Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Camera Pirate

I sat down to the computer and plugged in my camera to transfer the pictures I had taken today from the trail opening at Refuge Cove. Instead I found a bunch of pictures I hadn't seen before. I scrolled through them looking for a glimpse into who this thief might be who pirated my camera...


National Public Lands Day and a New Trail Opens

On my way to this shindig we're jamming to the music, cruising down the road with the ocean to our left and the rain pouring down...and I thought to myself are we really headed to a hike on this rainy fall day? Then I answered (in my head) HELL YEAH WE ARE! You know why? Cause we're Alaskan now baby! You don't let a little weather stop you from having a good time.

And it didn't stop us. There were upwards of 80 folks out to enjoy the food (some awesome fresh caught salmon was the highlight), the park improvements and hike the new trail.

The trail was awesome, the food was great and we really felt like part of a community. Despite the crappy typical weather, it was a good day. (honestly, I didn't even notice the weather once we got there)

Happy National Public Lands Day everyone! Get out there and enjoy a park!!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Where have all the good crafts gone?

I know, I know. I can't say I have crafted much lately...but I feel it coming. First of all there was summer...why craft when you can explore Alaska's coast?

Then there was the start of school. Who knew homeschooling would be SO time consuming?!?! (ok, obviously MOST people knew that)

But now the rain has set in, the darkness is's time to cheer us up from the inside out. I have so many Pinspirations waiting to happen. Plus I have a new partner in crime (my PIC) to work on projects with. (and it could not be a more excited person)

Look at all these fall things just WAITING to be made on my Pinterest holiday board?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Trivium

Sounds like a scary movie involving some kind of conspiracy in the upper levels of the Catholic church, doesn't it?

It's not.

It's the homeschool program I've decided to follow; deemed the Classical Education. I've read so many books about homeschooling that I have nightmares about Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori strangling me in my sleep.

The one thing I can generically say about all of the books I read is that I hate it when someone tells you the right way to do something. Schooling is completely made up. Completely. So there is no right or wrong way. BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, there is definitely a way that you can screw up your kid's future. (It's all fun and games until someone loses a future)

No pressure.

One book suggested 4-6 hours of outdoor play a day (I guess they don't have to put up with an Alaskan winter).

One book suggested only studying what the child wants to study..tempting...and what do I do the rest of the time, drink?

All books made good points, and you could see some truth to the claims. But one method alone held up an example (two actually, mother and daughter) of a case of a truly successful home education experience. And what really struck me is the similarity between this method and how Laura Ingalls and Anne Shirley were educated. (yes, I realize Anne is fictional, but she's still awesome)

No doubt this method requires the most rigorous work of all the other methods. But we're still talking about less hours a day than is wasted spent in a public school. (sorry, I'll be nice) But the best part is the comfort in knowing I couldn't offer my kids more opportunity than this (educationally speaking).

So far so good, and what I've realized since starting this process is;
1) The majority of our citizens are vastly under-educated, our system has failed us.
1) How natural (and completely awesome) it is to have Laurel at home with me.
2) How much fun it's been to further my own education during this process.

In a nutshell this method is about learning the core subjects inside and out, learning how to learn and learning how to think. Once you have all three of those down NO subject is unapproachable.

Now THAT'S an education.

These are some of the books we've been using. I will update later on my opinion of them, but so far so good. I love everything except Saxon math (designed for idiots to use), and First Language Lessons (way too basic). I have found that my daughter does best when I combine the books with my own things. I find if you only follow the books the education is too simple. It needs to be varied with literature, writing, recitation, dictation and the like. (that of course is the major difference between homeschooling and schooling at home)

Obviously choosing your curriculum is a deeply personal thing. Everyone has their own needs, wants and likes. So far this is working for me. I feel like I'm challenging my daughter, and pushing her to want to do her best. That feels right to me.

Monday, September 24, 2012


I have to admit, I like Sitka way better than Ketchikan. It's even more remote, which I love. (I truly believe Ketchikan is too remote AND not remote it can't make up it's mind) Also it's on open ocean, so the sea views are gorgeous and the beachcombing is better. Plus, it gets less rain than Ketchikan. have less rain.

But it's so much more than that---the city really focused on maintaining it's natural beauty and local feel. Their downtown shops are locally owned, and open all year. There is no Walmart, or anything remotely like it. So the locals buy their goods and clothing from the small local shops ON PURPOSE to keep them open, even if it costs a little more.

The city didn't cover it's waterfront with industrial buildings, malls, grocery stores and hotels. It left it open with parks and walkways along the ENTIRE downtown area. The restaurants and bars are nice, the businesses really focus on being clean and unique. And there is so much more offered to the locals! An entire fine arts camp in the summer ranging from the youngest children to adults. Every kind of yoga and exercise class you could imagine. And a huge list of classes offered at their UAS campus, from Tlingit to coastal art.

Come on...they're just trying to tempt me now.

But here was the biggest kicker...every one I talked to who had lived in both Ketchikan and Sitka said the same thing...they L-O-V-E-D Sitka, and they thought Ketchikan just felt dark, dingy and industrial. Dark---check, dingy-check check, industrial-triple check.

Wait, did I mention that all the houses downtown were painted nicely with clean and manicured lawns? Or that there is free city-wide wifi? Or that they have an aquarium doing legitimate research and sharing their knowledge with the public? (on an interesting side note I spoke with the ladies running the aquarium, and they mentioned that Ketchikan shut down the idea of an aquarium because local business owners were afraid that it would cut down on the cruise patrons purchasing their tours) Why on earth are we allowing private business to make decisions that aren't in the best interest for Ketchikan as a whole? (like shutting down the bookstore at Totem Bight because the private leech business next door lobbied the politicians) So we get rid of knowledge and caring and replace it with cheap chotskies. Great job Ketchikan.

Sigh. It is what it is, and we live in Ketchikan, not Sitka. I just always assumed that K-town was the way it was because it was an isolated island community in the rainiest place in North America. But now I see that it's just Ketchikan. I don't know what makes the people of one community so different than another, and I wouldn't know where to begin trying to change it...but I see now the possibilities, and that vision is hard to shake.

We had a great time, and despite the veil of dinginess that welcomed us upon reentering the city, I am glad to be home. It's still home, it's where my friends are. It's where our life is. But the spell is broken now, and I see what Ketchikan could be.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Old Book Project 1: Painted Dictionary

Laurel and I were playing Scrabble on Friday, and since I play to win, I wasn't going easy on her. But there were a few words I wasn't sure of the tense and spelling. So, I put "dictionary" on my Wal-mart list, cause who doesn't need a dictionary when they play Scrabble?*

However, before I got there, I stopped at the library to pick up some holds that were waiting (more homeschool books of course). On my way out I perused the used book sale; guess what was there? That's right an old hard-bound dictionary, for a $1. So I bought it and brought it home to Laurel. She was excited when I told her I bought her something, and even more excited when I told her she could paint the cover any way she wanted to. So with the pages protected (I just tucked construction paper around them), and armed with brushes and acrylic paint, she decorated her own dictionary.

There was a reason for this, if there is something you love, you're more likely to use it. I want this dictionary to be her companion throughout the years. Something she looks fondly back on, not only because of this project, but because of the years of use she got out of it. And since I've narrowed down my curriculum choice to the Classical Education trivium, I'm sure it will see plenty of use. (plus we've already used it twice, to look up horehound candy and grippe...both from our chapters of Little House last night)

*Granted most of the modern world would just use their smart phones to look it up...but I want her to learn the hard way first. I believe it will serve her better later on to learn that there are more ways to find information than from the internet.

Note- Old books can have old book problems, in our case the cover was a little torn at the spine and the spine had come loose from the cover. I just used craft glue and put everything back together before she painted. Good as new. (not really, but I love old books)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of Preschool=First Day of Homeschool

We felt like our homeschool year wouldn't begin until Luke got on the bus and went to school. When the bus finally pulled away Laurel and I stopped and looked at each other, then walked into the house. I think we both somehow expected something big to happen that would say NOW it's time to begin. Fireworks, a sky writer...SOMETHING?!?!

(Actually something did happen, Laurel cried.)

And cried and cried. She missed her brother, she was sad and wasn't ready to do anything yet. So I changed the plan. We locked the door and headed out with the camera to hike the Rainbird Trail. At first she wasn't into it and cried and whined. So we walked to the trail, then we began the trail climb. Quietly and gracefully her sour mood turned into one of interest and delight. I let her use my camera as her own and she began searching out shots; from trees to slugs.

All in all it was a great start to a great day. We enjoyed each others company, learned about some wild edibles in our area. We saw otter, salmon, sea stars and banana slugs.

How many kids can say that about their first day of school?

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