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Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Adventures Continue, 22 weeks

Last year I hiked Crow Pass with Erica Colliander, Tim and Katie (Pichon) Hellman, and Savannah. I remember it being a relatively challenging hike in late May, a tad chilly, darn hilly, but all in all not too difficult and a very refreshing experience. Well, add baby weight to the same girl doing the same hike and we're talking a whole different ball game. It was pretty tough this time around, but, my, was it gorgeous!

Honestly, we couldn't have picked a more beautiful day! We left Anchorage by 10 am and headed out to Girdwood on a stunning drive. That stretch of road is my favorite in all the Anchorage area. The majestic mountains plunging straight into the brilliant water, the rocky cliffs with waterfalls streaming off -and all of this seen on a road that hugs that landscape as close as a glove.

I knew this was a relatively tough up hill climb, but had forgotten what a 2,000 ft. rise over three miles felt like. We steadily plodded upwards and cleared the dwarfish tree line after about 20 minutes. The view was stunning from the very start. To our south lay the inlet surrounded by mountains and to our north -straight ahead- lay a gorgeous stream and mountains layered upon more mountains.

About an hour into the hike we came upon snow. Yes, snow -at the end of June. Yeah, Al Gore, we're real believers in your global warming hoo-hah. Savannah and Smoke were absolute riots slipping and sliding down the hillside and prancing around in the snow.

We soon arrived at the remnants of the old mine and saw rusty bits of this and that which had been brought up at the turn of the century. It was hard enough for me just to hike to that point (only 1.7 miles up) and astounding to think of these old timers hauling all their gear AND huge pieces of machinery this far. The trail was used by miners passing though the area, pursuing veins in the mountains up and beyond where we were before this one was ever constructed. Apparently it ran from 1909 to 1939. Interesting to see history in the wilderness.

We kept climbing and climbing. I thought our destination was always just over this last hill, but it never was -well, until much later. With wobbly legs and laborious steps I managed to finally get to the last little climb before we reached the mountain valley where Crow Pass Cabin was, 3 miles up. Nearly at the top of the climb we crossed the stream that we could hear throughout our hike but had been far below us or streaming off the treacherously steep hillside.

Brian found a boulder in the middle of the stream and paused while the dogs splashed around. The view from there was stunning.

Our last little leg up, then we finally arrived at the cabin. Time for our lunch break!

Half a mile further up on a mild incline we walked to a spectacular viewing point of Raven Glacier. The view was breathtaking. I was so thankful I pushed myself to make it to our destination, even though I was pretty sure I'd have jelly legs on the steep way down and be sore the next day.

We made our descent on a trail that slowly goes down the mountainside instead of the steep one we used which basically went straight up. Most of this trail was broken rock and very little dirt. We had to cross two steep mountain streams, one still partially covered in snow. It was a very steep way down so footing was everything.

One of the funniest groups of people we encountered was on our way back. They ranged from early 60's to early teens, about 9 of them, all with plastic cups partially filled with what looked like grape juice. As we got closer it was apparent this folks were sharing a bottle of wine during a break on the hillside. I've heard of guys bringing up a few bottles of beer and sticking them in a glacial pool for a crisp, refreshing beverage, but this was too funny -but also seemed very fitting for a group of Alaskan hikers. As the Last Frontier has become more cultured and wine tastings are the norm it seems all too appropriate to find a group enjoying a fine bottle of Chianti while surveying the majesty of our great state. Still, seeing a 13 year old with a plastic cup of wine was a bit odd.

Our descent was, of course, much quicker than our ascent and we made excellent time. All in all our adventure was 7 miles and about 4 hours. Our longest hike yet. I told Brian that was the most strenuous hike I wanted to go on while pregnant but in retrospect meeting the challenge was so invigorating and so empowering that I'm having second thoughts about finding the easy trails after this. We had an awesome adventure with plenty of pictures capturing the majesty of the wilderness. The wonderful memory of this hike will stay with me for a long time.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


This pregnancy has been a breeze. I can only hope that if we have more little ones each pregnancy will be as easy as this one, but I won't bet on it. I had virtually no morning sickness, no spotting, no terrible cramping, no complications. My only complaints were silly ones: I wish my tummy was bigger, I don't look pregnant yet, just fat. Boo-hoo. Silly me...

I tell ya, within a week my quiet little pregnancy has become rather active. Belching and passing gas has never been this easy or this frequent -or this loud! My Lord, I knew they said pregnancy was "The Burping and Farting Olympics" and I'd be bringing home a gold medal, but I had no idea it was this bad! And it just came out of no where.

Around the same time Wilder started tap dancing. I know everyone says "my little guy's kicking so much he's going to be a soccer player," so I hate to say the same thing, but, man, does this kid MOVE! I used to be able to feel him faintly while sitting and a sweet smile would spread across my face knowing I had such a precious little one growing inside. But now that he's started up Kung Fu and I can feel him at full force all the time I've tried not to take all the nudges personally. I haven't done anything yet to tick him off, so I'll just let him rollick without getting offended at the constant blows. I know, I know, I hear a chorus of mothers telling me, "Just wait until you get jabbed in the ribs and he stomps on your bladder!" Yeah, I can't wait...

Please, don't mistake this for complaining. I am in awe of the sudden changes that have occurred. It astounds me that in such a short period of time so many raucous things could happen to my body. Seriously, I'm struck in wonderment!

I am beginning to get used to Wilder's bouncing around. It comforts me to feel him often as opposed to if he was a very quiet baby that rarely moved. For weeks I didn't feel pregnant and would tell Brian, "Honey, I think the baby disappeared." I'm in no danger of feeling that way now and am thankful.

As the reality of motherhood sinks in with all this activity inside me there honestly are many mixed feelings. The fear of losing so much personal time creeps up but is squashed by visions of happy mommyhood moments to come. I often doubt my ability of being a good mother, just as most mom's-to-be do, but have to remember that all I can do is try my best --and remember to have lots of patience. Patience and a good sense of humor :)

We hope all of you are well and enjoying your summers! Sending lots of love!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Active in Anchorage

We've had a busy week! In less than 7 days we've gone on two hikes and went to the zoo -that's a lot of activity for these two hermits. Finally our Alaska summer has arrived and we've taken advantage of the gorgeous weather and gotten out of the house.

Friday we visited the zoo. It was Brian's first and my 30th trip to view the exhibits of Alaskan (and other international) wildlife.

Brian posed with Maggie the Indian Elephant who has been with the zoo since she was a wee little thing, originally brought in to keep Annabelle, the African elephant, company. Annabelle has since passed away and now the will be moving Maggie back down to the lower 48 where she'll be with more of her kind. Honestly, without the elephants the zoo won't be near as fun to go to.

While Brian chatted with the watermelon-munching porcupines I yakked with the ...well, the yak.

The grizzly bears were pretty amusing. The pair were glued to their barred wall, staring at a small encasement advertised as the Brown Bear Expansion Area that was lush with overgrown grass and several unfelled trees, a drastic comparison to their normal area. The Brown Bear exhibit has been home to the grizzly for as long as I can remember -and that's near on 27 years. The once forested area with dense undergrowth and has changed to resemble a gravel pit. The trees are dead and bare, there's hardly any grass and basically nothing fun to do. These sad guys just stared out at their tiny promised land imaging all the destruction they could do if only they could get on the other side.

When we arrived home we spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the yard with the dogs. Brian and Savannah sang a few campfire songs and I made jewelry, warmed by the sun and covered in bug spray -the mosquitoes are particularly tenacious this year. Friday was a fun day.

Savannah rests in the shade at the halfway point on yesterdays walk. Brian introduced us to an area with many trails that this squad often used for group hikes. We parked at the trailhead and explored many areas, mainly all on the edge of military land. The weather was spectacular and we both have pink shoulders to prove it.

Smoke and Savannah would run far ahead of us, turn around until we were in sight, pause to make sure we were still coming, then run ahead again. It's amazing that with all the extra jaunting about they did that they weren't completely knackered after the first twenty minutes! We came across a fabulous stream where we ate lunch and let the dogs mess about in the water.

Another exciting part of this hike was an encounter with a black bear. Brian had read earlier that morning about a family who's son was dragged from his tent and mauled by a black bear just the other day and decided instead of his side firearm he'd bring the rifle. Well not halfway into our hike we heard a rustling in the woods to our right. We stopped and strained to see. The dogs started barking at the edge of the forest as a black bear poked his head out of the leaves. It was the first bear I've seen in the wild -especially that close- in all my years in Alaska. It was thrilling and frightening. Brian instructed us to back up slowly as the dogs kept barking madly at the bear. It seemed to approach a few more feet, pause, then it slowly turned and walked back into the woods. Brian, of course, had his gun at the ready but fortunately he didn't need to use it.
Today we're just a little achy, but all that work and sunshine was therapeutic and I feel great! Brian turns a bunch of his army gear in this afternoon and I have another group doctor's appointment (which I'm sure will be LOTS of fun...) but tomorrow we may be crazy and go for another lovely hike, taking advantage of our great weather.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Girl or Boy?

Our 20 week ultrasound appointment was a landmark event in our pregnancy, as it is for most families. Finding out the baby's gender (for those who wish to know) is almost as exciting as learning you are pregnant. For weeks I've been carrying this little one and wondered which it would be, knowing that at the moment of conception gender was already decided.

I drank my monumental 32 0z. water bottle as instructed before my visit and waddled into the hospital with Brian -waddling because with a bladder near overflowing and having to wait to pee for over an hour a pregnant woman can hardly walk otherwise.

We didn't have long to wait and were soon ushered into radiology by a small, top-balding, bespectacled technician with a "regulation" mustache. We had been told not to talk to the technicians and not to ask what gender the baby was. Apparently the techs were getting bothered by talkative parents constantly asking, "What's that? So what does it mean? Is it a boy or girl? Is there anything wrong with it?" This man looked all seriousness and I tried my best to obey the rules, though "Constant Comment Kelly" had a bit of a time doing so.

We began the ultrasound and saw all sorts of things that we had faith were baby parts -mainly everything looked like a head. A good heart beat -wonderful! I thought I saw an ear -always good to see. Mainly our 40 minute up close and personal with the newest member of the family was a series of mysterious blobs and a smattering of "Ah! An arm! Look, the legs!" What was truly amazing to see was the profile from rump to crown which showed the developing spinal column.

And the news you've all been waiting for... Brian says as he was watching the screen, attempting to decipher what we were viewing, he thought he saw a "little package." After a minute the technician said, "It appears to be a boy," pointing out what Brian had spied earlier. No more fretting, the Patton line will continue! Folks, we're having a son!

We decided on a name awhile ago and are still leaving ourselves room to change our minds, but that being said I see no reason why not to share our choice. We plan on naming him Wilder Scott. And, like "Donavan Covey" and "Savannah" I have no other explanation for it than it just came to me. Perhaps influenced by the names Oscar Wilde, Sir Walter Scott (most likely), Laura Ingles Wilder, or even Joan Wilder (character from "Romancing the Stone") but on the whole there is no reasoning for the combination other than we love it!

The past weeks leading up to this day I was sure I would have plans from sunrise to sunset: A quiet breakfast at home, go to our appointment, a celebratory lunch out somewhere special, and of course buying the first baby outfit. Brian had to work a 24 shift starting Sunday and came home around 9:30am today, absolutely bushed as you'd expect. He laid down for a morning nap and I puttered around the house, walked the dogs and did a little business for Donavan Covey. I felt surprisingly calm when I had expected to be fluttering about, nearly bouncing off the walls with excitement. After our appointment we were both radiant. We stopped at a Mexican restaurant for a late lunch, came home, snuggled and now Brian's out like a light again. Baby shopping will come later this week, I am sure, but right now I am floating serenely on the news of our new little boy and the midway point of pregnancy.

Picture: Left profile of Wilder's face. Crown of his head on left moving up to the bump of his nose and mouth with his chin resting on his chest. Above in the background you can see a very faint outline of his raised left arm.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Alaskan Adventures -at 20 weeks

Brian and I went for our first summer hike on Wednesday. We took the Indian Creek Pass trail about 2 1/2 miles up, stopped at a nice little hill and made our decent. The climb wasn't that challenging, but it was certainly enough to wear us and the pupsters out. Savannah and Smoke romped in the creek that ran alongside the trail the entire way, mucked about in the mud (which looked like half-baked brownies), and chased each other up and down the trail.

The weather cooperated and by our decent the sun broke out of the clouds and made a right beautiful day of it. We decided to make Wednesdays our hiking days -leaving 5 to 6 more hikes until we leave for Texas. Being outdoors and experiencing nature and Alaska is so utterly refreshing and feeds my soul. I cooed and oohed the whole hike at how perfect this was and how happy I was to be in the thick of God's creation.

We were surrounded by thick bushes, tall trees and many beautiful clumps of bluebells all dangling their beautiful blossoms. Brian helped forge the way across rickety bridges and streams with little to offer in the way of stepping stones -a thoughtful guide. We had such a blasted good time -it's hard to wait for next Wednesday! But today he's agreed to go to the Anchorage Museum of History and Art -one more peek before we leave- and I'm very thrilled.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Growing Expectations

Ten days until we find out if we’re having a boy or a girl! I’ve flip-flopped between being confident that it’s a boy, to being sure it’s a girl, and back again. Neither of us have a preference -Brian is always saying how silly it is for anyone to wish the baby was a certain gender since it’s completely out of their control and it’s ridiculous to be disappointed if the baby isn’t the sex you were hoping for. “What are they going to do? Send it back?“ All we can hope for is a healthy little one -and we definitely want to find out the gender!

I laugh how now I see I’m surrounded by pregnant women and recently delivered babies. It’s funny how when something’s on your brain you notice it everywhere when before it seemed an unnoticeable percentage of the population. It reminds me when our family’s navy Chevy Blazer was stolen from our driveway in the late 90’s. As we looked for it while driving around town it astounded me that the streets were FULL of navy blue Chevy Blazers. Who knew at least half the world preferred the same color, make and model? Now I notice bulging bellies -sometimes wondering if there really is anything growing under there- and tiny little humans have increased at an amazing rate (By the way, we found the Blazer, but how that came about is another exciting story.)

Muffin is making him/herself known more pronouncedly as the days go by. I adore feeling the kicks, bumps and nudges getting increasingly stronger that remind me of my precious cargo. If I haven’t had a chance to lay down for at least 10 minutes for “baby time” in the afternoon and at bedtime my day isn’t complete. Just this morning while getting ready I noticed my significantly pregnant looking belly. The skin in getting tighter and my belly button is beginning to stretch. Trying on maternity outfits at the stores, it’s fun to pick things that show off my tummy. It’s laughable how much energy I’ve spent in my life trying to “suck it in” when now I’m trying to look as pregnant as my body allows me to, often telling myself to let my pooch be glorified.

And the advice is beginning to trickle in as well as the stories, some of them completely unrelated. Flying home from visiting Crystal, George and the kids in Escondido, I had a stewardess ask, “You feeling okay? You got a little baby growing in there?” After replying that I was doing great and affirming I am pregnant, she talked about her three nieces and how she even has a car seat permanently set in her car. It seemed as unrelated as if she had mentioned her Dalmatians had 99 puppies, but I suppose babies bring out all sorts of stories in people.

One piece of wisdom I picked up from Crystal had a profound impact on me. “You don’t have to hold the baby all the time.” With so many children in her household she has had to balance baby-time with everybody-else-time which means occasionally tiny Timothy (who is actually big for a 4 ½ month old) plays with his toys in his colorful walker. She’ll make dinner, guide the older kids in their afternoon routines, listen to their full day of school stories, while touching base with George and doing ten other things as Timothy happily plays in sight. The baby gets lots of love from older siblings (Hannah loves time with her new little brother) and the kids learn the value of giving love and kindness to those who can’t express it themselves early on. Crystal and George make time for each child, while not ruining them with slave-like attention. “When a tiny baby rules the house it’s a disaster, “Crystal says. Within the first two years an infant can begin to wrap you around it’s precious little finger simply because you are allowing it, and of course doing it all out of love and in the name of good parenting. Boundaries with babies, wrapped up in love, patience and common sense. If I’m not attached at the hip to the baby, making it seem the umbilical cord is still just a few feet long but outside the womb, hopefully the our child won’t have severe separation anxiety which is so difficult to remedy and can deal with independence better. Well, it being a Brian/Kelly baby, I’m sure it will innately know to go off and play by itself with no encouragement from us J

We’re both so delighted to begin a family. Conversation often goes towards our hopes for family traditions and lifestyle choices, such as staying active, visiting out of state relatives regularly (yep, you can count on it, Mom), encouraging self-guided learning in whatever interests our child(ren) has/have, enjoying nature together, and so on. I love hearing about fun traditions and ideas and would be delighted if you would share some of yours (or new ones you’ve thought of) with us! Please email us or share it with everyone by leaving a comment!

You can bet you’ll be hearing from us on the 18th for the grand announcement!


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