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Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Cool Seattle Learning Center

Nora and I had a fabulous 2 days in Seattle. Momma daughter time together!

First a post on the main reason why we headed south for a few days...

Our primary focus of the trip was to go to a center that works especially with Auditory Processing delays. With Nora's speech delays along with a few other symptoms I've been eager for an approach to help really address the core problem to prevent reading delays and help give her a stronger base for reading. Over the years Nora has undergone speech therapy, occupational therapy which has helped a little bit, but none of it has really addressed the core problem causing the speech delay. This has become more and more frustrating to me. I don't want to treat symptoms, I want to address the core problem.

Cindy Lehman (left, owner of center), Becka (right, Nora's teacher) and Nora
The center I contacted in Seattle, Lehman Learning Solutions,  was very receptive and willing to take us on as distant clients. After initial contact the owner e-mailed me some intake forms on Nora's behaviors, abilities, etc.  Within a few more e-mails, the owner told me that yes-she believed the treatment approaches they do would help Nora.

I found out once I got there that the remote treatment style is not typically done; typically students come there 2-3 days a week to do their programs with teachers.  Since I am a physical therapist, and there are no teachers in these techniques here,  they were confident that I would have the base knowledge necessaryy to help carry out the home program with  Nora here in Kodiak.

The evaluation that Nora's Seattle Learning Center Teacher, Becka,  did on Nora was fabulous. It was the most thorough, accurate, clear picture of Noras strengths, needs, abilities that has ever been done in the past several years.

I could tell from the quality of the written components of the testing that Nora gave it her all and really worked her hardest. The testing was nearly 3 hours and Nora went through it like a champ. Over the years I've seen various assessments done on Nora; some good, some not so good. Some where I thought, "what? really?" and knew the results were not accurate because of the testers short interaction with Nora and lack of practice for answering the questions. This center really knows how to administer thorough standardized tests to kids. They gave her a practice question to make sure Nora knew what was being asked of her.

Flying out of Anchorage towards Seattle
Our second day at the center,  the owner went through Nora's testing results with me while Nora did her first round of movement/listening activities with her teacher.  On both days, I was trained on how to carry out the home program with her.

We are embarking upon an extensive 20 week program which is designed to connect and strengthen the auditory (sound) and vestibular (movement) systems of her brain together. It is composed of specially designed sound, music combined with very structured, changing activites to help bring more organization to Nora's brain. People with all types of needs use these systems, including adults who want better focus in college, older people with memory loss, kids with speech delay, reading delay, kids with movement difficulties, and even high level olympians and golfers who want to improve their timing with their sports.

The Candy store at Pikes Place Market. Nora was, well, like a kid in a  candy store! In awe. 
There are several components to Nora's program but the take home message is its going to be a busy 20 weeks for Nora and I. On future blog posts I'll give a better picture of the specific interventions; they are fascinating and powerful with their effects.

To ensure maximum results and change in her brain, it is necessary to do the program 5 days a week, and it takes 1.5 hours a day. The good part is that once the neural connections are made, it is permanent. Its not as though we are going to have to maintain this intensity for years. It is 5 months of the concentrated work. And the instructors said that within a few weeks we will probably notice change of some sort in nora's abilities at home or school.
Warm weather. Ahhhh!!

We start the program tomorrow here in Kodiak  and will carefully  log our assigned activities, hours, progress, challenges, etc. Nora's teacher in Seattle, Becka, will be checking in with us via skype and monitoring progress with one of her computerized auditory programs from Seattle. Becka was a BIG hit with Nora. When we said good bye, Nora gave Becka several hugs. I was glad the Becka hit it off with Nora, because it was a fun, positive introduction to the activites that I"m going to be carrying out with her.

Today when we got off the airplane in Anchorage, we walked out into the long terminal towards the security exit. Nora took off ahead of me, skipping. I smiled to myself, as this is something she has never done much of. She was having so much fun doing it and this classic childhood move finally looked easy for her to get. It was probably coincidence that she took off so confidently, but in either case, it made me happy to see.


On the very cool new Seattle Ferris Wheel down on the wharf!

Three Views of Same beach

This morning Stuey and I went kayaking and then tide pooling.  I recently purchased inflatable kayaks for an archaeological survey on Afognak Island and needed to see how they worked.  They worked great and Stuey loved it - we kayaked out to the end of the bay and in an amongst the kelp covered rocks along the shore.  It was a little hairy getting out through the surf on Mill Bay beach (hence no camera) and on our return we actually surfed back to the beach.  Stuey thought it was a hoot.

Then when we got back to the house Mike P showed up on his way to go tide pooling at Fort Abercrombie.  And so we joined them for the second tide pooling trip in 2 days.  Right off the bat we turned over a rock and found a HUGE eel - like almost a couple of feet long.  So big that it even scared Mike and I - neither one of us wanted to even get close to it.  After that Stuey was terrified and kept on asking 'is this near the seel?' (his word for eel).   I had to hold his hand in places for the 'scary' crossings.  I seriously regretted that Mike and I had shown fear with the eel.

But by the end of the trip all was well in Stuey's world.  Some of his friends showed up and we found a HUGE starfish.  I joked that it was 'Patrick Star' - my namesake from 'Spongebob Squarepants.'   Only I claim that Patrick Star is actually REALLY smart.  The kids always roll their eyes.

Another beautiful day at the beach, and tomorrow Nora wants to go kayaking.  Patrick

Frozen Turf & New Glasses

After the 'placid surf' during our morning tide pooling at Abercrombie it is time to report on the 'frozen turf' of our afternoon sledding up at the pass - Surf and Turf!  I love spring time in Kodiak and the fact that our mountains are close to the sea.  In the past I have met people skiing on Pyramid who had gone surfing in the morning.

Before we drove up to the pass I stopped in at the eye doctor and picked up my first ever pair of prescription glasses. Suddenly I could read the road signs!  Sort of scary how much detail I had gotten used to not seeing.  But I also realize that up close everything is still very good.  I only need glasses for outside.

Up at the pass I could see people in the distance skinning up the mountain to ski, wind drifted snow way up high on the mountain, and even the heads of bald eagles as they flew by.  So much detail that I had completely forgot existed.  And it is funny, but thinking back just a few years I could see such detail.  I think my eyes only gradually weakened over the last 3 years or so.  I do know that the first time I realized I could not read a powerpoint was at a conference only 2 years ago.

Anyway, we had fun at the pass and it was good to see things again.


My new prescription glasses - they darken up in the sunlight

Stuey after he landed a jump - see ramp in background

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday Tidepooling

Nora and Zoya are in Seattle, and St Mary's is closed for a 4 day weekend in honor of Easter.  So I stayed home from work to watch Stuey.  Mike Pfeffer stayed home to watch Sophie who had no school either.  Mike noticed that there was a minus tide at 10AM, and so off we went to the beaches at Fort Abercrombie to go tide-pooling.

It was a perfect day for it - flat calm and the tide was really out there.  I have not gone tide-pooling for ages and it really is amazing what you can find when you flip the rocks.  Zoya has my point-and-shoot which takes the good close ups - so no close up animal photos.  But we did see lots of very weird crabs, sculpins, eels and even baby sea cucumbers and, best of all, an octopus!  I picked up the octopus and suffice it to say it was a very tactile experience.  The suction cups and weird muscly motion with slime was slightly distasteful.

I noticed that the sea weeds and kelp are shooting out new shoots.  Perhaps in the near future it is time for some seaweed salads!  This afternoon we are off to the pass to go sledding.  A sort of surf and turf experience - tidepooling by the sea in the AM and sledding in the mountains in the PM.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh Snow and Tank

March is leaving its mark on Kodiak with some sudden cold temperatures and snow! Yesterday it was a full day blizzard and today the temperatures have remained in the 20's all day. 

On Wednesday, Nora and I leave for Seattle for a 2 day visit to a therapist who specializes in auditory processing difficulties. I'm excited for the time with Nora as well as learning new strategies/techniques that can help her with her speech and perception of sounds/environment. 

Tank continues to be a hit in our family. No longer are we able to put dirty dishes down on the floor for the "pre-wash" the dogs are too aggressive with going after the plates. Tank frequently sleeps with Stuey at night and our friends continue to wonder why we got another dog. Somehow Tank found us, and we love having the black lab pack here on Cliffside! Tank has been the perfect addition.


Tank in Ft. Abercrombie. 

Stuey sledding today.

snow covered forest in March

snow=Happy Stuey!

Trying some standing up moves. 

Stuey's "The Scream" 

What a difference a day makes!

I love it!  Two days ago it was all warm and sunny and winter was in full retreat, and then yesterday it snowed 6 inches and temperatures are supposed to stay below freezing for the next few days.  I think I'll even be able to go back to using my wood skis and extra blue wax.  My wood skis are only good for powder snow and I had sort of given up on using them again.

It's funny but I noticed we 'officially' only have 2 inches of snow on the ground out at the airport.  There was a lot more than that out there yesterday when I drove by the airport.   I have noticed that the 'official' measurement have often seemed a little low this year, and I am wondering if the weather service is recording things differently.  In years past if it stayed snow during a storm and we got a 1/2 inch of precipitation then we invariably also got a 1/2 foot of snow.  But this year the equivalent measurements seem a bit lower.  

But who cares as long as we got snow to ski on! 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring skiing at the golf course

It's officially spring out there, and so yesterday at the golf course the kids and I got in some spring skiing.  It was supposed to be a rain/snow kind of day, but somehow it stayed sunny until evening.  It really felt like spring out there too.  The glare off the snow was so bad that I even lent Stuey my sunglasses, and even though the temperatures were in the 30's it sure felt a lot warmer.

This morning I woke up to the snow/rain predicted for yesterday.  But the good thing is that it seems to be mostly snow.  The golf course is getting re-charged for more skiing.  Winter is not dead - whooo hoooo!  I love the long drawn out winters on Kodiak - my favorite time of year.  Patrick

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Dog Walks with the Pack and Ribs

I can only imagine the Google searches that will find our blog with the title of this post.  I have a feeling there will be some puzzled people out there after they found and checked out our family blog when they expected to learn about 'dog packs' or maybe even 'dog packs and ribs'.  

By 'dog walks with the pack' I am referring to walks in Abercrombie with our 3 black labs.  It is the black pack.  I think Tank is in Heaven as a member of the pack.

The 'ribs' in the title of this post refer to the deer and goat ribs Gregg made up for my birthday party.  Unbelievably enough we ate the ribs of 4 deer and a goat.  That is a LOT of ribs.  By the end of the party we had half filled the large salad bowl with rib bones.  Patrick

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Conference Experience

Last week I went up to Anchorage to give a paper at the Alaska Anthropological Association's Annual Meeting.  I do this every year - and every year I see the same people.  They are mostly all archaeologists like me, and, somehow, it is a bit like a yearly high school reunion.  Except for a few of them like Justin, Bob or Aubrey, I do not see these people away from the annual meeting setting.  And everybody knows me too.  Only it is better than a high school reunion because we all have the same interests.

This year my presentation on the Karluk River was on the morning of the first day so after that I got to relax and just enjoy everybody else's talks.  Lots of time spent in rooms like that pictured below.  Some talks are interesting and some talks put you to sleep.  But you always learn something and you do meet a few new people every year.

My annual trip to the city and groomed ski trails.  And when the meetings are done it is GREAT to get back home to Kodiak!


Ho Ho Ho - time for another talk - let's hope it is interesting!

Time for a beer - often the place where you learn the most

IHOH = International House Of Hot dogs - and I thought it was pancakes for lunch.  Silly me

Great Dogs - I had the Texas Dog (nearest to camera)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Birthday Ski

At the start - hiking on in to the mountain with skiis on our backs
Zoya wrote about the party and Tank - so I'll write a bit and post pictures from the 'birthday ski'.  As Zoya related, it is a birthday tradition.  But the tradition is that instead of going to the same old same old and going for a ski (the golf course, some lake, or Pyramid Mountain); we always go exploring on my birthday.

On Sunday we decided to go to the North side of Reservoir Ridge out by Mount Monashka and try powder (hopefully) skiing in the trees.  This end of the island often gets ocean effect snow when it is cold and windy like it has been lately.  This sort of weather pattern often deposits snow at our end of town, but nothing falls at the airport further to the South. And where we were headed also has trees to keep the snow from blowing away.

Getting close to the top - about now I am realizing that I REALLY miss my sunglasses
And it worked!  We actually found some powder on top of a hard crust.  Of course I forgot my sunglasses which was a HUGE mistake.  It was bright up there!  We did a bunch of runs and had some of Gregg's home made pizza for lunch.

The exciting part was getting home.  It turned out we had to earn our powder and we learned the downside of exploring.  Sometimes things do not work out!  We ended up on a super steep slope covered in alder and salmonberry.  I did some grass and brush busting on skis.  Looking back up hill I could see the others thrashing through the brush and trying to avoid cliffs, and I thought, 'uh oh, nobody is going to want to go skiing with me next year.'

But no - we all made it down, and it seems the horrific descent classifies as a 'memorable and slightly funny' experience.  We'll see anyway - hopefully the memory will age well and everyone will want to go skiing again next year.  Patrick

Whoooo Hoooooo - actual powder on crust!

First Run - Lisa in front!

Pizza for lunch!  I was glad that there was some sharing going on

Lisa rips it with Gregg's tracks to follow

The skin track back up to the top

Lots of tracks - tracks, tracks, tracks!

A tad bit of grass skiing

Finally!  At the lake and the skate/double pole on home to the car