Archive for the ‘Alaska Life’ Category

Despite how things seem, it’s really hard to get back into the groove of blog-writing after you’ve taken a little break because your life sucks and you can’t stop focusing on the negative so anything you’d write would be miserable wailing in printed form. I use the word “you” loosely, because obviously, I’m really referring to me and my serious lack of motivation. However, I found a moment of clarity when I woke up and realized that my life doesn’t suck, it’s just super busy and I got myself into all these activities, drama, etc. That being said, if anyone is to blame – it’s me. Thankfully for your sake, in this moment of clarity, I had the sense to break up what I am doing into categories and groups then talk about each one individually. I came up with a list which to refer to when I have a writer’s block. Here is the first one!



The past 3 weeks I have been teaching Zumba classes at the Public Safety Building. I get up at 5am and class is at 6am-7am. I am so proud of my students! I have 6 women who have been coming to classes but usually only 4 or 5 of them at a time. They are clever women and it hasn’t taken them long to pick up the dance moves. When my mind blanks out and I forget the next move, I look to my front row! They remember it and then we have a good laugh at my Monday-brain.

Okay! On to the important bit!

Thinking back to my certification class. I was so nervous about going, who would be there, if I’d be the only one who didn’t know very much about Zumba, if I would look dumb, if I could last through a whole day of sweaty Zumba fun. . . you know, the usual. I searched for blog posts that could tell me what I really wanted to know, to put my fears to rest… I found 2. Although they were helpful, they didn’t give me the peace of mind I thought I would have after reading them. I still had questions. I am a nursing mom, and my baby was only 7 months old at the time of the certification class. I was worried that I wouldn’t get enough breaks or long enough breaks to stop and nurse him. My sister, Ann, was able to fly with me to Anchorage to watch my little guy while I went to the all day certification class. I thought she might have to bring him to the fitness center or come and het me in the case of emergency and worried that they might not let her in if she didn’t have a pass.

Well, I just want to say, I had nothing to worry about. I took notes as far as scheduling and what we did when, but after it was all over I was left with the impression that every Zumba teacher is different and has their own style and that is what makes it special. I doubt very much that my notes will help you when you take your own certification class even if you had the same instructor. All that aside, I will share with you what we did.

I arrived at Anytime Fitness in Anchorage, about 8 o’clock in the morning. Check-in time was about a half hour, plus a few minutes to allow for stragglers. Only 2 people didn’t show up, but it was okay because it was a FULL house anyway. The Zumba instructor from Anytime Fitness was there and some of her students had signed up to get certified so they could substitute for her. One lady had been going to Zumba for 8 years! I started to feel a little awkward because it had only been 3 months for me, but once the music started it was all good. Our instructor started us out by informing us that all we had to do to make it to certification was survive. I was pretty sure I could do that.

For the next hour and 15 minutes we had fun! It was just like a regular class, we followed her – did what she did. I don’t remember all the songs, but I remember 2 of them. “Hula Hoop” and “Loco”. After that, we had our first break. A quick 15 minutes to change clothes, get a water refill and/or eat a snack, then it was down to business with our first lecture.

10:00am – Lecture was 55 minutes. Our instructor shared about Zumba, how it got started, etc. Some of the ladies had their Instructor Training Manual downloaded to their phone, and others didn’t have it at all. It turned out ok, they didn’t get kicked out for not having it. Even though I came prepared with pen and paper I felt like I could have made it through the class without taking any notes at all. There was no written test with essay questions at the end (of the day) to answer, it was all practical. For example, which move is Merengue? Do it.

5 minute break – then on to our first practical – “The Warm-Up”. We did the warm up songs from her routine. It was fun! So fun that I can’t remember if she actually had an 18 minute warm-up section or if we actually did it twice! After this we had another 15 minute break.

11:30am we started up again, but this time it was for us to practice a warm-up routine as a leader. A whole row of us came to the front and each lady got a chance to do a warm-up move of our choice, for about 10 – 15 seconds during the same warm-up song we had followed her through. A couple ladies got off rhythm with the move they chose but quickly realized that it wasn’t going to work for that beat and modified it to fit. We continued practicing until 12:05 then we had another break for lunch.

Lunch from 12:05pm – 1:30pm – I left the building to run back to the hotel to nurse the baby. Then ran back. I barely ate anything all day because my stomach was tight from being nervous. I figured it was okay, I had enough extra to bolster myself through the rest of the day if my body really needed it. I made sure to drink lots of water, I knew that would be very important. The baby was happy and Ann had things under the control. Whew! Thank God for Ann!

1:30pm – 2:00pm We practiced Merengue. We learned the basic march and then the various moves. Also, the 7-count arm movement that threw everyone off. Have fun with that!! =P

*Short break*

2:10pm – 2:45pm We practiced Salsa. We learned the various moves and their names. Salsa is the sexy dance so we also learned to encourage our students to let go and enjoy the music.

*Short break*

2:50pm – 3:10pm We practiced Cumbia. We learned the various moves and to differentiate – strong for men – flirtatious for women students.

*Short break*

3:20pm – 3:40pm We practiced Reggaetón. We learned the various moves for reggaetón. The moves seem familiar to many people and they are easy with a lot of stomping or a strong-arm movement, but they are also similar to salsa, the difference being the hip or arm movements.

*Short break*

3:50pm – 4:13pm Lecture. This was the lecture about business protocol. Getting a CPR certification, liability insurance, and how to legally use Zumba’s name or music. They highly suggest becoming part of the ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) family. I thought maybe I could just wing this part and not have to sign up for this monthly service, but they have it so intertwined (you won’t be listed on the Zumba website as an instructor if you don’t become a ZIN, so people can’t find your class if they are looking for it, and you have to come up with your own choreography and music {besides the 10 songs they give you at the certification class} with separate licenses as well) that it is almost necessary to sign up right away so you can begin practicing for your first class without any hitches. You sign a contract that that says you will be a part of this network for a 6-month period, after which you can quit at any time. I felt like it was a good investment, and that 6 months was a good trial period during which I would find out if I really used the service as much as I thought I would and if I would still need it later. (**more about this later)

*Short break*

4:43pm – 5:00pm TEST. This was the fun part. This was all practical. First she had us split up into groups to help us see the difference between using hand motions or talking someone else through the dance moves. Hand signals are definitely easier for the instructor and they can cross language barriers. She had us listen to “Loco” and each group choreographed a section of the song. We all got to perform our parts at the end of time allowed. She was proud of us because all of us had choreographed the song as a cumbia and that’s what it was. For the last part of the test, she put signs up on each of the 4 walls. Salsa, Cumbia, Reggaetón, and Merengue. We listened to music clips and when we figured out which style of music it was we were to turn and face the wall with the correct sign and dance moves for that style. She would pick out one of us, probably the first one of us to get it right, and bring us to the front so everyone could follow our move that we chose. I enjoyed this test, but not everyone did. A fellow student began to cry when she was brought to the front. It was awkward, but our instructor did not let her give up, she encouraged her and together they did the “Beto Shuffle”. I was so proud of my instructor and I hoped that someday I can be encouraging like that for others.

Good news! We all survived! Even the lady who was off beat with every song. Haha!

**I joined the ZIN family that day and I have really been enjoying it. I get songs every month to which I can create my own choreography or just listen to for fun – my choice! Every other month I get the new workout routine with music. The problems that I have are mostly with the website. My village is in bush Alaska with limited internet data and it’s hard to download the songs and videos and I can’t just login and watch Zumba videos whenever I want. Also, because my village is remote, the Zumba website won’t let me post classes on their website because it says that the address doesn’t exist in google maps. This is super annoying and I have half a mind to call them about it, but again, since our village is so small, I can just post a handmade flyer for Zumba at the grocery store and everyone in town knows about it. Also, the personal website creator is so data heavy that it won’t load at all for me so I haven’t been able to access it. I am hoping that when I get to a place that has better internet that I will be able to personalize the website I’ve been paying for all this time. I am sure you won’t have the same problems. . . unless you live somewhere remote like I do.

Here is another perk that I haven’t been able to use. I got an email with a code in it for 20% off certification class price that I can offer to one of my “front row” students so they might be able to substitute for me in case of one of those sick/off days. I haven’t used it because we just made the decision to move back to Washington and that means that I will be ending classes this week so I can clean and pack. This coupon code expires on August 30th, 2017 and I really hate for it to go to waste. It can only be used once. So if you are interested then reply to this post and let me know. I’d be happy to hook you up!

Thanks for reading! Good luck at your training!!


Read Full Post »

Here in Yakutat, Alaska there are only 2 seasons. Winter and Winter-Extreme! The first day of Spring Break, I woke up to a blizzard. Blowing snow for 3 days! I couldn’t tell you how glad I was to see that it was snowing that morning because the temperature the week before had ranged from 4° to 12° and snow meant the house would stay warm and snug. Hooray for snow!

Thursday afternoon the sun has finally made it through the cloud cover. The sky is a beautiful blue. So fresh and clean…However, I’m really looking forward to the “real” Spring…

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. We love to celebrate this holiday! It’s one of my favorites. Today I found myself daydreaming about what it would be like to live on a farm in Ireland and grow my own potatoes and butter the fresh eggs that come straight from my free-range chickens…sigh… sounds like a lovely life.

Anyway, only 2 years ago, did I discover that we love corned beef! I don’t know how we never had this dish before! It’s amazing. I just followed the directions on the package and put it all in the slow cooker. Viola! Dinner is served.

This year, I found a new recipe that is a little more involved but sounded amazing! I decided to make two (one of each) just in case someone would rather have the “old” recipe. And, because we are having company over for dinner, I looked for special desserts to go with our meal. Anyone know if truffles are an authentic Irish tradition? Because, that’s what I’m making. Real Irish Cream truffles!

I found the recipe for these killer truffles over at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen  It was one of those amazing Pinterest gems I discovered when I was browsing for Irish meals.20170318_162424[1]

Oh yeah! So easy to make but they had to be refrigerated over night (or until firm). Thankfully, I read that the night before and even though I didn’t put them together until the next morning, they still turned out KILLER.

Key ingredient: Homemade Irish Cream  – Which I also found the recipe for over at Carrie’s Experimental Kitchen She’s got a plethora of other recipes to try, I plan on testing them out for myself…later… after I finish a few more bites of truffle. hehe




Read Full Post »

May 7, 2016

It has been raining for many, many days. I’ve lost count of how many. Today the clouds were empty for about 3 hours. Thinking this was day with promise, Tim and I went to the Yakutat Lodge out at the airport for breakfast. We put the windows down in the car and enjoyed the clear air.

The waiter wore a ball cap, his long hair in a ponytail and a fuzzy beard. Pure Alaskan stereotype. We were served water in a glass not much bigger than a shot glass and only because we asked for some. He grabbed the pitcher that had been sitting at a table that he had been wiping down after the previous guests and poured our cups full with that. (Can you see me, wide-eyed, biting my lips?) There was no escaping the two T.V.’s that were visible no matter where you sat in the whole room. They were playing a show where home videos of people who randomly got hurt were replayed for laughs. They were funny and very distracting. I tried very hard to look at my plate and try and think of what I wanted to say. This was supposed to be a date after all. We left soon after eating and I was disappointed that we didn’t have a good conversation over the meal as usual. To make up for it, we decided to take the kids out to the beach and enjoy the mostly cloudy, not rainy weather. I imagined shovels and beach blankets, laughter and running. Today we would forget the chores and responsibilities of indoor Saturday life to bbq our food on an open fire on the beach. YES!

However, the dump run came first. (Tim takes the trash out on Saturdays because it’s closed by the time he gets home during the week… and we really need him to do this! …bears are attracted to garbage)

Wouldn’t you know it, by the time he got back it had begun raining again. This whole week has been like this. Rain, sun, rain. A continual battle of the perfect timing of a no-fail plan against the fickle weather. I plan to take pictures of the wild berry bushes that are in full bloom growing behind our shop and around the edges of our house. I plan to visit with my neighbor over a cup of hot carmel macchiato on a front porch swing. My plans need good weather. Or a good overhanging roof.

I like planning. I enjoy goal setting…  I plan. Unsuccessfully.

This was not an usual occurrence before we moved here. In fact, since moving here I have begun to realize that planning requires more and more from me in every occasion. I can’t forget one detail. The I’m-not-worried-about-it approach that a lot of locals exude is becoming more and more favorable to me than stressing because I forgot to buy safety pins and/or clothes pins while I was in Juneau and no one has any to use for the Gender Reveal Party I hosted. Oh! And none of the stores in town carry them! (Thankfully, tape was ready at hand and was used after a little person suggested it…now why didn’t I think of that?) *Remember to breathe*

It has taken me until today to figure out something very important and that will be useful to me in everyday Yakutat life. Don’t make plans. Seize the day! Or in this case, the moment. Every day is a gift and it’s so important not to misuse or abuse the gift. Even a rainy day is special to God. Spend it doing what matters. With others who matter.

I guess I’ll make some cookies and invite my children to play a board game at the table with me… Wait. Just as I typed those last couple of sentences the sun popped out! Better take advantage and hit the beach! No plans here. I’m seizing the day!

Read Full Post »

On a certain Saturday afternoon that Tim was feeling adventurous, he packed up all the kids (with the exception of Lottie who was taking a nap), a 5 gallon bucket, a shovel, and the dog and headed out to a well-known clam-infested beach. He had made plans earlier in the week with a friend of his to meet and see how the clam digging is done.

I’m going to skip the “how-to” on this part because I wasn’t there and just go on to the part where everyone came back home soaked up to the waist, covered in sand, and grinning from ear to ear. Yes, they went out at low tide. Apparently, it was more fun to the kids (and the dog) to run into the ocean than it was to dig clams. Tim was the only one not soaking and he carried the bounty of fresh clams soaking in the same salt water he found them in.


I don’t have many pictures of this, but they stick out their “tongues” into the water. The kids would pick them up and pull them out of the water. They would suck in their “tongues” and shut their shell quickly. All the extra water would shoot out like a water gun. My kids enjoyed this part and would laugh when they were squirted in the face. It quickly turned into a game of trying to get the clams to squirt while aiming at someone else. The house was filled with laughter until bedtime.

We left the clams in the bucket of saltwater until Sunday afternoon when Tim was feeling ambitious enough to cook them up all by himself. I relaxed on the couch after my first morning of teaching Sunday school (in Yakutat) and provided moral support.

First he cut the clam shells apart.


Rinsed out the sand


Prepped them with garlic powder
We did try the recommended egg and crushed crackers first, but it was gross. Thankfully I remembered my mom saying that when she has escargot it was smothered in butter and garlic, so we tried that. Much better!

Then, turned them upside down and placed them carefully into a fry pan with a lovely layer of melted butter

We (I did one time) watched them until the water on the shell dried and they turned slightly white. That meant they were done. Tim took them out of the pan and we all tried one. The kids took plenty of video of their grossed out faces eating a cooked clam.

I loved the chewy clams in clam chowder otherwise I probably would have been grossed out by the whole process and not have been able to eat one. When it was my turn, I tried it and the buttery garlic flavor was delicious! I ate several. The only problem was that they were very chewy and it took a long time to chew them well. We also found out later that you are supposed to cut off the tongues

(Doesn’t that look Gooooooood???? Yeah, not so much… But it tastes delightful!)

But we didn’t know, so we didn’t. No one noticed anything weird. Maybe next time we will try that bit and see if it’s better. J

Have you ever watched that movie musical by Rogers and Hammerstein with the Clam Bake in it? The one where the whole town is going. Oh, why can’t I think of the name? I only saw it once as a kid… anyway, I thought the Clam Bake looked like so much fun and I wanted to go too. Now I can have my own Clam Bake anytime!


Read Full Post »

Looking forward to my second trip to Juneau with Ann! That’s coming up next week. I will get to see my baby for the first time on ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. I am meeting with my current direct-entry midwife and also a CNM. My day is going to be pretty full. I don’t know how I’ll squeeze in any shopping. I am anticipating being worn out completely…

Our first appointments were a blast! We stayed in a comfy hotel, watched “Fixer-Upper” on cable, ordered room service, and did a lot of shopping! I felt like a teenager and even jumped on the bed (which wasn’t as springy as I had anticipated)!


Being silly with my sis!


This time I plan to get a pedicure. All the chlorinated water has dried out my skin and my feet are scratchy (GROSS)…So you know, I can justify that expenditure! It’s for my health! ;P

Next week is also Spring Break. So… Our 6 kids will be holding down the fort while both parents are gone for the day. Tim will be home for lunch to check on them. He’s confident that they will do fine. I agree, as long as they watch TV or go to the park.

I am planning to have a little party with them when I get back. They deserve a celebration day. I’m not sure what we’ll do yet. Maybe go to the beach? Blow up some balloons. Root beer floats. Cake. It would be so cool if Yakutat had a bowling alley… sigh. Oh well. We make our own fun!


Read Full Post »

Hey there! I know it’s been a while, but it’s been very hectic and stressful here and very hard to think of nice things to say… this was originally supposed to be a February post, but it’s now made it to March without being posted. It is NOW time. J

God is so good! His mercies are new EVERY morning. I have some good news to share:

We are pleased to announce that baby #7 is on his/her way! And as you can imagine, all of the things that go with expecting a little one, during the first trimester, has been taking it’s toll…

This week has been pretty trying. I have spent a lot of time sleeping or sitting on the couch watching DORA with Lottie. The castle is a little un-kept right now… (I will leave the details of that to your imagination).

Today, at some point I will drag myself over to Ann’s house to make a few phone calls and get my first out-of-town doctor appointment. I will have to get on the airplane and fly to my appointments! Can you imagine that? …I’m sorry, I am just amazed at how this certain aspect of life will change everything for our family. (I will share more about that later) Ann has graciously offered to come with me to my first appointment, show me around Juneau, and get me started. I am so grateful for her help!

I haven’t mentioned before, but she is also expecting! She’s due 6 weeks before I am. (I am betting she’s having a boy. Just to shake things up!)

If we haven’t learned to juggle by now, is there any hope? Tim started his new job at the fuel company two weeks ago. He will be leaving town to take tests for a CDL and certain endorsements next week. I was really concerned about this at first, mainly because I was under the impression that he would be gone 6 weeks or more and I didn’t want to be “left” here where I know no one and have no resources available. Thankfully, my heart has been put at ease. He only has to be gone a couple of days. I am usually selfish about his time. This is no different. For one thing, he has been making me breakfast in the morning to settle my stomach before I get out of bed. This morning especially, it made all the difference. From laying around all day to up and at ’em! …I’m not in a big hurry to give him up! I NEED him. I have considered, of course, talking Chelsie into setting her own alarm to get up and make me breakfast before I even open my eyes so that I won’t be sick all day… yeah, that was just a passing thought. At almost 13 she’s not in any hurry to get out of bed, EVER. So I haven’t bothered asking. And just so you know, crackers at the side of my bed don’t work. It’s gotta be MEAT! Like over medium eggs and corn bread muffins. Bacon is a plus, but mostly I just need the eggs. Yesterday, I ate four! That’s more than double what I usually can eat. I was so hungry! Tim makes the best eggs and bacon breakfast I have ever had.

I have heard that a lot of women get sick at the smell of eggs in their first trimester… not the case with me. I have also been craving red meat, especially hamburgers! The other day, I wanted pickled asparagus! YUM! Neither of the two stores in town carry it, so I bought a jar of baby dills instead. I feel strange having cravings this early in pregnancy. Doesn’t that usually start in the second trimester?

Okay, so… here is a big problem. I have no maternity clothes here. They are all in storage back in Washington. In my last pregnancy, I started wearing maternity clothes by week 6 because, well… I was growing! Only my belly though, and it got bigger than it ever had with any of the others. My shirts were NOT long enough! I am two days away from the 6 week point. I am crossing my fingers that I can stay the same size until I can get my clothes from storage or some new stuff… I doubt it though, I have been eating every 2 hours and sleeping a lot. So far, so good!


Read Full Post »

IMG_0947Yakutat is a coastal village, population 650 according to the 2010 census, (that number has since declined considerably). It’s #7 in the world for surfing with several beaches to choose from for a day of fun.

Here are some things that are worth mentioning. I will probably have more as time goes on, but for now…

Driving: Everyone waves. Everyone. To everyone, whether you know them or not. Locals will even wave in the pitch dark. If you don’t wave, you don’t belong. And that is that. (We are still getting used to this and when Tim was questioned by Chelsie why he had not waved in the pitch dark he responded with, “I waved in my heart.”)

I occasionally get the peace sign or a hand wag, but for the most part it‘s 4 fingers straight up off the top of the wheel. This is hard to get used to because I felt comfortable with hand positioning at the bottom of the wheel near 5 and 7. I am now forced to keep both hands as close to the noon position as possible. Luckily, there isn’t far to drive. Ever.

Beaches: Just at the edge of the woods the sand becomes very fine and feels good to walk on with your bare feet. The ocean washes over the sand beautifully and draws up shells, drift wood and (if you’re lucky) sea glass. Once we found an old lantern.
The weather is often better out at the beach. Usually on a cloudy day, the beach holds a break in the clouds for the sun to shine through. But not always! The storm seems a more beautiful scene at the beach and we like to go out just to watch the waves build and break across the sand. The summer we stayed here, we drove out to Cannon Beach during a storm. I couldn’t wait to see the ocean! I wanted to know if it really was different in a storm or if the movies just made it look like a troubled emotion for effect. It didn’t disappoint me. It was very intense and I was glad we had the safety of the sandy shore to stand upon.

The wind is more intense at the beach as well and a warm jacket is good to have on hand even on a sunny summer day. Once I was told about a friend’s daughter who caught her long hair on fire when the wind blew it into the driftwood campfire. I am sure that was quite the experience, but I wasn’t there at the time. I saw the hair cut afterwards. Yikes! Lesson learned. Have the presence of mind to keep your hair up (if it’s long) when at the beach!

Popularity: We are the first family to move to Yakutat in some time. The reports of how often people move out is alarming. The last family moved out of town because Boys Basketball was terminated. The determining factor being that there weren’t enough boys with passing grades to make a full team.
There are two schools and a handful of very talented teachers. Most of the grades are combined reminding me of the private schools from “our old town”. Friendly and close-knit.

Water: The city owns two wells, although I am not sure if both are in working order. The water smells very strongly of chlorine and has even burned our noses when holding a glass up to our mouths to take a drink. After a shower, my skin is dried out, my hair smells like I’ve been at the community pool and is even starting to turn red at the roots! We were given a brand new Brita, which we use to filter all our drinking water. Berky was recommended as the water filter brand of choice among the locals and I’ve set a goal to own the largest one.
On the upside, I don’t have to add any bleach to the rinse water while doing dishes or laundry, it already has plenty!
Fishing: I wouldn’t do Yakutat justice if I didn’t mention it’s fishing industry. Fishing is Yakutat’s economic foundation. Most of the population are fishermen. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t fish. Some have jobs within the community and fish on the side. Others do what they want with their time and fish when it’s “worth it”. Hunting and trapping are also a big part of living off the land.

All these things are part of daily life in rural Alaska. It’s a blessing to be a part of such an experience.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »