Gullible citizens and prudent citizens

Proverbs 14:15  “The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps.”

As the first session of our 29th state legislative session comes to an end, I wanted to share some of my thoughts.  This is not intended to come close to a comprehensive review of every bill presented over the past few months, or every legislator’s move.  What I do intend to address are the bills which were most important to me and the communications I had with legislators concerning those bills.

First up is Senate Bill 89, now being called CSSB89.  Below, you can read the sponsor statement on this committee substitute bill, and following that is a video of Senator Dunleavy which puts into words my own thoughts and findings.

SB89 Sponsor Statement for CS(EDC) Version

It is my firm belief that education of one’s child(ren) is not only a parental right, but also their obligation.  While some parents choose to hire out that responsibility to a public/private/charter school for one reason or another (I’m not judging individual situations here), others choose to take the lead and educate their children based out of their home.  In the end, it is parents who are held responsible for the education and direction of their child, regardless of who they chose to raise their child.  SB 89 reinforces this idea, while at the same time ensuring that the most involved parents are not penalized in some way for their awareness and sobriety in raising their future adults.  Also included in this bill is direction to keep abortion service providers and their materials out of schools.  I’m all for a qualified science teacher addressing the biology of human procreation and answering questions raised by their students.  I’m even for these teachers addressing the risks involved in physical intimacy, especially before marriage, and especially with multiple partners.  I am not for outside organizations who make money from the murder of infants and the destruction of families entering into the schools under the guise of educating the high-risk youth population.  Abortion service providers are attempting to put a band-aid (albeit one that causes more damage) on a problem that runs far too deep for them to come close to touching.

Now for Senate Bill 80, also sponsored by Senator Mike Dunleavy…

SB 80 Sponsor Statement

For many people, it may seem that education reform snuck up on us overnight.  I contend that the greatest atrocities to public education in the United States have been implemented within my own generation.  Standards have dropped, been adjusted, re-worded, slid up and down scales, and who knows what else.  Test have been created in order to collect data on school and teacher performance, thereby placing children into little boxes that must perform accordingly.  The jobs of teachers and administrators are now on the backs of our children, and schools that fail to perform according to varying formulas must create ridiculous plans in which they outline how they will fix whatever they perceive to be the problem.  Madness.  All madness.  How much better would it be to apply the absurd amount of funds currently applied to teaching teachers how to teach every new set of standards, implementing new tests and exams, and conforming to the federal government’s latest programs, to the paychecks of those educators on the front lines?  How much better off would we all be, if we were to go cold turkey from the strings-attached cash flow from the federal government, and take care of our own darn selves?  How much better off would our schools be – can you imagine?! – if we were to jump off the “latest and greatest curriculum” train and educate our children using *gasp* traditional texts and classic literature?  What if…?

What I appreciate about SB 80 is that AK DEED would no longer be allowed to quietly implement new standards and tests, nor accept federal monies, without being questioned about it and having the legislature approve the decisions.

On the house side, from the bold and courageous Representative Lora Reinbold, comes House Bill 85, and from Representative Gattis, House Bill 80.  I’m running out of time today that I can spend here on the computer, but I strongly urge you to read about these bills for yourself.  Here are the sponsor statements for each:

HB85 Sponsor Statement

HB80_Sponsor Statement

Perhaps education isn’t on your radar, but sport fishing is.  Is the oil industry important to you?  Whatever issues face our state and Alaskans as a people are likely being addressed to some degree in our state legislature.  Familiarize yourself with this website, which holds all working documents and has many archived documents, contact information for legislative members, and much more.  As the Proverb heading above attests to, those who are simple are easy to persuade – gullible.  Those who are prudent take time to consider the different sides of an issue and think through their words and actions.  May we all be found prudent in our lives, and not gullible, believing anything that tickles our ears.

~VRae

The Liebster Award

liebsterblogaward

Check that out.  Isn’t she a beaut?  This is my first blog award nomination, so excuse me if I make a big, goofy deal out of it.  The Liebster Award is given to blogs/bloggers who are new-ish and are still developing a strong following.  I was nominated by the witty authoress of Balancing Bedlam.  Thank you, Lisa!

Without further ado, here are the rules that  accompany acceptance of this nomination:

liebster-award-rules-i

I was asked to answer the questions that follow, so prepare yourself to be amazed!

  1. What’s your favorite movie?  I have many, but the first that comes to mind is The Odd Couple 2.  I can recite most of it from memory.
  2. What do you do for fun?  In my dreams, I spend a lot of time solo in the mountains.  In reality, I watch a lot of Hulu and read a lot of books far too quickly.
  3. If you could choose any profession in the world, what would you do?  I would be a librarian in a privately-owned library.
  4. Where would you move with your family if you could go anywhere?  We would move off the road system, but stay in Alaska, aka the greatest land on earth.
  5. What’s one thing you wish you had done before kids or when you were younger?  I would have loved to have traveled out of country for a year or so.  Seeing as my husband and I started out so young, we still have lots of time left to see the world, and we get to include our amazing young people in some of our adventures.
  6. What’s something you look forward to later in life?  I’m most looking forward to shifting priorities one day, from wife and homeschool mama, to wife and full-time community volunteer.  If I could work part-time and volunteer part-time once we are empty-nesters, I’d be grateful for that, too.  I’m excited for the future that I can’t see, but that I know God has waiting for me.
  7. What’s one of your favorite books?  Aside from the Bible, Pride and Prejudice could satisfy my literary desires for the rest of my life.
  8. What’s one goal you have for your blog?  One?  Just one?!  Okay, I’ll play along.  One of the goals I have for my blog is to develop my written communication skills in a rapidly advancing, tech-driven world.
  9. Why did you begin blogging?  I began blogging as a creative outlet, sort of a public corkboard where I could semi-anonymously smash my written thoughts up whenever I took the time to jot them down.
  10. Who is one person, living or dead, you’d love to meet?  Thomas Savage!  He is an ancestor of mine who came to North America in 1607.
  11. What’s your absolute ideal weather?  72 degrees F, partly cloudy, with evening rain as we fall asleep.

On to eleven random facts about yours truly!

  • I have super-tiny toenails on my baby toes.
  • I’m not a fan of massages.
  • I had braces for about four years.
  • I have a hard time taking people seriously if they are provocatively dressed.
  • I would love to have long, thick, curly hair.
  • I take deep pride in being a natural blonde.
  • I knew my husband (before he became my husband) roughly four months before we decided to get married.
  • I want to throw a wet sponge at anyone who says they “don’t read”.
  • As a toddler, I winked at men in uniforms.
  • I wish I’d had more confidence in myself growing up.
  • I rejoice daily that all three of my children thoroughly enjoy reading.

I nominate:

As for questions for MY nominees to answer, I really like the ones I was given, and will paste them below:

  1. What’s your favorite movie?
  2. What do you do for fun?
  3. If you could choose any profession in the world, what would you do?
  4. Where would you move with your family if you could go anywhere?
  5. What’s one thing you wish you had done before kids or when you were younger?   
  6. What’s something you look forward to later in life?  
  7. What’s one of your favorite books?
  8. What’s one goal you have for your blog?
  9. Why did you begin blogging?
  10. Who is one person, living or dead, you’d love to meet?
  11. What’s your absolute ideal weather?

Updates and things to come

First of all, there were over 1100 entries into the “I Love Alaska” giveaway, and the winner has been notified. Congrats to her!

Second, the ground is thawing! 17 bulbs were planted yesterday, with 12 more laid out in a bed in front. I’ve begun hardening off a couple hardier sets of seedlings from our dining room, which makes me nervous. I hate to lose a plant due to my incompetence. As soon as we are frost-free, I’ll be setting out the little bed of chamomile in the front yard near a tree. I think it’ll give a pretty and somewhat wild look, while softening the base of the tree of which they will sit. Bonus, chamomile tea is excellent.

Third, the brooding box is ready for our chicks! Rather than simply buy a kiddie pool or fold-out apparatus for our future chicks, hubby made what almost looks like a miniature coop, complete with linoleum tiles and a latch (no lid, yet). We will be picking up a couple different breeds over the coming wee, so watch for photos if you are interested in our new adventure. The building of the coop will come over the next month, and I warn you now, it will not be fancy. It will be functional, though, and safe, and that is the goal for our growing layers.

Fourth, can you believe the school year is almost finished? Not that the pursuit of knowledge and educational experiences should be placed within a specific timeframe, but in the sense of, “My, how quickly this year has sped by!”. I just about have our curriculum finalized for the fall. It is getting easier for me each year to decide on texts and publishers and such, as we try things out and see what does or doesn’t meet each of our needs and goals. Of increasing concern is the prolific number of texts sporting the “Common Core Aligned” badge across their covers. Ew. I get that they are trying to sell books, I appreciate that, I really do. The worst offenders are those who have actually re-done their texts so that they not only meet the requirements but ARE the requirements. Have some imagination.

Fifth, I begin running (I am using the term loosely) with my brother today. The MudFactor 5K is coming up in June, and I haven’t been running on a regular basis in too many years to try and count. I’m also carrying around an extra 10-12 pounds of NOT-muscle. He is a gracious man, though, and probably won’t laugh at my red face until we get back home. 😉 He is very patient with me though, and I struggle to imagine life without him. We were so far apart – on different planets for all practical purposes – for so long, and yet I talked to him in my thoughts every day. A piece of my heart has always been his. I couldn’t ask for a cooler sibling. Now that we live just minutes away from each other, I’m still adjusting to having another piece of my family so close, and grateful for the fact that they are just down the road. For the greater part of my adult life, J-Dub and I have been on our own with the kids, making friends here and there, but mostly just living independently from any real network of support. Our privacy and slower pace is still important to us, but over the past few years we have enjoyed being part of a local group of family and friends again. Our babes seem happier as well, knowing that friends they make are likely to be there for a long time.

Well, I’m off to enjoy this amazing Alaska sunshine. Stay tuned for chick updates over the week, and coop and garden updates throughout April and May. If you are planting and homesteading and farming and experimenting at your place, I’d like to hear about it! Share your dabblings and ramblings in the comments below! Have a blessed Easter!

The air outside my house smells like camping.

Do you understand the title phrase? Have you ever felt that way, or heard someone else express something similar? I often share my feelings in terms of smell, which may sound a bit bloodhound-esque, but I believe it is completely valid considering our sense of smell plays such a powerful part in forming memories in our brains. For example, when smelling a particularly delicious barbecue sauce or beef grease, I might mention, “it smells like summer”, as summertime for us means lots of outdoor cooking that includes those two items. When the air outside is very crisp and prickles your nose when you first breathe it in early in the morning, and there is a slight damp smell of decomposing plants, I would say, “smells like fall”. Lately, it has been smelling like camping when I step outside with my dog early in the morning. Camping, to me, smells like clean air with a light mist running through it. It smells like the dew on the ground just before the sun comes up all the way and burns it off. It smells like cool pavement and damp wood and freshly brewed coffee and even a little bit of soap (think, Ivory).
Now, because we have a school year and all of the related duties to finish out, and because it still gets pretty frosty at night, we aren’t going camping QUITE yet. We will be taking a couple mini road trips and hiking adventures, though! Our first mini trip will be an hour and a half drive out to the darling town of Talkeetna. There will be a trip almost twice as long but in the opposite direction to the town of Girdwood. We will venture out to Thunderbird Falls next month for a day hike and picnic, and hopefully make at least two visits up to one of my very favorite places, Hatcher Pass.

Share your plans and adventures in the comments, I would love to hear what adventures or restful trips others are getting themselves into!

I Love Alaska Giveaway!

                    I Love Alaska Giveaway - including a $250 gift certificate for Alaskan seafood!

It’s no secret that “The Last Frontier” is a magical place! There are many things to love – scenery like nowhere else, whales, bears, Native culture, and just enough danger and adventure to keep us on our toes!

Alaska is a HUGE state (2.3x the size of Texas!), but Alaskans all across the miles – from Juneau to Barrow – share a special bond. As do people who have visited or dream of visiting! When you catch the “Alaska bug,” there’s no going back! A group of us bloggers living in the 49th state have decided to come together to share our love for our home with YOU – tangibly!!

Please take the time to visit all of the Alaskan Bloggers sponsoring this great giveaway:

Hey What’s For Dinner Mom?
Idlewild Alaska
Dabblings and Ramblings
Megan’s Gluten Free & Other Allergen Free Recipes
Raising the Barrs

We are so excited to be offering quite the Alaskan bounty to one of you – over $500 in value to help you celebrate your love of Alaska!

The Prizes!

Anderson Seafood

A $250 (wow!!) gift certificate to purchase your favorite Alaskan seafood from Anderson Seafoods. Anderson Seafoods has worked hard to provide high quality and sustainably-sourced seafood for 35 years! And if wild caught Salmon and Halibut aren’t your thing (is that possible??), they also sell crab, lobster, shrimp and lots more fish.

Children's books from Sasquatch Books

Set of three Alaska-themed children’s books from Sasquatch Books – Alaska’s Sleeping Beauty, Grizzly Bears of Alaska, and Patsy Ann of Alaska. These charming and beautifully illustrated soft cover books will captivate children of all ages. Read a full review of these books here.

handcrafted oil lamp from Roads End Pottery

A handcrafted oil lamp by Dave Hough of Roads End Pottery – from the Town Square Art Gallary in Wasilla, Alaska. A thick cotton wick is held in place by a round stone, which sits at the mouth of the lamp. The lamp can be filled with ordinary lamp oil, as one would fill a glass oil lamp with. The glaze on the pottery is lead-free and dishwasher safe
Alaskan fiction by Warren Troy
.   Trilogy of Alaskan Homesteading fictional books written and signed by Warren Troy. Wilderness Reckoning, The Last Homestead, and Trails are captivating adventure stories sure to please anyone who daydreams about life off the grid or Alaska.
Alaska-on-the-go-Exploring-the-49th-state-with-children-SIGNED-200x300

  A copy of Erin Kirkland’s brand new book Alaska on the Go: Exploring the 49th State with Children – so that you can start planning your family’s Alaskan vacation! This book will help you decide when to travel, how to get here, and how to take advantage of your time here with your children!

Alaska cutting board

An Alaska shaped cutting board from Epicurean. The better to remember us by! You’ll get to share your stories from the frozen North every time to pull it out to prepare dinner for guests!

chocolates from Alaska

A yummy box of chocolates from JB Chocolatier – handmade in the Matanuska Valley. These beauties are almost too pretty to eat… almost! 🙂 $60 value!

Alaska Seasoning Company
A 3-pack of seasonings from the Alaska Seasoning Company to spice up your life – Kodiak Cajun, Gold Rush Seasoning Salt and Denali Dry Rub.

The Rules

Eligible entrants must be 18 years or older and live within the United States (AK & HI are FINE, of course! No discrimination from us!!). This giveaway will be open through Sunday, April 13th. Winner will be notified via email. Please enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget below:

 

NaPoWriMo

For the past couple of years – since first learning of NaNoWriMo through another homeschooling mom – I have been meaning to get around to walking my students through writing their own novel in a month. If I recall correctly, NaNoWriMo goes through the month of November. I really do hope I get us on board with it this coming Fall.
This morning, I learned that April is NaPoWriMo! How cool is that? The little bug of creativity which sits patiently inside is jumping up and down begging for a little exercise. Something I’ve learned about the little creative bug is that she at once longs to learn and grow and stretch her legs, and simultaneously shrinks at each thought of criticism – or worse! – haughty-eyed condescension. This month, nay, this year, will be the year that I allow myself creative freedom, bravely stepping into the wide open spaces of my environment with confidence! Will there be whispers of disapproval? Probably. Will there be rolling of eyes? I don’t doubt it. Will I allow others to dampen my excitement? Nope! So here it is, the second day of April, my first poem of NaPoWriMo! This week will be all in haikus, so hold on to your caps! **Side note – Constructive criticism of all poetry encouraged. I like learning and improving!**

My Alaskan Chai
Warming me inside and out
Spices tingle tongues

~V

Springing to mind

SPRINGTIME has ARRIVED! It may snow again a couple-two-tree (shout out to my NePa family) more times before we realize summertime has snuck in, and that’s fine. Why? Because Spring has arrived! This splendid turn of events requires action! Action in the form of reacquainting myself with all of the varying trees and plants that have lived on our property since before it was ours,

20140330-170446.jpg

action in the form of planting seeds for this year’s (hopefully) larger garden,

20140330-170748.jpg

action in the form of walking and jogging more, in preparation for the Mudfactor 5K,

action in the form of skimming through the Mat-Su Valley Visitors Guide that came stuffed in the Frontiersman this morning,

and action in preparing our home for another fantastically adventurous Spring/Summer that only our sweet Alaska can offer. This truly is a blessed place, and we grow more grateful as each day passes that we get to create a home in the Great Land.

Have you been smelling those sweet Spring aromas outside? Perhaps you have the Spring-cleaning bug? Or maybe, you are just glad that the school year is almost complete? Tell me! What is going on with you as we transition to warmer weather?

Being Prepared

With winter finally settling in, I thought I would share some great information from ready.alaska.gov, which can apply in general to most of the developed world.  Power goes out, gas lines break, water mains need repair, and not everyone owns a generator, and back-up heat source, or is off the public water supply.  Temperatures drop and darkness hangs around longer than we would like, making simple comforts like a regular meal time all that more important.  Consider this a mini-challenge to prepare for an emergency – if not for yourself or your family, then for your community.  One less household burdening their local emergency responders with the need for basic supplies means that those in true danger can receive unimpeded help.  Wouldn’t you rather be part of the solution, anyway?  Follow the link below for a nifty 24-week calendar that will walk you through storing up a 7-day survival kit.  **Full disclosure** None of the following information was my work in any way, shape or form.

 

Some find it difficult to put together a disaster preparedness kit, but
using this easy-to-follow Preparedness Supplies Calendar will help you and
your family take the anxiety and frustration out of preparing for
emergencies or disasters by ensuring you have enough supplies to last
seven days or until help arrives.

http://www.ak-prepared.com/outreach/documents/7%20day%20-%20Newest%2017×11.pdf

http://www.ready.gov/

It Isn’t Late Autumn Without Snow

We are looking at our first forecasted week of nighttime temperatures below 32 degrees. It did snow once, and while most of us knew it wouldn’t stick, it was still a bit early to be glad about. Since that September day, many locals have been doing the very same thing we do every year. We look at the calendar like the numbers will reveal secrets, we discuss the weather as though we are too jaded too notice the nip in the air, hem and haw over what the winter has in store for us, and recall winters past. When the snow finally does come to stay, there are the inevitable 763 ditch divers along the highway, followed by the even-more-inevitable head shaking by those of us spared from a well-set patch of ice along our daily commute. It’s ridiculous, this routine of knowing-it-all yet knowing nothing. I’ll be darned if I would ever have it any other way, though.

My first move Outside was to the south. THE South. Bible-belt South. I met my first cockroach before our household goods arrived – every time I recall that meeting, it’s size seems to grow. “Was it really as large as my foot, or was I just a little too close for comfort?”  Groomie (that’s the term I’m trying out to reference my hubby…what do you think?) and I agree that if we could get a do-over down there, we would take advantage of every hot summer day and every trip into the city or country woods we could get our hands on.  We just didn’t appreciate the situation that surrounded us.  Also, I only think it snowed once in over a year.  The next assignment was north a bit, but still considered “south” to some.  It was mid-atlantic for crying out loud!  Oy.  Anyway, while we purposed to enjoy more of the sights in the area, the weather was still a bit much at times.  Some people just shouldn’t get sweaty in public, know what I’m saying?  We got a few snows during the 5+ years around those parts, only one of which stands out in my mind.  Why you ask?  Simply put, my first head-on collision with racism (being a white girl is offensive, you know), plus a very wet snow that I didn’t have much experience with, plus an inept road crew of epic proportions.  We couldn’t be happier to be rid of that place.

Fast forward some years, and here we are in Alaska.  Our root ball has been unwrapped, teased, and set in the ground.  We’ve been soaked in, fertilized, and hardened over a couple odd winters.  Our root system is slowly stretching further and further as we establish ourselves in an odd little city that we couldn’t love more.  So bring on the snow.  Bring on winter and the habits we forget all-too-quickly while soaking up every drop of summer.  We welcome the opportunity to plow, sip hot drinks, use the cold as an excuse to hole up at home for a couple days at a time.