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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Snow's Great

It's the end of June and the skiing is still great on Pyramid. We have not had good skiing at the end of June near town for a few years now, but when I first moved to Kodiak in the mid to late 90's we always skiied on Pyramid on the 4rth of July. It sort of marked the end of the ski season close to town. Looks like we'll be doing it again this year!

Today I climbed up Pyramid on a 'three hour tour' with John Larsen. We skiied down to 800 feet in the north bowl (from 2200' at the top of the north bowl). Down near the bottom we were in a ravine and it got a bit sketchy when the snow collapsed into the creek in front of us while we were watching. John had just assured me that he 'skiied it yesterday and it is solid'.

Skiing in late June I love the contrast between the green, green low country and the snow covered uplands. You ski down from the highlands on tongues of snow to a land where summer is in full swing. Golden crowned sparrows and salmonberry blossoms. I guess I got a date for Pyramid on the 4rth of July this year.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Buskin Beach Fun

This afternoon we met Marias and Hayden at Buskin Beach. The temperature was 60 degreees (hot for kodiak) and perfect for some beach time. Marias brought kitchen tools-spoons, metal bowls and canning jars. PERFECT for beach fun! oh the kiddos had fun playing with sand and water.

We discovered that if one of the bowls was filled with water for the kiddos to play with, they were LESS inclined to wander towards the water. That said, Marias and Meg had to steer the kids away from the water frequently. They LOVED drinking the water from the river. We figured it was part fresh water, part salt water. They were so fascinated by drinking it out of the ladel. As much as we discouraged it, there was no holding them back. Stuart nursed and napped the entire hour.

This evening, it took several hours for both the kids to go to sleep. Nora has really been fighting it the past few nights. We think its the evening light. Even with the blinds drawn, light creeps through. It seems like just the past week or two that its been giving her problems. Its so nice to sit with Patrick and have time with eachother for a few minutes after both the kids are asleep. Amazing how little time like that exists in our day.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Park Times

The equipment at Baranof park is filled with tubes to crawl through, slides, steps...a toddlers heaven. Today we met up with Alexis and her daughter Grace (in bottom photo). Nora and Grace still "parallel" play but perhaps someday they'll play pretend and interact more. Zoya

Living in the moment

It takes Stuey an hour or two to go to bed. A lot of holding, walking around, nursing. He'll close his eyes a bit, then look around the room, suck on his hand some, nurse, burp up, fart and repeat the cycle. I love the feel of his little breath on my neck as he heads off to sleep and how he'll wake from a deep sleep only to flash me the best smile if to say, "hey, dude-its you, mom!!".

A sunny day today-we headed to the park with Audra and Nora ran around exploring everything. Tonight at home I made a CD of kids music off of itunes. Nora is really enjoying music. Her version of dancing is moving her head and neck back and forth laterally. Tonight when the song "if you're happy and you know it..." came on, she started clapping her hands as soon as the lyrics dictated. I LOVE singing along to all the songs and I can tell she enjoys having someone right there with her singing the songs. The best part is that Stuey starts outright LAUGHING when Nora, Patrick and I are all singing. Heck, I think he enjoys the music the MOST!!

This morning the baby monitor was on while Stuart was sleeping in.

All of a sudden, Patrick and I heard a crow in the monitor. I looked at Patrick and said, "was that Stuart or a bird?". He laughed and said, "its a crow outside the window". Then he made a comment how perhaps Stuart had been turned into a crow. I replied, "Oh, No, thats a sad thought. I want Stuart to stay as my baby."

He consoled me by saying it would be a good thing in many cultures to be turned into an animal.

Thus began a conversation of what animals Stuart and Nora are most like. We decided Nora would be a bald eagle, or some bird-flying high, checking things out. And Stuart would be a seal or walrus-more grounded and laid back. Ready to take on what comes his way but not expending too much energy in the meantime.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

911 Nora

This afternoon Nora was playing with the phone and I could hear a voice saying, "hello, hello". I reclaimed the phone from her and it was the 911 operator on the other end. I apologized and felt like an idiot. "yes, my daughter was playing with the phone...".

She reconfirmed my address and asked 2 or 3 times if everything was ok. I thought that was the end of it when 10 minutes later I hear a LOUD pound on the door and I see the top of a troopers hat through the window. Sure enough, he was doing a follow up house visit on the 911 call.

He was nice about it, I had Stuey in my arms and I flashed him a friendly, thankful smile. Before he headed out, he told me that my dog was loose in the yard, so I called Jake in to the house. Darn Jake-he jumps our fence like a cat. It was the icing on the negligent mom cake. :(

Needless to say, mommy luck hasn't gone my way the past few days. Nora is turning into my little 911 girl!! Too much excitement for 3 days.

On another note, people are setting off fireworks on Mill bay beach at 9:47 PM as I write this-it is broad daylight out. I just can't imagine how much excitement one can get from fireworks in daylight. Oh well. Every year around July 4 and New Years we have to endure several weeks of fireworks madness down below on Mill Bay beach. The fireworks mecca, it seems. Luckily the loud noises don't bother stu or nora.


Ready, Set, GO!

Lately, after work I have been taking the dogs up pyramid for a run. It's getting pretty green at the parking lot, but still great skiing on the mountain all the way down to 1100 feet (the parking lot is at 530 feet).

The cold winter killed off the salmonberries in town and I had been thinking we'd have no berries this year. But I have noticed that on Pyramid where the snow was deep it insulated the salmonberry stalks and they survived the winter. They are flowering like crazy and while it might be slim pickings for berries in town this summer - it ought to be good berry picking on the mountains above town. This is actually very good news for the bears who rely on the berries for food. The last time in 1999 when the berry crop failed (cold and no snow that year) the bears were a real problem about town. Hungry and looking for food! Not good when it is bears doing the looking.

The dogs love climbing Pyramid and get quite excited when it is time to go down. They pounce on the opportunity to go fast down the mountain. This is probably the only time their master (on skiis) can actually go faster than them. I try to go easy and slow so that they don't hurt their knees. But they just want to rip! Patrick

Speech therapy for Nora

The speech therapist came over yesterday and did an assessment of Noras' comunicative abilities. She has the receptive communication of a 30 month old but the expressive communication of a 12-15 month old. Big gap there...the therapist said she had never seen such a huge gap between the two. The cause? We're not sure. They didn't outright blame the binky but that probably hasn't helped things the past few months. They are thinking that there may be a genetic/familial component as Ella and I had delayed speech and made up our own language as kids. She said that kids who are a bit delayed with speaking often have a grandparent or parent who was also delayed in their speaking.

So Nora will start speech therapy in a few weeks. Should be good for her-a little one on one with an adult (other than her parents) who expects good communication. I'm quite excited about it.

The speech therapist thinks that once she starts speaking, her language will really take off fast. It'll be fun to watch.

Stuey slept in his playpen last night from 10 pm to 6 am. I kept expecting him to wake up and need to come to bed, but he didn't! I was so thrilled. He slept hard-i think better than when he is in bed with us. We're not waking eachother up every 2 hours! Hopefully this is the start of a new sleeping trend. Yeah! :)


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Case of my missing daughter

This afternoon after my girls brunch Nora was toddling around the house with her books and I sat in the rocking chair and nursed Stuey to sleep. 5-10 minutes had passed and I thought to myself, "Wheres Nora?". I hadn't heard her for several minutes. I figured she fell asleep in one of the bedrooms. She wasn't to be found! I ran outside and called Nora's name-no Nora. :(

Upon getting inside the house, I called Jenny Stevens (she lives on the end of our road) and told her I couldn't find Nora. She said she'd be right there. Then I raced to the neighbors (Maridol and Dean) across the street and, in a state of panic, told them I couldn't find Nora. I did one more search of the house-still no Nora. I had visions of Nora going over our cliff, or into the road...worst case scenerios fooded my head.

Then I heard Deans voice, "We found her". When I went outside Maridol was walking up the driveway with Nora in her arms. Thank heavens. I asked, "Where did you find her?". She said, "You don't want to know. She was crossing Rezanof drive. A gentleman had stopped his car because her saw her on the road and had picked her up."

I was filled with relief. My heart could slow down. It was the worst 5 minutes ever-to not know where Nora was. She was perfectly happy and content. I think she just figured she'd go out for a walk!

We just got a deadbolt on our door a week or so ago because Nora has been opening it. Now we need to change the handle on the door-I'll be doing that this week. Shes a quick girl. Adventurous too.

I'm so glad my family is all safe in sound in bed. Now I'll go and rest peacefully too.


Girls Brunch!

This morning I had lots of gals and kiddos over for a brunch. Everyone brought such yummy food! Ummm, Ummmm Good!
Balika brought strawberry shortcake, Katie O brought rhubarb cake, Carrie W brought cream puffs, karen brough all bran muffins (yes, they were delicious)...I could go on and on...

It was fantastic to hang out. This is the first time since I had Stuey that I have had a brunch. Patrick is often gone weekend mornings skiing, hunting...etc so its a good time to catch up with the girls.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ahhh....quiet time

Patrick is on Afognak Island at "Dig Afognak" working with kids during summer camp. He'll be there until Sunday.Just me and the kiddos for the weekend. They went to bed fairly easily tonight-phew.

Nice to have a few moments to myself now. Karen came over this afternoon and we organized my kitchen, which was fun. I saw things I haven't seen for a few years! Pretty fun!!

The quote of the afternoon was her inquiring, "Zoya, now-do you really need 3 gravy boats?". I replied, "well....ummm...I like them all....". Karen won-I have one less gravy boat in my collection (one is practically a family heirloom, so I couldn't get rid of that one.)
The pile for a garage sale is stacking up. I've never done one of these before-it should be fun!

Karen should apply to be a host on the show Clean Sweep- where people put all their belongings on the lawn and the hosts go through the stuff to weed it down. Shes awesome with saying, "now Zoya...remember, once its gone, you won't miss it!". I barely recognize my own kitchen. Now the tough part comes-maintaining it. I think as long as Karen is around, she'll keep me on my toes! I wouldn't want all those hours of hard work to go to waste.

PS photo is of Nora on the phone. yes, she continues to be fascinated with having fake conversations-she gives an occasional laugh and sits there listening.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Alisa, Mike and Elias' going away dinner

The summer is heating up here in Kodiak-temps in the 70's for several days in a row. Just heavenly!

Last night we had friends over for dinner to wish Alisa, Mike and Elias well on their way to Australia. They are planning on leaving Saturday. We brought our dining room table out on the deck and enjoyed the meal with a warm breeze-not a common occurence in Kodiak!!

Mary Jane made a pitcher of mojitos, for the main dish we had elk burger burritos and Patty Mahoney made fabulous rhubarb strawberry pies. The best ever! She is amazing with pies.

Music played as we laughed and toasted to Mike, Alisa and Elias. On one toast Dan Urban broke his glass on mine. Pretty funny. Thats never happened to me before! Its something you always worry about happening, but it never does-until last night!

I wrote a poem for Mike, Alisa and Elias and Dan Urban wrote a limerick-I'll scan them and share them on a future blog entry.

Hard to believe they're going to head out on Sunday. This trip is something they've been talking about for years and its fun to see a dream of theirs turn into a reality. Makes you realize you can do anything you set your mind to!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cecilia, Karen and Stuey

Dinner on Sunday was filled with lots of caring hands to hold the two babies. Karen, MJ and Joanie (Mikes Mom) took turns with the babies and Roxann played for 1/2 hour with Nora, pushing her around in her stroller around the house. Nora was in heaven to have the undivided attention from her! Roxann had her communicating like I"ve never seen!

Also, Stuey is rolling from his stomach to his back. He did it last night after dinner when I was on the floor with him. It surprised the heck out of me. He made it look so easy. I find infant development just amazing-how their brains can learn how to do so many new things!! Zoya

Turkey in June

On Sunday night we had friends over (Mike, Joanie (mikes mom),Roxann, Cecilia, Karen and Mary Jane) for an alternative style turkey. It involves
taking the meat off the bone BEFORE cooking it,
marinating it overnight in a brine,
laying the white meat down with the brown meat piled on top
adding some sausage and spices to the mix
wrapping it up like a big sandwich
coooking and slicing.
Turkey meat loaf! Literally!
Mike and Patrick did all the work, which was quite nice. They're so saavy with cooking meat! Mike has a cool thermometer which goes into the turkey and a cord sticks out of the oven-its a play by play of
"Where is the turkey at?"
"145 degrees, 15 more degrees then we're good to go".
Ensures that the turkey is never overdone! Zoya

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Gorgeous Saturday

Patrick and I made it skiing on pyramid mt. once again today-just spectacular. It was 70 degrees and I hiked up in capris, a teeshirt and lots of sunblock. Lisa McCormick joined us at the top of the mountain and we skiied down together. My turns felt much smoother this time down the mountain-thanks to softer snow and a shot of raspberry vodka at the top of the mountain.

I had my mind on Stuey lots, as he hasn't been taking a bottle lately (just wants to wait for mom-I suppose). We were gone for 3 hours. But, alas, all was well at the homestead. The babysitter (Sara) and her friend (Mariah) took the kids on a long stroller walk, which they enjoyed.

Nora has really enjoyed this warm weather-playing outside lots!!

Stuey has mellowed a bit today, which is rather nice. Still drooling lots, but not quite so fussy today. Good timing for our ski trip!

Ahhhh, parenting definitely has its headaches now and again. This evening when Nora was going with Patrick to go to bed, I said, "Can mommy have a hug?". Nora smiled then proceeded to pull my hair, HARD. I was not thrilled, to say the least. Man, what a bummer. Patrick reminded me that she was tired.

At times parenting is quite thankless, but then there are small moments throughout the day when its all worth it. Nora is in a scream mode right now-largely because she can't speak, I believe. Since we took the binky from her, however, she is babbling and seeming to begin the process of talking. Trying to mimc sounds I believe.

Lately I've been so tired when I put Stuart to bed, I fall asleep with him at 8 pm or so. Then I wake at 2 or 3 unable to go back to sleep for an hour or two. Thats when I have a bowl of cereal and go on the internet. Nice quiet time to myself.

Our babysitter, Megan, came back from Hawaii today and she came by with some cute Hawaiian clothes for Stuey and Nora. Stuart looks like a tourist in his get-up! We have been so blessed with wonderful babysitters-they all bring their different charm and energy to watching the kids. Its fun to watch! Zoya

Binky free smiles

Day 1 of Nora without her binky went great. She didn't seem to miss it much-maybe a tad bit more crying than usual, but nothing major. She definitely seemed to babble and vocalize more, which was fun to see. When I was drinking a 7-up I said, "7-Up" and Nora smiled and said, "Up". I'm hopeful that we'll be seeing lots more words to come in the next few weeks!! :)

Last night after dinner I was saying, "ssss...ssss....Stuey" and Patrick turned it into a rendition of an Elton John song..."ssss.sssss....Stuey and the Jets". When we sang it to a beat, Nora would dance (her version of dancing is moving her head back and forth) and Stuey would laugh at her. It was quite funny. Definitely one of those fun parenting moments. We were all laughing and having a good time.

The weather has been gorgeous, which has helped my mood. The spring was bleak with the endless rain. We've had a couple of 60 degree days in a row-yee haaa!! We've been spending lots of time on our decks and barbequeing. The photo of Patrick was taken two nights ago as we were hanging outside with Nora and Stuey. Patrick was talking to his brother Andrew on the phone when we snapped the photo. Zoya

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Kid development

Stuey had his 4 month check today and weighed in at 20 pounds, 26 inches long. He was off the chårt for height weight and head circumference...beyond the "normal" curves. Greg Mete, the physician assistant was reassuring that since he is only breastfed that he self regulates his intake. He did pause for a moment and say, "I think thats fine....". A call to the lactation consultant reassured me that since everything is proportional hes fine. He is a big guy...quite the biceps workout holding him nowadays!!

He had his 4 month shots today too, and hes not in a great mood. Lots of crying. Poor guy....

And Nora-her binky is on the outs, as of tonight. My friend Christy, who is a speech pathologist, dropped by tonight to meet Stuey. I asked her about binky use and delayed speech...she said we should dramatically discontinue its use. This has been a point of contention between Patrick and I for the last 6 months, as I've wanted to wean her from it and Patrick supported her using it. So I just gave up. didn't feel like fighting it.

Tonight Christy said that her social skills will begin to lack if she doesn't start talking soon and her comprehension will far exceed her expression, which you ideally want to be balanced. So no more binky use unless its nap time or bed time. Sounds good to me. I'm ready to hear whats going on in that mind of hers. Zoya

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


No real point to this post - just eye candy from the archives. Top two are sunrise views from our house out over Mill Bay while the bottom one is a sunset at Afognak River. The ski season is beginning to wind down and hunting season does not begin until August. Not many good outdoor activities to photograph. I'll have to get in some gardenning and more rafting photos. Not that ski season is over yet either - last weekend we even had new snow in the backcountry. But I must admit July is my least favorite month in Kodiak. Skiing is winding down, there is no hunting, fishing is caught between the early red and king runs (May and June) and the later pinks and silvers (August and September), and the hiking is rough because of all the tall grass, brush and bugs. Worst of all - you have to mow the lawn weekly just to keep the jungle at bay. July is down time, just barbecues and gardenning to keep me occupied. Wait a minute - there's Nora! She's a serious handfull! So this year the doldrums of summer ought to be a little livelier anyway. Good thing it is still June! Patrick

Monday, June 11, 2007

Seattle with Mary Jane & Stuey

Mary Jane and I have talked about going to Seattle together for YEARS and we finally did it!

The trip got off to an "interesting" start as Stuey had a diaper blowout on the airplane as we were waiting to take offf in Kodiak for Anchorage. "Stuff" got EVERYWHERE...all over Stuey and on my pants. Needless to say, it was quite a mess and Mary Jane and I had a good laugh over it. Such fantastic timing..../

Upon arrival in Seattle, we stayed in a highly recommended B & B downtown (Pensione Nichols) which made the trip so fabulous. It has a European feel to it-old antiques, a continental sit down breakfast, bathrooms down the hall... The first and last night we stayed in a Suite and the middle night we stayed in a regular double room which was so fun. There was a great ceiling fan in the double room, which Stuart LOVED watching. The suites had a wonderful view of the water, as you can see from the photo. The B & B was located just a block away from Pike Place Market and you could see the Bainbridge Island ferry go back and forth all day!

Catherine Foster West and Jennie Deo came down to the city on Sunday and we went to lunch at a Bolivian restaurant in Pike Place market which was fun-and yummy food too. Catherine and Jennie have both spent much time in Kodiak over the years digging with Patrick and it was so fun to see them again and introduce Stuart to them. In the photo, Catherine is on the left, MJ in the middle and Jennie/Stuey are on the right.

Mary Jane and I ate at some other yummy restaurants...Tango, The Pink Door....discovered yummy sangria and Mojitos at Tango. Tango is a Tapas restaurant where you're served small dishes, so you can sample lots of foods and flavors. We had a ceviche sampler with salmon, shrimp and scallops which was fantastic. The salmon ceviche had a flavor of vanilla to it which was such an interesting taste-just delicious!

At both Tango and The Pink Door, Stuey fell asleep in my arms for about 45 minutes so I could really enjoy my meal! Such good nap timing on his part.


B & B Suite evening view of Seattle Harbor

Stuey enjoying the ceiling fan

MJ and Stuey in the communal/dining area at the B&B

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Great Outside

Spectacular day in kodiak, it actually got up to 59 degrees. I believe it is the first time it has gotten close to 60 degrees all year. Perhaps tomarrow we'll break the benchmark. In celebration of the weather I mowed the lawn and went for a ski.

Nora loves the weather. All she wants to do is hang out outside by the back porch. She just runs and runs in circles around the trees making gleeful but weird squealing noises. She seems to be enjoying herself! Periodically, she decides to clean up the yard and picks up spruce cones to throw over the net (bottom photo). I wonder if she is copying her dad throwing the occasional bottle off of the cliff? (in my defense, Kodiak does not recycle glass and it is better to turn it into beach glass than to fill up the landfill).

In the top photo Nora had to be restrained from picking one of the tulips her granddad George sent us. She was intrigued by the bright red color. And yes the tulips are just barely blooming. Most of the bulbs George sent me have not even come up yet!

On the plus side - it is warm and bright. On the negative side - since it is so bright Nora never believes it is bedtime. Tonight it took forever to get her to go asleep. Zoya and Stu are still in Seattle with Mary Jane. Patrick

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Double Smack-down

Zoya and Stu are spending the weekend with Mary Jane in Seattle while I hold the fort down here in Kodiak with Nora and the doggies. But judging by the weather satellite image it looks like rain and wind will dog both of us. Yesterday it was actually sunny in Kodiak, but the same storm that is smacking Seattle has curved all around and crossed back across the Gulf of Alaska to share some cold chillies with me and Nora today.

Kodiak has had a cold spring. On Thursday we even got a couple inches of new snow on Pyramid and I think I will find new snow up there today too (temp is 40 here in town). The trees are just beginning to bud out and I only saw my first blooming salmonberry less than a week ago. This year I have not even mowed the lawn yet! Generally, I mow the lawn for the first time and see the first salmonberry blooms in early May. So we are about a month behind. Not that I mind! This will mean great skiing well into summer. And the grass and brush is still low, so great hiking too. Usually the grass gets too tall by late June for good hiking. Only downside is that the deer this year might be a little runty with not much fat on them. Patrick

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sweet Virginia

Recently my brother sent me a bunch of long lost photos I took in the late 1970s when our family still lived in Virginia. When I took the photos, we were in the process of moving to Maine and I wanted to take a photo of everything about our life in Virginia. I got pictures of the stream where we built canals and dams, our chickens, all sorts of random trails through the woods, special plants like the bloodroot that came up in the same place every spring, dogs long dead, horses, and lots and lots of pictures from various angles of our old house. I had a hard time choosing 'just' six for this blog entry. It's not everyday that we get to revisit our childhood from the 'eye of the child'. I just wish I had been a better photographer!

There's my mother taking in the laundry off the line before a thunderstorm hits. The horses and donkey in the barn. My sister took care of the horses - I was in charge of the chickens. My mom's garden - I remember stealing and eating raw beets, also lots of weeding and carrot thinning. One year my mom grew yellow tomatoes and us kids refused to eat them. My mom added chicken manure to the compost - hence the garden that would not stop growing. That's my little brother Andrew with his skates at the Shand's pond. We used to check out all the local ponds and skate at the one with the best ice. Finally, there is the house and inside the house by the fire my brother Andrew, Mom, and the dogs Ceasar and Mini. Ceasar used to balance on the stool to get up to the fireplace's height. My mom is probably reading the Washington Post.

I bet Northern Virginia does not look like this 30 years later! And I know the ponds do not freeze and Virginia gets no where near the amount of snow we used to get in the 70's. I live in Alaska and I'm impressed by the snow in some of those pictures! Patrick