we don’t live in that kind of Alaska.” “That kind” being the kind where the ocean meets the mountains. Seward is “that kind of Alaska.” A picturesque, but somewhat gritty, small Alaskan town nestled around a small bay and tucked underneath towering mountains. It’s pretty. It smells like the fishing tourism industry that keeps the town running. It has 75 year old bars on a main strip. It’s remote enough to feel like you moved somewhere difficult and distant while still being accessible to a Target a two hour drive down the road.

Activities to keep you entertained in Seward include fishing, wildlife tours, eating, hiking Mt. Marathon, and walking/shopping around town. My personal favorite was the Alaska Sealife Center. This is where I tell you that I have lived my life all wrong. All of the decisions I have made that have led me to this point in my life have been the wrong decisions. If I had made the right decisions, my job in life would be to serve as the comfort object for an 8 week old walrus.

HOW DID I NOT KNOW THIS WAS A CAREER OPTION!!! Her job is to cuddle with a baby walrus! Daily! My parents, counselors, and career aptitude tests have all failed me.

The places we ate included The Cookery, chinese takeout, and the Seward Brewing Company. Sergio and I very much enjoyed our raw and chargrilled oysters at The Cookery, but honestly the wait for both seating and then food was so long as to mar the experience for me slightly. All of the other food can pretty much be wrapped up as pretty good. I was disappointed to find that the chocolate store was closed on the only day we had to walk around town.

The highlight of the trip (other than the aquarium) was definitely fishing. For most of us anyway! We went on an all day multi-species charter. It took 2 1/2 hours to get out of Resurrection Bay and into our fishing waters. All fifteen guests and three crew members made the outbound trip with no issues. However, as soon as we stopped and anchored, three of the fifteen guests started puking. They all continued to be sick to one degree or another for the remaining 10 hours of the trip. I felt awful for them because there was just no escaping the situation and a whole day stretching out before them. As for the other concerns that I had, they broke down as follows –

  1. It turns out I really get a kick out of fishing when there are people there that bait my hook, tell me what I’ve brought out of the ocean, kill it humanely for me, and then filet our fish before we get home. I know. I’m a terrible person.
  2. My poor mother-in-law was one of the three that got seasick, but the rest of our party managed fine.
  3. Rosalind was really great! She actually slept a lot during the outbound and inbound trips which may have had something to do with the non-drowsy dramamine being less than non-drowsy in an eight year old body.
  4. It wasn’t that cold and it miraculously did not rain at all! I wore a hat because I can’t stand wind in my ears, but it was pretty temperate while we were still.
  5. I do not enjoy watching things die. Sometimes it got kind of brutal like when someone caught a 69 inch halibut that took hours to fully quit twitching and the captain of the boat had brutally whacked it repeatedly to try and kill it quickly and keep it from knocking anyone overboard. It was pretty horrific. I did not have any specific emotions at the time other than to hope it was quick and look away. Rosalind would probably have participated in popping the fish on the head if she had been given the opportunity.
  6. Again, nobody fell off the boat. I think some of the members that were so terribly seasick might have wished to throw themselves overboard rather than endure another moment, but I’m just guessing from how miserable it looked.

I should also mention we saw eagles, puffins, humpback whales, sea otters, and porpoises while on the boat, so it was sort of a wildlife tour as well.

We shipped 40 lbs of halibut and salmon to various locations in Arkansas through Captain Jacks before leaving Seward and then took another butt ton (scientific term) of halibut, salmon, and rockfish all the way back to Fairbanks to deal with on our own at home where, as I mentioned before, we finally hung out with a bull moose for a decent amount of time.

All in all, I think we have gotten a number of great Alaskan activities ticked off of our list. Go to Seward! Go fishing! I would end with the tip that maybe Seward only requires two days for visiting, but it’s a lovely destination. I’m linking Aurora Charters because I enjoyed our experience with them. Here is a Seward puffin.

A Style Of Her Very Own

Rosalind has always made her displeasure at taking care of her hair well known. Repeatedly. Annoyingly. Sometimes loudly.

She told me months ago that she would like to cut it all off. I took some time to let her weigh this decision out, not because I worry over her hair, but because I never want to move too quickly on these types of decisions in case she was just blurting and would be upset with the not easily reversed outcome. She never let the idea go, and then she came back from camp on a mission. Several other kiddos at camp had pixies. She was sold.

She is thrilled. All of these different ways of wearing this style and not one of them requires the use of a hairbrush! I’m pretty sure she is wondering why all people don’t lop their hair off. It’s so much more convenient! I’ll let her discover the need for super frequent haircuts, and the miserably slow process of one day growing it back out, in her own time.  Meanwhile, there is peace at hairbrush time in the Barron household.