Catching up with K

Hard to believe K is a high school sophomore this year. We had a fairly successful homeschool year last year. We didn’t accomplish all our goals, but that’s okay. We were probably overly ambitious with our planning.

We got a late start because we didn’t return from vacation until the second week of September. We had gone on an around the world cruise with Princess Cruises. The family had scrimped and saved. The kids contributed most of their allowance money and we held many garage sales to help pay for the side trips. We spent the days before leaving carefully laying out a budget and priorities for what we wanted to do.

Onboard, both kids frequently hung out in the teen center. There were few enough kids that the older and younger kids all were together. Although there was a published schedule of activities, they pretty much just did whatever they wanted. Our son flew back a week before the end of the cruise by himself from New Zealand in order to attend his university class. That was exciting!

K made a new best friend on board, a teen girl about her age from New Zealand who was on for the entire cruise as well. They were almost inseparable. Our room became a hangout on hot afternoons because we had a balcony and bunk beds. We even went on a few side trips with the girl and her mom. Sometimes in the evenings the girls would go dancing. That always amused the band and other passengers, once even getting a standing ovation and calls for an encore.

Once back home, we hit the books. She learned geometry and biology. For writing we used a small, paperback manual called The Lively Art of Writing. I highly recommend it! I used it in public high school myself. She once again delved into trying to learn Spanish.

Finally, for social studies, we decided to tackle government and civics from  Sonlight. Now, usually government is taken senior year. However, we had a couple of reasons for wanting to do it last year. First, this is an election year, so we figured she would understand what goes on better and why it’s important. Second, our school program participates in Close Up. They send students to our state capital one year and Washington DC the next. Last year was to be DC and New York City.  K had been wanting to participate for a couple of years since she first learned of it. But, that meant she needed to take government in order to get the most out of it when they went on the trip in the spring. She attended planning meetings and did special assignment over the fall and winter to get ready. As spring approached, we all got more and more excited about her trip. The school started to finalize travel plans. We found out that their would be so many kids coming from around the country that over a dozen hotels were booked. However, Alaska would have only about a dozen total students in this group.

Then covid began, and our excitement turned to nervousness as travel restrictions began slowly spreading across the world, getting closer and closer to home. People began getting sick in Washington DC and New York. Seattle became a hot spot. Travel restrictions tightened from international, to national levels, but that didn’t really affect us initially. Then the announcement came from our district office. All school travel was cancelled, including upcoming national and international trips, for the remainder of the school year. K would not be going to DC or NYC. A few weeks later, our governor instituted a statewide travel restriction halting all non-essential travel throughout the state and schools were closed. While she understood and was grateful for the abundance of caution, she was still severely disappointed.

In October, she joined one of our local high school cross country ski teams. She enjoyed being outside and skiing with others her age. We bought her a team jacket as her Christmas present. The coach switched providers and styles. Unlike the previous jackets, these arrived in plenty of time to wear during the season. The previous 2 years orders arrived in time for the end of year banquets. Races were encouraged, but optional. She decided not to participate in them, although she did come with me to watch her brother in the 1 race he did. Then, like her DC trip, the ski season abruptly ended after spring break due to covid. There would be no end of year team banquet this year. The borough run ski center building was dark and locked. All group ski events and practices in March and April were cancelled. Junior National races in California were called off mid-week and athletes scrambled to get back home. 

We finished off the school year, trying to maintain as much normalcy as possible, allowing her and her brother copious amounts of telephone time and online chats to make up for staying home.

Summer came. We planted a huge garden after hiring a tractor to rototill it, including a new addition. She helped take care of it. She went for walks. She watched tv and “hung out” with her friends remotely. In August, she helped harvest and freeze the veggies.

My sisters in law live in a tiny remote Alaskan village where the nearest paved road is 80 miles away and the only practical way in is by plane. On the plus side, they have the most amazing view of Denali right out their living room window. After much discussion, we decided K should spend September out there helping them with their fall chores. So, in mid-August, we spent a few days buying her clothes, including $200 worth of rain gear. However, since this is Alaska, she needed warm clothes, which were difficult to find. Those wouldn’t hit stores until mid-September, even up here! But, we managed. She quarantined for 2 weeks before hopping on a plane. Not all of her school books were here yet when she left, so we mailed out what we had. We left her return date open, since we weren’t sure how well she would like an extended stay. However, at the end of September, she was doing fine out there and so will stay at least through freeze up.

Really fresh fish

One of the men who works for us went fishing on his day off yesterday. He caught 2 salmon and brought one to us. It was extra bloody when my husband filed it for some reason. I put one of the filets in the freezer and we’ll have the other for dinner tonight.

We left the fish corpse outside and the yellow jackets are really thick on it. They eat meat. We plan to bury it in the garden this afternoon for fertilizer.

Where did summer go?

After the driest May on record since 1925, we’ve had a very wet June. There’s been flood watches and advisories off and on the past few weeks. We get a nice day and things start to dry out, then more rain comes. First, we don’t have enough water, now there’s too much.

It’s been cool too. It never got above 60 this weekend. I actually had to turn on the furnace in our house Saturday afternoon. We went to our friend’s house Saturday evening for a marshmallow roast. Everyone was glad for the heat the little fire gave off. It was very foggy this morning with just 50 degrees. I made the kids oatmeal for breakfast and we wore our jackets when we went for our walk. It’s seemed more like the end of August than June recently.

My poor garden. First it was hot and dry. Now it’s cool and wet. No happy medium. We need a few warm, dry days then some wet ones but all we seem to get is one or the other. I did manage to get it weeded Saturday afternoon.

This is the second cool, wet summer. Last summer started hot and dry then turned cool and rainy in June too. After several below normal snowfall winters, this last winter had almost the normal amount. Are we starting a changing weather pattern again?

Fresh cucumber salad

Today I picked our first cucumbers from the garden. Rather than using them as garnish for lettuce salad or in a sandwich, I decided to make them into a salad. The internet has lots of cucumber salad recipes.  I wanted something simple and light. I found one that sounded good and modified it a bit to use what we had. Here’s what I finally came up with. My family really enjoyed it so I thought I’d share the recipe since it’s garden season.

2 medium cucumbers sliced then cut in halves

1/2 large tomato chopped

1/4 onion chopped

3/4 cup sour cream

1 Tbs  lemon juice

1 tsp vinegar

1 tsp salt

fresh dill

Slice cucumbers then cut slices in half. Add vinegar and salt. Toss to mix. Set in fridge half hour.

Chop 2 Tbs fresh dill. Mix lemon juice with sour cream. Add dill and a dash of black pepper.  After half hour remove cucumbers from fridge. Drain and discard liquid. Stir cucumber, tomato, and onion into sauce. That’s it. Easy and yummy.

Canoe adventure & garden update

Yesterday afternoon we went canoing on the Noyes Slough. With one notable exception it was fun. For those of you familiar with Fairbanks, we put in near Danby road and paddled up to the Illinois street bridge. There were a few log jams we had to plow through and one beaver dam we portaged over.

There was another beaver dam under the Illinois street bridge. We had just arrived at it and were deciding what to do when we heard a motor behind us. A jet ski pulled up a little ways behind us and stopped. We had paddled over to the side. He yelled at his buddy but he didn’t stop. There was plenty of straight water behind is so I know he saw us. Instead, the second jet ski zoomed by us, jumped over the beaver dam and kept going. We were nearly swamped. The slough is rather narrow there so the wake rocked us hard. Karen got really scared and cried for a long time afterwards. We all got pretty wet from the spray thrown up by the jet ski. Richard, Ray and I had managed to turn so it hit our backs but Karen was hit by the flying water right in her face. We decided to turn around and head back to the truck. The other jet ski rider apologized, but that didn’t change the rudeness of his friend.

Other than a few people in their yards, we didn’t see anyone else on our trip. The trip was a bit over 2 hours. We hope to go the other way down the slough soon.

After getting some business done, we went to the garden store Saturday afternoon and bought the last pots and tomato cages we need to finish transplanting. I transplanted 2 tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and flowers. We have some wire shelves which are just wide enough to hold a plant tray. We set them up out in our temporary greenhouse on the porch. Then we moved about half of the smaller pots onto them. We still have several pots in the house that didn’t fit. I went and filled the last 2 big tomato pots from the garden soil but they were heavy since the dirt was wet so I couldn’t carry them up to the house. We really need a wagon.

Today the plants are doing great. It was sunny and warm all weekend. They really took off, especially the ones recently transplanted. They were getting root bound in their old pots. I put 2 trays of smaller plants outside to begin hardening them off this morning. We will plant some seeds into the ground next weekend then do the pre-plants the following weekend when the danger of frost or freeze should be past. It was freezing in town this morning.

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.

our house is a garden

Last night my husband made the comment that our house was a garden. Let me explain. We are eager to have fresh veggies. As a result we have planted some planters of veggies in the living room last week with hopes to have them ready to eat in May. They have now sprouted! We are also going to start some pre-plants for the garden which will live in the living room as well until late May or early June when the chance of frost is past.