measuring honey

I just put together a loaf with whole wheat (fresh ground) and oat (old fashioned oatmeal) for the bread machine. I decided to use honey instead of sugar. I don’t like using honey in recipes because it is messy and I never feel I got all the required amount because it sticks. That may now change. I measured the honey right after the oil. As a result, the honey slipped right off the measure spoon.

2008 Curriculum Fair

Monday and Tuesday was the IDEA Curriculum Fair here in Fairbanks. I went both days including the keynote breakfast. The speaker was Debra Bell. She was great.

On Monday, I spent most of the time in the vendor room. It is usually the same vendors every year with a few local authors too. Last year I didn’t have much of a plan as to what I wanted so I didn’t get hardly anything. This year I had a plan and about $800 in unspent allotment funds.

I also, stuck to my “pocket money” plan. I brought $75 in cash to spend for things to take away which I would submit a check request for reimbursement. Other stuff would be bought through a purchase order.

I bought 3 Alaskan books with guidebooks by Judy Ferguson from Voice of AK Press (on purchase order) and 3 Alaskan books from Bernd and Susan Richter of Saddle Pal Books (paid cash) who gave me 2 board books free. I gave these books to my kids Monday evening. Richard started reading “Discover Alaska’s Denali Park”. When it came time to do chores, he started crying because he wanted to finish the book! I did wind up writing a check for 6 CD’s I really liked by Jim Weiss. I bought a “Pop Bottle Science” kit which looked like fun (paid cash).

It was wonderful having the major curriculum vendors to talk to. I looked through Math-U-See Beta and will wait until summer to order because they weren’t offering any discounts. I looked at Saxon Math and decided to stay with Math-U-See. My friend who has been having math difficulties decided on Saxon.

After seeing the books from WinterPromise and other vendors, I have finally decided and started ordering second grade. It should be a lot of fun. I can’t wait for July when next year’s allotment is available so I can order it all. The allotment should cover everything except Abeka and of course Bible, making our out of pocket expense only about $150 for around $900 worth of materials. Here’s what I came up with.

Math: Math-U-See Beta

Language Arts: Abeka workbooks supplemented with WinterPromise LA2

History & Literature: WinterPromise American Story 1 second grade plus readers, supplemented with Sonlight and recordings by Jim Weiss (American Tall Tales, Thomas Jefferson’s America, Abraham Lincoln)

Science: WinterPromise World Around Me, Pop Bottle Science

Art: Atelier Art level 2

Bible: Christian Light Education? I need to see them. The rep comes to the used curriculum swap in a few weeks.

I ordered Atlier Art level 2 module 1 on purchase order from Arts Attack to take advantage of free shipping. If we like it, I’ll order the other 2 modules in the level. However, if we don’t I won’t have wasted the extra $110. I’ll need to pay shipping but that’s cheaper than the other 2 modules if we don’t like it. I watched some of level 2 video and enjoyed it and think Richard will enjoy it. While I was pondering if I should order, a woman came over to order level 3. I asked her about level 2 and she said her kids really enjoyed it and it was easy for her to use. This helped me decide.

I was disappointed because Sonlight only sent catalogs and they were all gone when I got there. Winter Press sent catalogs, representatives and book samples. After talking to the rep and seeing the materials, I decided on American Story 1 with second grade readers and World Around Me for next year supplemented with some books from Sonlight. I decided to get Abeka for the main Language Arts program and use WP’s LA2 for supplement. My girlfriend decided on Sonlight core4 with supplement from WP. For summer I ordered Animal Worlds. Obviously we won’t do the full program but he’ll love the books and some activities. I ordered this using 2 different purchase orders. The first is for the summer from this year’s allotment. The rest will be from next year’s allotment in July.

I went to 4 seminars. One was on writing which I didn’t like. One was about mystery shopping which I enjoyed. The other 2 were by the keynote speaker on learning styles and reluctant learners. I learned a lot from them.

Overall, I enjoyed this year’s homeschool curriculum fair. Monday afternoon got a bit stuffy in the smaller classrooms. I saw my friend from church. She was going to have a baby very soon. Tuesday, her son found me and said she had a little boy!

I wore a headcovering both days. I wore my new blue scarf the first day and a pink one the second. I only saw 2 other covered ladies during the entire time. However, I don’t feel this attracted extra attention to me. The few people who commented about it were supportive and complimentary. One vendor refered to me as the “coordinated pretty scarf lady” when I made a purchase the second day 😆 .

Weblinks from companies I purchased materials


Atelier/Arts Attack

Voice of Alaska Press

Greathall Productions

Alaska Children’s Books

Possibly Related Posts?

I just logged into my site this afternoon and was surprised to see a listing at the bottom on my posts of “possibly related posts”. I did not put them there nor authorize them. I do not endorse any of these links. However the way they are attached at the bottom of the post implies that I do. Ugh! After searching the help, I found out this is a new feature by WordPress. Unfortunatly the default for “possibly related posts” is to show them. You have to edit a setting to switch them off. They don’t show up on the main page but only on the page if you directly click on the page or after you click to read comments.

There is no way to edit which “possibly related posts” you want on your blog but is all or none instead. I thought this is what categories and tags were for. If someone was interested in related posts, they clicked a topic tag. You got to choose what tags. Then your reader chose which tag and sites listed on the tag to visit. If you really liked a post you could link to it yourself in your post and the reader knows YOU are the one who chose to link to the site. You don’t have this control with “Possibly Related Posts”. If its irrelevant or personally offensive, they still show up by default unless you turn off this feature. Also, you don’t know the content of the pages where your posts may show up as “Possibly Related Posts”.

Here’s how to turn it off “possibly related posts”:

1. Go to your dashboard

2. Design then Extras

3. Check “Hide related links on this blog…”

4. Click “Update Extras”

This should get rid of them. It also keeps your blog posts from invading others as a “related post”, which may or may not be a good thing.

I am posting this with lots of different tags and in all my categories so others who encounter “Possibly Related Posts” on their WordPress blogs and don’t like them can know how to turn them off. I originally turned them off. Now I’m turning it back on and just adopting a “wait and see”. So far it’s noting really bad or unrelated. Time will tell!

4/30/08 Update:

I found a World of Warcraft link on my curriculum fair post. I won’t condone Warcraft (either directly or implicitly). Since we can’t edit which posts truly are related, I am now turning this feature off. The (supposedly) extra traffic isn’t worth compromising my beliefs.

FLDS vs TX teen pregnancy stats

This is a couple of comments from another blog (unfortunatly, I wasn’t able to discover which one since it was cross posted several times before I found it). Anyway, I find it interesting in the face of the child endangerment claims made by the state regarding teenage pregnancies at the FLDS ranch.

I totally agree with JoeG ‘s summation of this as “tragic”. No matter which side you are on.

Mark IV said 1 week ago:

Some background of teenage pregnancies in Texas:

The non-Hispanic white rate is 60 per 1,000, the black rate is 130 per 1,000 and the Hispanic rate is 145 per 1,000.

The rate at YFZ seems to be 45 per 1,000, 20 percent lower than the rate for other Texas girls in the polygamous girls’ demographic cohort and more than 60 percent lower than among Hispanic girls in Texas.

That seems to indicate that underage girls at YFZ are 20 percent less likely to have sex than other white girls across the state and 60 percent less likely to have sex than Hispanic girls across the state.

Further, the rate of teen pregnancy at YFZ is lower than the rate of teen pregnancy in more than three-quarters of Texas counties.

The best thing the state can do now is apologize. If they are sincere in wanting to protect teenaged women from getting pregnant, they ought to take lessons from YFZ, because they are doing a better job of it that the state as a whole.

And a related update:

Joe G said 2 hours ago: (from 4/27/08 visit of

It is official.

There are just three girls under the age of 18 that the state thinks may be pregnant from FLDS.
One will be 18 years old in a month, one refused to take a pregnancy test and one whose age is yet to be determined.

Among many references to this account: The Salt Lake Tribune 04/26/2008 05:14:10 PM MDT

Bingo, no abuse, no arrests, no adults detained, no underage pregnancies. (By Texas law, underage is “under 16″).

But the State is still refusing to release the kids. Two children under two years of age are now missing by the State of Texas’s own admission! (Though I am sure some logical explanation will come up) Three or more little children are hospitalized as of Friday; one is in critical condition because he is an infant that could not adjust without his mother’s milk. CPS admits that many have contracted chicken pox, measles, diarrhea, flu, viruses and other diseases they were not inoculated for now that they are exposed to the “mainstream” and are blaming it on the parents. And of course, as we all now know, (providing you have some education on the subject), the State of Texas has now concluded that the original call was a hoax.

Those of you who judged and made accusations should hope someone other than a person like yourself is around to defend you if you have the misfortune of having your life torn apart if someone takes your children taken away.


Too many choices!

One of the great things about homeschool is getting to choose what curriculum and materials to use. However, this time of year, it can also be a drawback as you ponder the many choices. That’s my problem today, too many 2nd grade choices. As a result this is my third post about 2nd grade plans. This time I have the top 4 options laid out to compare. To add to my decision, Karen will be doing preschool and so I need things he can do somewhat independently while I help her.

We are almost finished with first grade. I think we’ll finish up in 2 or 3 weeks. Last week he worked ahead, eager to be in 2nd grade. I’m not too worried about finishing up the books since next year starts with review for math and language plus we’re switching to literature based school instead of textbooks for everything else. I mainly want to get more of the math done before quitting. We may do a bit over the summer so he stays in practice. End of year purchase deadline is the 30th. I have money left over from this year’s allotment still so I will buy a bunch of books and things to do over the summer.

The curriculum fair tickets came in today’s mail! I’m glad the curriculum fair is next week so I can see the programs and put an end to my debating. I really need to just go and look at the different WP programs and look through my friend’s Sonlight stuff to decide which would be best fit. They all sound good and interesting from the catalog. I’m not good at these kinds of decisions. Once I choose, I’m sure he will like any of them.

Lately Richard has started showing an interest in early US history. As if I didn’t have enough choices for next year. *sigh* Now I’m considering American Story 1 with LA2 plus readers and World Around Me (science) from Winter Promise. Abeka for Language Arts. Then third grade would be American Story 2 with Rock Around the Earth (introductory geology). We would do Sea and Sky for fourth grade before starting world history in 5th and 6th grades. Then perhaps American Crossing for 7th. Sea and Sky is really designed for upper elementary grades anyway so I don’t want him to be overwhelmed but I don’t want him to miss it either.

The 4 choices I’m considering are all about $700-$800. I can’t decide between WP or Abeka or both for Language Arts without seeing the WP books first. I would probably supplement the US History with books from Sunlight’s Core3 for things he was really interested in since those are harder books. I’m leaning toward WP’s science rather than Sonlight because we haven’t really done science yet and it seems to align better with the goals of level 1 & 2 science for his homeschool program. What he’s picked up has been unschooling so I don’t want to overwhelm him. If we breeze through it, we can always add something else if needed. This doesn’t include any Bible or geography yet.

I think we should also do art but not being artsy myself, I want something easy yet meaningful. I only did crafty art which I think may be why I don’t like regular art much. He’s done 2 years now of Abeka’s craft “art” so its time to move on. I am again considering Atelier Art. It is a video based art program. First they watch a demonstration then they do it. There are different age levels rather than grade levels. Each level has 3 modules which can be purchased separately or together. I may just get the first module of the recommended level and see how it goes because it is expensive ($55/module + teacher guide). They will be at the curriculum fair so I can see it then.

Choice 1: Total $782.95

Sonlight Science 2 (4-day) $142.95

WP Adv. Sea & Sky $459 + Young Learners Guide $19

Math-U-See Beta (std & teacher) $55

Abeka workbooks $107

Choice 2: Total $815

Math: $55

WP S&S: $459 + Young Learners Guide $19

WP LA2 CAW readers: $75

WP S&S readers: $78

WP LA2: $129

Choice 3: Total $700

WP American Story 1: $380 (history)

WP LA2 for AS1: $165

WP World Around Me: $100 (science)

Math-U-See: $55

Choice 4: Total $732

WP American Story 1: $380 (history)

WP readers for AS1: $90

WP World Around Me: $100 (science)

Math-U-See: $55

Abeka LA workbooks: $107

Happy Birthday son

Saturday my son had his 6th birthday party. We had a great time. There were 14 kids ranging from 18 months to 13 years and 6 adults including me and my husband. Laura was up from Florida and the kids were thrilled to play with her 3 boys again. Its been over a year since they saw them last. Karen said we “had all the friends except one” (his family had already made plans).

Unlike the last birthday party 2 years ago, I didn’t plan anything for this one. The kids had a great, noisy time. They played outside in the snow then came inside for gifts and cake. He got a lot of fun things including a frisbee, yo-yo, books (including one printed in 1912), a ball, dice, balloons, and a car crash set plus more I can’t think of now.

Chaos theory reigned today. I went to town to get some last minute items including cake fixings and ice cream. We were going to have pancakes when I got back. However, instead we ran out of propane. Ray took Richard down to get the propane tank filled. He got a free lollipop when he told the clerk it was his birthday 🙂 We wound up having sweet rolls from the gas station instead. Yummy too. Karen helped Ray make Richard’s bed (a birthday present so he didn’t have to) while I made the cake. At least we didn’t run out of propane with the cake in the oven 😆

He got to stay up late watching MASH. This afternoon we went to Chena Hot Springs for a few hours. We all had a good time. It’s been a good birthday weekend.

FLDS kids stay in custody

A judge has ruled the FLDS kids in Texas state custody must all remain in state custody. They are also requiring DNA testing of all 416 kids plus women and men. This seems an outrageous invasion of privacy. I can’t believe the judge has allowed the state to maintain control of all the kids. I can understand those in immanent danger but not those who simply might risk for abuse that may or may not happen doesn’t make sense.

If kids were taken away for abuse that may or may not ever happen, all kids everywhere would be in state custody. If you lived next door to a child abuser, would you want your kids taken because they may be in danger from your neighbor? This seems like a lot of guilt by association with the kids the sad victims.

They will now be taken to foster care. Hearings will be held before June 5 (that’s 6 weeks from now). During that time who know how much harm will be done to these kids by exposing them and immersing them in a lifestyle they have been taught is evil and removing them from their morals and support network? Regular foster kids have a grasp of how to function in the modern world. These kids don’t. I would submit that the state is committing abuse by forcing them to live in a lifestyle they are totally unprepared for.

I just read that the call which began the raid may have been a hoax! In the meantime, over 400 kids and families have had their lives permanently and publicly shattered by the state. Why didn’t they verify the call first?

This is unreasonable search and seizure. Only instead of objects, the state took something more precious, ALL the children. Why were they ALL taken anyway rather a case by case, family by family basis?

This is a sad and complicated situation.

A good (rather long) summary of the kids situation is here.

punishing many for crimes of the few

In the news lately are the members of a religious compound in Texas. There were accusations of child abuse and underage forced marriages. In the raid that followed, over 400 children were taken away by the state and most have not been in contact with their families since. They are being housed in a stadium. This was all being done supposedly for the children’s own good.

How can removing that many kids (an entire community worth really) be anything but traumatic? While there very well may have been abuse, I don’t believe this was handled well at all. The mothers at first haven’t been allowed visits to their children, not even supervised visits. Some of the youngest children have been temporarily returned to their mothers. This would seem to be a sociologist’s and psychologist’s dream come true.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since all the children were taken into state custody. A hearing was finally held in which over 100 lawyers plus mothers tried to participate simultaneously. This was a shamble of confusion. These need to be heard on a family by family basis rather than lumping them all together. That’s guilt by association and that is wrong. In the meantime the children are still in state custody. The state wants them all permanently removed.About 100 women have been allowed inside to care for the children.

Authorities don’t even know who the girl is that caused the raid or if she is among the 400 children taken! So on the word of one unknown 16 year old, over 400 children and an unknown number of adults have had their lives shattered. The state has gone too far! How can it be known her bias or if she was telling the truth? What happened to protection against unreasonable search and seizure? What happened to parental rights? What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What about the right of the defendant to confront the accuser?

This has shattered any sense of family security these kids had known. Rather than handling this discreetly, the entire compound was raided by agents. If the authorities don’t know the informant, how can they know she wasn’t biased or if she was even telling the truth? Why were ALL the children taken indefinitely rather than a family by family case?

How can living all grouped together in a stadium be in better interest of the kids than at home with their families. Granted they aren’t traditional families but they are still families. If they are placed in foster care, how can they adapt to being forced to live in the modern world they are totally unprepared for? A world from which they were shielded and told was evil. It seems to me this only proves correct the evilness of the outside world.

I’m not endorsing this group’s lifestyle, however, I am saying it was their choice to live together. They have stated they were free to leave at anytime but chose to stay. For many of the kids, it was the only way of life they have ever known. How can someone say it is wrong or that they are missing out on life? Modern society is a far cry from a utopia.

I wonder if this had been an Amish or Mennonite community if they would have the same reaction? There have been reports of abuse in those communities as well but they don’t have all the communities kids removed. Instead they are handled properly on case by case basis.

I will say that media video coverage has been very positive in protecting the identity of the young people involved. Photography is not allowed inside the stadium where the kids are being held. Group and individual shots of women have young faces blurred. They don’t need the media circus adding to their already traumatic experience.

Who knows how long this ordeal will drag on. Bring the kids home!

A Chilly House

We slept in this morning. Since the weather has been warming up, we’ve been letting the fire go out in the mid-afternoon until the next morning. Well, because we slept in and it was cooler last night then it has been, our house was 62 when we finally got up. We were just about out of firewood. The forecast is for snow starting tonight so we took advantage of the fair weather and decided to go wood cutting today. We didn’t light a fire in the house since we would be gone all day. It was noon before we had the kids car seats moved into the truck, lunch made, and everything ready to go.

We had been going 30 miles back to the end of the road. It’s very slow going down a primitive logging road; usually taking us 2 hours or so after getting to the logging road just to get to the place we like to cut. Today we found a good cutting spot closer the start of the woodlot road. This saved us a lot of driving time. We cut our wood and were back to town about 630 this evening. We went and had dinner with my mother in law then drove home. It was now around 8. We haven’t had a fire in over 24 hours. The house is down to a chilly 56 degrees.

I got the kids ready for bed with warm milk bundled up with sweat pants and lots of blankets. After they are in bed (her to sleep and him to read his Bible) I got the fire going. It should start warming up in a few hours. In the mean time, I’m going to snuggle under a throw with a cup of hot tea and a good book. Ahhh, life in Alaska.

Thin crust

Thin crust, stay on trail. This sign was one of my favorites when visiting Hawaii Volcanoes Nat’l Park 3 years ago (5/13/05). They weren’t talking about pizza. It was on a trail across the Halemaumau Crater. I have pictures of me at the sign at the trailhead which went across the crater floor to the visitor center about 3.5 miles away. It was a unique, rather eerie walk. There were several hot, steaming volcanic vents just off the trail. Most of the trail itself was across cracked volcanic floes looking like a parking lot after a bulldozer went through or strewn with car sized boulders jumbled up that made hiking tricky. Trail markers were made in the traditional style of piled stones called a cairn (sp?). You walked from pile to pile to stay on the trail as you crossed the crater. It continued on up the crater’s north side into lush rain forest.

This is all in past tense for 2 reasons. First because it was 3 years ago. Second because the crater erupted this week! It’s the first explosive eruption in Halema`uma`u Crater since 1924 and the first lava erupted from the crater since 1982.

The park has closed the south part of Crater Rim Drive until further notice. The park was evacuated Tuesday and remained closed Wednesday because of elevated sulfur dioxide emissions. For the latest Kilauea volcano report see the USGS or Hawaii Volcanoes National Park websites.