Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Panic and a solution. More Flea Market Stories.

Okay, last week we went in to super panic mode. Seriously panic. We are down to our last of our money and have nothing to show for the shop in the flea market at all. I spent $3000 on products, store fixtures, rent, business cards, etc. We have made maybe $300 the entire month selling jewelry. Joe and Joe the leather guys keep telling us that business will pick up and that we will do much better when the Christmas shopping comes around but I can't wait till then. We will be broke and need to make rent for the booth and rent for our trailer as well as our regular bills. 

We expected and had a plan that for the first month with everything we were reading online and everything that we had heard from the people who work at the flea market (managers, rental office people, etc) that we would come in and hit the ground running making about $1000-1500 a weekend. The first weekend I made a measly, what??? $30 maybe! That isn't going to cut it. So the next weekend we move thinking it is our space and location. We set up, it looks great and I made $19 the first day and maybe $50 the whole weekend. Still not going to cut it. But we have our savings.....right???? We expected to be able to put our profits back into the business with new merchandise and beef up our merchandise to about $10,000 (retail) in the first month. So then the second month we would take 50% profits out and pocket them and then put 50% back into the business to keep it running but still keeping about $10,000 in merchandise in stock. I even placed a second order for some product that would be great for Christmas holidays. I used some of our savings to purchase this knowing that holiday stuff was needed. It was in the plan but we were expecting to use the sales of other jewelry to fund that purchase. Ugh.

I can't remember if I told you or not but the first weekend we set up we were right next to a booth that had no back. This guy comes in about 2 hours after we got there and the flea market is already open and has been for a while. He backs up to the back of the booth pops his trunk and pulls out a vinyl sign and some boxes and opens up for business. He sells beef jerky in bulk. Not ten minutes after he arrives he has a line of people handing him money. He sells these bags for $20 a pop. It is good value, he gives out samples and he is making money hand over fist. A couple hours later he packs up and leaves. He was only there 4 hours and he said to my husband he made $600!!! The market is open from 9-5 and he is there from 10 to 2 maybe. The next day he shows up, does the same thing and leaves early. This day he mentions something to my husband that he wants to find someone who he can sell this stuff to wholesale and then not come to the market anymore. He says he drives 2 1/2 hours from the other side of the state to be here. :shock: That is 5 hours in the car a day. Crazy. That night my husband and I were talking and my husband says he might be interested in buying wholesale from him and selling beef jerky too. The guy made tons of money those two days doing basically nothing. So the next day, Sunday, I was by myself and talking to the jerky guy. I told him that we were interested in possibly doing jerky and buying from him. The jerky guy tells me that he has someone else who is interested and plus he isn't ready to start doing that yet and he wants to sell here himself for a while longer. So I said okay, no problem. 

A couple weeks ago my husband started looking into the jerky business and thought we would start with some other company, not the company the other guy is selling with. We buy some product but don't like it as well as the company the jerky guy is selling with. We contact the same company and they tell us they will sell to us. So last week we make a huge decision and go "all in" as they say in gambling worlds. We take all our last of our savings and spend it on beef jerky. We buy a pack of business cards and make a few signs on our computer. We rent the center table right in front of my booth. We set up and last Friday, my husband started selling beef jerky. He sold more than I sold that first day than I sold the entire month in jewelry! The next day he did better and Sunday was his best day! Sunday, people came looking for him to buy! :D :D :D 

So we are now in the beef jerky business. My husband is an awesome sales person and ropes them right in. He gives out samples and he tells them about his website too. You should go see it. http://www.jerkyrun.com

This weekend we sold half of what we had and sold out of many flavors. We placed another order this morning hoping to get it in by this weekend.

I am still going to keep my jewelry but sell it at a reduced rate through the holidays and see how things go. Kenneth wants us to close down the jewelry shop and get another booth at the other end of the flea market so we can reach more people. Lots of people have two or more booths in different places. There is a rule though that you can't sell the same stuff within 5 booths of someone else with the same stuff. So no one can sell jerky around my husband right now and we don't interfere with the other guy selling either. We are on aisle A and he is on aisle B. The other guy came in late on Friday and left early and then on Saturday he came in a little earlier and came and talked to my husband and told him that he would be interested in selling to us wholesale. He asked where we got our product from and we told him the manufacturer. He gets his from his brother who purchases it from the manufacturer and the brother lives in Chicago. Not sure what the brother does but it sounds like they split their shipments. Anyway the other jerky guy also asked why we didn't tell him we were interested in getting into the jerky business. We told him that I had talked to him about it and he said that someone else was interested and he wasn't ready to wholesale to people yet. He couldn't seem to remember that conversation. Hmmm..... Oh well. 

So things are improving for us now. FINALLY!!!! Yay! We are still super poor but we are moving in the right direction now. Today my husband is going around to some auto repair shops and such giving them his business cards and handing out samples of his product. If they want to buy right away he has it all in the back of the car and hopefully he will get people to come to him in the flea market along with wanting to buy right away from him today. He is also going to try out a few more flea markets in the area too and see if he can get in and sell.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Here is a "catch up" about what has been going on with us.

So here is the long and short of it. We will see how far I get before my kids interrupt me with questions on their school work.

We arrived here two weeks ago and found that, yes, there was a law stating that kids can not live in a campground during the school year, no matter where you are from and if you homeschool or not. This county is weird. The schools are HORRIBLE. They are the bottom of the list for Florida schools in testing and graduation. There is a pretty big homeschool community but we haven't tapped into it yet. Anyway, they have a law that says that school aged children can not live in a campground during the school year. So that means that we would have to move every 21 days to a new campground. We wouldn't be able to take advantage of any monthly discounts and such. So it would have been almost three times more expensive to be moving around every 21 days. So our first order of business when we got here was to get a storage unit, get a mailbox, and find a new campground that either wasn't in the county or didn't care about the law. We got the first two done quickly on the first day and the second day we were here we set out to find a new home. We went to 6 different campgrounds that second day and no one would let us "live" there. Even though we told them we were not residents, even though we told them we had paperwork to prove permission to homeschool, even though we told them anything! Finally as I was in tears one nice person at the KOA told us about a campground we hadn't found yet. She told us to go see Shawn and she had lived there and homeschooled her child and he didn't care.

It was dinner time by then so we went home, licked our wounds and set out the next day to find this campground. We pulled in and drove around before going to the office. It looked nice and quiet, very pretty. So we go to the office, tell the kids to sit in the car, and crossed our fingers. Shawn was AWESOME! We now have a pull through site on an asphalt pad (which makes everything level and the dirt doesn't get into the trailer as easily), it is a double space so we have room for our two cars (basically we pay for two sites) and we have a palm tree right out our window where my hammock sits and hibiscus bushes lining the site. The only downside is we are fighting fire ants but they aren't that big of a nuisance.

The first week we also rented a booth at the flea market. It was a dismal failure. We made only $21 the whole weekend and $16 of that came from a large bucket of sunflowers a Mennonite farmer gave us because he got tired of selling them one day. That weekend we learned a TON! 1. we were in the wrong place, 2. we needed more space, 3. it is the "slow" season and lots of people don't make any sales and many don't even open their booths which hurts other venders around them, 4. we should look into diversifying our products 5. there is this awesome flea market in Webster that everyone says we MUST go to (LOL).

So we set out to find a better place. We found one double booth on another aisle close to the traffic and a much better environment. The other vendors open all the time and they stay open all day long. We moved the next week. We cleaned out our booth space, tore out old carpet, painted, put up pegboard, and shopped for other decorations. 

Next to us and across the aisle is a large store (9 booths) of leather jackets and biker stuff. The guys who own/run it are Joe and Joe. Joe Sr, and Joe Jr. They are awesome! They have been so nice to us. They used to have the two booths we have now. They sold us the tarp that fits on the front of the booth (how we secure our stuff inside) for cheap and have let us borrow boards and other things we need. Joe and Joe are from Long Island. Neither Joe Sr, or Joe Jr own a bike or are bikers. LOL

Frank has "the Mancave" across the aisle from us and he is also from New York. He sells collectible toy figurines, action figures, super hero stuff and comic books. He came to me on Saturday and told me he had a box of clothes that doesn't really go with his store and was wondering if I wanted to put them in my shop and we would split the profits on them. I told him to bring them in and I would take a look at them. So Sunday he brings in this HUGE box of clothes. All brand new from Nepal. The best I can describe them are "hippie" clothes. There are men's shirts, woman's skirts, dresses, "I Dream Of Jeanie" pants, and other pants. He told me he thought they were ugly and wouldn't sell but it was worth a try if I was game. I looked at them and immediately decided to hang a few and try them out. I KNEW they would sell well. Joe Jr gave us hangers for it and we hung them up and within a few hours I sold two skirts and three dresses! Frank was shocked! So this week I am moving some of my jewelry over to another place to make more room for the clothes. Later in the afternoon Joe Jr comes over to me and says he has some Christmas ornaments that doesn't really go with his stuff and asks if I want to put them in with my Christmas ornaments (I have a few right now). I teased him and told him he was jealous that I was making money with Frank! LOL We put his ornaments (Hawaiian shirt ornaments) with ours and hopefully they will sell too. I love that our neighbors are trying to help us out.

The kids are doing fine, but I know we are living on borrowed time here. They have been without other kids since we moved. While they get along well I know they crave new friendships and other kids. We are going to check out a baseball team this evening with our son. And tomorrow evening we are trying out a new church. They have services on Wednesdays which will be great for us who work on Sundays. I hope that we will like it so the kids can start participating in youth group and other activities at the church. This church also has a large homeschool community in which I hope to tap.

Our biggest panic has been the lack of income. We have money saved and we knew the first month and getting things settled down here would take a nice chunk and we expected and planned for that. What I didn't plan for was the panic I feel inside every time I spend money at the grocery store, or for the shop etc. None is unexpected, I just didn't realize I would feel this way. We also expected that we would start making money at least in the same amounts that we were making in craft shows but we aren't yet. Last weekend we made $119 for three days. We were bringing in around $250 a day with craft shows. But it is very slow right now and people aren't buying. The crowds will get here in two weeks with "biketober fest" and then the snow birds will come down the first of November. 

The biggest frustration so far has been grocery shopping! OH my! Where is my Kroger????? I will even take a Food Lion! We have a Publix. The prices are so HIGH. Also the layout of the store is frustrating. I can't seem to find anything! You don't start with produce. You start with bakery and frozen foods (Ice cream is first) or if you start from the other side it is dairy products. I personally don't want my milk or my ice cream to be in my cart the whole time I shop. It seems the only other stores to shop in is Target Super store (and I have tried that and the produce seems very old and there is not a good variety of products) Walmart (and this one seems dirty and gross), or Winn Dixie. I am going to give Winn Dixie a try soon.

Monday, July 1, 2013

I don't quite know where to start...

We've moved. Finally.  It all came down to (and  I am summarizing big time here) just packing it up, throwing it in a box and putting it all in storage.  It took us three full days of stress, pressure, and urgency to get it all done.  I am not sure we had anyone who didn't cry at some time during this frustrating time.  The frustration mainly was on the part of emotion competing with the need to just get it done.

We now sit at our river home (our 40 ft 5th wheel) with my husband going back and forth an hour and a half away.  He is staying with family and working until he sells his business. The kids and I plan to have a great summer here fishing, swimming, and crabbing. Our husband will spend his days off here with us and then go back during the week and spend it there working.

We are strong.  It will work.

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Homeschool Mama's Rant (and a bit of that Teacher in Me too!)

Before I became a homeschool mom I was a teacher for 20 years.  I studied under the best of the best in the world of learning disabilities, Dyslexia, and social studies.  I went to conferences and learned all about brain development, learning, and how to make learning happen.  I studied with some of the best experts in the field of history and learned all about American Colonial times, wars, and our founding fathers.  I started a private school for children with multiple disabilities, Autism, Asberger's syndrome, seizure disorders, Dyslexia, and other learning issues. I worked in both private and public schools, teaching children from kindergarten up through high school.  I tested kids in both the school system and for a private organization to determine their learning aptitude, IQ and help to set educational plans with families.

Now I am just a homeschool mom.

I am on many forums and I read lots of posts from other homeschooling parents who ask for advice on lots of different things.

There are a few things that I would like to say to them but always retract my comment because it might be taken as "snarky" or "rude".

Here are a few thoughts I have.

1.  For the mom of the 6 year old boy who refuses to sit still and do math: let him play.  Why does he need to do 45 minutes of math a day?  Why can't he practice counting and adding up his Legos or his Goldfish crackers at snnack time?  And if it is the math that he is not ready for then why can't he just not do it for a while?  Kids (especially boys) are not really ready for formal/traditional learning yet.  Their brains aren't ready for abstract concepts like math or even reading(will get to that in a minute).  Let them run and be kids and explore their surroundings.  Provide opportunities for exploration, examination, and for inquisitive minds to learn on their own.  Trust me, they WILL learn to do math, but may not ever really enjoy sitting for 45 minutes of hard, traditional math learning, ever.  Don't force it.

2. For the mom of the 8 year old who is reading above grade level and has a hard time finding age appropriate books on her instructional reading level: my question to you is why does she have to be pleasure reading above her age level?  Why can't she read books that are age appropriate even though they are easy reads? Most adults pleasure read below their instructional reading level.  I can read on a post graduate level however, when I am reading for pleasure I don't want to be reading books that are on that level.  I want to enjoy the story and not struggle through the vocabulary.  Reading a year or two below your reading level for pleasure is what makes reading pleasurable. Let your daughter read the Junie B. Jones books and the Amber Brown stories and the Judy Moody books for fun.  It increases her fluency in reading, increases her speed and comprehension in reading AND teaches her that reading can be fun.  You will develop a life long reader this way.  Don't push her in reading.  Relax and enjoy that you aren't having to force her to read.

3.  For the mom of the 4 year old who is looking for a year long curriculum for her child: SERIOUSLY???? Your child is 4!  In the USA 4 years old is not a mandatory school age.  Don't force them into something they aren't ready for.  Take them out in the community and explore.  Take them to museums, take them out to eat, take them shopping, take them everywhere and let them learn from their surroundings.  Yes,  you can buy educational toys and yes you can read read read to them.  But why do you need a formal curriculum for a 4 year old? (oh, and this goes for the mom who has the 2 year old who won't sit through a full 30 minutes of lessons too.)

4. For the mom who is struggling with a child who has Autism or Asberger's Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Delay: Bless you.  I know it can be hard day after day to teach your child at home.  Don't be embarrassed to take them everywhere with you.  Know your child's limits and expose them to the world and community.  Work with other professionals to develop a plan for education and behavior management.  Know that you are not alone.

5.  For the mom who struggles with the decision to take her child out of school and homeschool:  DO IT!  We have chosen this path for our family and we love it.  We can't imagine going back to a public or private school now.  The kids are kids again, they are growing faster than we can keep up with, and we are happy with our decision.  We have sacrificed a lot to make this happen for us.  We also didn't have support from family or friends.  That is okay.  We are happy and I love that I am home every day with my kids.  They are only kids for a little bit of time and I don't want to miss another minute of their childhood and teen years.

Whew, I am glad that is off my chest.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Have you ever had one of those days????

One of those days where you get out of bed and forget to turn on the coffee maker and realize 30 minutes later that your coffee isn't perking?

Where you have to organize five boxes of books for the used curriculum sale but they are all in another room and you have no one to help you move them so you have to carry the heavy boxes yourself up and down stairs to get them all in one room?

Where you then grab your cup of coffee and head in the living room where the 5 boxes are sitting, sit your coffee down and look around for those little round stickers to put the prices on the books, can't find them, sit your coffee down and go searching for those little day-glow stickers?

Where while looking for the neon fashion colored stickers a child calls from the kitchen with a question on finding the degree of one angle of a triangle, so you sit down and help solve the equation, teaching her how to do it on her own, checking to make sure she knows how much all the angles in a rectangle add up to because you know that question is coming next, but still no fuchsia stickers in sight?

Where you check your desk, realize you haven't checked emails, Facebook, etc this morning, so you sit down for 10 minutes to do that and search for those sticker dots again to no avail?

Where you go into the laundry room for that was the last place you saw them and while you are in there you switch out the laundry, fold the load from the dryer and call for a child to come get their pile of clean clothes to take to their room, knowing that said pile of clothes will just end up on the floor again and back into the laundry basket to be washed before wearing yet again?

Where you take up your own load of clothes to your room, wash your face and brush your teeth, check the clock and realize it is 12:30?

Where as you are gathering up another load of dirty clothes your son comes up and announces that dad is coming home for lunch and he would like a ham sandwich and your son announces that he would like one too?

Where you go down stairs with the load of clothes drop them off in the kitchen while you make the sandwiches, pick up the load of dirty clothes to take them to the laundry room, where your daughter calls you into the family room where she would like you to show her how to wind the bobbin on your sewing machine that she is borrowing because hers is broken, so you sit down to wind the bobbin, change the foot, and thread the machine for her?

Where your husband walks in while you are putting the laundry in the washer and you tell him you want to run to the grocery while he is home so you can get some more of those silly stickers to which he grumbles something and moves into the kitchen?

Where you return to the kitchen to tell him you are leaving when you turn around, look out the window and see that the Heavens have opened up and it is POURING. DOWN. RAIN. so you decide to wait for the quick shower to pass by?

Where your husband walks into the kitchen as you are cleaning up the lunch dishes with a full cup of COLD coffee from the living room that you forgot you put there and never drank?

Where you ask your husband if there is enough money in the checking account to go to the grocery store and he says he is running to check his mailbox and go to the bank, so you sit and wait for him to return and when he does he says, "oh you are back from the grocery store already!" and heads back out to work?

Where you get the kids' shoes on and get everyone ready to get in the car to go to the grocery store and it starts POURING DOWN RAIN again {sigh}?

Where you get to the grocery store FINALLY and you find that they are marking down the bakery items for quick sale and you are the first one to the sale rack??? SCORE!

Yeah that was my day today! {said with a yummy donut in my mouth and a new cup of coffee that I just brewed}

Okay, off to go put those little day-glow, neon stickers on my books for the sale tomorrow! :) I wouldn't change my life for nothing!!!

How to Create a Unit Study around a Book. Snowflake Bentley, By Jacqueline Briggs Martin

There are so many different methodology for creating curriculum for your child.  Homeschooling allows you to cater to your child's interests and needs.  Here I give you just a few of many ways to create a unit study around a book of interest.

FIRST, choose a book or novel that interests your child.  Often it is easiest to create a unit study from a book that is historically based, about a real person, or has a science theme.

Let's take the book Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

This is a nice little book that you can read in about 5-20 minutes. It is a nice story about a man named Wilson Bentley.  He was homeschooled for most of his schooling. It talks about his interests and what he did with his interests and how he made an impact on the science and weather communities.

NEXT, determine the subjects that you can pull from the book. This book has a science theme along with a history piece, and we are reading a biography.  This lends itself to having a science component, a history component, a literature/writing component, and because of the topic of photographing snowflakes, art.

List the subjects:
1. Science
2. History/Social Studies
3. Literature/Writing
4. Art
maybe even Math.

THIRD, depending on your child's age and abilities you will want to create the lessons.

Let's start with History/social studies.  Bentley was born in 1865.  This was right at the end of the Civil War.  You can discuss this.  You can find on a map where he was born.  You can create a timeline of his life, noting all the ages and events in his life. You can add to the time line other major events going on during his life time. (ie. wars, presidents, etc)

Science: This book lends itself well to so many different facets of science.  First, he studies weather.  You can study and record the weather for a two week period noting differences in temperature, humidity, or even as simple as recording sunny, rainy, and cloudy days. Next, he studies snowflakes. You can study how snow is formed, how snowflakes are formed and look at microscopic photos of snowflakes including the actual photos that Bentley took. (see notes and links below)  You can study how microscopes are used and what they do. You can look in a microscope at raindrops, snow if you have some, and other items.

Literature/writing: Because this is a biography, you can look up Wilson Bentley in the encyclopedia or online and gather more information about this man and his work.  You can also use this opportunity to define new words/vocabulary from the book and research using encyclopedias or online,  snow, snowflakes, microscopic cameras and the sort.  Have your child write a biography of him/herself or summarize Bentley's life and work.  You can have your child keep a journal during this unit study of the weather, what he/she is learning, and what they think about Bentley and his works.

Art: Create paper snowflakes. Draw snowflakes on black paper with white crayon, copy some of the photos by drawing them on black paper as Bentley did. Discuss how the snowflakes are 6 sided and all the same.

Math: Chart the weather on a graph, count the six sides of the snowflake, use snowflakes to practice math facts, multiply and divide according to numbers of spikes on the six spokes of the snowflake.  Just make it up as you go along. Predict rainy weather according to probability.  You can do anything with math.

Be open to new ideas that arise as you read the book.  Pay attention to your child and the interest level that he/she shows.  Make new activities using these interests.

Create lessons to cover across your children's ages.  You can beef up any of these plans for older children including having them act out his life, make a stop animation video of his life from Legos or other figures, or ask them to further research the science of snow and forecasting the snow and write a report.  Also, the story is written in poem form. You can do a ton with this topic for your older children, but remember, the older kids like to make paper snowflakes just as much as the younger ones. {wink wink}  Listen to your older kids' questions.  That will clue you into what they want to learn and can guide you to creating meaningful projects for them too.  I can't tell you how many times they ask me a question and I say, "I don't know but we can look that up.  Why don't you research that and bring us the answer?"

FINALLY, determine how you will put this all together.  Often times, we use lapbooks (folders) to keep and present the material we have learned.  It keeps it all organized and makes an easily transportable and easy to store package.

Resources for Snowflake Bentley online.

The Snowflake Bentley official website.

A beautiful YouTube video of Snowflake Bentley's snowflakes set to music.

A Quia Quiz on Snowflake Bentley.

A great website all about Snowflake Bentley and snow.

The beauty of the internet is that as parents/teachers we have the world at our fingertips.  We can search any topic and we have a multitude of great resources available to us.

Fun books to use for Unit Studies:

Magic Treehouse Books, by Mary Osborne Pope (K-4th grades)

Dear America series books (4-9th grades)

American Girl books (3-8th grades)

I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis (4-9th grades)

Don't be afraid to create your own unit study for your children. It is not hard and you don't have to spend a lot of time on it.  Sometimes just reading the book together and listening to the questions your child asks you will help to create activities surrounding the book.

There are many times I just choose a book and begin to read it with my kids and the unit study evolves while we read.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eating down our Food Storage

This is just one of our food storage closets!
It is getting really lean, usually it is packed full.
With the impending move we have been trying to "eat down" our food storage.  I was proud in the fall to have at least three months of food stored for us in case of emergencies and for lean times.

We had some lean times this past winter when my husband was hardly working and money was thin.  We ate quite a bit of what we had then.  But as the move is quickly approaching we have been more diligent to eat down our food storage.

I have learned a few things in the process:

1. My kids like creamed corn.  I bought several cans to make corn pudding with over the holidays but never had a chance to make it.  I ran out of regular corn the other day and grabbed a can of creamed corn.  For the first time my kids tried it.  All three LOVED it.  I love it too.  So we will add this to our food storage next time.  It is quite a treat, a bit sweet, to keep in the food storage rotation.

2.  I need to store more vegetables.  This is the one thing that we have run really low on.  The other thing we need to store more of is "junk food" like chips, cookie mixes, and popcorn.

3.  What is it again that you can replace an egg with when baking? I forget and I run out of eggs quickly.

4.  I would so rather buy bread on busy weeks than bake it.  But we DO have enough flour.

5.  15 bottles of relish is probably a year and a half worth.  I still have eleven bottles of relish and 8 bottles of BBQ sauce.  We obviously do not use as much of this as I thought we did.

6.  If you store cake mixes and cookie mixes then you need to find a way to store eggs and milk. Enough said!

Some dinners we have been eating:

Chicken, pasta, and a canned veggie.

Chicken, mashed potatoes and a canned veggie.

Kielbasa and dirty rice or a box of jambalaya.

Spaghetti sauce, frozen chicken patties and mozzarella cheese over spaghetti noodles. (quick chicken parmigiana)

Chicken pot pie (made with cream of chicken soup, can of mixed veggies, and biscuits)

Beef Stroganoff (stew beef in crock pot with cream of mushroom soup and an envelope of beefy onion soup mix over egg noodles)


I can't tell you how much our food storage means to us.  It gives us such a comfort knowing that in the lean times we don't have to worry about spending our hard earned money on food.  It has saved us so much money in the last several months.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

And now for something completely different....

Wasn't that the "headline" for a tv variety show or something many, many years ago???

Today we spent our morning with our school work and mid-day while the kids were finishing up some lessons, I packed a few boxes to take to storage.  This afternoon we ALL needed a bit of something completely different.

We piled in the car and went to a local park down by the river.

We headed into the woods on a path and took a nature walk.
The middle child decided to capture a few of her own photos.  She brought along her camera.

Her taking a photo of me taking a photo of her.

A cool centipede we saw on the trail.

Heading deep into the woods.

It is hard to see in this photo above but we recently had a flood.  You can see the dirt tinted leaves.  The river (this is just a stream you see) rose about 12 feet here.

Pretty butterfly we found.

The clan looking at the river.

A fun squirrel to watch.

Looking down the river.  So pretty  and peaceful today.

The green ferns and foliage was so pretty today.

We found and tasted honeysuckles.

Along the path near the boat ramp are scattered beautiful sculptures of the local wildlife.  This is part of a sculpture of egrets called "Family".

We SO needed a break from packing and the mess of the house.  We needed the fresh air and the long walk as a family.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Frustrated - because of RAIN!

Yesterday we had a bit of a yard sale.  We pulled out the stuff that we didn't want to pack and move with us.  Clothes, books, toys, Halloween costumes, linens, and lots of other stuff.  Because it was Friday and Friday isn't usually a yard sale day in our area we didn't expect much.  We did make $130.  We packed everything up and set it aside under a canopy.

There was a chance of rain.

It rained. Poured.

This morning the yard and driveway were soaked.  The canopy had water stuck in it.  The stuff underneath, okay not all the stuff, some of the stuff got wet, but most of it was pretty dry.  HOWEVER there would be no yard sale. It was just too wet outside.  So all the stuff came back inside and we gave up.

We did, though, dig up our Hostas in the front flower bed.  I wanted to get them divided.  They are enormous!  We got them dug out and I figured that I would wait a little while and then divide them when they dried out a bit.

About 3 hours later it poured down rain again.  No go on the dividing the Hostas either. UGH!

But, if the buyers of our house drove by today they would think that we were digging all the flower beds up.  LOL  If only they knew that we were actually helping them by dividing these big bad boys for them.  I do hope they love this house.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just Got Back From the Consignment Shop

A couple months ago I consigned some of my work clothes that I no longer need.  They were nice shirts, skirts, pants, jackets and dresses.  These were NICE clothes.  Most of them actually still had the tags on them.  I had never worn them.

I shopped around back then to find a consignment store that would take my clothes.  They were name brand, not a department store brand or discount store brands.  I inquired at two shops (clothes in the back of my car).  I go in and they tell me that they can't take my clothes that day.  I have to call on the 20th of the month and set an appointment for the following month to bring in my clothing.  I needed a bit more immediate than that.  The thing that took me by surprise was that everyone in the couple consignment stores I went in to were not very friendly.  They weren't busy at all, only a few shoppers.  No one was at the counter ready to check out, yet they didn't seem that they were interested in giving me the time of day.  I was a bit taken aback by this.  I would think that they would be over friendly since I have to PICK them to sell my clothes.  It is my choice and they benefit from me choosing them.  Most of the shops I inquired in took 50% of the final sale price.  That is fair.

I got tired of driving around with these clothes in the back of my car.  One day when it was pouring down rain, like buckets of rain, I called one last shop.  They said, "no problem, bring them in today."



I don't have to WAIT until the fourth Wednesday of next month to call and try to get an appointment???

I can't tell you how quickly I sweet talked my husband into getting in the car and going with me to take my clothes.  I don't quite remember what I promised him if he went out in the cold, pouring down rain to help me get my clothes in to this store, but I am pretty sure I have paid it back and then some in these last few months.

We arrive and drive around the parking lot a few times to get a spot sort of close to the door.  It is still raining buckets outside and he graciously grabs the big pile of clothes and we make a run for the door.

Two smiling older ladies are at the counter when we come in all wet.  They gladly start sorting through our clothes and ooo and ahhh over some of them.  Now I am a {eh-hem} larger sort of woman and they were more than thrilled to have that size of nice work style clothing come in the shop.

They quickly gather the pile of clothes they want while I am filling out the paperwork.  I sign my life away and they say, "that will be $20".

WHAT????? You mean I have to PAY to sell my clothes here????

"Yes" they tell me, "but you will make that up quickly with your great items here.

{sigh} Okay.  I pay my hard earned $20 which is a lot of money to us, in hopes of a bigger return on the other side.  They tell me to come back in about a month or two and pick up my check for the clothes I sell.

Off we go back out to the rain, feeling satisfied that 1. people were interested in my clothes, 2. they were really excited about the larger sizes, 3.  they got the pile of clothes out of my car and didn't make me wait 57 years to make an appointment!

About a month later I call them to find out if I have sold anything and what the rules are for picking up my check.  They tell me I can come ANYTIME during their business hours and pick it up.  They also tell me that yes I have sold several things and they give me the sale price of each item.

I am getting excited!
WOW!!  I am doing great!

The very nice lady then tells me to add them all up and I get 40% of that.

WHAT??? 40% a measly 40%????

I thank her and hang up.  What is the use now in arguing? I don't remember 40% but then again I was just so excited they took my clothes before a kid sat on them with strawberry jelly hands or smeared the mud from their sneakers on them.

I didn't run right out because the lady said that I still had more to sell.  Yippeee!!!  Maybe I can make a bit more money.

Fast forward to today.  I decide that I am going to run over to that consignment shop and pick up my big fat check.  I KNOW more clothes sold and I am SURE that they sold for a goodly amount of money.  I get there and put on my happy, smiley face and walk through the door.  Boy are they busy! People are shopping, piles of clothes sit everywhere.  I walk back to the back of the store where I am supposed to and I politely say, "hello, I am wondering if I have a check to pick up." I hand her my consignor's card and she looks me up.  She takes a sheet of paper out of her files and hands it to me and says, "Take this to the front and they will give you your money."

I glance at it and see that it looks like most everything has something written next to it.  I begin to add up the sales and see that there is over $200 in sale prices. Woo Hoo!!!! I'm in the money, I'm in the money! {singing to myself}

I head to the front and hand it to the lady.  She sort of grunts at me and takes my paper.  She begins to add things up.


She takes her 60% and tells me that I will be getting $39.40 today.

???What??? I thought it would be double that.  I ask her, "what about all the other items?"

She says with a frowny face showing me she isn't interested in talking to me, "all the items with an SA next to them means we sent them off to the Salvation Army".

WHAT????  You didn't say anything about giving my clothes away.  I specifically remember you all saying that you would give them away if I wanted you to but I could come and pick them up.  I didn't say anything about not picking them up.  Why didn't you all call me?

"Honey, we can't call and hold everyone's clothes for them to come pick them up."


"But there are two items that look like they are still on the racks.  You can go look for them and pull them if you want."

"Really, I mean, you are still trying to sell them right? I don't want to pull them if they aren't ready to be pulled."

"They should have been pulled honey, but they seem to be on the racks still. So you can get them if you want."

I take my sheet and go to start to look.  I look for about 15 minutes and give up. They aren't there.  I hand my sheet back to the lady in the back and tell her I think those two items must have been stolen because I can't find them.

I leave with my $39.40 in my pocket.

From all that effort I think I could have made more money selling my clothes at a yard sale, of which we have had three since I consigned my clothes.

Profit: $39.40-$20 fee= $19.40 a headache and frustration from having to deal with ladies who don't care to give you the time of day.

Lesson learned: 1. buy clothes you plan to wear and wear them out. Then donate them to Goodwill or Salvation Army on your own.  You will at least get the tax write off and not have to deal with mean ole ladies and have to pay to sell your clothes. (That was a long, hard lesson to learn. It took too much time out of my life.) 2. consignment store workers/owners are not very friendly. It must be an application requirement.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Six Boxes Down to Two Binders

Yes, you read that right!  I took six boxes worth of music CDs and fit them all into two binders set up for storing CDs.

How did I do it?  Simple, I allowed myself to get rid of the plastic cases and toss the paper covers and lyrics.  It took a bit of a hard swallow to do that.  I mean I like looking at Sting when I search for his covers and I like the ease of having the lyrics right there if I want to sing along and don't know the words.  However, in our techo age we can Google the lyrics to the songs and bring them up on our phones, ipods, and laptops.  I no longer need the paper version.

So we bought these Case Logic CD storage binders and started putting our CDs in them.  We had over 350 CDs and we didn't weed out a single one.  We have over 100 Christmas music CDs!  Wow!  That is a LOT of Christmas music.

I love that they have a zipper that closes all the way around the binder.  That way CDs won't fall out when we are traveling or moving it from one place to another.

We had 6 boxes full of these music CDs and were able to get every single CD into two of these awesome cases.

By the way, we did this about two years ago with our movie DVDs and loved that we could take our movies everywhere with us easily.

Now with three of these binders we have all our movies and our music CDs with us where ever we go.  Perfect for traveling and in our RV.  Now how cool is THAT!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Preparing to Move - Mom Style

Ba ha ha ha ha...

This moving stuff is for the birds!

We have 13 years of "baggage" here in this house and let me tell you, it is seeping out of the walls it seems.  Moving for us is inevitable.  Our plan is to put everything in storage and move to our summer/weekend home for the summer and possibly into the fall.  Until the house is actually sold (we have a contract on it but no settlement date yet) we will keep furniture here and some basic items.  There will be times we will be back here and spending the night or two.  Other than that our plan is to get all the rest of the stuff packed and out.

I posted a couple weeks ago that I was unmotivated.  I am motivated now and looking at all our STUFF is overwhelming.  Most of the time I just say "pitch it".

To date we have had three yard sales each earning us a bit over $300. The most recent one we made $450! We have also sold another $200 on Craigslist. But we still have a ways to go.  We have another room full of stuff for another yard sale which will be in a couple weeks.  That will/should be our last one.

In packing my goal is to sort, group, and pack.  I want to sort out the stuff we don't want to keep/no longer need/can't use and put that in one pile.  Then I group all like objects together and pack them away in boxes.

We have collected all our plastic storage containers and are using them as much as we can.  They stack well and can be moved easily as most have handles.  The other boxes we get from the liquor store because they are sturdy but smallish so we can handle the size and weight easily.  The big boxes are easy to pack but get heavy quickly.

At this point my house looks like a bomb blew up the inside or like it was burglarized.

We have some accomplishments at this point.  
1.  The attic has been cleaned out.  It is all over my living room right now but there is nothing in the attic anymore.
2.  My husband and I have cleaned out our closet and sorted through our clothes.  We have gotten rid of 13 trash bags full of clothing. And YES we still have clothes to wear. And YES a lot of those bags were my clothes. LOL
3.  We have moved three loads of boxes and furniture into storage.
4.  We also have sorted through all our stuff already in storage and got rid of almost half of it to go to a yards sale or Goodwill. (That is amazing! To think we were storing stuff we could have gotten rid of a long time ago....)

Things I can't deal with right now:
1. my scrapbook stuff - I have a ton of it and I just can't go through it and sort and get rid of it.
2. a final sort of our homeschool supplies - again I just can't go through it and weed out stuff.  I just don't know what I will need because I am not planning next year yet other than basic subjects.

Our move out date is the end of May.  That is putting our stuff in storage and moving to our summer place.  The house and basic stuff will stay here in our house until it is sold.  But by the end of May we should be living more time at our summer place than here in town. (fingers crossed)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Great Wheel - Homeschool Lesson on The Ferris Wheel, 1893

Several months ago we bought a curriculum that we thought we would use solely, however that didn't pan out but I kept the books and such and have been pulling this and that from it all year long.

I pulled this one off the shelf a week or so ago and we began reading it.

The Great Wheel, by Robert Lawson.  It is about the building of the first Ferris Wheel for the Chicago's World's Fair in 1893.  The fictional story is weaved in with factual information about the construction of the wheel.  The main character, Conn is an Irish immigrant and we follow him from Ireland, on the boat to America, and his involvement with the Ferris Wheel. The story is intriguing and both me and my preteen children enjoyed the story.

I picked it up with really no plan other than to read it together as a family.  From our read much has sparked our interest.  We are at this point half way through the story and we have already done quite a bit of research on the first Ferris wheel as well as on Mr. Ferris himself.  We have also had great discussions on concrete and how it sets, setting footings for large buildings and structures, and on weight disbursement.

I thought I would offer a few sites that we found some great information to help your lesson if you choose to read this wonderful story.

Here is a wonderful "Mixbook" that someone created with photos of the great wheel which gave us a better understanding of how big this thing was and what it all looked like.  It also has photos of typical homes in Ireland at the time and typical people who would have worked on the wheel.

Here is an great article of the creation and end of the Ferris Wheel of the Exposition of 1893.  It uses higher vocabulary as much of it is from news articles of the time.  Meant for older students and adults.

Here is a pretty thorough article of the 1893 World's Fair.  It includes information about Nicola Tesla's experiments, women's rights, a telautograph, and lots more.  It also has pictures of the fair as well as the advertising art and maps of the grounds.

Here is a good picture of the carriages.

Here is a great picture of the Ferris Wheel.

Here is a good picture of how big the carriages were.

Here is a picture of it towering over all the buildings of the Fair. It stood 296 ft tall.

Here is a great YOU TUBE video created by a group of students on the 1893 World's Fair.  It gives a wonderful overview of the fair.

I will continue to add to this post as we continue to read the book and find more interesting things to research.

If you found this post helpful, please leave me a quick "thank you" comment.  This way I know that posting things like this is worth my time.  If you have any questions or comments or suggestions please post those in the comments as well. :)

Happy Reading!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Purging the binges...

LOL  This post title makes me laugh!!!

We have a contract on our house.  It is virtually sold.  We are awaiting a settlement date from the banks and we will be moving out of our house.

At this point I have begun to pack and purge.  Purge our binges, that is.

We decided to have a yard sale last week and we did a pretty good job of getting rid of a bunch of stuff.  We sold a lot but at the end of the sale we didn't really want to pack it all back up and put it all back in the house for another sale later this month.  So we did the inevitable.  We packed it all up in two car loads and dumped it off at the Goodwill.  I will take that tax deduction and not have to store the stuff again for a few more weeks.  That wave is done.

Now on to the second wave.  Ugh!  The more I look at the stuff in our house the more I just want to get rid of it.  Just back up a big dumpster and throw it all out the window into the dumpster.  Part of it is my laziness in dealing with everything.  The other part is that if I haven't seen it in a while then I probably won't miss it anyway.  What makes me not get a big dumpster??? I am greedy.  LOL  I want to make a bit of money on the stuff I have spent my hard earned money on. I know a majority of it will end up getting donated anyway, but the last yard sale we had earned us $245.  And that went a nice little way in paying for other things we needed, (food, gas, etc).

What I have found recently in sorting through my stuff is that we have "binged" on things.  We decide we like something and then we have to have all of that something.  For example I decided that I was going to collect Santas with pipes years ago.  My first ornament given to me by my grandfather was a hand blown ornament of a santa with a pipe.  So this collection began to evolve from there.  When others in the family found out that I was collecting these my collection grew exponentially.  I received them every year for my birthday and Christmas (which are close together).  Any that we saw we seemed to buy.  When our kids got old enough to start pulling things from the shelves, I packed them up in four large Rubbermaid boxes and put them in the attic.  Each year I left them up there, not wanting to get them out and take the time to display every single one.  Last week I pulled these boxes down from the attic and unwrapped each Santa.  They all sat all over the kitchen table (who am I kidding, they are still sitting there.)  I looked that them and realized a good majority of them I don't love.  If I don't love them then I shouldn't keep them, right???  I played the "I can whittle this collection down to 10 Santas" game with my husband.  Who gladly played along.  He wrapped up the ones I picked and those are the ones I am keeping.  It was a difficult decision with some because I know my husband went out of his way to get some of them, but I didn't love them.  I had to talk to him about it and take the emotion of loving him out of my decision on some of the Santa's.  Once we talked and I explained that I loved that he went out of his way and searched high and low to get me some, I just didn't love the Santa.  He agreed that they should then go.  And they did.  I have two huge boxes of Santa's awaiting a yard sale and have put some of the vintage ones up on etsy to sell. I feel so much better with the ones I truly love and not have all the rest of them that I don't love just taking up space.

Speaking of space.  For the next 6 months we will be living, a family of 5, in less than 400 square feet of space.  We can't take our stuff with us.  We must put it in storage. My ideal is to keep the minimum for setting up a house again and getting rid of the rest.  I struggle with this though and I ask myself, "is this worth the expense of storage?"  Lots of times the answer in the beginning is "yes" but later the answer becomes "no". This means that I am going through my stuff twice, getting rid of many things on the first wave and then having to make the hard decisions on the second wave.  Ugh.  This is an arduous and emotional process.

Friday, March 15, 2013

I am SO not Motivated

We straightened up our house for showings.  We have cleaned walls of fingerprints, wiped down numerous counters and sinks, swept, vacuumed, and mopped floors.  We have made beds and picked up piles of junk.  But I am so NOT motivated to start getting more things packed.  I look at my craft area in particular and all the unfinished projects and say "I can do that in 10 minutes." or "I am going to sit down and do this instead of packing it up".  Ugh!!!  The packing is not getting done.

How do you motivate yourself to pack?

I need to sort, organize, separate stuff we need to keep from stuff we can yardsale or give away (or toss).  I need to begin to tackle this soon.  We have had some real interest in our house recently so I know we will be getting offers in soon.  This means that we WILL be moving.  At this point we will be moving into our trailer for the summer.  We will put all our stuff in boxes and in storage until we make the big, more permanent move.  UGH! It just all seems too overwhelming right now.

I also have a cold and that may be some reason to my "whining".  I don't know.  I really need to tackle something.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Bread Making-A Comparison of Two Recipes

I found this recipe yesterday and it was recommended to me by a friend.  I thought I would try it.  You can get it here and I tweaked it just a bit.  This is the recipe I used (with the tweaking):

Amish White Bread

2 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBS Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup of sugar (the original recipe calls for 2/3 cup sugar)
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1/2 tsp salt
6 cups all purpose flour

Mix the sugar and water together and then mix the yeast in.  Let sit for about 10 minutes until frothy to activate the yeast.  Then mix in the salt and oil into the yeast mixture.  Then add the flour.  Turn out onto a clean, floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth.  Then put in an oiled bowl and let rise for about 2 hours or until double the size.  Turn out onto a floured surface again and knead a few more times.  Divide in half and place into two loaf pans.  Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes or until golden brown.

My recipe:

2  to 2 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 TBS active dry yeast
1 1/2 TBS salt ( I play with this amount and often only use 1 TBS)
6 1/2 cups flour

Basically I put it together and knead and let rise the same way and times as above.  The difference is that I bake it at 4 for 30 minutes or so.

The verdict.

The Amish bread was a smoother dough.  I tend to not knead much on mine and perhaps if I did it might make a difference.  Rise times were the same.  The Amish bread smelled delicious while baking and the loaves came out a pretty golden brown.
(My recipe on left, Amish recipe on right)

When slicing into the Amish bread the crust wasn't as crusty as my recipe so the Amish bread was a bit easier to slice.

(My recipe on left, Amish recipe on right)

The Amish bread looked and felt more spongy. It seemed very similar to store bought loaf.

(I cut my recipe bread a bit thin which caused it to crack down the center, the Amish recipe was sliced a bit thicker)

Upon tasting the Amish bread had a soft texture, a good slightly sweet flavor and was great for my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My recipe was slightly saltier and had a more rustic flavor.  The crust was crusty and the center was dense but not crumbly or dry.  My son and I prefer my recipe better than the Amish bread.  My husband prefers the Amish bread mainly because of the texture and similarity to store bought bread.

In the end, I am going to work on my recipe a bit more.  I am wondering if the oil will help with the sponginess.  Tomorrow I am going to use my recipe and add oil and reduce the water to 2 cups.  I will report my findings.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Using Technology in Homeschooling Lessons

While we want to work on the basics with the kids we also want them to continue to be proficient in new technology.  It is the way the world is going and we don't want them to go back in time technologically.  Hopefully over the summer two of the three will work on typing skills.  They are enthralled with watching their father and me type without looking at the keyboard.  They want to be able to do that, so typing lessons will commence!

This year Santa brought them all android tablets.  Santa chose to get them the Motorola Family Edition Tablet.  It is very user friendly, uses an android/Google system.  The kids love it and they use them almost everyday. I decided that with this technology they need to use them in their studies.  We downloaded some great apps on there and also started putting their assignments on a "homeschooling" calendar for them to access.

This has worked out great.  I load their assignments on the calendar and if it is web-based then they click the link on the calendar and it opens right into a browser and directly to the page where they need to be.  Much of their science and social studies is on the calendar.  They can click to watch the video or read the book or website page.  I can individualize for each child and on the calendar they just click on their name to get their assignments.  We use the Google calendar and share it among everyone.  It took about 30 minutes to set it up so they could all see it on their tablets but once it was done then it was super easy.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why we Homeschool, part II

Our Trip to Daytona Beach, February, 2013

Because we homeschool we are able to take advantage of the offers that come our way.  This trip was given to us by a friend who couldn't use her time share this year. Because our calendar is flexible we were able to go. 

Beautiful beach and skies

Fun in the pool.  Yes, it was a heated pool.

Beautiful scenery.

Wearing shorts in the winter.

Learning about chocolate in a chocolate factory.

Getting up early to see the sun rise over the ocean.

Practicing handwriting.

Reading with the sound of the waves.

Putting our feet in the water and contemplating our big seas.

Learning about giant sloths that roamed this area many years ago.

Finding our own secret gardens.

Learning from our environment.  We went to the farmers market and learned that the produce was grown locally and that the growing season is just about year round here.  Loving the huge strawberries we bought.  Enjoying the big beefsteak tomatoes that have so much flavor. Walking the beach daily looking at what ever came our way.


Portuguese Man-o-War.

We chased seagulls, searched for seashells, and did a bit of metal detecting. 

The last night we were there we went to a local college and joined their astronomy club in looking through the large telescopes into the night sky.  We saw Jupiter and three of its moons, Orion's Nebula, the Seven Sisters, and more.  We learned so much about our night sky.

This IS why we homeschool.