Image via HealthyFuturesAK.org
YOUR KIDS MAY have brought home exercise logs at some point during this last school year - students from all over the state were recording how much exercise they got each week and then turning in their progress in exchange for prizes. It's all part of the Healthy Futures Alaska program and although the school year is wrapping up, we found out that they are keeping up the activities all summer long (see their community events here).
KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales spoke with the Healthy Futures Program Director, Cindy Norquest to find out how Alaskan kids can stay active all summer long...
LAST TUESDAY I graduated from high school. I think it's sunk in by now...
I've had to come into the school in the last few days for AP tests and AP classes, but I feel different about walking those halls now. My friend summed it up the day after our last when he turned to me while frolfing and said, with a humorous indifference while gesturing towards the school, "I used to go there." It was a joke, but it was funnier because it was true. We both knew that we were done with high school, whether we liked it or not.
The ceremony itself felt like a dream. I sat on the front corner, due to luck and my nerd status (summa cum laude). Because of this, I led half of the graduates out.
Even though we were now adults in the eyes of society, we were still kids. During a stunning farewell performance of "We are the World," one of my friends stood up, looked at the camera, and said "Hi Mom!" Four months ago, I probably wouldn't have found that funny. But now I laughed – no need to act more mature than I feel. I know that I have a limited time left to be a kid, so I'm going to embrace that.
In my opinion, the best part of graduations is the aftermath - all the graduates on the floor celebrating together. I gave hugs to practically everyone I knew, because that might have been the last time I'd ever see them. That's the saddest part of graduation - to get to where you're going next, you have to leave everything else behind. But I'm not sad enough to try to stay in high school, along with the rest of my class.
If these last four years were fun, I can't wait to see what I do with the next four.
GREEN LEAVES ARE bursting out all around us, and it makes me want to eat salad! One of the restaurants down the street from us has an amazing gorgonzola and pear salad. I love it so much that I have made my own version here at home. The salad has beautiful green leaves of boston bib lettuce, slices of pear, homemade french dressing and gorgonzola crumbles. Yum!
For the dressing you will need:
Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix them into a smooth consistency. It should be slightly sweet and tangy with a hint of the onion coming at the end.
For the salad, remove the outer leaves and chop the head into large pieces. I use about one head for each salad. Boston bib lettuce is sometimes also sold as butter leaf or butter bib lettuce. Core a pear and cut it into approximately 1/2" pieces. I used Bosc pear, but you may use whatever type of pear looks good at the market.
Put the lettuce, pear pieces (about 1/2 pear per salad) and gorgonzola crumbles in a bowl and drizzle about 2 Tablespoons of the french dressing on the salad. Serve alone or as a prelude to a lovely spring dinner, preferably with a view to the lovely new green leaves of spring. Enjoy!
Child obesity is a heavy problem in the country and our state is no different - one in three children in Alaska enter kindergarten overweight. Kids who are fat can have serious, even fatal, health conditions, they get picked on and they don't feel good about themselves. Sick and teased with low self-esteem - that's no way to be young! That's why this time we're talking about preventing childhood obesity and overweight, plus we'll look at eating healthy in the bush and staying active throughout the year.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining host Shana Sheehy in the studio are two guests this time.
• Dr. Gary Ferguson serves as the Director of Wellness and Prevention at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). He also is a staff doctor at Avante Medical Center. He obtained his doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine in 2001, and has been working in the Alaska Tribal Health System for the past 11 years.
• Karol Fink is the program manager for the State of Alaska Obesity Prevention and Control Program. She has been a Registered Dietitian for almost 20 years and has a Master of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Washington. She started her public health career 16 years ago at Providence Seward Medical Center.
CHILD OBESITY LINKS:
Alaska-specific resources -
National resources -
- Farm-t0-School Changing Lunchtime in Alaska - School lunches are designed to meet federal nutrition guidelines, but plenty of parents consider them far from healthy. Across the state, efforts are underway to try to get more fresh, local food incorporated into school lunches, increasing the health value, the taste and the market for local food producers. KTD contributor Jessica Cochran has more.
- Healthy Futures Alaska is Active this Summer - Your kids may have brought home their exercise logs at some point during this last school year - it's all part of the Healthy Futures Program and although the school year is wrapping up, we found out that they are keeping up the activities all summer long. KTD Producer Sarah Gonzales spoke with the program director, Cindy Norquest.
- Chef KTD: Lighter Mini-Cheesecakes - We asked our Chef KTD Liz Madsen for a "healthy version" of a kid-friendly dessert recipe and she showed our producer, Sarah Gonzales, how a few key substitutions can make for a healthy mini-cheesecake with berry compote - with less fat and minimally-refined sugars. [Recipe, photos + audio here]
Lower in fat and calories, higher in delicious
EATING HEALTHY DOESN'T necessarily mean cutting out all the sweets that kids love. But cutting out a few of the worst offending ingredients - super-refined sugars and high-fat dairy, for instance - can make for a healthier, and still delicious kid-friendly treat.
This version of cheesecake has 163 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving, compared to 350 calories and 18 grams of fat in national-brand cheesecake available in grocery market freezer sections.
Our Chef KTD Liz Madsen showed our producer, Sarah Gonzales, how a few key substitutions can seriously lighten up dessert - listen below...
Mini-Cheesecakes with Berry Compote
for the Crust:
for the Filling:
Preheat oven to 350
Combine crust ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until it squeezes into a ball in your hand. Press one tablespoon of crust into the bottoms of a 12-cup muffin pan.
Beat Neufchâtel cheese, raw sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Separate eggs, then fold in egg whites slowly to prevent beating air into mixture. Divide filling among muffin cups.
Place muffin pan atop a cookie sheet and surround muffin pan with ice cubes, this makes humidity in the oven to keep cheesecakes from cracking.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until firm on top.
While cheesecakes are baking, slice strawberries or place whole rasperries, salmonberries, etc. into small pot with agave syrup, lemon juice and vanilla. To thicken add a slurry of mixed cornstarch and water to pot. Chef KTD blends this mixture until smooth then adds chunks of more berries for a nice texture.
Serve cheesecakes with berry compote - warm or chilled.
Liz Madsen is the pastry chef at Kinley's Restaurant in Anchorage. She started making "healthy" versions of desserts when she worked at the Canyon Ranch Health Spa in Arizona.
HITCHHIKING TO TAURANGA made me happy I was traveling by thumb. It only took one minute for a car to pull over. I told the smiling man that I liked hitchhiking opposed to taking buses because people would occasionally act as tour guides and show me interesting landmarks along the way. He replied by offering to drive out to a beautiful lake where his brother-in-law owned an outdoor adventure facility for youth. The man drove me 20 extra kilometers because, he said, he enjoyed talking to me and I would be better off getting a ride at this next pullover.
[Editors note: Aviva, insert hitchhiking disclaimer here, please: Hitchhiking is illegal in many states in the US. This is because there is a possibility of danger, and mothers everywhere advise their daughters not to get into cars with strangers. I will not lie, New Zealand is not completely safe and the common thought is that hitch hiking is not a preferable means of travel. But in general, New Zealanders are incredibly kind, hospitable and trustworthy. I knew that the most important thing is to trust a gut feeling, have an idea of the potential risk involved and have a plan, just in case.]
My next driver was a Raglan-born Maori fruit deliverer. He told me he worked hard everyday to save money so one day he could buy a house on a small farm. He had never left New Zealand and only been to the South Island once a long time ago. At the grocery store in Tauranga he unloaded the containers of grapes and we said goodbye.
Wendy picked me up next.
I stayed a week in Tauranga with Wendy, Craig and their two little girls. My family's good friend knew Wendy when he was young working at a ski resort in New Zealand and has kept in touch ever since. Tauranga is on the east coast of the North Island and close by is a beach with warm, picturesque, white sand. I made a friend named Marius. He took me out one night, brought me to the animal shelter to volunteer with him and lent me a bike so we could go mountain biking.
Wendy & Craig from Tauranga
After a week in Tauranga I left for Waihi to visit Jake the wedding photographer. Before arriving I received a text: Hey Aviva, you are welcome to stay with us but we are moving soon and live in a super small house right now. You can stay in my two-year-old daughter's room, but I'm not sure how long you'll want to stay here...
The forcast showed heavy storms but my best New Zealand friend, the weather, had my back. I went hiking everyday.
Then one day I decided to pack some extra granola bars and hike to a hut shown on my photocopied map. I learned that the more risks I took, the more I was willing to take.
It was me, alone, with my headlamp and small pack in a large, bunk-filled hut looking out at the stars. I assumed the emptiness was due to winter approaching. When I got to New Zealand the sun set around 9:30 PM. On my campout it set at 6:00 (ok, we have to account for daylight savings being taken off). I played solitaire, lit a candle to read a three-year-old issue of some New Zealand fashion magazine and zonked out at 8:00.
The day I left Jake and Meg, his wife, lent me their car. The keys jingling around my neck made me feel amazing, like I was in charge again. For the first time, I could pull over at any beach, any fruit stand I wanted.
For lunch we all ate meat pies, one of the only signature New Zealand foods I encountered. Then I tried my first fijoa, a refreshing, green fruit mainly grown in New Zealand. I cannot describe the taste, only that it is often mixed with apple juice and eaten by cutting in half and spooning out the soft inside.
I hugged them all goodbye, feeling like I had yet another New Zealand family.
With a red bow in my hair I tried hitch hiking to Auckand. It was April 6, the first night of Passover. I was reminded of this when a woman looking at my profile on couchsurfing.org (which I joined a few days prior after countless travelers raved about their experiences) and seeing my Hebrew name invited me to a Seder in Auckland.
To everyone who still can't imagine hitchhiking I will share this: I asked the family who initially picked me if they knew any stores along the way where I could buy smething to bring to the Seder. They pulled over at the next convinience store, I hopped out with my purse and they waited for me. I trusted them enough to leave my backpack in the trunk, and by this point it was not because I was naive.
Having told you that, the next thing I did was one of the most stupid things a hitch hiker could do, and I knew it before it happened. A nice, young girl picked me up and said she was not going all the way to Auckland. Of course, I couldn't get a ride standing on the freeway. And April 6th was a public holiday in New Zealand, the friday before Easter, so trains and buses weren't running. After driving around trying to figure out what I should do, she dropped me off at the airport and I took an hour bus ride to the city centre to catch another bus to the woman's house, all the while feeling horrible for being so late to meet my Jewish Auckland host.
While traveling, it is impossible to be the punctual, reliable, focused person I stive to be. I sent Lilach a text to suggest she leave without me to the Seder and poured my worries into my journal. Kindly, she ignored my text and I ended up being the only one who spoke no Hebrew at the Seder. The four Israeli families I met moved to New Zealand for safety, although never stopped talking about when they would go home.
The next day I had my second couchsurfing experience, equally great. A man with a baby met me outside Starbucks and decided he wanted to take a road trip that night. After lunch he gave me the keys to his new apartment in the centre of Auckland and left. I had just met this person and he trusted me like we'd been friends for years!
Listen to the audio blog below to hear Aviva's last days in New Zealand...
TO CELEBRATE MOTHER'S Day we've rounded up our favorite posts all about motherhood from the past couple of years. Find recipes mom will love, reports on modern motherhood, reflections on mothering and listen to our guests talk about the many ways of being a mother.
FROM THE RADIO:
FROM OUR BLOGGERS:
NEXT TIME ON Kids These Days! we explore the rates of child obesity in Alaska, talk about Type II diabetes and other obesity-related illnesses in kids, we'll look at eating healthy in the bush and ask the question - can babies be too fat? We're joined by guests from the state of Alaska Obesity Prevention program and from the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium's Wellness department.
PLUS, we'll learn about Alaska's Food-to-Schools program that puts local fish and farming on the school lunch menu, and find out about a statewide that will keep kids moving all summer long.
MY MOTHER WAS a stewardess during the days when nobody thought of using any other word to describe the stylish, attractive young ladies who wore stilettos, served cocktails and smiled winningly at equally-stylish passengers. A country girl from Montana, my mother had graduated high school and begun teacher’s college, only to be wooed away by a representative from Northwest Orient Airlines who, quite literally, promised her the world.
In the 1950’s and early 1960’s, until age 30 and an impending marriage to my dad placed her into forced retirement as per company policy, my mother put her sexy, high-heeled self in the aisles of every modern aircraft of that era. She flew businessmen to Tokyo, well-to-do families to Hawaii and scores of soldiers and airmen to Alaska. During a time of civil unrest and global misunderstanding, she toured the far reaches of our planet and returned time and time again to her enviable apartment on the shores of Lake Washington in Seattle, wiser to the world.
Lookin' fly: Erin's mom (left) with a fellow "stew"
While she was through flying by the time my brother, sister and I arrived, mom did have particular goals in mind for her offspring’s introduction to travel as a whole. With a passport full of stamps and a well-worn Samsonite, my mother had experienced travel from both a passenger and personnel perspective. She made sure we understood our responsibility as members of the globetrotting public.
Be responsible for thyself. From packing our own clothes to carrying our own spending money, my parents allowed us the freedom, and subsequent consequences, of our choices. Each of us had our own suitcase, packed and unpacked it ourselves, and knew what lay within. Dad taught us the navigation with map and compass, but it was mom who taught subtle nuances of communicating effectively with people. Confidence came through experience, and I am truly thankful for that.
Be presentable, always. Coming from a time when flying was considered akin to fine dining, mom made us dress up to board an aircraft, and to a certain extent, I still participate in this exercise. Customer service is better, I feel better about myself (and my family), and my professional image is just a whole lot finer when I’m not slouching through a terminal in sweats and flip flops.
Be respectful to all you meet. Ranging from hotel front desk staff to the lady cleaning the restroom at a train station, respect is paramount for travel success. Travel is a privilege, mom believed, and we better show our appreciation for those people who make it enjoyable. One of my earliest memories is my mother chatting with the porter aboard an Amtrak train bound for Missoula, Montana, and his “Thank you ma’am, for taking the time to talk to me, most people are in such a hurry.”
Go anywhere you want. If a small-town young lady can see the world, why not me? Why not any of us?
Celebrate Alaskan moms this weekend and visit AKontheGO.com for a complete list of Fun Friday events and happenings around the state.
LAST MONTH, NEWS about teens becoming mothers made headlines - the number of teen pregnancies in the United States dropped to a record low for the US. According to a CDC report, teen birth rates for 15 to 17 year olds fell 12% from 2009 to 2010; birth rates for 18 and 19 year olds dropped 9 %, though rates in the US are still significantly higher than in other industrialized countries.
In Alaska, teen birth rates have been on the decline since the early 1990's, dropping by 42% for younger moms, and 24% for older moms over a 15 year period. Older teens have almost four times as many children as younger teens, and Alaska Native teens have children at about 2.5 times the rate of non-Natives.
For many of those younger teens who become pregnant, finishing high school is the biggest challenge. In Anchorage, some of them attend Crossroads - a high school just for pregnant and parenting teens. Some of them are also enrolled in Kids Corps Early Head Start program. The program has an in-home program that offers child development information, developmental screening - and just general support to those young moms.
KTD contributor Jessica Cochran spoke to the woman who does those home visits -- Tundra Paulson.
Links from this story: Alaska Teen Pregnancy Fact Sheet
THE EXPERIENCE OF fatherhood has opened my eyes to the breadth and intricacies that is motherhood. As a father I have seen the transformation of my partner from a human who lived life within specific parameters in to a selfless human who cares for others. With this experience I have also gained more insight into my own mother and why she is the way she is.
The biology of a mother and child is a true force of nature! The intensity in the eyes of my partner when she saw our boys for the first time was strong and unwavering. Yes these humans had been a part of her for nine-month terms but for me this connection was difficult to corral and what it all meant. In those first brief moments I began to learn about the intense connection of mother and child. Experiencing this biological connection from the beginning of time outside of the womb to now has been experience like no other in my life. This is one of the strongest bonds in our species!
Since I have known her, my partner has always been dedicated to ideas, goals and the projects in her life. Motherhood has created an intense dedication that is truly something new. Being ready and willing to meet our children’s needs from early evenings that turned into late nights that lead to early mornings are not beyond her mother powers. Immediately she displayed this dedication. There have been many moments and days where I do not know where she finds the energy to be upbeat, positive, providing what our boys need.
Motherhood has brought a fierce protection to our offspring that I did not know was possible. Early on in our first son’s life some interactions we had led to her new moniker: Momma Bear. At the time I saw this fierceness of protection as a negative but now I see it as part of the biology of motherhood and find it as an endearing quality. I still refer to her as Momma Bear daily and it now feels more positive than in those first days of my ignorance.
Momma Bear with her cubs at the beach
Seeing the bonds between my partner and our children has provided me with more patience and understanding to my relationship with my own mother. I now know that moments that I might have been annoyed or frustrated with my mother with her check-ins and constant concern are the powers of this bond that she began to establish with me when I was born. This perspective has made me a more appreciative as her son of 36 years, experiencing her patience and selfless dedication to my life and wellbeing.
Mothers are truly amazing. This is not the first time I have stated this in my life. With another year of experience and with another child in our family my experience and observation of the power of motherhood is beyond the confines of words. Thank you to every mother for all that you are to the world and more importantly your children! I am thankful to you mom and Momma Bear for being such dedicated and inspiring mothers.
Happy Mother’s day to you, every day.
PARENTING IS OFTEN described as one of life’s most rewarding jobs. It’s also a huge stress inducer, especially when parents work outside the home and have juggle the competing demands of job and family. Parents are increasingly looking for coping methods and solutions to make it all work.
KTD contributor Paula Dobbyn spoke to three mothers who rely on meditation and yoga to try find balance.
M IS FOR the many meals she made me.
O is for her outstanding cooking.
Mmmm is for the sound I made when I ate her delicious meals...
Yes. Mother's day is almost here and mom definitely deserves a treat. So moms, turn this recipe over to the dads and kids and go have a me-time moment.
This week in honor of my own wonderful-cook mom and moms everywhere I whipped up one of my most favorite tasty treats - and I do mean whipped. This not-too-sweet strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream makes a wonderful dessert or can even be served for breakfast or brunch this coming Sunday.
For the shortcakes:
Preheat the oven to 415
(makes about 8 cakes)
Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small (approximately 1/2") pieces and smash them into the dry ingredients with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or mix it in a food processor until the butter and flour mixture is grainy in appearance. Slowly add the buttermilk, stirring as you add. When you have the paste consistency, put the mixture into a greased muffin tin (about 1/4 cup dough for each muffin cup). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown.
While the cakes are cooking, you can whip the cream.
Place the cream and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and, either with a whisk (great forearm workout!) or an electric mixer, whip it thoroughly. If you are using an electric mixer, I highly recommend that you use a splatter shield or throw a towel over the mixer and bowl. Whipping cream with a mixer is a faster but much messier option than doing it by hand. Whip the cream until it makes soft peaks. This means that when you lift up with the whisk or mixer, the whipped cream will cling and stand up just a bit. Avoid overmixing as it will make a consistency that is more like butter and leave a greasy feel in your mouth. When the cream is mixed, slowly add the sugar bit by bit, mixing it gently in.
When the cakes are done and cooling (at least 10 minutes to cool) and the cream is whipped. Wash and slice the strawberries. You will need about a cup of sliced berries. Set the berries, cakes and cream aside and clean the kitchen. I can speak from experience when I say that moms love home-made treats, but they can enjoy them even more when they don't have to clean up after the treat-makers.
When the kitchen is spotless and the dishes are all washed and put away, serve Mom a warm shortcake with a heap of strawberries and a generous dollop of cream. Have one for yourself, too. Mom will be happiest sharing it with you. Enjoy!
Our Mother’s Day special explores how motherhood has evolved since the Greek and Roman times. We’ll be looking at moms through the ages as well as discussing modern trends in motherhood today. It’s a fascinating discussion on family structure, societal expectations and the importance of moms.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining host Shana Sheehy to discuss moms throughout time is guest Dr. Shari L. Thurer, author of Myths of Motherhood: How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother (Penguin, 1995), and The End of Gender: A Psychological Autopsy (Routledge, 2005). Dr. Thurer joined us from the WBUR studios in Boston.
LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:
- Teen Mom/High School Student - In Anchorage, some teen moms attend Crossroads - a high school just for pregnant and parenting teens. Some of them are also enrolled in Kids Corps Early Head Start program. The program has an in-home program, one that offers child development information, developmental screening and general support to these young moms. KTD contributor Jessica Cochran spoke to the woman who does those home visits, Tundra Paulson.
- Zen & the Art of Motherhood - We've all heard that practicing yoga and meditation can have profound effects on our bodies and minds; KTD contributor Paula Dobbyn explores the effects they also can have on practicing motherhood.
OUR MOTHER'S DAY special explores how mothers and motherhood have evolved since the Greek and Roman times. We'll be looking at moms through the ages as well as discussing modern trends in motherhood with our guest Dr. Shari Thurer, author of Myths of Motherhood: How Culture Reinvents the Good Mother.
PLUS, we get zen about motherhood when we explore applying Eastern principles to parenting and we'll learn about teen moms who are still in high school, how are they getting along?
Find your station and time here and join us all next week!
MY HIGH SCHOOL graduation gifts consisted of a Eurail Pass and padded bicycle shorts. One week after receiving my diploma, I began a two-month, two-wheeled journey across Europe, courtesy of my parents. Accompanied by two German teachers and 18 peers, I saw Holland, France, East and West Germany and Czechoslovakia from the vantage points of dusty country lanes, designated bike paths, and busy city streets.
Each morning, our chaperones would check our physical condition, feed us the local breakfast and establish an estimated arrival time at the next destination. Riding in groups of three or so, we were then released to the whims of the road in a not-so-subtle introduction to the speed of Life. Over the course of 60 days, my cohorts and I learned how to convert miles to kilometres, fix flat tires, and dance the polka. I fell in love, and then out again, discovered beer, and began a mental wrestling match about my subsequent success or failure of an upcoming college soccer career as I pedaled along the lonely backroads.
The more I travel, the more I recall this trip in 1986 and my parents’ decision to allow their sheltered 17-year old daughter to traipse in and out of Communist Europe, often in the company of other, equally sheltered, teenagers. How wise they were, as I look back and wonder at these defining moments of my transition to young adulthood, as fresh in my memory now as they were 26 years ago.
If I was speaking to the Class of 2012, I’d tell them to travel somewhere this summer. Exactly where doesn’t matter as much as how. Ride the Alaska Marine Highway, taking note of who shares the ride, and why. Sketch, write, or record a journal of the adventure, including the misadventures, for these are the snapshots worth viewing much later as pinnacles of growth. Get in the car and drive north to Denali National Park and camp, taking advantage of an opportunity to witness this landscape, gazed an entire lifetime, perhaps, but never taken as an intimate partner in this deft dance toward adulthood.
The Alaska ferry: hosting recent grads for decades...
From this moment on, the journey is what offers the most joy, with a wide open world ready to accept this youthful, boundless acceptance for new experiences and new people. For at the moment when a tassel is moved from right to left, children sprout wings of independence and sink roots of values, and this is where parents hope and pray the two shall forever be intertwined.
I remember my father’s face as I looked back before entering the jetway back in June of 1986. We had spent an hour discussing international phone calls, money exchanges, and navigation, sitting there in the gate area. I was anxious, he was apprehensive. But as I turned my head and caught one last look at the people who had gently pushed me out of my secure nest, there was nothing but pride, there.
Just look where it took me.
Follow Erin’s Alaska adventures at AKontheGO.com
AFTER RECEIVING THE U.S. Department of Education’s Alaska Native Education Grant in 2010 the Koniag Education Foundation set a goal to reduce the dropout rate among its Alutiiq shareholders currently in college over three years' time. Instead they reached their goal in just two years - the college dropout rate fell from 20% in 2010 to 3% in 2012.
Executive Director Tyan Hayes credits the power of mentorship for the success.
She spoke with KTD producer, Sarah Gonzales.
I AM MAXED or stressed in almost every aspect of my life! Deadlines are arriving and staring me down only to be followed with another deadline. My workload is heavy and my volunteerism commitments are expanding and demanding more attention. My partner’s workload is just as heavy as mine which only adds to the intensity of our lives. Our weekend activities are robust and provide no reprieve although they do provide some good family time. Our family vacation is just two weeks away and I know it will come soon because I have lists of things to do every day between now and then.
A weekend stroll to manage some stress
Added to the mix of controlled madness we have had two visits by good friends. We made time in the schedule of our lives because these are friendships with longevity that have remained strong throughout the different stages of our lives. No matter how busy and spent I am prioritizing friendships is a close second to prioritizing my family. The brief moments together also provided perspective, escape and a short reprieve from our lists and Must-Dos.
A visiting friend lends a hand with the bedtime routine
Our family routine is what is keeping me grounded in these frantic days before we have the gift of 2 ½ weeks of time together. Our boys thrive and often demand adherence to a routine. Yes we are flexible and make changes, additions, and exceptions to the routine but maintain a framework that they are accustomed to. Our youngest son, now almost 9-months, seems to be the most sensitive to the routine and he is still painfully teething.
The push to make the most out of good weather has thankfully excused itself with the return of Southeast moisture. I always prefer sunshine but this change in weather has made me less frantic to accomplish a list of things to do outside.
If it's raining in Juneau, get wet inside!
It is now humorous and ironic that in my first years of fatherhood I felt like the family demand and schedule were a hindrance and now it is my haven. A normal night at home with dog walk, dinner, some play time, and bathing is providing a necessary buffer between my alarm demanding attention and the wheels of the day rolling the moments my feet touch the floor. And always in the forefront of my brain is the thought to whether or not our sons are getting the attention that they need and deserve. If they are not in this brief period of heightened demands I know they will on our time OUT as a family.
I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!
IT'S MY LAST week of high school. That's my crazy reality. I don't think it's quite hit me yet, but it's started to slink closer and closer. I can't begin to fathom my feelings the morning after graduation. Of course I'll be excited for what's next and relieved that I'm moving on to bigger and better things, but I think that the one emotion prevalent under all these others will be fear. My fear of what's next. Sure, I'm excited to see what I can do in life, but my parents' house is so safe and cozy! Am I positive that what's waiting for me after the jump will be better?
I don't know. I have one summer of safety left before I get thrown out into the real world. But I'll really worry about that in August.
I came to Service High School as a Freshman in 2008 and I thought I was hot stuff. I played varsity teenis, was smart, and most of all, I thought I was extremely good looking. My ego was so big I'm surprised one of my teachers didn't take pity on me and deflate it a bit. I even had the cocky walk to match the attitude. I can't help but realize now that if 9th grade me and 12th grade me had shared a class, 12th grade me would've "enlightened" this young one.
Pictured: Hot stuff
Four years later, I KNOW I'm hot stuff, but the difference is, I don't try to project that persona. In 9th grade I had to project cockiness because I was actually petrified of the massive seniors, who probably tripled my weight. Now, I know that their barks are worse than their bites, and actually most of them are pretty chill. Oh what 4 years can do to someone.
For the next 4 years, I expect somewhat of the same changes. I'll go from being Top Dog at Service to being a feeder fish at college. It's going to be humbling for sure, but I know it'll be good for me. After all, I don't wish to be the 9th grade version of me again.
Patrick blogged us through his entire senior year of high school - the ups and downs, challenges and victories, fun times and tough times - giving us all a glimpse into the mind of a modern Alaskan teen. He graduates from Service High School in Anchorage and will attend Lehigh University in the fall. Con-grad-ulations, Patrick!
NATIONWIDE IT'S BEEN taking students longer and longer to finish college - 4 years for a bachelor’s degree is no longer the norm - 5 to 6 years is more like it, and plenty of students don’t make that goal. For the University of Alaska statewide, about 30% of full-time, degree- seeking students get a degree within 6 years. The University is trying to increase that number by creating what they call a “culture of completion” among students.
KTD’s Jessica Cochran has this story.
EVERYBODY LOVES FRIES and these are no from-the-freezer potato sticks! Spring is here and it's definitely time to get the grill fired up. These homemade steak "fries" are the kind that can complement any meaty main dish - from a titanic T-bone to a humble hamburger. They're great right off the grill and warmed over for tomorrow's lunch, so don't be afraid to throw a few extra potatoes in the pot. I usually use russet potatoes for these fries, but if you're up for something different, you can use sweet potatoes, too - prepare them in exactly the same way, but keep and extra vigilant eye on them on the grill. The higher sugar content of the sweet potatoes makes them burn more easily.
Wash the potatoes well, giving the skins a good scrub. In a large stock pot, boil the potatoes for 20-30 minutes or until they are nearly cooked through but still slightly crunchy in the center. Take them out of the pot and allow them to cool for 10 minutes or until they are no longer steaming hot.
While they are cooling, prepare a cookie sheet by sprinkling it with a light coating of olive oil. When the potatoes are cooler, slice them in half lengthwise and cut each half into 4 or so pieces.; you'll want them to remain fairly thick. Spread the pieces evenly on the cookie sheet and sprinkle them with a little more olive oil, tossing around to coat lightly.
Dust all the pieces with a good coating of onion powder, garlic powder and salt. I added a dash of cayenne, too. I use only the garlic powder and salt on sweet potatoes. Place the fries right on the grill and cook them for 5-10 more minutes or until that little bit of crunchiness in the center is gone.
I usually put the cooked fries in a warm oven to keep them hot while the burgers or steaks go on the grill. Serve them hot with your favorite condiment or just all by themselves. Enjoy!
Preparing for college can be an entire family affair, not to mention the teachers and counselors who all pull together to help a young person get ready to succeed in higher education. This time on KTD we're talking about what it takes to get to university - and once accepted - how to do one's best during those college years. We're focusing on Alaska's higher learning institutions for this discussion.
IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining host Shana Sheehy to dicuss all things college prep are two college graduates from Alaskan schools who each now work at their alma maters.
• Brittany Hales is an Undergraduate and Early Honors Admissions Counselor at Alaska Pacific University. Born and raised in Alaska and an alum of Polaris K-12 school in Anchorage, her love of Alaska and the natural environment led her to pursue a degree in Environmental Policy and Planning at APU.
• Winston Montecillo is the the Communications Coordinator for the Department of Recruitment at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. A graduate of Ketchikan High School in 2006, he was awarded a UA Scholar scholarship that he used towards earning his BA degree in Psychology.
LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:
- Finishing in Four - For the University of Alaska statewide, about 30% of full-time, degree-seeking students get a degree within 6 years. The University is trying to increase that number – by creating what they call a “culture of completion” among students. KTD's Jessica Cochran reports.
- Mentorship is Key to College Completion for Rural Students - After receiving the U.S. Department of Education’s Alaska Native Education Grant in 2010 the Koniag Education Foundation set a goal to reduce the dropout rate among its Alutiiq shareholders currently in college over three years' time. Instead they reached their goal in just two years - the college dropout rate fell from 20% in 2010 to 3% in 2012. Executive Director Tyan Hayes credits the power of mentorship for the success. She spoke with KTD producer, Sarah Gonzales.
- Dr. KTD: Teens and Sleep - Whether still at home or off at college, your child's sleep schedule still matters. Board-certified pediatrician, Michelle Laufer reminds us that young brains continue to develop through the mid-20's and sleep is essential to that function.
TWO SUMMERS AGO I worked as a cashier/candy salesman for Alaska Wildberry Products. It was my first real job, as in one where I had to apply and was subject to regulations. I applied to work there because my best friend worked there, not because I’m especially into jam.
My first interview was bizarre to say the least. I had the good fortune of catching the hiring manager while she was in office, so I was taken into an interview right away. It went as I had imagined for the first few minutes, but then the owner stopped by and, weirdly, asked me a question along the lines of: "Was Jimmy Carter a good president?" Not having been alive during his presidency, I said all that came to mind - a snippet about the Iranian Hostage Crisis and espoused my voting philosophy that I shouldn't vote until I'm independent - both mentally and economically. I guess they were impressed with what they heard, because I was trained that day. Later, my friend told me that the owner had talked about "the kid who lectured me on politics" in the days following.
Helping teens get summer jobs since 1977
The job itself wasn't too interesting and I soon found myself wishing that it could be more like the interview - and I could still get paid to have conversations with people. My job entailed cashier duty, restocking the floor and serving candy. Soon after I began working, the novelty wore off and I started to feel like an Epsilon from Brave New World. Those 8-hour shifts felt like they lasted 16-hours and it seemed like I was getting paid half-time. I welcomed the onset of school because it meant I didn't have to walk into a building that smelled of chocolate every morning.
Even so, I learned a lot during those three months. I learned that I never wanted to work a job like that again, because my mind goes stir crazy. But more importantly, I learned that nobody will care as much about your business as you do. The owner dealt with this every day. People stole from the store, while some employees even stole from the register. They thought they were stealing from a faceless, multi-million dollar enterprise, but in reality they were stealing from one man. That summer I learned that you can only put faith in yourself when it comes to business, and that Jimmy Carter still has the ability to impact the unemployment rate.
ALASKA IS AN easy place to encourage a child’s natural sense of curiosity. With diverse environments and unique individuals, every 49th state vacation destination assures that someone or something different will be waiting at the end of the road.
Turning a vacation into a cultural (or scientific, or historical) opportunity is easy, requiring only a little preparation and research ahead of time. Many fascinating experiences lie right under our noses, yet are often bypassed for the sake of more flashy opportunities. Especially in Alaska, where folks are generally happy to speak freely with children, we’ve found it helpful to call ahead and do a little information-gathering ahead of time. Many are happy to chat with our son, or provide an up-close look at a particular exhibit with a little prior warning, especially in smaller Alaska communities. Below are some opportunities that might interest kids, in all regions of the state.
Juneau: Mt. Roberts Tramway, Living Tree Carvings. A surprising discovery for our family, these trees, known as “culturally modified,” have been carved only through the bark and inner layer of the tree in such a way that the tree keeps itself alive and grows a protective barrier that lasts a lifetime. Faces of warriors, spirits, and various creatures adorn the trees, and it’s a bit of a natural treasure hunt to find them all along the popular Alpine Loop Trail. It’s also fun to guess the story behind each carving before reading the interpretive brochure (grab at the trailhead).
Sitka: New Archangel Dancers. I was worried when the Sitka Visitors Bureau offered us the chance to view this all-woman dance troupe last summer. My son, at the age where dancing and girls are equally yucky, was not too thrilled, and initially sat like a sack of potatoes in his seat. However, when the catchy music started, and the dancers began whirling around like tops and shouting “Oy!” at the tops of their lungs, he sat up and took notice. Great music, beautiful costumes (they make all costumes themselves), and very personable dancers who like talking about their dancing with kids.
Anchorage: Alaska Botanical Garden. Pretend you’re in a hidden fairy forest, explore edible plants and interesting new varieties, or attend the annual Garden Fair and Children’s Garden each June. Whatever you choose, this 110-acre spruce and birch woods is a wonderland of botanical delights for kids of all ages. Staff and volunteers have created accessible trails that wind through the different garden areas, and the Lowenfels Family Nature Trail is a self-guided, 1.1-mile walk from the gardens to busy Campbell Creek. The organization also has a fantastic Junior Master Gardener program and day camp, where kids can learn the mechanics of gardening, and the role gardens have played in Alaska’s history.
Fairbanks: Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center. More than a hub for gathering information on area attractions, this beautiful building is also home to the Public Lands Information Center and Tanana Valley Chiefs Conference. From towering sculptures at the entrance, to interactive displays throughout the center, this facility is a must-see for the whole family. A favorite area for our crew is the Athabascan Elder’s Hall, an intimate, quiet room where we have been able to observe an Athabascan fiddle lesson, drumming circle, and storytelling session. Outside, visit the little log cabin and talk about how difficult it must have been to live without running water, gas heat, or television, and admire the beautiful garden beds.
For more information about these and other Alaskan family hotspots, visit AKontheGO.com.
ONE OF THIS week's guests, Ben Chavis, thinks tribes are crazy to let public schools take over the teaching of culture. But in plenty of Alaska school districts, there is a concerted effort to integrate the cultural and academic curriculum.
In rural Alaska, one of the big questions about education is how to engage kids, how to make the academics they learn in school seem relevant to their life outside of school.
KTD contributor Jessica Cochran learned about two efforts – one private school and one public school district – who are working to do just that.