10 things eva learned in alaska

running in the sun

shockit ice keem

1. How to go night-night in broad daylight, and then to wake up whenever it's time for fishing.
We arrived in Alaska less than a week after the summer solstice, so there was about 20 hours of daylight each day. It looked roughly like "dusk" sometime just before midnight. We aren't much for strict schedules around our household, but this proved a bit of a challenge.
On the other side, Eva had to adapt to things like everyone getting up to pack up camp at, say, 2:45 a.m. to head out fishing. Despite all this plus naps wherever she could find them some days, she was amazing right up until the end of the trip. (It's only now that we're home -- where her bedtime would be the equivalent of 2 a.m. -- that we're having some struggles.)

2. How to get skeetos.
Oh, the mosquitoes. They really weren't bad for almost all the time (turns out with all the rain in Texas they're actually worse here, weird). However, any mosquitoes are enough to attract the attention of a kid. She started randomly hitting herself or others, offering the explanation "I'm getting skeetos. Go 'way, skeetos, don't bite me!"

3. To say "lah".
Either by random coincidence or because of the way Grandpa or others of us pronounce "yeah", Eva took it up with a passion while we were in Alaska. Previously, she habitually said "uh-huh" (like mama says :), but now she says... "lah." I wouldn't mind if she said "yeah", but it sounds very much more like "lah" or sometimes "nyah" (the latter of which is a very ambiguous answer to a yes or no question). So, we all took to encouraging "yes" (with an emphasis on the final letter) as a response, and she occasionally does say that, landing hard on the "s" with a snake-like hiss at the end, "yessss!" Lah, Eva, lah.

4. How to eat her weight in cherries.
I've never seen anything like it, but cherries went on sale for $1.98/lb. So, we bought several pounds. Then we went back for several more pounds before the sale ended at the end of the week. But, lo, then cherries went on sale at another store, and again the following week. For three weeks, we ate and ate and ate cherries. As far as I can tell, Larry prefers cherries to all other foods, and it seems Eva takes after him in that respect. Collectively we ate probably 30-40 lbs of cherries and Eva kept up with us. It was ridiculous.

5. Where the fish on her plate comes from.
They come from the ocean or the river, then you catch them with a pole or a big net. Then you hit them with a stick and cut the sides off. Then you beg Grandpa to cook salmon so you can eat it for dinner.
(Grandpa fashioned a fishing pole for her, complete with hand-carved walnut hook, and she had fun fishing for things -- bags, pails, Grandpa). She had fun while we went dipnetting at the ocean -- until her little hands froze playing in the cold, wet sand -- but she did often ask "what's that man doing with that fish?" Well, now she knows. It's the cycle of life.

6. That bears can be found really close to you, several times a day, while camping.
The day of bears: First thing in the morning, while Eva and I were still in the camper, Mom watched a black bear stroll right down the little winding road through the campground, directly in front of our campsite. This is, apparently, not unusual. It's Alaska. Later that day, while rafting down the Kenai River, Dad and I came across three brown bears, a mama sitting in the water eating a fish along with her two cubs frolicking on the shoreline nearby. We paddled over and watched them, but kept our distance. Then, on the drive back to the campsite, Dad spotted a bear in the bushes along the little road just outside the campground. It was a fairly young black bear and it sat there munching on red berries for quite some time as we sat and watched it. Eva sat on my lap, face pressed against the window, maybe 10 or 15 feet away from a bear in the wild. How often does that happen? Those were some pretty amazing bear encounters, all in one day.

7. What a "poopitz" is.
If you ask Eva to identify her belly button, odds are she'll tell you it's her "poopitz" (sorry, I don't know the correct transliteration). In fact, in true two-year-old fashion, if the dog casually walks toward her while Eva is in a certain mood, she'll semi-shreek, "oh no, Lemma, don't get my poopitz!" She learned this new word, of course, from Grandpa.
I grew up half-knowing various phrases in Ukrainian (like how to jokingly tell the dog "I'll box your ears"). I didn't know this until after she died, but my Grandma Eva spoke only Ukrainian until she learned English in school. So, on many levels, it's only fitting that Eva learn some random things in Ukrainian. (Meaning, something other than how to eat pudaheya until you can barely move.)

8. How to frighten her mother clear out of the bathroom.
People talk about how the poo of breastfed babies doesn't really smell, at least in comparison to formula fed babies or to toddlers who have begun to eat solid foods. Well, I can't say that I noticed much of a difference once she started eating solids (yet I knew other kids' diaper changes could run me out of the room) -- and now I know why. It's because she doesn't eat meat! How do I know this? Well, she began to eat salmon, her first meat in meaningful quantities, while we were in Alaska. And though I'd forget every time to steel myself as I went to help her at the potty, I'd immediately be reminded with unmistakable force. Yikes. I guess it's all what you get used to, but I'm glad I don't have to deal with that daily. A perk of vegetarianism they don't tell you about at Training Camp. :)

9. To know she must be really having fun when she can no longer recognize the original color of her shoes (and/or socks, pants).
She climbed, she hiked, she sat in the dirt. She helped me collect twigs for the fire, she rode around on a hand truck. She drug her poor green jacket around by the sleeve (as though she was walking a dog) for hours on end. She never stopped moving. At the end of the day, her green socks and black shoes both were brown, and she was very intrigued.

10. The concept of instant replay.
Immediately upon returning home from camping, we all would sit down and watch videos and look at photos of Eva. It's tradition. Plus, we can't help it. While this goes on, Eva says "what Eva doing on the TV?" As far as she knows, it's totally normal to watch yourself on TV at the end of a fun day. Why not?

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