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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sledding at the Pass

Generally we go sledding at the golf course.  It has a long hill and you can cross country ski at the same time.  But if we want a STEEP hill and REALLY fast sledding we go to the pass.  Only on that hill there is no skiing down in skinny cross country skiis!

On Sunday it was fast enough that I was even thinking that just perhaps, you know maybe, we should have been wearing helmets.  Most of the time, half way down the hill the sleds would turn sideways and we'd wipe out.  To make it to the bottom you had to either balance and weight the sled perfectly or drags your hands and steer.

At the bottom there is a big berm to keep everyone from sledding out onto the road, and if the sled made it that far it would go straight up and dump everyone out. It was a good time.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Last of the Greens?

I took this picture just before dinner a few days ago.  I could not believe how green and vibrant our garden kale remained near the end of January.  It was actually growing.  But I am happy to say that today it looks beaten back and close to dead.

Here on Kodiak we finally experienced a few days of continuous sub-freezing temperatures.  I am pretty sure the cold snap finally killed the mint and parsley, and the kale is looking dark, wilted and droopy.  I am going to try and eat it all quick!  Patrick

Monday, January 26, 2015

Snow Scenics

The last time I climbed Pyramid it had snowed and then ice-rimed on top of everything.  All the bushes had a layer of ice that caught the morning light.  It was a spectacular sight that I tried desperately to catch it on film.  And I failed miserably.

How does one capture that glinting, low-level light that sparkles?  Everything was aglow with sparkles when I took the pictures.  But when I looked at them at home the glint and sparkle was gone.

I guess it is one of those things that you just have to experience. Nothing better than climbing Pyramid after an ice storm!  Maybe it is just something that can only be experienced and never photographed.


This one was pre rime storm, but the dog silhouettes in the fog sunrise do look cool

Friday, January 23, 2015

"Who Is Mother Nature?"

Treat a skinned knee. Treat a bee sting. How to dress in layers for inclement weather. Prepare a small snack outdoors. How to pass a knife safely....
Outdoor Skills patch (Level 1) is DONE!

My Brownie troop has been working on their outdoor skills patch for months now. The learning is gradual-and i've  kept it fun. And the skills are one that I know they a will use for the rest of their lives.

To celebrate the completion of the patch, I set up a Treasure hunt in Fort Abercrombie. It led from the well that is near the old "Cry of the wild ram" play site, to the fire pit by the volley ball court, to a spot by the lake, to the WWII museum and finished at the beach. 

The time flew by too fast and my only regret was that the girls didn't have enough unstructured beach play time. Especially since it was a nice day after a long streak of bad weather. 

As we headed back to the parking lot after, one group of girls asked me "Who is Mother Nature?" What a hard question to answer. I did my best and my reply included something about she is the one creates the storms and weather and she is the one ultimately in charge. The girls seemed satisfied (or at least not outwardly disappointed!) with my response and they had their own continued discussion about it as well. 


One of the flags from the treasure hunt

Warm, calm weather for the treasure hunt

Reading the clues together

Hmmm...where could the next one be?

Brownie Troop #118

Last clue at the beach

Outdoor skills patch-DONE!

On a prior week we toured the new high school

hot cocoa time

walking back in the fog

Thursday, January 22, 2015

White light

I've found that it is easy to tell if you've got the white balance correct when taking pictures of snow.  Snow is white, and any other color is pretty obvious.  That said the snow can in reality look blue, yellow and warm, or whatever as it reflects the light of the day.  Snow itself is NOT always white.

When I took these the top one was super blue and I had to shift it towards yellow.  It still looks very blue, but I remember that it looked blue too.  In general I have found that I routinely need to shift towards yellow with snow pictures and often a little towards magenta and away from green too.

But it is easy to see when it looks right.  For all three of these it really did look like that - at least as seen on my computer screen. I gather computer monitor screens have color balance issues of their own.  What looks right on one computer might not look the same on another computer.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Space for Nora

Recently Nora has started needing her space. In the morning as I get ready in our shared bathroom, she gathers up her hairbrush, toothbrush and barrettes and goes into another bathroom to get prepped for the day. Its not that I'm in her way in the mirror, its that she wants her space. I totally get it, because I'm the same way. If I"m in the bathroom on a work day morning getting ready and Patrick comes into the bedroom to read a book, I feel annoyed-as if my space bubble was popped. I also need my alone moments to gather myself for the day.

At breakfast time, Nora has recently taken to setting up a little dining spot for herself away from our kitchen island, on the counter against the wall. She turns on the fluorescent light under the cabinets, sets up a napkin with fork and knife and eats her meal there. She says she likes to be away from the 'clutter' of the kitchen island.

In my mind I think, "the kitchen island is one of the least cluttered spots in our house" but I don't argue. I like her routine and I appreciate that she sets herself a spot at the counter.

I see Nora changing with her behaviors and doing things in a more mature, reflective, routine fashion. She knows what she wants, and what she likes in her life and makes it happen. I'm happy for that. Even if it means getting far away from me when brushing her teeth. ;-)


This past week I read a book called "The Wonder of Girls" by Michael Guiran, and in a matter of 150 pages, my understanding of Nora grew expotentially. I picked the book up by chance at Title Wave books in Anchorage…it looked interesting to me-a book to help explain what happens in the mind of girls. After 10 pages in, I felt like I just might be able to survive the next 5-10 years of motherhood.

Really. Truly. So often people say, "What age are your kids?" and I say, "7 and 9" and they respond with "Oh what great ages! Enjoy them now because soon they're going to hate being around you…." and other similar replies.

Comments like these are breeding grounds for feelings of low grade dread, wondering "just how bad will it be?".  The Wonders of Girls has changed that. It explains how between the ages of 10-12, the growth of connections in a girls brain is similar to during infancy. And how during this "explosion" of brian activity, girls need us (moms, parents) MORE during theses years, not less.  It explained why social connections are so critical during this age.

It helped me understand that Nora's perpetual longing for playdates is exactly what her brain and mind are wired for. So I'm feeling a little less anxious, more excited and more "there" for Nora. Reaching out to her to see if she'd like any playdates. Putting a little extra effort in to make it happen.

Parenting is hard enough as it is and it sure is nice to have such a great reference to help me better understand what is going on in their minds!

(Oh, and Guiran wrote the Wonder of Boys also…which I'm going to read next!)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Kayaking with Stuey

On Saturday afternoon while Zoya and Nora went on their Girl Scouts outing Stuey and I went sea kayaking.  We both wore wetsuits so that we did not have to worry about getting wet.  We launched out at Fort Abercrombie and it looked flat calm.  Once on the water I was shocked at the size of the rollers.  Whenever we got near rocks there were big breaking waves.  I think Stuey enjoys sea kayaking and if the weather stays like this I am pretty sure we'll be doing it some more in the near future.  Patrick

Some of that pesky snow on the mountains - if it gets much lower it might wreck my kayaking. ..