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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two Year Tantrums

Something about having a kid is partial payback for the things you did to your parents. This is where our parents can sit back and chuckle to themselves. And today was a payback day for the time I bent my moms car key in the Dairy Queen parking lot.

Mary Jane and I met at the Chowderhouse and Nora seemed set on having a juice bottle from the refrigerator. I had already written the check for our lunch, so I said no and offered her water from a cup. She stood there screaming.

After picking her up and covering her mouth with my hand, we went over to the table where Mary Jane and Stuart were sitting. Nora wouldn't stop screaming and her body writhed with anger in my arms. I tried the "look at the birds on the water" distraction technique which worked for about 2 seconds before her loud cries began again. After realizing that she wasn't going to de-escalate, I requested to have our food to go and we had to leave.

So we drove home and I munched on her fries in the front seat. Probably not the best thing to do (rubbing salt in an open wound)....but at least we were out of the restaurant.

What goes around, comes around. When I was 3 or 4 one of my earliest memories is having a temper tantrum about wanting a straw and not having one and I threw the hugest temper tantrum of my life. I grabbed my moms keys and bent it-I think she could barely get it in the ignition. Yikes.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween 2007

We had our annual halloween party last night and it was fun to see what costumes people came up with. Such yummy food too!
Nora didn't go to bed until 11:30 last night-she did amazingly well with the group of people and all the activity. Her favorite past-time of the evening was sitting at the counter eating dips and chips and making a big mess of it! And by the end of the night she had a punch stain around her mouth.

Our mommy helper, Hannah, came to help with the kiddos and boy was she a blessing! She put Stuart to sleep in the nursery admist all of the loud music and talking. He woke up a couple of times but at least he got an hour of sleep or so during the party.

Nora also enjoyed putting on Patrick's Elmer Fudd boots and walking around in them. Patrick and I already have ideas for our costumes next year!

This morning Nora has a sugar hangover and I have an 80's-hairspray-hangover!


-Hannah monitoring Nora at the chip bowl. Nora wore the pearls that went with Hannah's costume! Bless Hannah's heart for parting with her pearls.
-Family group Shot-Nora as a dog, Patrick as Elmer Fudd, Zoya as 80's Prom Queen and Stuart as a Pumpkin
-Stuey with his halloween-eye-glasses that we got at as a party favor at Matthew Norkus' birthday party yesterday. He liked them!


More Halloween Photos

Photos from top to bottom:

-Jen and Eric Waltenbaugh as Velma and Shaggy
-Mary jane, Zoya and Patrick as Twister Game, 80's prom queen and Elmer Fudd
-Marnie L. and Shawn as Jail Bird and Sheriff
-Alexis and Ben J. as Harry Potter characters and Grace as a Blue M & M'
-Kelly, Pete and Kory Longrich as the Star Wars Crew!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sampler of events

For several months now, we've become owners of a garage sale-50-cent etch a sketch. What a find!
The mileage it has received from Nora (and Patrick and I) is unbelievable! Nora loves doodling on it (lines up and down) and she'll hand it to us to draw. We'll draw Stuart, boats, waves, trees, stars, flowers...and lately the Moon. Nora has been entranced by the moon. Patrick drew the moon for her the other night. See the drawing above. He included the couch in our kitchen, with him on it and the moon in the window.
I am discovering Patrick's artitstic side. Its quite fun! Yet another side of Patrick which fatherhood brings out. His brother Dicky is the artist in the family and I see a bit of Dicky's flare in his etch-a-sketch creations.

Tonight Patrick nervously cooked up the first Caribou meat for the 4 of us-as this was our first time eating caribou. The meat was just fabulous! Patrick cooked it just perfectly ( a bit pink in the middle) with carrots and potatoes from the garden. Gravy drizzled over the top melded all the mild flavors together. Both of us were thrilled that the meat was so yummy-similar to elk.
I appreciate more and more how much work Patrick goes through to bring such healthy, fresh meat to our dinner table. Between planning the trips, finding the animals, packing the meat out, processing it all-its a lot of time and energy.
We look forward to 'bou stew, 'bou burger, more 'bou roasts....

Hannah is a junior in high school and comes over 2 days a week and on weekends to watch the kids while I teach my spinning classes. She has a good sense of humor and has a lightness about her. She takes the kids on long walks in the stroller and to the beach right down the road.
The other night after my spinning class, the evening was still beautiful and we took the kids to the beach together for a few minutes. I gave Nora a few kitchen serving spoons to dig in the sand with which kept he hands from getting too cold, as it was barely 40 degrees. She won't kept gloves on. We'll have to work on that for winter!


Nick's Reindeer

Now that we've processed all the reindeer meat (2 afternoons spent cutting up meat in Paul's barn) it's time to share the harvest. I love the fact that I will get to share some of the meat with one of the original owners of the herd, Nick - that's Nick Alokli of Akhiok and not St Nick of North Pole. Nick is an Alutiiq elder who is helping to revitalize the Alutiiq language. As a kid in Akhiok he helped herd and manage the reindeer herd. At the museum we have a small exhibit on Alutiiq reindeer herding and in an old faded photo (top photo) he is pictured helping to butcher a reindeer. He's the kid, third from the left, wearing the naval style cap. I originally found this photo in a book about bear hunting guides, Pinnell and Talifson, by Marvin Clark titled 'The Last of the Great Brown Bear Men'.

In years past I have often proxy hunted for Nick. Proxy hunting consists of filling an elder's deer tags - basically shooting his deer for him. He has told me about his reindeer herding days and expressed an interest in getting to eat reindeer again. But, prior to last week, every time I've tried to get him some reindeer I've failed. It feels good to finally succeed. I'll be rewarded by his grin on receiving the meat.

Yesterday I already gave some of the meat to Florence, another Alutiiq elder who I proxy hunt for. Her father, originally from Akhiok, also helped herd the reindeer, and she told me that she had not eaten reindeer since she was a child in fish camp. Her father had spotted the herd up on a mountain on the other side of the bay and had gone and harvested one. On receiving her latest shipment of reindeer meat she immediately took out a piece for dinner. It's been over 50 years, but two Alutiiq elders will be eating reindeer again.

The other two posted photos depict our camp and the reindeer herd. Note the smoke coming out of the stove pipe in the one of camp. And that is the mountains of the Alaska Peninsula across Shelikof Strait behind the reindeer herd. Patrick

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Karen and Jeremy are MARRIED!

Yesterday Jeremy Larson and Karen Boschenstein got married in Las Vegas!! Yeah! They tied the knot in an evening canyon ceremony. Sounds like all was just beautiful and went smoothly. We eagerly await photos from the ceremony. :) They are such a fantastic couple and we are tickled pink for them.

Here are two photos from a casual engagement lunch (at the Chowderhouse) before they left for Vegas.


Monday, October 22, 2007

A Visit to the Ayakulik Flats

Late Saturday night I got back from an impromptu camping trip to the South End of Kodiak. Mike Sirofchuck, Paul Zimmer and I spent three days hiking, hunting and exploring the Ayakulik Flats region of Kodiak's southwest corner. This area is known as the refugium because it was not glaciated during the last ice age, but the massive ice sheet in the shelikof, at that time, did dam up all the rivers, and the area was one big lake. That is why it is so flat today - it was all lake bottom! Well not all lake bottom - tall mountains stuck up out of the lake. The area is also riven by deep river channels, far deeper than one would expect given how little water flows in them today. When the ice dam finally melted away the lake water flowed out in one huge cataclysmic rush and carved all the canyons at once. Imagine a lake 3 or 4 times the size of Karluk Lake emptying out in just a day or so - for a day or two, Kodiak had a river with as much water in it as the Amazon does today.

Kodiak locals Mike and Paul joined me for the trip when my brother cancelled his visit from Maine at the last minute. You got to love Kodiak, I imagine that in most communities people would have needed at least half a year notice before going on such a trip. Paul, a medical doctor, joined us at the floatplane after spending a night on the ER shift at the local hospital. From delivering babies to hiking on the South End in just a few short hours - quite the contrast. Needless to say, but Paul was a little tired the first day.

All three of us camped in big white teepee heated with a wood stove (top photo). Quite comfortable. We spent the first two days climbing mountains and searching for reindeer (middle four photos). The reindeer were introduced in the early 20th century as an employment opportunity for the local Alutiiq Villagers. They went feral after a big fire burned the corals and scattered the herd shortly after WWII. We eventually did find the herd and harvested three animals. Then humped the meat across the tundra back to camp. Ironically, we woke up the last day to find the entire herd walking by camp. We watched them amble by for 20 minutes or so, and pondered whether hard earned meat 'tasted better' than meat shot close to camp. I still contend that searching for a herd, and then humping meat for miles across the tundra is more character building than shooting them close to camp. Mike did not agree. We did not need any more meat and did not harvest any more animals.

Finally, on the last day we went exploring on the beach. Miles of sandy beach and big crashing waves (bottom photo). My trip was complete after I found an archaeological site and a Japanese glass net float. We later determined from the tracks in the sand that on our trip down the beach we had surprised a brown bear. But we never saw the bear because our eyes had been peeled to the ground looking for glass balls. Patrick

Friday, October 19, 2007

Crib Fiasco

Two nights ago, Stuey fell out of our bed-luckily our bed is off the frame and on the floor so it wasn't much of a bonk. Nonetheless, I decided it was high time for a crib for him. I called a local furniture store yeseterday who said they had one in stock and could deliver it yesterday evening around 6:30 PM. PERFECT! Patrick is out reindeer (caribou) hunting for 3 days, so I invited Mary Jane over to help with dinner, hang out and help get the crib put together.

MJ cooked up steaks, asparagus and rice and 6:30, 7, 7:30 came and went without any crib. At 8:00 PM I figured it was time to put the kiddos to bed, as I didn't imagine the furniture store lady would come that late.

As I'm getting Stuart to sleep and MJ is reading Nora stories in her room, I hear a knock on the door. I think, "that CAN"T be the furniture lady-this late at night?"

Sure enough, it was.

For a $25 delivery fee, I get the joy of helping her pry the crib out of the back of her suburban in the dark with the dogs barking at us. Then it won't fit into the door. I don't have an allen wrench handy, and neither does the furniture lady. She more or less said, "Sorry-I can come back tomorrow and bring a tool" and left.

So there I was at 8:30 PM with a crib on my front step with 2 overly tired kids and a compassionate friend to help me laugh at the situation.

I called up our friend Mike with a "Crib 911" and he brought his set of allen wrenches over, took the crib apart and put it together in the nursery. What a fantastic friend!Evidently I was too nice about the crib situation with the furniture store lady. I thought I said my point by repeatedly saying, "Wow. This really isn't cool." Mike and MJ said they would've been MUCH meaner about it. Oh well. Lets just say I"ll NEVER BE DOING BUSINESS there again.

At 9:30 PM, the crib was assembled in Nora's room and the kids were both put to bed in them. Nora fell asleep over Stuey's cries and I finally brought Stuart back to bed. Sigh. Today I'll get a sheet for his crib and give it more of a go. Last night with all the commotion it wasn't a good night to start Stuart in his crib.

I decided that Stuart won't wake Nora up all that much. Thank heavens. When she needs her sleep, she needs her sleep!

Patrick called from the South end of the island saying he got a caribou and they are going for 2 more today. He is down there with Paul ZImmer and Mike Sirofchuck. Every year about this time I've had enough of hunting. Yes, I love the meat. Yes, I'm happy that its good exercise for Patrick and good away time. But Since August 1st, its been pretty much every weekend of hunting. Deer, goat, elk, caribou....more deer...By Mid October I'm ready for a little weekend time with Patrick. Who can fault me for wanting more time with my husband?


The photo is of Mike taking the crib apart last night on our porch.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Audra and kiddos

Audra has been a mommy helper for over a year now and we are so blessed to have her as part of our life. She is home schooled, which has allowed her schedule with our family to be very flexible!

She is extrememly patient, hard working and fun to talk to. She comes over 3 days a week, during which time I go to work for a couple hours at the clinic. She also helps get lunch together, and helps me with house things if needed.

One of her many talents is her artistry. She does BEAUTIFUL drawings and charcoal drawings. Her pieces take my breath away-the detail of angles, shadows. She is very modest about her work-to say the least!

I can't count the number of times I have come home from work to see one or BOTH kids asleep in Audras arms in the recliner chair by the bay window. With Stuart she brings her singing talents, walking around the house singing him to sleep. With Nora she brings her tenderness and understanding of Nora-as she has known Nora for a year now.

The bottom photo is of Lars (Julie and Ray's son) Stuart and Nora. Julie, Ray and Lars left this afternoon back to Seward. :(


Searching for Deer

Last night, just before our 'surf and turf' meal of grilled halibut filets and pan-fried deer tenderloins with red current jelly, Ray downloaded his photos from our hikes. This one is of me searching for deer on the day we returned without any meat. This October the deer have been tough to find on Kodiak's roadsystem. But finding them has never tasted better! Patrick

Monday, October 15, 2007

Deer for Ray, Julie & Lars

Ray, Julie and Lars are down from Seward on their bi-annual 'fill the freezer' trip to Kodiak. In Early June they visit to get their supply of red salmon, and in October they drop in for Sitka Blacktail deer. For the last two days the deer meat prognosis was not looking good. On Saturday we hiked all day and only saw 3 does and a fawn (on the Kodiak roadsystem it is bucks only). Then yesterday Ray and I had hiked for 4 hours and had seen nothing. We were almost at our turn around point, and it was beginning to look like Ray had visited Kodiak for just two glorious hikes, when out popped a buck. Saved at the buzzer! Ray got in two glorious hikes AND got to bring home the bacon. That is the best of both worlds. In the photo Ray is hiking up to the top of a mountain with Womans Bay and the City of Kodiak in the distance. Patrick

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friends from Seward!

This weekend our friends Ray, Julie and Lars are visiting from Seward and we are having a ball. Patrick and Ray went hunting yesterday and today-they got a deer today and called to say they are on their way home. Julie and I have been hanging out and watching the kiddos chase eachother around the house. They are all so entertained by eachother. Its quite fun!

This afternoon it was just the kids and myself at the house-I packed them up in the stroller and we went to Mill Bay Beach. Nora played in the little stream which flows to the ocean with a small yellow shovel that was in the stroller. She kept scooping up rocks and water and sipping the water. When it was time to go (stuey was ready for a nap), Nora didn't put up too much of a fight. I think she knew her hands were getting cold.

I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with 2 kids getting easier. Everyone who has 2 kids this close together says the first year is HARD then it gets easier because they play with eachother. These past few weeks I'm seeing the beginnings of that already. Sure, there are still hard moments, but fewer and fewer every week.

Gorgeous sunny weather and 36 degrees this morning. Now its not too much above 40. I love the little bite of chill thats in the air.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007


In the last week we have experienced a few hard frosts, and the garden is dying. It is time to harvest what is left for the winter. Last year I kept my carrots and onions too long in the ground and the ground froze solid. I never did get to eat the last of the carrots and onions last year.

This year I have already harvested all the potatos and carrots. And every night i have been covering the lettuce with a tarp to protect them from the frost. So far so good - the lettuce is in fine shape. The kale (pictured) actually seems to taste sweeter after a few frosts - so it stays. Sometimes the kale and brocoli lasts well into December. Pretty soon all will be brown and dead and Winter will have arrived. I can't wait. Winter is my favorite season. Let it snow! Patrick

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Speech Therapy for Nora

Speech therapy continues 2X a week and it has been so helpful for Nora and myself. It gives me ideas on how to promote Nora's speech in a fun way. It really works! She is up to between 20-30 words between signs and words.

One of the things Nora LOVEs is playing dress up, as you can see in the photo. Amanda, the infant learning specialist, works with her in the photo using bracelets, glasses and bracelets to promote speech. Nora digs every moment of playing dress up. I don't have anything like that here at the house, so Nora responds with lots of word imitations to have the chance at a necklace, glasses, etc...


Frosty Fall Mornings

The puddles the past few days have been frozen and there was a good frost this morning. The temps are in the 20's at night now-breaking records even. My favorite time of year.

Today I found out that Nana, my 100 year old grandma, passed away. She holds such a special place in my heart. I remember how she always said, "give the kids big kisses for me and appreciate every moment." It goes to show how when people die they are still so close at heart. She will be with me every day, as she has been since I was a kid. I can only hope that her enthusiasm and curiosity with the world lives on in me and in my kids.


As you can tell from the photo, Stuart continues to be rolled around the house in the cart. Quite funny! Nora sits and plays with him in the cart. She'll hand him toys to chew on. His top two teeth creeped in this weekend-so hes way into chewing on anything accessible! These teeth snuck right in-Yeah!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Nora pushing Stuart around

Lately Nora has been pushing Stuart around-in an appreciated way!

We discovered Stuart fits perfectly in Noras push wagon. During every moment of Stuart's waking existence (the past 2 days), Nora insists on having Stuart in the cart. She pushes Stuey around the house, cutting the corners short, flying from one end of the house to another. Stuart has a look of part excitement, part terror on his face but he laughs and smiles-seems to enjoy it! As she takes him around the house, she gives him little toys to play with and he seems happily occupied.

The past few weeks I am seeing the beginnings of Stuart and Nora playing together. Stuart is a little buddy to Nora. She likes having him near her. And taking care of him.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Elk Hunt

Here are some more photos from our elk hunt on Afognak last week. Beautiful country but tough hiking. We carried a lightweight tarp for a tent and when we slept on shore we used bivy bags - very minimalist camping gear. That way if we did get an elk we could still carry both elk meat and our camping gear.

In the bottom two photos we are carrying elk meat back to the boat on the last day. One photo shows Justin 'bustin' through the alders and salmonberry while the other is of me carrying the elk's back leg. The back quarters of our elk all weighed well over a 100 pounds. I included a picture of the elk Justin harvested to give you an idea of how big the elk are on Afognak. More like harvesting a horse or cow than a deer. The elk on afognak are almost twice the body size of the elk in the rocky mountains. According to ADF&G bull elk on Afognak reach up to 1400 pounds - that's the size of a big moose!

In the camping and hiking photos (4rth, 5th, and 6th down from the top) Mike checks out the fields near Thorsheim Lake while in the other Mark and Mike contemplate life in our minimalist camp. It was sunny when we began hiking that day, but of course it ended up raining at night. The landscape pan is of the country we walked through the day after camping to rejoin Jim on the boat. We hiked across Afognak from Malina Bay all the way to Paramanoff Bay - crossing over two mountains on the way. Good way to find the elk!

Finally, the top three photos depict life on the boat and the start of the trip. The top one is of the crew and boat while still in Kodiak boat harbor. Note how clean cut we look. No one has been broken down by the rigors of Afognak .. ... Yet. Note the beer on the deck. The next one is of Jim skippering the boat while Mark watches. Jim has satellite radio so while we motored Mark could keep up on Cal football games (Mike is big cornhuskers fan while Justin is a tortured Michigan supporter). The third photo is of the skiff behind the boat at dawn. It seems Justin caught the best sunrise photo. Patrick

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Catherine Leaves

Tonight as I laid in bed putting Stuart to sleep, I saw Catherine's plane take off towards Anchorage-she is on her way home to California. What a fun time we had with her. Hanging out, chatting, cooking, reading to the kids, playing etch a sketch. I have known Catherine for years as she has come up to do digs with Patrick and how fun to just have a chance to hang out with her for a few days! She has such a good sense of humor, is easy going and spontaneous. What a treat to have a friend stay for a week.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We're Back

Mark, Justin, Mike, Jim and I just returned from our week long elk hunt on North Afognak. Jim's fishing boat the Alpha Centauri served as our base camp. Too much happened on the trip to go into all the details in just one post - so this will just be a brief recap. More to come later.

Suffice it to say, we got know a large portion of north Afognak intimately (it feels like my hands, at least, made contact with every devil's club and salmonberry bush on the island), harvested two elk, and even camped one night on shore. Glorious views, a few bears, decent weather, and two awful packs out with elk meat (one night we got back in the rain at 2AM to the boat). But the theme of the trip was injuries. By the time we got back to town Jim and I were the only ones not gimping along on one leg. It seems strained knees were the order of the day.

In the top photo we have just returned to the boat with the last load of elk meat (and the horns) off of Steep Cape. In the middle photo Mark admires the view out over Upper Malina Lake. In the bottom photo Mike and Justin cross the valley by Lily Pad Lake. Patrick

Monday, October 01, 2007

Two Elk and They're on Their Way Home!

Patrick called last night to report that Justin got his elk, with only a few hours to spare (before darkness AND having to return home). As Patrick shared the exciting news, Jim was starting up the engines in the back ground to head home. They are anchoring in Raspberry Straits tonight and will be home around 10 AM.

What a successful trip for them. 2 Elk, good weather.
I can't wait to hear the stories-sounds like there are many good ones this year!