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Monday, March 31, 2008

Vancouver Snow




Most of my time in Vancouver was spent in conference rooms, but on the last day I skipped out a bit early, took a cab to Grouse Mountain, rented gear and went skiing. I was dozing off in a conference room listening to a paper about about the archaeology of Puget Sound and 1 hour 15 minutes later I was on skiis with all of Vancouver spread out below.

It's common knowledge that one of the best ski areas in all of North America is just north of Vancouver at Whistler/Blackcomb, and I think skiiers pooh pooh all the other ski areas near Vancouver in comparison. Next time you are in Vancouver take the 20 minute cab ride and go skiing! Patrick

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday Adventure




This weekend I definitely had my moments of "Patrick! Please come home soon!". I called many friends and cried on their shoulders. Just tired of feeling like everything with the kids was a struggle the past few days. Getting them ready to go some place, temper tantrums, Stuart throwing his food on the floor, Nora spilling food everywhere by accident, both kids crying at once. It all adds up and starts to feel frusturating.

I met my friend Balika and her daughter for coffee this morning with the kids. When they came into the coffee shop, I said, "I'm warning you, I"m in a bad mood." She laughed and helped me laugh as well.
For some reason I felt more overwhelmed than normal with Patrick's absence. Perhaps because it is rainy and cold as well, I'm tired, the house has been a bit messy-it all adds up over time. Its not really that I wanted him to come home any earlier than I had planned, I just miss his companionship and friendship. Parenting is so much more fun with him around.

When I called Karen and left a message on her machine saying, "...Oh, its me. I just need a shoulder to cry on. I"ll try someone else..." she called back promptly and said, "Zoya, let Jeremy and I take the kids for the afternoon so you can have a few hours to yourself!".

So the kids went to their house. Karen made them popcorn, Jeremy and Karen took them to the beach in front of their house. I got 2 hours of the most productive housecleaning ever. Spent 45 minutes alone in the kitchen-stovetop, dishes, floor.... it felt GREAT!! When I arrived to pick up the kids, Noras socks were in the dryer, Stuey was sitting on Jeremy's lap with a big smile on his face and Nora was licking up the last of the salt and popcorn pieces from the popcorn bowl. Everyone was quite content. Including me!

All is well now. Kids are in bed and now I"m off to catch up on zzz's as well.

Zoya

PHOTOS: Karen and Jeremy took the photos on Boschs' beach today. Good times were had!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Patrick is gone to Vancouver


Patrick left for Vancouver this morning for an anthropology conference in Vancouver BC. Nora took to him being gone amazingly well this morning. She said Daddy a few times and would then say, "uppp, upppp, uppp...down, down, down..." --as to tell the story that he is on an airplane. No major tears over his departure like last time he was out of town. Phew.

I had the best day with the kids ever today. We had a leisurely morning, then drove out to Linda Butrey's for Nora's weekly appointment with Linda. Her appointment went fabulous and the rest of the afternoon was spent eating lunch, singing songs, changing Nora's baby doll's diapers over and over and over and over again. It looks like a diaper factory exploded in our house. Karen can vouch for that-she braved the mess to enjoy dinner with us!
I love the fact that Nora is so into changing her baby dolls diapers, putting her doll to bed, whispering "shhhh...", walking away then turning around and saying "wa,wa,wa,wa". She retrieves the baby doll, checks for a dirty diaper, exclaims, "Uh-oh" and starts the whole cycle again. She did that probably 50 times today!!

Nora's babbling is improving by leaps and bounds. I am starting to see the beginnings of a language explosion. Tonight when she was in her crib, she said, "beeeee" and at first I thought she was saying "b" as in bear because her sheets have Pooh Bear on them. When I looked closely at the sheets, there are bees on the sheet as well. She was pointing to the bees saying "bee". It made me so happy to hear her spontaneously tell me that there are bees on her sheets!!

Tonight I finished watching the movie "The Illusionist." Such a great movie. I fell asleep or got distracted with quilting the last time I tried to watch it-more than a year ago. Patrick, MJ and I all watched it in our living room but I wanted to do quilting and never finished it. After hearing rave reviews about it from everyone, I rented it and boy is it good! Such a cool ending. My only regret is that Patrick is here to have a post-movie-wrap-up discussion about it....

Zoya

Photo is of Stuey and Cecilia on Easter Day.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Dinner


Ah Easter dinner, and Prime Rib and Pulled Pork and Scallop Ceviche and .. ... .. Lots of wine. Everything goes down well with wine. But it must be said that Mike Pfeffer prepares a tasty meat dish! The first bottle of wine that we drank was given to Zoya and I from a South African friend as our wedding present. It was a 2 litre bottle of fine wine from the Cape (Overgaauw Estate- the finest of South African wines). We had saved it for 4 years, and that's a long time for a bottle of wine in our house. Actually, Zoya only had re found it that morning on a spring cleaning, kitchen cabinet reorganization. We looked it up on the internet and it said that the bottle would be perfect after 7 years - it said 2001 vintage on the bottle, so perfect. It seemed fated that we were to uncork the bottle and drink it up. And it was good - and so was the entire meal. Also present Thomas and Rose Kingsley, Roxanne and Mike and Cecelia, Mary Jane.
Patrick

Monday, March 24, 2008

Backyard Ski by Sea


This is Nora skiing yesterday on Easter. Patrick and her whizzed around the back yard together. Nora particularly liked the downhills. Squeals of delight when she achieved some real speed. That's our daredevil! Patrick & Zoya

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Another Snow Day






It continues to be an unbelievable winter. Over the last two days we got almost another 2 feet of snow up on the mountains, and just over a foot at the airport. So far we have gotten over 12 feet of snow over the course of the winter at the airport! Woke up to a white world, and took Nora for a ski on the lawn. Dogs rushing about. Easter Sunday morning (blog post on this to follow).

Today I climbed up Pyramid with Lisa and Gregg from the golf course. The snow was too deep on the road to drive up to the ski chalet. As the official photographer I even took photos of them skiing down. Great day to be on the mountain.

Top photo is of Gregg and Lisa starting up the mountain from the golf course. Next photo is them climbing up the mountain with Buskin Lake and Barometer Mountain behind. Next three are ski photos of the two of them. Patrick

Saturday, March 22, 2008

NORMAL is a SETTING on the dryer.




MEETING
This past week I met with the infant learning people to discuss Nora's needs for speech therapy and progress with her speech. She really is still VERY behind-like more than 50% behind...even though we've been doing speech and all that we can do.

I received a letter in the mail inviting me to a school distric meeting which has about 8 people attending...administrator, speech therapy, OT, school psychologist...the list goes on.It is next week.

Fortunately for me I worked in the school system (for 1 year) and know what to expect at these meetings. Nonetheless, it is interesting to sit on the other side of the table now.
The topic of discussion will be my little 2.5 year old Nora, who has a grand ole time playing with her dolls, occasionally still sucking on her binky, toddles around the house, playing in the sink....It seems like overkill to me but I understand the intent of it all. It has to be determined if her delay is significant enough that it will put her behind when she starts in kindergarten in 2 years. And if it is,then we have the option of her having services through the school district.

Admist the discussion, the topic of Nora having a pediatric neurologist evaluation came up. For some reason, whenever this is brought up, I freeze up a little inside. It seems like too much for my little Nora. I had visions of her being attached to electrodes, undergoing electrical brain testing-some barbaric image from a bad movie. Anyhow, Nancy and Amanda with the infant learning program re-assured me that the pediatric neurologist is actually a very fun, approachable, sensible guy and an evaluation with him would have nothing to do with electrodes or MRI's. Phew. I was put at ease and saw that he may have something to offer on further insight on how Nora's thinking and speaking mechanisms work and if there is anything we can do to help her more.

At the end of the meeting I gazed up to the desk in front of me, and a saying was on a piece of paper stuck to the desk. I identified with it right away...especially after an hour of discussions about Nora and concern about speech delay...
"NORMAL is a SETTING on the DRYER". I laughed outloud. It was just the right saying for that moment.


Zoya

Photo: Maggie (Melissa Dover's dog we're watching her for the weekend while she had to go away unexpectedly), Stuey and myself in front of the fire this evening. Big snowstorm outside today.
Myself at the Spin Studio booth at the local Health Fair today. This was my first time attending with the Spin Studio and I'd call it a big success. Lots of people stopped by the booth to get more info on our classes! Yeah!

Ayakulik River


The last few days I have been working on a presentation I'll be giving at the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) Meeting next week in Vancouver, BC. I have not been to the SAAs since I was in still in graduate school way back in 1995. The meeting is a big deal - there will be thousands of archaeologists from all over the country at the meetings. It's a definite that I will run into archaeologists I have not seen since graduate school - old advisors, colleagues, random faces from the past. It ought to be fun, but I'm also a little nervous.

My talk will be on how the Alutiiq used the rivers and lakes of Kodiak through time. I only have 15 minutes so I have to make it short and sweet. Hopefully the pretty pictures of Kodiak's rivers will impress my colleagues. Patrick

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sushi Fun!



Last night Thomas, Rose and Chris came over to make sushi. Thomas was the official supervisor, Rose was the head chef and Chris was the prep cook and Patrick gathered ingredients (almost as tough as supervising). All the carrots, peppers, cucumbers had to be cut into long slivers. That is by far the most time consuming part of making sushi! I was on disaster management duty with the kids-making sure the crying was at a minimum.

There was lots of learning on how to properly roll the sushi-definitely harder than it looks. With a bit of encouragement and guidance from Chris, Patrick rolled an inside-out-roll with sesame seeds on the outside. He was quite proud (see photo).

Zoya

Oh, and this doesn't count as a new recipe, unfortunately, because Patrick made sushi on New Year's Eve.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Anchorage Getaway


Last weekend I dusted the cobwebs off my brain and went to Anchorage to take a continuing education course. I must admit, since I've had babies, my energy and time to do hands on coursework for my PT license has been limited. So the past couple of years, I've resorted to online courses. This option is not nearly as good as hands on courses, however. Especially in a field such as physical therapy which is a hands on profession.

Stuart and Hannah came with me to Anchorage. Bless Hannah's heart-she was excited at the prospect of a long weekend in Anchorage with Stuart. This put me at great ease because I haven't been away from Stuart for longer than 5 hours or so and I wasn't sure how it would go for Stuart in a new place for 8 hours without me. He did just fine-and was always smiling away when I got home.

We stayed at Patrick's cousins house-Will and Beth Saltonstall. Will and Beth are so thoughtful, kind and accomodating-especially with little Stuey zooming around their house trying to get into things. They cooked a yummy meal with rotisserie style chicken, wild rice salad and artichokes with garlic butter. The garlic butter was a lovely flavor with the artichokes. I've never tried that combo with artichokes before and BOY was it good! It was Hannah's first time eating an artichoke, which was fun to watch. She was all about trying something new!

I got up early and was at class by 8:30 all 3 days. Hannah got Stuart to take 2 naps a day, fed him, hung out with him while he climbed up and down, up and down the stairs--sometimes for an hour at a time...Stuey loves the stairs! Especially since we don't have any at our house here in Kodiak.

My class was so rejuvenating for my brain and hands. It was on a technique called Strain Counterstrain which is a manual technique first done by a Doctor of Osteopathy in Oregon in the '60's. It is used to reduce the tension in a muscle and help reduce the spasm which occurs in a muscle-therefore causing pain, tightness and more pain.
The physical therapist who taught the class has over 25 years of experience and is a wonderful teacher. He was so patient, funny, knowledgeable and down to earth. By far, it was the best continuing education course I've ever taken.

It was just what I needed at this time in my life-and makes me realize how much I love being a physical therapist. I'm most definitely in the right profession. There is always SO much to learn and I enjoyed meeting other therapists in Anchorage. It was a good group of people. We had a good time over the course of the weekend with lots of laughter and learning.

Travelling with Hannah was fun. She is very positive and empathetic. When our plane was delayed several hours (BOTH directions), she was full of good ideas on how to pass the time. Getting out of the airport was the ticket to making the time fly. :) A couple of times people asked if Hannah and I are sisters. We decided that the brown hair and blue eyes makes us have similar features. (I was just glad no body asked if she was my daughter!!!! That would NOT have gone over well...)

Hannah is so easy going and Stuart really enjoys her. Hannah and Stuart make eachother laugh. I can see that Hannah truly enjoys her time with the kids-her laughter, enthusiasm and smiles give it away. It is as though she and our other longer term babysitters (current and past) are part of our extended family---Audra, Megan, Krissy. They all bring something different to their times with our kids. I trust them all 100%, I love being part of their lives and am so glad they are part of ours.

Zoya

Photo: Hannah with Stuart sound asleep in her lap.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Low Light on Kodiak



Just some Kodiak eye candy. The view from our porch today at dawn, and another from Pyramid out over Buskin Lake and the Coast Guard Base. It was supposed to be raining and windy! How nice to wake up to 2 inches of new snow and the sun! Later I climbed up Pyramid with Lisa and Gregg and then skiied back to the golf course where I had left Zoya's car. Patrick

My Happy Birthday



Last night Gregg and Lisa brought a pumpkin pie, gift and roast of lamb to my house to help me celebrate my birthday. I supplied the potatoes and we had a party. Roast leg of lamb with gravy Gregg made from reduced beef hock broth, mashed potatoes with leeks, shallots and garlic mixed in. No stinting on heavy cream or butter either. For the pie we whipped up homemade whipped cream with vanilla extract mixed in - all very yummy.

Zoya and Stu are in Anchorage (Zoya is doing physical therapy training), but Nora was certainly happy to be home for this one (she has been missing her mom - lots of plaintive 'mommy's). Mary Jane joined us too, and she supplied the wine and white port. A good time was had by all. Patrick

More Crust Cruising Views



I could not resist - I just had to had a few more views from my crust cruising forays into Kodiak's backcountry. The top view is of Elbow Mountain from the top of the pass from the Buskin down into Elbow Creek. As you can see it is all downhill to Sheratin Bay. That's the powerline to Terror Lake overhead. The wires carry the power from the hydroelectric dam to Kodiak. The bottom view is of the Buskin River valley on the way home. That's Pyramid on the left and Barometer on the right with Buskin Lake in the distance. Patrick

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Nora Word of the Week - Gee'ia


Nora Word of the Week - Gee'ia
Gee'ia in Nora talk, loosely translated, means 'me'. And Nora uses the word a lot. Generally when she uses the word she also points to herself. I'll be looking at ski photos on the computer with Nora in my lap, and she'll go Gee'ia strongly and forcefully a few times pointing at herself. This means she is bored with the ski photos and wants to see photos of herself. Nora loves to look at photos of herself. We'll put a file of family photos on a slideshow loop and every time she sees herself she'll go 'gee'ia' and smile. We worry that she is a little narcissistic, but perhaps she'll end up a model or movie star and support her parents in their old age. Patrick

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Food New Years Resolution Progress



We're halfway through March and I've managed to keep up with my New Years Resolution of 2 new recipes a week. I'm loving it! Every new recipe gives me a chance to try out new combinations of flavors.

My favorite new recipes thus far have to do with transforming a package of deer burger into a delicious meal. I get tired with making the standard deer burger patties so I've discovered so many new ways to "kick it up a notch" with deer burger. I know Patrick still likes his tried and true deer burger patties, however... :)

One of my more recent new recipes was an Asian Inspired Salmon Soup and boy was it delicous! A definite keeper of a recipe. In the bottom photo, you can see that Stuart didn't want much to do with the rice noodles in the soup, as they were instantly draped on the dog. The dogs are such troopers with having food thrown, dropped, spilled and draped on them. Its an occupational hazard which I don't think they mind one bit as they clean up after the kids.

Zoya

Christina's Girls Dinner




Christina, her husband Jason and their son Gavin moved to Kodiak last summer and I was first introduced to them by Marias. Christina is so down to earth, fun and easy to talk to. She and Marias are both due with their second babies in the same week! Unbelievable, eh?! (Sidenote: Neither of them know whether they are having a boy or girl. Surprises-wooo-hooo!! I never could go without knowing during my pregnancies, but it sure is fun to have friends who are keeping it a surprise until delivery day.)

Tonight we had a fun girls dinner at The Old Powerhouse for Christina-a non-traditional mommy-blessing-baby-shower. It was so fun to chat and laugh, enjoy a yummy meal, mouth watering desserts and share in the blessings for Christina. We contacted her out of town friends and family (without her knowing) and they sent letters and boxes to share with Christina tonight. She was very surprised. As she opened each card and gift, she told us a little bit about the person-where they're from, how she knows them.... It really brought all those people right there to our table tonight. Their presence was felt.

Photos:
Bronwyn, Christina, myself and Marias outside at The Old Powerhouse this evening.
Christina showing part of the gift from her Aunt Susan-wonderful chocolate goodies to help take care of pregnant sweet tooth cravings!! :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Crust Cruising Kodiak




One of my favorite times of year - Spring skiing on Kodiak is here! And this year the crust cruising in skate skiis is fantastic. We have a good snowpack (around 6 feet deep at the headwaters of the Buskin) and a go anywhere crust on top and just enough soft snow to give you some control on the downhills. All the alders are buried and you can go anywhere.

Today I skiied across Buskin Lake (about an inch of snow stuck to the ice - perfect), and went up the valley and up the side of a gorge. I made it to the top of the pass (750 feet) over to Sheratin Bay. That is a long way, and I did not dare go further because I was worried about time. I need not have worried - it was mostly downhill going home and I flew. It only took me 35 minutes to get back to the car. Tomorrow I'll scout the route a little further - and before you know it I'll be skiing to Sheratin Bay!

Photos: Top view is looking back towards Barometer with the Upper Buskin river gorge on the left (we often ski on classic skiis up the river and into this gorge). Middle view is looking back at my tracks as I near the top of the pass with Pyramid in the background. Bottom is the view towards the top of the pass with Elbow mountain in the distance. This is where snowmobiles cross over to behind Bell's Flats from the Ski Chalet. Patrick

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Ski, Ski, Ski"



For months now, Nora has talked about skiing with Patrick. When I tell her that Patrick is out skiing, she points to herself and says, "me, me, me..." and then says "up, up, up...down, down, down...". I ask her, "you want to go skiing with daddy?" and she exclaims, "YEAH!".

Today she finally got to go skiing.

We took her out to the golf course-it was a rainy, wishy-washy day, but that didn't matter to us. Nora walked along on her skis, and had a smile on her face the entire time. She took a couple of falls but wasn't phased by it. The poles were SO cute-watching her barely hold on to them.

The whole experience today went much better than we thought.
No tears, 10 minutes or so on the snow...and she progressed forward on the skis. And when we got back into the car, she did her "more" sign and said, "boiee, boiee."
Thats what we call a successful day of skiing with a toddler!

Zoya

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Tour


Zoya and I are eagerly awaiting the 'official Tour of Anchorage photos' to get posted on the web. In the meanwhile - here's an 'official Tour of Anchorage photo' from 10 years ago. Note that I still wear the same skin suit. Pete Alexson, the guy in front of me, still has the same suit too. Hopefully, when this year's photos do go on line I will not look 'over-ripe' in my 12 year-old skin suit.

This year was the first time I'd worn the suit since the last time I raced in the Tour back in 2002. I must admit that this year I did the 25K classic style race instead of my usual 50K skate race because I did not want to fail in the comparison with my old self. What if I had a hopelessly slow time? Would it mean that I was getting old? I'd never raced in the 25K race so it was a clean book. No comparisons possible.

I am happy to report that I am happy with my 25K classic time from this year - perhaps next year I'll dare the comparison with my old self and attempt the 50K skate race once again. Patrick

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Zoya Nears the Finish Line

video

Here is footage Patrick took of me nearing the finish line in the Tour of Anchorage ski race last Sunday!!!

Zoya

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tour of Anchorage Ski Race Weekend!




Woo-hoo! The Tour of Anchorage ski race was a success by all measures. My brother in-law, Todd, Patrick and myself all skiied the 25 K (16 miles) classic cross country ski race and we ALL met our individual goals. SO FUN!!
Todd's goal was to ski the 25 K 1/2 hour faster than he did last year. And he did it! His time was 1:52! He has only been cross country skiing for a couple of years, as he is new to Alaska.
Patrick's goal was to place in the top 10 overall for the 25 K race and he placed 6th over and 1st for his age group! 1 hour 27 minutes. He was thrilled!
My goal was to finish, to have fun and not have knee pain (my knee was hurting a bit the week before the race) and I did it!

This was my second year skiing this race and I had a fun time. I skiied most of it with our friend Ira and his wife. Ira helps coach the junior olympic ski team and was taking it easy this year for the race, as he is recovering from shoulder surgery. So he skiied with his wife, Kara and myself. I got lots of wonderful ski tips from Ira-he'd say, "which muscles are hurting right now?", I'd tell him and he'd give me tips on how to correct my form. I felt fabulous even 3/4 of the way through the race! Amazing how working on your form just the tiniest bit can help prevent overuse of certain muscle groups (for me, it was the triceps which were getting overused....)

There were many favorite aspects of the race this year including the food breaks, spectators, weather and jets flying over head. The rest areas were full of wonderful oreos, chips ahoy cookies, peanut m&ms and warm gatorade style drinks. There were 4 rest areas and we took our time at each one---I had my fair share of M&Ms-boy did those hit the spot! The people helping at the rest areas were so efficient and positive. There were many random spectators on the trail ringing cow bells, cheering, yelling "good job!", clapping-it all gives a nice boost right when you need it! I was very appreciative and found myself responding, "thank you!!! Thank you for being here!!!"
The weather was in the high 20's with bright sun. Just GORGEOUS. Towards the end of the race, the trail goes right along the end of the runway in Anchorage. There were huge jets taking off and landing which was somehow empowering. Just thinking about my little body scurrying along on skis with the roar of big jets flying overhead got me moving faster. I have always loved watching planes landing and taking off, so it made the last few brutal hills more do-able.

After the race we went to Mooses Tooth Pub with our friends Julie and Ray and their son Lars. Ray also did the Tour of Anchorage race. And Julie is due with her second baby in 1 month! (see photo).

We stayed with Patrick's cousin (and therefore my cousin!) Will and Beth in their home looking over Potters Marsh and Turnagain Arm. Stuart kept making a beeline for the stairs-a novelty-as we don't have stairs at our house here in Kodiak! Stuart had several good hours of climbing up and down the stairs.... We sure enjoyed getting time in with our extended Alaska family.

The flight back was, uh, brutal. Patrick joked that the plane almost had to land in the Barren islands (islands to the North of Kodiak) to drop Nora off midway. Nora was a MESS this evening. She was very tired and ready for bed. The last 1/2 hour of the flight she cried, kicked, screamed. Patrick was a saint. He just restrained her, tried to keep her somewhat safe with the turbulence. She was quite a mess. After the plane landed a guy in front of us jokingly said, "Yeah, if adults acted like she did on a flight, they'd be taken off the plane in handcuffs!" then he continued to say how as long as the parents keep it together, kids breaking down on planes is fine. He thought Patrick did a fantastic job keeping it together even with Nora's full blown "explosive decompression".

Upon arriving home, we had two cars out at the airport. I took off towards home with the kids and Patrick went to get into his car. He proceeded to slip underneath his car as he was putting the key in the door. He landed in a puddle under his car. To make matters worse, his truck wouldn't start. So when I got home I saw a cab pull into the driveway with a less-than-pleased-about-his-chevy-Patrick.

What a fun weekend it was and now the kids sleep VERY soundly in their beds!

Zoya

Photos:

Myself and Patrick after the Tour of Anchorage ski race.
Group lunch photo at Mooses Tooth: Julie, Lars, Ray, Zoya, Stuey, Nora and Patrick
Group photo from dinner at Will and Beth's house: Bonnie, Mike, Cathy, Will, Beth, Nora, Patrick, Todd and Kellen.