Jill Burke

Last week I wrote about snowflakes and fun things you can do with your family to enjoy the snow . In researching that piece, I came across too many family-friendly winter activities to include in a single column, so here's part two, a list of even more fun wintertime activities that will stir your curiosity and connect you with the outdoor world. If you happen to be someone who dislikes the cold and the darkness, keep an open mind. “If you go outside in the winter and you enjoy and find fun things to do outdoors, the people that do that like it up here,” said Kathryn Kurtz, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum coordinator for the Anchorage School District. Kurtz is the science wizard behind many of the ideas in this column, and provided a go-to list of activities...Jill Burke
They may be too young to realize it, but a cooing, squealing, 6-month-old duo with Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian roots has two pairs of big shoes to fill. Newly retired Dr. Ted Mala of Alaska and Dr. Marjorie Mau, of Hawaii, welcomed the twins in May. “Life is just like the weather. It changes very quickly, but in wonderful ways,” Mala, 69, said during a phone interview from the couple's home in Honolulu, Hawaii. They also maintain a home in Anchorage. On May 21, 2015, they welcomed Ray Kevin, and his sister, Mia Lauren, into the world. The newly expanded family beat the odds first by conceiving, then by delivering not one but two healthy babies. With Dr. Mau in her 50s, the pregnancy was considered high-risk, but it went so well that some of Mau's friends have dubbed her the “warrior...Jill Burke
Snow has arrived in Southcentral Alaska, offering a blanket of light to counter the creep of diminishing daylight. Love it or hate it, there are ways to make the most of snow for either the Heat Miser or the Snow Miser in all of us. Here are four family-friendly activities for intrepid cold-weather observers and couch-loving, fireside wannabe scientists alike. If you've ever seen a sun dog -- a halo around the sun -- on a particularly cold, clear day, you've caught a glimpse of diamond dust, a thin, glittering fog-like optical phenomenon generated by ice crystals. Snowflakes, just like diamond dust, are also ice crystals. And they have a lot to tell us about the world we live in. In an interview for FrontierScientists.com , Matthew Sturm, a professor with the University of Alaska...Jill Burke
Primary Category: 
Snow has arrived in Southcentral Alaska, offering a blanket of light to counter the creep of diminishing daylight. Love it or hate it, there are ways to make the most of snow for either the Heat Miser or the Snow Miser in all of us. Here are four family-friendly activities for intrepid cold-weather...
Jill Burke
On a recent flight, my partner and I were seated next to a dad of tween girls who was at a loss about how to get his children to sleep through the night. The girls, he explained, were constantly on their phones chatting and texting with friends, staying up far later than allowed. Our kids were similar ages, so we spent the flight commiserating about such parenting challenges. Aghast at our “take the phone away at night” solution, he went on about how his girls were good kids, kids who were doing well in school and sports. To him, taking their phones away was taking parental imposition too far. Let's face it. Monitoring and managing children's social communications can be uncomfortable for many of us. But it is a must. S exting , sexploitation, sextortion and bullying all happen. A lot. It...Jill Burke
I miss my pie tribe, the people I've developed long-standing holiday traditions with. A family member, an ex, a close friend ... we've grown apart. Moved away. Created new lives. New people and traditions have blended with the old, but there is never enough flour, sugar, butter, berries or pumpkin to fill the voids. Watching bright red cranberries swell, pop and whistle against the warm hue of diced apricots as they soften amid simple syrup in the black heat of a well-worn cast iron pan keeps me firmly rooted in the moment. And yet, somehow, it simultaneously transports me through time, to every time I've made this cranberry lattice pie , to the conversations and people who were there. It's now my daughter Shawna's go-to dessert, the first pie she learned to make, now proudly counted...Jill Burke
On an average weekend day, with the wind blowing and a house full of family clatter and chatter, she raised her black, sturdy Ariat boot high into the air and dealt what should have been a crushing blow. The death of the Xbox controller was meant to send a stern, firm message. There will be no back-talk in this home. When time is up, it's up. Stop playing, get the chores and homework done and get on with life as a responsible member of the household. The boot came down like a ruthless lightning strike from Zeus himself. Wham! Yet, to the would-be avenger's surprise, the strike was ineffective. So she stomped again. And again. And again. Children seated on the living room couch looked on. Her fury grew. Stomp! Stomp! Stomp! After repeated blows, the controller emerged intact with nary a...Jill Burke
When I returned to work after a nearly six-month absence, I wrote about my need to take time off to practice self-care . For me, this meant doing less so I could carve out time to find my way back to being me. Ever since writing that piece, I have thought a lot about the concept of self-care and who has meaningful access to it. Is self-care a privilege of the privileged? Yes and no. Coming out of the depression and stress that had sidelined me, I am grateful that our family had the capacity to get me through it. We could afford for me to take extended time off – albeit marginally. I had access to health care, to occasional yoga and massages, and to alone time to gather my thoughts and regroup. But what about overstressed moms or dads or teens or employees who don't have the ability to...Jill Burke
In my mom role, I oversee a mostly enthusiastic group of five students ranging in age from 9 to 20 years old (not including the toddler). Hands down, the homework that routinely gives me the most grief is the stuff that comes home with the elementary school children. In these matters, I admit I am not smarter than a fifth-grader -- thank you very much, Jeff Foxworthy. Our fourth grader is learning algebra in ways I'm certain I did not when I was her age. And both she and the fifth grader have in the last year come home with language arts homework that I suspect could be found in some college curricula. The homework-generation gap is real. Turns out, though, it's okay for us adults to not “get” some -- or even a lot -- of the assignments. We can't stay completely in the dark. But we also...Jill Burke
The iconic giant white roller skate towering on the side of the Seward Highway in Anchorage has perched above Dimond Skateland for decades. A family-run business, the roller rink has entertained generations of skaters. But after a wheelchair-bound 6-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was denied entry to the rink at a recent birthday party, the giant skate has, for the girl's father, come to symbolize an intolerable act of discrimination. The father, David Newman, has filed a physical disability discrimination complaint with the city. Ed Caldwell, owner of Dimond Skateland, says it's the first time he's had a rink access dispute go that far. There’s a pretty straightforward question about whether Caldwell has the right to deny skating-surface access to wheelchairs. But the argument at the...Jill Burke