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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Boat Launching

We've had days and days of sun, which has equated to tired kids from so much outside playtime. Tonight at 6:30 I started story time and the kids didn't even protest with how early it was. By 6:50, Nora and Stuey were both  in bed and by 7:00-sound asleep. YES!
 I was giddy with excitement to have 2+ hours to myself to get things done before bed time myself!

Our friends and neighbor, Matt and Rachel, invited us to an exciting day in their life; the launching of a handmade wooden boat which Matt has been working on for over a year. The boats name is Wee Miss and it has been a labor of love for Matt-days, hours, months spent making the boat by hand. 

Patrick and the kids joined in the launch. I unfortunately couldn't make it because of School Auction priorities.

Stuey was in on the maiden voyage. As I looked at the pictures tonight, it is so cool because two people can row at the same time AND the seats move, which makes rowing easier!

Congratulations to Matt and Rachel on the accomplishment of making a beautiful boat. I can't wait to row in it someday.


Weather Change

It has been a dry cold April, but I fear the weather regime might change tomorrow.  It is supposed to rain/snow tonight, and rain tomorrow with off and on rain for the next few days after that.  But you never know what the weather is going to do until it does it.  Hopefully it stays cold and sunny.  It has been lovely to watch the snow slowly sublimate away - temperatures below freezing at night and in the 40s during the day.  Spring without the 'mud season' - so far.  There is so much daylight now that even with freezing temperatures at night it is always quite warm by evening and the kids have been playing outside while I work on prepping the garden beds and killing dandelions.  Patrick

It's been perfect conditions for crust cruising after work too

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Amak Site Excavation Talk

Tomorrow night at 7 PM (Thursday the 25th of April) at the Alutiiq Museum I am presenting on what we found during last summer's Community Archaeology dig at the Amak Site.  Here are a few 'teaser' slides.  So if you are interested in 5500 year old hunting camps where Alutiiq people smoked seal meat, or if you are just mildly interested in how I could possibly make slides like these interesting - then come on down and listen.  Tomorrow night at 7 PM at the Alutiiq Museum.  The first lecture in the museum's new gallery!  Patrick

Monday, April 22, 2013

Bridging Ceremony

Yesterday Nora participated in her first Girl Scouts Bridging Ceremony. This is where the girls go from Daisy troop to Brownies, Brownies to Juniors, etc... 

This was my first ever bridging ceremony and it was so beautiful. The girl scout 'Color Guard' carried the flags out and there was explanation about the history of bridging and how the ceremony is run.

The daisies lined up on the left, then one by one walked over the bridge where the brownies were waiting. They did a girl scout hand shake with the receiving Brownies and were officially Brownies!

The coolest part is how the electricity was out town wide at the set up of the ceremony. People brought in candles and things were going to proceed wonderfully in the dark when the lights came back on. It was cool to see how everyone came together to continue with the ceremony in the dark if needed!

Girl scouts has been a wonderful extra curricular activity this year and I'm in training to be a brownie leader in the fall. 


The girl scout color guard at the beginning of the ceremony. 

Nora crossing the bridge to become a brownie. 

Nora doing the girl scout shake. 

When the lights were out during preparations, the show was going to go on with candles!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Finally Some New Snow!

While it has been cold and very winter-like ever since February it has also been super dry. Clear, cold sunny days (and nights) - really nothing to complain about.  But it has been over a month since we had a significant snow fall.  I've noticed that even though it has been cold that the snow has been sublimating away and that all of the local lakes have thawed out anyway.  These days the sun is just too strong for winter to stand a chance - even if the temperature does manage to stay below freezing.

And, finally, today we got some significant snow.  We got a couple of inches at the house that has almost disappeared already, and up at the pass we got one to two FEET of new snow.  The photo above is the view of the road out my windscreen while driving home from my daily ski.  There was so much snow I was lucky that I got home.  For a while there my car was high centering and ploughing snow like a full on snowplow.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Face-timin' with Seattle

In Seattle, Nora discovered the world of Shirley Temples. And I discovered part of myself that I didn't even know existed.

When I brought Nora down to Seattle to be assessed on how to help her speech, I didn't realize what a huge commitment it would be on my part upon our return to Kodiak. The reality was that when the teachers in Seattle were explaining the program to me  and that  I would be embarking on 5 days a week (for 20 weeks), my face had a confident, "No problem" smile, while on the inside I was in slight shock.

"Can I really commit to this?" ran through my head, as well as "Do we have the time? What are the chances of me being able to teach Nora 5+ hours a week and have her respond to me, without tears?". These are all questions which I pondered internally as I went to bed in Seattle with Nora sound asleep next to me in the hotel room.

Upon our return to Kodiak, Nora wanted to do her first session within an hour of getting off the airplane. I had to talk her into letting me unpack and take a shower before we went up to the clinic to give the program a first attempt. Those 20 minutes weren't so great, as Nora was exhausted but she was willing to end it quickly because I think she also saw how tired she was.

The next day at her first true session, I saw that it might be OK. There was no tears, Nora worked very hard, the computer and headphone equipment worked well. I went better than I ever imagined. But it was just day one. I was still quite skeptical that it could go well. But I hoped.

Now we are on the end of week 3, getting ready to start week 4 this weekend. Nora and I  Facetime weekly with Nora's teacher, Becka, in Seattle. Becka watches me execute the session with Nora and gives feedback.

Today for instance, on Facetime  we say Hi! to eachother.
 Nora bats her eyelashes at Becka and when Becka is off screen for a moment Nora whispers to me, "I wish Becka was my mom!". This warms my heart because it means Nora really likes her time with Becka and this makes Nora respond so well to Becka's cues.

I ask, "Becka, with this figure 8 balance board exercise, can you watch and make sure I'm doing it correctly with Nora?"

Becka watches through the phone as Nora stands on a balance board. Nora is to watch my finger trace figure 8's of various 8's in the air as she stands on the balance board.  Becka gives me some feedback on how to make it a little easier for Nora to succeed. Nora responds quickly to Becka's cues and I take notes as needed.

Becka's words are so re-assuring, her smile confident and she helps me feel like I'm on the right path. She does the fine tuning with the exercises and helps me find the best words in which  to give Nora feedback with.

For instance, instead of saying, "Nora, keep your legs straight" she asks, "Nora, what are your legs doing? Are they bent or straight?" That will bring Nora's attention to her legs and remember that she needs to keep them straight for that activity.

Each day is a different routine-different progression of exercises. Easy ones are phased out, harder ones phased in. There is a fun excitement of going in to see what that day will bring with our program as it is never the same.

In 3 weeks we will finish one component of the program and then start a new program for the summer which is intended to help with decoding words with reading. There will be more intensive on-line and Facetime training for me to implement this part of the program with Nora. I don't see this process as a challenge anymore; just a wild, fun journey I get to go on with Nora!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Adventures in soccer; sportsmanship

Soccer season for the little ones began several weeks ago and I'm glad to have Stuey signed up for the  spring city run program. With all the 1:1 time I've given Nora with her PT program, I think Stuey has felt a little sad to not have any special activities for him. 

Stuey's first few soccer weeks were fraught with stubborn-ness and not wanting to shake the other teams hand at the end of games. Tonight was another game and it went much better, according to Patrick. Stuey passed the ball, kicked and the most important part-shook the other teams hand at the end. 
Here was an e-mail dialogue between myself and Stuey's coach: 

Hi Bob,

Patrick told me about Stuey's bad behavior during the last game. Patrick and I are fully aware that his behavior is not acceptable and figuring out a plan on how to address it. Let us know if you have any thoughts. We're up for anything. 

Patrick has been kicking the ball around in the evening with Stuey with the hope that Stuey will feel more comfortable passing and sharing the ball. 

This is Stuey's first time in organized sports but recognize that his behavior is not normal compared to the other boys. 

Thanks for you patience and all you do in leading the blue stingrays!

Best wishes,

Hi Zoya, no worries. 
When Stuey is actively participating he really seems to enjoy playing. Many of the kids have a difficult time sharing and  each seems to respond differently. My son also wants the ball all the time and his response when he doesn’t get it is the opposite of Stuey…too aggressive. I think this kind of team sport is great for them to work it out. Ill keep making sure everyone gets to touch the ball and push the positive reinforcement. Let me know if you think I can help with Stuey in a specific way during the games.
Thanks for the email.
I"m glad that Stuey has a coach that is so encouraging and low key. He keeps it fun for the boys and girls. Fortunately we've had sunny weather for games and practices. As of yet, no standing in the rain to watch the games. I'm sure that time will come, however.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Future Brownie Leader and Nora Progress

Stuey's love of fire. Our Sunday night firepit with our neighbor friend tending the fire. 

This past two weeks there have been several things on my plate...

In the fall I'll be leading a Brownie Girl Scout Troop and have attended a few meetings to see how the flow of meetings go, meet other leaders, etc. I wasn't a girl scout myself growing up, so at first the idea of being a leader was daunting. Could I learn the girl scout pledge? And the songs? And figure out the patch system? I've decided that I'm not indimidated by challenges and yes, I could achieve  these goals. The other local leaders are lovely; at the team meeting they all smiled so warmly and sincerely and gave me the sense that I take my troupe in whatever direction I chose.

As Patrick and I talked about leading a troupe, we thought of the various outdoor activities we could do with the girls and got excited. He is all about helping me out with the outdoor activities-camping, cooking outside, plant/bird identifying, etc. Our group won't start until the fall, which gives me some time to memorize girl scout songs!

People have asked me how Nora's program is going. We are on week 3 and its fabulous. Its going better than I ever would have dreamed of. Yesterday on our way into my clinic, Nora said, "you know mom, if you want to do this with me 7 days a week instead of 5, that would be good! I would like that!". I smiled to myself, pleased that she is enjoying her activities so much. I'm glad she sees it less as work and more as special 1:1 time. The crux of the matter is that it is very hard brainwork and I am amazed by the progress in two weeks, and the fact that she doesn't understand just how challenging it is.

She has graduated from several of the exercises...and progressed onto more challenging ones. The other day with the activity which involves her raising her right leg, then left leg, then left arm, then right arm, then repeat (called Robots-all done while laying down), Nora said, "Mom, this is so easy for me. I don't need this anymore". This was music to my ears, because yes-it HAD gotten easier for her. But when we first started it, this exercise was incredibly challenging for her.

17 more weeks to go of her program and I think they are going to fly. The exercises are very specifically laid out for the entire 20 weeks and every day the program is different, which keeps it engaging for Nora and myself. I have prep work before the sessions to lay out her program and learn how to cue the various exercises as well. There is a learning curve for both of us!

This month in my physical therapy clinic, I"m switching over to an electronic medical records system from my old paper/pen filing system. The system I'm using (webpt) seems very user friendly, but I need to give myself time to use it and learn it. I've halted all new physical therapy referrals indefinitely, as I need time to enter my new clients into this system and start figuring out the kinks. This will help me really catch up with it and not feel overwhelmed with learning the ins/outs of a new program.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Touch of Spring~First Firepit of the Year

The pack-all 7 of us!

Walking on  Near Island

This April we have had several weeks of below freezing temperatures. This cooler weather follows what has been a fairly mild winter. 

In the past day or two have the numbers creeped into mid 30's and it feels so good-a breeze that isn't quite so bone chilling. Today we went to near island for a walk and brought the whole family-including the 3 dogs. Tanks first trip to Near Island with us; he loved it. (And in the picture above, you'll notice Patrick with glasses...he just got them for driving, outdoor activities and night driving.) 

This afternoon while I took Nora and her girlfriend to the Helen Keller production, Patrick and Stuey fired up the BBQ pit at home. They got the coals ready to cook some food on! 

At 5, Friends came over, and we grilled up all sorts of goodies, including warming up tanner crab, smores, sausages and grilled marinated veggies. The kids oscillated between throwing sticks in the fire, biking on the driveway, going on the buoy swing and eating. There are two neighbor girls from down the street who come up to play who are just lovely; nice manners, observant and great with Nora and Stuey. They joined in as well this evening. 

Quick pic sans dogs

marshmallow heaven
Roxann and I trying to smile with food in our mouth!  

Firepit goodness-sausages, tanner crab, corn and veggies

Friends came over as well as the neighbor girls down the street!

Stuey in smore heaven. 

Spring is finally here!


Spring Fling 2013...Prom the way it was meant to be!

Last night Patrick and I attended a fundraiser for the new Kodiak Public Library-a Spring Fling Prom 2013. Prom the way it was meant to be--complete with spiked punch!

My friends Kate and Sara hosted it, and it was held in Kate's house, which includes a small gym. This worked perfectly for a prom style dance (see pictures below)-completed with dropped ceiling!

The theme was 80's/retro prom and it was fun to see the outfits people came up with. For Prom court votes, people paid $1 a vote and ballot box stuffing was highly encouraged for fundraising purposes! 

I tried to stuff the ballot box for votes for Alexis (see below) because I just adored her glitter eyelashes and tiara! But it didn't work. In the end, myself and Corey Pedersen were voted Prom Queen and King! So fun!  After we were announced as the Prom Court winners, the music was turned on and Corey and I had a dance together. I was laughing so hard-it was all quite funny!

My hair-I happened to have a haircut due, so I asked my stylist to do an 80's look after she gave me a trim. I was amazed at the altitude she got out of my bangs with mass quantities of mousse and hairspray! When I woke up in the middle of the night last night, my hand would be stuck to my hair. I had to peel it away several times. The downside of big hair. 

The Dress-I wore my prom dress from my high school senior prom! My stepmom made it and she was thrilled to hear it would get another night of use. It was so comfortable and I was thrilled it still fit. My date from high school, Jesse Mickelson, was in attendance at the party as well, which was fun! Blast from the past. 

A fun night for great cause! 


Altitude Hair and jean jacket madness!

Group shot of ladies

Alexis and I. 

Go 80's!

Prom King and Queen...the dance! I couldn't stop laughing. 

Group picture

The guys who graduated in the 80's

The dance floor

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Mom! Girlfriend!"

1st/2nd grade performing their song on violins. 

The kindergarten class (yes, all 5 of them!) on stage as the 1st/2nd graders wait in front. 

St. Mary's school performing

Several nights ago was St. Mary's annual Spring production. As always, I love their productions. Simple, classic and so well put together. This year Nora's class played the violins, which was very fun to hear! They were all so poised and did great with their first violin performance.

At the beginning of the evening, the winners of  6th, 7th and 8th grade speech competition (held several weeks ago) presented their winning speeches, which was fun to see! Its good to see that schools still do speech competitions-Patrick and I talked about what good public speaking practice (and memorization practice) that is for the students.

Stuey's funny quote of today-
As he was trying to get my attention, he said, "Mom. Mom! Girlfriend!" I started laughing and asked him, "did you just say girlfriend?" He smiled and said yes! Quite funny. It worked-he got my attention!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Topics around Death

Driving to school with Tank in the middle. 

Tank LOVES to cuddle!

Stuey has been so great about throwing balls for Tank!
As of late, Stuey has had a strong preoccupation with a fear of me dying. He will say things like, "You won't die, mamma, will you?" And when I say "yes, everyone dies, Stuey" he disagrees with me. He says things such as "Because I don't want you to die, you won't.". He can get quite emotional about it and stubborn; he crinkles his eyebrows and pouts his mouth.  He is determinted to  will it to NOT happen. On some level he really believes that if he cares about it enough, it won't happen.

Stuey also talks about how we will all see eachother in heaven, alongside our dogs and other people who have died. He has great descriptions about heaven, which I need to write down as he says things, as they often make me laugh, not because they are funny but because it is so heartfelt and innocent.

 Last year was the 20th anniversary of my fathers death from cancer. He died at our family home here in Kodiak with my family alongside him when I was 16. Being with him for his last breaths shaped how I view death--not as something to be afraid of but a process to be honored and respected.

Grief is a funny thing, as there are times when I think I should be sad or cry about my fathers death, but I don't.  Last summer was an example,  the 20th anniversary of his passing, I recognized the day but wasn't engulfed in sadness and didn't do anything particularly different on that day. Perhaps I felt a bit guilty about this.

 At other times the sudden onset of memories of his illness and death surprise me.  Music and certain scents will do this-trigger emotions. (My dad became sick with cancer when I was 16, he went through several months of chemotherapy in San Diego. He died 5 months later at home in Kodiak.)

This happened recently during a conversation with an acquaintance.  I learned that my friends sister was undergoing intense chemotherapy regimen at the same hospital that my dad did his chemotherapy at 20 years ago. As I realized this commonality of the treatment hospital, her words about her sister temporarily faded; my mind was brought to my dads hospital room, the view of the golf course from outside his windows which seemed so ironic even at the young age of 16.  People outside playing golf while men and women underwent such rigorous chemotherapy treatments inside.

 The potent memories of walking into his hospital and seeing my dad hooked up to so many machines and so incredibly sick flooded my mind. I remember his smile, wanting to be strong for us, but I could tell he felt so horrible and tired.

There was a waiting area in the front where I think we must have spent a lot of time because i remember lots of time sitting in the chairs in a large foyer area.  That feeling of helplessness is something which stays inside my cells on some level. Not having any control of what the treatment or day would bring. Not really knowing what shape dad would be in when we walked into visit.

Before I knew it, and before I could prevent it, during my conversation with this acquaintance,   tears began to flood my eyes and I tried so hard to choke them back.  All I could say was "I am so sorry. I know how hard it is". There are very few times when you say, "I know how hard this is" and you really, really, 100% mean it. This was one of those moments.

I know how hard it is to watch someone you love get so ill and sick and not be able to do anything about it. I know what it feels like to walk through the doors of the same hospital she has walked through and be transported to a world of illness, blood counts, medical reports, waiting. The heart ache of watching someone you love go through chemotherapy is something which always remains part of me.

When Stuey cries about being sad about me some day dying, I tell him, "Stuey, I am always, always without you. Even if I died, I would still be with you and part of you." He quiets when I tell him this. I don't think he fully understands it, but it quiets his angst for some time. I can say this with such confidence, as death doesn't take someone away from you. My dad is with me everyday in who I am, and who my children are and for  that I am grateful.


Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Worn Out from Skating

I never thought I would be writing about TOO much skiing - and I will add that I am not complaining - But with Kodiak's recent cold stretch and the great backcountry XC ski conditions I have worn my body out from too much skate skiing.  I know I should take a day off and let my body rest, but I also know that in a month or so the skate skiing season will be over.  And so I am getting it while I can.

In addition, it is so cold that the downhill skiing is terrible.  It has not been getting warm enough in the afternoons to warm up the snow and create the corn snow so essential to good spring skiing conditions.  So while it stays cold I continue to go skate skiing everyday after work.  Perhaps I'll take the day off tomorrow.  Here is a link to a video I made that shows what it is like to go skate skiing in the mountains.  Click here for the link.


Sunday, April 07, 2013


This afternoon the kids and myself went to the pool and they learned how to swim. It happened by accident; none of their friends were there so Nora and Stuey had lots of time to practice floating on their backs and doing the doggie paddle. They teased and splashed eachother. 

 Nora preferred the doggie paddle and crawl stroke and Stuey floated on his back and kicked. After 1 hour in the kiddie area, the kids wanted to venture to the deeper area, so off we went.

The kids did wonderfully. I couldn't believe how it just clicked for both of them. After 7 years of swimming with the kids, it was an "Ah-ha" mommy moment- watching them swim over to the deep end without their life jackets. Stuey required a bit more intermittent help. He would say, "Don't help me!", then he would swim along and a minute later he would scream wanting me to help him. It was quite funny; wanting so badly to not have me help, but he had to have my help occasionally. He philosophically disapproved of my help, but physically had to have it. 

After the  kids both swam a length across the width of the pool together, I relished in the moment. Gave them both big hugs. I think the days of life jackets in the pool are over. On the car ride home, I stopped and got them hot cocoa and ice cream cones--a bit lavish of a snack to celebrate their new accomplishment.  I'm thrilled with what they achieved without swimming lessons and to see the pieces all click in their attempts. 

Nora said, "Mom, so pretty soon-you'll be able to just take us swimming and go sit in the bleachers and do something". I smiled big to myself--that was a neat thought. The fun part about parenting is being part of these accomplishments and watching them venture out.

The first week of Nora's 20 week auditory processing program is done and it went incredibly smooth. I didn't know what to expect as far as Nora's reaction, effort and my confidence with it all. I was expecting tears, resistance, rebellion, but had none of that.

Nora has made progress with most of the exercises and its cool to see the changes in just 1 weeks time!

For instance, one of the exercises I do every session has her sitting on my  treatment stool, which rotates. She  closes her eyes and I slowly turn her on the stool. I stop the stool and she has to tell me when I stop it. When we first started this, she had a very hard time telling me when the stool stopped moving. Today, she got it right 100%. I was proud of her to see this progress. This is just one of many examples of things "clicking" with her vestibular (movement) system.

Another activity which has gotten easier is her ability to draw figure 8's on a wipe on board AND track my finger drawing a figure 8. I remember in Seattle when the teacher first demonstrated this first round of activities, it was very challenging for Nora to track with her eyes or draw a figure 8. I was surprised by how incredibly challenging this was for her and I think I just took for granted that this was something that, of course she could do! But it proved to be very difficult for her.

 Now she is able to easily draw a figure 8 and track with her eyes as I draw one in the air! This are such critical connections being made in her brain and I know it is going to help her in so many different realms of her life.

Having this much time with  Nora gives me an appreciation for how she  generally doesn't get frustrated if she doesn't get it right the first time. She works hard, and keeps trying. She is very persistent which I admire. These hours of time with her are really giving me more insight into who she is.  Some of the exercises have time where we are to make conversation, ask questions, etc- while holding a balance pose, for instance. This gives time for silly, fun talk and there is nothing more that I love than laughing with Nora. She has a great sense of humor.

I will be pulling Nora out from school an hour early, 2 days a week so I can compete her home program at my clinic when it is quiet-and without Stuey. I think we'll have a good routine going from now until the end of the school year.


Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Skate Tracks

Today after work I went for a skate ski up into the mountains.  There was about 1/2 inch or so of new snow on a solid crust and the sunny slopes were all sun-warmed corn snow.  It was so perfect that I could do tele turns on the steep downhills in my cross country skis.  Utterly fantastic, best ski of the year conditions.

I decided to try and take pictures of my tracks, and I stopped a bunch of times to try and capture the terrain and my tracks.  But I don't think I succeeded.  My tracks just look like tracks in the snow, and the terrain looks mundane.  It is very hard to capture in a photograph the speed and exhilaration of a perfect day in the mountains.  But I will continue to try!  Patrick