Monday, May 28, 2007

Through the Eyes of a Child

Kaia is fast approaching 17-months and has already developed an amazing sense of observation. She doesn’t have many words, but the few things she does know pop out at the most unexpected times… and NEVER when solicited.

She has developed some preferences and is really into the PBS Kids show “It’s a Big, Big World.” She is even beginning to identify favorite characters on the show including Snook, Ick and Oko, and it is just blowing me away how much she is paying attention to.

Last Friday, I took her for a hike around town. It was a sultry 28 degrees outside, and I thought it would be okay to take her to the park. On the way back, we stopped at the post office to thaw out and meet a few new people with some interesting features.

Many of the Barrow locals have not had access to the health and dental care that we have been accustomed to in the past, and some are victims of frostbite or the genetic defects of inbreeding. I’m not sure which was the case with a very nice older man we met at the post office. He was wearing oversized, thick yellow eyeglasses over his dark, round face with hints of purple scarring from frostbite. As an elderly man, his hands and face were well weathered, even by Arctic standards, and he was wearing a white fur ruff on the hood and sleevs of his parka. When he smiled, he revealed a large broken-toothed grin, and it was evident that Kaia had won his heart.

He was very friendly and kept her entertained for a good 15 minutes. I was a little nervous, and kept vigilaint watch, but Kaia was laughing, playing peek-a-boo and having a great time. She kept saying “Oko, Oko, Oko” which is very close to the Inupiat word “Aka” which means Grandpa. The man thought that she was so culturally advanced, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that she didn’t know that word.

It didn’t occur to me what she was saying until this morning while we were watching “It’s a Big, Big World.” When Oko came on, Kaia got all excited and repeated “Oko, Oko, Oko!” I immediately remembered her friend from the post office and had a good laugh about the amazing correlation. In case you haven’t seen the show, here is a picture of Oko.

I just wish I had a picture of the man to give you the full comparison... hum... how would I explain that one? "Excuse me Sir., can I take your picture so that I can compare you to a baboon?" Yah, not so p.c... I just hope I have done the story justice with my description.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Gratitude Sunday: MoJo

Today I am grateful for my MoJo, the magical motivation and guts to stick to my nutrition and work out programs. The truth is that lately it has all but dissappeared. I am only 3 weeks into an 8-week project, and I’m already sneaking goodies. Any little carb is my temptation, and I just can’t find it in me to get my butt out there on those stairs for my workout.

What I can’t figure out is why the mystical powers of motivation can be there so strong one day, and be MIA the very next. Why is it that acquiring healthy habits is so much harder than acquiring unhealthy ones?

At any rate, today I am feeling grateful for the MoJo all together. Whether I have it or not, I know that it is out there and it is what makes dreams come true. I am confident that I will get it back, but if any of you know how I can get it back in time to train enough for the Hard Rock, let me know.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Good Morning Mommy!

There is nothing like a wake-up call from Kaia. I guess it wouldn't be quite so bad if Daddy didn't give her cold water for amunition. I think that we are going to have to emphasize only giving her sippies.

Ben leaves for work at 6:15am and ususally, Kaia sleeps until about 7:30 or even 8:00 if I am lucky. However, this was not a usual morning. Kaia was up with Daddy, and he thought it was a great idea to give her a plastic cup of water. So what happens when Daddy leaves for work? Kaia finds her way into my bedroom, carefully climbs up on the bed, and proceeds to dump the entire contents of that 8 oz glass onto Mommy's head! Yah, not such a fun game.

This is the second time this has happened. The first time was unintentional, because the water was left on the nightstand from the night before. But this morning was a different story. He actually had to find a plastic cup, fill it with water and then leave her unattended... I vaguely remember him saying "go get Mommy" as he shut the door behind him. This just might be one of those situations where I have to do a little payback. I'll just have to wait until hubby is asleep in front of the TV or really into his computer games before I turn Kaia loose on him with icewater.

For now, I have to rescue her from falling asleep in her high-chair. She usually doesn't make it too far into the morning before crashing out when she gets up so early. I think we may have to restart this day in a few hours when she is fully rested.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Attention Hot Momas

This topic has come up again and again in the past few weeks, and I am just wondering:

What is the stigma with being a mom who takes care of herself?

I have heard comments ranging from the ridiculous to the outrageous and many of them come from other mothers! Some of the things I have heard include:

  1. Good moms are chunky, frumpy and a little frazzled because they don't waste time or money on themselves for hair, nails, clothes or vacations.
  2. Hot moms are selfish, superficial and neglectful of their childrens needs because they do all of the above.

I just don't feel like you can judge the effectiveness of a mother based on how she looks. And you certainly can’t judge effectiveness based on the time and money a mother appears to spend on her self.

Why is it that a woman has to cease to exist as a woman and become a selfless martyr to be a good mom? What ever happened to balance and maintenance? I feel that when I take an hour or two for myself each day, I am better equipped and patient when handling the every day kid crises that arise. This time doesn’t have to take away from my kiddo. It can happen when she is sleeping, or while she is involved with other happy adventures that I don’t have to be 100% attentive for.

Why is it that moms who do make it a priority to take care of themselves feel guilty? Is it a social stigma, religious imposition or just plain natural mom tendency? When I have stopped beating myself up for taking time for myself, family life seems to go a lot smoother. When I have the confidence and control over my own life, I am so much more effective in perceiving and meeting needs of both my hubby and my kiddo.

I just thought I would throw this out there and see if any of you feel this same way. Have you faced ridicule, judgment or rejection because you take care of yourself? Do you feel guilty if you do or want to? Tell me your story.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gratitude Sunday: What I Don’t Know

There was a time not too long ago when I was grateful for all the many things I thought I knew. They somehow made me feel more privileged. Now I am convinced that I am more privileged because I DON’T know what I thought I knew. With knowledge, there is responsibility to take action, and depending on what I “know”, it can make a real difference in every aspect of my life.

Mark Twain once stated "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."

I thought of how bizarre people behave because they “know” their superstitions are true. Worse yet, I thought of all the people strapping bombs to their chests because they “know” that their god requires it of them.

It really made me think about what kind of bizarre thing I might do because I "know" something that just ain't so. I had to reconsider what I really “know” and what am I willing to do for it? I have made it my personal mission to learn as much as I can about things that impact me and the mark I want to leave on this earth the most, admit when I don’t know, and postpone action until I do.

Remember my One Word? This is part of being intentional about what I do, what it means and how it impacts those around me. I’ve learned that sometimes the best response is just to wait until I can study things out, find peace in an answer and implement a response...

...I know, a new perspective for this spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants Mom. Look out world, Mama's got a new set of goggles!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Danged Saboteur

I've been working really hard for the last week and ½ on meeting my goals for the Hard Rock. To do so, I have to work out between 2 and 2.5 hours each day and stick to a strict nutrition regimen… which does not include cookies, chips, candies or cakes to say the least. It has been really hard to push myself every minute I work out and even harder to watch what I eat… especially when I am working so hard physically. At any rate, I have stuck to it religiously, and have had to do so against some unexpected obstacles.

I would expect my hubby, of all people, to be the most supportive. I would expect that he would want to see me achieve my goals and become the hot mama I always thought I would be. I would expect that he would be excited about my new figure and be supportive of the healthy lifestyle that he so adamantly nagged about when I was depressed as hell and determined to drown my frustrations in chocolate.

But he hasn’t been AT ALL. The first week was met with a little skepticism about the big goal in the first place, but overall positive response. This week has been the week of the Saboteur. He has been neglectful of Kaia and other household responsibilities when he says that he will take care of it so I can work out. Ya’d think he could handle things for a few hours, but somehow it is an overwhelming burden. Even when I just want an hour to climb on the elliptical machine, he suddenly finds a project that needs his undivided attention. He doesn’t make excuses, he just starts hacking away at the ice on our front walk, and the neighbors and their neighbors while he had promised to have 100% responsibility for Kaia. Ya right. At minute 54 of my 60-minute workout, I see my baby running around outside in 20 degree weather without coat, gloves or shoes! I actually think he is intentionally making it worse than it has to be so that I will not depend on him.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, he waited until I was done working out for the day to start baking cookies… and not just any cookies, MY FAVORITE oatmeal, coconut and chocolate chip cookies! What is up with that? When he stopps by the store to pick up a few items on the way home from work, he comes in with Doritos, brownies and m&m's! He has never done that before. I think he feels guilty about it because he slinks around the house when he is munching on something he knows is not on my program... but he waits until I am in the front room to pull it out.

I really want to think that it is subconscious and that he isn't intentionally causing me pain and making my road more difficult. But I am starting to wonder if he can really be that dense. I hate to think of him as manipulative, unsupportive or down right cruel, because that really isn't like him at all. Something has got to be provoking this craziness.

The truth is I think he is afraid. The problem is that I am not sure exactly what he is afraid of. He is not a creature of change, that could be it. Maybe he is afraid that I am going to make him eat on a low-carb program and is feeling deprived. Maybe he is afraid of what will happen when I reach my goal (I don’t know what that might be, but he could have some crazy idea). Maybe he is thinking down the road 10 years and is afraid that he will feel like a boob when I’m still tough and hes all doughy.

I think what he is really afraid of is the woman he married. She is still in here, and once she is unleashed, she will have the energy and wherewithal to put up a fight to stay. I think he has gotten used to me being too preoccupied, tired or depressed to notice what he was up to… or not up to. I am generally too tired to make a plan for anything and am usually okay with whatever plan he comes up with. If I am healthy, happy and balanced, I will be making plans that may conflict with his.

At any rate, we are going to have a conversation about this, because I have another 6.5 weeks before I have to go the distance, and there is no way I will make it if I don’t get some support on the home front. Any suggestions on how to start that conversation? I think that my normal approach may be a little too abrasive. My original plan was to wait until I was ticked about his next sabotage attempt and then confront him head on with “What the hell!!!? That hasn’t worked too well in the past with other issues, so I am rethinking it to come across a little more subtle and sensitive. The problem is that subtle and sensitive really aren't my nature. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Generic Viagra

I usually don't post twice in one day, but I found this commentary on an off-road forum and couldn't help myself. I thought it was hillarious and wanted to share the guilty giggles.

In pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen.. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.

The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra. After careful consideration by a team of government experts, it recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.

Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink". Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: MOUNT & DO.

Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.

My First Polar Bear!

I saw my first official polar bear in the wild... and I was on a snowmobile! Last night at about 9:00 pm, a call came over the police radio that a polar bear was seen roaming around the city dump. So naturally, we bundle up and head out there as fast as we can to catch a glimpse. Sure enough there was a big ol' bear stomping around on the ice pack. We parked pretty far away for obvious reasons and watched him for about 10 minutes before he dissappeared behind the broken pieces of frozen ocean that had piled up about 500 yard out.

I would have loved to have seen him closer, but I have a thing about being so exposed when there is a polar bear near by. We rode around a little to find his tracks, just to see how big is paws were in comparison. I was surprised to see how HUGE thos footprints were. It was about the length of my forearm with claws that extended out past my finger tips. I would have taken a picture, but the cold zapped the batteries and there was no juice for the camera to even turn on.
Now that I have seen the northern lights in their full glory, witnessed a polar bear in the wild and frozen my patootie out on the tundra, I think that I can say I have experienced the Arctic... can we go now?

I guess on that front, it doesn't look like it will be soon. I had an interesting conversation with the chief of police that has bothered me more and more every time I think aobut it. He was trying to convince me that this was the best place to raise a family and that it really isn't all that bad, once you get used to the culture. WHAT!!! Is he flippin out of his mind? His wife doesn't even live up here, she is down near Anchorage and he didin't raise his family here. I think he was trying to be incouraging, but it was a little insulting. Did he really think that I wasn't going to notice how hard life is up here?

Anyway, I hope that he didn't catch that I thought he was full of sh**. Never good to tick off the man who has the final say in where Ben goes rotational and ultimately even if he does. I think that we have decided that if they screw with him, we will just apply elsewhere. I know that I will not be up here for next winter, but we haven't decided yet if Kaia and I will "move" till we get the 2-week rotation, or just "visit" Grandma and Grandpa for a few months.

Maybe we will try to schedule our vacation time for then and Ben can come down for 4-5 weeks. Who knows; all I know is that I am not going to manage another winter like last. Even with the northern lights and polar bears, it just aint worth it! Wish us luck in getting the 2-week rotation.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Break Up is Here

For all my readers from the lower 48 states, “break up” is the Alaskan word for SPRING. We hit double digits in temperatures this week, and the high pressure over northern Alaska has brought us much needed and appreciated sunshine.

It was great to take Kaia for a walk and not be constantly worried about frostbite. We still have to bundle up, but not nearly as much as we have been. I’m not quite ready to retire my winter coat yet, but I think that warmer weather is here to stay. Surprisingly everything is melting at 16 degrees. I thought that we had to get above 32 before the thaw process would begin, but not so. The snowpacked streets are officially mud channels and I am beginning to feel more nervous about crossing the lagoon on the snowmobile.

Other signs of spring include my hubby hacking 1-foot-thick ice off our walkway (a job that preventative maintenance for our complex should have taken care of months ago, but didn’t) and I am ecstatic about the fact that the song birds have returned. There IS life on the tundra!

I think that it will still be a few weeks before the ocean breaks up and I expect it will be July before we are up into temperatures above 32, but I am happy that the light is here to stay 24-7. I think that I am solar powered, and it makes me happy to see a bright an cheery everything.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Big Goal Status Report #1

A week ago, I set a big goal to get down to my pre-Barrow weight and train hard 6 days a week to be strong enough to pace my dad on the Hardrock 100 in July. Today was the first measurement day of my 8-week program, and I am well on my way. Despite the fact that on day 2 I got a crazy head cold that moved into my chest by day 4, I still managed to run 10.5 miles, climbed stairs for 4 hours and hit the weights twice. I survived the first week of a pretty intense junk food detox, drank a total of 6 gallons of water (which went right through me), and stuck to my nutrition program... well pretty close anyway.

What all this ads up to is a loss of 9 lbs and an increas of 3% lean body mass, and I fit in my jeans again! Yae for me!!!

I figured that the first week would be successful because I had been eating like a slob and had been lazing around on vacation or sitting here in my little appartment feeling sorry for myself. But I had no idea I was THAT full of junk. I am commited to taking better care of myself and am feeling SO much better already... well, at least since the detox crankies have past.

I am so glad that I have something to look forward to, something to work toward and someone depending on my discipline. I am even more glad that my efforts are working. So, to keep at it, I am draggin' all of you into my support network to keep me accountable. I still have 7 weeks to run 216 miles, lift an obsene amount of weights a crazy number of times, climb a bazillion flights of stairs, consiousely think aobut the nutritional value of what I eat and lose 26 more lbs. that WON'T be working for me on that race and gain 15% lean body mass that WILL. Wish me luck, and keep me honest.

Future status reports will be much more brief in the future, but look for them and hold my feet to the fire if I don't post every Monday.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gratitude Sundays: My Integrity

Today I am grateful for my integrity, and for a strange reason. I have never been much of a reality show fan, but I really got into Survivor Fiji. TV actually inspired me; whooda thunkit? For those who aren't up to speed:Yao-Man made a deal with Dreamz that he would give him the truck for the immunity in the final four. After a huge speech about how he has to be a man of his word and that's who he is and how he has to be an example for his son, Dreamz revoked his end of the bargain. Now Dreamz thinks he has a chance to win the million after what he did to Yao. NO WAY, NO HOW, NOT EVER! He has got stupidest man alive to think that it was going to work in his favor. At least he has the truck as his tacky trophy to proclaim his sell out.

Anyway, it made me think about what I stand for, what is important to me and what I would sacrifice protect my identity. Not from thieves who would take my credit cards or bank account numbers, but from the shiny distractions of things. MasterCard said it best; some things money can’t buy.

I have never had to decide between my integrity and a chance at a million dollars, but I have had something just as valuable to me on the line. That Alaska Airlines job would have been amazing travel and shipping benefits to wherever AA flies (which, from Barrow adds up to $2500 / trip, $600/ month in groceries and you just can’t put a price on reliable health, dental, chiropractic and hair care, not to mention the mental sanity of being in normal civilization and accommodating weather.

I passed the opportunity up for what I believe in, for who I am and what I stand for. Had I taken that job, I would have regretted it in short order. Not because working outside the home is bad, but because it isn’t right for me right now and I know it. So today, I am grateful for my integrity.

On a lighter note, even though Yao-Man played the best game and should have won it, I am glad that Earl beat out those other 2 slackers taking every jury vote for the million bucks!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Annual Police Memorial Service

Today we attended the North Slope Borough Police Department Annual Police Memorial Service. I was touched by the sense of duty to God, family, city, borough, state and country. The service was short and simple, and it was moving to see all the officers and their families gathered to honor those who have lost their lives or family members to the hazards of the job.

It made me realize just how dangerous it is for my hubby to be out there every day with people who are having their worst day. Many of the people he deals with are just irresponsible and inebriated, which makes them stupid and unpredictable, but not necessarily bad. However, there are a few people that have long records and have served hard time as convicted felons. Those are the ones that make me think twice about the last words I say when see him off to work.

I have learned that the families of first responders do experience a greater strain and stress from the ugly side of society. Ben does a pretty good job of blowing off most of the frustration before he gets home, but there are still cases and days that get dragged up when he is least expecting and it causes an uneasy tension. I just wish I knew how to handle it a little better.

The transition to being an officer’s wife was difficult, but not quite as difficult as the transition to living in the Alaska Bush. I think that I have found a way to cope a little better now that the temperatures are usually at or above 0. There is still snow out, and we just bought 2 used snow mobiles to help ease the tension of cabin fever and job stress.

I have been taking the snowmobile across the lagoon to Piuraagvik (translates to “place to play” but it is really a run down basketball court with 2 locker-rooms and a few broken pieces of workout equipment). It only costs $1 to stay as long as I would like, and it meets my needs for a Stair Master and Treadmill. We also take them out cruisin on the ocean… Yup, it is still frozen over. We got nearly a foot of new snow the last few days, but you can’t really tell because it is so dry and fluffy and just blows around.

Anyway, I digress. The facts that we are playing as hard as we are working and that we are working toward goals that meet our needs, are making the transitions a little more bearable. I am happy to have a sense of family through the police department, and feel comfort in the fact that people are looking out for us. The memorial service brought all of that to the front of my mind and made me realize that as tough as this place is, the people are tougher and they take care of each other.

It was good for me to experience this little bite of reality on the tundra, and I think it helped me warm up to the fact that we are going to be up here for a while. But I still hope that it is not too long.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Alaska Girls and Work

I've been seriously considering taking a full-time job with Alaska Airlines to keep my sanity in this tiny, frozen town. Ben is really supportive, but I have my concerns about selling out. I think that the money and flight benefits would be great, but I think it would come at the price of Kaia's development and quality family time.

I am glad that I have the opportunity to stay at home with my baby, and recognize that Ben works long hours to make that possible. The least I can do is manage the money in a way that provides the best standard of living for our circumstances. We agreed together that part of that includes taking care of some household chores so that we can have positive family time together when we finally do get time together.

I am certain that if I chose to take the job, we would be able to go to cool places if we ever got the same days off, and we would be able to save up for a house a lot sooner. But there would be a lot less time together over all, and Kaia would be raised by a stranger. As far as the chores go, the delegation of responsibilities would be different, but I just don’t know if there would be enough time for what is important.

Right now I can focus most of my energy on doing what is most important to me, I get to teach my baby, love her and squeeze her. I get to train for my race, and with all of that, I don’t mind taking an hour or two out of my day to organize and make our house a home.

This is just the way that Ben and I have worked it out, and so far, it is working pretty well. I think a big part of that is the fact that we found a way for both of our needs to be met. I am so glad that he is good enough to communicate and cooperate. I don’t think that we would make it if he took the stereotypical man route.

On a side note, here is a funny story about that stereotypical man mentality and the way that Alaska women respond:

Three men were sitting together bragging about how they had assigned their wives duties. The first man married a Woman from California and told his wife that she was going to keep the house in order. It took a couple days, but on the third day he came home to a clean and organized house.

The second man married a woman from Utah. He had given his wife orders that she was to do all the cleaning, and cooking. The first day he didn't see any results, but the next day he saw it was better. By the third day, he saw his house was clean and there was a huge dinner on the table.

The third man married a girl from Alaska. He told her that her duties were to keep the house cleaned, dishes washed, lawn mowed, laundry done and hot meals on the table for every meal. He said the first day he didn't see anything, the second day he didn't see anything, but by the third day most of the swelling had gone down and he could see a little out of his left eye, enough to fix himself a bite to eat and load the dishwasher.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Big Goal

So I decided that I need a phsical goal to keep me motivated to get back ijn and stay in shape. I may have commited myself a little more than what I can realistically handle. But then again, I like to dream big.

My dad is an ultra marathon runner and has been accepted to the roster for the Hard Rock 100. You should check it out, it is a pretty amazing race. Anyway, he has invited me to pace him on one of the legs and will pay for my ticket out of here, if I train. The portion of the race goes from Ouray to Telluride over Virginius Pass at 13100 feet elevation. I fmy math is correct, that is 5420 feet of UP and 4350 feet of DOWN in 16.1 miles. The race is mostly cross country... so basically, the trail is unmarked and sketchy. To make things more interesting, Dad will be about 1/2 way through the race at 4am the second day when I start this thing! I think he wants to average 2 miles / hr, so I figure that we are looking at a really hard 8-10 hour day. (for a detailed description of this leg of the race go to pages 8-14 here.)

Here is my basic plan of action to prepare for this monster:

Work my way from running 3 flat miles / day to 6 flat miles
1 hour / day of stairmaster working my way up to 45 lbs of aditional resistance
Weight Train 3 days / week, increasing resistance for muscle tone and fat loss
Religiously stick to my high-protein, well-balanced eating program

I figure that it will require 2 -2.5 hours of training six days a week to minimize the ammount of pain this is going to cause, and another week at elevation to acclimitize so I can breathe up there. Right now I am scheduled to leave here on July 7th, so that gives me exactly 8 weeks to get my stuff together. Wish me luck!

I will be in Montrose, CO for a day or so and would love to see anyone close to there. Maybe we could work in a dinner the night of the 7th or something on the 16th after the race. There has to be a good place we can meet. Let me know!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gratitude Sunday: Amazing Hubby

Of all the people in all the world, (at least all the ones that are of my sexual preference) I chose Ben. It was about this time 5 years ago that I made that decision, and I have never regreted it. I am proud of him every day for being the man that he is. Sure he can grate on my nerves when he is sick, or hungry, or even way too playful when I am not at all up for games, but he has always been the right guy for the job when it comes to the big things in our life and marriage.

He has sacrificed a lot of himself to provide for our family and is out there on the gravely frozen streets of Barrow just tryin' to keep us (and the community) safe. It can be pretty difficult and the 12-hour shifts definitely take their toll on him. I am just amazed at how strong and resiliant and determined he is to do the right thing and be the hero.

He is my superman, and I am thrilled that he is my best friend, my adventure buddy and my partner forever! I just wish that everyone could have this kind of superpower in their own relationships. Maybe many do, but with the divorce rate pushing 80%, I tend to think that I am one of the really lucky ones.

Thank you Ben for being the best you and helping me to be the best me. I love you and miss you like crazy when you are away.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

It Always Depends on the Weather

Here in the Arctic, everything depends on the weather. The funny thing is that it is ALWAYS cold and windy. It is a complete mystery to me how the locals distinguish between cold, really cold and too cold. Maybe everyone has their own thermostat and it is different for everyone; but, like I said, it is a mystery to me.

Hubby just bought 2 used snowmobiles from a guy in town so that we could go have some form of outdoor recreation to do as a family. The first time out, we thought that it would be good to leave Kaia with a sitter and have a Play Date in the powder. Well, turns out that the powder is patchy and the rest is just crusty ice. Anyway, yesterday, we figured we would go run some errands around town and take Kaia with us.

We bundled her up in fleece, hat, boots, wool socks, snowsuit and stuck her in between us on the snowmobile. Her snowsuit sleeves are long enough to cover up her hands and we figured we would make sure no baby parts would be exposed, so we decided NOT to bind her up in gloves that would probably fall off between anywhere and nowhere.

The temperature was reading 5 with wind chill of -15, but I know it was colder than that when we cruised head-on into the blowing wind. Kaia seemed to be okay, and we checked her every stop to make sure that fingers, cheeks and body temp were still within acceptable range. Apparently, my hands were too cold to tell how cold her hands were. When we got home, she started screaming and holding her fingers out like they had just given her the worst offence she had ever received.

I can only imagine what it is like to experience the thaw process for the first time. The aching and stinging and needle like tingling that happens when feeling finally returns to frozen fingers is miserable even for adults who know what is going on. The good news is that there was no permanent damage done. I was pretty scared for about 5 minutes though, and kept checking for the rest of the day to make sure that her fingers still had good color, feeling and mobility.

It was one of those “Mommy of the Year” moments when I realized how dumb it was to bring baby out in such harsh conditions. Comparatively, we thought it was quite nice. It was no where near the -50 we experienced this winter and the wind was calm enough not to pummel us with ice shards. I guess that they don’t make good baby gear for extreme weather conditions and we didn’t have enough layers on to accommodate that fact. Anyway, I learned my lesson and will be a LOT more careful in the future.

What else can I do? It is not good for us to stay in the house all day. We have to get out sometime, and the temperatures are better now than we have ever experienced here. Though the learning experience was tramatic, we are not detered. Kaia and I have plans to go out with a few friends this afternoon for some sledding. There is a gravel pit not too far from here, where there might be some good snow piles for little plastic sleds. I don’t know how long they all plan to be out, but I do know that there will be a warm vehicle there for Kaia to escape the cold. We will NOT be repeating the trauma of yesterday.

I know now that my thermostat for what is “too cold” is not set nearly as high as my little Kaia’s. I just figured that we had her bundled enough to accommodate the difference. Even though the poor thing couldn’t put her arms down with all the bundle of snowsuit she had on, it wasn’t enough. I wish that she came with an owners manual that stated the temperature range for safe and happy operation. Or, at the very least, I wish she could talk and let me know when she was getting uncomfortable.

I’ll post up pix of the planned snow adventures for today, and let you know how the bundeling thing goes tomorrow. For now I will sit here and contemplate mysteries of which clothing items to ‘don first, how best to check for frozen baby syndrome and why the hell the wind always comes from the direction I want to go. Make it a good one and enjoy the beautiful weather wherever you are.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Big Wigs on the Tundra

Hubby has a special assignment to escort the Governor of the great state of Alaska today. He will be leading the motorcade as Governor Sarah Palin attempts to gain support for the newest gas pipeline plan from local work force and community officials here in Barrow.
The pipeline would provide lots of jobs and income for Alaskans, but the construction and operation of such a project would have an impact on tundra life. Litterally millions of dollars have been spent on reasearching the environmental impact on natural wildlife, fisheries and the villages that depend on them for subsistence, but it is hard to know what information is valid when it comes to political interests and big money.
Being an avid outdors woman, I am an advocate for protecting the environment. But the biggest concern that I have is what will be done with the money that this project would bring into the state. Who will get it, how will it be used and will THAT be good for the people of Alaska. After seeing first hand what the oil money did, I am not all that hopeful. I think it is irresponsible to just hand out "free money" to people who don't understand from where it comes, and it creates a false sense of entitlement and dependency that will eventually expire with the exhaustion of resources.
I have heard some really strong views both for and against, but I am not totally convinced one way or the other. I've seen the tundra, I've seen large stretches of the already existing oil line and the impact it has had on wildlife and subsistence. I think that if BOTH the gas line AND the money it generates are responsibly managed, many of the environmental pitfalls of the oil line can be avoided, and it's positive impact will far outweigh the negative. But really, I am most concerned with what the state plans to do with the money generated from the project.
I think there is a way to make it a win-win for Alaskan society, economy and enviornment. I'm not sure what it is, and am glad that it is not on my shoulders to make it happen, but I support the efforts to continue exploring the impact and feasability of the project.
What do you think?

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wild Alaska

As if it wasn't expensive enough to get groceries and supplies up here in the Arctic, the expected rise in postage / shipping will raise our prices by 30%. That will bring our milk up to $10.39 a gallon! Hubby and I can go without, but Kaia will have a really hard time. She goes through 2 gallons a week; that is $80 / month. And the milk isn't the worst of it. Produce is a killer and we literally ate $1000 our first month. I am beginning to doubt that we will be able to save up for a house within the year.

So, I am looking for alternative options for survival up here. I think I will just move down to the lower 48 and live within driving distance to a Costco, or Safeway, or Fred Meyer, or Walmart, or any other grocery chain for that matter. We are so lookin' for the 2-week rotation!

On the bright side, I have gained a new appreciation for fresh produce and reasonable prices. I have also gained a new motivation to manage my munchies and found some creative ways of making leftovers stretch a lot further.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Funny Meme

I found this great meme and tag Tori to google her name + the word "needs" and record the top 10 things that google thinks she needs. Kimmy, you are not off the hook yet; you still owe me your meme for real mom.

When I googled my middle name + the word "needs," I found the following:
  1. Mia needs an airport authority: Or at least the airport authority benefits to fly outta here regularly
  2. Mia needs a home that would give her lots of pampering and care: Our own home would be nice
  3. Mia needs to work on an international scale: Running an adventure lodge would bring in international business
  4. Mia need help: Some may say professional help :)
  5. Mia needs a bag including "sparklies": Every woman needs a good bag with sparklies
  6. Mia needs to hear Peppermint Gondry: I was curious and clicked on the link, it's a list of songs most of which I have heard. Appearantly there are a few more I should look up and listen to before I have an unfortunate run-in with a steam roller.
  7. Mia needs an "R" rating: Sometimes I do... depends on the day.
  8. Mia needs a professional and welcomming web site: YES, I am actually trying to build one for the city of Barrow to be a one-stop source of information. It's called Tundra Trax. Fun little project, but I don't know what I am doing.
  9. Mia needs a clock for the time machine: Well, I don't know what time I would travel to, so this one can wait.
  10. Mia needs a Ninja Burger Shirt: What is a ninja burger?