Our life and Times in Hooper Bay, Alaska (as well as our many travels)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Princess Esther's 5th Birthday and Mischevious Miss Iris
Princess Esther turned 5 on November 19, and we celebrated in style. She had a party in her Kindergarten classroom with cupcakes (above). When we came in to the classroom with the party goods, I saw evidence of how awesome her Yup'ik Language Immersion classroom is: the kids were "storyknifing" in plates of mud, which was a traditional way of telling stories while drawing pictures to accompany it in the mud or snow:
Then, over the weekend, we had a celebratory homeade pizza party with a Pink Lady Cake with adult friends. Then it was no holds barred for her kids' party, for which she wore a special YaYa-chosen sparkly party dress:
Which was fabulously accessorized by the faux otter stole that was given to her by Auntie Marta:
Hordes of children came to eat cake and play party games which included a Dora Pinata (thanks tons Carla!):
It was a fabulous birthday week. I believe Esther felt sufficiently presented (understatement of the year!)! :)
And not to bypass the other lil' chick in our household, Miss Iris has been showing off her mischevious side lately, by getting into interesting places:
I was born in Indiana, which got me hankering after other places at an early age. After getting my degree at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, I moved to rural Alaska to teach in 1999. Loving Alaska but feeling I lacked the skills to teach Alaskan kids well, I moved to Seattle for four years to complete my Master's in Special Education and Reading at Seattle University. I will always consider Seattle one of my homes; I am in love with the city -- especially since my daughter, Esther, was born there in 2004. But her extended family lives in Hooper Bay, so in addition to always wanting to live in Alaska again, I wanted to raise Esther to know Hooper Bay and her Yup'ik heritage, so we moved back in 2005. Esther's younger sister Iris made her debut a couple years ago, and so we are a family of three women on the tundra. Now I feel like we are really getting into the subsistence lifestyle, despite working full time during the school year and traveling a bit outside during the summer, we make getting outside constant priority.
They've kept mine alive through all their childhood illnesses!
Pictures of our Summer 2009 Travels
Below are pictures (will be updated through the summer) from our travels this summer. We started our travels with a whirlwind long weekend to Anchorage, Nikiski, and Big Lake for Iris's pediatrician appointment and then visits to Jill & family& friends, and then Katie & Moses & family. We leave for Seattle & Indiana on June 27.
Esther with Snowcrab at Phyllis's on 5th
Who knew there could be crab on the kids' menu for $9.95? Only in Alaska, I guess. :) PS Esther LOVED it and wanted more.
We got to visit with Jill's parents, too!
Pat and Fred are the best. :)
Bouncing Bears Inflatable Extravaganza
Katie & Moses took us to this awesome indoor playground in Big Lake.
Even Iris got to slide
BIG Farm Trike --with frills, of course
Esther learned to pedal this summer!
Iris's first time on horseback
Ya-Ya and Chelli helped Iris have her first ride on MacKenzie
Even momma got to ride
for the first time in FOREVER
Esther's Swim Lessons
Quote from the swim teacher: She's a fish!
Family Bike Riding
We rode down to the playground and back... it was perfect.
They JUST fit, this year.
Hopefully next year Esther will be riding alongside me!
Our Traditional Story, Indiana Breakfast
They have the best pancakes and eggs benedict. Couldn't miss it.
Fun at Fair Oaks Dairy
Esther with Mary Grace and Claire, with the cow-milking carousel in the background
Hamming it up at Cavalia
We met up with Jerry at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago!
Outside the Monkey House
Just two apes, hanging out...
Beach Day at Lake Michigan
AND the day that Evan proposed to Erin!
Trillium (plus!) once again on the stage -- the finale to Emily's Concert at Talltree Aboretum
We sang our old favorite, "Careless Love," with Brad accompanying on fab mandolin
Wow, what a reunion!
Our high school gang reunited (plus little ones!) 15 years after graduation at Emily's concert at Talltree Arboretum
Iris's first County Fair
We SO want a bunny. Does anyone have any advice on keeping an inside, litter-trained bunny?
Esther's Bungee Extravaganza
Hamming it up with sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews, and brothers-in-law
My sister Tina had this great barbeque for us at the end of the summer.
Pictures of our Summer 2008 travels
I decided to organize this sidebar with pictures from each summer, rather than devoting posts to them, so if you scroll down through, you'll be able to see Esther get younger and younger through our travels... :)
Back at the Indiana Farm
Although it's hot we are glad to be relaxing and getting ready for the new one at my mom's house
Esther with the newest baby on the farm: Foal Asia!
Esther, Ya-ya, and Gramer at the Porter County Fair
Esther's first roller coaster ride
She seemed great while on the ride, but after this one, she was DONE with fair rides for the day!
Esther and Ya-ya on the Merry-go-round
Picking Indiana Blueberries
Esther did great her first time picking from a big bush -- she picked half as many as I did!
Esther thanking Perry for the ride
It was our third year camping out at Brown County State Park in southern Indiana with Janet and her horses -- hot but totally fun.
Our Third Annual Story Inn Breakfast
Awesome, as ever! New Friend Linda joined Janet, mom, Esther and I for our annual Brown County meal.
Seattle visit with Kara & Dana (and Hello Kitty, of course)
Our trip through Seattle was quick but time enough to get good visits in
Pizza at our favorite on Capitol Hill -- Hot Mama's
Making wishes with Melissa
Visit with Jill and dogs, 4th of July
We went to Jill's house right when we left Hooper Bay, to get a good visit and to drop off our beloved Fancy & Draco pups, who get to live with the big boys, Jill & Jeremy's sled dogs, till we return to Hooper Bay in the fall
Jill & Jeremy's newest homestead accomplishment: A fancy outhouse!
Draco & Fancy getting settled in their new digs
They were so overwhelmed! After never having been in so much as a car, they were in three cars and three planes in one day, and the next day they were introduced to the swirling mob of big dogs in Jill & Jeremy's dog lot. But they will get the best care here they possibly could get anywhere -- and they got their fixing appointment at the vet accomplished, so they are all set.
Esther on the steps of J & J's Palace
Inside the Homestead
It's so impressive to see all what Jill & Jeremy have accomplished as they build their house from scratch
Skull of the Black Bear we ate
We had the great luck to get invited to a Black-Bear-Rib barbecue at Jill's friends' house Steve and Jen -- it was awesome meat, and a first for both of us.
Pictures of our Summer 2007 travels
This was the summer Esther was 2 and a half, and we did lots of fun stuff, like our annual campout with Janet & horses in Brown County, a meet-up with Emily, Sunny, Erin, Sarah, & Charlene (all of us Valparaiso High School grads of '94), and fun on the farm.
Esther with Indiana Cousins
We went to Fort Wayne, IN July 29, where two of my sisters live for my nieces Karyn & Hannah's birthday party (they were born two weeks apart). L to R: Marina, Steven, Karyn, Hannah, and Elena is holding Esther. Frank, Colin and Taylor, aren't in this shot.
Esther with her Indiana Aunties
L to R: Aunt Tina, Aunt Anne, Aunt Kristin, in Fort Wayne July 29
Esther with Auntie Erin at the big spitting fountains at Millenium Park, Downtown Chicago
This is just moments before Erin and Esther get soaked with the waterfall that came rushing from the top of the tower and surprised them -- which was totally hilarious to the rest of us who saw what was happening but couldn't do anything about it until it was too late. This wild tower was doing all kinds of things with water, and the projection of the face would change every so often -- lots of different faces.
The aftermath of the soaking in the waterfall
Yes, they enjoyed themselves anyway. :)
Esther shows a lot of promise as a future Trillium revival group member
Sunny and Emily teaching Esther about folking it up
Living it up at Lake Michigan!
Love that beach, in all its moods.
Breakfast with Janet & Dennis in Story, Indiana
Our 2nd annual breakfast at this awesome breakfast spot right outside the park.
Esther got to ride Perry
She was thrilled to ride on Janet's gorgeos Arabian guy around the campground. I, on the other hand, got to ride on the trails of Brown County for the first time since I was a teenager! It was some great momma time....
Erin's Fabulous Farewell Dinner at 55 Erie
Emily, Erin, Charlene, Sarah, Nikki, me, Vicki (Nikki's mom) and Sunny all gathered on July 19 evening at our old high school hangout -- Sunny's house. Erin cooked wonderfully.
Pictures of Summer & Fall 2006 Travels
We had a great summer of travel -- which extended into a great fall of travel after the tragic burning of Hooper Bay school gave us a few more months of vacation. Esther was 1 and a half this summer, turning 2 just a few days after we returned to Hooper Bay in November of 2006. Below are pictures going backwards from our last trip of the fall (to visit Sunny in California), our road trip to homecoming at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC, our train trip through Pennsylvania, New York, and Toronto, to our visit with Ya-Ya in Indiana, and our first campout ever in California!
Sunny with Esther and I, November 2006
We revisited Natural Bridges park together, a year & a half after Esther's first visit there, which was her first visit to a beach ever.
Esther cavorting on Natural Bridges Beach, Santa Cruz, CA Nov 2006
Esther, Erin & Evan, Walnut St Cafe, November 2006
We had a great breakfast all together in this cool Santa Cruz, CA cafe
Esther hangin' with Melissa and Dan, Nov 2006, Tacoma, WA
This was the evening Esther and Dan looked at a National Geographic Magazine about evolution and Dan jokingly told Esther, "Esther, remember that people are really monkeys". She still says, "People are Monkeys!" to this day.
Esther with buds Jodi & Bob, and of course Cody & Digger dogs, November 2006
Just because these folks moved away from Hooper Bay does not mean they moved out of my heart. We went to visit them near Gig Harbor, WA, on our November Seattle Trip
Froggie Halloween, Indiana, October 2006
Esther is sitting on the porch at the Indiana farm wearing her oh-so-cute thrift-find Froggie costume, holding Little Bit Kitty, who by some chance of fate decided to make this the perfect Halloween picture.
Michigan City Zoo Halloween Fest, October 2006
Nikki gave us the idea to go to the Michigan City Zoo for their Halloween Festival. If you look hard into the background, you can see the Lake.
My little Rocker, Indianapolis, October 27, 2006
Esther at her first rock concert! We drove down to see Panda & Angel in a cool record store in Indianpolis. Esther liked the experience and loved seeing Carrie & Kara. Everyone LOVED her. :)
She had to lie down to listen! Super cute.
Warren Wilson College Homecoming Celebration, October 2006
Esther and I took a ride on the draft horse wagon, around the farm valley. It was so great to take this road trip down to North Carolina and visit old friends (some of whom had never met Esther!) and show Esther all these places special to my heart. It was kind of wild to me that it was all new for her, that since she is so familiar to me and so are these places, that it was strange that she wouldn't know these places already. It was kind of wild to think of myself, without her, in college years earlier. It's really hard to imagine my life or myself without her, now. :)
Visiting Annie-Louise & Family
It was really great to let Esther meet this big family and visit their farm. It's good to know that friendships stay strong even if we haven't seen each other in years.
Esther and Tanya, Oct 2006
We visited Tanya at her wonderful barn-house just up the mountain from our old Alma Mater, and she and Esther watched butterflies on a big bush.
Esther with Joan & Alex, Oct 2006
We drove from Pittsburgh down to North Carolina, to visit my old haunts. Our first stop was to visit Joan & Alex, my old plumber boss. As you can see, Esther really hit it off with them!
My little artiste
On our visit to Pittsburg, October 2006, we spent a day at the Children's Museum, where Esther explored painting -- at a squat! :)
Our fancy bike set up
I bought a bike and this child trailer to pull Esther behind me when I returned to Indiana in Sept 2006. This way I can get exercise with Esther with me, and we can take advantage of being in the Midwest with all the flat, straight country roads. We saw deer and all manner of birds while out biking, and though Esther had mixed feelings at times about it, I think we both got a lot out of the experience
Our Chicago Day with Nikki and Erin, Sept 2006
We went to the Field Museum, and then back to the Artist's cafe again, the one with the smoothie store and Chinese art shop right on top of the train station home. It was a fun day!
Trying out a different kind of riding
Esther on her first tricycle, Sept 2006
Esther Riding Tauna, Sept 2006
She's an equestrian already!
Gorgeous Beach Day, Sept 2006
Lake Michigan is awesome in late summer -- here are Esther and I with Erin and Nikki
Esther and I riding Tauna
September 2006 -- we're riding Tauna to the swingset area so that she can eat down the grass!
Esther, Heather, and Sheila at Aana's(Grandma's) house August 2007
Here is Esther playing with her two closest-in-age cousins, Heather (in back) and Sheila. Sheila is a month older than Esther and Heather is a month younger.
Emily leaving by Grant Air
August 2006, my dear friend Emily came with us to visit Hooper Bay. Here she is leaving by small bush plane -- a very typical size for the planes that come through several times a day, weather permitting.
Esther crawling through an old doorway
The sod houses at Old Hooper Bay had doorways that you crawled through, to keep the cold air out. A few of these doorways are still sort-of intact -- here is Esther crawling through one as perhaps one of her ancestors once did. Roy says now they're full of foxholes, but with all the ruckus we were making, I'm sure we scared all the foxes away before she crawled through.
Picking Berries while Esther naps on my back August 2006
I felt as if I were reaching back through the ages, bonding with hunter-gatherer mothers of lost ages, picking berries with my babe on my back. It felt great.
Drawing with Auntie Jill August 2006
Esther called Jill "Ahno" on this visit
West Seattle Farmer's Market, August 2006
Visiting one of our old haunts, on our Seattle visit, early August 2006
Kara & Esther August 2006
Kara's teaching Esther about keyboards
Carrie & Esther, August 2006
And Carrie is teaching her about drums. :)
Fred & Pat & Jill with Esther, Seattle visit 2006
We had a really fun day bopping around Seattle and hanging at Uwajimaya
Esther is teaching Melissa about honeybuckets
At Melissa's family's cabin on a wilderness lake outside of Toronto, Ontario, the wonderful end point to our Amtrak trip July 2007
Our Staten Island Sojourn, July 4, 2006
With Stephanie, Slava, & Cale -- Stephanie is my friend all the way from my first year in college at Virginia Intermont
Esther and Jennae in a Brooklyn Cafe
Visiting our fun NYC friend at the mid point of our Amtrak trip, July 2, 2006
Picking Raspberries in Mechanicsburg
Esther and I in early July 2006 on our Northeastern Amtrak voyage
With Emily at the Children's Museum, Pittsburgh, June 30
Esther and I on the Santa Cruz Warf, June 2006
We had a very warm welcome on our first California Trip of the year -- it was gorgeous weather.
Blue Baby, Santa Cruz Pier June 2006
This picture seems a little bit old Hollywood to me, with Esther the glamorous star. Or maybe that's just a mother's spin on a cute picture.
Bonny Doon Beach, California June 2006
Emily and I took a meandering drive to try to find this beach and we did it! While Esther napped. Windy, but gorgeous.
Pictures from before the blog was even thought of ---
Wondering how much Iris looks like Esther when she was a baby? Look no further, just scroll down for a backwards progression....
Esther among the Daisies, June 2006
The daisies were blooming when Esther and I returned to my mom's house in San Pierre, IN in June, and Esther looked so lovely among them. Too bad it was so darn hot!
Esther in an Utkuk
When she is about 16 months old
Esther's second Christmas
Esther's first manaking
Don't ask what I used for bait...
Esther's first time on the tundra
The day after she arrived in Hooper Bay for the first time, July 2005
Esther's Blessing Ceremony
Esther at 7 months -- she looks like a little nature goddess!
Esther and Papa
Rolly-polly Giggly Watermelon Girl
Esther at 3 months
Esther makes her appearance
With YaYa, a few minutes after she was born
Before it all began
About 3 weeks before the birth of Esther -- this is at my apartment in Seattle
Iris Panoramic from Old Hooper Bay towards the Ocean Fall 2009
Esther Panoramic from Old Hooper Bay towards the new Fall 2009
Esther at the beach June 2009
This picture really FEELS like we're on the edge of the world
The first snow day Sunrise
Early October 2007
View from my classroom, December 2006
My 2nd-story classroom window gives a gorgeous view of the village and mountains at sunrise, which, at this time of the year, happens around 10:30 am.
The new view from my new classroom window
I'm on the bay side, now -- August 2007
Sundogs on a lovely March evening
This was taken just off my back step when the sundogs (little curved rainbows) were to the right and left of the sun
Winter view from Nuvok, early March 2007
My Honda seems so tiny in this landscape of frozen tundra; the mountains are in the background, and the school & town is off to the left.
The commons area of the new school
The stairs up to the high school, and through the big windows is our library
The new school
Here is the beautiful and huge new school. This picture was taken from my back doorstep. My classroom is to the far left in this picture, but not visible because the middle school wing to the far left is dwarfed by the main body of the school.
Ruins of the Old Hooper Bay School -- After the fire, which was August 3, 2007.
View of the inferno
Here you can get a good view of the old fuel tanks that, if they had exploded, would have burned a much larger area. By some chance and hard work of the firefighters, they didn't explode. They were taken down after the fire.
A pair of tundra swans
Perhaps in large view they will be easier to discern
Esther at Old Hooper Bay, August 2006
Esther is standing above the remnants of an old sod house in the old village of Hooper Bay, down near the beach. In the background you can see the mountains and the present-day village, and of course, the beautiful fall tundra.
Esther on the Beach, Santa Cruz, CA November 2006
Esther was in love with the beach and the waves on our visit to California this time. I love this picture, her standing in amazement watching the waves at sunset.