Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A year in review...

Well, I know I haven't blogged for a while. This week has been super busy for all of us.

Sort of like the entire year.

We started off with so many storms that one could almost see what sort of year it would be. A fast, windy, sometimes awful one. Starting out with being buried in a pile of snow is not the way you want to begin!

Then in late February, we lost Dean's father Max, to Prostate Cancer. A wonderful, awesome man of patience and wisdom. We have missed him dearly throughout the year.

My son was finally seen by a pediatric neurologist for his many, many headaches. After being repeatedly hospitalized here in Kotzebue and given the run around, eight months later, we were there. A simple fix of new glasses and NO medication, except at the onset of a migraine, and he has been GREAT since then. Aside from the one hospitalization while we were on vacation with family.

Of course, there was the super serious allergic reaction that I dealt with, (am still dealing with) throughout October, November and half of December.

And, why not get out of the year with a big bang, with the physical assault on my son and his friends by a man in this community. (Who is STILL at home relaxing, as a matter of fact all this week, he was over at the school refereeing basketball and my child wanted to watch the games. He paid his money, saw the guy, turned around, walked back out, asked for his money back, they said no, and he called me from outside to pick him up.) Which, obviously, is still affecting us. (ME!)

But, of course, we also had a wonderful and very educational time this year. I learned that 13 and 14 year old boys have more emotion and love in them, than they show. I learned how strong my daughter is and how grand her heart is for other people suffering. I learned how losing a parent can affect you long afterward. I learned that persistence in anything might not work. Sometimes, you just have to accept that. I learned to look at my children, my husband and a lot of other people differently. Mostly in a good way, and some in a disappointing way. I learned that it was OK to say NO. And OK to ask for help.

I relearned my love for baking, cooking, painting, sewing and laughing from the heart. I learned to look at people for who they really are. Not the persona they put up in life, to others. I've always been the spokesperson for "Actions Speak Louder than Words" and this year is no different.

Through the emotionally taxing times, and the light as cloud times, and the grinding-meat with rocks times, I learned, mostly...to put my family and myself first. And, if that's all I learned, then I'm OK with that.

Right now, I'm wearing long johns, wool socks, bunny boots, and a Raven's Brew, three peckered billy goat t-shirt, waiting for the sun to come up, so I can dress my family, make a store run and head off to our camp at Sisualik for New Year's.

While I'm relaxing by the crackling fire, and hauling water, and drinking camp coffee, and reading old books and playing board games with my kids and drinking sparkling cider by the blue moon, I'll be thinking of you. Thank you for the words of encouragement. The reiteration of my stories and following along, in this crazy roller coaster of Arctic Life.

I hope you and your family have a safe and wonderful NEW YEAR!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Cookie-mas!

It's tradition. I'm exhausted. I stayed up much too late baking cut-out cookies for my mom's cookie trays.



But its tradition. Who am I to break tradition?!



Each year my mom, my sisters and I bake thousands of cookies. Yes, I said THOUSANDS. I think my count this year, not including the ones I did for the Park Service was around 250. That included gingerbread men, and sugar cookies.



I think mine were the hardest! But that may be because I had to work all week and decided to procrastinate and bake them on Christmas Eve.



But, again, I'm not about to break tradition! So, I got them done and brought them over in the morning.



Our kids slept at my mom's house, their stockings were hung on the wall with care in hopes that Santa momma soon would be there. Santa visited them bringing Koy a pair of snowshoes and Kaisa a Pop Star Karaoke microphone. Our stockings held head lamps, fishing lures, chocolate and hair clips. Everything kids want and need!



The usual breakfast was kicked up a notch with Saima's TUNDRA CHICKS fresh organic eggs, brought right in from the coop outside my mom and dad's house. I'd highly suggest organic eggs over anything bought in a store! They are SOOO GOOD! And, yes, chickens DO lay in the dead of winter above the Arctic Circle! My mom made sourdough hotcakes and we ate sausage and bacon with that.



THEN it was COOKIE TIME. The THOUSANDS of cookies were brought in from the Kunnychuck (entry where they were frozen in totes) and thawed on the table. We made our "list" of people who get trays and started with our family, making our way down the streets of Kotzebue. I believe we ended up with about forty five trays, give or take a few.


See...THOUSANDS!



We had...Gingerbread men that Kaisa decorated, Dean's favorite - Russian Tea Cakes and Lucky Pennies, and Hand Dipped Ginger Crinkles.





There were chocolate chip and M&M cookies, colorful spritz and Elsa's Ultimate Angel Cookies. Peanut Butter Cookies and Egg Nog Cookies, Brownies, and Frosted Sugar Cookies. (UGH!)





There was fudge and oatmeal raisin, fruitcake and oatmeal no-raisin (my sisters hate raisins). And spritz cookies...and spritz cookies and spritz cookies.



And the gift of family was all around us. We laughed, and argued (Hey, my parents had THREE strong willed, hard headed GIRLS) and made tray after tray after tray!



Besides a Finnish Shadow Fox pelt (that I had been EYEING FOREVER), my FAVORITE gift was what I'd been thinking about for a while...a KINDLE. Oh yes, my husband LOVES ME!



So...Merry Christmas to you and yours from above the Arctic Circle. We're all cookied out!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

From A-holes to A-wipe...

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I didn't mean to curse.



Last night I had made a pact with myself that I wouldn't do ANYTHING. I was going to sit and watch, "All about Steve" with my family and eat Reindeer Chow.

Well, that didn't exactly happen.

After the storm, our weather was beautiful. Almost 20 degrees above with a 30 MPH wind. We don't care about the wind when its twenty above! Today is even more beautiful with NO wind (so far).



Once I got home, I had to wrap a few gifts before anyone else got home (I wrapped them in envelopes!) and get them under the tree. My cousin called and wanted me to take photo's of her family and my husband called and reminded me that I needed to get the tables we borrowed back to the Senior Center. And THEN, I remembered that we had to input the Tupperware order because the consultant had come in after the storm.


Sneak preview!

So, really, my day began at five pm and didn't end until ten when I got home and said, "LETS WATCH A MOVIE!"



But, throughout this hectic night, I did find this simple sweet, hilarious, message from Kaisa on toilet paper. "Merry Christmas to ALL and to ALL A good nihgt!"

Oh, and one that said, "HELP Christmas plese!" I'll have to ask her about that!

Never a dull moment round here.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Accidents"

*Disclaimer: This is my own personal opinion...only what I heard from my child. Only what I heard from his friends during the interviews and my feelings because of that. Read at your own risk...

I've written about my son before. His utter maturity scares me. He doesn't lie, or steal or cheat. He giggles when someone cusses. He is yet to find any girls cute, or attractive. He still thinks of them as friends. He likes to hunt, read and play King of the Hill and Free for All.



He's thirteen.

He (aside from some of MY OWN problems) is perfect. When I tell him, "Clean the kitchen and shovel the stairs, you can play out afterwards," he does. But not only does he empty and fill the dishwasher, and wash the other dishes by hand, he cleans the counter off, scrubs the sinks and sweeps the floor, takes out the trash and wipes the cupboards. When I "clean the kitchen" I empty the dishwasher and dishes would be lucky if I rinsed them. As a matter of fact, I doubt Dean or I have washed dishes in months.



He does his own laundry and folds his own clothes. He washes behind his ears and brushes his teeth every day. He talks back, but only to the extent that his sister gets away with...nothing more.

He goes to church regularly and attends every single churches (we have 11 churches here) Youth nights he can. He hunts for is family, for his aana, and our elder friends. He watches with a keen eye and listens with a keen ear. He is brilliant and has skipped one grade so far. If we wanted, we could skip him again, but that would put him at age fifteen graduating high school.


Koy and Tim wrestling against each other...

He loves to play any sports around. He doesn't care if he's any good, he simply enjoys it. He plays basketball, wrestles, runs cross country, skis any chance he can get, loves to play football in the snow, and would do more if more was available in Kotzebue. Its not, so he and his friends make stuff up.

When he sees a kid being bullied, he runs to their aide. The Girls in his class tell me that he is very popular, but doesn't talk much. He giggles a lot and is quiet. They probably like him because he doesn't pay any attention to them!

He is a GOOD KID.


And his friends are the same way. The boys he hangs out with are good kids. They are all the same. Hunters, Friends, Teachers, Pupils, Caretakers, etc.



So, I find it hard to believe that anyone could "accidentally" hide under a set of stairs waiting, planning an attack on young kids. How could he accidentally wait for three 13 year olds who were coming from a Christian man's home after looking at his traps, and ACCIDENTALLY jump out and tackle those boys, while cussing them out, calling them names and making them feel like they were going to die forcing those boys to hide.

While ONE boy was hurt so severely, all he could do was scream for help.

I find it hard to believe that someone could ACCIDENTALLY hold two 13 year old boys hostage in an entry way, while ACCIDENTALLY yelling "I'll take you out, I'll teach you how not to steal from me."

I find it hard to believe that someone could ACCIDENTALLY break two bones in one leg, bruise up a boy and ACCIDENTALLY yell at him that he was NOT HURT and that he needed to "GET UP NOW you big baby."

I find it hard to believe that someone could ACCIDENTALLY scare young NATIVE boys into thinking that they were going to die because someone ACCIDENTALLY said that he would "teach them a lesson they would never forget."

And I find it very disturbing that the person who ACCIDENTALLY did all of this is sitting at home, accidentally spending Christmas with his family, while One boy is being MEDEVACED to Anchorage three days before Christmas, and that that boys ENTIRE family now is going to Anchorage to spend Christmas with him because he has to have surgery on that leg. And by the way, that boy's family is a family of SEVEN.

And I find it very disturbing (AND YES I AM GOING TO SAY IT) that the attack was by a white male on three young native boys. Someone please explain this ACCIDENT to me, because my brain must be fried if I JUST CAN'T SEE IT.

But, I also find it very heartwarming that the three boys have been closer than ever. They love each other, and fought for each other, while being ACCIDENTALLY beat up. They cried with each other and they laughed together at the hospital. They opened presents together and they talked about hunting when his leg is better.

They were worried about the family of the attacker and how they would feel. They prayed for him, and prayed for their mothers (because we needed the prayer the most I think...) and they watched cartoons together. They told their mom's that they were OK, not to worry.

They are exactly what Christmas embodies. They have huge spirits, and they have even bigger hearts.



They are my hero's and I feel so awful not being more like them.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thank you.

Thank you Mom.

Thank you for teaching me to sew.



Thank you for making me play sports.



Thank you for teaching me to bake.



Thank you for teaching me to be responsible.



Thank you for having my two sisters.



Thank you for teaching me to take care of our meat.



Thank you for staying in Kotzebue while I was growing up.



Thank you for not listening to me when I complained.



Thank you for being so patient.



Thank you for working SO HARD.



Thank you for being so silly.



Thank you for marrying my dad.



Thank you for being awesome.

And... Happy Birthday to you too. I love you!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spirit!

Have I told you all that I LOVE Christmastime?!


I told you she was tall...

Aside from decorating thousands of cookies (which my mother so gently reminded me last night that I still have to make HER sugar cookies before Christmas...which means I'll be baking probably another 500 or so this weekend) for everyone else but yourself and the cold-to-the-bone temperatures up north, I just really like the whole FEELING of Christmas, you know?!

I bet once in my life, I felt sorry for myself and didn't like Christmas, with all its shoppertunistic glory, but those days are long gone and NOW, I love it. And right now is all that matters right?


Koy snapped up some photos of me sewing last night...

It just SEEMS brighter. It seems nicer and people seem happier. Maybe its just me and my glass-half-full approach for now, but I like it this way.

Maybe its cause I learned that not everything has to be perfect, and not everyone has to have a handstitched hat for Christmas (well, except for MY family), and not every cookie has to be "Martha Stewart" material. Maybe its cause I remember being young and having next to nothing, except a lot of fun. Physically, we had nothing...I have many a photo of myself "playing" with my cool paper bag. (to the paper bag's defense, you can build a LOT of things with one!) But spiritually, we had everything. I had my sister, both my parents, usually, and an entire town full of relatives who just adored me. I could go run to my cousin's house and play without my parents worrying about me, and I could walk to the AC for some 5 cent bubblegum.


Clara really wanted me to share a photo of her hair all done up!

Maybe its because I'm done with the park service cookies and could just PLAY with my kids. I know that while I was baking the girls cookies last night, it was FUN. They patiently waited with their curlers in their hair for them to cool so they could douse each sugar cookie with the "good frosting." (We have GOOD frosting and PRETTY frosting, I like the GOOD frosting!) Watching the excitement and concentration on them was awesome. And, even though I could be biased, they are GREAT decorators! Like mother, like daughter!


I see many-a-cookie coming from my daughter in her life!

Maybe its because I'm alive. As you know, I faced a serious disease a while back. Today, I am still recovering, and am doing quite well, sewing, baking, etc. But still face some hardships. I still can't walk or ski or run more than about fifteen minutes and I'm frequently up until two or three in the morning, because of the drugs I'm taking. I still have Flare Ups of blisters on my hands and foot, and they don't really know when, or if they'll stop. Today, I am taking my last steroid pills, and going to get an injection of a long lasting steroid to hopefully remove them. I'll follow up again in a week. Going through something like that makes one really evaluate what they're doing in life. I like to ask myself the question now..."Is this going to make a difference ten years from now?"


...and about an hour after I started sewing, this is what I came up with, its for my nephew Coltrane when he comes TOMORROW! CAN'T WAIT! Its a good thing he's only 6 and doesn't read this blog, otherwise he'd know what Auntie Maija made him!

I don't know...is it?

All I know for sure is that I love my life. I love my husband, I love my children, I love my family. I'm happy to be alive and hopefully I can make a difference in someones life!


Koy, Kaisa and Clara

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Eternal Gifts

I looked under our beautiful tree this year and realized a few things...


This is entirely too many cookies to bake and decorate for one person who works full time!

1. We have one present. From me to Dean, and I didn't make it this year, because what more could I possibly make for that man that already has everything? (He did mention a pair of sealskin pants though)

2. My children are getting one present this year and I have yet to start on either of them...

3. My daughter drew a picture showing the Nativity Scene and on it was a "thinking bubble." In that bubble were the words, "I think I'll name him Jesus. Yeah." And she had also written a letter to santa, unbeknownst to me and wrapped it up in pretty ribbon and hung it from the tree. (I opened it, and it said, "My Dearest Santa, Please could you just get me my DS back and all the games? If not, a phone that works. Love Kaisa")

4. Both my children have not once asked where the presents are and why we don't have anything under the tree...

Anyway...I've been to many a household where there are excessive presents under the tree (Ahem...mom...but its OK cause they're your grandkids!) and everything from underwear to games are wrapped separately just so the kids get to open MORE and MORE and MORE. I'll admit, I too, once had that feeling...I needed to make sure my kids opened MORE presents.


Yup, still decorating snowflakes!

After really learning the story of Jesus' birth and knowing the feelings that Mary had while in labor, and how she must have felt while he was growing up, knowing she'd have to give him to God and let him lead a nation, I think I just stopped worrying about presents.

My favorite, FAVORITE presents were always the ones my grandma, aana or mom made for me. Mukluks, mittens, hats, parky's, atikluks, and sweaters and socks. It was never the strawberry shortcake house that was ruined in two months, or the California Raisin that stayed hidden under the bed. It was always the gifts that meant a lot, that I used and that, at the time, I probably complained about.

"MUKLUKS? Again?! Adii MOM!!!"

What I would give if someone ELSE made me mukluks. This is why my kids and husband have everything, parkies, mukluks, mittens, hats, and I have nothing but an old REI down jacket made for 20 degree weather. Right now, our wind chill is negative forty five below zero. Lotta good my REI jacket does me now.

What I am most proud of is the fact that neither of my kids are asking why we don't have presents. My son mentioned to us that he would be happy with a Wii game, because he knew I wasn't working and Dean was in between jobs right before Christmas. He wasn't asking for the world, just a game. He also said that warm gloves would be nice.

As for Kaisa. Santa Grandma came to the rescue and got her a DS, and we did get her a game, but will put that in her stocking. She has been telling me the story of Jesus' birth for a few days now, sleeping with my in my bed, propping the "Bible for Kids" to the page she wants me to "learn" before we get up. We talk about it in the morning. She says things like, "I am so happy Jesus died for our sins. I am so lucky that he did, because I would go to ... you know, cause I lied yesterday..."


That Eskimo Cookie is about nine inches tall... Sorry about the polar bears sniffing each others butts, but how else are they supposed to get to know each other?

Only eight more days until Christmas. I hope your family is in the Christmas Spirit. Also, if you feel like sending gifts our way, we surely won't deny them! haha...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Animals and snowflakes

Quick post today, just to show you that I'm still as busy as ever!

The weather in Kotzebue is about minus 45 below zero right now. My car is cold soaked and "mad" at me for even turning it on this morning. My hands and foot are super cold and aching. I wonder if the weather has anything to do with my healing?



A few weeks ago, I was asked to make 200 "Martha Stewart" type cookies for the Grand Opening of the New Northwest Arctic Heritage Center on the 19th of December (my mom's 55th birthday). Last night I finally made the first batch.

I decided that since we live in Kotzebue and don't necessarily have any sort of "martha stewart" type supplies, that my supplies (thanks Roxy!) would have to suffice. And they did, for now.



I also decided that since it was the new Heritage Center and owned by the Park Service, I would make some animal cookies.

You can see the first batch and the first layer of frosting going onto them now. There are Ptarmigan, Polar Bears, Moose, Fish, etc.



Of course, There will also be the traditional stockings, trees, stars and, my favorite...SNOWFLAKES.

I could spend hours decorating snowflakes. Actually...I DID spend hours decorating snowflakes!