Year THREE!!!

Life, as we all know has a way of keeping us busy. Two months into school, 17 days until Halloween (which my students are so excited about), and 2 months until Christmas break (which I’m extremely excited for as I will be home this Christmas). Where has the time gone!?!

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My students are in the routine of school and I am loving every minute of it! Keep in mind these are the same students I had last year and this year… and let’s just say life in Miss Courtney’s classroom has done a 180! Behaviors have positively changed, students are typically on time and at school nearly everyday, improvements are being made and I’m asking myself… Did I teach that to these students? There is no way that was me… Was it? Many of my students are already exceeding well beyond where I was expecting them to be. I guess I, two months into school am still in shock of the milestones my students have achieved. I have students READING and WRITING!!!! And guess what?! THEY LOVE IT!!! And in case you couldn’t tell… I’m one proud teacher! As I reflect upon where my students were at last year and where they are now, I am amazed. But, it goes to show what a whole lot of love, support, and trust is capable of doing in a child’s life. It’s like the saying goes “A child doesn’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

So as you have figured out school is one of the many things that has kept me very busy. But I’ve had a few other fun things that has made life interesting…

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I CAUGHT MY FIRST MOOSE!!!

It was probably the most excited thing ever! And in case you aren’t aware…WAY BIGGER than a deer!!! When I first shot at it I didn’t even think I was the one who killed it. I’m pretty sure I probably closed my eyes after I pulled the trigger (I’ve been told I tend to do that). hehe! But I shot ‘er alright… straight through the lungs. In case you have never seen the process you have to go through in order to get the moose home let me just give you a visual…

In the village we travel by boats when the river isn’t frozen… So that day we had traveled way up the Yukon River and had searched all day for a moose to “catch”. We finally stopped and climbed up a bank where we had seen a great big moose which unfortunately took off because of the unfamiliar noises. So as we walked around and waited 3 moose began to swim across the slough. So, naturally we began running toward the moose (I mean you have to get a good shot). Finally, the moose is shot from the boat and of course decides that it wants to fall towards the water… That means you have to quickly get it to ensure that it doesn’t slide all the way in the water. So we (two grown men and myself) proceed to strategically pull this rather large, extremely heavy animal towards land on the tiny beach. Which takes at least 30 minutes of pulling this leg then that leg, and now let’s get the head and pull over here. After that is done it is time to get it cut into manageable sizes so we are capable of taking it home and cutting the meat. I knew I should have ate my wheaties that day I was shocked to realize on my own I couldn’t even get the animals’  leg into the boat. I stood by and attempted to help about 1hour and half later all the pieces of the moose were in the boat and we were heading home. All that to say, it was definitely a lot tougher than I realized and a lot of work to catch a moose.

Always Adventures…

It’s already the end of week 5 and I feel as if we have just started school! How time sure does fly when you are having fun (or maybe just when your really busy).  Between my parents coming, trying to be the best I can be for my students, grad school, hanging out with friends, and going hunting I have been beyond busy but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Although life isn’t always the easiest and can get a little crazy from time to time, I realize I am beyond happy in “beyond rural Alaska” as my roommate always says.

Let’s just say the first few weeks of school was pretty rough. I have a classroom full of BIG personalities. I love every single one of my kids and am so happy they are part of my classroom. Although somedays can be challenging with 14 Kinders and 2 first graders I love them all so much and they are beginning to understand the concept of school and behaviors that make their teacher happy! We are making progress! 😉

My parents came to the village earlier this month. They seemed to enjoy the experience. I had to laugh because one night we were setting around the table and I asked what they wanted to do so I say ” I mean we can walk… (I sat thinking of more options)… I finally  said well I guess we can walk to the dump, to the river, or to the airport.” Finally we landed on a 5 mile walk to the airport down to the river and all around the village. I really enjoyed having them here, as did all the kiddos! Oh course, I’m not sure my mother was too happy with me when I took them to “the track” which is a place away from the village where many of us go to have bonfires right next to the river. If you ever walk it’s a long walk through trees and tall grass. Upon getting to the edge of the river we sat on a log and got out a snack. While we were sitting there I asked is that what I think it is? Sure enough it was a rather large bear print. Of course, silly me thought only black bears lived in Mountain Village. Obviously, I had been told wrong because those were tracks of a brown bear! I was in trouble the entire walk home.

Most recently, I went on a hunting adventure. I was out to catch my first moose (unfortunately that didn’t happen but maybe next time). We left early in the morning by boat to travel the Yukon to catch really whatever we could find. We went nearly to the coast where we chased a seal for a while which somehow escaped three boats! We saw many moose as we headed towards Mountain and we, for an entire day were surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. No disruptions, no cell phones, just peacefulness and beauty.

I feel that God has blessed me here with many incredible friends and a wonderful life that I love. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade this for anything. I love the kids I work with, I love the beauty of this place, and most of all I love all the wonderful friends that I have here. I am excited to see what adventures the next few months may bring!

Here are a few pictures.

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A Typical Day (in the Bush)

Less than one week and school will begin! I am so excited for that first day with my kiddos! As much as we need all the weeks of training and meetings I may go crazy if I don’t get to see my class soon! My classroom is almost completely decorated, math board is up, things are finally organized, and my to do list is dwindling down.

The weather was very nice this past weekend. After spending the entire night and into the early morning at school on Friday, it was great that I could finally get away from the classroom and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation! Saturday afternoon I set out on an adventure with two lovely ladies. I had decided that I wanted to hike to the top of “cupcake” which is apparently what the hill towering the village is called. I had heard of the beautiful view and was very excited to see for myself. When I finally reached the top I felt like I just climbed Mt. Everest! It was exhausting, but well worth it. The view, was just as I had been told, BEAUTIFUL!! Not only could you see the entire village down below, but you could see the Yukon stretch for miles and miles in either direction. There was no telephone poles, or buildings to distract from the simple beauty of the land. Not only was it gorgeous, but the abundance of berries was spectacular! We spent hours taking in the the fresh air, enjoying the beautiful outdoors and picking berries!

After church on Sunday, I decided that I would take that day off and just have a lazy day. Let’s just say I’m pretty sure a “lazy day” is impossible around here. Apparently, I have some amazing fish cutting skills that everyone wants now. I mean I did cut up 4 Salmon with an uluq, so I like to believe that I am pretty impressive. Anyways, my skills were called upon to help clean and cut some fish up! I don’t think many people knew that was only my 2nd maybe 3rd time of doing this so they asked for my help. After attempting to use a “normal knife” I had to call for the uluq. An hour later….I think I had cut up the fish correctly, regardless I was feed an amazing salmon dinner with instant potatoes and all! And don’t forget the glass of coffee! Soon after, we were invited on a boat ride down the Yukon! Its a little terrifying to know that there is no one around besides you and the two others in your boat! The view was breathtaking! I got to see the place that is called clearwater…It is where the Yukon meets with another body of water and you can see the line. One side is muddy water and the other side is obviously “clearwater.” It was a lot of fun to be able to fish and experience the life from a natives’ eyes.

So, for all the people that have told me “whale blubber” is disgusting and that is the nastiest thing you can eat….I just want you to know that you are wrong. It was definitely interesting with a unique taste but quite delicious! I would recommend trying it! I have also been introduced to Herring eggs on grassy stuff…not to bad either. And to top it all off today I was able to try some seal meat and blubber that a fellow teacher had brought from home.

That’s all for now…better get to work! ImageImageImageImageImage