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Apr. 25th, 2016 @ 11:58 pm I'm Coming Home!!!
I will be flying to Tununak on May 11th! My husband & son will be coming, too! I can't wait to show them where I lived for 5+ years! I'm very excited to return to Tununak. Quyana to the Seniors, Class of 2016, who invited me to their graduation celebration on May 13th! See you soon! :-)
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Apr. 9th, 2012 @ 08:02 pm Spring Break in Tununak
Sunday, April 1 - Friday, April 6

I spent my Spring Break in Tununak packing up my belongings I could not replace and selling everything else in a rummage sale. It's amazing how much STUFF someone can accumulate over 5 years. It was bittersweet to be back in Tununak, my second home. I was so busy packing that I really did not have much time to visit friends or even relax. It was a very stressful week. Next time I travel to Tununak, I will be spending all my time visiting friends and enjoying my beautiful village on the Bering Sea:-) I hope it's much warmer next time too!

"This is not good-bye because I'll see you next time!"
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Jan. 30th, 2012 @ 10:25 pm First Minnesota Teaching Job
I am now a teacher at Buffalo Middle School. I am teaching 7th & 8th grade math. Today was the first day of 2nd semester, and my first day of school!

I look forward to having a consistent job everyday, substitute teaching can be tough! Especially when I didn't know if I would have a job until a 6AM phone call. Subbing was quite an experience - I taught Kindergarten, 4th grade, intensive needs special ed and a lot of middle school & high school. My favorite school to sub in was Buffalo High School. It was great to be back in the Social Studies Department at BHS where I student taught back in 2006.
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Nov. 16th, 2011 @ 05:21 pm Mixed Emotions
I’m glad to be home, but I also miss my Alaska life that I have grown to love. It will be nice to have a break from Alaska – and see what I have been missing the past 5 years while away.

What I miss . . . .
- Yuraq - I love to Eskimo Dance:-)
- Coaching N.Y.O.
- Teaching my students - it was so great to see how much my Tununak students have grown. It was also great to meet some really awesome Newtok students during my short 3 months.
- Heidi, George & Baby Macey! Macey is my first - one and only niece!

What I am doing now. . . . .
Finishing up my Masters Degree through the University of Alaska Southeast
- Online courses
- Will be endorsed in Math (K-8 grade)
- Graduating Summer 2012

On-Call Substitute Teacher
Busy teaching at 3 local School Districts:
- Albertville/St. Michael
- Buffalo
- Monticello

Living a Minnesota Life Again
- Catching up with family & friends
- Had my first family Thanksgiving since 2004
- Watch 3 month old twin babies Wednesdays for a family friend
- Go to hockey games
- I can drive wherever I want, whenever I want and I do not have to depend on planes & weather

*** I’m not sure what next year will bring... I’m going to wait until Spring contracts are out and decide then. ***

My Alaska Sisters on Halloween - in Tununak

My favorite little twins!

My cousin Brianna's Hockey game.

Thanksgiving with cousin Shannon, and sisters Heidi , (me) and Emily.
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Nov. 4th, 2011 @ 04:58 pm Trip home: Alaska Detour in Tununak & Girdwood
Saturday, October 29:
I left Newtok and arrived in Tununak for a quick visit. It went by too fast, and I had wished I had more time to visit with my friends of the community. It was fun to see the reactions of students’ faces when they realized I was there. I was greeted with many hugs and shocked faces.

Highlights of my Tununak visit: Halloween Carnival, Yuraq (Eskimo Dance) practice and a HOT maqii (steam bath).

Tuesday, November 1:
I left Tununak on the morning Bethel flight and flew to Anchorage on the 2:00 PM flight. Once in Anchorage, I made my way to Girdwood, to stay with my cousin Maggie and her family. It was good to see family again, especially since we were the only two cousins who did not make it Grandma’s funeral in October. We looked at photos from the funeral on Facebook together and reminisced about our childhood memories of our grandparents.

Friday, November 4:
6:30AM Anchorage flight to Minneapolis. My sister Heidi picked me up from the airport... First stop Chipotle in the Mall of America.

Marcella at the Teacher Pie Throw Booth at the Halloween Carnival

One of my favorite elders on our way to Sunday night yuraq practice
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Oct. 29th, 2011 @ 05:53 pm Last Day in Newtok
It was a bitter sweet day, I was sad to leave Newtok, but also excited for my next adventure. Every year is different and you just never know what next year might bring . . . .

A year ago, I would have never imagined that I would be teaching in Newtok. Things can change in a blink of an eye. The ripple effect of many things brought me here, I’m very glad I had the opportunity to teach in Newtok!

Photos of my last day:

A beautiful sunrise on my last day!

George and his Mom, Albertina

The last time the 4 of us will be together in a long time!

Macey and her TWO mommies!!!

George, Heidi & Macey sending me off at the Newtok Airport.
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Oct. 27th, 2011 @ 08:08 pm Baby Beluga . . . or Should I Say HUGE Beluga
While George was out hunting seals, another boat came across a beluga. George’s hunting party as well as another boat passing by helped bring in a huge beluga. It was the talk of the village the past 2 days. Almost everyone went out to the shoreline to watch the beluga get butchered and distributed to every household.

Today my students spent the afternoon helping the elders finish cutting up the beluga and move the large pieces of meat and blubber. They spent quite a few hours outside before returning to class. The strong odor of beluga filled my classroom and lingered well after my students left at the end of the school day. The fishy stench was compared to the smell of rotten watermelon by another lower-48 teacher. I just laughed at her comment and agreed with her comparison... it actually did resemble a rotten watermelon that had been harvested from the ocean (with a side of fish). The phrase, "Only in Alaska" kept entering my mind as I tried to get use to the new smell.

This experience was not a first for me. Back during my 1st year of teaching, there were 5 belugas harvested in Tununak. I wrote a journal entry on May 15, 2007 if you are interested in reading more about the belugas (click on the archive tab at the top of the journal). For those of you wondering if I ate the beluga, I did 5 years ago, and did not want to repeat the memorable experience.

**Baby Beluga is my favorite book I read/sing to Macey. I’ve even changed the words in the chorus to "Macey Beluga" and added a verse about her father’s hunting trips. **
"Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea, swims so wild and swims so free
Heaven above and the sea below, and the little white whale on the go
Baby beluga, oh baby beluga... Is the water warm? Is your momma home with you so happy?" (there is more to the song, but you get the just of it).
- Raffi Song

Macey with her favorite book!

The men pulling the beluga in from the ocean (with the help of a 4-wheeler).

At low tide, getting the bulga up onto the tundra and out of the ocean.

George with the beluga!

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Oct. 21st, 2011 @ 03:41 pm Personal Life Skills - Fake Babies!
Besides teaching High School Math classes all day, I have one period of Personal Life Skills. This is a required course for graduating. I went to Bethel last week for training in the RealCare Babies.

My students are the first group of students to use these robotic babies (LKSD just purchased this program this year). In class we have been learning about the growth of babies as well as the responsibility that go along with having a baby. Each student was a parent for 48 hours, including 2 nights at home. The baby would cry according to its random schedule and need the student’s care - feeding, diaper, burp or rocking. The student would identify themselves with their electronic ID bracelet and then provide the needed care, depending on the cry. The computer inside the baby would record each step of the process and as the teacher I would print a report of the baby’s care when the assignment ended. All my students did an excellent job, but they all agreed having a baby in high school was not a good idea.

I enjoyed teaching this class; it was a nice break from math. It was also fun to have this hands-on activity.

Babies in the classroom and afterschool at Yuraq (Eskimo Dance) practice
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Oct. 15th, 2011 @ 03:19 pm One and Only NYO Meet
October 14-15 in Kipnuk, AK
Native Youth Olympics (see previous entries for more info on NYO)

It was great to start coaching NYO again! This is my 5th year coaching... I now feel comfortable coaching. It is something I have become good at, especially since I am always the High School girls judge. I definitely learn something NEW at every meet. This weekend I learned that I need to be confident in the decisions I make as the judge. If I stick to what I believe I saw, it is what it is! Words of advice coming from a veteran NYO coach (Thanks Charlie!).

We took home the 3rd place trophy! Go Jaegers!

One-Arm Reach and the Alaskan High Kick
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Oct. 12th, 2011 @ 10:31 pm Maqii - Steam Bath
This was my 2nd time ever taking a steam (See the journal entry from February 21, 2011, for a more detailed description).

Albertina, George’s mother, invited me to steam with her and her daughter after school today. George recently fixed up his late-father’s old steam house. Taking a steam is one of George’s favorite pass times. I also enjoy taking steams, because it reminds me of the Finnish sauna I enjoy in the northwoods of Minnesota. Two major differences are the temperature and jumping into a lake afterwards.

The Alaska steams are much hotter! The hottest saunas I take in MN are around 220 degrees, while the hottest steams in Alaska are 300 degrees. It was so hot I could feel my teeth burning - I learned my lesson and brought a wet washcloth to cover my mouth for my next steam.

After the steam is over, there is no lake to jump into to cool off. The natives use steams for bathing. You can get really clean by sweating out all the dirt and oils, and scrubbing clean with soap & a bowl of water --- the bathing occurs when you run out of wood or when you can’t take the heat any longer. Ladies and men usually steam separately - and the women are usually not out to prove who is tougher, so we cycle in and out of the cooling room when needed throughout the steaming process. When I was talking about the similarities and differences of steams and saunas, a native lady, who works at the school pointed to a murky pond across the tundra and told me I could take a swim in there . . . Haha, very funny I responded. Besides the water being disgusting, there was no way I was going to go skinny dipping in the daylight, within view of the school!

Albertina had gathered a tundra plant, with yellow flowers from near the airport the day before. She put the plant in the water she was pouring over the stove to make the hot steam fill the small room. The tundra plant (which only had a Yupik name) made a nice scent and I think it was supposed to have some type of medicinal purpose. . . Either way, the scent was relaxing. It distracted me from thinking about my burning teeth. George’s mom sure likes her maqii HOT!

Here are some photos to help you visualize what happens in a maqii (steam house):

Come on in . . .

The first room is the Changing room/Cooling room. This is where you store your clothes and towel and come to escape the steam when its too HOT!

Through the small door into the back room is where the stove is located. There is water in the square metal box, to the right of the stove, which boils to create steam. The metal cup at the end of the long handle (stick) on the right side of the photo is used to sprinkle water on top of the rocks on the stove. This makes the room fill with hot steam quicker.

The bowls of water are used for cooling off as well as washing.

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