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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stuey Word of the Week

Stuart is beginning to talk.
His first 3 words are Up, Mamma and Happy. Happy comes out in two parts-Haaa-peee.
I'm lovin' it.

Nora is communicating more and more with Stuart as well. She looks at him very intently, for instance, when he is finishing his breakfast and she'll do the signs for more and 'all done'. She'll do the signs a few times for Stuey to try to determine what it is that he wants. He loves the (positive) attention from her and just smiles.


Photo: Patrick took Nora for a walk the other day and snapped this photo from outside the living room window. Stuart was just waking up from a nap in my arms.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Things I've Learned in 24 hours

I've learned many things in the past day from friends and acquaintenances including....

-There are no easy answers for hard times like these.
-These years are called "terrible 2's" for a reason.
-Nora won't suddenly "outgrow" her stubbornness overnight. It will always be a part of who she is and over time it will be a good trait.
-Since Noras tantrums do tend to revolve around food, to better manage mealtimes and her involvement with meal preparation. Nora enjoys being industrious (don't all kids?) and would thrive on having an even more active role during meal times.
-My friends are wonderful listeners and have lots of great advice. I welcome it all.
-It feels good to just vent.
-Patrick is a wonderful friend, husband and father.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Happiest Toddler on the Block Book

I recently heard about the book Happiest Toddler on the Block...

A mother blog had a synopsis of it-sounds just up my alley.

Item #4: Toddler Beasts

Ever think that your toddler behaves a bit like a primitive beast? If you did, surely in these parentally correct times, you wouldn’t publicly admit it, but you might, in the safe confines of your home share your observations with a close friend or relative.

Well now a University of California pediatrics professor has released you from your guilt because he has told a national newspaper that your assessment was right on the money.

“In his latest book, ‘The Happiest Toddler on the Block,’ Dr. [Harvey] Karp tries to teach parents the skills to communicate with and soothe tantrum-prone children,” the New York Times said. “In doing so, however, he redefines what being a toddler means. In his view, toddlers are not just small people. In fact, for all practical purposes, they’re not even small Homo sapiens.

“Dr. Karp notes that in terms of brain development, a toddler is primitive, an emotion-driven, instinctive creature that has yet to develop the thinking skills that define modern humans,” the paper continued. “Logic and persuasion, common tools of modern parenting, ‘are meaningless to a Neanderthal,’ Dr. Karp says.”

Yup, you read that correctly. He said Neanderthal.


Tantrum Times

Arghh...the first 12 hours of Patrick gone aren't going so hot.

This isn't the first time he has been gone for several days at a time-there was several stretches in the fall that he was gone and I seem to remember it going smoothly...not sure why this time is more difficulty.

Probably because Nora has become even MORE of a daddy's girl in the 4 month period since then.

Patrick left this morning before she woke up and she immediately was crying out, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy..." over and over and over again. (side note: when I was gone to Hawaii, Patrick said she cried out for me 1 time in the 5 days I was gone...)
We waved at an airplane going by (I pretended it was Patrick's plane-even though it was headed towards town, not away from it. It dawned on me that she doesn't yet know the difference! Phew!). That helped a tiny bit, but not really. She sat on the couch in the kitchen, fixated on the sky above for about 1/2 an hour and I had to peel her away to go to daycare.

When I picked her up after work, she broke out into more "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" and crying chorus. Poor girl! She really misses him. I try to explain that we'll get on an airplane in a few days to see him, but does she really get it? Not sure.

This evening was temper tantrum after temper tantrum. I heard an announcement about a parenting class being taught on the radio earlier today. So I put a call into the radio station to get more specifics on that. Not sure if it is for parents of toddlers or older kids. I'm up for all the advice and help I can get. My friends are helpful and supportive, but the intensity of Noras tantrums blows many 2 year olds tantrums out of the water. Even the infant learning experts said that Nora's tantrums are of an unusual duration and intenstiy for a two year old. Extreme stubborness in action, I must say.

Some parents appear to have all the answers for their kids-not Patrick and I. He and I talk about that regularly. How this is such a learning process for him and I. He continues to be amazingly patient-more so than I. Its not that I lose it, but I have less tolerance for Nora standing there crying (rather-screaming on the top of her lungs) for 15-20 minutes at a time. Tonight when I was trying to eat my dinner and she was standing there screeching because I wouldn't give her the WHOLE bag of tortillas, I had it. I put her in the time out room for several minutes so I could eat my dinner in peace. There is nothing more annoying to me than trying to savor food in the company of a screaming toddler. Its my pet peeve. It is rude and irks me.

I know she is only 2. I know she isn't a "mini-adult". She is a two year old-irrational, unpredictable, tempermental, etc..
Sigh. I love her so much and want to help her find her groove easier. Hopefully in 2 months this phase will have passed and her tantrums will be less extreme and I will look back and be thrilled to be on to a different challege. Thats how parenting goes...goes from teething, not sleeping, to tantrums, then talking back probably....I can't even imagine what other adventures lay ahead.

Tonight Nora and I shared a wonderful 20 minutes of reading books together before bed. She crawled up in my lap repeatedly with various books, tucked her feet under my legs to warm them up, nestled her head into my body and listened intently to the book, pointing out her favorite parts, squealing occasionally. Those moments rock. Those are the parenting HIGH moments. Just happens that today the parenting Lows outweighed the duration of the highs. But perhaps I can relish in the sweetness of those high moments and let the low ones take a back seat.
As I always say, never a dull moment around here.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

February Snow Day

This afternoon Mother Nature presented us with a wonderful treat-sunny weather, cool crisp conditions for a ski up Pyramid. I haven't been downhill skiing in almost a year and I don't believe I"ve ever gone skiing this early in the winter. Usually I only ski in April, May and June in Kodiak-when the snow is easier...we call the term "corn snow".

We went up the backside of Pyramid Mountain which was a treat for me because I've never been up the back side. At the parking lot we met up with Philip and Adelia (by chance!!) so we all went up together. The backside of Pyramid has entirely different views and a whole different feel than the front side of Pyramid. I rather enjoyed it-and we trekked up the mountain all the while catching up a bit with Philip and Adelia. They were going up to snowboard.

The snow had a thick, deep feel to it, which took some serious strength in the legs and control of the skis. Patrick was very positive and encouraging that I would do fine-and I did...aside from one little was quite funny actually!!!

(Patrick leaves early tomorrow morning for Anchorage for a conference-we'll meet him over there on Saturday and on Sunday we'll do the 25 K classic ski Tour of Anchorage ski race together. Skiing today was a nice chance for he and I to have a moment away together before he heads off tomorrow morning!)


-Patrick and I enjoying the day together
-Patrick and I caught enjoying fritos together on the mountain. YUM YUM YUM! Good source of fat just when you need it!
-Me skiing down
-Me hiking along the edge of a small canyon. Slow and steady. :)
-Philip and Adelia getting ready to head further up to have a day of snowboarding!

No ski lifts in Kodiak! We put skins (like fake fur which grips the snow) on our skis and hike up the mountain. :) The going up part is actually just as fun as going down, believe it or not!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Marias' Mother Blessing Shower

Today was Marias' Mother Blessing shower, held here at the house with 14 ladies-(3 of whom are pregnant and due in the same week in April! Wow!! Katie St. John, Marias and Christina Ball. What was going on in July?? Rainy weather perhaps... :)

The shower began with food and chatting in the kitchen then moved to the living room to help share stories and inspiration for Marias as she prepares for the birth of her baby. Many thoughtful sentiments were said as people joined in the ceremony of giving Marias a bead and explaining why they chose that bead for her. Many of the beads had to do with Kodiak, the ocean, nature, womanhood. The beads were strung into a necklace for Marias to remember and rejoice in the strength and love of her fellow female friends in Kodiak.

Marias' in-laws in Hawaii sent a wonderful assortment of beautiful beads with a note that said,
"...we had such a hard time picking out just 1 bead for your necklace. Every bead that we fell in love with seemed to scream out, "Pick, me! Pick, Me! I want to be on a birth necklace!!".
Isn't that fun?!
It was so nice to have the presence of her mother, sister and husbands family present with us today, even though they are in Montana and Hawaii.

I first met Marias at the pool when I took Nora swimming for aquatots. I think Nora was only 4 or 5 months old at the time and Marias and I hit it off instantly. We had many of the same parenting philosophys (regarding breastfeeding, co-sleeping) as well as the fact that we really enjoyed talking. I always find myself laughing with Marias and she can always put a positive twist on things. Our first kids are the same age within a few weeks and the first year was filled with phone calls back and forth about sleepless nights, teething difficulties, temper tantrums and all the other turmoils which fill the minds (and days) of first time parents.

Laughter and tears flowed, sometimes both at the same time, as we also did a candle ceremony. Each person lit a candle and talked about their blessings for Marias' birth and any other birth stories people wanted to share. Everyone took their candle home and after Marias has her baby, we will all light the candles at our own homes to celebrate the hours following the birth of Marias' baby.

Marias is leaving town this May with her family to New Mexico. Her husband is in the Coast Guard and they are being transferred. We know that she will be forever in our hearts and we will await her return to Kodiak someday. What an amazing person she is and what a beautiful family she has.


-Libby Eufemio and Marias
-Katie St. John telling us the small beads she gave Marias are a reminder of all the women all over the world who will be having a baby at the same time as her (10,000!!!). SO COOL!
-Marias holding up her birthing necklace with all the unique, memorable beads on it.
-Teresa Langford after she has lit her candle.
-Christina Ball laughing as she celebrates the moment of lighting her candle.

Gregg Rips a Turn

Just a quick note and photo showing the skiing today up on Pyramid. I think Zoya will be posting shortly about the baby shower she hosted, and the post will be pushed down to second fiddle anyway. So stay tuned for the baby shower photos! To sum up my day on the mountain - the snow was great, but the light was bad.

I met Gregg and Lisa at the top of the South Bowl in a complete whiteout. They skinned up from the parking lot while I took the long route up from the switchbacks. Sort of amazing that we arrived at the summit at the same time. I heard Gregg talking to Lisa - clear as a bell (good thing they weren't talking about something personal). I yelled, and they came over and found me. Black figures suddenly materializing in the white. We ripped a few runs in the bad light but terrific snow. The first guy down was at a disadvantage because it was all white. The next two skiiers had the tracks of the first skiier for relief against the white. Amazing what a few tracks does for your depth perception! Patrick

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We've been Pasted

In the last two days we got about three feet of heavy new snow on Pyramid. It has gotten REALLY deep. We do not usually have this much snow on the mountain until April. Hopefully it keeps on accumulating and gets UNBELIEVABLY deep. It's getting hard to recognize the landscape features as they get buried beneath a blanket of snow. All the alder bushes have been buried and the gullies have disappeared.

I think as the snow fell the temperature went up and down and periodically froze the wet snow. It is all soft, but when I skinned up I only sank in about 1/2 foot. But if I pushed my ski pole in it went all the way in. When I skiied down I could bounce and sink way into the powder then porpoise back out. Pretty good skiing. But the avalanche risk is high - I even set off a small avalanche in the North Bowl. Patrick

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

7100 Year-old Alutiiq House

Today I got back the radiocarbon dating results for last summer's Community Archaeology excavation at Salonie Mound (see post titled 'Radiocarbon Dates' in the archives - March 2007 for an explanation of radiocarbon dating) . It turns out the house we excavated is 7100 years old! That is exactly how old I thought it would be - BUT I was really worried that I had interpreted everything wrong and that the house would turn out to be only 4000 years old (or something equally young and disappointing). Last year my '6000 year-old house' turned out to be only 3400 years old, and after talking it up big I'd had to eat crow. So this year I was a little gun shy - believe it or not, several times in the last few weeks I've even woken up in the middle of the night with the dread that I would be wrong (I admit it - I am an archaeo-nerd). So today is a great day - I was right, it is a 7100 year-old house. Vindication! We actually sent in 5 samples to be dated and every date came back within 100 years of what I guessed they would.

The house is exciting because it is far more elaborate than expected. Prior to last summer no one had ever excavated an Alutiiq house much older than about 6300 years. There were not supposed to be older houses - we thought early Alutiiq people lived in simple tents. But last summer we excavated a house that was almost 5 meters across, had walls of stacked sods, lots of large posts to hold up the roof, a storage pit feature, built up sleeping bench, and an inside hearth. People used it a long time too - we found a midden (trash heap) around the outside of the house almost two feet deep (50 cm). And that's after it had settled and decayed. This is not the simple, ephemeral type of structure one would expect to find according to our characterization of the early Alutiiq as 'extremely mobile hunter gatherers'. It turns out they did build substantial structures and obviously lived in certain spots for extended periods of time. This is big news and I can't wait to tell other Alaskan archaeologists about it at next week's Alaska Anthropological Meeting in Anchorage.

The bottom photo is a scan of the final 'schematic map', plan view of the house from my notes. The dark circles represent the post holes that held up the roof. There was a wall of stacked sods around the northern edge of the feature (top of map). The top photo is the profile of the part of the house we did not excavate (left side of map). You can see the black house floor extending into the wall near the bottom of the profile. On the left the black house floor is on top of stacked sods which probably represent the stacked sod sleeping bench while on the right you can see the stacked sod wall that went around the structure (stacked sods are the mixed up white and brown blebs). You can bet I'll be showing these pictures to my fellow archaeologists next week! And I bet you're glad you wont be there! Patrick

Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary Gregg & Lisa!

Today is Lisa and Gregg's second anniversary, and just like last year we went for a ski on Pyramid. In the last few days we have gotten a lot of snow and rain in town so we had visions of waist deep powder up high. But it was not to be. During the storm late last night there was an ice storm all the way to the top. 'Upside down snow' (wet snow on top of powder) with a crust of ice on top. So not so good skiing. But we had a fun time skinning up from the switchbacks and skiing back down the road to the car. More of a tour than an actual ski. Still way better than doing it on snowshoes, and it was fun to hang with Lisa and Gregg on their anniversary. Patrick

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Learning Tagalog

On Friday afternoon, I decided I am going to learn Tagalog.

I only speak english and have wished for years that I could learn another language. I have considered Spanish, Italian, French....but mainly spanish. At work on Friday my co-worker Heidi and I began talking about how wonderful it would be to know more Tagalog, the language spoken in the Philippines. There is a very large filipino community here and Heidi and I decided it would be such an asset both at work and in the community to speak tagalog. She and I talked about the Rosetta Stone program, and when I got home that afternoon, I started on-line with learning Tagalog.

This format of learning (Rosetta Stone) is perfect for me at this time in my life. It uses pictures, words, phrases and lots of repetition. And it won't progress you until you've mastered the lesson. Very cool. I love the sound of has a nice cadence to it. And from what I hear there isn't any "r" trilling, which I can't do. Never have been able to, never will be able to. That was part of the reason why I was leery with learning spanish, I must admit.

The part which excites me the most is having a community of people right here with whom I can practice with. I can't wait to start talking to patients, co-workers, community members in simple tagalog phrases. It will be slow going and a long process, but I am excited!

As I am quilting, driving, cooking, walking, etc...I have various tagalog words and phrases running through my head...trying to get the annunciation right. It is SO FUN learning another language! I look forward to any chance I have to sneak on the computer for a few minutes and learn a few more words or phrases.


From the Archives- Terror Lake 2001

Today another storm rolled in, and it's been rain, snow and high winds. I hate to admit it, but Alisa is right (see her comment below under the 'Kodiak Seasons' post) it is hard to take a beautiful photograph of sideways rain and sleet. The storm is doing wonderful things for our snow pack, but it is not pretty outside!

So to keep things interesting I'm posting some summertime pictures from the Archives. On Labor Day 2001 Paul Zimmer, John Mahoney and I took our mountain bikes to the head of Kizhuyak and biked to Terror Lake on the dam access road. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the road, but it is fine to make your way up the road under your own power.

The first part of the trip is a hellishly steep set of switchbacks during which you climb 2500 feet to the alpine. I imagined myself on the Alpe d'Huez in the Tour De France. But once up to 2500 feet it was a fairly easy ride to the lake. Felt more like riding in Scotland than Kodiak (not that I've ever gone biking in Scotland). Wildflowers, snow and blue skies. Then on the return we had to negotiate the steep switchbacks again. I lived in fear that my brakes would burn out!

Photos: John and Paul with their bikes on the beach at the head of Kizhuyak Bay. Paul on the go on the road on the way to the lake. John and Paul with Terror Lake in the background. Patrick

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Nora Word of the Week - YoYoYao

Nora Word of the Week - YoYoYao or Yogurt

YoYoYao is a noun that means yogurt. When Nora says the word she runs all the sounds together in an elided drawl. The word was actually one of Nora's first words, and she used it regularly before she was one whenever we gave her yogurt. But for some reason she stopped using the word. Recently, after she watched a home video of her first year she started to use the word again - imitating herself! However, she uses it in a slightly different way. A year ago she used the word after we had already brought her the yogurt. Now she uses the word to demand yogurt from the fridge.

The photo is of Nora with her daycare pals having a snack after their nap. Zoya is envious of my getting to pick up Nora at daycare. And yesterday she asked me what Nora's usually doing when I get there to pick her up - so I showed her this photo that I just happened to have taken when I picked her up. Nora obviously has a good time with the girls at daycare, but she always squeals when she sees me. Sometimes she looks out the window and sees the truck arrive and by the time I get inside she is already putting on her boots and jacket. Patrick

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Shades of Grey

WARNING this is a snow report. If you do not ski you may find the post boring. You may want to simply enjoy the photo and not read further.

Today I climbed up Pyramid and went alpine skiiing for the first time in 3 1/2 weeks. It's not that I have not been skiing - I've gone skiing practically every day (missed only 2 days actually) - it's just that I have been cross country skiing down low. It was nice to climb up Pyramid for a change. There is a lot more snow up there than when I last went (check the archives for 'Kodiak Pow Pow').

It rained and snowed yesterday, but the temperature plummeted today. So the cross country skiing would have been icy. I'll try skate skiing on the crust tomorrow. On Pyramid the bottom part of the mountain was breakable crust (NOT good skiing), but above 1700 feet there was a solid soft crust. Some powder blowing around, and in the north bowl it was actually quite good skiing - 2-3 inches of blown-in powder on top of the soft crust. Still until we get some new snow up high, I think I'll stick to the skate skiing. Patrick

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Coming to My Senses

Cooking is a true hobby for me. When I first met Patrick, my basic meal was sesame chicken. I knew that recipe by heart. I would make it for any occasion possible.

In fact, when Patrick and I broke up for a couple months during the time we were dating, I started dating someone else. My residence was just two houses down from Patrick, however. I decided to make my new beau my sesame chicken but discovered I didn't have the sesame seeds necessary at the house I was housesitting. So I trotted over to Patrick to borrow the jar of sesame seeds which I knew were in his spice drawer. He and I chatted for a few minutes and I returned to the house with sesames in hand.

Patrick and I still laugh about that today. He says... "Zoya, remember when you were dating J___ and you came over to borrow sesames to make your sesame chicken recipe for him?". Its quite funny now as I look back at it.

Nonetheless, cooking is a tie that binds Patrick and I-we both have a passion for trying new flavors and recipes. He has been a sport lately with my blended soups....hes not a big blended soup guy-I've discovered.

I've come to my senses!


Preparing carrots for blended carrot soup...2 nights ago.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kodiak Seasons

One of the best things about living in Kodiak is that we got such good seasons. Each is quite distinct with its own charms and activities. In winter we do a lot of skiing - both cross country skiing and downhill. In spring the skiing shifts to the mountain tops and alpine gear as the snow leaves the low country. Kodiak springs are long and brown but with white mountains all around. Summer in Kodiak is Green - it's not called the 'Emerald Isle' for nothing - and activities on the water dominate. Fishing. It's also when I do most of my archaeological fieldwork. Then there is Fall. Kodiak fall is long and lingering as the ocean around the island retains the summer heat. Fall is hunting season. Deer, elk, mountain goats and reindeer.

Photos: Top is the Old Harbor graveyard in early May. Second photo is of Gregg and Mike Mannelin skinning up to go downhill skiing in mid April. Third photo is of Horseshoe Cove on outer Uganik Island in late June. Finally the bottom photo is of the Anvil lake area in mid October. Patrick

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Day after the Blizzard

On Sunday Zoya, Gregg, Lisa and I skiied across Buskin Lake, up the Upper Buskin River, and into the canyon at the head of the river. It was the first time all year that we have been able to get up into the canyon. A beautiful sunny day with practically no wind. Huge contrast with the day before. Hard to believe that 24 hours could make such a difference.

According to the weather service we got 9 inches of new snow in the storm, but on the upper Buskin it was 2 feet or more of new snow. All the snow blew off the mountains and settled in the sheltered canyon and trees. It made for tough work breaking trail while everyone following had it easy. Of course the glide back to the car on a well-beaten in track was divine. Patrick

Saturday, February 09, 2008

More Mill Bay Rescue

Just thought we would post another photo of the rescue because it shows the sideways snow a little better than the video (see post from earlier today). All the people involved in the rescue are true heros. And we have learned that it was a rescue. For details go to the kmxt web site. Patrick

Mill Bay Rescue Video

Today we witnessed a Coast Guard rescue mission right here in Mill Bay. The Coast Guard rescue swimmers and people on the shore helping are heros in every definition of the word.

The winds were gusting 50, blowing snow and temperatures hovering around 30. This afternoon a helicopter made a sudden appearance and we could see the figure of a rescue swimmer in the open door. Coast Guard helicopters are not an uncommon appearance, but today they did a large circle around the bay, lower than usual and then we saw the capsized boat.

The boat was on the other side of the bay, fully capsized--bottom up. People were racing down to the beach to assist and there were people on the cliffs above. Many people were trying to get chainsaws operating, and they moved quickly-trying to gain access inside the vessel. Winds howled and every second counted. The boat kept getting hammered on the shore by gigantic waves and within 20 minutes or so, action was taken to anchor it to the shore with ropes. This made the hull a bit more stable for the rescue workers to try to saw open the bottom and rescue the people inside.

People came and went-it was hard to tell if people were coming out of the boat or what exactly was going on. Towards the end of the mission, the rescue swimmer was hoisted up into the helicopter holding a body in a survival suit.

The nature of this rescue gave Patrick and I a true appreciation of how amazing the Coast Gaurd is. The rescue swimmer worked so efficiently and almost effortlessly in the horrible weather to save lives of those inside the boat.

We don't yet know the outcome of the people on the boat. We hope everyone is OK.


Stu is One

Last night we celebrated Stuart's first birthday with a small group of friends.
We enjoyed a king crab ceaser salad with crab given to us by Patricks co-worker, Rose Kinsley. Rose and her husband just returned from spending time on the South end of the Island and they harvested the King Crab just a day or two earlier. It was extra fresh-never frozen! Needless to say, we all decided it was about the best king crab ever, as it didn't have the salty taste that King Crab from canneries often have, as they are cooked in saltwater. Gregg brought scallop ceviche, (scallops "cooked" in lime juice and cilantro) which disappeared quickly! It ended up being quite the seafood feast!

In honor of the big "1", Karen and Jeremy made peanut butter cup brownies and we enjoyed them with whip cream on top. Stuart wasn't quite sure what to make of the whipped cream...

My "little" guy is 1! How fun!!

(Nora had a hard time at dinner and Patrick ended up disappearing with her for about 45 minutes to get her to bed. So she wasn't able to enjoy the birthday cupcakes. We video taped the birthday song and Patrick enjoyed watching it all this morning, as he missed the festivities last night. This morning Nora also enjoyed watching the video and she kept saying "Happy", "Happy" and clapping. )


Stuart and I playing with the little cars Auntie MJ gave him.
Patrick and Nora in front of the King Crab before it was shucked for the salad.
Nora "cooking" in the kitchen...making onion soups with spices in it, etc.. .:)
Birthday card from Karen and Jeremy with whipped cream in background.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On the eve of Stuart's First Birthday

It was 1 year ago-and seems like yesterday-that Stuart joined us in the world. My friends were all there as I climbed onto the bed and he dove into the universe! He had a hard time breathing and I can vividly remember his lungs working so hard with every breath. The trip to the NICU all seems so surreal-so long ago. Images of life flight nurses coming into my room to bring us to Anchorage, the scene in the Anchorage NICU still remain in my mind and I am forever grateful to the amazing team of people who helped him through every hour.

My baby is now more of a toddler than a baby. I LOVE everything baby about him...from his soft hair, soft whispers, tiny fingers grabbing mine, arms curled around my neck, baby smiles....but I remind myself it will only get better and better. He makes me laugh so much-sometimes I feel like I've never smiled so much before in my life. I'll look over at him and he flashes me the biggest smiles ever. So sweet. Makes my heart melt.

People say, "well, if you love babies so much, have a third!"...and I know thats not the answer for Patrick and I. After many discussions on this topic, he and I are in agreement that we are so blessed with a healthy boy and girl and 2 is plenty for us. I want time for US again and time for ME-work, hobbies, etc....

I will continue nursing Stuart-he is no where near being weaned. I'll let that be a natural process for him. Many look down on nursing kids past the age of one, but all around the world, kids are nursed until they are 2,3 or 4 years old. The benefits are far reaching-for mom and baby. The longer the baby is nursed-the better for mom and baby. Decreased frequency of illnesses for baby and health benefits for mom. Patrick is in full support of nursing-which rocks. He sees how it can so easily soothe Stuart and how good it is for him. Plus, he doesn't have to get up in the middle of the night to warm up a bottle-which makes him very happy.
It is hard to explain this to people who question nursing toddlers. I suppose I even questioned nursing toddlers before I had kids. But I didn't know anything about it.
Rather than try to explain myself, I"m just going to keep on nursing Stuart and enjoying that bonding time with him. This past few weeks when he was sick, I was so glad he was at least getting all of the health boosting immunities in my milk! I'm in no rush to wean him, and am going to enjoy the nursing time for as long as it lasts.

Favorite pasttimes: eating hairballs off the floor. He'll sit there quietly and smile as he chews on fur from dust bunnies. Ughh.
throwing objects. Hard.
opening and closing things.
playing with cords. I have to watch him like a hawk.
Skills: Cruises along furniture. Crawling is getting faster. Crawling is his primary mode of mobility.
Likes/dislikes: Likes soup, bread, V8, sips of water. Not crazy about new foods. Takes several tries before its a go!! Not quite as ambitious of an eater as Nora was....although you could never guess this from his 29 pound physique!
Loves playing peek-a-boo and will pull books/blankets over his head to play peek-a-boo with anyone who will smile at him!
Flashing smiles at strangers is also a favorite past time.


Stuart shortly after birth. He was quickly put on oxygen.
Stuart after his arrival home.
Stuart and Nora both nursing after Stuart's arrival home to Kodiak.

Eagles for Lunch

I took this picture while sitting at my table eating lunch at the Powerhouse on the channel. He sat on the rail the entire time we ate lunch. I must admit I no longer 'see' eagles in town because I have become so used to them. But lately two out-of-town visitors have been so impressed with all the eagles sitting in trees, on poles, buildings etc, that it has opened my eyes to them again. When you think about it - the eagles in town are really cool. So much better than the pidgeons or crows of your average city. Later on during lunch our out-of-town visitor was also impressed by the HUGE sea lions that swam by the window in the channel. Now if only the Killer Whales had made an appearance. ... ... Patrick

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

First Caucus

Yesterday I went to my first caucus. I gather a lot of Kodiak brethren also went for the first time because the place was packed. I had to wait in line 20 minutes just to register as a Democrat (I was 'undeclared') and get inside. And everybody did not fit in the space chosen for the caucus. I gather that four years ago about 18 people showed up - this election year over 200 people showed up. Needless to say, but we could not physically move into little groups according to the candidate of our choice (the usual caucus practice). We had to go outside and then get counted as we re-entered thru the particular door designated for our candidate.

I must admit, to my chagrin, I thought caucuses only happened in Iowa. It was quite the social scene. Practically everyone I know in Kodiak was there, and everyone was talking politics. It was much more fun than just voting in a booth. And none of the secrecy that comes with the anonymous voting booth. Everyone had to be quite upfront about who they sided with, and, of course, this meant that you had to be able to explain your reasons. I think it got everybody there excited about the election season, and we certainly heard everyone else's views. I look forward to my next caucus!

Photos: In the top photo we are getting welcomed to the caucus - note the people still waiting to come in the door. In the other photo Nora eats triscuits in her den with the dog. The dogs tend to be far more tolerant of Nora when she is brandishing triscuits.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

New Ski Loop

Lately I've been cross country skiing on the Upper Buskin practically every day. It's my new favorite place to go. Park at the outlet, ski across the backside of the lake, hook up with the old military road and then get on the river and keep going. We've had such a good run of ski weather that I've had a chance to explore the area. Generally in Kodiak, we get good cross country skiing, go a few times, and then it rains. Not this year - I have had a chance to figure out how to link all the fields, river and old roads into a couple of loops. Good sized loops of more than a couple of miles. Bombing up the river, down old military roads that seem like alder tunnels, crossing fields, the occasional twisty trail through an alder thicket to negotiate. I'm loving it.

These two photos were taken today in a series of meadows that I only discovered last week. I used to stick more to the river and old roads and did not realize the extent of these meadows, nor how close they are to the river. Another big loop to add variety to my ski tours. In the bottom photo you can see the river, where we usually are skiing, down at the bottom of the shallow canyon. Just a bit further upstream the canyon gets very deep and leads to a waterfall (ice fall this time of year). Patrick

Monday, February 04, 2008

Food Adventures

1 month down of 2 NEW recipes a week and I've managed to keep up.
Last night Patrick said, "Yeah, its actually not as hard as I thought it was going to be. (making new recipes)" He has gotten into it as well-in fact a week ago he made home made corned elk and it was SO yummy. He took a big elk roast, put it in a bag with various spices and salt, let it sit in the fridge for 5 or 6 days. Then we boiled it on the stove, added some carrots and cabbage and ta-da! Yummy Corned elk. (The only mistake I made was not washing the salt off before cooking it, so it was a tad bit salty but next time we won't make that mistake...)

Some of the other new recipes involve the breadmaker. I got a new breadmaker recipe book which has fabulous tried and true recipes. I'm much more apt to make sandwiches for lunch with fresh bread so I'm making a serious effort to keep some fresh bread on the counter. Its ridiculously easy-putting the ingredients in, hitting on and 4 hours later there is a fresh loaf of bread. It ALMOST seems like cheating. But its fair. Afterall, it does take some thought, recipe and ingredient collection...and manipulating the machine...

So many recipes, so little time...trying all these new recipes has been so fun. I'm finding my food groove once again. Cooking is such a big hobby for me and its fun to put the apron on, sip on a glass of wine, chop the veggies......


Sunday, February 03, 2008


Hurray, I drew a goat tag!

Unlike with deer you can not just go out and hunt goats - you need to enter a lottery and win a goat tag. Just a few years ago it was not difficult to draw a goat tag, but lately Kodiak has become a very popular place to hunt goats and it has become very difficult to draw a tag. What this means is that fewer and fewer local people are getting goat tags. Used to be over half the tags went to locals - this year practically no one that I know got a tag. But I can't complain - I appreciate that I got very very lucky - especially since I drew one last year too.

This year I drew a goat tag that only allows me to hunt on the south end of Kodiak (permit area DG477). It is a less popular hunt because it is so difficult and expensive to get down there. I last drew for this area in 2003 and I think the price of the air charter has just about doubled due to higher gas prices.

In 2003 we had one of the easiest goat hunts I have ever experienced (anti-climatic even). We camped by the ocean, and the next day climbed up and harvested a goat. We were back at camp with all the meat by early afternoon! Down on the south end many of the goats hang out in, what is for goats, very mild terrane (look at background in top photo). I think that is why the 2003 goat (bottom photo) was also the tastiest goat I have ever eaten. Elsewhere on the island most goats live in very rocky areas with little in the way of forage, but not the goats on the south end. More like cows than goats.

Not that goats elsewhere taste bad - goat meat is one of our favorites! Just so long as you don't go for the old goats. Other than my brother's goat (see story in archives for April 2007), which was over 10 years old, all the goats we've eaten have been great. My brother's goat was practically unedible. So just don't shoot the huge or yellowish ones and all is good (older goats tend to acquire a yellowish tinge with age). We try and get some goat meat for the freezer every year - if I do not draw a tag myself I'll help someone else who did for a share of the meat. And if all else fails there is the late season subsistence hunt that is open to bow hunters only (See goat hunt in the archive for last December).

Life is good - I drew a mountain goat tag! Patrick

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Chicks. What's a guy to do?

On our trip to Hawaii, Stuart was the only guy in the group. He had quite enough of girls curling their hair and shopping. In this video, you'll see him taking his disappointment out on the window. Zoya

Coming out of the "cold" haze

Today Stuart and I are finally turning the corner with our colds. Last night was a rough one-as Stuart was up for an hour coughing. Sitting in front of the steaming shower and a teaspoon of honey helped and he finally went back to bed. Phew. I felt so bad for the little guy.

This morning I woke up zapped, but went to my spin class anyhow. I taught the class off my bike and walked around and swept as I taught. Thats the great thing about teaching indoor cycling classes-as long as you can count to the beat off the bike, you don't have to be on it to teach. I've never done a class like that before. The 3 people in my class didn't seem to mind and they all got a decent workout, and I felt good about not overexerting myself today.

The snow is so gorgeous outside and part of me wanted to go for a small ski this afternoon. But I still wasn't feeling 100% so instead I made bread in the breadmaker then nursed Stuey to sleep in my arms in the recliner as I looked out over the ocean. I was very happy with my decision to not ski! The day turned out quite well.

Patrick took Nora sledding this afternoon. Many squeals of delight from her as he pulled her up and down the hill. Simple pleasures.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Nora Word of the Week - co'uuk

The Nora Word of the Week is Co'uuk which translates to the verb 'cook' in English. When Nora uses the word co'uuk she always makes the hand motion of using a spatulla in a frying pan - as if she was flipping a pancake. Nora likes to cook and do the dishes. She'll spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning the dishes in the sink - filling cups and transferring water from container to container. She pushes up a chair next to the sink to gain height and then digs in. Mom and Dad have high hopes that she might actually enjoy cooking AND then doing the dishes. Patrick

Winter cold persists

A day after Stuey and I returned from Hawaii, he came down with a cough. I did too, but not as nearly as bad as his. His is worse in the mornings and the humidifier next to his bed gets him through the night. I"m home from work for the second day again-hoping he will get better with some TLC. His cough is a sharp, painful sounding one and I can tell he is uncomfortable. Sitting in the bathroom with the shower going and windows steamed up REALLY helps. No coughing when he is in there!

He must have contracted this germ on the plane ride home-as he didn't have any symptoms in Hawaii. In the past 3 or so years, the worst illnesses I've had were right after air travel. Airplane air. Yuck. Germ ridden.