Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Unalakleet: People

Filed under: Culture Shock,Friends,People,Travel — Amy @ 9:21 pm

One of the noticeable pieces of Eskimo culture is that there’s a strong history of storytelling.  When folks get together, they tell stories of funny things that happened last year, 10 years ago, or when their parents were young.  And no matter how many times a story has been told and retold, it gets the same uproarious laughter when the punchline is reached.

When Jens’ family gets together, approximately 50% of the conversation consists of stories or updates about people from Unalakleet.  Having no visual or experiential point of reference whatsoever, when the conversation veers that way my eyes typically glaze over and I start thinking about whatever project I’m currently trying to muddle my way through, while half-listening with one ear.

So I was really pumped about finally MEETING some of these people and being able to put faces and places to the names.  Here are just a few…

Joel and Olga

Joel and Olga, our hosts while we were in UNK.

Joel is the pastor of the Unalakleet Covenant Church.

Inside the Covenant Church. The recess behind the pulpit used to be curtained off, and when Jens was 1 he would run back there during the sermon to poop behind the curtain. I hope he doesn't mind me announcing that to the world.


This is Joel Jr. and his family - wife Sarah and two boys, Jonas and Lucas. Joel Jr. has been Jens' friend since they were 2. We call him Joey to avoid confusion, even though he doesn't really like it.


This is Sarah, Joey's wife. She grew up in the lower 48 and moved to rural Alaska after college to teach. She picks berries and fishes and combs qiviut out of musk ox pelts and smokes salmon and helps with the children's ministry at church. She raises two boys in a 400 square foot house and keeps them from killing each other while her husband works long hours as a pilot. She's sweet, classy and totally awesome.


Joey and Sarah's boys, Jonas and Lucas. They're good kids.

Eva and Family

This is Joey's sister Eva and her family. They have been living in Anchorage but have just moved back home to Unalakleet.


This is Eva and Jason's little 1-year-old, Emma. She's very quiet (all kids are quiet compared to mine, but still...) but she can wrap you around her finger pretty quickly.

Sarah and the cousins, who play really well together. The boys just can't give Emma enough love and she's a trooper and doesn't complain when the occasional toy bops her on the head.


This is Kris, who knew Jens when he lived there as a kid. It really surprised me how many people still recognized Jens, since I personally think he looks totally different than he did as a kid. Kris teaches at the high school now.

Like most small villages, there are a few prevalent family lines, and everybody seems to be related in one way or another.  Also, everybody knows everything about each other.  A person’s last name says as much about them as a resume.  And people seem to have very long memories.  Many of them even remembered Jens’ grandparents, who were teachers in the village for a few years back when Jens’ dad was kid.

(to be continued … )

Back Yard Weenie Roast

Filed under: Friends,Homer,Kaelin,Koren,Oh the Cuteness,Photos — Amy @ 4:17 pm

We suffered through about a week’s worth of clouds and rain, and then we finally got a beautiful, sunny afternoon on the last day our friends were here.

The Three Musketeers enjoyed running, running, laughing, playing and running around the back yard, while we grownups enjoyed weenie roasting and each other’s company.  The girls had a blast together and were great about including Koren, who tried to keep up as best he could.

Pratt Museum

Filed under: Friends,Homer,Kaelin,Photos — Amy @ 1:08 pm

Kaelin’s favorite part was getting to use the scissors and glue.  They also got to see a little of Alaska’s history and see some life-sized wildlife like wolves, coyotes, bears and fish.

Seldovia Tour

Filed under: Friends,Kaelin,Nature,Photos,Seldovia — Amy @ 10:31 pm

We still had fun, despite spending more time inside the boat than out of it, and walking around in the rain once we got there.  We saw a lot of birds (who, en masse, are very stinky) and a few otters.  Once we arrived at Seldovia, we ate lunch in town with Jim and Cyndy (and Koren, who had spent the night with his grandparents).  Jim and Cyndy then taxied us to the cabin in their boat so our guests could see what rustic cabin life was like (we call it camping for yuppies).

We all enjoyed each other’s company and Koren even got in a small nap.

But seriously, Alaska?  You’d better bring out the sun for 4th of July or I’m going to have to open a serious can.

Islands & Oceans

Filed under: Friends,Homer,Kaelin,Koren,Nature,Photos — Amy @ 11:00 am

Friday afternoon, we took the kids to the Islands and Oceans Visitor Center for some hands-on learning, followed by a short hike down to the marsh.

The hiking trail goes down to the Two Sisters Bakery, which is one of our favorite places in Homer.  We didn’t get to stop there this time, but had enjoyed the Two Sisters baked goods for breakfast that morning.

The Islands and Oceans visitor center is not very large, but provides lots of things for kids to touch and play with so they can learn about the culture and wildlife of Alaska.

Wynn Nature Center

Filed under: Friends,Homer,Kaelin,Nature,Photos — Amy @ 10:34 am

Every Friday, the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies (for some reason I can never remember that name) has a preschool program at the Wynn Nature Center, which is a little cabin at the top of the hill.  This time, the girls learned about fresh water and that it’s important to preserve fresh water because there isn’t all that much of it.  They took a short hike to a nearby stream to look at the fresh water and all the things that live in and around it.  Afterward, we went out for ice cream.

Good Friends, Good Times

Filed under: Friends,Homer,Kaelin,Koren,Photos — Amy @ 9:46 pm

Kaelin was beyond thrilled to see her friend Maddy and the two were inseparable the entire time.  Koren was never far behind and the girls were really great about including him.  He has officially adopted Maddy as his second sister.

Our first order of business was to tour the Homer Spit:

Wee Hours

Over the course of yesterday, Jens improved about 800%.  I kept the kids out of the house all day and when we arrived home it was like meeting a different Jens.  Well, “different” meaning the “same” Jens that I knew BEFORE our happy home was plagued with the Disease – yes, Disease with a capital D, oh D that will never stand for dog or donut or daisy or dallas or anything else in this house but Disease and maybe Death and Destruction or possibly Diarrhea and once we get past this thing we are burying D and probably S in the back yard never to speak of them again because these letters?  They spell bad things.  Excuse me while I go rock myself in the corner.  Again.

He ate a banana.  While we were gone yesterday.  A whole banana.  Swallowed it and everything.  And then?  Then?  Then we had dinner and he ATE. 


Two, to be precise.

I just about fainted.

He’s even sleeping in our bed tonight.  Which, you may notice, I’m not.  I’m not sure if it’s the fact that Jens is sleeping in his own bed, or the fact that I was stupid and told my mom today that, “Koren has been sleeping pretty well the last several nights” (because I’m sure it’s one of those two things) but Koren has already been up several times.

A few minutes ago, I heard, “Mama, I’m cold.”  I went in to put a blanket on him and as he laid back down, he hit his head on the music box hanging on the side of his crib.  “Hey,” he said as he turned around to glare at it, as though the music box had intentionally reached out and hit him.

Also, there was the porcupine making a racket on our front porch.  Little turd. Although, I’d rather look out and see a porcupine on the front porch than another bear trying to get into the trash bins.

I have to say though, it’s weird to see it dark outside.  I think the sun will start coming up in about an hour and if I’m still awake to see it I’m going to be very depressed about that.

Tomorrow is a big day – kids go to school, I clean the house, then we have friends come to visit for a few days from Dallas.  So I guess I’ll go back downstairs and try to get some sleep so I don’t keel over in the middle of dinner tomorrow evening.


State of the Union

Filed under: Friends,Health...or Lack Thereof,Jens,Koren — Amy @ 7:50 pm

Jens is slightly better.  I watched him choke down three pills cut up into little tiny pieces, and only gag one of them back up again.  He also managed to eat some chicken broth tonight, which is the first thing he’s eaten since Thursday night.  He’s lost 11 pounds.  He has no energy.

Koren can open his eye today, with the help of Benadryl and antibiotics we were prescribed by the ER doctor yesterday.  I keep having people suggest to me that it’s a bug bite.  Apparently the mosquitoes around here are sadistic little bastards and are known to go for the eyes of small children.

He did get to go to school today, which was a blessing for me.  I got to go jogging, which seems to mean a lot to me these days.  And it was sunny, which also means a lot to me these days.

His eyes actually look about the same right now because as the one is getting better, the other is getting worse.  Tomorrow we head back to the Pharmacy to fill a prescription for allergy medicine.  For those keeping track at home, that will be a total of 8 trips to the pharmacy in 3 days.  Me and the pharmacy staff, we’re tight.

The doctor that we saw today strongly recommended going ahead and getting the x-rays done on Koren’s back, but doesn’t think we need to go see a specialist in Anchorage at this point.  The blood tests came back “almost normal.”  His white blood cell count is low, but apparently that can happen after a virus, which Koren was coming down with at the time he had blood drawn.  His red blood cell count is slightly low, but the doc said just to make sure he eats enough meat and other iron-containing foods.

Well, that’s about it.  Oh, and it looks like we’ll be getting Hastings back.  We’re not telling the kids yet, but I know they’ll be excited.  We just haven’t figured out exactly what we’re going to do with him, since his nature is to run off and there is no fence in our yard.

Also, we’re having company in a couple of days.  Valerie, Michael and their daughter Madelyn are coming for a few days from Dallas, and we’re very excited to see our friends again.  Though, I will probably spend a lot of the time apologizing for the state of our house, since I am coming to terms with the fact that certain chores are just not going to get done adequately until we get through this plague (hai, n-e-body wanna com cleen mah house???).

Regardless, Kaelin is SUPER excited to see her friend and has been counting down the days.  It was the last thing she said to me before bed: “Mama, tomorrow there’s only ONE MORE DAY until Madelyn comes, right?”

Bethany & Josiah

Filed under: Friends,Kaelin,Koren,Memories,Photos — Amy @ 6:10 pm

In 2001, I had a joint bridal shower with one Bethany McNichols in Seattle.  We were both to be married that summer to our respective fiances, whom we met in the Theatre department of Seattle Pacific University.

We laughed, exchanged gifts, socialized, ate, and somehow ended up dressed in gowns made of wrapping paper and bows.

It was the beginning of the next stage of our lives.  But I have a feeling that at that time, if you had told us that less than 9 years from then, we would both live in Texas and be hanging out with our combined 4 kids, we probably would have laughed in disbelief.

Funny how the times change…


Kaelin’s Party

Filed under: Friends,Kaelin,Milestones,Photos — Amy @ 6:25 pm

Several people have reminded me that I’m a little behind on this site… so I’m trying to catch up.  Things have been a little, um, crazy around here lately.

We had Kaelin’s birthday party at the Wiggly Play Center this year.  It’s the first time I’ve ever outsourced a birthday party.  For the most part I was pleased, though I will note that WPC’s idea of a “Party Host” is not the same as MY idea of a Party Host.

That said, it was great to be able to show up to the party without having to prepare anything ahead of time.  And Kaelin had a great time playing around with her friends, eating cake, and totally ignoring her pizza.

Unfortunately, she wasn’t in the highest spirits because she started coming down with whatever illness Koren had brought home most recently and passed around the family.  I was still recovering from it and had very little voice, so I kept having to use Jens as my loudspeaker.  Kaelin’s voice started to fail her almost immediately and by later in the day she had a fever.  Pretty crummy deal to get sick on your birthday.  Still, she had as good a time as could be expected under the circumstances.

We had 12 kids in attendance, which was more than we were expecting, but the WPC only charged us for 10 kids, which was nice.  Kaelin was thrilled to see all her good friends from school, church and the neighborhood.  And Koren had the time of his life being the busiest little busy-pants in the world.  He came home and slept for 3 hours, which – in his world – is virtually unheard of.

And now, for the pictures*, which you have to log in to see because of the whole “putting pictures of other people’s kids on the internet” thing:

* Disclaimer: the batteries in my flash died and my camera was refusing to focus.  So apologies that they’re not great shots.

Friends from Russia

Filed under: Friends,Photos — Amy @ 8:35 am

This weekend we were blessed by a visit from our friends Tatiana and Michael, who run a ministry for orphans in Russia.  While making their way through the US to raise awareness, volunteers and funds for Sunegos International, they had the chance to pay us a visit for a couple of days.

We went to school with Tatiana and were delighted to have the opportunity to meet her husband and 17-month old daughter, Liana.


Liana enjoyed the toys in our sun room, particularly the slide.



Kaelin was thrilled to have company and enjoyed playing with Liana, even though it took her an entire day to learn how to say her name.  Poor Liana – she got called everything from Leah to Maryanna, and then when Kaelin finally learned how to pronounce it correctly she couldn’t stop saying it.  “Liana!  Liana!  Liana!” 

Fortunately, Liana is pretty laid back and didn’t seem to mind.


Since Liana and Koren are so close in age, they enjoyed playing together.  Koren was quite taken with Liana and tended to follow her around.


We got to take our guests to On the Border for some good Tex-Mex food, as well as Yogurtville – because you can’t come to Dallas and not go to Yogurtville.

Tatiana and Michael, thanks for stopping by!  We hope to see you again some day on the other side of the world!


About Me

Hi. I'm Amy. I started this website in 2005 as a place to deposit my journal and photos. It has gone through a few incarnations and masquerades as a family site, but since I'm the only one who contributes to it, it's really all about ME, ME, ME.

Latest Photos