Monday, April 14, 2008

Still Winter

So bright, (with all this snow & sunlight) We GOTTA wear shades
Though last year's early spring was a fluke, and it's normal to have cold and snow this late into the year, it still feels like it's time to be melted. I love all the great light (till 10:30 pm), but I miss the warm, muddy breezes of spring -- that probably most of you in the lower 48 are experiencing already.

But we still manage to go out and have fun -- here are some pictures of our walk with the puppies Sunday evening.

Esther and Fancy lookin' pretty at the top of the playground slide
How can you rock on a rocking toy when the snow is up to the bottom? Ha ha. Esther managed. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ya Ya's visit up North

Tuluk and Esther watching the weather outside on the morning of Ya-Ya's arrival. Tuluk went by snowmobile far out onto the tundra that day to check his brother's blackfish trap out under the ice of a meandering slough. Blackfish must be amazing to be living under the ice!

Arriving by the skin of her teeth Easter Eve, my mom came and spent a week with us up here in Hooper Bay. She was on the last plane in that evening, after a harrowing day of delays due to our buddies Alaska Airlines, and by the time she got to Bethel, weather was rising on the tundra out here, rising winds and blowing snow. One bush airline cancelled flights, and I was holding my breath till I heard (via VHF radio -- how did I ever live without one? It's the information hotline) that her flight was 25 minutes out. It's still not a guarantee, since sometimes pilots will make the effort to get out to a village, only to see that the weather/visibility has closed down so fast that they can't land on the airstrip and have to turn back to Bethel. But, luckily, it all just came together and my mom got on the ground 30 hours after she left Indiana the day before. I have an awesome, adventurous mom! She's so great to even want to come out here, and then to endure the wild travel... she's a superstar. :)
Esther and Mom outside the new Hooper Bay Restaurant/Church building.
So she also got here in the nick of time to experience our new Hooper Bay highlight: The restaurant! The restaurant was built by volunteers from the missionary organization "Samaritan's Purse" last summer. The building is one-half restaurant and one-half church, but we have lovingly dubbed even the restaurant the "Jesus restaurant." It's basically a hamburger joint, sans fries, where you can get a double-cheeseburger with lettuce & tomato for around $6. But they also have soft-serve ice cream AND the option of milkshakes-- Hoorah, we all scream with JOY for it. SO it is definitely an exciting addition to our town, even if it is only open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. It is also an awesome hang out for kids, as they have games and a football table and stuff like that. It's always packed to the brim with kids, and it's wonderful to see they have a healthy place to hang out.
Esther and YaYa play Chutes & Ladders at the Restaurant
Kids hangin' and playing games at the restaurant

It's also a little over the top with the Jesus stuff. Ya know, I don't care what people do or believe if it gives them happiness and hope, and I'm not downplaying all the great things that Samaritan's purse has done for the people of this town (built houses in the wake of the fire, built this restaurant, brought guest speakers/singers etc. to entertain), but it just seems like if you're gonna do nice things for folks, just do the nice stuff, don't make it with religious strings attached. I guess I don't totally know the reasoning behind their approach, but, like I said, it is a little over the top.

When you walk in to the restaurant (after taking off your winter clothes in a wonderfully large clothes-room), the first noticeable thing is the Jesus music. It's broadcasted through a sound system and also can be viewed, Kareoke-style on two big flat-screen TVs posted on either ends of the restaurant. It's the kind of Jesus music that's meant to be "hip!" and appeal to the younger (maybe as yet unconverted?) generation. It's the kind of music that gets into your head and you find yourself waking up to it at 2:am.

Then there is the wall of Jesus books, with titles such as, "The Bride of Christ," and "The Spirit Subdues." AND there was a special mini-golf event inside the restaurant, and if you stood back and looked at all the mini-golf stations, they spelled out "JESUS." And then there's this: here is a shirt that's on sale near the counter --
Although I have not neglected religious education with Esther -- we have had many discussions on her level about what I believe and what others believe -- I think she has gotten more exposure to Christianity at the restaurant than anywhere else. Which is why it totally made sense when she spouted this incredibly hilarious statement: "Right, God lives at Church and Jesus lives at the Restaurant?" Yes, there's Jesus in the back, flipping burgers.

But it was great to show off the hot spot of our village to my mom, and as she said, "It's not a bad burger at all!" It's just one more thing that we're not missing from the outside world: fast food. And since we get it so rarely, YES I do let my child eat it -- though she doesn't like it too much! (ha -- success of the whole-foods mom!) Except for the ice cream... yeah, I've passed on my sugar tooth. *sigh*
Esther getting into her Easter basket
Then the next day was exciting: Easter! And this year, Esther was not afraid of the Easter Bunny (last year she was terrified for some reason) and totally got into the egg & basket search. But we managed to traumatize her again, because it was my bright idea to try to teach her "hot" and "cold" to help guide her searching. I thought it would make the search more fun until, when I was excitedly telling her "You're hot, hot!", she turned to me in tears. Great job, mom! First I try to teach her to stay away from hot stuff, then I encourage her to go to something by saying it's hot -- well, what can I say, it was early and I hadn't woken up yet! Well, she ended up having a good time and getting lots of goodies from the Easter bunny. And yes, I let her eat Easter candy.
Coloring Eggs
We had an Easter dinner at our teacher buddy Tina's house, and then visited Tuluk's family's house, so that my mom could meet his family and his mom. It was a really nice, relaxing day.

I had to go to work all week, but Esther and my mom had great grandma-baby time, and even though Esther spiked a fever a couple days that week, it was OK because they got to snuggle and read lots of books. The week went too fast, and although I was happy that my mom got to make her flights (though not without more drama from Alaska Airlines) and get home on time, I couldn't help but wish a snowstorm had come up to keep her with us. Ah, well -- we'll see her in July. :)
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