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Friday, June 25, 2010

Home Front Happenings & NEW BOOK

Patrick called tonight to say the winds picked up and mosquitos have subsided. Our conversation was cut short due to satellite moving...but it was great to hear his voice and know that all is well.

The kids are working on going to sleep after a long and cranky day. Nora seems continually exhausted and recovering from the trip out East. She is grumpy with me and with others and just is dragging. She has had a few complaints of her ear hurting, but no other major complaints of illness. I'm hoping yet another night of good sleep will take care of her grumpies. Its easy to bring everyone down when she and Nora are bickering and tired. Ah yes. The joys of parenting a 3 and 4 year old.

We had a great LONG walk with Balika and her two girls this morning on the Island Lake Trail. Nora and Bella sprinted ahead to explore where the trail went. They were giggling with delight about the adventure of it all! Stuey insisted on taking his run bike with him, so I stayed in the back of the pack with him making sure he didn't go down hills too fast.

With Patrick gone, I"ve had a real opportunity to clean out drawers and corners of the house which otherwise never get addressed. It has been spring cleaning to the max. Its sort of like how I go through and get rid of toys when the kids are asleep. Never when they're awake. They wake up and don't really notice that they're gone (and on their way to the thrift store). I don't think I"ve really 'gotten rid' (horrible english...I know) of anything of Patricks, but just reorganized a little bit. (My sister Ella and Karen would be proud.)

On another note today I was in the book store and purchased Wildflowers and Other plant life of the kodiak Archipelago by Stacy Studebaker and am SO excited by it! It is concise, easy to use and full of fabulous pictures. The flowers are arranged by colors, so for someone like me who isn't good with guessing the class, etc, you can flip right to the color section to find the flower. I think its time to do a walk out to Spruce Cape or Abercrombie with the book in hand with the kids and have some fun. I'm really quite excited about such an incredible, local plant reference. Thanks to Stacy for writing this wonderful book! The Next Page has the book.

The last photos I'll post from our trip...

Stuey burning off some energy in the Boston airport kids play area before we boarded the plane for home.

Jenni, Nora and myself next to the Dunkin Donuts statue in the boston airport. I LOVE Dunkin Donuts. Gosh I wish they would come to Alaska!

85 deg + wading pond=Happy Stuey and Nora!

2 of the wedding "fashionistas" caught on camera at the Boston wedding. It ended up being hard to take photos of the cool dresses from the front without looking strange. We didn't want random people wondering why we were taking their photo. (next time, Mary Jane-I'll do better since I know how you would've loved to see more photos!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jig

Its been great being home. THe kids have sleeping lots more than normal-I believe the travel and time change has hit them hard upon the return from Boston. As long as I get 8 hours of sleep every night, I"m good to go. I'm not as affected by the time change.

Patrick called today wand said, "Its REALLY good you're not here because the mosquitos are horrible". I can't even imagine being there in mosquito land with the kids. I remember Patrick saying last year that the mosquitos were pretty bad, but from the sounds of it, they're even worse this year. I saw lots of bug repellent go into their bags, so thats a blessing.

Our month of Patrick away begins. So things are good. There were a few tears (mine) as Patrick pulled away in the car yesterday heading out. I"ve never been away from him for a solid month. He has gone on month long digs before, but I would visit him. This time, the site is so far away on the Alaska Peninsula that visiting won't be possible.

Jenni, who came with us out East, is helping with the kids while I"m at work (and in case a doula client goes into labor during the night time). Jenni has had so much time with Nora and Stuey that she really knows how to work with them. She has great patience and is consistent with them, which is what they need.

Being back at work after 2 weeks away feels great. It is the longest chunk of time i"ve been gone since opening my business 2 years ago. My new office manager, Christina, kept things well organized and got lots of projects done while I was gone. Its good to know that I"m able to leave for a 2 week stretch without too many problems!

I couldn't resist putting more trip photos on....there were so many great moments captured of our East Coast trip.


Patrick and I at the wedding. Its the VERY RARE moment I get to see Patrick in a suit! it always throws me for a loop to see him tie a tie! He always wears the deer tie which he wore on our wedding day. One of his relatives asked him, "is that all the deer you've shot or are going to shoot?".

Coming home on the train from Boston. Stuey fell asleep in my lap.

The gift of farm milk which all the guests at the wedding were given. Note the cute customized labels. So fun!

A VERY RARE group photo of all of Patricks siblings and step siblings together. This is the first photo of its kind and quite a rare moment to have all the siblings and their spouses together.

Emmy taking us for a boat ride in North Haven, Maine. Stuey loved every moment of sitting on granny's lap!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

And we are off

We are all packed up and tomorrow I am off to the other side of the Alaska Peninsula for a four week archaeological excavation. At dawn we fly about as far as a Beaver float plane can go - a solid 2 hours to the Ugashik River area on Bristol Bay. Once there we will be excavating a 1500 year old Norton Tradition village. We plan on uncovering parts of at least three large houses. Camping and living with the mosquitos and bears. It ought to be exciting.

Picture is of the crew - all clean cut and clean prior to the expedition. Wait 'till you see us when we get back in late July all worn out and dirty. I hope we'll be happy.

I must admit, it'll be very hard to be away from Zoya, the kiddos and the dogs for so long. It'll be my longest trip away since the kiddos entered the picture. Nora and Stuey have been particularly talkative and fun of late and I know they will be different when I get back. I'll miss the process, and I think this bums me out the most. My kids will only be this age once. On the other hand, it'll be exciting on the other side of the Peninsula and I will be conducting archaeological research in which I can take pride. I'll be growing too.

Anyhow I'm off! Patrick

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wedding photos

The photos below and next post have to do with the Willis-Dowling wedding which we attended last weekend in Sherborn, Massachusetts (outside of Boston). The bride is a cousin of Patrick's and we sure enjoyed being part of her day marrying Peter Dowling.
I couldn't keep the photos to one post, so here is one post with just photos and more narrative about the day below...

The wedding site. Gorgeous courtyard, pool area.

The beautiful reception tables.

Walking to the reception tents following the wedding and appetizers in the garden.

Debbie walking down the aisle with her father, Dudley.

Reception in full gear!


Willis-Dowling Wedding and home to Alaska

The past 3 days have been busy ones- Saturday morning we went and visited Patrick's college friend, Lanny. The kids played in the pool and Stuey discovered the joys of the water pool gun. What a hit that was! (See the glee of delight on Stuey's face in the photo). The kids were nice and tired out in time for Patrick and I to leave for the wedding of Patrick's cousin, Debbie.

The wedding was held on Debbie's parents family farm and the weather was spectacular for the event. The service was in a garden, followed by appetizers and dinner and dancing. The tent had such cool dangling round paper lights inside and was decorated just beautifully. (Word was it took about a week for the tent to be set up!).

Some highlights...
The wedding ceremony was done by Rev. Prof. Peter J. Gomes of Harvard and did I ever love his address to the crowd. He spoke of how it was up to all of us present to help Deb and Peter in the journey of marriage. It was quite poignant and wasn't a standard address which is to the couple. This was more to the community of people there to support the bride and groom in their journey. Deb's sister in law read a passage from the Velveteen rabbit, which Patrick particularly appreciated as that is a story which tugs at his heart strings and he grew up with it.

I was in fashion heaven, watching the various New York fashionistas in their latest dresses and shoes. It was something else-the variety of dresses...colors, styles. A large majority of the dresses were ones which I would only see in a magazine and most likely never see someone wear in Alaska. I snapped a few photos of some of them, so in future posts, i'll show you what I was talking about. And Deb was a gorgeous, gorgeous bride. Her dress was so classy and had a 20's/30's feel to it.

Deb's Dad, Dudley, coordinated the presentation of an incredible 20 minute fireworks ceremony which was unlike any other I"ve seen in a long time. It got lots of "ooohhhss" and "ahhhhsss" thoughout the presentation.

A band came up from Mississippi and they were incredible performers and vocalists. They had coordinated dance moves and were so fun to dance with! They crept the crowd dancing EVERY moment they were performing.

Sunday morning we woke up, packed and headed out to the airport in the late afternoon. The weather was in the mid 80's and absolutely sticky and hot.
The flight home was MUCH smoother than the trip out to Boston. Thank heavens. Stuey was much more cooperative and slept a considerable portion of the trip. The photo of the wing of the plane was taken at 2:00 AM Alaska time, flying into Anchorage. Back to the land of the midnight sun! It never got too much darker than that before the sun started coming up and rising around 4:15 or so.


Lanny's son, Jamie showing Stuey how to use the pool water gun. Stuey was estatic!

A shot of the 10 PM firework display!

Panoramic of the the interior of the reception.

Dicky, Ella, Andrew, Tamara, George, Emmy, Polly, John. Patrick and myself in the front.

The 2AM shot right before landing in Anchorage this morning. Land of the midnight sun!

Wrong Alder

Oops, It turns out that rather than the red alder i wanted I went to great lengths to plant a common Sitka Alder on my lawn (see previous post). After I posted proudly on my new red alder I got an email explaining how to tell the difference between the two trees. So today the first thing I did after getting home from the East coast was check on my 'red alder'. It turns out it is not a red alder. I went and picked some leaves from a sure thing red alder and compared them with those of a sitka red alder. They are clearly pretty different and the one on my lawn resembles the leave to the right in the photo. It has a far more serrated edge and does not curl under slightly at the edges like the red alder to the left. Big Bummer. Now what do I do? Do I tear the one I planted out of my lawn? I think I'll try and plant a red alder right next to it. It's a continuing saga. More to come. ... .. Patrick

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maine Times

Our trip East is winding to an end...we just returned from 5 nights in Rockport and North Haven Maine. Now we are back in Boston in preparation for Patrick's cousin, Debbie's wedding on Saturday. We had a wonderful time up North. The weather was good, and we had lots of time to relax and play at the park as well as go for boat rides and cook meals. We've decided that the best part of vacation is time on the water, with no schedule whatsoever to abide by. In North Haven, we were joined by Dicky, Ella, Leo, Zeke and Brooks for fabulous picnic on the ocean. The weather was warm, we enjoyed goodies on a grill and the kids ran around and even swam/waded in the ocean. BRRRRR!!!

Our trip has had its share of family drama....but whats a trip to see long distance relatives without some heated discussions? Things will come out fine in the end. Sometimes siblings married to siblings can create interesting tension. (I'm probably going to get in trouble for writing this.)

The kids REALLY enjoyed boat rides with their Aunt Polly and Uncle John and Cousins Jack and Sam (see photos). Later, on North Haven Island we took boat rides which they thoroughly enjoyed as well...lots of squeals of delight and "go faster, go faster"!!

One thing which is particularly fun for me is to watch Patrick cook with his mom. They've shucked peas, cooked meats and had such wonderful moments talking about food and different things to do in recipes. Patrick always says that he has learned how to cook from his mom and seems that they are always learning from eachother. Patrick made salmon patties with CANNED Alaskan red salmon which he bought right off the shelf in North Haven, Maine. The patties were fabulous and Patrick enjoyed showing his mom how you can transform a couple of cans of canned salmon into a wonderful, yummy meal (complete with homemade tarter sauce)....perhaps Patrick will share his recipe in the weeks to come. We got it from our friend, Rose Kinsley.

The weather is heating up-forecast is for the 80s+ in the next couple of days. I'm rather excited for some serious heat. The house here in Boston is close to a little pond where we do some fun swimming with the kids.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Out East

Our trip East has been a blast. The getting here part was a bit rough, but we survived. Stuey subsisted on 4 hours of sleep in a 31 hour period, which may not seem like a big deal for an adult, but for a 3 year old, it is serious sleep deficiency. Needless to say, there was some body wrestling for about 3 hours in aisle 29 en route from Seattle to Boston. Once at the Avis rental station, Stuey made a dash for the parking lot, tripped and fell on his face. He had a huge bruise on his forehead and his nose was bleeding. Once Stuey was buckled into his seat, he fell right asleep and was eager to play with granny and grandpas trucks upon arrival in Boston.

Since arriving to the East coast, we've gone swimming at a lake, played with toys, walks with the kids and one day took a trip to Boston to go to the aquarium. We rode the T into Boston, which we all enjoyed-especially the kids. They've never been on a train before and loved every minute of it. Once in the city, we all enjoyed lunch at Faneuil Hall, kids went on a quick Merry-go-round round followed by the adventure to the aquarium. What an incredible place-The fishes swimming by scared Stuey some and after some time, He told me "I want to go back to Grandma's house". The whole scene with so many kids must have been slightly overwhelming.

Now we are in Maine and last night enjoyed a wonderful meal at Patrick's sister, Pollys house with her and her husband John and their two kids. Their older son pulled out his large Train set, which Stuey enjoyed every millisecond of. They had 2 electric Thomas trains, which stuey had never seen before.

This afternoon I'm headed to northern maine to see Ella in a handbell choir concert. Can't wait!


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Hunt for Red Alder

The past few years I have been landscaping our lot to better block the view of the road. I've been planting trees, and I have not had a whole lot of tree types to choose from. Basically, Kodiak only has 6 native tree species - cottonwood, black birch, sitka spruce, willow, elderberry and sitka alder. Of those I would only consider Sitka Spruce, Black birch and cottonwoods to be 'real' trees. In addition to the local choices, people in Kodiak also plant Mountain Ash, 'Red' maples, bird cherries, apples, and golden chain trees. None of these trees do particularly well on Kodiak or get really tall. I am from New England originally and I want TALL trees - I miss the elm and oak trees of my youth.

When I started the process of planting trees I looked around to see what trees seem to be doing best. For the most part, if you want tall trees you are limited to spruce or cottonwoods. And I did plant a few cottonwoods in my yard. However, while driving around town I noticed one species of tree that I could not immediately identify. The best example is growing in front of the ADF&G building downtown. I learned that it is a Red alder and is native to Southeast Alaska. A fish and game employee planted the 2 red alders in the late 1970s. Once I had my eyes keyed in I noted that there are a few red alders scattered all about town. I found some by the old Griffin building, on Near Island, in the Aleutian home neighborhood, by the Senior Center and even out by Mill Bay Coffee. They are a beautiful, tall tree and I decided that I had to have one.

But they are not something you can just buy at the nursery. In fact alders in general have a pretty bad reputation. I feel that our local sitka alder (alnus sinuata) has earned and deserves this reputation. Kodiak is famous for its hillsides of 'alder hell'. Not the kind of forest I like to hike through. I wonder if sitka alder gets its latin name 'sinuata' because it is sinuous - bendy and low? However, Red Alder (alnus rubra) is a completely different tree. It grows up to 90 feet tall with one main trunk. Nonetheless, red alder is considered a 'trash' tree, and no one provides them for landscaping. You have to find them on your own.

So I've been looking for a baby red alder to plant. I've called people who have big trees next to their houses, and looked for baby volunteers under other big trees I've found. The hard part is that it is very difficult to tell the difference between baby sitka and red alders. And once they get big it is too difficult to transplant them. Also one has to get the landowner's permission to dig one up.

I had no luck until Sunday when I finally did find find what I think is a baby red alder. I got permission to dig it up and now it is in our yard. Only ... ..... .. . I hope it really is a red alder, and that I did not go through a whole lot of effort to transplant a sitka alder. I'll know in a year or so. By hook or by crook I will have a Red alder in our yard! Patrick

Sunday, June 06, 2010

My Heart Smiled...Birthing Class Reunion

Yesterday was the second annual birthing class reunion. I had a blast. It was neat to look around the room and see all the cute little babies....(8 of whom I was there as a doula when they came into the world!!). I wasn't sure how this reunion would go-as I decided to combine all the classes from the past year into one reunion gathering. It worked really well-people mingled, saw each others babies and I think several people met new people there as well. About 1/4 of the total birthing class attendees attended, which was a great turnout!

The party was definitely worthwhile to host--I think it is so fun to see the different ages of all the babies and toddlers. The parents with older ones looked at the newborns and thought, "Oh my gosh, my little one used to be that small!". The parents with the newer ones had a chance to see the types of skills which their infants would be doing in a matter of months. The whole development continuum was represented.
(Also, I realized how "cool" everyone there is! I know that sounds cheesy, but it is a group of REALLY incredible people. People who are such wonderful, caring parents.)

One dad commented that he felt like it was "Speed Dating" for his little 6 month boy. He could bring his boy quickly around to all the little girls and see which ones he smiled at. We got a good laugh out of this!

And I was amazed at how quiet it was for having close to 20 infants and young children (siblings) in the house! There was virtually no crying or yelling. pretty unbelievable.

A couple of my Coast Guard doula clients mentioned how they are hoping to have a second child while they are stationed here in Kodiak so they can have another great birthing experience here at the hospital, which was fun to hear. And they said that way they could have the same doula, too! So fun! Its probably just a matter of time before round 2 of little babies begins! :)

I believe that a role of the childbirth educator is provide chance for reconnection and reunion with others from the birthing class. Even if its something simple 2X a year. For those folks who want to see others from the classes, its such a simple event to put together and so fun, too! The two hours literally made my heart smile.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Garden Planted

In the old days, before we had a blog, Zoya and I used to keep a 'garden book' where we put a plan view of each year's garden, showing what was planted where, and pasted pictures to show how it all came out. Now with the blog I can do it all online! I realize that the pictures are not all that exciting, but later in the summer (or next year) I will be able to look back and go, 'wow, barely anything was up in early June'.

I finished putting in the garden on Tuesday when I planted the brocoli and kale starts along with the leeks, basil, and swiss chard that Stacy S gave me (thank you Stacy!). While planting I noticed that the potatoes I planted a month earlier are finally peaking thru the lawn clipping mulch (top photo). It is funny but only the seed potatoes that I salvaged while turning the beds have come up - the store bought seed potatoes are still dormant.

Anyway, the second and third photos show some of the herbs I planted in halibut totes (cilantro, parsley, and swiss chard) and in pots inside the house (Stacy's basil - and rosemary and thyme). The fourth photo is of my far raised bed and is seeded with a variety of lettuce in the front, and brocoli and kale starts in the back. The bottom photo is of the near raised bed and is seeded with radishes (front), carrots (middle), and mustard greens (back). Later I put in the leeks at the front and back that Stacy gave me. I planted mustard greens and radishes because they come up so quick, and are a good source of greens. I actually don't really like radishes but the greens are GREAT and are ready within 2-3 weeks after planting! By the time the leeks get big both the radishes and mustard greens will be gone.

Anyway, that's my garden this year. I can't wait to see what it looks like in late July!


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Impromptu BBQ

Its been raining for days and days. Yesterday afternoon, the rain stopped for a few minutes and Nora asked, "Can dad start a fire outside?". Patrick was up for it, so he started a fire in the little fire pit as Nora watched on.

There is something about the fire which Nora is very fascinated by. She pulled up her little kid lawn chair and gazes into the flames. When the fire was in the process of getting started, Nora asked, "Mom-can you call up baby Olive and Alexis and see if they want to come over with Grace? I think Olive would really like it!".

The Jackson family came over and the kids ran around as we grilled some veggies and bean burgers which were in the fridge and freezer. There were a few raindrops here and there during the time the fire was going, but it wasn't enough to send anyone indoors.

I love how Nora spearheaded the whole evening-from starting the fire to inviting some friends over. And how Patrick went for it with starting the fire. As I told Patrick last night, I appreciate him for his "lets do it" attitude and not thinking of 20 reasons why we couldn't do a BBQ pit. There is something so fun about being outside watching food cook and hanging out with friends!