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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Home Sick

Yesterday and today I've been home sick--gradually feeling better and hope to return to work tomorrow. I'll see how I feel in the AM. This morning the kids went to Ms. Sara's and I laid on the couch and watched "Ave Ventura-Pet Detective". Oh my gosh! What a funny movie. I needed a few cheap laughs and that was the ticket. I was so glad it was on our shelf. Jim Carrey is something else in that movie.

Patrick came home at lunch and said, "isn't it nice to just be able to lay on the couch and not do anything?". Well, not really. I love my work and really dislike being ill. It puts a cramp in my style. The concept of "laying around" is a nice one, but not for me. I discovered that after weeks of bedrest when pregnant with Nora. It was ok for 1 day. Then it quickly got old.

Being sick is no fun.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bye, Bye Crib

Stuey is officially done with his crib. Last night Dustin and Shannon came and took it away--now Nora sleeps on a twin mattress on the floor and Stuey is in Nora's toddler bed. Tonight's bedtime routine went better than last night-both kids were asleep by 8:15. I think the fact that we took them on a LONG walk helped the tired factor this evening!

It was bittersweet watching the crib get dismantled and moved out. Tears came to my eyes.

The crib was one of the last "baby" type of pieces of furniture we had! Travelling will be easier now, without a crib, as we can put kids down on the floor, mattress, etc. I think more importantly, getting rid of the crib signifies the end of an era. An end of the baby/crib era-one full of sleepless nights, trying to set a sleeping baby down in the crib, etc. In some ways I felt relieved, as if to say, "we survived!! the crib is gone!". As if we found out we passed the test of babyhood parenting and got an A or a B grade. And the prize is to get rid of the crib. Here comes the toddler era! So far, so good! Now about them diapers....


Zoya spends the weekend home afterall

Chalk me up as someone who is happy about Redoubt's recent activity. On Thursday Zoya was supposed to go over to Anchorage for some training and not come back until Sunday. But the class got cancelled when the volcano erupted because the instructor could not make it up from Seattle to teach the class. Zoya could not leave the island either. So we got Zoya for the whole weekend. And my daycare issues got a lot less onerous. Thank you Redoubt Volcano!

Today we went for a classic cross country ski across Buskin Lake and up the river. Fresh snow from last night that was surprisingly deep. It mostly rained at our house but at the Buskin there was 4 to 5 inches of new snow. On the way home we made it a date and had brunch at Mill Bay Coffee. Eggs Benedict, Zoya and me - and no kids. Heaven.

The other photo is one Zoya took of the sunrise yesterday morning. Patrick

Friday, March 27, 2009

More crust cruising

Today was my first day on skis since the big snow storm. And what a difference - we got a lot of snow now! All the salmonberries are covered and the ditches filled in with snow. I can ski anywhere. The only problem is that the crust is really bumpy. The rain at the end of the storm created melt runnels and lots of little dimples. Today whenever I hit top speed it took a lot of effort to stay in control. But the rain also created the crust that allows me to skate ski on top - so who am I to complain?

Photos: Top photo is of Pyramid mountain above the big ravine that is the headwaters of the Buskin River. I often see mountain goats in this ravine - but none today. Bottom photo is a view back to where I started my ski - I parked the car on the other side of Buskin Lake which is visible in the distance on the right side of this photo. Patrick

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thoughts on husbands in the labor/birth room

Many people are very passionate about the topic of men in delivery rooms. This became apparently evident as Patrick and I made plans for Noras birth. I decided to be surrounded by female friends and a doula. Patrick's presence was welcomed at the very end for Nora's birth. He and I were in complete agreement with this plan and it worked fabulously for us.

This said, well intentioned people would reply, "You should make Patrick be in there with you. He should see what labor is like. Don't you want him to be the one comforting you?"

Patrick is not a hospital person, nor is he big on or seeing me in that amount of pain AND knowing how to appropriately respond to it. So I knew that the delivery room would not be his forte.

With Stuey we had a similar arrangement-I had several friends there with me and this time Patrick was in Fort Abercrombie with Nora as I gave birth to Stuey. And I was equally as happy with this arrangement. In fact, during labor I loved imagining the walk through the park that Patrick and Nora were taking together.

I recently have done a lot of reading on the matter of men in the delivery room. There are virtually no cultures around the world (until the recent 100-200 years--us and England) where men are a key part of birth. Birth has traditionally been a womans job. A woman goes into labor surrounded by a midwife, friends, sisters, etc... while the man tends to the fields, keeps the fire warm in the fireplace and sees that the house is taken care of. Or they would be out hunting, and getting food for the family. The men were not a part of birth.

More recently in our culture there has been a strong push to have men in the delivery room-especially since the 1960's. What are the advantages and disadvantages to this arrangement?

Advantages of having men in the delivery room:
-Improved bonding with the mom during labor/birth
-Bonding time with baby during labor and after birth
-Husband is able to read his wife and her needs/wants/desire. May be able to provide a comforting touch or word unique to that relationship.
-sense of accomplishment after its over "we did it honey!!"
-They have greater empathy for what the wife went through to give birth to a baby.

Disadvantages of having men in the delivery room:
-potential for disappointment--not being able to do enough for the mom--or feel understanding enough of her pain.
-Some men may have adrenaline in their system-which may be evident to their wife in labor. Adrenaline tends to be a contagious hormone, and this can be passed on to the woman, which can actually stall labor. During labor, women need to be in their primal mode, where they are in their own "zone" and can go through the contractions with little interruption. Adrenaline is a hormone which is typically present AFTER the baby has been born. This hormone is not particularly needed during labor and it has the potential to slow birth down. Adrenaline is associated with action and excitement, which is not a primary hormone for the laboring mom.
-Some men may not be able to provide the nurturing touch a woman needs during labor. Many women remark wanting "a motherly figure" to help them through the contractions. Someone confident with the process and re-assuring. Many men ( especially first timers) may not be comfortable expressing such confidence about the progress of the labor.

I believe some men are "thrown" into the role of caregiver during labor. It is almost the FRIENDS TV show pop culture syndrome..."You did this to me, so you'd better be in there when I push this baby out!!!!!" I can just hear Courtney Cox in an episode of FRIENDS saying that now. Almost like its cool to "torture" our husbands with childbirth so he gets what he deserves. Hmmm.....
theres a lot wrong with that philosophy.

The husband can feel like a deer in headlights.
Birth is a completely foreign scene for some men. To see their wife in that much pain and not be able to take it away?

What we know about birth is that the woman needs to be in the primal mode and do not need to be asked after every contraction, "does that hurt, honey? Are you ok, honey?". Talking and questions draw the woman out of the primal cortex of her brain and more into the neo-cortex--where more reasoning is done. Birthing is an instinctual, primal activity.

Thats where a midwife, doula, sister or friend who is experienced with birth can make such a difference. She can provide comfort measures which are indicated without excessive questioning, reasoning, etc.

There are many men who are absolutely amazing in the delivery room and are able to provide just the right comfort and touch. The care they are able to offer their partners is wonderful-and without nervous, concerned energy.

And there are other men who may not feel as comfortable being the primary caregiver for their wife and will tend to be more nervous/anxious. For the men in this category, I believe it is best for the woman to be surrounded by female friends and to have her husband come in either right during birth, or right after for the post-birth time to welcome the baby.

The point is that whether the man is in the delivery room or not is NOT an indicator of what kind of father they are, or will be. What determines how good a father is seems to be dependent on their help with the mom, household duties and baby help as the little one gets older. THere are so many ways in which the partner can help with the household tasks and with the moms recovery from delivery (cooking, shopping, errands, etc...). These tasks performed over the months post -partum would appear to be a much larger indicator of paternal involvement than whether or not he was in the delivery room.

Another aspect of this dilemma is that many women in todays society live far away from sisters, mothers, close aunts, etc.. So women ask only their husbands to come to the labor/birth room. That is where a doula, or professional labor support person, can be of great help. This is a female who is skilled in the art of supporting a laboring mom-being with her, encouraging her and supporting her.

This birth support person will only ENHANCE the birth experience for the mom and birth partner. Many couples may think, "oh, I don't want to have someone else in there because it could take away from the experience with my husband." Well, the reality is that the professional birth support will make the experience better for the husband by taking some of the pressure off. What if the husband is doing a technique to help the mom and it stops working? And the husband forgets everything they learned in class? And the nurse is busy?
Thats where a birth support person can confidently guide the couple in finding techniques to help with soothing the mom during contractions. Its a win-win situation.

The take home message is that men should not be judged on whether or not they are in the delivery room. Women and men should have the necessary support in the birth room, which could come in the form of sisters, friends or a doula. Birth is a natural, normal process to be celebrated by all.


-Patrick, Stuey and I after Stuey's birth
-MJ looks on as I have a contraction during Stuey's labor
-Marias, Alexis and I in the hallway before Stuey is born. We went back into the room and he was born about 10 minutes later!
-Nora hanging out for a few minutes before I was induced to have Stuey!
-Marias, Alexis and MJ support me during labor. MJ puts a cold washcloth on my forehead.
Katie took all these memorable photos and she was a wonderful support as well as Lisa M.!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ski Resort Kodiak?

All this snow and it is snowing again. It's like living at a ski resort. Heaven on earth, and this from a guy who shoveled a 50 yard long driveway. I'll do it again tomorrow - please just keep snowing!

Photos are of the kids digging snow caves and making snow angels with Zoya and Hanna.

Now let's hope it does not rain too hard tomorrow. ... ...

At least it's not volcanic ash

Wow! There is a lot of snow out there. I gather the storm total was 20 inches. Kodiak is totally shut down. After I shoveled the driveway Zoya did go to work, but the parking lot at work was not plowed - so with no place to park she came home. All the main arteries in town are plowed one and half lanes wide. The road maintenance guys got their hands full - 20 inches of snow and 50 MPH winds have created havoc. No more driving for us today. We owe the plow-men cookies for this one. Photos for this post need no explanation. Patrick

Super Husband Award

Patrick deserves the SUPER HUSBAND OF THE DAY award.
He has been outside for over an hour shoveling our driveway. Bless his heart. He is super husband. He stops very occasionally to take a few seconds of break here and there then returns to shoveling. The guy across the street has a plow on his truck and was clearing his driveway as well-but Patrick is doing it all by hand. WOW.


Nora took the photo of Patrick last night with the camera. She really enjoyed running around the house taking photos!
(However, she took a most unflattering photo of my back side which I immediately deleted.)

Buried in Kodiak

My word-we had an amazing blizzard yesterday. More than a foot of snow fell-most of it in the late afternoon and evening (out at the airport 13 inches of snow fell and the wind got up to 50 m.p.h.). There are HUGE snowdrifts around our house-I think snow caves are in our future with the kids today! As one friend put it very eloquently, "it feels like its January, not the end of March!"

When I returned home from work, I discovered Hannah making a snow man with the kids. Stuey and Nora were way into it! They used ritz crackers for the eyes-which the dogs gobbled up later. It was the first real, true snowman of the winter! Now he's buried. More pictures to follow later today...


Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Rim of a Smoking Caldera

Nearby Redoubt Volcano erupted last night so I am taking the opportunity to post some smoking caldera pictures. I'd like to say that these images were taken at the summit of Redoubt, but they were not. They are all from the summit of Shishaldin Volcano - a 9500 foot strato-volcano on Unimak Island. I climbed it with Gregg R, Franz M and Nancy P back in late May 2005. Then we had a 7000 foot vertical run on skis back to base camp (Top Photo - taken the next morning).

Since we climbed Shishaldin two nearby volcanos Mount Augustine and Redoubt have both erupted, and inconvenienced Kodiak. When volcanos erupt planes don't fly to Anchorage and at the museum we get really worried about ash getting into the climate control system and collections. So I've learned to closely monitor the nearby volcanos on the official volcano observatory website (cut and pasted below)

But what's funny is that when we climbed Shishaldin we never even checked on its eruptive status. It may have been orange for all we knew. I do know that at the top the smoke was thick and pungent and had us coughing. It smelled really bad. It makes me cringe in retrospect to think it might have been poisonous! Swirling smoke coming up out of a deep hole - seemingly from the center of the earth - while I stood on the top of the world. I will never forget it.

Meanwhile Redoubt has erupted. After I post this I plan on checking the AVO website to see which way the ash is blowing and to see if more eruptions are immanent. I've become much more volcano aware in the last 4 years. We live in a wild place.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lordy, Lordy, Look Whos 40!

Last night MJ and Katie orchestrated a surprise 40 birthday party for Matt. Hard to believe he has joined the 40-something crowd! I remember celebrating his 31st birthday with a small crowd at the Henrys bar years ago after we had all just moved (back) to Kodiak. Seems like just yesterday.

Katie ordered a special cake from a New Orleans bakery (Matt's home town)--a multi-layer INCREDIBLY moist cake with chocolate frosting. I"m not sure I've ever had such a yummy, moist decadent cake. WOW.

As we surprised Matt, ate appetizers and cake, it snowed heavily outside-a spring snowstorm! This morning I"m headed out to go skiiing on Lake Gertrude with friends. Winter hangs on!


photos from the party...
Check out Matt J's teeshirt--polygamy porter. Pretty funny.
The snow outside as we left MJ's house.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More Cross Country Skiing

Yup - yet more cross country skiing. And to all you people who think Spring has arrived and that Winter is over - I hate to break it to you but we got another two months of snow season on the Emerald Isle before it starts to green up. Yip, Yip, Yipppeeeeee!

Anyhow I went up skiing above Buskin Lake with Gregg. He went on classical cross country skis (slow) while I went on skate ski gear (fast). Needless to say, but I did zip on ahead of him a bunch. I used the time ahead to video him catching up, and I made a short movie that I posted on youtube. The link is below. Zoya thought it was a little bit boring, but i kind of liked it. You have to copy and paste the link into your web browser because I can't seem to post a 'hot link'.


Tour of Anchorage Pics

Last week I received in the mail 'the official Tour of Anchorage photos' of me taken by the 'Official Tour of Anchorage' photographer - Michael Dinneen Photography of Anchorage. Without photos to prove it, it really did not happen. Anyway the photos really do bring back the memories. Amazing what I had forgotten in the 2 short weeks since the race.

The start when it was barely light, losing the pack on the Spencer loop (some frozen extremities in that photo that you do not see), and the numb feet. In the bottom photo you can tell I have numb feet - no control over the skiis at all. A good time. Patrick

Friday, March 20, 2009

Powder Tracks

Here on Kodiak we have great cross country skiing conditions - light powder on top of a hard crust and blue skies above. And today my truck is in the shop and I did not get to go skiing. It about killed me. But I did bike to work so I got some exercise at least. Right now I am doing kiddo daycare and cooking up a caribou roast in the pressure cooker. Mike, Roxanne and Cece are coming over for dinner and Mike brought over a shoulder roast that someone gave him at work. Dinner ought to be good. Zoya just got home and is now making a salad. My daycare duties have suddenly got a bit lighter.

Photos: Skate ski tracks up the Buskin, and far view of the same.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Walk in the Park and Baby Shower

Walks in the park-
Recently the road in front of our house has thawed and now we can go for walks down the road with the kids. They enjoy being pushed down to the end of cliffside in the stroller and then we walk home together. Stuey likes stopping at the Bern's house and looking at the pile of bouys and fishing line. He says, "Hi Bouys" and as we walk away, "Bye Bouys." He has an affinity for fishing gear (his late grandfather Dave would be proud! And Patrick says his great grandfather was a fisherman as well!).

Patrick took Nora on what may have been her last back pack ride to the park. She is over 40 pounds now and she has legs for walking. I think she should've been walking much earlier than now, but the walks to the park have been a very special time for she and Patrick. Stuey has had very few walks to the park in the back pack during his baby and toddler years. This is largely due to the fact that Nora would get very sad (or rather, mad) to see Stuey go off in "her" backpack.

Baby Shower for Shannon
Last weekend I hosted a baby shower for my friend Shannon. She is new to town and teaches dance classes at the Little School of Dance. She is due in the beginning of May is the most adorable, enthusiastic pregnant woman ever. We did a mother blessing bead ceremony at her shower where everyone brought a bead and we strung it onto a necklace for her along with a wish for transition into mother hood and labor/birth, etc... (Patrick is probably yawning right now as he reads this...or perhaps he has skipped this paragraph all together). The cake was made by Paul Hicks-he is a gentleman in the Coast Guard with incredible cake-art talent! It was yummy, too!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Caribou and Moose for Alaskans

I gather that at the recent Alaska Board of Game meetings the focus was on predator control. Time to kill bears, wolves, and other predators to hopefully increase the population of the prey species – moose, caribou, elk and deer. A lot of Alaskans are complaining that it has become too difficult to find and harvest an animal. I’m more than a little disappointed – I believe that rather than focusing on predators we should be focusing on habitat protection. Why is it that the proponents of predator control also seem to be the same people who want to open ANWR and build roads into the places I like to hunt?

But I have a solution. Lets designate a couple thousand acres of public land near both Fairbanks and Anchorage for the propagation of wild game. We’ll build a fence to keep the predators out, and populate the pens with caribou and moose. In the wilds of Alaska moose and other game are few and far between because the landscape cannot support more than that. But in fenced enclosures we could supplement the natural browse with hay and grain and maintain a healthy population of free-range game. A much higher population than the landscape could naturally support. With enough hay we could probably increase the density to 2 or 3 per acre instead of the usual 1 animal every few square miles.

The State of Alaska would build roads through the refugiums to provide access to the animals. Maybe even have a facility at the gate that rents out ATVs to help the public access their game. Top notch butchering facilities on site would be a must. A draw permit system would be needed – one animal per family perhaps? And maybe one enclosure could be maintained for maximum trophy quality. In this enclosure the feed could be supplemented with minerals beneficial to horn growth and the animals with poor trophy genetics culled.

My plan would be way cheaper than trying to wipe out the predators over the vast expanse of Alaska’s backcountry. And the enclosures would be pretty cheap to maintain. I bet the State of Alaska could even make a profit on the program. Best of all we’d leave the rest of Alaska alone.

I can hear the screams of ‘such a plan is not natural’. And I agree. But removing the predators from the ecosystem is not natural either.


Photo: Me with a free range elk I harvested on Afognak. Note that the antlers lack an eye guard on each side and are relatively puny given the size of the animal. This animal would have benefited from supplemental feed, genetic culling and some extra minerals in its diet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Patience, Patience, Patience.

Patience is a virtue. Especially with parenting in the Saltonstall household this past week.

Nora has had several down days where she has been grumpy & whiney. It gets exhausting after a while. She does the "Only you" routine and lays around not helping when getting ready in the morning. Patrick and I were somewhat stumped and wondering if it was a reflection of the fact that I travelled a lot recently and perhaps she was missing me? Then we get confused about when to insist she do something and when to give her attention. Its so hard to know what these little beings need. And what they're thinking. Are they trying to make our lives miserable? I have a hard time believing that. Something is awry in her mind and she wants to make it right. And often Patrick and I don't know how.

I called a good friend who recently made the choice to stay home with her kids. She informed me that her 3 year old was doing a very similar behavior and she was wondering if it was because she was home too much. And here I was worried Nora was doing it because I was gone too much. Go figure. Theres never an easy answer.

So my friend and I decided that we should keep being strong yet loving parents and our daughters will come around.

Today Stuey learned how to climb out of his crib. He is part rock climber with it. So as I write this, he toddles in and out of his bed room...testing Patrick and I. We have to transfer him to nora's bed and get her a twin bed on the floor soon here (like tomorrow). His crib days are over. In some ways I'm relieved, because I knew this was coming sooner than later. And this will make travel easier-not having to worry about him being contained in a crib.He and Nora can curl up and sleep any where! Yeah!