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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The artist inside is happy.

Yesterday morning I called up Alexis to tell her about not going to Anchorage.
In the midst of being a little disappointed and trying to make the most of my weekend, Alexis asked me, "Zoya, what is something you've wanted to do for a while but haven't had a chance? Now is your chance because you don't have anything planned. How about setting up your quilting room?".

Alexis knows that I haven't quilted for around 2 years and that I've been meaning to finish the 3 projects I started. This seemed like a great idea to me--set up the sewing machine, reunite myself with the fabric I had started to work with and see where it took me. I had been hesitant to do it for the chance that my machine wouldn't work, the space wouldn't work, I wouldn't like the old projects anymore. Thankfully, none of that happened! In fact quite the opposite happened. I forgot how much I missed it!

The purr of the sewing machine, the feel of the fabric-Its like discovering a long lost friend. I went to the quilt store to buy backing for 2 smaller quilts and it was so fun to see all the fabulous fabrics and start thinking of possibilites for future quilts. But first, I'll finish the ones I've got going.

As I sat there and quilted today, I thought about where my life was 2 years ago when I finished my last quilt. Stuey was several months old, I hadn't yet opened my business. Life was busy with a toddler and newborn. It was good to put quilting aside for some time. Now I'm able to quilt as the kids race in and out playing make believe games and checking in on me. The timing is perfect. I noticed that my last 2 quilts had some very lazy errors, which I"ve had to fix, and I remember feeling "in a rush" to do them. I don't feel in a rush to finish anything now. I want to take my time and learn how to do better bindings, cleaner quilting, etc. Its all about enjoying the experience, not necessarily trying to just get a quilt done quickly. It is an art, a hobby I enjoy. There is nothing more rewarding than watching the fabrics come together.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

No Anchorage trip for this cowgirl

This weekend I had a trip to Anchorage planned- catch up with Patrick in the big city, -without the kids, eat a at Marx Brothers Cafe, go skiing, relax. I had an airline ticket which was about to expire (volcano a year ago caused my flight to be cancelled). Going for a one-nighter to Anchorage was something we had never done before. Seemed like a fun idea. My sister Ella has been "encouraging" (ie pestering) me for years to do this with Patrick--take a trip to the "big" city!

Yesterday my pre-trip planning was going smoothly...until the late afternoon. Nora started complaining of a sore tummy, and I thought it was just because she eats her food fast (something that she takes after her father on). But later in the evening, she started getting quite sick and throwing up. Poor thing. I was due to leave for Anchorage this morning, so after a few hours of Nora's illness, I texted the babysitters I had lined up and cancelled their weekend services. I figured that even if she was better, I couldn't bear to just jump on a plane and take off. And what if she wasn't really all that much better, and the babysitters had to take care of her sick? It just didn't seem like a good thing to do. I also had to call Marx Brothers Cafe, where our dinner reservations had been held for almost 6 weeks. It killed me to have to cancel...the guy was VERY nice about it. He said 3 times, "Thank you so much for cancelling". I think probably a lot of people just don't show and then it is lost revenue for them. (Isn't it so horrible that people do that?!)

So Nora went to bed, slept through the night with no more illness and seemed fine today. In the morning, I briefly considered trying to get on a later flight to Anchorage for this evening, but I would've had to pay a change fee AND I had already cancelled the sitters, so it would've taken more leg work to make it happen. In the end, it ended up being a fun day. We made some muffins, went to Safeway then went to Mike and Roxann's house to paint and hunt for Easter eggs. Roxann has such a great Easter spirit every year-its so fun to do the egg hunts with the kids. I'm never ambitious enough to get all the plastic eggs, etc...together enough to pull things like that off. The kids did this new type of egg dying were you shake the eggs in small plastic bags with different colored dyes and glitter. It was less muss and fuss than the standard dipping and soaking with the vineager. The event was a success by all measures!

Patrick is going to try standby flights tonight to make it home (he has been there since Wednesday for his Alaska Anthropological Conference)! And I"m hoping he and I can do something fun together tomorrow.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stuey and Nora-isms

Lately Stuey and Nora have been giving us a run for our money AND making us laugh. Here are some of their recent phrases...

-Stuey will say, "Mamma...I want to tell you something."
I reply"Yes Stuey?"
He always replies the same thing, "When I was a baby, I say Ba-ba and I drink ooo-eee, ooo-eee (his word for nursing)."
I always say back, "thats right Stuey, you did!". He will say this several times a day-its quite endearing! He gets so excited telling me every time, as though it is the first time he has ever told me.

-Nora started crying yesterday and ran into me saying, "Mom-Stuey gave me the hiccups!!!!!". I had to tell her it wasn't possible for someone to "give" the hiccups to someone else. I don't think she believed me...

-The other day in the pool changing room, I told the kids that whom ever made good choices getting ready with no crying would get a sticker on their sticker chart at home. A few minutes later, Nora started having a temper tantrum and I told her she wouldn't get her sticker. Stuey did great and was quiet. Nora cried the entire way from the locker room to the car and the entire ride home. (It was a headache-making moment). In between her gasps for air, Stuey would look over at her and say, "Sorry Nora. You don't get a sticker. You made bad choices." It was pretty funny hearing him tell Nora this in the back seat. Didn't seem to help matters with Nora, however. Sort of like rubbing salt into an open wound!

-This morning, at around 6:45, Stuey woke up and crawled next to me in bed like he always does in the morning. He didn't say anything for several minutes. My eyes were closed. Then he says, "Mamma, I wike (like) you." Best way ever to start my day!

Nora has been in a bit of a difficult streak. Even the speech therapist noted that Nora has a challenging and sensitive edge to her (in general). I had a chance to talk to the speech therapist for a few minutes in the community without Nora right there. She told me how Nora is a very sensitive child, which has its benefits but also its downfalls. She doesn't miss a beat, which is why the speech therapist and I can NEVER talk anything about progress, home program, etc...with Nora right there because Nora freaks out. The speech therapist says that many kids are quite oblivious to conversations between her and parents.

I am a sensitive person, so I can empathize with the difficulties it sometimes brings. Can't think of sharing examples of that right now, however. Jean and I talked about how being sensitive is good in certain professions and they do the world lots of good, too! Its about giving Nora the correct space and setting to assimilate her world and learn which is the important thing right now. I am seeing that she needs a lot of down or alone time--just like Patrick needs. I think that her stubborness and determination will make her a strong person in the end...but in the meantime, its about how to help guide her strong forces.

One thing that has worked when she starts to get worked up about something, I try to de-escalate her by saying, "Nora, try blowing out some birthday candles" to get her to take some deep breaths. This actually works! I've been doing it for a couple of weeks and she almost always starts laughing as she starts taking some deep breaths. I'd like for her to be able to try calming herself before she goes into full board tantrum. She is a strong willed child at times!


Three Presentations in 3 days

Tomorrow I am off to Anchorage for the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings. Zoya always seems to think that these things are mini vacations for me, and that while she's slaving away taking care of the kiddos on the home front I am kicking back in the big city. This is NOT true. This year I have to give 3 talks in 3 days (I posted the cover slide for each talk). I am actually a little stressed about it. But I will admit the worst part of it is already over - last weekend I had to create the 3 powerpoints.

And I fully realize it isn't all bad. It is kind of exciting to present research to other 'archaeo nerds' and hear what they have to think about it. I will be meeting people I went to graduate school almost 20 years ago and have been seeing once a year at these meetings ever since. It's kind of an alternate universe where they all know me and I know all of them, and we meet once a year. But it is NOT a vacation.

Also, you will note that one of the talks is about last summers Community Archaeology dig out at Cliff Point. I will be adding to this one and presenting it again in Kodiak when I get back - on April 8th, 7PM, at the Museum. And if you are in Anchorage in the next few days check out the Alaska Anthropological Association meetings. They are at the Millennium Hotel. Sven is giving a talk too. Patrick

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Between Births

Its been a while since I"ve written on our blog..

The past week, I had a 12 day period where I attended 47 hours of labor/birth with women. A total of 3 births in the almost 2 weeks period. The length of births is never 3rd birth was a first time mom who delivered in just about 3 hours from the time we got to the hospital. An "average" time for first time births is 12 hours, so the speed of this one surprised everyone! When I got the call Friday evening and left for the hospital, Patrick said, "I'll see you sometime Sunday!". To his surprise, I was home by 9:30PM that night and we were able to watch a video before going to bed!

Also, the date of delivery is never predictable. Babies can arrive 2 weeks early, or 2 weeks "later" than their expected due date! Right now I don't have any doula clients for 1 month, so I won't be bringing my cell phone with me nearly as much. It will be good to have some time off from being on-call before the next spurt of births in the second week of May. Katie and I have 4 clients total in the second week of May (2 each)! Wowsers! What was happening 9 months ago??? Streak of REALLY bad weather in Kodiak? Position of the moon? :)

Between births, I"ve learned to take good care of myself and get lots of kid time on my down time. It means making sure I have either a walk, spinning class or 30 minutes of yoga built into the day. It also means short cat naps as needed, which the kids understand and Patrick helps enforce the quiet time. Being in several caregiver roles, (between physical therapy and doula work and mommy-hood) its so important to take care of myself, otherwise I will burn out. I find that my work energizes me, and when I come through the door at the end of the day, I am very excited to see the kids and to relax, hang out, read with them, do puzzles, etc.

This past week, I realized that my physical therapy case load is so busy that I have to refer people to other clinics...I don't have any openings for new clients for 1 month! Since I am doing physical therapy for only 15 hours a week, I have to limit new clients so I have plenty of appt spots for current clients. It is hard for me to turn people away-I have a "I want to help everyone" attitude. I have to limit appts to keep time for myself and family. Plus, with the doula work, there are hours snuck into my week with prenatal appts, post-partum visits and the labors themselves.

Almost a year and half since I opened my business, I really couldn't be happier. I really enjoy working for myself and feel like I"m filling a needed niche in the community. A small health clinic with focus on individual care.

Also-I FINALLY thought of a motto!

A Balanced Approach- Grounded in Health

I have been trying to think of a motto for some time now and it finally came to me the other day. It seems perfect since I have a tree logo...grounded with the roots. And it encompasses all the different aspects of my business.

A new website is in the works (thanks to the fabulous work of Amy Johnson!)...probably just a few more weeks before its done. It'll have pictures and better narrative of all the services offered.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Kodiak Film Festival

Last fall we imported the talent and had the Banff Film festival - this April 9th we'll highlight the local talent and show our own movies about adventure on Kodiak. The festival is a membership drive for the Island Trail Network and will be free to all members - you can sign up for your membership at the door. Then bid on the silent auction items, eat pizza and watch movies.

But first, ITN needs to put together the movies for the event, and it needs your film submissions to do so. All you need to do is submit a link to your movie on Youtube to the Island Trails Network website:

You have until the 26th of March to get in your submissions. Zoya and I plan on submitting a few of the films we created last year. Don't be shy - I think the whole point of the festival is to highlight local adventures and not to show gaudy Banff Festival quality movies. It is more of an 'imovie' youtube' type thing than a 'final cut pro' 'Banff Festival' affair. It ought to be fun to know the faces in the movies!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MyTour of Anchorage

Now that I got photos back of me in the race it is time for my side of the story. Michael Dinneen Photography takes photos of everybody in the Tour every year and I purchased these photos of me and the girls on line. If you know somebody else who was in the race you can find them by going to the Tour of Anchorage results and getting their bib number and then going to the following website:

Anyhow, the theme of my race this year was that everything that could go wrong did, and yet, in the end, it all turned out great. First of all, I did not expect great things because on Kodiak we had no snow to train on, and then I got REALLY sick about 4 days before the race. I was a coughing, dripping, sudafed haze mess in the days before the race, and came close to just bagging it. I actually learned that sudafed makes your heart race when you ski - so the day of the race I did not take any.

On race day I showed up at the start to collect my bib at 8:25 and the lady told me that my start time was at 8:36. I did not believe her at first, I thought the start was at 9:36, and then I had to really rush to get to the start in time. No warm up and I pulled up at the back of the pack as the starter said '10, 9, 8. .. ...Go!'

Since I was sick I had decided to go really slow anyway, and I let the front pack go. I ended up in the no man's land between packs. I was in the process of creating a small pack with 2 other skiiers when I hit a rock or piece of metal so badly that it cut thru my ski base and I fell down. After that I could not catch the other two and I just took it easy and waited for another pack to catch me. Skate ski races are sort of like bike races in that drafting is essential and I knew my race would be a lot easier if I was part of a pack. Last year I did the whole race alone and I did not want to do that again.

The pack that caught me was all the top women skiiers. I have never skiied in a pack with so many women before and it was kind of cool. I heard them commenting on it too - I gather it is unusual to have so many women in a pack. At first there were just 2 of us guys. Our pack rolled along and actually reeled in the 2 lone skiiers I had started out with. The kid in blue, bib # 414 (who we reeled in), turned out to be 14!

As a pack we were among the first along the track and anywhere where no one had skiied yet was super slow. So if you pulled out of the line to pass you had to work really hard to go by because you instantly slowed down. The slow snow was caused by hoar frost on the new groomed trail. So I just stuck it out at the back of the pack and enjoyed the ride in the draft. Really, once part of the pack you barely had to work to keep up. And I will note that the last 4 of us in the bottom photo ended up first in the group at the end of the race (all of us in the top photo). The pack did break up at the end when we got to the hills near the finish. At the end it was a sprint to the finish and I could not get by the lady in blue (bib # 430) and she beat me by .4 seconds. She won the women's race!

Anyway, this year I learned that 1) warm up before races are way overrated and that there is less nervous tension before a race if you show up 10 minutes beforehand (not that I'll ever be able to do it again on purpose). 2) You do not really lose all that much time taking it easy and just skiing with good technique. I bet if I was not sick and had 'HIT IT' I would have, at most, gained only 4 minutes or so. 3) On snow training is also over-rated, I do not think I was at a disadvantage this year at all, and that climbing mountains on tele skiis is excellent training. But, I will add my 'skiing in a pack' technique was terrible and I kept on skiing on everybody's poles - so maybe some practice drafting in a pack is in order for next year. 4) Racing sick is OK during the race, but afterwards you cough for a week. Patrick

Monday, March 15, 2010

Philip's Birthday Video

Philip made a GREAT Youtube video of yesterday's adventure. You can even watch as I manage to keep my feet dry when the ice shelf I am on breaks off and falls into the river (it happened really slow). And those are wood skis I'm using - my favorite pair! Patrick

Birthday Ski

Yesterday, in what I hope has become a yearly tradition, Philip, Gregg & Lisa and I all went for a cross country ski in honor of my Birthday. Any excuse for a ski! We went up the river and into the canyon above Buskin Lake. We turned around because of another yearly tradition. I broke of the ice ledge along the canyon in the same spot I always do and fell into the creek. At least this year I did not get my feet wet. We went home via the fields above the canyon. No other presents necessary when you got snow! Patrick

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Favorite Ski Area

The last few years my favorite area to go cross country skiing is the flats and old river channels above Buskin Lake. But this year after our Biblical weather (continuous RAIN) from December right through early March I thought I would not be skiing there this year. What a change to get a week or more of cool temperatures and snow. There is now almost 2 feet of snow above the Buskin and the skiing is great.

Yesterday, Zoya & I left the kids with a babysitter and went skiing. It was snowing off and on, and the snow on the trees made it a winter wonderland.If you go far enough up the river there is a deep canyon where I have often seen mountain goats. After last fall's heavy floods I thought the river bed might be totally changed for the worse, but it seems the floods just cleared the brush off of the banks and made the skiing easier. In the past there were also a few places that never froze and were always a struggle to get past. Not this year! I think the river bed changes fixed the problems. Patrick

Friday, March 12, 2010

Doulas working through the nights

This past week, I was at two labors as a doula. The first one was with friends with their second baby and other birth was a first time mom. I love birth. There is so much to learn and supporting moms during this day of their life is so rewarding.

Doula work is emotionally investing and its good to know when to call in the reserves. :) I came home at 11 this morning after 31 hours with my doula client, took a HARD CORE 2 hour nap, woke up, picked up the kiddies and had a good afternoon and evening. We went for a walk down the road then had Matt (Katie's husband) and kids over for dinner, as Katie was up at the hospital with our doula client. I feel SO LUCKY to have Katie as a co-doula. It makes all the difference in the world to know that if I get tired or need support or advice, she is there.

One of the things I love about doula work is the relaxed nature of it--birth isn't necessarily a relaxed experience for the mom in labor, but as a support person, the rest of the world continues on, almost in slow motion as we support mom in labor. Its almost like time stalls. Contraction after contraction comes-conversation incurs between the attendees in the room. Food runs are made. Bathroom breaks taken. Naps squeezed in by support people and mom. I used to think that the doula isn't allowed to nap, but at long labors, its important for all the support partners to take power naps. Sometimes as I'm sitting at moms side, and she is sleeping between contractions I"ll close my eyes with her between contractions. Even a few seconds of rest makes a difference. We find a rhythm to labor and each labor has its own rhythm. Some are faster. Some are louder-more music, or talking. Some are relaxed. Some are busy. They all have their own energy and rhythm. I never will know what kind of rhythm the day and night will take until labor is well underway.

Now I'm off to bed to get some I can get ready for skiing tomorrow with Patrick! yeah!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Winter at Last

Here on Kodiak it has finally gotten cold. The lakes have frozen over and there is good cross country skiing. Is it a coincidence that we got the cold and snow the very weekend of the Tour Of Anchorage? Now that I don't need snow to train on we got it? Still, I'm not complaining - better late than never. The really good thing is that the cold will probably kill the slugs in my garden, and it does not look like I'll have to mow my lawn in March.

Yesterday after work I slapped some extra blue wax onto my old wood Bonnas (brand of XC ski) and took a tour through the woods in Swampy Acres. It's the first time in what seems like forever that I did not have to go to the golf course or pass to go skiing. Today I think I'll do it again. Happy Times are here again. Patrick

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

At the start of the Iditarod

While in Anchorage over the weekend I not only got to race in a race, but I got to watch the start of another race - The Iditarod. My cousin Lev was in town as an 'iditarider' on the sled of Michael Williams Jr.. Lev is a teacher at a school in Massachusetts that both sent him to a teacher's conference in Anchorage and got him the ride on the sled. What a deal! Michael Williams Jr. is an Iditarod rookie who hails from Akiak Alaska. I just checked the Iditerod standings and he is currently in 13th place.

The best part of the deal is that Lev acquired extra VIP passes to the start for the rest of us (my cousin Will and his wife Beth). We got to see all the dog teams up close and personal. It was quite a scene - all the dogs were barking and raring to go. The mushers nervously making last minute preparations and waiting for the race to finally start. One of the sleds is carrying the stethoscope of a doctor who was tragically killed while on his first dogsled ride when he was run over by a drunken snowmobiler. My cousin Will who is also a doctor knew him quite well, and it was good to see the stethoscope on its way to Nome. It meant a lot to Will. Patrick

Photos and Video: The top photo is of my cousin Lev getting comfortable in Michael Williams sled before the start of the race. The second photo is of Michael Williams Jr. and his brother while they were hooking up the team. Michael's entire family was there from Akiok getting him ready for the race. The third photo is of a dog team just after the start of the race, and finally the bottom 2 photos are of my cousin Lev and Michael (brother riding on chase sled) on the course near the Alaska Native Medical Center. The video should speak for itself.

Monday, March 08, 2010

He did it!

Patrick did the 40 K Tour of Anchorage Ski race! Yeah! He took second for his age group and finished in 2:04 (his goal was 2:05). Evidently, he was quite sick afterwards (uncontrollable coughing) and wasn't able to partake in post-race festivities (ie dinner with friends) but at least he got some rest and completed the race.
He is on his way home from Anchorage right now-I'm so happy and proud of him. With such little snow this winter, it was a real challenge knowing how to train for it, but I think hes glad he did it.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Sick House

Its been the sick house here on Cliffside Road. Nora and Stuey both contracted the horrible, cough-fever virus. Its been 3 days now. In the middle of the night Stuey and Nora wake up feverish and crying sadly cause they feel so crummy.They've been home for several days in a row now.

Looks like they may be turning the corner today. They both have increased energy and spirits are up. Poor Patrick has gotten it as well-hes not feeling so good today. This morning he laid on the couch looking out in space. For anyone who knows my energizer-bunny husband....that is NOT like him. Hopefully a few doses of Sudafed between now and race day can numb his symptoms enough to do the Tour of Anchorage.


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Ready or Not - Anchorage Here I Come

I'm not sure if I'm ready, but the Tour of Anchorage is this coming Sunday and I'm in it. This year, due to the lack of snow and good training opportunities, I opted to enter the 40 rather than 50 kilometer race. In the 50K race you have to climb a HUGE series of hills right at the start, and I decided that I am just not up to it this year. So it's the wimpy 40K race for me! Still, it is a long race and, given my lack of on snow training, it will be a challenge. My goals this year are to finish in under 2:05 and in the top 25. I hope I am not biting off more than I can chew! Especially since it seems I've caught the kid's cold.

Photo - Me in last year's race after I had just finished with the 'HUGE series of hills' and lost the front pack.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Chicago in Anchorage

This past weekend I went on a girls trip to Anchorage to watch the broadway show, Chicago. 5 of us lifelong friends went-Jenny, Adelia, Balika, Mary Jane and myself. Balika got the idea for the trip early last fall, after she saw that Chicago was coming to town. We thought that February was a good time for a little Anchorage retreat. Five of us flew over to Anchorage, stayed in a hotel room together, did some shopping, went to a dinner at Marx brothers and enjoyed the show. We met up with Jess. R and Meghan K. in Anchorage for the show as well.

The show was fabulous-incredible dancing, acting and music. Packed crowd and lots of laughs.

At some point during the weekend, we realized that the whole Kodiak group was born and raised in Kodiak together! We all went to college and made our way back to Kodiak over the years. What a great group of gals. Such good people and friends.


Mary Jane, Jenny M, Adelia M, Balika and myself as we head out to dinner.

Jess R, myself and Meghan at Marx Brothers.

In the photo where Mary Jane is in the middle of Jess and Meghan-they are helping Mary Jane walk in her new 5 inch (thats correct-5 inch!!!) heels. We were in a bit of a rush to get from the restaurant to the performing arts center, but Mary Jane was agreed to make the trek with assistance! It was quite funny. MJ has high-heel walking down to a science!!

The ladies at the performing arts center. We were in a balcony.

After the show. The girls laughed at my fur gloves--but it was Fur Rondy weekend AND they kept my fingers warm! (and they go well with a pink purse-right? Southern California meets up with Fur Rondy?!