Tuesday, February 27, 2007

There's a Nubbard in the Cupboard

So, in the world of mommydom, there are many of opportunities for Dr. Seus and silly games. Today was a perfect example of one of them. I was mindlessly clicking away on the internet and booking plans for our upcoming vacation and had been diverting Kaia away for the last 1/2 hour. It was obvious that she wanted to play, but I really needed to book tickets and reserve rentals and hotels and all that logistical stuff.

I put her in her room with a few toys and hoped that she would entertain herself for just a few more minutes so that I could complete my little project. It was about 10 minutes later when I began to hear this muted squawk. They weren’t “I’m scared or hurt” squawks, just “I am stuck somewhere I shouldn’t be” squawks.

I ran into her bedroom and the squawks got quieter. That is when the panic started to set in. I called for her. “Kaia?” she responded “Mama?” in the same tone right back. Just a bit louder to track her down by sound: “Kaia!” “Mama!” Her reply brought me to the kitchen where she had pulled apart the Bisquik and Rolled Oats for a little snack. There was definite evidence that she had been playing with the lazy suzan, but no sign of her cute little self anywhere.

Finally, I hear her last little squawk, and the cupboard rattled just enough to tip me off. There she was on the second shelf huddled up with the hot cocoa packets and covered in Bisquik. Wonderful! The lazy suzan is one of only 2 cupboards that we don’t have locks on, and she frequently pulls stuff out. But this was the first time that she had opened any containers or actually ventured inside the cupboard… I don’t think it will be her last.

She was safe, no damage done, but I had to laugh. I learned that if Kaia wants to play, she is going to play, and there is nothing I can do about that. I think she learned hide n seek from the neighbor kids but it will be a few years before she understands the concept of confirming a seeker before she goes and hides. I guess it is just one more thing for me to guard against on my little one’s big adventures of growin’ up.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sometimes It Just Doesn't Work Out

Have you ever tried to plan an adventure that depended on factors outside yourself and had it fail miserably? Despite all my experience and efforts to avoid pitfalls, sometimes, it just doesn't work out.

This Saturday is my hubby's birthday and for the past year, he has sacrificed all of his toys and hobbies to get into his career path and support our little family. So, I wanted to show him how much I appreciated him on his special day and really surprise him with something that he would enjoy. We don't have much in the way of recreation here, but I thought it would be great to work with what we had and create something wonderful.

Have you ever heard the term "you can't get chicken salad out of chicken sh**."? Well, that was the adventure planning lesson that I hadn't yet learned. I had always managed to pull off miracles in the past and didn't expect anything different on this project. For the last month, I have been sneeky and persistent to surprise my husband with an Arctic birthday adventure. I spoke with all his fellow officers, friends at 3 differnent churches, neighbors, acquaintences through any remote contact and people I would just meet at the grocery store, gym or post office. I even posted a WANT ad on the local bulliten offering $75 bucks and a full tank of gas for anyone willing to rent us a snow mobile. (at $4/gallon, a full tank is a precious commodity.)

I finally got 2 calls early in the week and confirmed with both for today, Thursday the 22nd from 2-6 pm. (as hubby will be working graveyard on his birthday and needed to sleep the day before, not wanting to wreck his sleeping schedule etc... I thought I had thought of everything!) Everything was comming together beautifully... until I woke up.

I awoke on the big day with excitement and anticipation for the beautiful adventure I had planned. The sun was shining, the snow was glistening, the baby was in a happy disposition and everything appeard promising... Until I looked up the temperature... -60! Yes folks NEGATIVE 60 as in 60 degrees below 0. NOT ideal, but we had the gear, and I wasn't going to let this ruin the day.

Around 1pm I called to solidify details to pick up snow mobile option number one... the guy on the end of the line simply said "Nope. Too cold for machine. Call back another day." and hung up the phone. I thought this strange as there were at least 8 snow mobiles out on the icepack (frozen ocean) and aren't are designed for cruising around in the cold?

No problem, I had a back up. At 1:30 I called option number two who seemed very excited and promptly went outside to start up her machine. At 2:30 we received a call that it wasn't going to start for anything! Evidently, the little gas in its tank had frozen and it was going NOWHERE.

Okay, okay, we still had a sitter lined up, we could catch a taxi and rent some cross country skis to salvage the day... I called the sitter and ... no answer. WHAT!?! (Turns out her baby was sick and she had to go to an emergency clinic to make sure everything was okay... the baby was okay, but the day was not.)

Anyway, by 4:00 it would seem that NOTHING was going to work out. Backup plans one, two and three all fell through. So, we went for the ol' stand by... birthday dinner. We rearanged for a sitter at the last minute, and it looked as though things may just work out for 7:30pm. By 8:00pm the sitter fell through. So we thought "lets just take the baby." By the time we established plan #5, the baby was no longer in a good disposition and it was appearant that things were NOT working out.

I had no creative energy left to come up with another "back-up plan" or even be upset. Long story short, despite all my efforts to make his birthday something special, Hubby called in his own birthday order for take-out from a "so-so" resteraunt, ate to the seranade of a squawking baby in the back room and went to bed early. NICE!

It really wouldn't have been all that bad if I hadn't climbed up all over his case about providing the exact same birthday experience for me last month. Maybe Hubby had run into the same difficulties and dilemas in planning my great birthday adventure. (Funny how the ol' irony monster keeps biting me in the a$$.)

On the bright side, I learned that sometimes, it just doesn't work out... and that's okay. When it isn't meant to be, there is nothing you can do to change it. The mystery lies in why that always seem to happen on birthdays. I would love to hear any other birthday disasters or theories as to why they are inevitable. :) May your next adventure be destined to work out.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parenting with the Secret and my One Word

I have been thinking a lot about how to apply my One Word and the Secret to parenting. Saying "no" or "stop" is focusing on the behavior that I DON'T want; and it has been getting me exactly MORE of what I DON'T want. It has been MORE frustrating, MORE dissappointing, MORE contentious, and fostered MORE disobedience.

So yesterday was the first day of my new resolve to find the INTENTION and focus on the behavior that I DO want from my 13-month old daughter. It didn't go so well. I watched in horror as she summited our entertainment center and all of the electronics on top of it. This behavior has genereated so much negative attention in the past was and was once again, the ultimate challenge. Throughout her entire expidition, I was anxiousely scrambling for any positive words to get her to come down and play on the floor.

"Kaia, please don't climb up the speakers." Negative.
"Kaia, please stop kicking the speakers." Negative.
"Kaia no!" Negative.
"Dang-it Kaia!" as my temper takes control and I rip her off her high place and plop her on the ground. Negative again!

What I really wanted was for her to be safe and obedient, but I couldn't find the words to make that attractive to her for the life of me. I just don't think it is in her nature not to explore or attempt the impossible.

So there she stood on the dvd player with her hands on her hips and her classic cheesy grin as though she just conquered Everest. When she finally achieved her goal, she was seeking for my approval, just like when she knows she is doing what makes me happy. She just wanted to please me! How could I have been so upset about that? It WAS what I wanted. She was relatively safe and she was obedient (in her INTENTION to please me).

I was so intent on her NOT doing what I DIDN'T want her to do that I didn't have the energy to divert her to an appropriate outlet for her adventurous spirit, or willingness to please. Nor did I have the energy to see that I was getting the INTENTION of what I really wanted.

Long-story short, I still don't know how this Mommy thing works, Kaia still climbs on the entertainment center, and I am all out of ideas as to how to get her to stop. The good news is that nothing is broken... yet, I learned something about myself and my baby and now I am not nearly as upset about the speakers dangling off their perch by their skinny little wires. If this new focus has done nothing but change the tone in our home, it is worth it.

I don't feel angry that Kaia doesn't get my demands to avoid the behavior I DON'T want. I acknowledge that the INTENTION behind her behavior is in line with the spirit of what I DO want, and I need to learn how to better cultivate that. What I am getting from her now is just a misguided adventerous spirit and a sincere desire to please. The last thing I want to do is squelch that uniqueness in her.

So this is a little picture of my newest epiphany. Now that I know what I want, I gotta find the tools to build it. If yall have any ideas as to how to get the intention AND the behavior you DO want from your kids, I would love any suggestions. :)

Monday, February 19, 2007

Unusual Things About Me

I was tagged by Emily to share 6 unusual things about me. Well, I must admit that I had a bit of a tough time picking things that were blog appropriate, but I have narrowed it down to these few.

In the spirit of listing my top tens, I figured I would post them all up here and let you pick which 6 you like the best.

Top Ten Most Unusual Things About Me
  1. I climbed a 14,000 ft peak
  2. I backpacked over 300 miles (not on the same trip)
  3. I served a mission in Africa and Europe
  4. I speak 2 languages fluently and understand 2 more
  5. I lost over 100 lbs last year
  6. The mountains are my favorite refuge
  7. Death by polar bear and exposure are real dangers in my day-to-day life
  8. Exotic dance is my new favorite indoor workout
  9. Everything I swore I would never do, I have done
  10. It is my dream to build and run a successful family adventure lodge

I tag Tori

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Secret

As a stay-at-home mom who actually stays at home now, I have had the opportunity to watch some afternoon talk shows. Namely, Dr. Phill (who is getting a bit sensational now and loosing ground to Dr. Keith) and of course, my favorite Oprah. Last week, Oprah did an exceptional special on The Secret and it just so happend that I had been doing a lot of thinking about it the past few weeks. In any case, it was timely and brought all of my thoughts and feelings together into one concise message.


I have realized that The Secret is a HUGE factor in my every happiness and I know that The Secret is TRUTH because I have seen it work in my life. When I am trying to lose those excess pounds, I am focusing on those excess pounds. Then I wonder why I keep attracting MORE excess pounds. When I am trying to get out of the funk I have been in, I am focusing on the symptoms and the cause of the funk. Then I wonder why I keep attracting MORE funk.

The times when I was most happy were when I was in tune with my personal mission statement. When I was focusing on my purpose and was looking at the real me, the potential I have inside me that is my unique mark in the universe, I felt connected and whole. I know that when I focus on my purpose, I attract MORE support for my purpose and am MORE happy and successfull in reaching my goals.

I must say that it is no small thing to have a clear picture of my purpose and it requires a lot of inspiration, contemplation and evaluation on a regular basis. It is so easy to lose focus on who I really am and what I can really offer.

I just think it is amazing how truth finds its way into my life and inspires me to be the best me possible. It is a constant battle, but I am convinced that if I make an honest effort to focus on what matters, what is real and what is my best dream for myself and the world, I will be doing my part to make it so.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tastiest Dishes

I have been thinking a LOT about my favorite foods lately... mainly because they are hard to come by up here in the Arctic, but partly because I will be traveling down to the lower 48 here in a week or so and can get access to them. It will be great to go to a shopping center and not have the sticker shock I have experienced up here. Can you believe that a gallon of milk costs $8 here? Don't even get me started on cheese and produce. In any case, these are the tastiest dishes that are delicacies on the tundra.
  1. Blueberry Cheesecake
  2. Garlic Chicken Pizza
  3. Enchiladas
  4. Lasagna
  5. Tacos
  6. Carrot Cake w/ Cream Cheese Frosting
  7. Fresh Fruit
  8. Citrus Grilled Salmon
  9. Corn and Oysters
  10. Anything Chocolate

Monday, February 12, 2007

Stay at Home Dream

Is it just me, or is it harder to stay at home than anything else in the whole world? I love my home. it is my refuge, my space for reflection and relaxation... or at least it was before it became my place of employment. I just feel like the work never ends! There is no management system or delegation of authority I can establish to eliminate or even minimize the workload, especially now that we don't have a dishwasher.

I never realized how much time it takes to do them by hand. They just keep piling up and up becaues I really hate that part of staying at home. I actually hid the dirty dishes under the sink once when company was comming over unexpectedly. Talk about a slacker! I did pull them back out and return them to the counter top and sink once the company left. I may have even done them and put them away before the end of the day out of guilt. I just can't seem to keep things under control on a regular basis. What is the secret?

Have you ever considered that some people just might not be gifted in the stay at home arena? I have been thinking about that a LOT lately. Over the past year, I have managed the mommy part without staying at home. I would take Kaia hiking, backpacking, traveling all over the country, fishing and camping, off-roading, playdates and shopping. But now, well, none of those things are really available or practical, and I am staying at home more and more.

I try to get out here, but it is a challenge. You can tell how happy Kaia is to be all bundled up for the -40 degree weather? Yes folks, it really does get that cold here and I do take the baby out in it. Today we did a post office run at -36 with windchill factor. I just have to be really careful with checking little fingers, toes and noses in that kind of danger.

I am beginning to accept the fact that my stay-at-home mommy parts are disabled. I think that I may still find a way to be an excellent full-time mommy, but I can't do the stay-at-home thing and maintain my sanity. I need to have projects for myself and find ways to get Kaia OUT of the house with me. I will just have to learn to balance things differently because I have special needs. I am okay with that, it just took me a while to admit it.

To all the moms out there who have special needs: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! The dream of staying at home isn't for everyone and that is okay. Now the trick is balancing the housework and being a mommy outside the home. If any of you have tips or ideas, I am more than open to them.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Most Spectacular Places

I don't know if any of you are familiar with the movie Madagascar. But today, I am feeling the part of the zebra... well, I would be more so if I had the motivation to get on the treadmill. Anyway, I have been thinking about all the coolest places I have ever been and imagining that I am there... not here in the coldest place I have ever been. Through the process, I thought I would post a top 10.

There may be many more of these as time goes by, and I start missing things that are just hard to come by up here in the remote parts of Alaska. Here is a top 10 list of the most spectacular places I have ever been. They just happened to coincide with my top 10 best adventures, so I placed them in chronological order to when I experienced them not their order of spectacular-ness. Someday, I may post stories about the adventures. But for now, the top ten list will have to do.











Friday, February 9, 2007

Lets Start Small

I have been thinking a lot about leaving a legacy here in Barrow. It is quite the place with plenty of needs for leadership and love. I’m still not sure what my legacy will entail, but one small thing I can do now to help others is to build an on-line network. I feel I have been inspired and I am actually pretty excited about getting the whole project underway.

It looks like I can get web hosting for the year and all the programming to run an “open source” forum and calendar of events for less than $150/ year. The idea would be to have a forum where people could post events, activities and tips for survival here. There could be a place for groups sharing the same interests and it would provide for special interests such as stay-at-home mommies and people suffering from Seasonal Depression.

It would be so much fun and give me a lot of experience in building a website for future endeavors… like the big dream of the adventure lodge. In any case, it would be a service to the community, and I could sure use a project to occupy my time and tap into my creative side for cause outside myself.

I have been putting some thought into a domain name and I could use any recommendations for the site. Here are a few name ideas I came up with:

  • Arctic Community Resource
  • Arctic Connection
  • Barrow Family Network
  • Polar Playground
  • Tundra Trax

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Updating the Dream

So, the New Year has come and gone. We are in the middle of February now and I am re-evaluating the resolutions that I set back in January that have already gone by the wayside. I pulled out an old mission statement that I had built back in a Steven Covey Leadership course in college and made a few updates. It would sure be a lot easier to renew my focus on the goals I set vs. making new ones. :)

Personal Mission Statement

When my time on earth has ended, I want to have left a legacy of love, leadership, integrity, and many shared adventures. I have recorded a few goals into four categories of focus to help me fulfill my mission and deepen my influence in every relationship. These categories are: Spiritual, Intellectual, Physical and Socio-emotional.

Spiritual: Improving my strengths in this category will increase my capacity to love, courage to lead, and desire to serve.

Goal: Build a closer relationship with God by...

Praying daily for guidance and strength to further discover and fulfill my mission

Serving others with love and compassion weekly

Seeking out the beauty in all things

Taking monthly wilderness adventures to ponder Gods’ role in fulfilling my mission

Intellectual: Improving my strengths in this category will increase my opportunities to love, lead, align myself with truth and be safe on my many adventures.

Goal: Gain a stronger understanding of truth relevant to my mission by…

Being open to all truth from all sources

Seeking relevant truth through daily study and prayer

Discerning what is true and relevant through meditation and prayer

Developing skills in leadership and management through training and experience

Taking monthly wilderness adventures to ponder the role of truth in fulfilling my mission

Physical: Improving my strengths in this category will increase my stamina and prolong the joy in love, leadership, integrity and adventure.

Goal: Increase my physical capacity and stamina to fulfill my mission by…

Exercising my body daily for 1 hour

Preparing whole and nutritional foods that promote a healthy lifestyle

Rising early every day and getting adequate sleep

Taking 1hour each day to groom and 3 hours each quarter to pamper

Taking monthly wilderness adventures in higher elevations or for longer distances to push my physical capacity

Socio-emotional: Improving my strengths in this category will provide opportunities to express love, exercise leadership, demonstrate integrity and share adventures.

Goal: See the world as it could be and do everything possible to make it that way by…

Looking for opportunities to help others

Acknowledging problems as growth opportunities

Seeking first to understand and then to be understood

Being sensitive to the hearts and needs of others

By striving to realize these goals, I will be better prepared to fulfill my mission and deepen my influence in each relationship. My mark the world will be a legacy of love, leadership, integrity, and many shared adventures through my family, friends, community and acquaintances along for the ride. I write this in hopes that I will remember my goals and align my behavior with the mission I want to live.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

My One Word

I was inspired by a fellow blogger to come up with a one word focus for the year. It is an interesting concept that lends itself to bettering the world and bettering my personal universe. This one word is supposed to be a guide or a goal for making progress on a daily basis.

Over the past year, I have committed myself to making many changes. In the process, my one word for last year naturally became CHANGE. In the wee hours of a January morning, I was rocking my new baby to sleep and found that I had been “going through the motions” with my life. Much of the busy things that had filled my life had lost their joy and meaning for me. I tried to recall when it was that I lost it, and couldn't. So I knew it was time for CHANGE.

The good news is that CHANGE allowed me to reconnect with God in the language of my heart (through Nature) and find myself more in tune with who I really was, what was important to me and what I needed to do protect it. I set new goals that were in line with my true self and made lots of CHANGES including my career from Public Relations’ Director to Mom, losing 104 pounds, getting back into the wilderness, and abandoning anything that hindered who I really am.

This year, I have found that my environment is a bit contradictory to the positive effects of last year’s one word, and I am discovering that I need to be a lot more INTENTIONAL about my decisions. With the transition of the move and the harshness of the Arctic, I am losing my connection to God through the wilderness. It is here in rare spurts, but I often get mixed messages because I am not built to thrive up here. I must now be INTENTIONAL about seeking Him out and finding His path for me through the blinding, biting cold and isolation of my new home. I have also lost my resolve to lose the remaining 30 pounds and must be INTENTIONAL about staying active and eating right in an environment that is not accommodating to either.

Another neat aspect about the one word INTENTION is the fact that many times, I still miss the point of what I am doing. I have committed myself to focus on the meaning or the INTENT of the actions that I take as well as really listening and seeking out the INTENTION of others’ actions. This has required that I really listen with a spirit of discernment and love. It takes a lot of energy to truly understand the meaning behind an action or a word.

Since I began seeking out the INTENTION and aligning my INTENTION with what I feel in my soul to be truth and right, I have been more grateful, more humble, more patient and a lot more in tune with what is going on around me. It has deepened my friendships and expanded my compassion for others. It has served to protect me from being taken advantage of and has served as a guide to understand and even appreciate the complicated symptoms of the depression I fight every day. It has allowed me a glimpse into God’s INTENTION for me and given me the opportunity to align my life with Him. By seeking for God’s INTENTION in my trials, I am better able to recognize the issues at hand, battle the root of the problem and more effectively escape the chains of misery.

INTENTION is my one word for the year and I hope that everyone will take a few moments to identify a one word that inspires them to make positive changes and find meaning in their lives over the course of the next year.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Most Beautiful Dreams or Worst Nightmares

I have found that many of my most valuable experiences have taken on contrasting categories in my heart. These last few months have been a particular challenge for me in that I have been fighting with symptoms of severe depression and have really struggled to find a meaning to it. I'm not out of the dark yet, but I must say that this experience has been both a most beautiful dream and a worst nightmare.

The dark and freezing temperatures of the North Slope have robbed me of my connection to God through Nature. I have fallen victim to my carbohydrate addictions and excuses for not being active and been drained of all positive energy sources. My goals and personality have been isolated and frozen into a go-no-where depression, and I feel I am totally exposed having lost all control and just blowing around in pointless circles with the wind.

Despite all this, I know that God has a purpose in everything He sends my way. I have not been abandoned in my nightmare but have been guided to a better understanding. It is not what I would have dreamed for myself, but I believe a more perfect dreamer designed it just for me. In my worst nightmare of losing control, I have discovered a most beautiful dream.

This experience has deepened my humility, patience and compassion. It has moved me to rely more on the Lord and on others, and has given me direction in finding my purpose here in Barrow. Through this trial, I have found new friends and developed new coping mechanisms that would have been lost to me had I not accepted this challenge as an opportunity. If I choose, it can become a refining mechanism in my life.

Last night I could feel God's love for me stronger than I had in a long time. He spoke to my heart through the magnificent display of Nature in the Northern Lights (the language of my heart) and the words of a new friend (an Evangelist at the Baptist church, of all people. This evangelist friend, shared his worst nightmare of a rare cancer that took his right eye, and how it lead him to find his life mission and be a more effective force for good.

I too have been given a challenge and have made my decision. I have decided on a course of action to overcome it. But more, I have made my decision to trust God in realizing His beautiful dream, and help others find beauty in their worst nightmares too. I believe that part of my healing is to establishing a network of information and support. I am by no means an expert on anything, but I now know the value and importance of friends and family. These are a few things that can seem very far away in a crisis on the tundra, but I believe it is part of my purpose here to establish a network and a series of programs to bring them closer.

So I have my work cut out for me. I must first overcome the depression, and then fulfill the purpose for which I had to endure it in the first place. In the meantime, I will leave you with a few photos that best express the sentiment of this post. These were takenjust outside of town last night and display both the most beautiful dreamscapes of celestial potential and the worst nightmares of being isolated and exposed to the horror of the environment.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Bit of Pixie Dust

So, yesterday was a good day in a long series of dark and dreary ones. I put Kaia down for her afternoon nap with Daddy, bundled up for the -20 degree weather, and headed off to the post office. I hadn't seen the sun in over a month, and when I stepped out into the street, I was broadsided by an amazing ray of light. I couldn't believe how bright and beautiful it was, just suspended there between the horizon and the cloud cover. The spectacular colors worked magic in my soul.

Just an every-day task became a much needed bit of pixie dust to get me through the monotany of Barrow life. It is amazing how much the sun changes everything. I love the sunshine and am pretty sure that I am solar powered. My attitude sure seemed to pick up, and I was able to think clearly for long enough to devise a plan to re-charge my life. I am actually excited about something again, and I can see a way to my happiness in Barrow.

Despite all the difficulties I have had adjusting to my new environment, I really don't have much to complain about. God has just done an amazing job of trainanig me to hear His voice in any language. Till now, He has spoken to me through Nature, and now that Nature is so harsh and bitter, I am looking for other ways to hear what He has to say.

I am far from being fluent in scripture or sunday-school lessons, but I do understand the language of the heart. God has placed so many friends and family in my life to help me through this big transition. Thank you all for being my pixie dust when the sunshine in my world is just not shinin'.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Little Things

This morning, like all my mornings in Barrow, began in the dark. I had just finished feeding Kaia her breakfast when the phone rang, and a friend invited us to go to the morning play group. On our way out, I could see the full moon hanging low on the horizon in a creamcicle orange over the purple sea of ice and snow.

It was spectacular, but not nearly as beautiful as the sunrise... I didn't actually see the sun, but the brighness of its promise reminded me how much I missed it. The southern sky was full of burgundies, pinks and oranges. The colors were so bright and vibrant, it was almost surreal. I had forgotten that nature could make such a brilliant artistic display. It reminded me of all the little things that I used to take for granted, and made me think of what I might be taking for granted now.

I think I am taking many things for granted here, and need to give my stint here some purpose. What purpose, I don't know. But I think there are many needs here that I can fill. Now the challenge is to discover which one is the right fit for me and our little family. Maybe you can help. My endeavor must allow me to either bring Kaia or pay for her to go elsewhere for a few hours each week. It must also be meaningful in that it serves some purpose in the community or somehow allows us to save or prepare for fulfilling our big dreams. If you have any ideas. Feel free to post them, or send me an e-mail. I look forward to any little thing you can suggest.