Taken at -20. Not bad!
This is how we are feeling.  Have been felling.  It snowed May 1st.

May (2) 2013

This is what most of our roads look like... and the houses.  

The barge is sitting on ice.  Just beyond it is the Kuskokwim River.
This is across from the barge.  The river is "breaking up"
Abby is taking Ballet, she has her first performance on Mother's Day.  Her teacher is flown in from Russia.  Since there is no one here that teaches it.  She has clinics one weekend a month until the performance.  That is how it is done with other dance and gymnastic classes.

Kids waiting for Abby to be done with Ballet.

See the "hut" behind all the "trash"? That is a steam house.  The native men will take steam showers every couple weeks.  Water is very expensive here, so them steam clean themselves.  The temperature is around 200 to 250 degrees inside the shorter part.  Then when you need a break, you go in the taller part to "cool off".  You sponge yourself and then go back inside the steam room.  The process is repeated about 3 times.  It is considered an honor to be invited to go.  We have a friend that has gone a couple times.  It is more about the social aspect than getting clean.  I can attest to that.  Get in a group on natives and if you released trapped gas....  no one would notice.  It really feels like a 3rd world country at times.

With food as expensive as it is, when the kids have friends over, they will eat and eat and eat.  Hunter has even told me not to pack certain things in his lunch, because the other kids will take it.

I have got to say, discipline of children is VERY lacking EVERYWHERE!  How I was corrected as a child is so, dated and frowned upon today.  Well, it worked, why mess with what worked?????  The kids today, we really see things with a lot of the native kids, there is NO discipline at home.  Suspension is a vacation, that is what I heard a 4th grade girl tell the principle yesterday when she wasn't yelling at the teachers, calling them stupid, and running around the building with another girl.  The disrespect is incomprehensible!!!  There was a kid in Hunter's class that called the teacher a B****, in front of the whole class.  The Dean was called in, the kid punched and kicked the Dean while he carried the boy to the office, 5 day suspension.  This is the same kid that choked Hunter in the restroom.  Sadly this boy's father has been in jail most of his life.  That is the same for most of the kids here.  Alcohol is such a problem!  It is the root of all evil, SO VISIBLE HERE.  From what I have been told, most kids are addicted to alcohol by the 7th or 8th grade.  How sad is that?  Unfortunately, lack of discipline.... these kids will be Paul's problem as soon as they are legal.  There is no breaking the system in sight.  It truly is very sad!  You know the saying, I takes a village to raise a child?? Yea, not here.  Backs are turned.  Okay, off my soap box!!

From what I am learning with the culture, you do not embarrass or correct the natives.  So the parents do not correct the children.  Especially in public.  They are soft spoken people.  So we stand out, HA!  The do not commit to things.  We were going to a church, where we were the minority, service starts at 10, most people didn't show up until, 10:15.  There was a walk-up choir.  Who ever wanted to sing, just goes up to the front, Anyone.

We did not go into those blind.  We had heard stories about the native Yupik's.  We prepared our children, we told them about what the culture considers acceptable, but it is not acceptable for us or legally.  Yes, that's right they consider some activities okay, that Paul would arrest them for.  However, there is so much of it, that unless, they report it, it continues.  But we also looked at this as an opportunity to really experience another culture.  We may be in the same state, but it sure doesn't feel like it.  Soldotna was so different from Kentucky.  Bethel is so different from Soldotna.  Does not compare in ANY way.  Nothing similar.  Life is very slow pace.  Subway and a few local restaurants, so we mostly cook at home.  We are really improving our cooking skills in all areas, including foreign foods.  I became a Pampered Chef consultant to replace our cookware that has seen better days, and to meet people.  There is minimal shopping.  Shopping is online.  So home based businesses do well here.

Life here is hard and very different than what we ever experienced before, but it really isn't that bad.  The kids are adjusting.  Simon and Olivia are enrolled in school next year.  No homeschooling for me! or them, Hah!  We need a break.  Hunter really enjoys school, for the most part.  He even befriended, that kid that was bullying him (there was other things, not just that final incident).  They are learning to have compassion for the native kids.  Abby is a social butterfly!  The curriculum is much further along than Soldotna.  She is reading!  As great as that is, Kindergarten has become too formal!  Kindergartners should be learning to learn.  Okay, sorry off my soap box again.  Olivia will be in Kindergarten next year.  She is so excited!!  Simon will be in 3rd grade and Hunter in 5th.  Uh Oh.. getting into the girls.  Well, they love him.  They love to touch is hair.  Isn't that funny??  Abby started Ballet,  Olivia didn't want to.  All four all doing Little League.  Yes there is a League here, though it is 2 years old, I think they will helping coach it.  Not really kidding about that.  They have been playing since they were 3, they did Kid Pitch last summer.  I am selling shirts for the coach.  Yes, there are no tournaments here, small.  Very small.  They will play against each other.  The boys and Abby are signed up for Art camp.  Since there are no Bill Boards here, dumpsters are used for advertising.  The kids will paint the dumpsters and make art projects.  The boys have also been doing a little karate.  But the big thing is going hunting and trapping.

I am realizing, we are Alaskans.  What we consider fun and exciting, is looked down upon.  I really what to learn how to sew furs and skins.  Yeah, not what PETA would be happy about.  The kids love to go shooting.  Hum... child protective services would be knocking at our door.  It is a way of life here.  we are loving it.  Having a hard time relating to people's lives in the lower 48 or outside (outside Alaska).  The boys say we are Bethelians (not a term).

Yes, Life is hard, very different from the outside, but that's okay.  Alaska is our home and forever will be considered home.  God has provided and taken care of us.  We are experiencing things that most people frown upon.  That's fine.  We feel more complete, learning the things we have learned.  Kind of like McGyvor (spelling??), HAHA.  We like it here, in Bethel (notice I didn't say love).  It grows on you.  Besides, it is what it is.  Except it.  Deal with it.  Move on.  That's my philosophy.  Just enough to enjoy our time here required and then move on to the next place that the Lord opens up, whether another village, Dillingham, Nome....... I told Paul, it just has to be beautiful.  I REALLY miss the beauty the Alaska has, very dirty here.  No trees,  No mountains, not many animals other than stray dogs (spaying and neutering are a problem here ) (that's how we got our dog, a Bethel Special).  We are making wonderful friends.  The troopers are becoming extended family.  We look out for each other.  Though the sunrise and sun sets are amazing!!!  I'm an optimist, what can I say.