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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The (sometimes) reality of skiing with kids

The light was so good the other evening when we went skiing on Potter's Marsh that I just had to add a few more photos from that trip. We did go again today but the light was not so good.

It is HARD to take the kids cross country skiing. They fall down all the time and need to be picked up and their hands get cold (esp on days like today when it is 5 degrees out). Gear on, gear off - It seems to takes FOREVER for just a few moments actually skiing. But hey, they WANT to go skiing. So it is all worth it. I will put up with whining and cold hands and a sore back from picking them up as long as they want to go skiing. I desperately want my kids to enjoy skiing. And right now they do seem to enjoy skiing. Whoo Hoooo.

Our Anchorage experience has been lots of skiing, IHOP breakfasts and good meals at our cousin's Will and Beth's house (where we have been staying). Everyday, Zoya and I plan out our workouts so that one takes care of kiddos while the other goes skiing or does Powerflex weight training. I have been skiing mostly classic style and doing the Spencer loop as often as I can. This is the part of the Tour of Anchorage race course that always beats me up badly - so I have been trying to learn the loop as well as I can. Yesterday I did it twice!

Patrick and Zoya

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Skiing Potters Marsh

Today we took the kids skiing at Potters Marsh-just a 3 minute drive from where we are staying with family. The conditions couldn't were spectacular-sun was setting over Turnagain arm, a train was stalled on the railroad, the air was crisp and cold, and there was a nice trail through the marsh. Just beautiful light - hard to take a bad photo.

We have enjoyed meals at Spenard Roadhouse-the kids love the kids menu which has popcorn on it. Today Stuey enjoyed popcorn as an appetizer AND dessert. Who wouldn't want popcorn before and after dinner?

Patrick and Zoya

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Trip to The Mainland

Yesterday we left on the M/V Tustemena for Homer. The trip was overall smooth; Nora didn't get seasick, which she normally does even with dramamine. Stuey reacted quite sensitively to the dramamine- he was sleeping sitting up during dinner. Fortunately he was able to stay awake enough to chow down a grilled cheese and fries!

Evidently the seas were quite large, as the ferry took an alternate route along Shelikof Strait, as opposed to going towards Homer exposed to the gulf of alaska. This took about 2 hours longer, but the kids slept until arrival!

Here in Homer Nora and Stuey had a blast playing with all of their cousins. Ages range from 5-21! Quite the mix of fun silly energy. Patrick, Mike, Bern, Todd and myself all went skiing in the thick snow.

Patrick and myself after skiing.
Todd and Mike on the trail skiing today.
My nephew Kellen with the quilt I made him for his first year at college.
Bonnie graciously and patiently cut Stuey's hair. He was WAY overdue for a haircut! Stuey liked all the paparazzi attention that was involved...
Dining room shot on the ferry.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Hearty Christmas Day

Yesterday was a cold, crisp day. Patrick and I went skiing by ourselves in shifts on Lake Genevieve in the mid day.
Some Christmas Day fun surprises:
-As I drove to go skiing, I went by two runners going at a good clip alongside the road. They both wore Santa Hats!
-We got an unexpected Christmas phone call from Patricks stepbrother who is visiting Africa. I spoke with him briefly before the connection was lost. We haven't spoken with him for a long time.
-In the morning, I got a text at 7:00 AM from my sister Anne~ her 10 year old daughter, Sonya, opened the quilt that I had made for her. Anne texted that "Sonya loved it and wanted to bring it with her when she goes to college". This was the perfect way to start the day-with thoughts of Sonya enjoying her new quilt.

We enjoyed dinner with a group of friends who all brought dishes to share. There was enough protein to go around; elk roast, prime rib AND turkey. It was an Atkins Holiday.

Today we clean and pack and leave for Homer on the ferry this evening for a 1 week trip to the Mainland. Looking forward to seeing family, friends and a road trip to Anchorage!


Photos: Dinner last photo and serving up the meal. Kids table.
My sister Anne (right) and my niece, Sonya , with the quilt I made. Anne sent the photo yesterday after Sonya opened it.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Some Thanksgiving on Christmas

The past several days I put our Thanksgiving video footage and pictures into imovie to make a short movie of our family trip to Arizona. This serves as the on-time part of my "Merry Christmas" gift to Emmy and wonderful in-laws!! They are out East in Maine for Christmas.
Patrick's sister, Polly, is the one with whom we spent thanksgiving with. It is always fun to make a movie, as watching the footage brings back so many great memories.


Day before Christmas

This morning we awoke to cold temps in the 20s. Perfect weather for skiing and a bit of sledding. After a little last minute "santa" shopping, Patrick and I drove to Lake Genevieve, near coast guard housing. In the car, I contemplated not going (suddenly felt cold) and said, "Its so cold out. I could just take a nap in the car and you go skiing." In no time flat, Patrick had me persuaded to go out for a quick ski. The conditions were better than I imagined they would be. A minimal amount of snow stuck on the ice.

As we skiied along the snow covered ice, Patrick showed me the worn path under old snow where possibly a family of otters was walking along the ice. It looked like something had been drug on it. Thats the part of skiing with Patrick that I appreciate here-noticing these nuances in nature. It was lovely to have the quiet of the lake to ourselves. A few white rabbits scampered along the side of the lake as well.

Over the years, I have learned to enjoy the "unperfect" ski conditions. As my balance has improved on skis I"m less frusturated by windblown ice areas which we must navigate across to get to the snow. Its the challenge of the snow conditions which makes it that much more rewarding. When we nagivate our way up and down ungroomed hills or have to remove our skis several times to get on trails, it makes the flat-aways that much more rewarding. If I go with notions or expectations of what the experience will be like, then there is room for opposed to working with whatever conditions are presented to us and enjoying the time together.


Our neighbor, Matt, pushing the kids down the mini sled hill in our yard.
Skiing on Lake Genevieve. Mt. Barometer in background.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ice, Ice, Baby

Today I went up the mountain with Andy S. Beautiful light and snow draped landscapes, but the skiing was pretty awful. If I had wanted great skiing I would have stuck to the skate skiing for which the conditions are perfect right now. But occasionally I do like to head up the hill and try my luck on the slopes. And if you don't go downhill here and there throughout the season - then you are not practiced and physically ready for the times later in the season when the conditions are perfect. Basically you have to pay the piper and ski on ice in order to truly enjoy a sublime ski later in deep powder or on spring corn snow.

Today I paid the price. Still, I did enjoy the spectacular views and good conversation with Andy on the way up. I'd do the same again in a heartbeat . Today, only the skiing was bad - everything else was GREAT.


Celebrating the Return of the Sun

This year we decided to host a Winter Solstice Party. The day couldn't have been more perfect for it. It was sunny, clear and a crisp 30 Degrees outside.

In the late afternoon, Patrick fired up the fire pit and the wood stove inside the house. Mark, our visiting friend, fired up the Banya and I put together a playlist of tunes and got things ready for people coming over.

Around 50 people came and it was so much fun to visit with everyone. The kids did great-running around playing with other kids. Stuey occasionally streaked through the kitchen. At the end of the evening the kids ended up getting into the dress-up bin, so we'd see flashes of kids in alligator costumes and such running by. I was in heaven because from 5:30-9:30, Nora and Stuey were in totally happy either outside by the fire pit, or playing and running around with the other kids in attendance.

At 10:00pm after everyone had gone and the kitchen was cleaned up, I went and enjoyed a quiet banya by myself. Even without adding water to the rocks, the temperature was 150 deg. The heat permeating from the rocks and wood benches fed my soul on such a cold, crisp winter solstice night.

It was a great way to celebrate the return of the sun; in the company of my family and fabulous friends.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Truth and White Lies

1. Conformity to fact or actuality.
2. A statement proven to be or accepted as true.
3. Sincerity; integrity.
4. Fidelity to an original or standard

Truth vs. white lies; its a complex topic. What harm is there in a little white lie once in a while? This subject that came up recently with a discussion with a friend about having to tell white lies to her in-laws about her husbands whereabouts. It brought on a whole new thread of thought and discussion.

Why do people lie? Its because they are afraid of the response or consequence of the information. There are definitely moments with kids where it would be so easy to say a little white lie, but then one leads to another, which leads to another.

If you know that the people around you will accept you for who you, no matter what information you have to share, the world will be a safer feeling place.
A big part of truth is accepting the truth. I believe this is the more challenging component of truth; accepting it without judgement or harm. The truth isn't always what you want to hear. As quotes from characters in movies say, "You can't handle the truth".

If you always tell the truth then your words carry more integrity with others.

Over my time with Patrick, I have learned the importance of telling the 100% truth. When I first started dating Patrick, I believe I told more occasional white lies, but gradually over time I stopped. I appreciated that Patrick would tell me the truth and have learned how to handle the truth, as well as him with me. When it comes to feedback on clothing, politics, interpersonal topics, I have learned to fully accept his truth (as much as it sometimes hurts).

Tonight we discussed this with our houseguests, Mark and Amy at length. It seems that there is diplomacy vs. Truth. There are times when you can't speak fully outright in a public situation how you really feel, but this is diplomacy. An example would be if you are on a committee that has several split sides to it; you can't always come out and say how you feel about the other "side".

We agreed that in a family unit or husband/wife partnership there has to be full honesty so the unit can be strong as a "pack". We have to trust each other and trust that our responses to each other with information will be healthy. I want the kids to know that if they do something wrong, that they can tell me about it and it will be ok. For instance, if Stuey hit a ball through the neighbors window, I want him to trust that when he tells me I will handle the information with as much love and concern rather than outright anger.

I googled "When is it Ok to tell white lies to children" and there were MANY pages on the subject. Pages which covered all aspects of raising kids and the importance of truth telling.

It seems that we can teach kids to have good manners and be diplomatic and they won't ever have the need to tell white lies. Patrick and I were in strong agreement that white lies aren't good. In many ways Santa Claus and Easter bunny are white lies, but this is also in the arena of fantasy, which is an important part of kids development. To Patrick, lying about Santa Claus and Easter bunny gives him a moral dilemma.

The top picture was was taken in the first year of my relationship with Patrick. I was 24, he was 34. We broke up after he told me the hard truth that he didn't ever want to have kids. It killed me to hear this, as we really had a great relationship, but I knew I wanted kids. So we broke up for 2 months...and he ended up changing his mind on the matter with time. And I'm so glad he did!


The bottom photo was taken in Barcelona Spain in October of 2010.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Annual Tradition~Grinding the Meats

Burger Grinding-in Moments

The meat starts off slightly frozen and is cubed up for processing. Some batches have store bought fat added to them, some don't. Mike measured out spices in large quantities to add to the sausage; coriander, fennel, caraway seeds, hot pepper flakes, pepper, salt, sugar and water....The spice coffee grinder was put to good use. The same tried and true recipe is used annually for the proportions.

The meat is pushed through the industrial grinder into large bins. All types of meat are ground; elk, deer, sheep. Scoops of meat are put on saran wrap, then paper wrapped.

For the first time this year, Nora and Stuey helped write the packages. In years past, Lisa McCormick does exotic animal pictures and this year the kids did their renditions of animals. Nora wrote out the words "elk burger". We all really enjoyed having the kids finally being able to help. Gregg always brings fresh home made bread for us to enjoy and Lisa brings a killer dish of halibut enchiladas. Burger grinding is a wonderful annual winter tradition in our family.