DADS HAVE BEEN the focus on Kids These Days! quite a few times. We know that the importance of fathers means a lot to our listeners because one of our most popular shows ever was all about dads. Here, we've gathered all the shows, stories and posts that focus on fathers in one neat list for your browsing pleasure.
FROM THE RADIO:
FROM THE WEBSITE:
HERE WE GO again. After a two-week hiatus from travel, our family is in the process of organizing and packing for another Alaska adventure. It’s been a busy summer for us with book research, while delightful in many ways, is also exhausting. The combination of endless reading, interviewing and writing, while managing the well-being of one busy 7-year old, not to mention nurturing a marriage full of hellos and goodbyes has left this lady bushwhacked.
Nonetheless, my excitement for this next trip is noticeably building as we count down the days. Sailing around the western coves of southeast Alaska between Ketchikan and Juneau will be lovely, of course. We’ll certainly enjoy various spa treatments, fine dining, and kayak excursions. We will, in fact, feel uncharacteristically like royalty. However, it’s not the fussing or pampering that has me all aflutter. It’s this:
I’m packing away the phone.
Twitter, I’m flying off for a week. Facebook, you’ll just have to deal with me later, profound apologies to our followers. With a few exceptions nearer the coastline, southeast Alaska is notorious for non-service of both phone and internet, leaving many cruise ship passengers, float plane flightseers, and whale-watching enthusiasts with no way to upload the awesome video of a breaching Orca or to change their profile pictures. Awesomesauce.
The longer I live here, the more I realize that Alaska lends itself to unplugging anyway. Really, the 49th state should be the place to consider tapping the “off” button, especially while oohing and ahhing over the fascinating sights alongside our children. I shamefacedly admit I am among those who has viewed unfolding events through the screen of my Android, frantically zooming in, leaving all peripheral activities aside, like my son’s incredulous expression at that breaching whale.
Not this time.
I’m only taking three cameras, three journals, and three pairs of binoculars through which our family will be able to record, in our own sweet time, the wonders of togetherness and the world in which we are so fortunate to live. Stay tuned...as soon as I find my pencil.
Erin Kirkland is the owner and publisher of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to family travel and outdoor recreation in Alaska. She lives in Anchorage with her family.
EXPOSE YOUR CHILDREN to everything you can. This is some of the best advice another parent has ever given me and I've taken it to heart as our boys continue to grow and learn. My partner and I are instep with this approach as we are always looking for new, interactive and unique experiences to expose or boys to.
Like root jumping, for instance...
We actively monitor our son’s television time. We rarely watch television during the week and Friday is our dedicated movie night. With the exception of the NFL season our schedule rarely is dictated by what is on television and even movie nights get postponed due to other activities. With the start of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London our television is getting a workout. My partner and I both enjoy the spectacle, the storylines and the national pride that surround this event.
A tiny Olympics watcher looking on...
“Go USA!” has been uttered with gusto by our 4-year old since the opening ceremonies of the games. The ceremony was a little beyond his comprehension and I found myself in a similar state of mind. The flags and the names of the countries were the first aspect of the games that caught his interest. He wanted to know the name of every country as they paraded into the arena. “Daddy what is that country’s name? Daddy what is that country’s name?” By country number 20 and question number 40 my excitement about his interest was waning but I continued to answer with patience.
Pictured: future Olympic hiker!
The greatness of the Olympics is the exposure to many sports that get very little coverage outside of this epic event. Synchronized diving seems to currently be our young fans favorite but he needs very little nudge to change his mind. Not only is our son being exposed to some new sports and activities but he is also witnessing teamwork, sportsmanship, and the reward for hard work and commitment. He still continues to be obsessed with the flags and every time a standings board is on the screen he reads-out with excitement the ones he recognizes. During a recent bedtime routine he asked “When can I get some flags from some other countries?” This is one in indicator for me that the Olympics is providing us another gateway for us to talk to him about the world and for him to be exposed to other aspects of the planet we call home.
So, way across that ocean are lots and lots more countries?
By no means are we planting ourselves in front the television every evening but we are watching when the schedule and acceptable behavior allow us too. The wet and cold weather have been making this an even easier evening option.
Here is a constructive opportunity to expose your child to the world from your living room. Go USA!
Steve SueWing regularly blogs at AKDad.com.
Olympic athletes occupy an international stage and it's a great platform for them to not only bring recognition to their country and their sport, but also to deserving causes. Here are a few athletes who use their talents to help kids in need...
1. Abby Wambach - this forward on the US women's soccer team lends her star power to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, a group that works to support those dealing with Type 1 diabetes. photo via fifa.com
4. Hunter Kemper, this 4-time Olympic triathlete and Ironman supports the work of the A-T Children's Project, a group that works towards a cure for Ataxia-Telangiectasia, a disease that affects kids' muscle control and immune systems. photo via atos.net
5. Kimberly Rhode, five-time Olympian medalist in shooting is the spokesperson for Kids & Clays Foundation, a group of shooting sports enthusiasts who raise money for Ronald McDonald Houses. photo via wikipedia
6. Missy Franklin, this young Olympic swimming star stands tall for the Excelsior Youth Center, a safe place where young women 11-18 with emotional and behavioral issues can heal and succeed. photo via usaswimming.org
7. Rebecca Soni, gold medalist breaststroker, supports GirlUp, a group of the United Nations Foundation that works to support the rights of girls in vulnerable areas of the world. photo via usatoday.com
WRITING UTENSILS DO not have cooties, despite what your children may say upon the suggestion they pick up a pen or pencil and scribble something of substance over summer vacation. I can’t blame our kids for wanting a respite from the daily grind of careful printing or stylish cursive within the bounds of everyday school work, but a complete break from connecting the dots between brain and hand? Maybe not so much.
Fortunately, many popular visitor attractions in Alaska recognize both a children’s need for independent exploration and a parent’s desire for helping their children retain at least a few key points learned in writing class during the previous school year. In Alaska, where outdoor recreation sometimes trumps indoor learning, it’s easy to forget about the educational benefit of readin’ and writin’ within the scope of a vacation.
Dear diary, please make summer vacation never end. Yours truly, a Kid...
Here are a few educational and entertaining destinations that encourage the writing skills of kids preschool age and up:
1. Alaska Museum of Natural History, Anchorage. Located in northeast Anchorage, this little museum engages kids in writing and reading from the moment they walk in the front door. Grade-school children should grab a clipboard and take part in a seasonally-themed scavenger hunt, while younger kiddos can draw on the enormous chalkboard located in the classroom and dig pit area. Open year-round, suitable for all ages.
2. Museum of the North, Fairbanks. A bit more academic, perhaps, but perfect for kids age 9 and up, the Museum of the North is located on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, and provides excellent opportunities for writing, reading and problem-solving through their education program and family events. Monthly free-admission evenings throughout the summer provide topic-specific sessions for the entire family. Open all year, but hours vary, so call ahead. 907-474-7505.
3. Juneau Douglas City Museum, downtown Juneau. We discovered this museum last summer and found its size and information to be perfect for our kindergarten student. With a short but informative kids’ guide (paper, not human), the museum seeks to interact with their young visitors through word searches, crosswords and other activity-based learning. We especially liked the Mining and Milling exhibit, where our son could pretend he was a miner headed into the depths of Alaska’s mountains. Open all year, free admission October through April. Kids 12 and younger are always free.
4. Junior Ranger program, National Park Service. There is no finer way to explore our national parks with kids than through the Junior Ranger program. With reading, writing, and a badge awarded at the end, kids three and up can capture the essence of each individual park, and have a free souvenir at the end. Pick up an age-appropriate Junior Ranger booklet at the entrance of any national park, or go online and become a Web-Ranger, the Park Services’ newest way to connect kids with our national parks even if they can’t visit in person.
5. REI Family Adventure program, nationwide. Join the thousands of REI member families who have experienced way-cool fun via the Family Adventure program. Kids can work in their Adventure Journal (find online or in stores), complete activity sheets, and gather valuable information about the world around them. We usually grab a stack of journals and complete one per trip, leaving our son with a legacy of family travel experiences sure to amuse him for years to come.
Erin Kirkland is a freelance writer, mom of two, and the owner/publisher of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to Alaska family travel and outdoor recreation. She lives in Anchorage and is already stocking up on school supplies.
LAST WEEKEND WE challenged our 4-year old with a 2.5 mile hike - starting at 1800 feet down to nearly sea level. Yes, it was downhill, but this was still a formidable challenge for young legs. We told him this was the activity for the day and we were going to do it as a family. He accepted that and was ready to go.
Up the tram to start the downhill hike
This event has been on my partner's "to do adventures list" since the summer began. Each of us had a role in this family outing - my partner had the duty of carrying all 25+ squirmy pounds of our youngest son down the mountain, while my job was refreshment and comfort, cheerleader, and lending a guiding hand in the final .25 mile - a bit easier on me but still neccessary to the experience!
The weather that day cooperated with high overcast clouds, moisture-free air and mountain high temperatures in the high 50’s, warming as we descended back to sea level. The trail conditions were snow free, almost mud free, and surprisingly dry. Lil’ Cub greeted the steps with jumps and happily plodded along at a faster-than-I-would expect pace, experiencing the first hour of the trail with gusto. Shortness of breath was not a factor as his running commentary (mostly about animated-movie monsters) was constant, letting any wildlife in the vicinity know that we were there.
Juice boxes this way
During the second half of this downward trek the impatience started. “When are we going to be at the bottom?” and “My feet are getting tired from standing!” became more frequent. Our praises of, “you are such a great hiker” became more frequent in order to combat his waning enthusiasm for what was becoming an uphill battle. During the final 300 yards of the hike his whines of tiredness were impossible to combat, which is when I offered my hand to help him along. With 20 feet to go his weary legs tripped over a rock and he skinned one of his hands. He finished the hike in tears, yes, but he finished the hike. We had a juice box staged for him to celebrate this moment of completion, but he was just ready to sit and veg out with an iPhone.
Are you coming?
The advantage of young inexperience is that our son had no true concept of what this event would mean to his body and how long it would take. He knew where we were starting as he has been there many times. He also knew that we would be taking a hike through the woods and this would be a family endeavor. Beyond these small clues of our day together he had nothing to worry about or fear as he was ready to go. He knew enough to be excited and not enough to worry or fear. This is one of the many beauties of young innocence, the not-knowing that makes kids brave...until they tire.
His mother and I were proud of his perseverance and effort that day; we were relieved that the experience, his first long-ish hike, had gone so well but, looking back, we should have celebrated his efforts more than we did at the time. I think that one of the many pitfalls for me as a parent is missing that a particular moment is significant for whatever reason and then celebrating it accordingly.
INTERNATIONAL BACKPACKING TRIPS prior to starting college are a time honored tradition among recent high school graduates. Frequent KTD Teen Contributor Aviva Hirsch graduated from high school one semester early and decided to explore New Zealand with nothing more than the pack on her back while working on organic farms, staying in hostels. Oh, and she did it all by herself.
While she was there, she sent back audio dispatches and many photos to let us know what this first taste of traveling freedom was like.
THIS PAST WEEKEND was one of my favorite events of the year: the all-school camping trip. Every summer, the school where I work has a campout for all the students and their families, and it is always a weekend of fun and food. Saturday night is the campout potluck and there are always many delicious treats to choose from. Cooking space over the fire can be a little tough to claim since there are so many chefs needing to cook all at once, so I decided to bring something I could make in advance at home - pasta salad. Here is the recipe for this yummy and simple side dish.
Colorful Campout Pasta Salad
Boil the pasta by package directions minus a minute or two if you are not planning to eat the salad right away - if you are planning to store the salad for the next day, it is best to leave it a litte extra chewy because as it sits in the dressing, it will soften. When the pasta is done, run it under cold water to stop the cooking process and keep it from getting sticky from the starch. Set it aside to drain.
Chop the bell peppers into approximately 1/2" pieces. Mince the red onion finely, and chop the green onion into thin rings. You can add more veggies if you like. Chopped carrot and broccoli go nicely in this salad, too. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pasta and veggies, adding the Italian dressing as you mix. You may want slightly more or less dressing depending on your taste and the type of Italian dressing you chose; some are stronger than others. You can serve the salad right away, but it is best if it sits for at least an hour to let the flavors of the onion and dressing permeate the pasta. Enjoy!
OUR RESIDENT PEDIATRICIAN, "Dr. KTD" Michelle Laufer, M.D. addresses listeners' questions on a wide variety of topics - from bed bugs and cycling safety to mental health and medicine taking.
In these short (2-4 minute) episodes. Dr. KTD speaks directly to caregivers like you, offering practical advice on the health issues commonly faced by families. You will definitely learn something new!
(*Never before aired, web-exclusive!)
Dr. Michelle Laufer is an American Board of Pediatrics-certified physician who practices in Anchorage. She is the author of Anchorage With Kids: Family Fun in the Snow or Sun. Dr. Laufter is mother to three children.
OFF-BEAT FAMILY fun and Alaska history are alive and well in the small community of Talkeetna, an easy 120 miles from Anchorage and a popular year-round destination for southcentral residents.
It’s not a fancy place. In fact, Talkeetna prides itself on a decidedly simple format for attracting visitors. One store, a single museum and a roadhouse that serves only “Breakfast” or “Not Breakfast” on the menu. Oh, and did I mention that a cat is their mayor?
Yeah yeah, I'm the mayor. Can I finish my nap now?
Talkeetna residents thrive in this mountainside mecca and visiting guests will almost certainly be affected by its contagious energy. From would-be mountain climbers intent on testing their mettle upon the flanks of Mt. McKinley to scores of tourists from nearby corporate cruise-tour companies like Princess and CIRI Alaska Tourism, the town maintains a widely appealing authenticity not often found in popular destination communities. To truly experience Talkeetna, however, one must detach from the usual jet-boating, flightseeing, ziplining adventures and slow down a bit.
Grab an ice cream & chill out at Wildwoods Playground
Bike the Talkeetna Spur Road which starts at Mile 98.7 of the Parks Highway. A paved, mostly-level bike path winds from the highway into Talkeetna, passing homesteads and absorbing fantastic views of the Talkeetna, Susitna, and Chulitna rivers, with the Alaska Range in the distance. Bring bikes, plenty of water and bug spray, and plan to spend a day exploring. Talkeetna Bike Rentals also rents cruiser bikes and trikes for a very reasonable $20/three-hour tour. Most kids age seven and up can manage this two-wheeled trip to town and back, albeit with several breaks. Refuel at Mountain High Pizza with a slice of heavenly pie, or the historic Talkeetna Roadhouse and a lovely “Non-Breakfast” pasty or hunk of macaroni and cheese.
Ride to the water’s edge and view the braided streams of the Talkeetna River. Here, jet boats turn and burn on their way upriver and the Alaska Railroad chugs farther north after disgorging passengers at the tiny Talkeetna train station. On a clear day, Mt. McKinley towers over the scene, and eagles frequent treetop perches. Take a break here, or ride back toward the train station and Wildwoods Playground Park, built by the town and offering a fabulous selection of age-appropriate play equipment and activities.
For a glimpse into rural Alaska life, stop by the Talkeetna Historical Society’s museum, located at 22248 South D Street downtown. Housed in a little red schoolhouse with a few outbuildings scattered on the property, this museum offers a wonderful, real-life opportunity to learn about Talkeetna, its history and the town’s success due to mining, aviation, climbing and the railroad. Admission is $3 for adults, with kids 12 and younger admitted free. Want more information about Mt. McKinley and nearby Denali National Park? Stop by the Talkeetna Ranger Station, where all climbers must register and where maps, trail information and ranger-led interpretive programs are available. Find the station on B Street in downtown Talkeetna.
Fuel up before riding back to the car with a stop at Nagley’s General Store, where cool ice cream awaits and Mayor Stubbs rules with an iron fist, er, paw. Nagley’s store has provided visitors with many cats, in fact, and Mayor Stubbs has recently garnered the attention of national media and welcomes pats on the head from young visitors.
Some cats are trying to sleep here.
“SAFETY FIRST” THIS is one of the top phrases that I use with our boys on a daily basis - especially in the summer. This season brings new activities or the increase in frequency of some activities. Most involved parents will dwell in a state of situational awareness but it's always helpful to have some reminders. With our sons, one sometimes understands what "safety first" means while the other doesn't yet, but I it's never too early to talk to children even if they do not understand.
Here is my summer list of safety firsts:
1. Berries! The blueberries in our backyard are starting to ripen and our firstborn is wasting no time to starting to sample them. We recently found some salmon berries that were perfectly ripe and the entire family enjoyed them. We LOVE berry picking but we remind our children often that they need to be with us or check in with Dad and Mom before eating any berries!
Terrific or toxic? Know the difference! Check this visual guide to Alaska's berries.
2. Bikes. Our oldest has his first push bike and he is mildly excited about it. We know that with experience and mastering the skill of balance and push he will want to do it more. Whether your child is riding in a bike trailer, pushing a bike, or riding like Dad and Mom, helmets should always be worn. I think it can be overkill in the bike trailer but starting the habit of helmets early is a good idea.
Whoa there, speed racer! You forgot your helmet!
3. Dehydration. Young bodies that like to move need liquids. Sometimes when we get involved with activities we get distracted and forget to keep fluids in our bodies and, consequently, our children do too. Let your child pick out a favorite water bottle and have him or her remind you to take it along. Our child enjoys reminding us of things and his memory is sharp!
4. Fire. Open fires are an obvious place for possible trouble. Contained fires such as BBQs and the metal that contains the controlled fire can be less so. We BBQ 365 days a year at our home and proactively keep little hands and feet at a safe distance, always diligent that the BBQ is never unattended with children nearby.
5. Light. Sun or no sun, long periods of time outside can still cause sunburn. It’s always better to be safe than to have an uncomfortable child who is not shy about letting you know what her/his discomfort, so make sure to dutifully apply the sunblock. Getting a child comfortable with putting on sunscreen will also make it easier when you make it out to a really sunny location where skin protection is a must!
Sun & water! Know where the life jackets are on big boats just in case.
6. Water. We find ourselves on docks, beaches, and marine vessels more often in the summer. Yes you know how it goes: Kids don't float! and most public access lakes and rivers have life jackets to loan if you don't have your own. Although life jackets are not required on ferries and sight-seeing boats it is always good to be informed as to where the children’s lifevests are located if the worst case scenario does happen.
Get outside and enjoy the extra light and opportunities Alaska has to offer this summer while making safety a priority with you and your family as you do so.
Our modern way of living has brought us many conveniences and advances, but we also live amongst many more chemicals and other potentially harmful substances than ever before as a result. So this time we're exploring the ways in which we encounter toxics and chemicals in our daily lives. What kinds of effects can toxins have on women of childbearing age? Who is most at risk for complications in Alaska and why? And how can you – a caregiver and a consumer – be aware and make informed choices?
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining KTD Host Shana Sheehy in the studio to help sift through the stories, studies and scares surrounding environmental toxins are four experts and advocates.
• Marta Dina Arguello is the Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility - Los Angeles. She visited the state this year and spoke to Alaskans of her group's concerns about harmful chemicals in our environment and what individuals can do to keep informed and safe.
• Vi Waghiyi (Native Village of Savoonga, and Program Director, Alaska Community Action on Toxics) and...
• Andrea Carmen (Executive Director of the International Indian Treaty Council/Yaqui) both took part in a recent International Indigenous Women's Environmental and Reproductive Health Symposium held in Chickaloon Village in the Matanuska Valley in May, 2012. Participants developed a report that will be presented to the United Nations.
• Dr. Liz Snyder is an Assistant Professor of Public Health in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Her training is in environmental health and soil science, with a focus on characterizing the fate, transport, and risk of environmental contaminants.
Not only are these everyday toxins harmful to your family's health, they are also bad for your budget. We found this clean + economical list from Rodale.com.
What are your healthy, budget-friendly ideas for avoiding every day household toxins and chemicals? Tell us in the comments or write to us at mail (at) kidsthesedays.org.
- Media Literacy & Toxins - Many of us rely upon the news sources we trust to learn the facts about chemicals and toxins when it comes to protecting our family's health. For some insight on how to be a savvy news consumer while reading so many conflicting reports we asked Paola Banchero, Chair of the Journalism and Public Communications Department at UAA, for some media literacy tips. She spoke with KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales.
Relevent news articles:
THINK OF HIKING in Alaska and steep treks up craggy mountains come to mind, maintaining careful footing on ridges and days-long journeys in untouched backcountry. Whoa - settle down! Alaska's trails aren't all meant for Denali climbers in training. Because sometimes you want to push a stroller in nature, here are five Alaskan hikes to do for the scenery, exercise and fresh air...
1. In Juneau, try the flat-out beautiful Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail.
"A wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Highway. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic, including some bikes and horses, on this zero-elevation-gain hike. The trail features access to fishing holes in Montana Creek, vivid wildflowers including Siberian Irises, and scenic overlooks." (Source)
2. Great scenery outside Anchorage at Thunderbird Falls Trail.
At mile 25 of the Glenn Highway, take the Thunderbird Falls exit to access an easy, 1-mile hike much of which takes place on a boardwalk. "Birch forest on steep hillside overhanging Eklutna Canyon. Views of 200 foot high Thunderbird Falls." (Source)
3. Urban Anchorage's Coastal Trail offers 10+ miles of paved strolling.
For gorgeous views of Knik Arm, Cook Inlet, Westchester Lagoon, Sleeping Lady and guaranteed bird sightings, get on the Coastal Trail with your stroller or bike trailer. All paved, you can hop on this trail from three points - from the South access descend from Kincaid Park to the coast, from the North access start downtown on 2nd Avenue, or start in the Middle at the Point Woronzof overlook where you can spy both gorgeous sunsets and spot low-flying planes. (Source)
4. The Eagle River Nature Trail makes for a great day trip.
At the end of 12-mile Eagle River Road (about 40 miles from Anchorage), you'll come to the log cabin visitor center at the Eagle River Nature Center. A number of trails start behind the building - try the easy 3/4-mile Rodak Nature Trail that leads to a beaver and salmon viewing deck, or opt for a longer stroll on the 3-mile Albert Loop trail if it's not too muddy. (Source)
5. Calypso Orchid Nature Trail near UAF is for botany lovers.
This exotic-sounding loop near UAF campus, Creamer's Field and Georgeson Botanical Gardens gets its name from the orchids that bloom along the trail in spring. Just under a mile, take it slow to read all the interpretive signs. If you want more trail afterward - check out the Vireck Nature trail on the UAF campus. (Source)
Have fun and as always, be Bear Aware!
SUMMER IS SWINGING and the farmer's markets and grocery stores are brimming with beautiful fruits. We are gorging ourselves with all the melons, plums, peaches, cherries and berries we can get. Today, I would like to share with you a recipe for a fruit salad dressing that is light and fresh and delicious on any fruit. Our young one declared it "yummy!" as she poured it over bananas and cantaloupe for an afternoon snack.
I halved and pitted cherries, peeled and chopped apples, peaches and bananas for a fresh brunch treat, but whatever the fruit, whenever the time, this dressing will make fruit salad fantastic.
Stir the ingredients together thoroughly and allow it to sit for half an hour or so to infuse the lime flavor. I used the zest from three key limes left over from a pie a couple of weeks back instead of buying a regular lime. You could experiment with different citrus peels, too.
When you have your fruit cut into nice bite-sized pieces, pour the dressing over it and gently toss the fruit and dressing together. If you are not serving it right away, you may want to give it a gentle stir just before serving.
I garnished mine with a little curl of lime peel for color. Enjoy!
Brandy Steinhilber grew up in Kentucky as a member of a cooking family. Breakfast, dinner and larger family gatherings always meant sitting together around a table full of good home-cooked food, and she has carried that tradition into her home with her own family. She is a firm believer in the importance of family meals as a time to be together and listen to each other. When she's not cooking she's knitting, sewing, camping, cycling, skiing or hiking.
EVERY ALASKAN KNOWS a pilot. With one in five Alaska residents in possession of a valid pilot’s license, air travel up here is a near-constant state of taking off and landing. Midsummer is considered the busiest season for the FAA’s Alaska region and its 2,427,971 miles of airspace, with flightseeing, fishing and seasonal cabin transport in full swing.
To an Alaska visitor, the sight of so many colorful and interesting aircraft provides neverending eye candy. Day or night, one type of plane or another swoops across the Alaska sky, bound for adventure or business, engines roaring or propellers humming. Flying holds romantic value for many people, in addition to the heart-stopping beauty of seeing our state from heaven’s doorstep. But all this independent puttering around the sky comes with a price.
A small plane lands on the beach at Hallo Bay bear camp
Air travel is safe, but safety comes with myriad details and a strong sense of responsibility on the part of everyone who climbs aboard - passenger or pilot. In an effort to reduce aircraft accidents and encourage passengers to be their own best advocate for safety, the FAA has teamed up with the Medallion Foundation to create the Circle of Safety. A collaborative effort among air carriers, passengers, pilots, and the FAA, the Circle of Safety seeks to educate and empower everyone who rides in, or pilots, an aircraft.
I’ll admit, I’ve not been the strongest advocate for myself while sitting, knees-to-chest, in the back of a single-engine aircraft bound for a destination miles from assistance should things go wrong; nor am I the first to pull out that safety card at the beginning of a flight to the Lower 48.
Kids can be in the Circle, too, by locating exits and reading safety cards onboard!
Here’s what I learned about the my part to play in the Circle of Safety:
1. Pay attention during the safety briefing - on any aircraft with any destination. Do you know the nearest exit? Or how to open the door? Do you have a plan for children in your care? Knowing what to do, where, and when could possibly save everyone in the event of an emergency.
2. Know the location of safety equipment. Smaller aircraft place emergency kits in different places according to size and item selection. When the pilot tells you where the kits are, look and locate for yourself.
3. Ask if a flight plan has been filed. What is a flight plan? Every pilot must state, in writing, where he or she intends to go, how, and at what time. Don’t hesitate to inquire; even the shortest distance is worthy of a plan. It’s your seat aboard that airplane, and you have the right to know the trip is recorded.
4. Don’t distract the pilot during take off or landing. The riskiest moments of flight come at the beginning and end of the trip. Pilots need to concentrate on a variety of duties at this time; asking questions or distracting the pilot with photographs or other potentially dangerous activities should be avoided. You’ll have plenty of time for chatting while up in the air. Ditto for making requests for flying low just for the sake of a good photo op.
Flying around Alaska is one of the most wonderful ways to experience our state, but safety should always take center stage.
Erin Kirkland is a freelance writer and author of AKontheGO.com, a website dedicated to family travel and outdoor recreation in Alaska.
MY PARTNER AND I are clinging to every ray of sunshine that sneaks past the blanket of wet gray that is smothering our summer.
I am beyond frustrated with the cool summer weather and I am tired of talking about the weather. Unfortunately this is the subject on everyone’s mind and it's mentioned in almost every interaction I have with co-workers, friends, acquaintances and neighbors. I survive Alaskan winters with the promise of more light in summer months and my hope that this light will be accompanied with warmer temperatures and less moisture. But so far this summer my hopes have been washed away.
Rain still counts as short-sleeve weather in Southeast
Because of this lack of summer I have noticed that patience with my family and others is shortening. I am a fairly mellow person and I now find myself frustrated and agitated quicker.Last week I took our 4-year old fishing for the first time. Not long after we arrived a group of new boy scout canoeists took over the dock space that we had been using. We changed our spot and again they invaded our space. I let their leader know that this was not acceptable and they should be teaching situational awareness of others. Had it been sunny and warm I probably would have let this annoyance and ignorance pass, but not on another gray and breezy day!
I can self-motivate but constant gray is making this challenging. Nightly I set my alarm to get up and get out on the road for a run and daily the muted light stifles my motivation. I have started a lunchtime running group which has proven to be motivation and accountability at least two times a week. In past summers I have been able to adhere to a training schedule for half marathons and full marathons but this summer I just cannot get moving with purpose.
What summer in a rainforest looks like...
My life preserver in this muted season has been our boys. Their entrance into the world was Southeast Alaska so all they know is the blurring of the seasons and so, they accept all of it as normal. They force me to put a cap on my complaints and provide a spark in my motivation to get geared up and get outside! This is the first full summer of our youngest and the weather is very similar to the August in which he was born and the September that followed. If an outside door opens he is there and ready to briskly crawl out the door no matter what the weather is. He enjoys outside always. Our firstborn spends time outside almost every day and he constantly reaches for his boots and raincoat when it is time to leave the house and is usually the first outside with no mention of the weather - no matter what the conditions are.
Tut-tut, looks like rain...
No matter what the weather is our children motivate me to accept what is and move on with activities. I know my life would not be as fulfilling without them here to guide me to this acceptance of circumstances that are firmly out of my control.
Steve SueWing writes about family life on the regular over at his personal blog AKDad.com.
WHILE ON HER solo journey to New Zealand, Aviva learned that she'd won a scholarship from the Coca Cola Scholars foundation which included a weekend with her fellow honorees in Atlanta. (Due in part to a story she produced for Kids These Days! radio, listen here.)
Listen below to hear Aviva's stories about flying cross country to be part of an elite group of young leaders in Atlanta, all teens who've done extraordinary things from cancer research to creating their own non-profits.
Aviva (front row, 4th from L) and her fellow Coca Cola Scholars
Exploring the Coca Cola museum
One drop creates a ripple!
Future leaders of the US
"...we really did have a nice bonding moment," Aviva said of meeting Morgan Freeman at the Coca Cola Scholars banquet. "He kissed me on the hand and that was nice."
I HAVE BEEN on an egg kick lately as our young one, who is allergic to eggs, is off to two weeks of camp, so we are enjoying those perfect little protein-packed pearls in a myriad of ways. This week I am sharing my method for poaching an egg. Poached eggs can be served in Eggs Benedict, on top of a decadent burger or standing alone for a quick and healthy breakfast. There are a number of little devices available for poaching eggs, and if you plan to make them often, I highly recommend the little silicon ones, but if you prefer not to have many single-use gadgets around, a metal ladle will do just fine, too.
To poach an egg, begin by putting a medium to large pot of water (about 1/3 full) on the stove and bring it up to nearly boiling. Spray oil into the cup of your ladle (or poaching device) and carefully crack an egg into the ladle.
As usual, I recommend letting your egg sit out of the refrigerator for about half an hour so that it's not cold going into the pot. When the water is almost boiling (a few gentle bubbles), carefully lower the ladle into the pot so that the bottom of the ladle is submerged in the hot water, but make sure the water doesn't come into the cup. If you are lucky like me, the lid will hold the ladle for you, but if not, don't fret. Poaching an egg doesn't take long and the lid should shield you from the steam as you hold the ladle in place.
In about 3-5 minutes, the egg should appear to be white all around. If you like the yolk soft and runny, pull the egg out while the center is still a bit jiggly. Leave it in a bit longer if you prefer a more firm yolk. Once the egg is done, you may need to gently loosen it from the sides of the ladle, but it should slip out gently.
Serve it immediately and enjoy!
Make your eggs into a full eggs benny with this Sunny, Citrusy Hollandaise Sauce recipe!
WHEN WE FIRST launched AKontheGO in 2009, “AK Kid” was only four, and young enough to merely trundle into the car, airplane, or boat when we adults wanted to go somewhere. Considered old enough to carry his own luggage but not old enough to warrant an educated opinion about our destination, my husband and I simply went where the stories were. But things are different, this summer; Kid is now a grown-up 7.75 years old, and wants a voice about where we go, what we do, and how we do it.
Perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned yet in the scope of family travel writing is being learned right now, tonight, as I sit across the hotel room from our leggy, almost-tween, hearing him snore with the enthusiasm of a lumberjack. His interests are not reflected in mine.
My son is now able to read a map and peruse a guide book. He loves museum dioramas and anything with wheels or a motor. Nearly eight, he enjoys nature movies and natural history slide shows when we stop at visitor centers, and loves to push all the buttons of interactive displays. He’s all movement, all the time, and if there’s no action, perceived or actual, then it’s no good. I get it. But I almost missed it in my hurry-up world of making sure I had my own bases covered.
Take a close look at the photo above. That’s our son after three days of ferry-riding, wildlife-cruising, trail-hiking, and Independence Day-celebrating in Valdez, where we are guests of the Convention and Visitors Bureau. Yes, he’s tired. Yes, he’s also hungry. But he’s also had it with us. I think just after this shot, my kid told me to buzz off.
How could this be? We are a family of adventurers. Three people, one family travel blog, and six undeniably itchy feet. Four years of writing about Alaska has taken us to places near and far, toward breathtaking glaciers and among wild creatures; how could our dear child be so ungrateful, so, so, obnoxious? Haven’t we given him everything, everywhere, in Alaska?
I thought so, too. But in the seasons of exploring nooks and crannies of the 49th state, and immersed in the growing of a family travel website, producing a radio show, and digging up freelance gigs, I had forgotten about the most important maturation of all - that of my own progeny.
Happily, tonight we regrouped after a few hundred calories were consumed and we had reminded ourselves of one important family travel guideline: Everyone chooses. One individual activity, one family activity, depending upon time and destination. All hands on deck - everyone participates, everyone smiles, no one complains. Yes, even if it means going to the hotel swimming pool and playing Marco Polo. Quid pro quo, parents. You may have wanted to spend nine hours aboard a 50-foot tour boat looking at hunks of ice while standing in a rainstorm; the least you can do is take a time-out in another watery environment.
Humbled by an 7 year-old. God bless his little traveling heart. Now, I need to go to bed. The pool opens at 8 a.m.
Erin Kirkland is an Anchorage freelance writer and publisher of AKontheGO, a website dedicated to family travel and outdoor recreation in Alaska. She lives in Anchorage.
WE ARE TOGETHER as a family more often than not when not attending to our workplace responsibilities or my volunteer commitments. During the week we are almost always around the dining room table for the evening meal. Occasionally a meeting or another commitment makes it not possible for us to be together for this connection opportunity but it is the exception to our life and not the rule. We prioritize at least one day of the weekend to be together and engage in activities together as a family. Whether it’s errands, chores, or a fun activity we do it together! More often than not it is both days of the weekend.
Hitting the hills on a hiking date...
When we welcomed our second son to the world 11 months ago we were faced with competing family interests. Our newborn required frequent feedings and many naps throughout the day. Our then 3½ year-old required activity and could miss his daily nap with minimal consequences. Many times my partner and I found our family divided with me spending time to keep our older son busy and active. She would be spending much of her time with our newborn providing food and comfort for his simple needs. Instead of family time most of the time it was necessary for me to go one direction with our oldest and my partner to remain with our youngest at a slower paced day or activity. This period was challenging because we were often apart when we wanted to be together.
What glacier? I don't see a glacier...
It took some time to start to overcome this challenge and embrace this change but we eventually came-up with a solution: dedicated dates with our boys.
This seems simple but this transition required my partner and I to shelf our guilt of not being together as a family. After we did this we could embrace the fact that one-on-one time with the sole attention of one parent is also important for our children and our relationships with them.
In some shape or form I had already been having dates with our oldest son. With my partner making dates with our oldest this put me in a position to learn about or new son in taking care of his needs for a moment. For no real reason I was apprehensive at first but I knew better than to give in to my apprehension. I jumped into these moments with our youngest and I treasure all of the one-on-one moments and dates I have with our boys.
At the end of this week I will have had two dates with our youngest, one date with our oldest and a hike-date with my partner. I have taken two days off of work to make three of these events possible. I realize this is a luxury but if you find yourself in a workplace position to do this, you should! Family time is imperative and important but please do not let it overshadow the importance of one-on-one time. After just four years of parenthood I know that all of the time spent together or has unmatchable value.
I'VE BEEN ON the East Coast for the last few days, surprising my Grandma for her 80th birthday with my family. It was nice to see all of my cousins again, and since I’m attending Lehigh University in the fall, get a taste of what my East Coast life might be like.
First off, I realized that living in Alaska has spoiled me. In the Lower 48, pretty much every long distance trip has the potential of being a road trip. Up here, the only places you can go are Fairbanks, the Kenai, and maybe Valdez. If it’s not in the state, you’re going to be travelling by airplane. But that’s not the case down there. I like road trips, but after 10 hours in a car, even a coach airline seat between two babies sounds inviting for the sheer purpose of getting there in a third of the time.
Second, unless your whole extended family is Alaskan, it’s likely that your nuclear family are the only ones up here. That means that weekend family reunions are nonexistent. But my family on the east coast is very close, while we’re the outcasts from up North. It’ll be different living close to them, because as a raised Alaskan, I’m used to thinking of relatives as people you see every third wedding.
Third, humidity sucks. If it’s 95 and overcast at ten in the morning, there’s something wrong. Alaska is great because you can always rely on wind to keep you cool, but down south (anything lower than Juneau) there is no escape - well, besides air conditioning or a pool. That’s one thing I liked about the heat: it made the pool feel so much better, and actually made me like it (only for a second).
I’m going to have a drastic change of lifestyle in August, going from the 61st parallel to the 41st. I’m going to have to learn to deal with public transportation, high population density, and most of all, being 4,000 miles away from home. I already miss it, and I haven’t even left yet.
HAPPY FOURTH OF July! When I was growing up we always had a big cookout for the Fourth. We would light our sparklers from the little cinders left in the bottom of the grill long after the burgers and hotdogs were gone. Besides being allowed to play with fire, one of the things I liked best about these big cookouts was dessert. On normal days, my family did not have dessert, so I looked forward to every opportunity to enjoy some cake or ice cream or pie. This Fourth, along with celebrating Independence Day, I am celebrating the love of sweet treats with a Key Lime Pie. It is sweet and limey, cool, creamy and delicious.
You will want to begin with the crust so that it can cook and cool while you prepare the filling. You may prebake a ready-made shell from the store or make one at home. Crusts are not nearly so difficult as they are sometimes made out to be, so I encourage you to try making your own.
For the crust you will need:
Preheat oven to 350.
Place the flour and other dry ingredients into a food processor and give them a couple of pulses. Add about 1/2 of the butter and shortening (cut into 1/2" pieces) and mix thoroughly.
Add the rest of the butter and shortening and mix again until you have a crumbly consistency. Begin pouring the water in a few drops at a time, pulsing the mixer as you go. The goal is to get as little water in as possible but still have it hold together. When it just begins to come together, stop adding water and dump the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. Flatten it into a thick little disc and put another piece of parchment paper over the top.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 1 1/2" times larger than your pie pan. Carefully loosen the parchment paper and transfer the crust to the pie pan. Settle the dough into the pan and trim all but about 1/2" of the excess dough from the edges. Pinch a little decoration around the rim to make the edge of your crust. From the parchment paper, cut a circle a little large than the bottom of your pie and place it in the pie pan on top of the crust. Gently pour pie weights (or dry beans work great) on top of the paper and place a crust protector (you can make one from foil) around the edge of the pie.
Put the crust in the oven for about 12-15 minutes or until it just begins to get golden and flakey. Remove the crust from the oven and set it aside to cool, leaving the pie weights in to cool, too.
For the filling you will need:
In a small sauce pan combine the sugar, lime juice powder and corn starch, mixing them well to avoid corn starch clumps in the cooked filling. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Turn the stove on to a medium heat and stir constantly. When a liquid containing corn starch reaches a temperature close to boiling, the corn starch thickens. If you do not stir, the starch will thicken at the bottom of the pan and the filling will be gloppy instead of smooth. When the starch has thickened, you should have a fairly thick custardy filling.
Turn off the heat and set the filling aside while you remove the pie weights, parchment and crust protector from the crust. Pour the filling into the crust and set them in a cool place (by a breezy open window is great) while you make the meringue. It is very important to not put the meringue on top of hot filling as it will adversely affect it, so if you think in will need more time to cool, take a break or wash up some dishes while you let the temperature come down.
For the meringue you will need:
Put the whites in a large mixing bowl. Make sure to remove any of those litte white "strings" (chalaza) from the whites if they came out of the eggs when you were separating the yolks. Add the cream of tartar and begin mixing at a medium speed, working your way up to high speed until you have soft peaks (the meringue sticks up just a bit when you lift out the mixer). Gently fold in the sugar, sprinkling a bit at a time as you mix. When the sugar is mixed in, slowly bring the mixer back up to high and continue mixing until the meringue is shiny and makes stiff peaks (you can make litte mountain ranges with the mixer as you lift it out).
If the filling is no more than slightly warm, spread the meringue evenly making a little peak in the center. Turn the oven on to high broil and raise the rack up close to the top. As the broiler is kicking on, pull up a chair to the oven so that you can watch the meringue as it browns.
Put the pie in under the broiler just off to one side or the other so that the peak is not directly under the heat. Watch the meringue carefully turning it as it begins to get golden brown. When it is evenly browned all the way around remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. As I mentioned before, it is very important not to let the meringue get warm. Heat will cause a reaction that will make the meringue become runny and will ruin the look and consistency (but not the taste!) of your pie. Making sure the filling is cool and browning the top as quickly as possible will keep your meringue beautiful.
Refrigerate the pie for several hours before serving and enjoy!
Dear Listeners and Supporters of KTD:
We are truly thankful for your support and enthusiasm for this radio program! In the 2 years that we have been on the air we've aired 83 one-hour programs (each on a different topic!) on 7 stations, we've had 170 guests in the studio to share their knowledge on raising Alaska's future today, and we've produced 227 featured stories, all of them examining issues that matter to Alaskan families.
What's more - every single one of those episodes (and many of the features) are still available right here on this website where about 35,000 of you have come to find out more information about raising happy and healthy Alaskan families, and to read Our Blogs, featuring original writing from Alaskans just like you.
When we announced on the air as part of this week's show that Kids These Days! would come to an end we never could have expected the kind of outpouring of comments, letters and calls that we have received from our supporters. We are so grateful and humbled to know that you care so much about Kids These Days! (the show) and the kids these days in Alaska.
Here are a few of the awesome comments you left us:
"Bring it back!! I am a faithful follower of Kids These Days that is played on our NPR channel in Anchorage, 91.1 FM. I just learned a few days ago that KTD will be going off the air and I'm wondering why? Is there anything we can do to keep it on air? It has been such a valuable community service for me and my kids. I am truly bummed to hear that it will no longer be on. If there is anything I can do to help keep this fabulous program running, please let me know." - Carey (added 6/30)
"I'm very sorry to hear your show won't be able to continue. I really enjoyed the program and looked forward to those glorious Sunday mornings when I could just lay in bed and listen to it before starting my day. My whole family really liked it... Thanks for all you folks did to put together a terrific program. It was an invaluable resource that deserved support enough to keep going and I really hope there's a future for it again some day." - M in Kodiak
"..the show filled a critical need to shine light on kids, families and healthy development as people. Listening to Kids These Days each week I knew I would not only learn something, but appreciate something." - B in Anchorage
"I'm saddened to hear that you did not receive the funding necessary to continue your show. You and your team of producers has been making some great family-focused radio." - J in Dillingham
"I just caught the tail end of tonight's rebroadcast of "Kids These Days" and discovered that it was the last show. WAH! I don't have children, but for quite some time, I've thought that "Kids These Days" was the creme of the crop of our locally produced radio programs. Always well done, informative, and interesting. You will be missed... I don't even have kids and I find it really interesting. And fun." - Stephanie
"Absolutely "must listen" radio. I am heartbroken. You are my top 3 show of the week. I loved every episode. You guys are great." - Kristen
"Thanks for all you've done to promote healthy parenting, healthy kids, and the Alaska lifestyle!" - Erin
"No! Our communities need you!" - Shena
"As an involved father I often feel my voice and experience is not heard or recognized. Thank you Sarah and KTD for giving me this outlet and strong platform of support!" - Steve
"I LOVE your show. I was a loyal listener. I hope funding makes it possible for KTD to be on the air again soon. You guys did amazing radio. Thank you." - Laura
"So sad to see you all go. We love your show and look forward to keeping up with you on KidsTheseDays.org." - AK Center for Pediatrics
"We will miss you!! Kids These Days is such an awesome show! Thank you for all your great work!" - AYEA Teens
Without our listeners' feedback, show suggestions, and input when we called upon you for your thoughts, KTD would not have been the success that it has been. The awards we won over the last 2 years were terrific honors, and we absolutely couldn't have been award-worthy without our huge team of informal advisors, the board of directors at Content Producers Guild, the amazing staff at KSKA and APRN, all the freelance reporters who shared their stories, our slate of talented and brave bloggers and our own families, of course.
Mostly, we want to shine the light of gratitude on our number one supporter and funder: The Association of Alaska School Boards Inititiative for Community Engagement program (Alaska ICE), with extra special thanks to Sally Rue and Steve Nelson. Alaska ICE has consistently funded programs that make a huge impact in their communities and we applaud them for having the vision to see that media can have a healthy impact while helping to create a positive culture in which to raise healthy children. Bravo to Alaska ICE!
So, what's next for Kids These Days!, you ask? Right now we are exploring alternate avenues to keep some incarnation of KTD going on the air and/or online here at KidsTheseDays.org. You have not heard the last from us! Stay tuned to Kids These Days! and we will do our very best to stay tuned to our communities, continuing to report on relevant topics while starting the important conversations that matter to Alaskan families.
And thanks, everyone, we love you, too!
- Team KTD
C'mon, you know you can't help laughing along with a baby! KTD blogger, Steve Sue Wing, shared this video of his youngest son, Atlas, laughing at his brother.
May your journey be your joy.
I LOVE WATCHING the serious faces of travelers as they emerge from a labyrinth of airline gates at the Anchorage International Airport, vacation-bound in the Last Frontier, determined, it seems, to have fun, or else. Sometimes I lurk around the baggage claim, watching them collect their super-charged fishing rods, extra-cool gear, and wonder, will these people laugh at least once during their trip?
The irony of being so serious about having fun on vacation does not escape me, especially in Alaska, where visitors break piggy banks and credit card limits to see as much of the 49th state they possibly can in a short amount of time. Expectations are high, almost as high as Disneyland, and I’ve seen the resulting sad faces when a bear didn’t appear, a whale didn’t breach, or a fish wasn’t caught. But, friends, joy is everywhere in Alaska!
How do you find it? Stop looking so hard, for one. Honestly, we spend so much time searching for big show-stoppers that we miss the intricate details right under our feet. Or noses and chins, as the case may be. See this photo of my husband and son?
Yeah, dorks. Both of them. But look at those faces - two happy campers for sure, and all they needed was a handful of lichen from the forest floor. Lesson learned.
We’ve also learned how to laugh when times are difficult. Flights are weathered in, cars break down (ahem), plans change. Travel in Alaska can be tough, really tough, but the ability to maintain a sense of humor regardless of the situation is a valuable attribute, indeed. Make a silly video on the smartphone and send it to a faraway relative. Make up a goofy story and write it down, encouraging the kids to draw a picture to go along with it (because you will, of course, have crayons and paper handy, right?). Tell jokes. Sing. Smile at the people sitting next to you.
Getting his WOW on
Joy is a concept many people feel should be reserved for those “WOW” moments in life. As far as we’re concerned, every moment is a “WOW” moment, and should be treated accordingly. That’s why we travel, to find it. Or, to rediscover that we never really lost it in the first place.
Where’s your “WOW”?
Erin Kirkland's family travel and outdoor recreation website AKontheGO.com has an all new look! She and her joyful family live in Anchorage.