We had a request about a year and a half ago to post a video tour of our apartment . . . better late than never, right? I finally recorded this video about a month before we moved from Dillingham to Utah. We lived on Agulawok Drive (isn't that an awesome name?). Kaylee and I took lots of walks up and down our street. Agulawok Drive and Dillingham in general was a great place to live and I would recommend it to others.
Ever heard of a kuspuk before? I found this great explanation of a kuspuk on facebook
A kuspuk (/ˈkʌs.pʌk/) (from Yup'ik qaspeq;Iñupiaq: atikłuk) is a hooded overshirt with a large front pocket commonly worn among Alaska Natives. Kuspuks are tunic-length, falling anywhere from below the hips to below the knees. The bottom portion of kuspuks worn by women may be gathered and akin to a skirt. Kuspuks tend to be pullover garments, though some have zippers.
Though kuspuks are traditionally a Yupik garment, they are now worn by both men and women of many Native groups, as well as by non-Natives. The garment was originally made of animal skin or gut and was worn over a fur parka to keep the parka clean. As stores became more common in Bush villages, kuspuks began to be made of calico grain sacks. Kuspuks are now generally made from brightly printed cotton calico, velvet, or corduroy trimmed with rickrack. Today, kuspuks are often worn as a blouse with pants.
I will attest that kuspuks are very comfortable to wear and they're fun to make. As soon as I arrived in southwest Alaska I wanted to learn how to make my own kuspuks (thank you Fanny for your lessons). In May 2014, I finally finished making a kuspuk for Kaylee. I was going to post a tutorial on how to make a kuspuk, but, uh . . . it's been a year now, so I'm going to admit to myself it's not happening.
Here are some kuspuks I have made before and since making this one for Kaylee.
At the beginning of May, Kaylee and I were able to travel to Seattle for my youngest brother's wedding. To say I was excited is a bit of an understatement. I think that I had been missing sleep for months because of my anticipation. I couldn't wait to have a weekend to spend with ALL of my living siblings. That hadn't happened in over 12 years, and the last time was not due to happy circumstances.
I was a little nervous about flying with Kaylee alone, but she did great. In fact she was a ham. She was waving and saying hi to all sorts of people in the airport and on the airplane. I think her goal was to make as many people fall in love with her as she could. She thoroughly enjoyed being served juice and cookies on the plane, sitting in her own seat (luckily we had empty ones next to us), buckling her seatbelt, and looking at books. She made herself pretty comfortable.
This could get me in trouble, but I couldn't help but let her try out the moving walkway. (Don't you think her brand new kuspuk is pretty cute too!)
My older sister, Carmen, lives in Seattle so we got to meet up with her right away (thanks for the ride sis!). We headed straight to a bridal shower for Becca. It was fun to meet (and meet again) some of her family, especially since her sister is married to my brother, Greg. There is double reason to meet some of her family :)
We got to spend the weekend in a vacation home with most of my siblings and parents. I never wanted to go to bed. Being in the temple with all my siblings and my parents was a great experience too. I am so happy that we were able to go.
April 11-13 a group came to Dillingham known as First Light Alaska. It is a group that promotes indigenous arts and culture. There were several classes teaching some sort of indigenous art form offered throughout the weekend. They were supported by a grant, so the classes were completely free to the public. I had the opportunity to take the Caribou Tufting class. What is Caribou Tufting you may wonder? I wondered the same thing, but signed up anyway. It is a form of Native art that involves sewing decorative pieces with caribou hair. After the caribou is skinned and cleaned, the hair (still attached to the skin), is soaked in dye and then it can be used to create artwork. Chunks of hair are cut off from the skin and then placed under a loop of sinew/thread and then the thread is pulled tight, really tight, like give your fingers blisters by the end of the day tight. Since the hair is hollow it kind of puffs up like a pompom. After you've attached your caribou hair you carve/shape it with scissors until it takes the shape you want. It was fun, but also very frustrating. If you don't do it just right, the caribou hair will come out. After hours of working on my piece, my teacher came over to inspect it and pulled out all my caribou hair and I had to start over. I did it a second time, making it really, really tight, shaped it and then got it all pulled out by my teacher again. By my third time around, there was a piece that didn't look quite like I wanted and I tried to take it out, but it was in there so tight I couldn't get it off. I guess the third time is the charm. Overall, it was much harder than it looked and I gained an appreciation for the time and effort that goes into a piece like this.
To the right is a picture of the piece I made. It is a hairpin. The flower is made entirely of caribou hair (the petals are the natural color of the hair, and the center is dyed). The leather part is moose and then there is some embellishment done with beads.
When first moving to rural Alaska, I scoffed at the high prices of the artwork, but since trying my hand at a few of the disciplines the past years I now look at the prices and think "what a deal".
Twice a year (at the beginning of April and beginning of October) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds something called General Conference. Over the course of two days several meetings are held in which prophets and other leaders of the church speak to the world and specifically members of the church. the messages are specific to what we need to hear now. The gospel is the same as it was in the time the Jesus Christ lived on Earth, but in our time we have different problems and different focuses, so the messages are are focused to be relevant to our times. Here are a few highlights and things that stuck out to me from the most recent conference held April 5-6, 2014. I feel like there was an overlying theme that loving others is essential and also that trials are essential to our growth.
Filters are good, but the most effective filter is our personal one that comes from our conviction & conversion to the Gospel of Christ. (Linda S Reeves)
We, like trees, grow stronger when we're exposed to wind. We will spiritually be thrown into situations that will try us. Sometimes it will be hard to detect it coming. (Neil L Anderson)
You hold in your hands the happiness of more people than you can imagine. (Henry B Eyring)
Loving others is indispensable. If you wish to have a positive influence in another's life, you must first love them. Be patient: we each learn line upon line and we each get different lines in different orders. (Richard G Scott)
Doing family history is a fruitful use of the Sabbath day. (Quentin L Cook)
Seek gratitude as a disposition rather than being grateful for things. Chose to be grateful no matter what. Don't wait for the rainbow and miss the opportunity to be grateful for the rain. (Dieter F Uchtdorf)
We need a load to gain spiritual traction. (David A Bednar)
If we love God, we will love others. (Thomas S Monson)
One should not roam through garbage. (Marcos A. Aidukaitus)
Kaylee turned 15 months old on March 5th. She has taken some leaps in development. I’m not sure if it’s because she watched the older two toddlers I had been babysitting or if it is just coincidence that they happened around the same time. Here are a few things about her:
We returned from Anchorage on Feb 26th, just in time to join in on the Beaver Round Up celebrations. I see Beaver Round Up as Dillingham's version of Fur Rondy. The first Beaver Round Up activity we participated in was the parade. It was very short and simple. There were a few trucks and big machinery and that was about it. No floats or marching bands or dancers or anything. They did however throw tons of candy. I mean tons. People would just drop a handful of candy in front of you. We had a bag full by the end of the parade. It was way easier and just as fruitful as trick or treating.
There were many more activities, most of which we didn't participate in, but we did go to the Dr. Seuss' story time at the library. There were so many people in the library it was standing room only. I couldn't believe the turnout. Kaylee didn't care about the stories at all. She just wanted to run up and down the ramp inside the library and I couldn't really chase her very well because I couldn't move around the people. We ended up leaving before the stories were finished.
At the end of February, Tim went to Anchorage to attend the ASTE conference. ASTE is the Alaska Society for Technology in Education. Since Tim had a hotel room to himself and I could bring my work with me (mothering Kaylee), and we had some airline miles we could use to get a plane ticket, he talked me into tagging along.
The timing couldn't have been better. The conference was at the same time as Fur Rendezvous, known as Fur Rondy. It is a 10-day winter festival held in Anchorage every February. It was started in the 1930s to give the residents of Alaska some social fun and was scheduled to coincide with when the trappers and miners came to town with their yields. Since then it has grown bigger and more popular. So while Tim worked each day, Kaylee and I took advantage of all the festivities.
Saturday, Feb 21, we attended the parade, which was right outside our hotel. I have never been to a colder parade in my life. We were completely bundled up, winter coats, hats, gloves, and still freezing. I found it amusing to look around at all of us "crazy Alaskans" who will come out to a parade in freezing temperatures just for fun. I'm glad I wasn't marching in the parade; some of the uniforms and outfits didn't look very warm. I think most people who march in parades worry about overheating, not hypothermia.
Later that afternoon Kaylee and I went to an ice skating performance at the university. I had never been to one before. The skills levels of the performers ranged from beginner to world-class. It was a lot of fun to watch, but we had to leave before the final number was over because Kaylee had enough.
Alaska is a small state: not geographically, but socially. When we returned from the ice skating performance and got back to our hotel room, I looked out of the window just in time to see our former neighbor/coworker from Togiak crossing the street. I wasn't quick enough to open the window and yell down to Mike, but I texted him and he came to visit us that evening. This was not the first time that we have run into someone who lives in Alaska, but hundreds of miles away from us.
Sunday we attended church with Kaylee's birth family. We love being able to see them and stay in touch with them.
That afternoon we walked around downtown and found ourselves in the middle of a full-on carnival, with rides and funnel cakes and everything. I laughed to myself as I watched the kids all bundled up in their winter coats waiting in line for a ride and then trying to get buckled into the ride with all those puffy extra layers on.
We were able to watch the blanket toss while at the carnival. A native man was there with a big blanket made out of leather. It was constructed and used a lot like the parachutes we used to play with in elementary school. The man would yell for volunteers to pull until there were enough people surrounding the blanket and holding onto it. He would then make them practice saying 1, 2, 3, together and pulling on the blanket on each count. He then let the kids line up and one by one they climbed on the blanket and were tossed high into the air on "3".
We were able to meet up with Kim, another former neighbor/coworker from Togiak for dinner. We decided to eat at the City Diner. I always want to eat there, but then I'm disappointed in the food. They do have really good brownie sundaes though and it's a bit nostalgic. City Diner was the first restaurant that Kaylee ever went to-she was just days old at the time-and we ate brownie sundaes.
Monday I took Kaylee shopping. One thing about living in the bush is you have to take advantage of your shopping opportunities when they come. Afterward we headed to the zoo. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to go to the Anchorage Zoo. I pretended we were going for Kaylee, but really we were going for me. Unfortunately it was on 10 degrees Fahrenheit at the zoo and we were freezing. The zoo was nearly empty and of course all outdoors. Kaylee cried much of the time, I'm sure because she was too cold. My fingers and toes felt like they would fall off. Kaylee did like the snow leopard though and it was cool to see some polar bears.
We had lunch at McDonalds. Kaylee had never been there before and it was fun to order her a happy meal. Although she only ate some fries and that was about it. When we got back to the hotel I took her swimming in the pool. It was also her first time in a pool. She seemed a bit nervous. I'm not sure if it was the size of the pool or that she didn't like the cold water, but we had a great time playing in the hot tub.
Tuesday we went with Kim to see the ice sculptures. I think anyone in the community can enter the contest. There were about 20 sculptures and they ranged from dragons, mammoths, and bears.
It's been over 6 months since we posted last and so much has happened. I have been procrastinating posting anything because I'm behind and of course I can't just skip and pick up with the present, but catching up is overwhelming. Well, I've finally talked myself into it. I'm not sure how many days, weeks, or months it will take me to catch up, but I'm going to go for it. I really hope it doesn't take months, but I'm pretty sure it will be longer than days. Don't hold your breath.
January has been unusually warm. We spent most of the month close to 40 degrees and it became less rainy as the month went on (yay, less ice). I finally decided that instead of being upset that we weren’t getting our usual winter and snowfall to enjoy the warmer weather and go for more walks.
Tim and I invested quite a bit of time finishing up our training and paperwork for adoption. As of January 30th we are officially published! Check out our LDSFS profile: https://itsaboutlove.org/ial/profiles/31299013/ourMessage.jsf Feel free to spread the word that we are hoping to adopt. We have been very happy that things have gone so quickly this time around. The first time we adopted it took 8 months to finish our paperwork and become published. It is not until we got published that birth mothers could even consider us as adoptive families. Once we were published we waited another 19 months before we adopted Kaylee. This time around our paperwork took just over 2 months. Let’s hope being matched with a birthmother happens more quickly this time around too!
Tim went into Anchorage for a few days for work and while he was gone, Kaylee took her first steps. I was having a girls’ night with some friends so they were around to help document the event. Tim said he was showing videos of Kaylee walking to everyone he saw in Anchorage. Kaylee hasn’t taken off with the walking. She has kind of a careful, laid back personality. Every few days I’ll see her take a few steps between pieces of furniture, but she mostly has been sticking to walking all around the house on her knees. If she can capture Tim or me, she prefers to walk all around the house holding onto a finger.
Click here to see other pictures from January.
Tim & Kaitlyn
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