Saturday, August 23, 2008

YEEHAW, a day off!

Our first week as full time house parents was, first of all, looong. The girls started arriving last Sunday and we picked up the ninth resident last night on the way to a concert. The tenth and final girl comes Sunday. Ten beds, ten girls, full house. We had four volleyball athletes to drive to practice every morning (6:30 AM skills test wednesday- we were up at 5:30). We had kids home all day so our six days on were 16 hour days. Whew. Of course a lot of times the girls are out and about and doing what they like, they are ninth graders, but it isn't like relaxing at home. There is a lot to do and to plan for, phones to answer, paperwork to complete, groceries to buy and meals to prepareetc, and so on. We are in charge of organising the house routines(wake up time, homework and cleaning time, and so on) and instilling and enforcing the rules(curfews, bedtimes, computer use, chores, and so on). We all know how much adolescents love rules! But they have been doing pretty well. School starts Monday and with that comes an hour and a half of reading and homework five nights a week. AAGGGHHH! "I don't haaaave any homework". Oh well, an hour and a half of reading time - a fate worse than death! We have a few girls who really enjoy reading so it may be easier than I am thinking. But this is where the real impact is to be. Can the girls maintain the academic standard they had when they were in grade school now that they are going to the high school in town? It isn't unusual for even good students to drop a full grade point when they do the switch. Our job is to do everything possible to help them succeed. It can't be done without a calm disciplined study environment at home, and that is a big chunk of our job. Another chunk is to help the students learn life skills, cooking, cleaning functioning responsibly within reasonable perameters. Sort of what every parent wants to help their kid develop. If we succeed in helping the girls in our care to get decent grades and mature as caring young adults it will be worth the hard work. If you are interested in learning more about the school we work for and the students we serve you can check out
It is a really cool website with lots of color and pictures, Lakota vocabulary and cultural information.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our first wacipi in South Dakota

Better known as 'pow wow'. We went to the Crow Creek wacipi('dance' in Lakota), the first we have been to since moving to South Dakota. We had indian tacos(of course). which were pretty good. We got to talk to two of the students from St Joseph's and learned that one of the girls isn't coming back-bummer. We startled the other student but it was fun to see her. Another girl from St Joseph's danced in the jingle dress special and took second for teens. ""
We haven't met her yet but know her from the poster for St Joe's wacipi in September, the school's 32nd! She is fancy shawl dancing in the poster pic. I will see if I can get that on the blog. The picture is not from Crow Creek Wacipi because Claire hasn't put them online yet and I don't know how to do it, but this gives you a little idea of what the jingle dress regalia looks like. The jingles are metal cones sewn onto the dress. Some of the dresses are real works of art.

We also watched Miss Crow Creek of 2007 and two other girls hoop dance. Miss CC was spectacular!
This, as you can see is a painting of male hoop dancers. Claire and I had never seen female hoop dancers before and they were excellent. If you have never seen hoop dancing, it is really ammazing with the dancers working their small, flexible hoops into fascinating forms while dancing. If you ever get a chance to go to a powwow, take it. Everyone is welcome and although their is prayer at the beginning it is a social event, not a religious ceremony. For more info you can go to the Gathering of Nations website and find some brief instruction on courtesy at a pow wow.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Did You Know

Did you know that there were more Congressional Medals of Honor given out for the Massacre at Wounded Knee Creek than for any other single engagement in US history? Twenty medals were awarded for that action. Spotted Elk and his followers were running for their lives in frigid winter temperatures trying to reach Red Cloud at Pine Ridge following the murder of Sitting Bull. They were captured by the Seventh Cavalry and forced to camp suerrounded by Hotchkiss guns and troopers. The army decided they wanted to disarm the band of the few weapons they might still have. A shot was fired, no one knows with certainty by whom, and the gallant forces of the Seventh Cavalry began firing. Since they surrounded the people, most of the 25soldiers killed and 45 wounded were struck by their own shrapnel and bullets. These bold fellows slaughtered at least 200 hundred and possibly closer to four hundred mostly elderly men, women and children. You can go to this site for a lot more informatin and to sign a petition to rescind those medals.

This is actually the gate to the mass grave. When it came time to deal with the bodies of the people that the army had slaughtered in the sub-zero weather of Dec 29, 1890 it seemed expedient to them to dig a trench and dispose of them like so much rubbish.

I feel that the continued honor of this brutal murder of freezing, sick, starving people is a national disgrace.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Yes, I have my shoes now. [1]

Yes, I have my shoes now. [1]
Originally uploaded by Ana K A

But no thanks to every eco-friendly, fair trade,hemp and recyclable material using shoe outfit that I could find on the internet. Oh there are plenty of them out there. And they even have some shoes that don't cost like they have platinum insoles. What they DONT have are any in my size. Every stinkin' tree hugger in the bunch only carries shoes up to size 13. Now, I really need 13 and a half, but only europeans seem to consider that people with feet bigger than size 11 may need half sizes. Bui I can go to any shoe store on the web or in the country and find an assortment of shoes in 14. What? Green folk never have big feet?? If we bigfoots are common enough to make it worthwhile for The Cheapshit shoe company to make them, why not Simple Shoes?
I finally found a pair of canvas and rubber slip-ons like we used to wear when we were kids for $34.00, but I said, "Super size it!". And they fit.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Back To School

We aren't going back to school, of course, but the kids we work with will be. August 17th the houses open and the kids return. YAY! We start Monday with a week of new employee orientation and then a week of ALL employee orientation. We will be certifying for CPR, first aid, defensive driving, we will receive training on working with the kids, organizing our house and all sorts of stuff. 80 hours worth of stuff, aaaaggggghhhhh! Actually, we are looking forward to a lot of it, but the first aid, cpr and driving we have done so many times and it is usually SOOOOO boring. I sound like one of the high school kids now.
Best of all, we are only working one house! We are what is known as 6 day houseparents; we work six days then we are off three and our alternates cover for us. Since we don't have to do the alternate year, we get to set up the house rules and routines the way we feel is best. Of course we have to follow the rules and guidelines set out for houseparents and students, but within those parameters we have some leeway. And we don't have to listen to, "But THEY let us do it!" HA, we get to be the THEY.