Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011 and Year End Wrap Up

I would like to start by appologising for the poor quality of the photos in this post. My photo uploader/editor is not working right.

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. It was so nice to have more family here. There were still a few people that I missed, Darrell & Donna and my favorite sister Rebecca.

We started off our celebration with a church service on Sunday the 17th. The kids did a skit telling the story of the first Christmas using a nativity set. There was wonderful music by Damaris, Bea, Heidi, and Pastor Earl. Then a wonderful sermon by Pastor Earl and an AMAZING potlock feast. All the food was great but I have to say the top score from me goes to Lynn Malpass' chocolate pecan pie. All I can say is OOOOOOOOH SOOOOO GOOD!!!!

At home Christmas was a simple celebration. Early morning the kids got to open some gifts. Then my mom, dad, September and Ian came down and opened gifts. Then the guys went and worked/played outside while we ladies made dinner. We had a nice simple ham dinner. Then we watched a good Christmas movie called "Silent Night".

I have always loved Christmas. The singing, baby Jesus, lights, trees, exchanging gifts, hot cocoa, snow men the whole works. However in the past few years as my faith has started to mature a little I started questioning this oh so jolly holiday. I know alot of Christians that don't celebrate at all. Others that celebrate the birth of Christ but not with trees, lights and gifts. Still others that have no problem with the whole ball of snow man shaped wax. Then there is all the political correctness of Happy Holidays VS Merry Christmas and the lets keep Christ in Christmas movement. It can all get pretty confusing and I'll be the fist to admit that I'm having a hard time choosing what is right for our family. Then I listened to an audio by Michael Pearl and for me it shed a little light on to the reasons for the season. Now I'm not saying that this made up my mind for me. On the contrary it gave me more to consider. So if Christmas of 2012 looks alot different from how we celebrated this year you will know why and maybe by then I will be ready to explain how we decided to celebrate and why.

Wyatt Shooting New BB Gun

Oak Shooting New BB Gun

Lisa Shooting New BB Gun

Ice Crystals on Log
Now we look back over the year that is passing and at the same time forward to the new year. So much happened in our lives last year. It truelly is amazing all the good and the bad. As traumatic as the bad has been I do beleive that it has brought us closer to God in relying fully on him. And if nothing else all that we have gone through has been worth it in my mind for the 3 major posatives that we have experianced this year. #1 Ken accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior on father's day. #2 We gained new family Darrell and Donna Scott who have been an amazing blessing to us through their love and teaching I am so thankful to have them in our lives. #3 For my Mom, Dad, Niece/Sister and Nephew/Brother making the big move to Alaska. I feel so much better having them close so that we can help them as they need it and I'm thankful for all of their emotional support. It has been nice to have my mom close this winter especially.

We are looking forward with anticipation to the new year and hoping that it will be joyus and productive. We are hoping that we can be as much of a blessing to our friends and family as they have been to us. Some things that we are hoping for in the new year are steady employment for Ken, and completion of the second half of our little cabin here at the Scott's, and working on the garden with Donna. We are even thinking of getting a couple piglets to raise this spring. Maybe even to have some time to fish and hunt. I am more excited every day as the sunlight starts returning faster.

Homeschool Scoop

The kids are still doing well with their homeschool studies. We are making some adjustments to our schedule to allow for a longer time for science so that they can do their lesson and their project in one block. We're still playing catch up since we were behind when we started. Ian has qualified for Special Education in Math so that has also brought on some added benefit as I am now approved to teach him the curriculum that I was already teaching him. I was also given some advice on some other techniques to use as well.

Mars Biosphere Project

Volcano Project

In the next year we hope to do many more projects and watch as Mom, Dad, September and Ian experiance the seasons of Alaska for the first time.

I want to thank all of you who read my ramblings and wish each and every one of you a Happy, Productive and Blessed New Year.

Keep and eye on this post for more pictures!

1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.  KJV

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Alaska Fun at -40

I feel compeled to start with an Od to the outhouse at -40.

Most people who dont use an outhouse probably cringe at the idea. Then you add in the factor of -40 temps and most would say "NO WAY!". I will include some pictures to give you an idea of what it is like, but I want to explain that when it comes to outhouses they come in all shapes and sizes. They range from a large insulated "bathhouse" with stalls and a tub with campshower maybe even a small camp/tent stove. On the other end of the spectrum is your basic one seater "shack". This usually consists of some kind of stick frame with some patchwork sidding a wood or tin roof and often an open pit to the back or sides that you might fall into if you dont watch your step. Our outhouse is somewere in the middle I would say maybe a "luxery shack". We have 2 seats covered with insulating foam with lids. It's stick framed with plywood and siding walls. A rusty tin roof with no insulation. We do have a little piece of glass "window" to let in light and some upgrades like magazine holders and shelves for TP. Also the signature tissue bucket in the corner that you find in most outhouses. (side note it's not good to put your TP in the hole it makes it stink worse)

Hand Sanetizer is also a nice thing to have in the outhouse.
Notice the little blue foam frame on the right. That is our insert for the little kids so they dont feel like their going to fall in.

The lids get a nice layer of frost as does the inner rim of the foam. The lid frost can be uncomfortable if you lean back. The rim frost can be uncomfortable for men and those with little bottoms.
Beleive it or not Ken still likes to read in the outhouse at -40*F. He just brings out a hurricane lantern and settles in. I really haven't had a problem using it even at -40*F as long as I am bundled up and I can pull down my coat and pull up my pants so that I dont have bare legs.

Here is a list of things that we keep in our outhouse (no particular order):

Toilet Paper (lots of extra don't want to run out, out there)
5 Gallon Bucket for used tissue
Hand Sanitizer
Famanine Items
Reading Material
A T-Light Candle for Light
A Bear Whistle
A Sling Shot (just for fun)
Step Stool (For the little guys)
Foam Insert (for little bottoms)

For my readers who have outhouses I would love to hear what you keep in your outhouse? Please leave a comment. If for some reason it won't let you comment send it to me in an e-mail and I will add it to the post.

O the outhouse so slim and tall
a single door and four small walls
who knew how much I would love you so
Enough to visit at 40 below

By Sarah Smith

Now on to a subject thats not as deep and full of POO!

Homeschooling At Sweethomestead Alaska

I have a total of 5 students that we are homeschooling through the Yukon-Koyukuk School District program called Raven Correspondence School. My Niece September (12), My Nephew Ian (11), Lisa (4), and Wyatt & Oak (2). So we are doing preschool - Jr High.

I've had some people asking what curriculum we are using so here is a list of this years subjects and curriculum.

Also to use with all the math even the twins: Saxon Math Manipulatives

I like all of these math programs especially the Teaching Textbooks.

Shurley English 7 (September)

I do NOT like the Shurley English and I would not recomend it. It is borring for me and the kids. So far I like the Sing, Spell, Read & Write though we have not really gotten into the reading yet and Lisa is getting a little upset and wants to jump ahead. She is ready to read and wants to start on the reading books.

With the Notebooking Journal (September & Ian)
The Jr. Notebooking Journal (Lisa)
Lab Kit (All)

Making Modal Solar System

Finished Solar System

Even the boys often listen in on these lessons. We are really enjoying this program.

We like this one.

These are good.

Houghton Mifflin

Posters About Community (September's, Lisa's, Ian's) Lisa doesn't do this subject but wanted to make a poster so hers is Repunzel her daughters and their horses.

This one is OK not great but not bad either.

Sweet Homestead Alaska Physical Education

Ian on Poop Patrole

September Stacking Firewood
The Cabin

My mom and dad have moved into the Scott's old cabin that we remodeled for them. I was going to do an update on this post about it, but I want to get some good pictures of it first. I'll try to get some pictures today. Then I'm going to set up another tab on this blog titled "Moore Space". This will be to introduce you to the Moore family and their new home here at Sweet Homestead Alaska. 
I want to give aother HUGE THANK YOU!!!!!!!! To Darrell and Donna Scott for allowing all of us to set up camp at their place.  I hope that we can help them as much as they have helped us.

To: D&D we love and miss you, can't wait until your home again!

Psalm 18:2
The lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

September/October/November - A Time Of Change

Again it's been a while since I posted and our lives seem so different from my last post. It's amazing how fast our lives have been changing! September and Ian came to live with us in time to keep the school from closing. My mom and dad flew them up dropped them off and then went back home to pack things up. This was the end of September. We rearranged things in the trailer to make room for everyone to sleep.

We also started working on remodeling Darrell and Donna's old cabin scrapping off the old sod roof and putting on a new stick framed tin roof. Then Ken left October 17th for AZ. He pulled Darrell and Donna's 5th wheel down to Yuma. Picked up a box trailer in Phoenix and then went to Prescott Valley to start packing up my folks. He had alot of challenges on his trip and it became a much more costly venture then it should have been. Including a tow bill in Canada of almost $2,000. as well as a minor fender bender with my mom and dad's car and trailer. They got home to Alaska the first week on November.

While they were all gone and it was just the kids and I we had some adventures of our own. I started teaching a children's church group at the Manley Baptist Church.

Ok, So I mentioned that we got September and Ian to the school in time for count to keep the school open. However we quickly learned that the school and the kids were a BAD fit. We ended up withdrawing them from the school and enrolling them in the district homeschooling program Raven Correspondence School. We are still waiting to receive our curriculum, but I purchased some learning drill workbooks that we have been using. It has been a challenge but i firmly beleive we made the right choice and it will be better for them in the long run. It didn't hurt the school as they ended up with 3 other new students to make a secure count.

We had frequint visits from our crippled cow and her calf. Donna even got some great shots of the cow looking in her windows as Otis (a toy poodle) barked at her.

One of our two baby chicks disapeared and then the hen abandoned the other chick. So she has been living in the house. She spends some time in her box and some time haging out on our shoulders or on the couch.

Then we had Halloween. I'm not a huge fan of the creepy side of Halloween, but the kid in me still likes to dress up and beg for candy. Since here most of your costume is covered by coats we have stated a tradition of Halloween hats. We order hats from my sister Rebecca who is a true crochet artist. The other up side to the hats is the kids then use then year after year to play dress up and they are functional outside as we always order them with ear flaps and they can be fleece lined for extra warmth. You can check out her awsome handywork at desertdiamondcrochet. She also sells her patterns and has come out with a great new line of Christmas hats. We started our Halloween adventure at the school Halloween party. The older two kids didn't want to participate in any activities but Lisa and I won the mummy wrap.


Mike from Monsters, Inc

Sully From Monsters Inc

Alaska is by far the most unique place I have ever been. This of coarse spills over into the tradition of trick or treating. After the school party we met up with our friends Rose and Greg and their three boys. We drove from house to house as the houses are quite spred apart (something that makes the village of Manley unique as most villages are tight).Of coarse we were also trudging through snow. So from house to house we went visiting along the way. We didn't make it to every house as with all the little ones getting them in and out still tends to be a pain. In the few houses that we did hit however we were able to fill a 5 gal bucket 3 times. As unique as how you trick or treat is what you get. LOTS of candy as per tradition, but also notebooks, markers and other school supplies. Then there are the homemade goodies some very unique to Alaska like smoked Salmon strips and some more traditional like popcorn balls. Also packs of raisins, microwave popcorn, fresh fruit, bags of chips, etc..etc... All of these things however pale in comparison to the best possible treat of all. A PUPPY! Yes, thats right a puppy. A cute little husky mix named Kesha. How do you tell 5 kids no when they are offered such a cute little ball of fluff? Well weree I'm concearned you Of coarse I'm just as bad as the kids and would have 100 dogs and other furry things if I could. Just my luck Ken was still gone so the puppy was a suprise when he got home. We changed her name to Miss Kitty wich was chosen by Oak. The name fits and she really seems to like it. She's very smart and as cuts as can be, though all puppy and full of energy.

The day after Halloween as it should be was one giant sugar rush with the kids still running around in the hats.

Ian - Dinosour Hat, September - Littlest Pet Shop Kitty Hat

The moose have still been hanging around and September took some nice shots of the prints in the fresh snow.

Just after Halloween Darrell and Donna left for sunny Arizona. I got to help them do the last minute winterization stuff and then waved them off as they flew south for the cold months. It was really hard to watch them leave and even harder everytime I look at the empty house. I can't beleive how much I miss them. I knew that I would but not as much as I do. I even had a dream the other night that they came home early and I made them a huge welcome home breakfast lol...While I miss them, on mornings like today when I wake up to -40 I'm glad that Darrell is out working on his bike in Sunny AZ instead of trying to work on something in the shop at -40 or walking around out in the deep snow back and forth.

Ken, Mom and Dad had their own adventures travel from Arizona. Flat tires on the 52' box trailer, jackknifing the little trailer with the Highlander, various part falures on the semi. Even on the last few miles home. They came accross three guys in a rental SUV who had blown out a tire and couldn't the spare down. They ended up limping it to our house were Ken helped them get going. In addition just as mom and dad pulled in the yard a tire fell off the trailer. It was after 8pm before they were able to actually come in the house and visit everyone after their long absence.

Now to continue working on the Scott's old cabin to get it livable. They have since finished repairs to the floor and now need to do the insulation, put in a new window and a wood stove. Until it's ready to live in we are all 9 living in our little trailer with add on.

Diesel and Miss Kitty Bonding

Sunday Morning

Yesterday my mom had to go into Fairbanks. She woke up and was feeling very dizzy and her blood pressure was sky high. I'm waiting to hear back on the result of her dr's visit.

 Psalm 46:1 "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

PS sorry about all the typos I tried to go back in and correct them but seem to be having difficulties .lol...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

July & August Wrap Up

Oak, September, Lisa, Ian, Wyatt (shirts made by September)
 The highlight of our July was of coarse the visit from my mom and dad July 11th-25th. They got in on a very late flight on Monday night and we stayed at the Comfort Inn over night in ajoining rooms. The following morning we all piled in the bus and they got to see Ken at work as we tagged along with him on his errands for the council. Then came the long bus ride home from Fairbanks to Eureka. We were dropped off and walked to the dog lot were we left the dogs and my car while we were in town. We picked up the dogs and headed a couple miles down the road to our newest home.

No, we haven't made it to our 20 acre parcel yet and have put those plans on hold for a while at least until next spring. For now we are camped off of the runway of Darrell and Donna Scott who have adopted our family. We could not have fallen in with better people than the Scott's. They have lived in this area almost 40 years and are well known for their good and generous natures. We get to help them out and learn new skills all at the same time not to mention just enjoying their company. Darrell has a million wonderful adventure stories and leaves you hanging on his every word. I'm fascinated with hearing about the world that he grew up in. It really is amazing all the living that he has done in his life. (I hope that made sense) :) Right there along side for the wild ride has been Donna she is truelly a rock. As much as Darrell and Ken remind me of eachother it makes me admire Donna and look up to her all the more as I'm sure there have been MANY a challenge over the years. Darrell and Ken are both good strong men that expect strength and stability in their partners. I just hope that I can show the same strength that Donna has and enjoy the same kind of long and happy marriage. Oh and let me not forget to mention her cooking AMAZING! The kids have named them Grandpa and Nonnie and beg to visit with them everyday. I've never been a huge fan of little dogs but even their little poodle Otis has grown on me. He is so sweet and smart with his soft curly hair I could sit and pet him all day wich I'm sure he would just hate. ;)

Ian & September at Tanana River Landing in Manley Hot Springs
Picnic at Walter Wood's Park in Manley Hot Springs
We had all our stuff moved over here before my mom and dad got here so we all stayed here. My folks got to stay in a trailer that was already here and we stayed in ours so everyone had their space and a bed. We started a morning ritual of coffee around a little fire pit like we were camping and ait most of our meals at the outside table rain or shine. They didn't get much of a vacation as they spent most of their time helping us prep for the winter. We did take some time to go and vistit the 20 acres and for a drive up the Eureka/Rampart road and some trips into Manley Hot Springs. September and Ian also got to meet their pen pals from Manley and really enjoyed that. Ian had a birthday while they were here so we had thier pen pals and the Scott's over for cake.  A highlight of their trip for my dad was getting to ride Darrel's motorcycle. He also had a good time out scouting for Bear with Ken. Our only tourist type activity was visiting Iditarod Kennels run by Pam and Joee Redington. It was great, we got to watch a slide show on Joe Sr's trip up Mt. Mckinley and got a tour and talk about the dogs at the kennel. I recomend this tour to anyone who visits the Manley area. Pam and Joee are so full of information not only on mushing but on living a subsistance lifestyle in interior Alaska. They have a wonderful garden and fish, trap, hunt, make crafts, etc...etc.... the list goes on and on. They are a fountain of useful and interesting information.
Ian (right/red shirt) & his penpal Aubry (left)

September (right/purple T-shirt) & Her pen pal Rebekah.

Ian's Birthday Party


September Breaking sticks for the fire

To keep warm this winter we decided to build a half cabin off the side of our 5th wheel. We built it on skids so that we can move it before we attach the future second half. This way we can set up the wood stove in the cabin and it will warm the cabin and the 5th wheel. we will use the 5th wheel for bedrooms and a play area and the cabin for kitchen and living room area. Most of this work was done in a weekend. I'll try to get some inside photos soon. It's working really well and staying nice and warm so far. My dad was a huge help and my mom helped by watching the kids so that I could help with the building.
Setting up the skids.

Floor with Poly
And the walls come up

Adding the Roof

Adding Arctic Entry



Our Camp Rober Friend
We made friends with a pair of Camp Robbers who would fly in at every meal for some scraps.
The Out
We wanted to make sure that we had something set up for everyone to use the potty so we set up an out. It had a plywood piece proped up in front to give some privacy. A few days in Ken built the actual house around it. Now we have a very nice little outhouse. I'll have to get an inside shot of that as well. ;) Those with indoor plumbing seem to find outhouses interesting.
The New OutHouse
 This is a random shot from Ken and my Dad out driving around of a wolf track.
Wolf Track & Ken's Hand
 This is Lisa typing an email to Nana. She tells me what she wants to say and I write it on the white board. Then she types it. I put a red dash to mark spaces for her. She does really well and is getting faster. She is learning to type and read all at the same time.
Lisa Typing an email to Nana

Dozer & Tank

Oak's Lovey "Boo Bear" was the victim of a dog attack. He left Boo outside and Pam desided he was a chew toy. I had to sew his face and foot back together, give him a new nose, new ear and crochet a new scarf.
Franken Boo, Boo Bear after dog attack
Our neighbors Art and Grizz came over to use the runway with their flying machine. I took pictures as they took off and flew around. Art went for the first flight and then his son Grizz went out. We had fun watching them.
Art, Grizz and their flying machine

Art Heading Down the Runway

Art Taking Off

Grizz at Takeoff

Flying overhead

Over all August was pretty uneventful other than dealing with the same ol drama. Most of our spare time has been spent working on the cabin. On a forward note and peek into September, Ken is working on trying to get a moose. I went in and put in a few hours of work at Dart AM Farm picking beans. I'm hoping to go do some more picking next week as they are in need of harvest help. Ken is still driving the Village Express and the kids are still being little goofy nut heads. Pre-K is set to start at the school again at the end of the month IF the school is still open. I've heard that at this point they are a student short of the needed count and may end up closing. If that happens September and Ian wont have a school to attend when they move up here and it may cause some young families to leave the area so that their kids can attend school. For us it's not a huge deal as we planned to mostly homeschool correspondance through the school anyway. That way the kids could still go into school for the social aspect but we wouldn't have to drive them in everyday. We are also planning a more hands on learning experiance for our kids and we hope to have more choice as to what they learn about. In my experiance homeschooled kids are well equiped for college because they have to learn to study and be self  motivated early on. I hope that the school will not have to close if it does it could be years before it's able to re-open if it ever does.

Blessings to all of my friends, family and readers.

She is not afraid of the snow for her household: For all her household are clothed with scarlet. Proverbs 31:21 KJV

After picking this verse for this post I re-read Proverbs 31 which I have read many times and have highlighted. What an example we have laid out before us. Though I often fall short I will not fail to strive to be a Proverbs 31 woman.