Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kenai Convention

 Today was our first convention day here in Alaska. We even put together a special little display featuring books we carry that are set in Alaska and of course we had to add a cute moose mascot. He will be going home to live with Judy's little grandson, but for this week he's helping out in the booth.
Our booth space went around a corner and had a very large world map mounted on the wall behind it, which made for an interesting yet attractive set-up. Don't you think?

The convention ended at 5:00. We packed and loaded up for the 3-hour drive back to Anchorage.
We have been avidly watching for "Moose on Road" but saw nary a one this evening. (Road sign photo courtesy of Stan.)

We would also not have objected to seeing bears, caribou, or whales along the way, but no such luck. In fact, the only wildlife we've seen at all has been ginormous mosquitoes, various birds... and a very strange character at WalMart who was insistent on helping us load our groceries in hopes that we would give him a dollar for his efforts. Never mind that there were four of us who were perfectly capable of loading our own groceries. That was kinda scary.
We have seen more blue sky this year than last year... which make the snowcapped peaks much more spectacular.
 The late daylight hours made the drive back from Kenai very pleasant, in spite of all the animals apparently hiding from us.
It's been a long day, and tomorrow will be an early one, with set-up for the Anchorage convention first thing in the morning. 

No scenic drive on tomorrow's itinerary... but on a trip like this, you never know what might happen. It's always an adventure.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Driving to Kenai

Today's travels took us from Anchorage to Kenai. The drive was described by the convention sponsors thusly: 
The 3-hour (145-mile) ride from Anchorage to Soldotna on the Seward and Stering Highways is nothing less than magnificent, traveling first along breath-taking Turnagain Arm with wonderful views of glacier-capped mountains across the inlet, and then through a mountain pass before you drop down into the forest to drive alongside the glacier-fed, aqua-marine Kenai River.
And indeed, it is a beautiful drive. Last year I was driving, which is not conducive to much picture-taking. Today I was a back-seat passenger, so my view was somewhat limited.
I was able to get a few pictures through the side windows of the minivan.
I didn't realize until we got there that the back windows of this particular minivan will actually roll down, so I wouldn't have had to deal with reflections on the glass if I had known. Oh, well.

We checked into our hotel, then went and set up our booth at the convention venue.

Sheila (one of my co-workers) had discovered an interesting-looking pizza place in Soldota: St. Elias Brewing Company, so we decided to eat there for supper.
The pizza was delicious... as was the root beer which they make there on-sight (in addition to beers and ales and whatever else breweries make).
Sheila is good at taking group selfies. (Or do you call group selfies "ussies" or "weesies"?) She took this one at the restaurant before our food came.
After supper we drove out to the beach on the Kenai River. The breeze was cool but not frigid. We enjoyed picking up pebbles.
And we marveled at how high the sun still was at 8:30 p.m.

Monday, April 27, 2015

On a Jet Plane

Day 1 of my Alaska trip was mostly spent in the air. Our flight out of Denver was at 6:10 a.m. It usually takes about 40 minutes to get to the airport, so allowing time to get through security and such, we left home at 3:45 a.m. Ugh!
The first leg of our trip took us to Salt Lake City. Our layover there was relatively short, and of course you can't tell much about an area just from the airport, but we did enjoy seeing the mountains.
 As we flew out from there, I was interested to see what appeared to be bright purple water below. I don't know if that was the Great Salt Lake and the purple was minerals in the water, or if it was something else entirely.
 Our next stop was at SeaTac. In a switch-around of typical weather, it was raining when we left Denver, and sunny in Seattle. And so the "mountain was out." (Mount Rainier is often hidden by cloud cover.)
 I enjoyed the clear view of Puget Sound as we headed north from there.
When we arrived in Anchorage, Judy and I decided we should snap a picture of the stuffed moose in the airport lobby in case it was the only one we would see.

Tomorrow we will be driving to Kenai. I am hopeful the weather will be nice so we can get some good pictures of the scenery.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Headed to Alaska

I will be co-hosting the Sonlight booth at the Interior Distance Education of Alaska curriculum fairs next week. I will be traveling and working with my friend, Judy. I am looking forward to visiting Alaska again this year!

Here's our itinerary:
Monday, April 27. Fly from Denver to Anchorage.
Tuesday, April 28. Drive from Anchorage to Kenai.
Wednesday, April 29. Convention in Kenai. Drive back to Anchorage.
Thursday, April 30. Convention in Anchorage.
Friday, May 1. Convention in Anchorage.
Saturday, May 2. Drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks.
Sunday, May 3. Day of rest.
Monday, May 4. Convention in Fairbanks.
Tuesday, May 5. Convention in Fairbanks.
Wednesday, May 6. Drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage.
Thursday, May 7. Fly from Anchorage to Denver.
As you can see, it's going to be mostly driving and working... not a whole lot of time for recreation. But still, it's sure to be an adventure. I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Scheduling Our Homeschool

I have to admit I was a pretty laid-back homeschooler. We didn't have a set schedule that we followed every day. Instead, I tried to cultivate good habits with lots of flexibility.
Early on I discovered that it was best for me to get up early, before the children did, to have a chance for some quiet time and to mentally prepare for the day. If I slept in and didn't get up until they came and woke me, it seemed like we were running behind all day. Generally I tried to get up between 6:30 and 7:00, and be ready to start school by about 9:00.

The "seat work" (written work) was most challenging for my kids, so I found that it was good to start the day at the table working on math, spelling, and language arts while the kids were still fresh. After about an hour, we would take a break and have a snack. The kids could run around a little bit and I could change a load of laundry or something like that. 
After the break, we came back together for the "fun" part of the school day... the time when Mom reads to the kids. Sometimes we would cuddle on my bed, or sit on the porch swing or a blanket in the yard. Most often, I sat on the couch and the kids played on the floor while I read to them. I found they actually listened better if their hands were busy.
Most days, in the early years, we were finished with school before lunch time. Early afternoons were designated as "quiet time." The girls outgrew naps at about age 4 or 5, but we still observed the down time for several more years. Mostly it gave me a break in the middle of the day... and I feel like it was good for the kids to learn to entertain themselves quietly. Late afternoons were for playing outside or running errands.

As the girls got older, they spent more hours doing school, and were able to work more independently. I did continue to read aloud to them all the way through high school, as they enjoyed that, and it gave us wonderful opportunities to discuss what they were learning.

We made homeschooling and learning part of our lifestyle, so it was easy to keep a flexible schedule.

This glimpse at "a day in the life of a homeschooler" is part of Sonlight's 25th anniversary blog party.
Sonlight Blog Party

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Saga of the Lilacs

 Of all the places I've ever lived, I think the Denver area has the wackiest weather. Last year the lilacs were just beginning to bloom the week before Mother's Day. We have a lovely stand of tall lilac bushes along the back of our deck and I was so looking forward to enjoying the delicate color and delightful fragrance of lilacs in full bloom, when we got hit with a late spring snow storm.
Spring snow is wet and heavy. The leaves and blossoms hold the snow and weight the branches down. So that was the end of the lilacs last year. I was hopeful that this year would be different. The weather was milder and the lilacs budded out earlier.
They weren't quite in full-bloom when we, again, got another spring snow storm. Again, the branches were weighted down with the heavy snow. I was so disappointed, just sure that was the end of lilacs for another year.
However, the temperature hovered just above freezing, so the lilac blossoms were tenaciously hanging on. I thought it still might freeze during the  night last night...
...but it didn't. This morning, when the sun came out, I was happy to see the branches beginning to spring back up as the snow was melting away.
One large branch had snapped off, so before the flowers had a chance to wilt and die I went out and "harvested" them...
...and arranged them in a lovely bouquet to enjoy indoors.

I'm so glad the lilacs survived this year!

(High drama in my backyard, right?)

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rules for Living

I discovered recently that the YouVersion Bible app has a feature that will let you create a "social media" graphic for any verse. (Actually, the first one was pre-made. I liked it and wanted to use it, but I also wanted to include the rest of what Jesus said, so I made the second graphic to follow it.) There are just a few pictures and fonts available in the app, so it's pretty limited in what you can do with it... or maybe I just haven't figure it all out yet. Still, pretty cool, huh?

These are a just few verses I've been dwelling on recently.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What I'm Reading This Spring

My friend Sheila is participating in a blogging group that is sharing their reading lists and recommendations this week. While I'm not part of that group, I thought it would be fun to share my reading list anyway. I haven't done any book reviews in a long time, so lately most of my reading has been library books. Our library has a great selection of e-books and audio books on OverDrive that I can download to my Kindle or MP3 player. I don't even have to get up off the couch to check them out! How cool is that? I have to admit, though, I still love going to the library. Not everything is available in digital format, you know.

Recently Read:

Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates. A fascinating memoir of an English professor who teaches Shakespeare classes in prisons, even to inmates in maximum security facilities.

Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson. Another interesting memoir of the step-daughter of a charismatic tent revival evangelist in the 1960s and 1970s.

Dug Down Deep by Joshua Harris. Actually a theology book, but easy to read and understand, and while I don't agree completely with his doctrine, I did learn a lot and found it inspiring.

What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God by Lysa Terkeurst. I used this book as "curriculum" for my Sunday School of college-age young ladies for the past couple of months. It's been a good study.

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck. A novel about a "nose" in the perfume industry. The twist was that the "nose" had lost her sense of smell just as she was starting a new job.

The Sky Beneath My Feet by Lisa Samson. A novel about a pastor's wife whose husband goes on sabbatical-- in the shed in the back yard! It dealt with burn-out and mid-life crisis kind of topics.

Anna's Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher. A historical Amish novel set in the 1730s. I thought it was interesting because it wasn't like modern Amish stories, yet the Amish were still considered "different" even at that time in history.

Etta Mae's Worst Bad-Luck Day by Ann B. Ross. Part of the Miss Julia series, but featuring Miss Julia's friend, Etta Mae, as the protagonist. I didn't enjoy it as much as others in the series. I'm not sure if it was because I like Miss Julia better than Etta Mae... or because I actually read this one instead of listening to it on audio book. Her reader, Cynthia Darlow, just makes the stories come alive!

Audio Books:

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg. This is by the author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, and the audio book was read by the author. She is an excellent reader. I have read several of her books, and have enjoyed some more than others. I like the Miss Julia books better, probably because they are a little lighter.

To Be Read:

Going Gray by Anne Kreamer. This one caught my eye because I'm, well, going gray! The subtitle is What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters.

Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith. Obviously, a biography about the queen of England.

Miss Julia Lays Down the Law by Ann B. Ross. I am on the waiting list for the audio version of the latest book in the Miss Julia series.

What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Passion Play

The girls are participating in the Passion Play of Denver each night this week. This is Laura's second year to take part. She talked her sister into joining in this year. Rebecca wasn't too sure about participating at first, but now that the performances have started, she is loving it. It's been a great experience for both of them.

Their first performance was Palm Sunday evening, so Lyle and I went to see it that night. The girls are part of the Crowd. They don't have speaking parts, but I think the Crowd is an important part of the play. It wouldn't be the Easter story without the Crowd, now would it? I told them they could be Jesus' friends, Mary and Martha, sisters in the New Testament.

I asked Laura to take off her glasses for the picture, but she didn't want to. She isn't allowed to wear them for the play, and she got tired of people telling her take them off! Oh, well.

He is Risen!