January 29, 2009

Yukon Delta villages need help

I know things have been bad for a lot of people in our country and around the world. I was just made aware of this particular situation that the native people in the rural villages of Alaska are going through. I want to help get the word out so they can get as much help as possible. I also want to involve my children and hopefully the children in our local homeschooling community to do some good community service and help out as much as we can.

I will let the news stories and e-mail message speak for themselves.

Hi everyone,

It’s not just Emmonak that is struggling it’s the entire Yukon Delta. I live in Nunam Iqua, a village that is 25 miles south of Emmonak. Not only are we faced with the same issues as Emmonak but also our crisis is harder because we no longer have a store here. Our trading post collapsed several months ago, so we have no place here to get groceries.

So not only are we struggling between choosing heating fuel or food but also we have to spend even MORE MONEY to buy gas to travel upriver to Emmonak or Alakanuk to even get food. Which is very expensive when you have pay $7.20 a gallon for gas. It takes at least 6 gallons of gas just to travel by snowmachine to Emmonak or Alakanuk to even get groceries. So that takes that much more money away from what we have to spend on heating fuel and food.

We try to reduce our heating fuel costs by using our wood stove but then are we really saving money? because we still have to spend money on gas to go and get wood for our wood stove.
Everyone, especially Governor Palin, needs to realize that it’s not just Emmonak residents that are suffering! We need help in all of the YK Delta villages!

OK, I complied a list of everyone here in Nunam Iqua. I spoke to all but one household here and Have a list of what is needed. I got permission for my Youth Center to receive/distribute any donations that come in.

So they can be mailed to:
Ann StrongheartNunam Iqua Program for Youthc/o City of Nunam Iqua101 Mudd StreetP.O. Box 26Nunam Iqua, AK 99666

OR if you would like to send boxes directly to needy families I have a list of families including their family size and needs and their PO Box #’s you can email me at nunamiquayouth@yahoo.com if you would like a copy.

Here is a list of things that are desperately needed, since we have no store here in Nunam Iqua we are really struggling to get food and groceries here.
Here’s the list:
Diapers Sizes 1, 3, & 6
Similac Advanced Formula Powder
Canned Evaporated Milk
Dry Powdered Milk
Powdered Eggs
Crackers ( Sailor Boy Pilot Bread unsalted tops are the most used here)
Rice (minute rice)
Peanut Butter
TOILET PAPPER (everyone is running out)
Coffee Creamer
Pancake Mix
Canned Vegetables
Dried Fruit
Instant Soups
Ramen Noodles
Cup a noodles
Just basic pantry staples. Even salt, pepper, etc.

OOH I just realized I forgot to put baby cereal and baby food on the list.

I would give you all some more information on the YK Delta.
It now costs $650 to fly from Emmonak to Anchorage round trip. For us to get to Emmonak from Nunam Iqua is an additional $150 so that’s $800 from Nunam to Anchorage and back.
Here in Nunam Iqua there are many families, myself included, who live in what could be described as shacks. Our house is 20′ x 30′ and is constructed out of plywood. It was built back in the 60’s and is very drafty and leaky LOL we use my 18 month old’s leftover diapers that are too small to catch the leaks when it’s raining or warms up. But we don’t have a choice, this is the only housing available, we rent it. It’s a choice between here or living with family and we would much rather have our own place, even tho it needs serious help.

Here in Nunam Iqua, we have no running water or sewer. They are currently building our water/sewer project and we hope to have running water/sewer this year or next. We are a honey bucket community, meaning we have 5 gallon buckets in our bathrooms with toilet seats on them.

Additionally, we have no roads here, no cars. We travel by snowmachine and 4-wheeler during the winter and by boat in the summer. We had a store here but it collapsed due to the rising energy costs.

We are currently paying $7.20 for a gallon of gas and $7.35 for a gallon of stove oil. The majority of homes here use stove oil for heat. Some of us have wood stoves to help keep the costs down.
We do have regular postal service here, depending on the ability of planes to make it in. The only way for supplies to arrive here is by plane or during the summer by barge. The majority of us live a subsistence lifestyle. Our major meat sources come from Fishing and Hunting. We also pick berries and wild greens during the summer/fall. We have nets under the ice on the river but the fish seem to be very slow coming this winter.

Oh yeah, Nunam Iqua is a village of about 200 people, located on the southern mouth of the Yukon. We got a brand new school this past summer so now our kids don’t have to brave the elements to make it to their classrooms and the gym to eat.

We currently have a City Office, a Tribal Office, the School, the Clinic, Laundrymat, Powerplant, Youth Center and Post Office available in Nunam.

I know this is going to sound funny but I am very grateful that it got cold again today. We had 36 degrees last night and were worried that it might start to affect the ice on the river and make it unsafe to travel but now we are back down to 9 degrees so no more worrying about the river.
The pike should start running soon so we will be able to take a 60 mile day trip by snowmachine to go catch pike and dry them assuming we can afford gas.

Ummm I don’t know what else to tell y’all but I thought I would give you an idea of what it’s like here in Nunam Iqua. We did have a very early freeze up this year and the last barge didn’t make it in. We are having temperatures ranging from-25 degrees below zero to 30 above. Normally, we are consistently below zero this time of year.

Hope that gives y’all some information and answers some questions you might have about the YK Delta.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide. We greatly appreciate it. Our weather is getting weird here, it got really hot here last night up to 36 degrees, if it keeps up we will be unable to travel upriver by snowmachine to get food, b/c the river will be unsafe to travel on.

Again if you have any questions or what more information please feel free to contact me at nunamiquayouth@yahoo.com

I know there have been references to scams so please feel free to look us up online. Nunam Iqua Program for Youth. I was featured on NAC, Native America Calling last year addressing underage drinking in the Bush. And we are listed with the State of AK as one of their grantees. So you can verify the mailing address and email address I provided.
Sincerely grateful,

If you feel compelled to help, please do what you can. I'm off to look up other villages in the area to see if others need help.

Morgan and Books

To say that Morgan loves books is an understatement. The girl lives and breathes books and reading. :-) She has decided that she wants to write a book and has started on her own. She didn't tell us about it until after she had started working on it. I still don't know what it is about. Anyway, today a package arrives via FedEx and it is for Morgan. We didn't order anything so we were a little surprised. She looks at the return address and exclaims, "Oh yea! I contacted a publisher about publishing the book I'm writing and they said they were sending me some books to sample. These must be the books!". Huh? News to me. She took it upon herself to contact the publishing company that publishes some books she likes. Talk about initiative. :-) Good job, know what you are interested in and figure out how to find out more about it, how to get to where you want to go.

Kudos to the publishing company for following through. It is Penguin Group (teen division) and they sent her 4 books: Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard, Unclaimed Heart by Kim Wilkins, A Match Made In High School by Kristin Walker, and Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow. They look interesting.

I am proud of my independent, little go-getter.


Morgan & Alex had bowling league today. We are about 4 weeks into this 12 week session. Both kids are doing very well so far. Alex is making some nice headway into improving his game. This weekend is the Columbia Youth Tournament. The kids are participating with 2 friends. Saturday they will bowl teams, which is the 4 of them together. Then on Sunday they will bowl doubles and singles. The 4 of them will still bowl together but their scores will be scored as doubles and then singles. This is Alex's first tournament and he's pretty excited. My main thing is that he has fun and doesn't feel pressured. What is the point of participating if you aren't having fun, right? We are hoping that GC will come watch & cheer the kids on. However, both days are early ones and she doesn't do mornings very well. ;-) I plan on taking plenty of pictures so you know there will be a link later.

January 26, 2009

Structure or Unstructured

It seems that our family has different ideas about homeschooling. I have no problem with a loose "schedule". I think the kids learn a lot from every day life. Yes, we have days that are complete veg but we also have days when we learn a lot more and do a lot more. I personally think it all balances out. Are we doing busy work all day, every day like in the school system? NO! But that is one of the joys of homeschooling. Are we tied down to Monday through Friday? NO! But this is another joy of homeschooling. I love that we can be flexible. I love that we can do what feels right to us and works for us at the time. If the situation changes than we can change with it. Nothing says we can't. We don't have to stay on this particular path. The beauty of it is that we can venture off the path and find our own way, create a path, find a new path, just wander around...whatever. Yes, I think the kids need to learn certain things. Even if we aren't doing math or grammar in our workbooks we often do harder stuff verbally during conversations, cooking, etc. Being able to put what they know into action is key!! It doesn't do you any good to know the information if you don't know what to do with it.

I let Morgan spend the night at a friend's house last night. This friend is homeschooled as well. She took some of her school books with her and both girls did school work today. Even if they hadn't done school work, I didn't have a problem with it. To me, this is part of homeschooling (for us). We've done this with other homeschooling friends that had busy family weekends...the girls would have sleepovers in the middle of the week. It caused no problems! My mom made a comment about it being a school night. Well, sure, I guess...but it isn't like they get up to catch the bus & have class at a specific time. So tonight, Morgan's friend is over here spending the night. She brought her school work to do tomorrow. Corey has made a comment about my mom not being wrong, that it *is* a school night. Now, he had NO problem with Morgan spending the night at her friend's house or her friend spending the night here. From time to time he will raise a concern about the kids and I not doing enough school work. I do take his concerns seriously when he brings them up. Every now and then I do feel like we have "slacked off" and I will pick things up a bit. However, this comment about "school nights" just doesn't cut it with me. I disagree completely. We have agreed that homeschooling allows us freedom and flexibility. To me this covers everything from what days & hours we do school and what subjects we cover and how we go about covering them.

I'm not a complete unschooler. I do believe the kids need to do and learn things they might not want to. However, I am very eclectic about how we learn what we learn. We use workbooks, library books, audio books, real life, internet, movies, field trips, tv, friends, etc. Whatever gets the idea across. :-) And it doesn't matter to me if it is Tuesday, Saturday, 11am or 7pm.

January 16, 2009

The Hotel for Dogs

Our version anyway...not the movie. :-) We are dog sitting for my mom & brother until Sunday while they drive to Florida to visit my grandmother. My brother has 2 dogs, an Australian Cattle dog, Stoli, and a Pomeranian, Remy. My mother has 1 dog, a Shih Tzu, Molly. Molly is a new addition to our family. She was rescued on Tuesday so she's going through a lot of adjustment right now...new home, then another house for dog sitting,etc. She's doing great though! :-) I've managed to get a few pictures.

Here we have Stoli (front left), Trey (back left), Molly (front center), and Remy (right).
Here are all 5 dogs: Stoli, Bella, Trey, Remy and Molly.
Molly in her hoodie...she looks like Little Red Riding Hood :-)

Here is a close up of Molly. She's a little scruffy still because she was very matted when we found her. Poor baby. She's still a cutie pie.

January 14, 2009

In the land of laundry....

Some days I feel like I live in the land of laundry. We are only a family of 4 (humans, anyway) and yet somehow I feel like we have mountains of laundry. My personal thoughts on dirty laundry is that you put any 2 pieces together and they will multiply like rabbits. So you have to be careful.

One day I will swear that all our laundry is clean & put away, except what we are currently wearing. Then overnight I will have a mountain of dirty clothes in our bedroom. How does this happen? I don't think we are having fashion shows, mudbaths in our clothes, extra people wearing them...but still it happens. The kids each have a hamper in their rooms. Alex tends to ignore his and toss clothes wherever he feels like taking them off...family room, living room, bathroom, master bedroom, stairs....wherever. Morgan tends to stuff her hamper until it is about to explode and she is out of clothes to wear. LOL!

Anyway, I put a load of laundry into the washer and moved a load into the dryer last night. This morning as I was getting in the shower I asked the kids if they would get the clothes out of the dryer and put the basket on my bed. Just as I was stepping into the shower I could hear some muffled conversation and one of the kids (not sure which one) said "Hey....SHE said to get them out." After my shower I start to take the clothes out of the basket...and they are wet! The kids started laughing and tell me that I told them to get the clothes out so they did what they were told. I told them they could have let me know the clothes were wet and they responded...but you didn't ask if they were dry you just said to get them out! LOL! Goons! We are raising smartypants! So, they had to put the load back in the dryer & turn it on. Next time I'll try to remember to add "if they are dry...take them out".

Trey has his own ideas of what dirty clothes and laundry baskets are to be used for, especially on a cold day...

January 10, 2009

Phriday Physics

Ok, sorry, I just had to have fun with that. :-) LOL!

Friday morning we took our PhysicsQuest kits over to the house of some friends. Lori, Madison & Quenten were going to do the experiments with us. We got all set up, the boys were working together and the girls together. We read the first section and started the first experiment and were thrown when we realized that we should have set up part of the experiment a couple hours before we were ready to do it. Oops...this is why we should read through everything *first*...right? :-) So we got that part set up and set the experiment aside and went on to the second section. We got through that section & experiment just fine. The kids really seemed to enjoy it and were learning bits & pieces (even though this is intended for kids in middle school not elementary). They got to see and create first-hand that electricity creates a magnetic field. We had lunch and then all headed to gym day. Afterwards we returned to Lori's house and did the first experiment. That one was cool too and involved refraction & reflection and water gel crystals. I think the favorite part was seeing how big the water gel crystals became in the course of a couple hours. LOL! We then started on the third section but we had to pack up so the kids and I could go pick up Corey and get to the garage in time to get our van (yea, fixed). We will go back over this coming week and finish the third & fourth sections and experiments. :-) Lori and I are happy with how it is all working out and pleased that the kids are enjoying it and learning. Morgan asked, "Isn't physics usually done in high school? How come we are doing it now?". We told her that one of the joys of homeschooling is that we can pretty much do what we want when we want. And that the school system typically puts a subject at a certain grade to make it easier to get all the kids through various subjects. I personally think it is all about control & power trips but that is just me. I don't want any subject to be a "high school" or "later" thing. If they are interested I want to try to find a way to expose them to that subject and let them learn what they can (as age appropriate). I think it creates this huge mystery and "scare" factor that x, y and z subjects are hard, scary, and yucky because you can't do them until you are in 11th grade,etc. What a crock....chemistry, physics,algebra, etc....it is all around us all the time. No reason for it to be so mysterious and scary.

Corey finished Eclipse last night. We went to Books-A-Million today to get Breaking Dawn. He's loving it. I picked up a few books, using my BAM giftcard (thanks Mom!), and Alex got a little something. Morgan is spending the night with a friend so she's having her own fun. :-) Since it is so cold & rainy it is just a perfect weekend for reading & football. Unfortunately our Tennessee Titans just lost the play-off game. Soo...we will be cheering on the Giants tomorrow.

January 8, 2009

Oh boy

Wednesday started out okay, got up & got going and convinced the kids that they did have to do schoolwork before bowling. Apparently fussing was on sale, BOGO, because there was plenty of it but then they did get their hineys in gear and get it all done. They even cooperated and ate lunch before we had to leave without much fuss at all. There were a lot of new people at bowling, which is great. The kids had a good time, got their teams settled and met some new friends. Bowling took longer than usual but that was due to it being the first day and having so many new bowlers. Corey made a delicious steak & baked potato dinner...and then I got sick! Sooo, the wrong night to get sick after dinner. Not that there is a good night to get sick after dinner...but not after a steak dinner! I never felt "sick" but the stomach bug took its toll on me *big* time. I won't go into details because that is more than anyone needs to read, it was bad enough experiencing it once, but suffice it to say there was nothing left between my eyebrows & my knees. ;-) I went to bed a little after 9pm (me, Miss Midnight - 1am) but did I get to sleep...noooooo...up & down with several trips to the bathroom. I think that finally ended around 3am. Poor Corey was sooo good getting the kids to bed, taking care of me,etc. This morning I slept until 10am and we had a slow day. Mama was recovering. And ya know...I felt worse recovering today than I did at any point last night...well, maybe not at 2:45am when I finally had the dry heaves...but still. Weak, dizzy and sore all over. The kids played good together and spent a lot of time outside.

Tomorrow we are going over to do some physics experiments with friends. We were supposed to go this morning but there was no way I could expose them to this stomach bug if it was contagious. They have 10 people currently in their house and maaaaaaaaaaan a stomach bug would not be pretty. We also take the van to the mechanic tomorrow morning. Ick! I really, really hope that it isn't something major.

January 6, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring...

Ok, all we've had the last several days is rain, rain, and a little more rain. Seriously, we'd like to dry out a bit. It is January and I'll take cold & snow....but cold & rain just chills you to the bone. It isn't nearly as fun to play in the cold rain as it is the snow, so the dogs & children prefer staying inside..but whine about it.

Over the weekend, Corey & I got a kid-free night and partial day. They spent the night at their friends' house the night after we had the friends over here. It worked out great and was Alex's first official non-family sleepover. He finally crossed that hurdle...and survived. He's growing up. We went out to dinner, watched a movie, went out for coffee & pastries the next morning at a new (for us) place....won't be going back, did some shopping & shampooed our carpets. A friend let us borrow her carpet shampooer. I have to say I think the carpet shampooer is pretty good and our carpet sucks. I hate, hate, hate beige berber carpet. We absolutely can't wait to get rid of it...and this holds true for all 4 of us! We would love to do an eco-friendly cork or bamboo flooring but with the 2 dogs, 2 cats and 2 kids we don't think it will survive.

On the homeschooling front we are getting back into the swing of things. I registered for Physics Quest 2008 and our packages have arrived. We are going to start working on our experiments. We've invited some friends to do them with us. I think it will be fun and the kids are excited. They both really enjoy science. They haven't put up a fuss in getting back down to business, which is nice. I was really expecting it yesterday and was VERY pleased to have them cooperate so well. Today, Morgan and I went up to the Williamson County library and picked up some books. We came home to find that Corey had started New Moon (the 2nd book in the Twilight series). Yea! We will be able to talk about more than just what happens in book 1. ;-) Although Alex has NO interest in any of it and is frustrated with Morgan's obsession with all things Twilight. She keeps pretending to be Alice (one of the characters) and he will yell at her and tell her that she is NOT Alice and to STOP the Twilight stuff. LOL! We keep telling him not to worry about it but it bugs the daylights out of him. I personally think it is funny and have no issues with it. Tomorrow we will start back with the next session of bowling. Both kids are signing back up. We will go from January to the end of March this time. PE starts back up on Friday and the kids will be very glad to go there. They can play with friends and get rid of some of this energy from being cooped up in the house with all the rain.

January 1, 2009

Welcome to 2009

The first day of 2009 was a pretty good day. Everyone slept late (late for our family) and had a nice slow, relaxing start to the day. Alex was cute and wanted to make biscuits for everyone. He had already gotten out the biscuit mix, milk, butter and turned on the oven to preheat (per the directions). He was having trouble with measuring, which is when he came to talk to me. As any parent can guess, I got out of bed at this point. LOL! :-) I helped him and we got the biscuits in the oven. The kids had put away most of their gifts, clean laundry & such so when Morgan was talking to a friend about getting together to play we suggested that she invite her friend & her brother (Alex's friend) to come over to play and sleep over. The kids were very excited. Maddy & Quenten came over and the kids have been fabulous all day...and night. The boys just playing & playing and the girls talking, playing & giggling. We played a card game, Phase 10, with the girls and then watched a movie (Cutting Edge 2) before herding the 4 of them upstairs to bed...at 11pm. The talking & giggling has quieted down to a very low level at this point.

Last year on January 1st, Corey and I both decided to participate in the 101 things to do in 1001 days project...instead of setting typical resolutions. We reviewed our lists today to see how we are doing. I've completed 24 of my 101 things (the last 2 are actually writing a new list at the end of the 1001 days and donating money for each item left undone at the end). I need to step it up... my time ends on September 28, 2010. A couple things I am working on but they are complete so I haven't checked them off. I think Corey has completed a few more things on his list but not too far ahead. He brought up something pretty interesting that I hadn't really thought about. He feels that a few of his goals no longer apply. I'm not sure I've found that on mine, although I may make a couple of changes (dates,etc).

We had some delicious black eye peas, ham & cornbread for dinner. It is a southern thing and sooo yummy. Corey cooked and does a darn good job for a Yankee hubby. ;-) He had never had them until I cooked them for him years ago & he loved them. We hung new calendars but we both need new planners! He needs a new one and I need refills for my organizer. Ack! We figure we will pick them up tomorrow when we go out later in the day. I have things I need to go ahead and put down but have no "official" place to put them.

Hope everyone had a good & safe New Year's Eve and a happy New Year's Day. :-)