Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Nome, Alaska, United States
After getting burned out teaching high school in a tiny Alaskan town, I have moved on to being a child advocate in a small Alaskan town. The struggles are similar, but now I can buy milk at the store.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Finance Free February

Some of you may have heard of "No Shave November." It's a college thing, and is often followed by "No Date December." While I've never tried NSN, my camp girls did participate in the "Week Challenge" of not bathing for the entire time at camp. As the adult chaperone, I was sufficiently grossed out.

The point: As you may have noticed by the title of today's post, I will be hosting my own "Finance Free February." This will involve me not spending any money for one month.

Living in Alaska, this is both easier and harder than it sounds, for the following reasons:

- I don't have to buy gas to put in anything
-It's not like I'm going to get invited out to eat
-I buy my groceries in bulk, so I'm pretty much set on that front

-Art work just wanders over to my house, and it's not going to be available for long
-The Sinnok Snack Shack delivers!
-The seniors sell stuff ALL THE TIME, and it's stuff I like. Such as Dt. Mountain Dew.

Here are the exceptions to Finance Free February:
-The phone bill
-The credit card bill (after all, this is January Spending, not February)
-My Iditarod plane ticket
-Post office fees. After all, Dad's birthday is this month.

And just in case of "emergencies" I have $80 sitting next to my chair.

Addendum: Lisa my neighbor came over last night, and reminded me that I said I wanted to buy girl scout cookies. Let's make that $72 for emergencies.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Procrastination. . . with a vengeance.

In an attempt to avoid working on my last big research paper, I decided to tear apart my old bulletin boards. One was put together by my mentor, in the fall of '05. I figured it was probably time anyway. I pulled everything down, but before I could put them back together, I REALLY had to finish that paper. For the last couple weeks, I've had blank boards. Just plain old boring brown cork.

My next big paper is due this weekend. So, of course, I decided to put my boards back together. I even went as far as to put new paper on two boards in the hallway, hang stuff on one, and completely remake another. Since no one around here seems to care, I've decided to share my procrastination with you.

(I should mention that I actually opened my laptop to start writing my paper. My research is done. My outline is done. Now I'm just at the "write it down" phase of the writing process. This is where my kids get stuck a lot too.)

This one is behind my desk:

This one used to be bigger, but has since been covered by a bookshelf, so I decided to put this poster lower. It used to be above the white-board, but no one could read it up there:

This board has gone through the most changes in my time here, and I currently like its information. Also how I can now put it all together in one place.

Here is my hallway one:

See how it's math stuff? It's actually riddles and stuff. It was the best I could come up with after school yesterday.

The irony of this one is that the border is American flags, and the hidden door posters are about a British Book. I won't tell if you don't. Also, standing this far back, I see that my posters are at bad angles. Luckily, this one is in the hallway, and I don't have to look at it on a regular basis.

I am fully aware that this blog posting is pretty much "Lame."  Of course, the only things I have going right now are classes I teach, and I'm pretty sure you, my devoted fans, don't care about appositives, my personal class, which even I have problems being interested in sometimes, and my cheerleaders, which you will all hear about later, because we're selling stuff tonight.

I just realized I was trying to think of something else to write about so I don't have to work on my paper. Enough procrastinating. Here I go . . . to write. . . aaaaaaaaany second now. . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

Trip to Copenhagen

It has been brought to my attention that I didn't actually talk about the Copenhagen trip. (Sorry Mom) There's a perfectly reasonable explanation for this. I only have time to freak out about one thing at a time. -During September, that was, "Will I function in this masters class?"
-During October, it was, "Will these cheerleaders ever learn this routine, and if so, will they get marked poorly on their grade checks and keep us from going?"
-November was all about the trip.
-December was, "How many more words do I need for this massive research paper?"

And now we're in January. My next research paper isn't due for a week, and it's not huge anyway. So now I have a little time to go back, think about things, and post about that time.

Here was the rundown (The bold and bulleted was the plan, the paragraphs are what actually happened. It's close most of the time.) :

Thursday, December 3rd
            -Attend school like normal.
            -Catch flight from SHH to Nome
            -from Nome to ANC 9:10

This part worked pretty well. I just hugged Amy and left. It was at the airport in Shishmaref that Janelle and her mom took a long time saying goodbye, and Meghann complained that we weren't leaving yet.

Three hours later, the scene was reenacted with Meghann saying goodbye to her dad, and Janelle wondering why we couldn't just get on the plane.

In Anchorage, we stopped off at Meghann's Grandmother's house, and met some family. Then there was some shopping at Wal-Mart, where we bought some cute magnets that say "Alaska" and then got back on the plane.

Friday, December 4th:
            -2:30 flight from ANC to Seattle
            -6:45 am Colleen’s Dad picks us up, feeds us, and takes us to the Federal Building
            -Get Janelle’s passport put together
            -Go home with Colleen’s parents
Our plane landed, we found our bags, and caught the bus to downtown. We got a couple weird looks for being on a bus with all our luggage, but it wasn't that big of a deal.

Since we landed so early, and our appointment at the federal building for Janelle's passport wasn't until 9, we stopped off at a little bistro for breakfast. Meghann and Janelle each had their first taste of eggnog (not impressed) and I had a giant cookie (very impressed). Meghann also took her picture in front of the alcohol fridge, and told me that she'd tell people back home that I took them to a bar.

We then went down to the federal building, where they let us in with my drivers license, Meghann's passport, and Janelle's tribal ID card. When we got to the passport office, we were told that our paperwork was fine, but the pictures we'd brought weren't good enough. So we left a sleeping Meghann with our luggage, and went to a local Kinko's. For those of you who may think it was irresponsible of me to leave a student unattended, let me tell you this: She's 17, and was in the most protected building in Seattle.

We then reentered the building, saying hello to the same security guards as before, and went back upstairs, where we were told that a tribal ID card wouldn't be good enough for identification. Luckily, I had an e-mail from someone higher up than that woman, saying it was valid, so her paperwork went in. We were told to come back at 3 and pick it up. That's right. There are about 8 buildings in the US where one can walk in and get a passport that same day, but only in cases where you can prove you're flying in the next week, and need it RIGHT NOW. Well, we needed it RIGHT NOW, so we were okay.

Then we hung around outside for a minute, and I made friends with the cop standing guard outside. When it was time for my dad to come get us, I asked him if it was okay for my dad to pull up into the bus zone, and he said it was fine. See, sometimes it helps to be nice to the cops.

Dad suggested we go to the Pacific Science Center, which I like just fine, but the girls wanted to go to the ZOO. So we did. A good time was had by all, and the lion tried to eat Janelle. It was AMAZING.

At 2:00, we went back to the federal building. Meghann was asleep again at this point, so Janelle and I ran in to pick up her passport. I got in just fine with my drivers license. The afternoon guard decided that Janelle's tribal ID card wasn't good enough. I tried to explain to him that her passport was upstairs, but that we couldn't go get it until he let us in the building. He decided to go ask his supervisor. Luckily, (again) the other guards remembered us, and told him to let us in. We got the passport, found Dad, who was circling the block, and headed for home.
Saturday, and Sunday December 5,6th:
-       Hang out with Colleen’s family

Saturday was the day we went to a fabulous Christmas Craft Bazaar at Clear Lake Elementary, and the girls bought wooden flowers.

Janelle's grandparents from Seattle came and got her for the rest of the weekend, and Meghann and I went with my sister to the craft store, the dollar store, and the chinese buffet, where we met up with my parents. Good times.

Church on Sunday. Meghann decided she'd rather come with me than stay home with my parents all afternoon, so she got to meet some of my friends. She would like me to know that my church is long, and boring. Mostly that's because the singles ward we went to doesn't have a Young Women's program, so she had to come to classes with us boring adults.

Monday, December 7th:
            -Plane from SEA Amsterdam leaves 12:45pm

Mom drove us to Seattle, we picked up Janelle on the way, and headed out. Our plane left in the early afternoon, but after 10 hours of flying, it was Tuesday morning. Yeah for time zones. Unfortunately, it's hard to convince myself, let alone my kids, that they should be sleeping at 4 in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 8th:
            -Arrive in Amsterdam, leave there 11:00am
-Arrive in Copenhagen 1:30 pm   
We ate at Burger King in the Amsterdam airport. We paid with US Dollars, and were given our change in Euros. It was probably a good thing, because I don't even want to think about how it probably cost me $5 for some chicken nuggets.

We got into Copenhagen, found a small bench that looked like a train, and waited. Then waited some more. And I silently wondered if I would recognize Christine Germano again. After all, we'd been e-mailing, but I hadn't seen her in person since she was in Shishmaref a year previous.

We all found each other in the end. Bags were loaded, Canadians were met, and we all jumped on the bus to the Bella Center, so we could get our bus passes and photo ID.

Wednesday, December 9th:
            -5pm presentation at World Wildlife Federation tent

Christine Germano was able to show some of the photo's she's taken while in Shishmaref, Canada, Greenland, and Norway. Outside was a statue of a polar bear, carved in ice, which melted over the course of the two weeks.

The "tent" was outside. It had wood floors, electricity, and heaters. It was maybe the nicest tent I'd ever seen.

Thursday, December 10th:
            -Opening of museum exhibit
-National Museum of Denmark Luncheon

The girls did a fabulous job reading their stories about Shishmaref, and how global warming is affecting our lives. They were not as polished as I would have liked, but they had much better ideas than some of the other kids, who just sort of stood up there and went "Uh. . . well . . . "

Friday, December 11th:
            -Tour Copenhagen, museums, talk to other students involved

Yeah, we ended up going to Tivoli this day. The worlds oldest amusement park. Janelle is afraid of carnival rides. (She was still getting used to escalators and public transit.) She and I went shopping for Christmas presents instead, and then rode the giant ferris wheel, which gave us a very nice view of the city and lights of Tivoli.

Saturday, December 12th:
            -Climate and Development Days
            -IWGIA Indigenous Day

This day is sort of a blur to me. Umm, we did things. I remember being at the WWF tent, and the museum again. Actually, I think this is the day when Christine ate some mashed potatoes, not realizing they had fish mixed in, and had a bit of an allergic reaction.  Good times.

The Canadians and Greenlandic kids left on Sunday, and we spent the night with one of the local girls, and her mom, who runs a children's home in Ummannaq, Greenland. It was this day that "Grandma" told me that I disagreed with her, politically, because I don't use my brain.

The Canadians.

Monday, December 14th:
      -Leave Copenhagen 11:00 am- Atlanta 3:45pm
      -Leave Atlanta 6:45 – Sea 9:30pm
This day is a blur. I remember immigration. And watching several movies on the plane.

Crystal met me at the airport in Seattle, and traded me my presents for them with their Christmas presents for me. Very nice. Then the girls slept on the airport floor, we couldn't get through security until we had new boarding passes, which we couldn't get until 6 am Tuesday.

The one on the left is Janelle. The one on the right is Johnny from Canada. That was a long day, with a lot of walking, early hours, and cold weather. When we got to that house, we all just sort of crashed.

Tuesday, December 15th:
            -Leave Seattle 6:00am –Anch 8:55am
            -Leave Anchorage 11:05- Nome 12:40
            -Catch the evening flight back to the village.

And then we got home, and had to hold out for three more days of school before Christmas break started, and I could start sleeping 12 hour days to get back in the swing of things.

Overall, it was an amazing trip, and individual stories may show up later, along with better pictures. (Right now they're all on Facebook, which is blocked during school hours, even lunchtime.) I am so thankful for the opportunity to go. I don't think the girls realize just how amazing it was to go to Europe during high school, without having to fundraise like mad.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dress Like A Superhero

This week, as part of our spirit week, we had "Dress Like a Superhero" day. Well, what better super-hero than one who gets to be angry all the time?

So I put on my tan shorts, wore a bright green shirt, and painted myself. I think I pulled it off rather well:

Okay, fine. That one wasn't me. This one was me:

We had a little parade during lunch-time.  I got to be line leader. I tried being big and green and grumpy looking. But Lisa, my neighbor, handed my baby Spider-man, so he could be in the parade too. While posing became harder with him, it was fun to pack him around.

Also in the parade was:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christmas List

As you may have already noticed from this post: Now that I have the ability to put pictures back on the blog, I've gone ahead and put a picture on almost every noun I could find.

I am also fully aware that I am the grownup in the following conversation. I am also aware that this is a reenactment, and not necessarily accurate. We also didn't have these wonderful visual aids like you're about to get.

Act 1
Setting: The gym, during the big Christmas feast.
Enter: Stage left. Colleen, 14-year-old girl 1, 14-year-old girl 2, and 14-year-old boy.

Colleen: Hey guys! Merry Christmas.

Girl 1: (jumping around) Merry Christmas. Did you get anything?

Colleen (Pleased that the girl asked) Yes. My mom got me these combs for my hair.

Girl 1: Santa gave me an iTouch.

Colleen: That's pretty nice. My mom also got me some new glasses. For drinking, not seeing out of.

Boy 1: My stocking had a hundred dollar bills.

At this point in the conversation, I decided not to tell them about what else my mom bought for me (all of which I either asked for, or was pleasantly surprised about:


And a traditional Christmas present (because I kill them a lot):

I know what you're thinking,  "But Colleen, you could have asked for and gotten JUST ABOUT ANYTHING." It's true. But I've gotten to the point where I don't need an ipod touch. I also don't need coloring books, sheets, or new wool socks.  Oh, wait. Even my joke list is practical. I'm sorry, I don't know how to ask for frivolous things anymore. It might be that I know everything I have up here will either have to be sold or shipped south in the next 5 years. Or I might just be a little too practical for my own good.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

It's fixed!!

Hello devoted fans. Thanks for your patience while I was unable to load pictures. It turns out that all I had to do was go to "settings" and chose to use the new system for postings. It looked like this:

See how I was able to upload that picture to the post?

Here are some more things that have happened in my life:

The annual Christmas Eve cracker and cheese party. I hosted. Angie and I made a bunch of stuff. Life was good.

Baby Norman came over for the party, and we hung out a bit. He's getting to the point where he can almost stand on his own now. He just needs some support. He looks awfully small in this picture.

Here is my Christmas tree, all lit up and covered in seal skin Christ signs and red bells. It wasn't until I was thinking about taking it down that I realized I made a bunch of ornaments out of glass, and never bothered to put them on the tree. I know, I suck.

Everbody loves a good cheerleader slumber party. This was at 10 am, and they'd been woken up a couple times before I turned on the lights. I'd only been back from Copenhagen for three nights, and was still exhausted. We watched Clue, with Tim Curry, and I fell asleep before the first guest died. (In the movie. Not in real life. All the girls did just fine.) The apparently recorded me snoring. And played it for me. Apparently I was supposed to be mortified, or something. It's hard to be mortified when I'm on day six of minimal sleep.

And just in case you're curious, here's the sun rising. We are currently at -18* F, with a wind chill of -48* F. This means frostbite can begin to happen after 10 minutes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The New Year

I am still unable to put up pictures, but here's a quick rundown of my sleep schedule for the last week. Why? Because I find it to be HILARIOUS.
Around here, we call it "getting our hours backwards," or simply, "Eskimo time." Since there's only two hours of daylight anyway, it doesn't really matter when one is up. I also worked at the kitchen from 7 pm until the games ended, sometimes around 1 am. Then came clean-up. A week of that would get anyone off. The problem now is getting back on.
A large number of the kids came to school today, having not slept all night. This should be fun.

Thursday Night: Didn't sleep. Slept from 10 am (the alarm went off) until 6 pm.

Friday Night: Midnight -2 am. Gave kids back I was baby-sitting. 2 am -10 am. Called in to church. Found out I was a day early.

Saturday: In bed by 2 am. Slept until 4. Got up until 8. Slept from 8 am - 5 pm.

Monday Night: 10 pm to 4 am. Got up and worked on my online class. Came over to school at 7:30.

The plan is to wear myself out today, and go to bed at a reasonable time, like 11, and sleep for nine hours. Wish me luck.