Friday, March 2, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Catching up

At least that is what I hope to be doing this weekend.  I have been at my new job for three weeks now and I can tell already it will be very demanding - at least for the first year or so as I learn the ropes - but also exciting and inspiring.  To be able to take part in creating a program from the ground up that is so needed by our community is a very important feeling.  I'll just try to not let the feeling of responsibility affect my weekends!

This winter is proving to be one of record cold and snow here in Kodiak.  Mohawk the rugged Alaskan husky has been sleeping indoors almost every night, and last year he may have done so twice the whole winter.  On an average winter the ground freezes here up to about two feet - we have no permafrost.  This year it is frozen up to 6 feet, and the city is recommending those on public water to keep a faucet running all times up through March, as even after air temps rise, the ground will be well frozen.  Those of us who have wells do not have the luxury of keeping a faucet running must trust in our homes' winterization.  After Jeremy made some improvements in November, we have not had any frozen pipes, but with an older house in these conditions it is always a concern.

What does this mean for our spring? I hope that it will not be too delayed, as each spring it always seems too late for me anyway.  Right now it seems like a very long way off.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 Winds Down

I have been up for a few hours with baby Laura this morning, and my thoughts are turning to the New Year and all that has happened this year. We had a lovely Christmas, with Emmy getting almost everything she wanted, and baby Laura surprising us with the speed she is moving and developing.  Jeremy and I were happy not to be traveling over Christmas with two children (though we also missed the family we would have seen if we had braved holiday travel).
In a few days, we will go up to Anchorage to see my sister La Rita get married to Tru.  I am so happy to get to share this day with her even though she and Tru are planning a big wedding after he gets back from his deployment to Kuwait.  We did not think we would be able to make it, but I scraped those airline miles together, found a cheap rental car, and made it happen. We are even staying a night in a hotel with a pool, which will overjoy Emmy (and Jeremy)!

So much in life is changing, which is scary, but also exciting.  I will be starting a new job next month designing a program in Alutiiq language and culture at the college, and while I will still be at my current job at the Museum a little bit each week, as well as during the summer, it is a strange feeling to be swept along in this enormous change in my life.  I keep describing it as being "swept along" but really I should give myself more credit - none of this would be happening if I did not think it the absolute best move for my family and myself as well as for the survival of the Alutiiq language.  It is an incredible opportunity that I hope will meet with great success.

This time last year I was 4 or 5 months pregnant with baby Laura.  She is now a bouncing, BIG, baby girl.  Babbling, crawling so fast and trying to pull up on things.  Big sister Emmy has impressed us with how much she has learned this past year, particularly with her participation in preschool.  She is always using her new vocabulary on us and asking what words mean that she doesn't know.  Her favorite subject in school is "arts and crafts."  Yesterday she brought home a bag of paper cuttings from when she visited her grandma's school, and insisted it was her important "paperwork."

By this time next year Emmy will have been in Kindergarten for a semester, and Baby Laura will be Toddler Laura.  I am so excited to hear Laura talk for real, since she has such a loveable and loud personality. I will have been teaching Alutiiq Language for a semester, so I hope that will have gone well.  And Jeremy and I will be 6 months past our 10 year anniversary, which is happening next June.  Which I think will be a good time for a big party.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Patch Testing

This week I embarked on an interesting test to find out what chemicals, metals, and other surgery related substances I am allergic to.  The reason I felt the test was needed goes back to the last time I had stitches.  The sutures were supposed to dissolve in a week or two, and heal up in about the same time frame, but it took over 8 weeks for them to dissolve.  My allergist believed I was allergic to a material in the sutures, but just in case it was something else related to the procedure or daily life, he tested me for a full 56 substances (a near-record for the allergy clinic). The substances were chosen based on an incredibly thorough series of questions about things or situations that have irritated my skin in the past.

Patch testing is somewhat miserable. Especially if you are being tested for so many things.  It requires you to literally have patches taped on to your skin to see if your skin reacts to contact with the substances in the patches.  Each patch has a number so they can check back on the list to see what you are reacting to.  You have to wear them for two days (my whole upper back was covered with patches locked down with adhesive tape), then have them removed and read on the 3rd day, and have a second reading on the 4th day.  And you cannot exercise or get the patches wet during that time. I was so glad to have the patches removed, and then even more overjoyed to have the second reading so I could go home and shower!
My patches, before being covered by tape.
 The joy at the test being over, however, was tempered by the results - that I am chemically sensitive to 6 substances or categories: Nickel, diphenylguanadine, quinoline mix, carba mix, potassium dichromate, and amidoamine.  Six doesn't sound so bad, right?  Well, these six substances can go by dozens of names, and also are mixed in with other materials.  Nickel, for example, is found in stainless steel, jewelry, medical screws, dyes, snaps, scissors, batteries, zippers, and even doorknobs.  The potassium dichromate (chrome), is found in dissolvable sutures, detergents, tattoos, bleach, makeup, construction materials, ink, copy paper, vitamin supplements, and even pool table felt among many others.  The other substances I am sensitive to are fond in rubber/foams/plastic/leather manufacturing, and in personal care products like shampoo, soap, ointment, and lotion.

So the problem I had with healing from the sutures a number of months ago? It was described by the Dr. like a perfect storm: An allergy to the stainless steel needle used, the sutures themselves, the antibacterial agents, and adhesives used in pads/bandages. Then I followed up by keeping it clean daily using soap I was likely allergic to. No wonder I had a problem healing!

I now have a whole packet of information I need to compile into a master chemical/metal names list, so I can check products at the store before buying them.  I am sad that some of the products I have used in the past I will have to discard, but I had already self-selected for some products that were less irritating, and so hopefully I will be able to keep some of them.  And the sensitivity I have is not so severe that I will have to wear gloves to touch a doorknob or a fork. I would only experience discomfort if in prolonged contact with the things I am sensitive to.  Now, armed with this knowledge, I face a much less itchy future.  If I need any surgical procedures done, I can share this information with my physician and help ensure a successful healing.  This test is an investment that I am glad I made.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011


Baby Lala has learned to do the army crawl, after an extended period of rolling everywhere. In this video she rolls, crawls, and gets mad while I keep moving the camera farther away.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flu Survival

Just before Jeremy got home from the grand Canyon I came down with the flu.  Or I am assuming it was the flu, since I tested negative for strep and mono, though I also tested negative for the flu (all of these tests only cover some of the varieties).  It was the sickest I have ever been in my life, as far as I can remember.  I was in such agony with sore throat, body aches, skin sensitivity, headache, fevers, cold chills, sweats, and sinus congestion that I could not take care of Emmy and Laura and asked my mom and step dad if we could stay with them.  It turned into about a three day stay.  I would lay awake at night and worry that Emmy or Laura would get sick, because with the amount of pain I was in I could not bear to think of one of my children suffering that much. Laura had received the first half of her flu shot last month, but Emmy and I had not received a flu shot yet, and we still don't know if it was even the flu for sure. The night before Jeremy got home I went home with the girls, since we were so excited for his arrival, but I was still so ill that I had to ask my mom to come out to the house and help.  It was so discouraging to be so unable to deal with basic responsibilities, and it made me so grateful that I have family here that can help out when things like this happen.

The day after Jeremy returned I was starting to feel better, but Emmy began to get sick and feverish.  It was so hard to see her sick, but oddly she did not complain of the exact same symptoms I had.  However, her fever was frequently very high (around 103F) and she was in clear distress.  I think we went to the doctor 4 times last week.  She was supposed to start preschool on Thursday but we had to delay it because she was so ill. Finally on Friday we got a call from the doctor who said she did not have the flu like we had thought, but was suffering form a kidney infection.  I could not believe we had just been trying to keep her fever down when she should have been on antibiotics days earlier!  But we just hadn't known. So, a few days of antibiotics later, Emmy is getting back to her normal self, and she was able to start preschool yesterday!  Besides being completely exhausted, I think it is going well.  She is very excited about the upcoming book fair.

Emmy, recovered and excited for her first day at preschool.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween, Winter Arrives

Right after Emmy, Laura and I returned from a very whirlwind trip to Oregon, we had Halloween festivities here in Kodiak.  I tried to make sure that Emmy especially had a great time on Halloween, even though with Jeremy gone I felt more like staying home.  I even got in to the spirit of it by wearing a costume to work for the first time ever.  Thankfully the Greek Goddess costume I borrowed from my sister was basically like a pretty dress.  I don't think it would have been as easy to wear a pumpkin costume while sitting at my desk.

Right after Halloween we got our first snow of the season and overnight it now feels like winter. I have been burning the wood stove each night, and each morning I let Emmy cross off another day on the calendar.  Tomorrow Jeremy gets off of the canyon.  A few days later he will be arriving home on the airplane.  Emmy is beside herself with excitement.  It has been a long trip.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jeremy leaves for Grand Canyon

I try not to think about him like this, poised above a huge hole in a rapid.  But I can't help worrying about the danger he faces on his trip.  This is something Jeremy lives for, though. He wouldn't be who he is without the river.

Last time Jeremy went down the canyon, he had no incidents or injuries, but he caught some unknown virus right before coming home and became very ill, the same week another recent canyon adventurer died from catching the plague (yes, literally the plague) from an animal carcass.  Turns out Jeremy didn't have the plague, nor did he have anything else they tested him for, and he eventually got better on his own.  That just goes to show you that the things you worry about are often not the things that go wrong.  But this time, keeping fingers crossed, we will get our man back with nothing more than a relaxed attitude after his weeks away from "America."