Friday, October 30, 2009

Vertical again!

After a full night of IV medication, and several shots, even some in the belly (!), and a mini-surgery in my hospital room, I woke up to MANY visitors, paniqtuq from Ike, Pickled muktuk from Jackie, and a super surprise visit from my mom AND dad, and even better.....I'm getting out TODAY!

So, FYI... I was admitted to the hospital, and after some serious steroids and visitors, my hands were so remarkably better, thay I was sent home (to the hotel) for the weekend with enormous amounts of oral steroids and a full-diabetic diet! I can handle it man!!!


I was wheeled out of the hospital, but walked to eat, walked in wal-greens, walked to shop!!! And it WAS GREAT to be vertical again!!! Sigh, now all i need is to finish healing and start sewing again!!!

Thank you to those who prayed, visited, showered me, laughed with me and cried with me.

Just keeping my peeps up to date!!!

Whoop, Whoop!

Now... I think I'll me a mummy for halloween, since I already have the hand to make it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nothing is gonna stop me...

And I mean, NOTHING.... Not Epidermolysis Bullosa, not the swine flu, and definitely not the inability to use my hands!

See, just typing this blog with two fingers is proof enough. I can't afford to have a disability in my hectic life! My family needs me, I need me!

I used to go about feeling sorry for myself every once and a while, coveting so-and-so's new whatever, wishing my life was like ____ (fill in the blank). But, what good does that do?!

There are legless kids who run races, and triplet mommies and kids who sell lemonade, and women running three marathons in a month to raise money and awareness for cancer. There are kids who are 6 years old taking care of their 3 year old siblings because their parents are drunk. There are elders who have lost every one of their family members who spend their days volunteering at daycares. There are mother's who have lost their children and children who have lost their momthers. They don't have time to feel sorry for themselves...they don't stop living, so why should I?

I don't have function in my hands, am still wheelchair dependent, and by tomorrow, may not be able to wipe my own butt! (It's funny, come on!) (Seriously, it is!)

But, I still managed to make these for my cousin's baby. Baby's in our family need mukluks mam! I still have use of my teeth, and for those of you who don't know, these are handsewn stitch by stitch using a skin sewing needle, mouton, leather and 39 year old sealskin.

Sure it took me five times as long and the stitches weren't as tight as usual, but who cares?!

I hope they keep him warm for at least a month...and when they get too small. I'll teach his mom how to make him more.

What have you done lately!? :)

Epidermolysis Bullosa

is the diagnosis today. (I can't get that stupid html link thing to work!)

We spent most of the day in the hospital yesterday after waking up fevering and with a red swollen foot.

A chunk of skin missing from a plug biopsy, a shot of Kenelog, and several medications later, I am back in the hotel room where the internet is my best friend and my worst enemy.

I can facebook and laugh with friends, family and well wishers, or I can spend the day looking at horror stories caused by the awful auto-immune disease that's I've just been diagnosed with that has no cure.

So far its been about 50-50...

For those of you who need a painted picture, three weeks ago, I was fine, and had one small blister on mt right foot. Day after day I was progressively worse and eventually (today) I am in a wheelchair, unable to put clothes on, shower, or fix my hair by myself. I can't walk, or grasp things, but I DO still have use of a few fingers on my right hand. (which explains my one fingered typing of the blog!)

I was prescribed too many different medications, and I think I might have had a reaction to one of them, which would explain a type of epidermolysis bullosa called, Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. One day I'm fine, the next day, I'm completely dependent, in a wheelchair, and unable to fasten my own bra...its that bad.

My outlook remains good. I think if I sit about and sulk, I'll turn into a mean, old grump! Don't want that, so I'll happy and try to convince myself that my entire hand won't blister and burn!!! At least I can still type though eh?!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dirty on the outside....

...but clean on the inside!

As I chatted with a good friend the other night, I said to her, "those women came to my house like a tornado, and even though my house is dirty on the outside, it is clean on the inside!"

You see, they organized two huge tasks, the kitchen and the laundry/boiler room. But in the midst of organizing, they left a lot of "stuff" out in the open and so to a "trained" eye, it might not look "clean." Then you open up the cupboards and see a great organized sight.

Just like me. I am "dirty on the outside, but feel so clean on the inside."

when you look at the huge mess that's happening to my skin, and body, I look like a mess. Huge burning, bullous blisters fill my hands and feet so much that I can only type with one finger, as all the others are either burning or so fluid filled that it looks sort of like I have ten fat thumbs!

My body resembles a connect the dots sheet done by a kindergartner. And unfortunately, I woke up with a fever, chills and a red, red foot.

But you know what? I am not mad, or scared, or dissapointed. I hurt, a lot. But, I think because I'm surrounded by great people and the gospel, I'm totally at peace. I have some faith, man!

We are finally in Anchorage after a very long day yesterday. I was able to ride the DPL at AK Air and ride the elevator, be pushed in a wheelchair and pretty much have everyone else do everything for me. What a different life!

I woke up with a fever and severe burning on my red, red foot. So, after my "escort" gives me a shower, we're headed to the ER...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How to be easily humbled....

Have your six year old help you to the bathroom, and wash your hair in the shower, because you can't.

If you're like me, and I know a few of you just don't accept help. Sure, you have people constantly tell you that they'll help, "just call," but you never call.

I never call. I feel like if people want to help you, they will. I don't like to wait for people to call me. I feel like if I notice, or know that someone is in need of help/assistance/fundraising/etc. then its my duty to help them if I can. And I usually can.

I'll watch kids. I'll bake stuff for bake sales. I'll hold online contests. (seriously, when I get back to 50% function in my hands, I will send out the prizes...right now I'm typing with one hand.)

I'll do whatever I can to help. That's just me.

So, when it comes time for me to ask for help. I won't ask.

As I sit here, I am in a crying fit, because I am alone in my house with a whining dog, and I couldn't walk to my bathroom. So, I crawled on my elbows and knees, but with blisters like mine, I simply can't remove my sweatpants, or underwear.

So, I cry. And cry. And cry. And then laugh.

What else can you do? I found myself really, REALLY needing to pee, unable to take my own clothes off, crawling on the dog hair filled floor on elbows and knees, and sitting on the bathroom floor. Seriously. What else can you do but laugh. It was funny.

Then, I guess I find the strength to take off the outerwear, and sit on the pot.

Wiping myself. Now that's another post. Ho-LEY cow. But, you know what? I did it.

And I am happy. I am happy to be alive. I am happy that my children are well and wrestling. I am happy for the snow. It seems like a new time to start over in everything when the snow falls. The pristine whiteness, just covers all your dirty, muddy earth, and makes it new again.

For those of you wondering where my husband, or sisters, or mother are. I'll tell you. My husband is in flight training. I have kept the severity of my condition from him on purpose. My fault for him not knowing. He needs to study and focus on that training, and not worry about me.

My sister's are home. Even though the youngest doesn't work, or really do anything, she's watching Kaisa when she can, I guess. I'm not going to require her to help. If she wanted to help, she would. My other sister works for a company that does NOT allow sick leave for a sister. She's been over here once to visit.

My mom works 7 days a week for 12 hours a day this week due to the 450 kids here for the bush brawl.

Who's really come forward are my friends. Real true friends. I don't like to judge people, or think people should do things for others when they don't want to.

One friend in particular works, has five children, ranging in age from 16-1 yr old. She's been a staple in my getting better. Sharing gospel, laughs, and generally taking care of me AND my children, as well as her own. Her husband, (THANK YOU) never asking twice about his wife taking care of another person. He works full time as well.

Other friends have called and asked what we need, they've come and cleaned my kitchen, folded clothes, and baked cakes. I appreciate it. I really, really do. Some of these ladies have prayed, and kept kids occupied.

Thank you so much for your help. For your prayers. For your Dt. Dr. Pepper to keep me going. Thank you for your company. Thank you for your time. I will never, EVER forget it.

*more pretty graphic photos and view at your own risk.


OK, so if anyone is, or KNOWS a dermatologist, or a doctor, or someone who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express lately, please feel free to show them these photos. Ask them what the HECK is going on with me and my body....and feel free to post back, or email me. If you can correctly diagnose and CURE me, I will 1. be forever grateful to you, and 2. make you a sealskin hat or a pair of calfskin mukluks. I swear.

Here's the history:

In late September, I came home from camp wtih a normal blister that popped and crusted and grew new skinor whatever normal blisters do. Then, a few days later I noticed a burning feeling, sort of like I was stepping on a tack when I walked. I looked at my RIGHT foot and saw three small white blisters on the ball of my foot, and one on the top of the arch.

PHOTO 1 - October 9th

I went to the hospital and saw Dr. Torres and he popped all three, cultured them, and sent me home with Cephlex, a drug I am allergic to, and a tube of bacitracin. I told him I was allergic and he said, "well, its not an adverse reaction, so I'll just give you benadryl too. But, of course, if anything happens, go to the ER." (Way to cover your butt) I told him I thought it could be an aggressive form of athlete's foot, but he said it was NOT.

So, I lubed up my foot and it got progressively worse. On Tuesday of the next week I went to Anchorage to see Dr. Forsythe (?) a dermatologist. She looked at my foot for about ten seconds, said, "oh, its oozing" and told me I had oozing eczema, and prescribed Halobetasol (sp?) and wanted me to pay up front for a shot of some strong steroid, and kenelog, but I told her to write them down and I'd go to ANMC and get the shots for free. She also told me to use Burrow's soaks, an aluminum acetate astringint soak. I told her that I thought it could be an aggressive form of athlete's foot, but she said it was NOT.

Photo 2 October 18

On FRIDAY of that week, my foot had doubled in size and I had shooting, burning pain in my right leg. So, I went to the walk-in clinic and saw another doctor. I told him I thought it was athlete's foot, and he said he dind't think so. At that time, (one week ago yesterday) I had small blisters, about the size of a pin prick on my palms and thumb. I showed the doctors, who tried to figure it out, but couldn't agree on what it was. They told me to do nothing from now on. No steroid cream, no soaks, just let my foot be and come back in on Monday to check it again.

Photo 3 - October 24th

By Sunday after church, my foot was so swollen, I had no feeling in my toes, besides the big toe. I had two HUGE blisters about three inches by two inches, and rising up above my foot for about an inch, filled with clear liquid. I could not walk. My hands also had a constant sharp burning pain in them near the now numerous blisters that were forming on the palms. I also had several ring-worm looking rashes all over my arms, and trunk, but nothing on my legs.

The doctor there, told us that she agreed that she thought it was a fungal athlete's foot, and that when one doctor popped the blisters, and another prescribed a high potency steroid to put on top of it, that it made the infection at least 10 times worse than it would have been. She prescribed me a two week dose of oral anti-fungal pills, vicodin and burrow's soaks.

Hand October 22nd

Hand October 24th

Yesterday, I went back to the hospital because I now have NO use of my left hand, NO use of my Right foot and my right hand is at about 50% usage, with blisters growing rapidly on both hands. My left hand is much worse than my right hand. I have a CONSTANT pain in my hands, a constant, sharp, burning pain, like I'm holding embers from a fire. If anything touches the blister, I feel a sharp pain go through my entire body, then it subsides.

bottom of R foot 10-24

bottom of foot. Gee, looks a little like my hands dontcha think?

I was told that my foot looked "better" and that we would take blood and take photos and send them to the ANMC dermatologist. He could take up to a week to get back to us, because he is the ONLY one there. I was told simply to wait it out and "enjoy my time off."

palm of L hand - 10-24

Seriously? Enjoy my time off? Doing what? Watching reruns and having my in-puberty 13 year old son help me to use the bathroom. Or my 6 year old, clueless daughter wash my hair while I'm naked in the shower?!

pinky R hand 10-24

So...if anyone knows...or can find out...or can tell me who to see, I will gladly FLY MY CRIPPLE BLISTERED BUTT DOWN AND SEE THEM.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Sham WOW!

When you're incapacitated and have nothing to do, you watch TV. That and hang out with the great friends who come over to do twelve loads of laundry and organize your plethora of spices in the kitchen.

Man, I hope I can find the pumpkin pie spice when I need it!

I like to sew. A lot. I especially like to sew when I have a lot of time to sit down. It's a good thing I have a lot of time to sit down and sew this week, seeing as though I'm cripple and don't know how to use crutches.

Yesterday, my son and his good friend went out with their "uncle" to go seal hunting. When they brought the photos back, I thought to myself, "Holy cow...did it just get winter since I been in the house?!" (I totally think that way, in that same grammatically incorrect way!)

OK, so my story...I finally decided that as long as I was confined to sitting all day long, I may as well do something constructive while my AWESOME friends cleaned my house. Did I mention they were AWESOME!? So, I took out my scrap pile of skins and fussed around, and made a pattern for my cousin's baby. I had noticed another baby wearing this pattern, and thought it looked nice, so I wanted to try it out.

I then asked my friend if she could grab me some felt from my "fabric pile" in Koy's closet. (I seriously have about seven totes full of fabric of all sorts, fleece, flannel, felt, cotton, etc.)

She happily obliged. Asking from the bedroom if the mukluks were for a girl or boy, I told her a girl, but any color felt would do.

Changing the laundry, AGAIN, she came back with a great pile of yellow/orange "felt" that I thought was really nice. Since it was all cut in a square already. Awesome, I must have totally cut it to sizes so I wouldn't have to worry about it later. :) I am such a good sewer!

I continued on, sewing away, while my friends laughed and visited together.

You sew the felt in between the skins, so when you turn the mukluks inside out, you have not only a decorative trim, but if your stitches were off, no one can tell. The felt hides your mistakes!

Until I noticed that I had sewed an "M" into the side of the mukluk. An M?! I wondered what that was all about, so I checked my "felt" and noticed it said, "Made in Germany" across it.

I then started to wonder, "why would my awesome square felt be made in Germany?!"

Then it hit me... SHAM-WOW!

I laughed so hard, I nearly peed my cripple self. Everyone wondered what was going on...and finally I was able to relay to them that I was sewing a pair of baby mukluks with SHAM-WOW trim!

These will be the most absorbent mukluks EVER MADE!

he he he....

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inupiaq word of the day - Puvit

*DISCLAIMER* Do NOT read the following post if you're prone to a light gag reflex! It's pretty graphic.

Puvit (poo-vit) Swollen.

My foot is puvit. Really, really PUVIT!

So, I went to the ER yesterday with my friend, and FINALLY saw a doctor who really tried to understand what was happening. I told her of the numerous times that I saw doctors and what they said. All four had four different diagnosis.

The problem is EXACTLY what we thought it was. Apparently a small percentage of people are allergic to the athlete's foot fungus. Guess what!? If you guessed that I was one of them. Then you GUESSED RIGHT! Ding, Ding, Ding, you get a prize. Free fungus.

Those people develop a severe reaction, in the form of blisters, and the sort to the fungus. Oral anti-fungal usually do the trick.

WELL, let me just tell you. When you live in the bush, and no one listens to you, you don't get oral anti-fungal medications until after your foot looks like THIS:

Yes. Seriously. My foot is twice the size of its co-conspirator, mister lefty. Righty over there, has grown a NEW toe. Actually, its just a blister that's under the skin, but close enough. We are measuring the blister with the pinky toe, and right now, the blister is larger...hence...a sixth toe! I also have a couple of secondary infections...or reactions. I have blisters on my hands and arms, which is just a reaction to the fungus in my bloodstream. I was just happy to find out its not contagious. (My hands and arms aren' foot, IS!)

So, after plenty of research and a doctor who listened, we figured it out. But only after a doctor decided to give me some topical steroids, in the highest form. For those of you who don't know what that does. Let me just give you a picture.

My foot was sort of normal. I could walk, it was a gimpy walk, but I was walking nonetheless. Then I went to Anchorage to see a dermatologist, who looked at my foot for a mere three seconds and decided it was eczema. She then prescribed me Halobetasol, a very strong steroid to LATHER on my foot and cover with a tefla pad. So I did as I was told.

Turns out, that a strong steriod like that, will QUADRUPLE the fungus and grow it to sizes unknown. Covering it, will make it ten times more potent. So, for THREE days, I grew that infection on my foot. And the blisters are the result of that. Thank you Dr. Forsythe. Ugh.

I am on couch rest. Oral meds, and Dun, Dun Daaaah - Vicodin. This foot hurts more than childbirth did...and I have a high pain tolerance. Ugh. Burrow's compresses are helping, and ice. But other than that, its a constant burning pain that never goes away.

But you know what?! I am just happy that we figured it out. I am sorry if I haven't sent the prizes out quite yet. I'm sort of cripple and out of commission, and have been this way for a few weeks thanks to my foot. I'll get to it, I promise!

I am thankful to have the diagnosis that is correct (I think), and be able to move on from here.

Yay. Right now, my friends (who are the GREATEST FRIENDS ON THE EARTH) are cleaning my house. I feel sort of helpless and emotional. I am so not a person to allow help. I am a do-it-all sort of girl. I am feeling a couple of things. I have physical pain, but the feeling of being so blessed totally overshadows that pain. So, thank you all for your help. I really, really appreciate it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Baby with the Big Mouth

*Another Eskimo Story told to children. In my opinion, it was told to them to scare them into always listening to what elders told them.

Once there was a young couple, a mother, father, and brother and sister. They also had a baby who was just under 10 months old. They were always told to make sure to put seal oil on the baby's lips before bed. No one asked why, they just listened, and always put seal oil on the lips at bedtime.

The family was out one fall night enjoying Eskimo games and playing football. They enjoyed dancing and fellowship. They were all tired when they went home, and forgot to put seal oil on the baby's lips.

in the middle of the night, the brother heard something that sounded like something chewing. Chomp, crunch, chomp, crunch.

He tried to go back to sleep, but continued to hear the sound.

Chomp, crunch, chomp, crunch.

He looked up, horrified to see the baby was chewing on the mother's body. His mouth had grown from ear to ear and was filled with sharp razor like teeth.

He scanned the one room home and saw that the baby had eaten the sister and father as well. Running as quickly as possible, he jumped up the hole out of the house.

(Old time Eskimo houses used to have a sort of tunnel that lead up away from the earth as a doorway.)

He tried to shut the baby in the house, but he burst through the door and crawled toward him.

Running away, he yelled to the other villagers to get out of their houses because of the baby.

The chief of the village ran outside with his family and yelled for the villagers to follow him across the log bridge above the river. (All rivers are considered to have "mermaids" in them...I know I NEVER swam in a river unless I was told!)

The villagers ran across the bridge with him, and the chief realized that he had dropped his jade knife somewhere. The brother said to the chief he would go back and get it, but to be ready to push the log bridge into the river when he ran back.

Running back to the chiefs house, the brother found the knife, and grabbed it. Just then, the baby with the big mouth crawled into the chief's house and crawled toward the brother. The brother jumped back and forth with the baby to get by him, eventually jumping out of the doorway.

Running toward the river, the brother yelled at the villagers to be ready to push the logs into the water. With the baby close behind him, he ran across the log bridge.

The villagers pushed the bridge into the water, watching as the baby fell into the river and was whisked away by the mermaids below, never to be seen again.

The End.

* Moral of the story: Always listen to your elders, no matter WHAT they say.

Monday, October 12, 2009

How the Red Fox Got Red, by Kaisa

"Mom, Can I tell you a story?"


"Ok, once upon a time, there was a fox. And everything was white at that time. It was a long time ago, I guess, even the trees and stuff, they were white, OK?

So, this fox, he was hungry. Oh so hungry, and his tummy was talking to him, saying, 'I'm so hungry, go find me a mouse.' So, he went hunting for mouses.

He found a hole in the ground and there was a mouse running to it. And the fox GRABBED IT!

He was gonna eat him. But then the mouse said, "wait, wait, wait. You don't want to eat me. I'll dance for you."

So, the fox let the mouse dance. But he kept a real good eye on his hole so he wouldn't get in there.

Then the mouse said to the fox, "Can you dance?"

And the fox said, "Yes I can dance."

So, the fox and mouse danced and danced together in the white world. And he was having fun. Then all of a sudden, the mouse DANCED RIGHT into his hole!

The fox got so mad that he stomped and stomped and stomped. His face got red. His body got red and he was SO mad that his while body got red up to the tip of the tail. But the tail stayed white so he could see that he used to be white. And he was still hungry.

Mom, that's how the red fox got red. The end."

When we grow up in Kotzebue, many stories are told to children. Some are scary, like "The baby with the big mouth" and some are silly, like "How the Kayuktuq got Red." (red fox) But all tell a story and all have a moral. The moral of this story is not to be tricked and play (dance) when you are supposed to be hunting, or you'll starve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Medical days off...

*Disclaimer: Do not check out the photos at the end of this post if you're prone to gagging when seeing grody foot rot, cause I have no shame, and I totally took a picture of my sick foot.

The other day I was talking to my aana (grandmother) while she was knitting. She asked me if I had sewing during the summer/fall time here.

I told her I hadn't. That I remembered that "good eskimo's" didn't sew when there was "stuff" to do. She clucked away praising me and saying how great I was...etc.

Then she asked me, "so, you gonna sew now? Its not Falltime anymore..."

I told her that I had sewn an atikluk for Kaisa and one for her friend, but I hadn't taken out my skins yet.

"So lazy, just like when you were growing up."

WHAT? Lazy?! Me?! Well, I'll admit that when it comes to housework and the sort, I am pretty lazy. Not lazy as much as I just find better things to do! But sewing? Come ON.

My husband has a fur parky, Koy has two, Kaisa has one, and they all have mukluks, mittens, etc. I do need to get Kaisa's winter mukluks done, and Koy needs a fur hat, but other than that, my fur parky is the only thing that was on my "list."

Anyway, I told her that I was too busy at work and trying to get our summer/fall stuff put away to sew.

She told me not to be lazy. I need to get Koy's hat done...and I better get Kaisa's mukluks done before it snows. I better "make time," or else. Or else what? I don't know. Maybe she doesn't realize that if I don't get Kaisa's mukluks done, she'll be perfectly warm in her Keen Winter boots and if I don't get Koy's hat done, he'll be fine wearing mine.

That's just not Eskimo logic. She didn't understand why I couldn't just stop and sew.

So, I started to think that maybe I needed to take some time off, or reprioritize my weekend days. I started wishing that I had more time to get these things done. THEN I got a blister on my foot.

It started off innocently enough at camp, a normal blister from rubbing my new boot. Then I picked at it. I know, I know...don't pick. But I did.

THEN I walked around without socks at camp and got some grubby stuff in the blister. I hobbled around for a week and just went with it.

THEN it blew up and now I am at home, on "butt rest." Not bed rest, but sit-on-your-butt rest. I thought I could be at work sitting on my butt at my desk, but the doc said that the med's I'm on make me a little loopy and drowsy, so its best NOT to go to work and tell your co-worker what I think of her new haircut! So I'm at home.

One still missing...a Z-pack.

What a perfect time to sew.

* Edited to add. Finished in just under four hours. Yipee. Koy is happy. But it fits me better! haha.



Thursday, October 8, 2009

Show me the money...

Come to Alaska, and you'll see awesome wildlife, eat free range red meat and the freshest seafood ever. You'll dog team and climb the largest Mountain the America, you'll ski and boat, and snowmachine. If you're lucky you can catch an Eskimo dance at the Bingo hall and eat at the potluck. Maybe you'll wear mukluks and learn to make an atikluk.

If you stay for a year, you'll even get PAID TO LIVE HERE! The Permanent Fund Dividend's came out today (well for those of us who are PROACTIVE, and signed up for Direct Deposit) and people are buzzing about what they'll do wtih theirs.

$1,305.00 for each resident. I know some people with eight kids. That's thirteen THOUSAND dollars in one day. Last year we got $3,200.00 per person. This year, we sort of got ripped off thanks to the recession. Come on people, buy more stuff, so we Alaskans can get more money!

I hear all kinds of people talking about what they're dong with theirs. And you know what, they're all pretty much responsible and no-fun sort of things. You know that game, "BULL$HIT?" Well, I'm calling it right now.

Here's my list to choose from:

1. Pay off your Alaska Airlines Credit card, so you can max it out at Christmas.

2. Pay your sister back for all the MONEY you borrowed this past year.

3. Put a downpayment on a house. (2% is nothing when you have eight kids right!?)

4. Buy the coolest snow-go (snow machine) in town. You know, the $10,000 one you'll probably wreck trying to be cool and fast.

5. Buy a new pair of glasses cause your mom's/dad's/sisters aren't working too well for you right now.

6. Get Stove Oil. ($1,300 might last you a MONTH)

7. Waste it at Bingo tonight. Heck, it was free anyway.

8. Buy yourself a ring cause that SOB won't get you one.

9. Buy yourself a tool/flatscreen/PS3 cause your witch wife won't get you one.

10. Donate it to charity/church/ME.

11. Invest it in a college fund for your kids who might not go to college.

12. Go to ANCHORAGE and spend it at Wal-mart.

13. Open a coffee shop.

14. Go to Disneyland/Mall of America/Hawaii/visit the family who don't like you.

15. Fix up your beat up old truck/car enough to run for the winter. Hey it has heat and it runs right?

16. What dividend? Child support/Taxes/Lawyer fees/State of AK took it from you.

There you go folks. Can't knock the truth people!

Me? I think I really WILL spend mine at Disneyland!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Confessions of a busy momma.

Who? you?! Me?!


Holy cow, did I just realize that I have a busy, hectic and often flighty, life?! I think I did.

Maybe it was last night when I took my daughter to work with me after making a dinner of "moose Salisbury steaks," mashed potatoes (from a BOX, gasp!), and corn, straight from a can. Someone called, and I jumped.

I have no anger or issues with why I came in, and was honored to be asked to help. But, Dean was out of town, and Koy and Kaisa were up until after 12:30 am, because I took her here with me, finished what I needed to do, and left Koy home alone with the dog. Normally, that's not a problem, but we had someone in the B&B and being the worrier that I am, I told him to stay awake until I returned.

So, this morning I called the school, in my most motherly voice and told them that they'd be late...we were busy. "We?" I was busy. It was my fault that my children didn't get the sleep they should have. Well, they did get the sleep, cause I let them sleep in. That is unheard of in my house.

Because I was helping someone. (and like I said before, I was honored to do it.)

Today, during my hourlong facebook crack update checking time, someone posted, "BUSY BODY" on my page. Seriously...If you watched me from the outside, I ran around this morning like a crazy person. At least I know how to delegate right?! HERE FOLD THESE! Here, DO THIS. Here, hurry up, the flight is leaving!!!

Then I realized. I am a busy body. Like a cockroach running away from the Raid, I'm always on the move!

I'm NOT too busy to work out, or pick berries, or take care of meat, or give my daughter a bath, or read to the kids, or write my cookbook, or work 10-12 hours a day.

But I am too busy to clean up! Maybe with an organized home, I'd feel a little LESS busy. A little less hectic and fast paced. Is it sad that I'd rather read an ENTIRE BOOK from start to finish than simply empty the dishwasher? Don't get me wrong. I love to bake and cook and will clean up AS I'M doing it...but to come home to a messy kitchen is my nightmare. Ugh. Someone give me some Valium before I pitch a hissyfit that would make Mommy Dearest proud.

I used to watch my mom seamlessly make an entire dinner, from scratch, using whatever was in the freezer and cupboard in thirty minutes or less...and everything would be done at the EXACT same time. I mean, to the SECOND. Once I tried to make rice for her and she freaked, because I didn't tell her what time it had started I messed her up.

I hadn't realized that my dad was diabetic and that he took certain medications, and was supposed to eat 30 minutes after taking the pills, to keep away from shots and other such stuff. And it was EXACTLY 30 minutes from the time he took the pill that his plate was full of hot, fresh, food. Four burners and the oven were used.

Not only that...but when she did laundry, it was all folded and put away within the allotted time frame of a normal-mom-status.

I'll be lucky if my meat is still hot when the pasta is done cooking! But its done and it's dammed good too. Laundry. Psh, don't get me started. I have clothes that are not folded and are probably TOO small for my kids because they've been not folded for that long. Sad. Just sad. (Anyone need some size 6 girls jeans and boys size 16, only been washed once...never folded!?)

But you know what? I don't mind. I don't mind keeping my brain busy and my legs moving and my fingers typing and my kids occupied. I like watching cross country/wrestling/basketball/gymnastics/art club/volleyball/and the sort every single weekend. I like making a "main dish" for the coaches room. (Although, since Koy is the ONLY boy in our entire mom usually makes things for him too...cause that's her boy!) I LOVE having dinner parties.

Days are simple...for me anyway, my kids go to school, eat there (my mom is the head cook and therefore makes SURE they eat a WELL BALANCED meal. Shame on me when I give them a chewey granola bar and some orange juice!), attend school, go to wrestling practice, get off at 5 (Kaisa) and 5:30 (Koy), go home, do chores, homework, eat dinner and by then its time for bed. On Tuesday's is Family Movie Night, on Thursday's is Family game night. On Friday's we eat leftovers, and on Sunday's we eat a HUGE breakfast and go to church. It's a semi-routine.

It works for me. And it warms the soul when your children do the same. Last night at 12:20 am, when I was finishing off the printing of my project, Kaisa says, "'re a good woman to help these people, you know that...and someday, when you're really old, like forty or something, I'll do it for you, and we can be a team." would warm my soul if my children helped people as much as I think I do now.

I'm my own worst critic. My hem's are crooked on my atikluks. My stitches are too big on my mukluks. My colors are off on my painting. My words are not grammatically correct on my writing. My saturation is off on my photographs. My kitchen is a mess. My dog sheds too much...etc. But, I have yet to hear anyone ever say that they do everything right.

Of course we want to be the BEST parents, the BEST friends, the BEST daughter, the BEST worker bee. But you just have to remember that you only have 100% to give. 100% of your time, and your sanity is all you can divide. No one can give 100% to family, 100% to work and 100% to taking care of themselves. So why try?

So, my approach to this busy, hectic, often silly, scary life. Is to just simply shrug. Who cares if you're late to the basketball game? Who cares if your child is late to school because you spent all night working on an obituary? Who cares if your house is a mess and the dishes aren't done every single day? Who cares if your daughters socks are mismatched and her hair isn't perfectly in place?! Who cares if you can't afford that new snow-machine and you really, really want it!?

Mentally and physically shrug when it tries to get the best of you. Shrug it off and smile. After all, life's supposed to be a ride...lets make it a fun one.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

She just knows...

Mother Nature must specifically know when to cover her land with comfort, because the entire flight between Nome and Anchorage was a sunny beautiful time. But only because we were above the downy cloud cover that loomed below. That downy blanket of cover looked beautiful from above, but 600 miles of clouds means 600 miles of dreary winter-is-upon-us weather underneath said clouds. Such is life though, when you live in Alaska.

Winter really is upon us. No matter how hard I will myself it not to be, it just is.

No matter how hard I dream of fall colors, and spring sunshine and summer softball, I still wake up and its twenty degrees out, snowing and dark. Its harder and harder to wake up each morning, because its darker and darker, colder and colder.

It makes you ask yourself if you're ready for winter. Did we insulate the floor enough so we don't spend $3,000 a month on stove oil? Did we winterize the windows? Did we store all the summer gear and summer stuff, oil and lube them and put them away? Did I cover the meat hanging rack with plywood? Did we put the hose away? Do we have enough food in the freezers?

It DOES help to have a husband who hunts and likes to do Manly-outdoorsy stuff. He insulated Koy's room, and screws the plywood on, and fills our freezer with whatever he can.

More importantly then actual hunting, is catching and PUTTING away that meat. I love hunting. I hate the work after. Its like painting your best masterpiece, only to find every color has dripped onto your new hardwood floor and there are water spots everywhere. You have to clean it up!

Also as important is a space to actually put your meat away in. Sure, we live in a perpetual freezer named Kotzebue where simply putting it outside would suffice (and we DO in the dead winter), but when the temps hover at twenty during the night and thirty-thirty five during the day, you need a place to put them. It helps to have FOUR freezers at our house.

Can I just say...a Moose is a HUGE animal! I've seen them in the wild, and running across the road in Anchorage, and on the ground. But until now, I only ever saw the "finished product" in our freezers at my mom and dad's house. I used to be the bag lady. I'd hold the bag open for my mom to put the ground meat in and I'd suck out the air and close it!

Our moose is taking up THREE shelves in our energy efficient freezer right now, with an array of lean meaty choices.

Backstrap the size of my THIGH, roasts that hung bug-free for five days with an unbelievable crust that slowly tenderized it from the inside out. "Scrap" that was ground into two pound packages and vacuum sealed, to steaks cut from frozen roasts that are so tender now, they can be cut with a fork. And cubes, and strips packaged to choose between shish kabobs or meat and gravy or bourguignon or whatever it was that your friends aunt made that one time that was just so good.

Caribou and musk ox is treated the same way and suffers from lack of space thanks to that Fred the Moose (or Bullwinkle!). But the important thing is that they are THERE. Ready to thaw and eat.

Berries of different colors fight for lower drawer space in twenty four gallon ziplock freezer bags. Blueberries for dessert or muffins or pancakes, salmon berries for delight, cranberries for qayusaaq or cookies, and blackberries for akutaq patiently wait to be picked up and thrown into the pot/pan/batter/bowl.

Rendered seal oil in one and three gallon buckets filled with a decadent soft semi-sweet chewy black meat that warms you from the inside out sit on the shelf above the berries. If any frozen pizza or chicken nuggets or bread is so lucky to grace themselves, you might find them buried beneath a whole ptarmigan or duck from our summer duck experiment and Koy's many spring hunting trips. Among this mess are gallons and gallons of milk that sit paitently for thier turn to be thawed and shaken and drank with cereal or berries or cookies.

Halibut, Copper River Red, Kenai Red, King, Chum, Shiifish, and Trout make their home on the top shelf of the right freezer and await being canned or baked or broiled or fried for dinner.

I don't know how to (nor do I really care to) prepare certain foods because my brain and heart are filled with recipes made for a meat-and-potatoes sort of family. Once I tried to make vegetarian lasagna with the new fresh veggies we get from Full Circle Farms and NO one ate it.

I asked a vegetarian once why they chose to live that lifestyle, she said, "There are too many horemones and preservatives rattled int he beef, pork and chicken industry." Industry? Who eats beef and pork and chicken?! (except chicken nuggets! hahaha)

I am not above it all, and I like me a good salad, but all my meat is completely 100% organic and free range. It sees what we put in it before touching the plastic food saver bags, or the saran wrap and freezer paper, or the ziplock freezer bag and being thawed for dinner. No preservatives, hormones, or dye. No fat if I don't want to add it, and if I do want to add fat to my ground meat, I simply use the fat that was on the animal in the first place. Just fresh, lean meat.

Our dinners include the following 90% of the time; meat/fish, onion, garlic and olive oil. To that the possibilities are endless.

I always hear people say, "I made moose lasagna," or, "we had caribou spaghetti for dinner." Huh? I don't use beef for anything (at all, my kids think it tastes a little like rotten caribou!) so when I say we had lasagna, or spaghetti or chili, it was made with moose, caribou, sheep, or musk ox. Its just that way. We use fish for taco's and we do eat a LOT OF FISH, and one of the new family favorites is the ginger-soy salmon. Yummy with some Chummy in my Tummy!

The way I know how to make Eskimo Ice Cream and sew mukluks and get to Sisualik is the same way I cook. From the heart.

From our freezer to yours...have a GREAT winter!

Today happens to be my husband and I's wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary Deanie...I love you. And even more so, because of the post I just wrote!