Friday, October 20, 2017

A Much Needed Break ----- Prepping For a Trip

Yesterday we took a much needed mini vacation.  It was only a 24 hour vaca but it was so so so good to get out of town for even just an overnight trip.  My husband and I and the three teenagers packed in no time flat (we are record packers trained by many years of traveling to and from our beach house or river house each weekend) and we hopped in the car and headed an hour away for the night.

The plan was to check into the hotel and then go out to eat a nice dinner, spend the night and then the next morning go apple picking, have lunch and then meander back home again. The plan went splendidly!  It was perfect weather.  We found an open air mall and walked through a few stores and then had a wonderful dinner in a great Italian Restaurant.  The next morning we awoke and had a bit of breakfast in the hotel. Then we packed up, checked out and headed to the local apple orchard.  We ended up with a bushel of apples, three bottles of wine, a gallon of apple cider, and two dozen apple cider donuts.  It was wonderful to just hang out with my family and my kids.  We get so caught up in the mess of the days that we forget to just be together.  As the kids have gotten older it has also become more difficult for us to schedule time together, and when we are home we often find ourselves in separate rooms, doing separate things.

In the end, it was a much needed, quick, break from our lives.  Ahhhh.....

So how do we prep for emergencies while we are on the road?

1.  Pack for layers.  The weather was going to be fairly warm but might be chilly inside places or at night.  We pack for layers.  A sweatshirt, a sweater, a tank top.  Light jacket. Long pants, short pants.  Extra underwear (just in case we end up having to stay longer than expected). Extra outfit (in case we stay longer or in case we spill something and need an extra outfit). 

2.  Toiletries. Normal toiletries plus a full set of nail clippers, tweezers, nail file.  (it is amazing how often we need one or more of these items while we are away!  Plus they can come in handy if you need a mini tool for something or another. Trust me, you will use them.)

3.   Flashlight.  I carry a small but bright one in my purse, particularly when traveling.  AND I used it while we were away.  Now it wasn't for an emergency but the lighting was dim and the flashlight came in handy.

4.  Snacks.  We pack snacks and a cooler of drinks and water bottles when we travel.  We don't always eat or drink them but if we find ourselves stranded somewhere we have some protein and some carbohydrates and veggies to snack on until we get rescued.

5.  Blanket.  In the winter I try to pack a blanket for every person in our family in the car.  We will use them while traveling to sleep in the car or just snuggle under when my husband declares the car too hot and turns on the AC or the heat down.  This time it wasn't too cold yet and I grabbed two blankets.  My son brought his own as well.

6.  Emergency car kit.  We always have emergency car equipment in the car.  Basic tools, battery jumping cables, rope, chain, extra fuses.

7.  Extra battery charger for our cell phones.  We have a portable charger and I make sure it is all charged and ready to go - you know, just in case.

8.  Small first aid kit.  My small one is a small cosmetic bag size.  It has a few band-aids of different sizes, antibiotic ointment, pain reliever, and benadryl.  Oh, and antacid.  It is not big but it works for us. When the kids were little I also carried a thermometer and a few other items. Now that we have grown most of them have their own bags and carry the items they feel are necessary for them personally, like feminine supplies, allergy meds, etc.

Do we overpack?  I don't think so.  Did I use everything I packed?  No.  I didn't use the first aid kit. No one needed any band-aids this time, but we have needed them in the past.  We also didn't use our car emergency kit, but it is always good to have it around for those times when we do break down.  I didn't need to extra battery charger either but it is small and always good to have.  Yes we ate some snacks, not all, yes we used the fingernail clippers and the nail file this time. I used a blanket on the bed in the hotel room because my husband loves to crank up the AC and freeze me out of there.  I already told you I used my flashlight and well, packing in layers is always a good idea.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Whistle Can Save Your Life

Yes, a whistle can save your life!  Put on your list of emergency supplies to get a whistle.  I have one on my keychain.  It is a small plastic "very loud" whistle.  The "very loud" part is what was in the description when I bought it.  And it is very loud.  But any whistle in a pinch will do.

As a woman I worry about attacks in parking lots when I am walking out to my car at night alone.  I always get my keys out in the store prior to leaving.  I have my keys in my hand and thus my whistle too.  If I feel threatened (knock on wood - haven't needed to use it yet) I can blow my whistle.  That will get other people's attention and hopefully ward off those who want to do me harm.  However, there are lots of other times where a whistle will come in handy too.

Have you heard of the instance where you get lost hiking?  The thought is if you get lost the best thing to do is to stay in one place and blow your whistle every so often.  You can use the SOS method of blowing your whistle, three loud blasts, and people searching for you can hear it.  Yelling and screaming can be effective but it takes a lot of energy to yell.  Blowing your whistle is much more effective and efficient.

If you are in an emergency situation where you are covered in rubble, whistles are effective for people finding you. 

So when a weather emergency occurs (tornado warnings, hurricane, etc) put a whistle around your neck and you will have it in case you need it. 

Whistles are inexpensive and can be found usually in the sporting goods section of Walmart, Target, Kmart, and in sporting goods stores.  Get one with a lanyard so you can put it around your neck.  They are usually only a few bucks if that.  In fact buy two or three!  They also make great stocking stuffers!!

Pack one in your bug out bag, put one in your car emergency kit, put one on your keychain and in your purse. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Emergency Planning on a Budget (a $5 plan)

A few ideas for how to stock up on a budget:  I was thinking more about the post I wrote the other day here and wanted to give a few ideas on how to stock up with just $5 a week.

I have said before that I am not a "hard core" prepper.  But I do like to have some supplies on hand at any given time.  My "emergencies" are not the sort like the end of the world, full-blown nuclear meltdown, complete economic collapse, or an apocalypse type event.  My "emergencies" are more of the "oh my we had to pay a large bill this month and are a little short of grocery money", winter storms, hurricanes, and oops the power went out.  I find that from time to time we have to use our supplies for one of these reasons.

I don't buy the long-term, 25 year food storage items.  A 5 gallon bucket of oats or whole grains or even flour isn't going to do me much good in the long run because that is not how I cook everyday.  Yes, I bake bread and sweets from time to time but it isn't my norm.  I buy extra of things we use everyday.  I like to have a three month supply of things so in case we need to use our food storage/supplies the items we normally use are there. 

How do I get a three month supply of things?  I start slowly and I stock up on things we use.  When things go on sale that is when I buy and for the most part food items go on sale at least once every three months.  At that time I buy what I need to the next three months.  For example, we use ketchup quite often (I have kids - it is part of the food pyramid!) I estimate we go through a bottle of ketchup a month. So when ketchup goes on sale I buy three bottles.  We are not big on canned veggies and tend to eat more frozen or fresh veggies.  We can't really stock up on fresh veggies for three months but we can stock up on frozen veggies.  Frozen veggies are regularly $1 a bag.  We eat fresh as often as we can but we use at least 3 bags of frozen veggies a week, sometimes more.  3 bags a week for a month is 12 bags.  Three months worth is 36 bags of frozen veggies.  I don't buy 36 bags at once.  I don't have that much money to spend on it at once.  So I buy a little at a time.  I will get a couple extra bags each week at the store until I have stocked up.

If you were to budget $5 extra a week to spend on emergency supplies you could plan out how you can spend it each week.

Immediate needs:
Food -
Water -
Lighting -
Cooking -
First Aid -

Start with water.  It is easy to grab an extra couple gallons of water for $5 a week.  A case of water bottles is usually $2.50-$3.  You can buy at least one case and then a gallon of water for $5.  Do this for a couple weeks and you have quite a stash of water.

Food - Start with foods you can eat without heating up.  Tuna packets, canned pastas like ravioli, beef a roni, spaghetti-o's, etc.  They are better hot but you can eat them cold in a pinch.  A box of protein bars, box of dry cereal, pop-tarts, instant oatmeal.  Canned fruits, apple sauce, canned and bottled (shelf stable) juices. Start slow and buy on sale.  These are all items you can eat without heating up. Make sure the cans are the flip and pull type or make sure you have a hand crank can opener.  Canned goods do you no good if you can't get into them.

Alternative cooking - One month save your $5 a week and try to find a camp stove or use your $20 this month to buy some cast iron pots and pans you can use on your grill or over an open fire.  Camp stoves like this one is a bit more than $20 new but you can buy one on Craigslist or at a yardsale for about $20.  If you own a grill or plan to use an open flame fire to cook in an emergency then use your $20 to buy second hand cast iron pans and pots.

Now that we have an alternative cooking plan - let's go back to food again.  Now you can start stocking up on lots of foods each week with your $5.  When planning what you will buy try to buy items that will make a meal. One week buy instant pancake mix and a bottle of syrup.  The next week buy a package of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce.  Another week buy canned soups that are ready to eat (Chunky, Progresso, etc).  This way if you have an emergency then you have a full meal and not just random parts of a meal.  Relish and crackers don't make a meal. You could eat it but it wouldn't be appetizing.

Alternative lighting - For $5 you can buy 5 small flashlights. (Walmart has them in the camping department, they are small but pack a bright led light)  You can buy a package of AAA batteries for $5 to go with your small flashlights.  For $10 you can buy a larger lantern.  For another $10 you can buy a package of D batteries for the lantern.  I used to stock up on candles but now I go for the lanterns and flashlights. Just the other day I found a great hanging battery operated light on sale for $3.49 at Office Max.  I think they were intended for a locker.  You could hang it in your locker and have a light so you can see your books.  The light is bright!  I bought 2.  The fact that you can hang them up on a hook or in a closet on a rod makes them perfect for your emergency supplies.  You can put it in the bathroom on the towel rack or hook it on a cabinet door knob in the kitchen. Each was under $5. Candles are cumbersome and dangerous as they have an open flame and can catch your house on fire if you aren't paying attention.

First aid - again, use your $5 to add to your first aid kit.  One week buy band-aids, next week buy ace bandage, another week buy antibiotic ointment like Neosporin.  One week buy pain-reliever (Advil, Tylenol, etc) another week buy chapstick.

Now that you have the basics for an emergency where you won't have power, begin to think bigger and start to plan and stock up for a time where you may be without a job or there is an illness in the family and money is tight, or when you just need to pay an extra bill this month and groceries and basic supplies will be hard to come by.

Make a list of popular meals that your family likes a lot.  Start to stock up a little at a time so that you have all the ingredients for these meals.  Stock your freezer with meats, veggies, and quick prepared meals.  Stock your pantry with spices, gravies, taco seasoning, canned goods, condiments, canned fruits and juices, boxed mac and cheese, soups, and anything else you normally buy.

Consider purchasing deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, feminine supplies, soaps, shampoos, and other toiletries.  These can be some of the most expensive items you purchase on a regular basis.  Stocking up on these when they are on sale or when you have a coupon is a wise choice.  Other items to stock up on is laundry detergents, bleach, household cleaning supplies, and hand soaps.  Again the key is to buy these when they are sale or if you have a coupon.  No coupon?? Consider emailing or mailing your favorite brands and tell them how much you like their product.  They will often send you high dollar coupons in the mail.

The key here is that if you do a little planning.  You biggest emergencies won't be the end of the world type scenarios but the little annoyances of daily life. I can't tell you how many times we have used our food storage because of an unexpected expense or lack of money for some reason. Power outages are our second most annoying "emergency". I am glad that I have an alternative cooking plan and alternative lighting plan.  Our daily life doesn't change that drastically when these things happen because we have a plan.  Buy the things you use and eat.  Food storage isn't any good to you if you don't like what you have.

Benefits of food storage:  I love being able to go into the pantry and having a variety of options available to me.  We eat it on a rotation all the time so that no food goes bad or gets out of expiration date.  Because I have stocked it with the things we eat anyway, we are always rotating our foods.  My grocery lists look a little different sometimes because I am always restocking my food storage and buying the items when they are on sale not just when we need them.  So sometimes my grocery list will not have any meats on them or any veggies.  Sometimes my grocery list looks quite odd as it isn't "balanced". But I find I am saving money this way too!  :)

I also love being able to reach under my sink in my bathroom and immediately replace an empty toothpaste tube, or grab a new deodorant.  I always have an extra. I never run out of anything I need.  When I notice that something is starting to get low, then it goes on the grocery list.  I might not get it immediately because it might not be on sale.  But it will get purchased before I completely run out of it.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Stocking Up on a Budget - How to Prepare When You Have no Money.

I recently had a friend on Facebook post that they were expecting a hurricane this weekend in her
area but she unfortunately had no money to prepare for it. It got me thinking about how to prep on a very tight budget.

We all from time to time find ourselves a bit "skint".  This doesn't mean that you can't be prepared.  I have given this a lot of thought and thought I would put my thoughts out here.

1.  Know your dangers!  By knowing what dangers you might have to endure in your area then you can best prepare for it.  I am not a prepper that preps for end of the world type events.  A major catastrophe is definitely in the back of my mind but I find that it is the more "everyday" events that I come across and need to be prepared for.  So first, know your area and the dangers you might have.  If you are in tornado alley, then prep for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, etc.  If you are in an earthquake zone, then prep for those and the damage that comes with those.  If you live in an area with potential hurricanes then those are what you need to prep for.  Know what your potential disaster will entail. I live in a hurricane zone.  I prep for severe storms, hurricanes, flooding, lack of electricity for possibly weeks (we live in the country and will be one of the last to get power restored if out), etc.  By knowing your dangers you will then be able to also determine the supplies you will need.

2.  Plan to shelter in place.  With little or no money, plan to shelter in place for as long as you can.  If you have to leave your home, then plan to be in an emergency shelter.  That will be your cheapest alternative to staying at home.  Prior to a potential emergency call your local emergency agency.  Ask lots of questions so you are prepared. Know what your shelter will provide you.  Most provide a cot or bed, some provide one or two meals a day.  Some allow you to stay all day long while others require you to leave during the day and return in the evenings.  Ask about safety, privacy, pet policy, etc.  Ask what items you will need to bring and what items they will provide (think toiletries, towels, linens for beds/cots, pillows, etc) 

3. Think of the basics. Because you will be planning to shelter at home, think about the basics you will need.  Water, Food, Alternative Cooking Methods, Alternative Lighting, Alternative Heating, etc.

Let's spend a minute talking about each of these.
Water: Many think that they will need water bottles.  But for weather related emergencies we often have a few minutes/days to prepare.  You don't need to run out and spend your little bit of money on water bottles.  Just fill pots, containers, insulated water bottles, ziploc bags, and your bathtub with water.  You can fill ziploc bags with water and then put it in the freezer and freeze it.  They will keep your frozen foods cold longer and then take the ziploc bags out when you need it and they will melt down to water.  I remember reading about someone before Hurricane Katrina who filled bowls, cups, pots, everything that would hold water prior to the storm. She was glad she did!  Fill your tub with water.  You can use it for washing and flushing your toilet. Water is pretty much free if you use the water coming out of your tap and fill your own containers.

Food: Most everyone has enough food for 3 days in their house that they can eat.  You may not like or want it but you have it already. Don't panic on food. However, again if you have a bit of time to prepare then you can make some better choices on the food that you will buy for your family that week.  Think about foods that you will not have to cook (if your stove is electric).  Sandwiches, vegetables, fruits, cereals, etc.

Alternative cooking methods: This can be your outside grill, a camp stove, or even a grate over an open flame.

Alternative Lighting:  During the day you can open your window shades and use natural lighting but at night you will need some alternative lighting source.  This could be flashlights, lanterns, oil lamps, candles.

Alternative Heating: If there is a possibility of no heat and it is cold outside you will need to figure out alternative heating. This could be your fireplace, lots of blankets, a kerosene heater, etc.

And then you need an emergency "bug out bag" just in case you will need to leave and go to a shelter.   This doesn't have to be a "backpack". You can use whatever bag you have, even a garbage bag.  Most people have something they can throw some things in

So far we have spent no money.  At this point we have just talked about what you probably have inside your home right now. It is just a matter of looking at what you have and being ready for the emergency.

4.  Plan ahead of time and over time.  This is the most important!!!  If you are like me, money comes and goes.  Sometimes I have a little extra and sometimes I don't have any extra money.  The key to all this is planning ahead of time.  We know we will have the potential of a weather related emergency so we plan ahead of time for it.  This way, when the weather man reports a hurricane or a snow storm or other severe weather there is little I need to do to prepare for it.  I am already prepared.  I don't need to worry about expenses of prepping at that time.  It is already done.

Each time I go to the grocery store, I make sure that I replace any prepping items we many have recently used.  If I don't need to replace anything then I try to budget a little bit of money to add to our supplies.  For us, batteries, are one of our most often used items as well as one of our most expensive prepping item. If I have an extra $10 I will buy a pack of batteries. 

If you are serious about prepping add in a line item into your monthly budget for stocking up. In the meantime here are some ideas on how to stock up ahead of time with little money.

1. Budget: Take a few dollars a month and use that to stock up.  Even the hard core preppers had to start somewhere and most of these didn't start with a lot of money to purchase supplies.  Like everything good, it takes time.  Sometimes years. 

2.  Health Fairs/Business Fairs/Etc.  I love going to these things, because the businesses there often have free things for you.  Bring a bag to put in the free stuff and collect away.  I particularly like small packs of bandaids, hand sanitizers, first aid kits, water bottles, zipper bags, sunscreen, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, etc.  These are perfect for your bug out bags!  Some even give away drawstring backpacks!!  Those are great for your bug out bag.  I like to put one of those in my car with emergency supplies.  If my car breaks down, I have a backpack now to put on to walk for help. 

3.  Cheap groceries.  Use your coupons to help stock up on long expiration date food items.  Canned foods are great as most of the time they have a year or 2 year expiration date.  Ramen, rice, pasta are awesome, cheap items to have in your stock of food. Add one or two items each trip to the grocery store you make.  It might be an extra buck or five to your budget but it is easier to do this a little bit at a time than to buy a full stock of food all at once. I have personally never bought freeze dried foods from an emergency supply company, but I have looked at them and they are quite expensive.  If this it the route you want to go then once you have a bit of food storage from the regular grocery then take the extra money you would have spent stocking up at the grocery and put it in an envelope and save until you have enough to buy a case of freeze dried food.  Buy a case at a time until you have a good stock of it.  The key here is to start with what you can and do what you can a little at a time.  Use coupons, shop sales, and look for items with long expiration dates on them.

4.  Free food items:  When you are out in a restaurant, the extra couple packages of condiments you may not use can be used in your emergency supplies.  I am not condoning stealing but sometimes they give you too many, and one or two extra condiment packs can help round out your bug out bag foods.  I am talking about salt packets, pepper, sugar, dry creamers, parmesan cheese packs, etc.   Don't throw these extras away.

5. Yard Sales:  I love going to yard sales and looking for emergency supplies.  You can find sleeping bags, lanterns, flashlights, oil lamps, camp stoves, and other items all at great yard sale prices.  Look for your higher ticket items here. 

6.  Craigslist/Ebay/Estate Sales/Auctions:  Other great places to look for more expensive items you might need.

7.  Dollar Store:  This is a great place for clean up supplies.  Bleach, cleaners, rubber gloves, buckets, rags are all great items to get at the Dollar Store.  Also think about getting a lighter, matches, and storage containers here too. You can buy batteries here but they tend to not last very long.  I prefer the more reliable brand name batteries.

8.  Goodwill/Thrift Stores:  This is a great place to find back packs and other supplies.

9. Take an Emergency Preparedness Course:  We have a free course locally, called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).  They train you for all sorts of emergencies and how to help your neighbors in an emergency. At the end of the course, which is free, you get a free backpack filled with supplies and tools.

Again,  the key to an emergency is preparedness and most often we can prepare well ahead of time.  The key is to already be prepared when your emergency hits.  By planning ahead of time you don't have to worry so much about whether or not you have it in the budget this month to get prepared because you already are prepared.







Friday, September 29, 2017

Financial Preparedness

Recently we have been going through a bit of a financial strain.  Who am I kidding?  We seem to always be in a financial strain.  Ha ha ha.  But recently I have been thinking more and more about how to be more prepared financially. 

I hate the fear that lack of money gives me.  I feel safer when I seem to have some money in the bank.  I feel secure.  But the money never seems to last very long.  There always seems to be some sort of "thing" that comes up where we need to use our money.  A refrigerator dies and needs to be replaced. A child needs dental work to the tune of $1200. Something always seems to come up and we have to spend our little (and I mean little) nest egg.

Years ago we took a Dave Ramsey course and it was great.  It allowed us to see where our money was going and we learned how to reduce our debt.  We used this method for quite a while and we still go back to it from time to time.

Dave says to have 3 to 6 months in income in a savings account for emergencies.  He also says to have a budget for cars and car maintenance.  He says to put money aside each month and then when your car needs repair the money is there.  When your car needs new tires, the money is there.  This makes total sense to me. But {sigh} I never seem to be able to do it. Ramsey encourages us to use cash.  Put the cash in an envelope each month labeled for that specific category.

I remember my grandmother telling me a story years ago where she was using envelopes to put money in each month for different things: groceries, clothing, car maintenance, etc.  Her story goes on to tell how she didn't know what to do with the extra money each month that she didn't spend. That never happens to us.  I found that I had to steal money from another envelope to make up the difference in spending from another envelope. {sigh, again}. 

Having a cash system is hard.  In this day and age we don't use cash that much.  Everything is done online, through debit or credit card, or with electronic transfers.  I considered opening a host of bank accounts to settle out the "envelope" system but that didn't seem practical.  I tried a spreadsheet, half-heartedly I admit, but that seemed very tedious.  Lots of detail and saving receipts.  It didn't work, and I admit, I didn't give it much of a chance.

However, one thing that we have done over the years pretty successfully is to put a bit of cash in a jar.  We dip into it from time to time but it usually has a final purpose, like Christmas budget, or travel funds, etc.  It is nice to know that a bit of money is stashed away for something or for an emergency.  We usually have several hundred in there and sometimes it increases to a thousand!  My husband puts his change in there and any cash he has on hand. I do the same when my purse seems heavy with change and when I end up with a bit of cash.  It makes me feel good to contribute to our jar and it makes me feel safe.

Having a bit in an emergency fund is helpful for all those little emergencies.  Like that refrigerator or the dental work.  I am lucky because when those emergencies come up, while I hate to spend the money, we have it and don't have to get a loan or use a credit card to pay for it. Recently with the dental work, the account manager was going through the upcoming expenses and she said that I could apply for a short term loan through a financial company they use.  I could apply right then if I wanted and it only took 5 minutes.  {whew} Thankfully, I was able to decline because I knew we could pay cash for it.  When it came to paying for my daughter's invisilign braces, we were able to take advantage of a cash discount if we paid for the whole thing up front.  It took all our "emergency" money but I was able to save about $500 by paying up front.  Now we are paying "payments" back to our emergency fund instead of paying a high interest loan payments to financial company for the loan for her braces.

How do you get started? 

There are a couple ways to begin.  One thing is to start a list of things that you might need money for in the next year.  Think about appliance replacements, repairs, travel money, etc.  Then start to budget for that expense in your monthly budget.  Divide your total by 12 and add that amount each month.  Watch out and be prepared because that number can be quite large.

For us we can't always make that amount each month to put away.  For us, we just start adding whatever we can to our savings account.  We try not to dip into it each month and I like to see the money start to add up.  Even if it is just $20 a month that you can stick in a jar in your closet.  At the end of the year you will have $240!  Some months you may have an extra $10. Add that too. 

What if your budget is so tight that you can't seem to part with any money to save?

Start by adding all "found" money.  That penny on the sidewalk, the surprise $5 you found in your jacket pocket, change back from ordering a soda.  Then look at what you might be able to take out of your budget.  Maybe take your lunch instead of eating out once a week.  That is an extra $5 a week ($20 a month).  Perhaps it is your birthday money you receive from relatives. Start an emergency fund with money you earn from a yard sale or by selling an item online. 

Other thoughts:

By having insurance on your home or rental insurance you are saving for an emergency also.  Having this insurance will help replace lost or stolen items in an emergency situation.  Your house floods, your insurance will kick in.  But make sure you understand what is covered and what is not covered.  Make sure your insurance covers your needs if a disaster happens.  Know what your deductible is and save that amount in a savings account so your insurance will kick in immediately when you need it.

Health insurance is also important for peace of mind.  Again, know your ins and outs of your plan and save the deductibles.

Think about life insurance too.  Term life policies can be very inexpensive and can be for all sorts of amounts.  Recently, a friend had the horrible experience of having to bury her teenage son. The cost of the funeral home and burial was very expensive and they didn't have that kind of money.  They had to take a loan out to get their son buried.  It was a very sad situation and one they had not expected nor planned for.  Not only were they mourning and grieving horribly but also at the same time had to deal with the payments to the funeral home and cemetery.

Reality:

In full disclosure, we don't currently have health insurance or life insurance.  This is something that we need to get taken care of soon and on my list of things to do.

We do have a small fund of cash in a jar and we are currently saving for Christmas and then for travel later in the year.  We put all found money in there and whenever we end up with cash.  Extras from the month will also go in there. When we need cash we tend to dip out of it and I hate that, but it happens. I always say I will take cash out of our bank account and replace it but in reality that rarely happens.

I write this post not only to help spark some ideas for you but also for me to get organized and help me get more prepared as well.

What creative ideas do you have to save money for emergencies?




Thursday, September 28, 2017

Holy Trash - a - Lot!!!

I can't believe the AMOUNT of trash we have in this house!!  It is amazing how much trash one family can create!  Tonight my husband emptied the kitchen trashcan for me.  It was full (as it usually is) and he pulled the full bag out and put a new one in.  Within about a minute and a half (maybe less time than that) the new bag was full too.  Why you ask?? Because there was trash sitting in line waiting to get in the trashcan.  Because the can was full it sat on the counter next to the can waiting its turn to be thrown away. 

We stopped our trash service earlier this year.  My husband wasn't thrilled with the man we had.  He was a "two men and a truck" deal.  He was the only one we could find that would come down our long, long driveway and pick up our trash at our backdoor.  Other services wanted to pick up our trash at the end of our driveway.  That just isn't possible for us to drag our trashcans down a quarter mile long driveway.  {sigh}  Again, my husband wasn't thrilled with this trashman because he wouldn't take all our trash.  He would only pick up two outside trashcans-full, unless we paid him more, which we did to pick up all our trash.  My husband felt like we were being "taken" by the new price to take the extra trash.  So he cancelled service and promised to take our trash to the dump himself. 

Tonight my husband said he would have to go to the dump AGAIN this week.  I mentioned that it is why our trashman picked up our trash  WEEKLY!!  LOL 

Back to our copious amounts of trash. We seem to fill the kitchen trashcan at least once a day, sometimes twice. And that is with just normal trash.  Then each of the kids' bedrooms can fill a bag at least once every other week.  The trash in the office can fill a kitchen garbage can at least weekly too.  Bathrooms combined can fill a bag, and then we have the garage trash which we can pull two bags, at least, a week. 

Two things I wish:
1. that we had a trash service that would just pick up our trash, all of it, each week so we don't have to worry about when we will get to the dump.
2. if we can't have a trash service then the guys will habitually take our trash to the dump each week so it doesn't pile up.

Last week before they went to the dump we had little animals partaking in a virtual feast each evening by digging in our trash on the deck. The trash had piled up so much that it no longer fit in our outside trashcans and we had to pile bags on the deck.  It was bad, bad, bad.

Monday, September 25, 2017

One Thousand White Women

Oh my goodness!!!  What an awesome book!!!

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus was a novel that I bought on a whim at Target a couple years ago.  It said it was a good book club book and I have this romanticised notion of being in a book club and reading great books, discussing these said books with others, and having smart, thoughtful conversation!  Well, this notion has never really come to fruition over the years but I had this book on my bookshelf, sitting there, waiting for me to pick it up and read it.

Well that day came last Thursday afternoon. I was sitting in our study waiting on my husband to do something or another and I grabbed the first book I saw. This was the book.  I opened it and began reading.  And today is Monday.  I spent the better part of the last three days reading this book.  I was so engrossed in it I didn't cook any of the days for my family, nor did I write out assignments for the kids this week.

What makes this novel great?  The premise of the book is intriguing.  It is historical fiction and the history part seems quite sound and well researched. It reads quickly as the main characters writes in such a way that you feel her sense of urgency and fast paced writing.  It makes you want to read it at that speed too.

This evening I was telling my sister about the book and looked up on amazon.com and lo and behold..... there is a sequel!  And it was just released about two weeks ago!  Yes, I have already put the book in my shopping cart.  It will be on its way here soon.  :)

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it???

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Hurricane Irma and Harvey Can Teach Us

Let me begin by setting up some background....

My family used to vacation in the Outer Banks when I was growing up.  We spent several weeks in August there each year.  It was a wonderful place for vacationing however August was the beginning of hurricane season down there.  We never evacuated for a hurricane, never. Never.  At the hint of a hurricane my aunt, uncle and family would leave.  We would tease them, but they always left.  I don't remember a Category 3, 4 or 5 ever hitting while we were there but I do remember Category 1s and 2s all the time.  We survived them all unscathed and never had any real damage.  Yes there was lots of wind, rain, and flooding, but no damage.

My family isn't scared of hurricanes.  We typically don't evacuate unless absolutely necessary.  I suspect that those who live in Florida and even on the coast of Texas have a similar experience and similar thought processes when it comes to hurricanes.

 Harvey wasn't as massive, nor a higher wind storm but it stuck around in the same spot for days on end.  Massive flooding occurred.  Most hurricanes move through, albeit slowly sometimes but they move on.  Harvey didn't follow those guidelines.  It just stayed and stayed and stayed!

Irma was "impressive" to say the least.  It was a cat 5 storm.  It was HUGE, over 400 miles in diameter, and it was tracking to cover all of Florida.  Many residents decided to evacuate because of the enormity of the storm.  Some chose to stay and hunker down and ride it out.  Houses down there are built for storms.

Last week the track of Irma looked like it would turn and go up the east coast.  This gave those on the west coast a bit of relief and they relaxed a bit. However just before the storm hit the track changed and those on the west coast would be hit instead of east coast.  This was a major change and required a quick decision as to what those on the west coast would do.  Stay and ride it out or evacuate if they could.

Those who chose to go didn't have time to do much more than "grab and go". This was a big real life lesson.

Lesson #1: Bug out Bags
When prepping for a storm in which you plan to remain and shelter in place, one still must pack a Bug Out Bag.

This should be done during the prep stage of the storm.  There may be no time to pack when it comes down to evacuating. I have listed some items that you will need to pack.

All members of the household must have their own bag or back pack.  Even pack one for the pets.
  • 3 days worth of clothing, don't worry about pjs - just the bare basics
  • 3 days worth of water,
  • 3 days worth of food,
  • toiletries including toilet paper, a trash bag, first aid kit
  • electronics, cords, batteries, and chargers (charge up all chargers and electronics and keep them charged until the time comes to bug out or no power) flashlights
  • emergency info, numbers, papers, etc. thumb drives with back-up files, photos, etc
  • Any additional special items that you can't live without.
  • Rain gear (ponchos are awesome and easy to pack) plus you can put your backpack under it to keep it dry, use as a ground cover, or a drop cloth.
  • for pets, leash and a spare, papers to prove shots and health info, food, water, bowls, blanket or towel for them to sleep on, a crate or cage.
  • for kids, ask them what two or three toys or items that they must have with them (stuffed animal, toy or game to keep them busy) 

These packs should be packed and ready to go in a moment's notice, all in one place.  Put your shoes on or keep them next to the packs so you don't have to go look for anything in case you have to leave quickly.  Some of these items can even be put in the car ahead of time so you don't have to worry about packing it when the times comes to "bug out".

Lesson #2: Emergency Shelters
Prior to the storm contact emergency officials and ask where the local shelters are and what requirements they have.  If you have pets, ask what requirements they need for pets.  Many shelters in Florida required proof of shots and the pets all had to be in a cage/carrier that you had to bring with you.  Many residents didn't have cages and couldn't bring their pets. It would be horrible to get there and be turned away because your pet doesn't meet the requirements.

Lesson #3: Weather Updates
Prior to the storm contact a friend or family member and let them know your plans and options if you need to leave or move to another place.  Also ask them to keep you informed of weather updates once your power goes out.  Also have an emergency weather radio or battery powered radio where you can get up to the minute weather information for the locality where you are.  If you have a weather radio know how to reprogram it for the locality you have to move to if you have to move locations.  A friend can text you information from far away as now most major news channels run towards the major severe storm.  This can also be a very important  connection to help you weather the storm and keep your sanity about you.  You can be very scared and make poor decisions in the midst of a severe storm and bouncing your ideas off a friend who may be able to help you sort through your fears is helpful.

Lesson #4: Never too many battery chargers
Your cell phone may be your only lifeline to the outside world.  You can burn through your battery power quickly in an emergency.  So have LOTS of battery chargers available and ready to use.  Your kids may feel comfort using their tech to play a game and keep their minds off being scared and your batteries will wear down quickly. Texting uses less battery power than an actual phone call or video chatting or playing a game.  Reserve your power as best you can by turning off all apps that run in the background other than the ones you need, like weather apps, texting ability, etc.  Quicker charging can be done if you turn your phone off to charge or if you turn your phone to "airplane mode".   If you don't know how to turn off apps, take some time prior to the storm to learn or have someone teach you.  Once the storm is over you may not have the ability to recharge using electricity. Purchase a good quality solar battery charger.

Lesson #5: Evacuation
Florida is a unique place in many ways, but it is similar to other places in many ways.  If you think about how you will evacuate your area most localities have one or two main highways heading into and leaving your area.  Think about everyone in your locality leaving at the same time.  Massive backups, traffic accidents, gas shortages.  There is nothing worse than sitting in a 5 hour back up and running out of gas on the highway.  Have a plan ahead of time and then if you are evacuating do it early.  I can't preach this enough.  A short 2 hour trip may take 3 or 4 times as long with massive traffic. Pack your patience and lots of snacks, drinks, and expect massive delays.

Lesson #6: Stocking Up
Most people do not have a store of emergency supplies, so when the time comes where a storm is predicted people run out to their local stores and start gathering the supplies they need.  The stores don't have time to have shipments of emergency supplies come in prior to a storm so they run out of the supplies you need quickly.  The first things off the shelves are flashlights, batteries, bread, milk, peanut butter, snack foods, tarps, generators, etc.  Many of these items can be used over and over again like flashlights.  Have a central location in your home where you store your emergency supplies and frequently check on your supplies for working ability so that these are things you don't need to worry about getting at the time of a storm.  If you are going to need plywood to board up your windows then keep a stock of plywood somewhere in your garage or under a protective covering so that you don't need to run out to get that.  Food is another situation however you can still stock up and keep a "stash" of foods that you can cook or eat without cooking when storms hit. One rule I use is that the first time I hear of a storm potentially impacting our area I hit the grocery store and purchase foods prior to the "panic" of the rest of my neighbors.  Many times the storm doesn't impact us but we will still use the food I purchased.  It won't go to waste.  I don't buy "special" food for a storm.

For us, I try to do a review of my supplies a couple times a year and prepare for that season's needs.  We use batteries all the time, so when I see that we are starting to get low I will stock up.  Storm or no storm.  If I find that a flashlight isn't working properly, I purchase a new one.

The big lesson here is stock up early.  Fill all cars with gas. Be ready for the worst, hope for the best.

Lesson #7: The Aftermath
The storm is one thing.  The impact can be major but you need to prepare for the aftermath also.  Check on your neighbors, friends and family who were also impacted.  Make sure they are safe and well.  Make sure you have cleaning supplies, lots of towels, rags, bleach, trash bags, etc., for potential flooding or damage.  Flooding can be many days.  Have a plan for the trash, household goods that got ruined, and how you will deal with the clean up. Start making a list of all the ruined items to turn into your insurance company. Have a list of people you can contact to help you.

If you didn't have flooding but major damage to your home, you may need a long term plan for shelter while your home is being repaired.

At the very least you may have to deal with no electricity for days on end.  Do you have an alternative cooking method, alternative lighting methods, alternative battery charging methods?  Having no electricity can be quite frustrating.  One of the first things most people do after the storm is go out and try to find a restaurant that is open.  Don't expect it.  Plan to be able to feed yourself for several days at least after the storm.  If you live in a warm climate ICE may be tops on your list of items you need. Try to plan for that too.  Make extra ice prior to the storm.  Buy ice prior to the storm. Store it in coolers, your fridge and freezers. Having no power is a great way to clean out your fridge and freezer ;)

It is always good to look back and reflect.  Every storm is slightly different and we can learn from them all so we are better prepared next time.

Have a great day.  Be safe!




Friday, September 8, 2017

A Guide for Helping Kids Cope with a Hurricane

I found this gem this morning.  It was published by the Florida Sun-Sentinel to help in preparation for Hurricane Irma coming up the Florida Peninsula.  I thought there were some very helpful hints here.

Hurricane Irma: Prepping the Kids

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Beka Consumer Math

Consumer Math Workbook
This year we are using A Beka Consumer Math with my high school seniors.  They have gotten through Algebra II and wanted something more practical this year. (and easier LOL)

I chose this book because our cousin uses it in her school.  We had never used A Beka products before now.  I know A Beka has their own course schedule and lesson plans and honestly I never looked at them.  I think they are in the teacher's guide which I have yet to open.  Maybe I should have, however, I went through the book and organized a year long plan along with assignments.  I know I will be using this again with my youngest child when she is ready so I need to put it somewhere where I can access it later and thought my blog is as good a place as any.  So here it is.

I based my year on a 36 week year.  I give them a day break after each test day and a break here and there.  I aimed for 4 days of assignments each week and some weeks there are 5 days.  I didn't assign all the exercise problems, as I know my kids don't need all that practice.  I assigned worksheet pages from the workbook but won't be having them do any of the skills check that is on top of the pages.  They will only do the lesson exercises on the bottom half of the workbook pages. So when I assign a "worksheet" and it is two pages, it refers to the workbook page numbers and they will only be doing the reviewing exercises on the bottom half of each page.

Consumer Math Textbook
I didn't look at the calendar when I planned this year.  When there is a holiday one day then I will push the "free" day to the holiday and plan the rest of the week accordingly.  We will probably take the whole week for Thanksgiving but if we don't then they will do the whole week in three days instead of 5 or skip the worksheet if it is scheduled for that week.

You are welcome to use these assignments or adapt them for your own use.  If you do use them, please just comment "thank you" in the bottom so I know others are using these assignments too.  Let me know if you like, how you like them and if you would like me to post more of my curriculum I use with my kids.

You can buy the textbooks at abeka.com. You really only need the student Text, student workbook, and teacher's edition text, teacher's edition workbook.  That way you have the answers.  You might be able to find them used for sale too.

Here is the link to the Google Doc that has the whole plan.
Abeka Consumer Math Year Plan with Daily Assignments

Yet One More Post About Hurricanes

The other night we built a fire in our outside firepit and roasted marshmallows.  It was a great evening with my teenage kids.  This is rare for us to spend the evening all together as they are busy with other interests, friends, and activities.  I pulled out the s'more making ingredients and we made s'mores.

Why am I telling you all this when my post title implies that I will be talking about hurricanes???  I am getting to that.....  When I ran into the house to get our s'more making ingredients I grabbed a lantern.  The first lantern I grabbed had no batteries in it.  I looked in our battery box and there were no D batteries.  I grabbed the other lamp and luckily it had batteries in it and the lantern still worked.  Heading back to the kitchen I quickly wrote down on my grocery list "D batteries" "AA batteries" "water bottles".

I don't know about you but there are a few things that we always seem to run out of.  AA batteries not only fit in most of our smaller flashlights but also fits in my daughter's camera.  She is always telling me we are out of AA batteries.  Water bottles are also something that seems to disappear quicker than I can turn around twice.  The kids grab them on their way out places, I throw one in my purse, my husband grabs one on the way out to work.  With a family of 5 we go through a case quickly.  We have awesome tasting water in our tap (well water) and we have insulated water bottles that we also use all the time but filling up before we run out somewhere doesn't always happen.  And then the D batteries.  I honestly don't know where these disappear to but I have a feeling it might be a radio somewhere (maybe in my son's room??)  Our lanterns won't work unless we have batteries in them.

Another thing we need is a few screens for our windows.  We don't have screens in our windows. The house didn't come with any and I just have been lazy in the last year and a half we have lived here to buy screens.  Today I will be working to get the windows measured and go to our local hardware store and hope they have some snap in screens that we can put in a few of our windows to get a cross breeze should the power go out.

Hurricane Irma is barrelling somewhere towards the US and right now we aren't quite sure if it will hit us in Virginia but I want to make sure I am prepared for it, just in case.

I have posted a zillion times about hurricane prep so I won't go through all of it again.  You can search on my sidebar all my posts on emergency preparedness.  But remember the basics: alternate lighting, alternate cooking, alternate warmth (if you need it), alternate water.  If you live in a place where you have well water, remember that you won't be able to turn on the tap to get water and your toilets won't flush normally.  Alternate water sources can be your bathtub for non-potable water (for toilets, cleaning and such), and fill all your water bottles, large pots, and anything else that will hold potable (for drinking and cooking) water.

The day after our s'mores evening, I went to the grocery store and grabbed a couple packs of D batteries, AA batteries and a case of water.  I feel like I need to grab a couple more cases (we will drink them even if we don't need them) and more D batteries..........just in case.

I would rather be over prepared and not have to worry than to not be prepared and worry.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Emergency Kit for Kids Traveling This Summer

My teenagers are going on a mission trip this summer with our church.  Along with the required items that the church organization asks them to bring (raincoat, water bottle, sun screen, etc), I want to send them with a small first aid kit personalized for them.  I want it small enough for them to toss in their backpacks, not take up too much room, and not add too much weight or bulk.


Here is a list of items I will be including in their kits.
  • Band-aids of different sizes
  • Neosporin Spray
  • Nail file, nail clippers, tweezers
  • Bandana and safety pin (clean cloth for wound care or as a sling if needed)
  • Advil
  • Allergy medication (for my daughter)

It is not much but it will all fit nicely in a small bag (you can put it all in a ziploc bag if you want).

I am also sending the following with them:
  • flash light (a small one with a wrist handle)
  • Hand sanitizer (this won't go in their first aid kit but will float in their backpack as they will need it available more often than their first aid kit)
  • a few snacks (my daughter is a picky eater so she wants to pack some pop-tarts, breakfast bars, and cheese crackers with her)
They are flying so the first aid kit will be in their backpacks while they fly.  The snacks and sunscreen will be packed in their suitcases which will be checked at the airport.  Nothing will be more than an ounce so they shouldn't have any trouble getting it through security.

My son has a small bag of bandaids and antiseptic spray in his baseball bag and  a larger kit in his car.  While his baseball team coaches have a kit they keep with them, my son tends to use his own band-aids from his bag and his friends have from time to time asked him for stuff too.  He likes the independence he has with his own stuff.  He knows his band-aids are the kind he likes and will work for him.  Again, this truly is about independence and lack of worry.  They know that in that bag is a little bit of love that mom packed and when they need a bandaid they might feel a bit of comfort from home.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How To Survive a Trip to the Store with Little Kids

Let me first add this disclaimer:  I am a mom of 3 teenagers.  From the oldest to the youngest they are 3 years apart.  I had three kids in three years.  I am not a mom of toddlers or young kids anymore.  This is my story, my observations, my opinions, and my methods from when my kids were little.  I think these are timeless and can enhance family time and/or your personal survival. I share these as my own ideas for surviving and enjoying multiple children.

Let's go to the grocery store!  I hear so often from moms of little ones that they HATE taking their kids to the grocery store with them or a run to Target/Walmart, etc.  When my kids were little there were a few times where a trip to the grocery store was without any little ones.  Those times were heaven!  I could stroll through the aisles, check out all the new end-caps, look for sales on things not on the list, etc.  However, note that I said few, because that is all I got.  Most often I had two or even three little ones tagging along with me.  I survived, and you can too!!

Wherever we were going, I started preparing the kids on that way there.  Telling them where we were going, why, what we would be looking for or purchasing, and how I expected them to behave.  There were no rewards dangled if they were good, no prizes at the end of the rainbow (check out line), none of that.  I didn't have the extra money to fork out prizes or treats if they were good.  Goodness was expected and they would receive my praise when they behaved.  That was all.  So we would start out similar to this:

 Me - "We are going to the grocery store and I will need everyone to listen to me and to pay attention to where we are going.  I will need my good helpers to help me find the things on the list. We are only getting the things on the list but we will see lots of other things we might want but we can't get them today. Who would like to help me by holding my list for me today?" (that person would get the prize of sitting in the cart seat)  Sometimes I would let them volunteer and other times I would select that person myself.  Then I would move on.  "The other two will have to help me find the things we are looking for on the shelves. Remember that your job is to help me by staying close to the cart with your hand on the cart while we are in the store." (this person or people had a rule that they had to keep their hand on the cart while we walked in the store and in the parking lot.  I didn't have enough hands to hold them all so that was the rule, period.  Even today with my teens I find them unconsciously putting their hand on the cart when we are in a parking lot - they still do it. :) )  Sometimes I would ask for a person to help organize the groceries - if we were only getting a few things and a kid could sit in the big part of the cart with the food while we rolled.  That way only one was out of the cart. When I had a baby who couldn't walk with us (under 3 years old) then that person always got the cart seat. The others were relegated to the basket or walking. Sometimes we would "ride" and I would let the walkers "hop on" the front of the cart and hold on while we moved through the store.  This was a fun treat for them.

When we arrived at the store, before we got out of the car, I reminded them again, "you all are such great listeners I know we will be so quick and can get home soon.  If we don't behave in the store then we will have to go home right away and not have the things we need to make dinner (or breakfast or whatever we were there for). Don't forget to put your hand on the cart when we are walking in the parking lot.  Cars can't see you but they can see me.  You are short right now and they can't see you so well.  They can see me because I am tall. Stick close and keep your hand on the cart."  I always tried to park close to a cart corral so I could grab one before getting in the store.  On the occasion when I couldn't grab a cart right away then they had to hold on to my purse or hold my arm or hold each other's hands.  No one was ever walking freely. The threat was always the same.  The people driving the cars can't see you and might run over you by accident.  That would hurt badly and we don't want that to happen.  The cars can see me because I am tall.  Stick close to me and hold on to me and the cars won't hit you. This was said over and over again every time we were in a parking lot.  Over time it all becomes habit; habit to say it, habit for the kids to hold on to me or hold the cart or hold someone who was holding me. It became their job to hold not my job to grab them.  Usually I was carrying someone in my arm and someone else was holding a hand.  The third would either grab my purse straps or hold my arm holding a kid or hold their sibling's other hand (as they were holding on to me).

As we moved through the store, the list keeper would help me by marking off the things we found, even if they couldn't read it was great practice for them to look for the first letter of the item and good practice for just marking things out.  The other two "finders" would help me look for their brand of cereal or the bacon or the "blue topped milk" etc.  I always praised them for finding it with their good eyes.  They know what the box of cereal looks like and the brand of milk we use, etc.  They are so observant even at a young age, say 3 or 4 years old.  We would mark everything off the list and move to the check out where they would be able to watch the bagger bag up our groceries or help me by putting the items on the conveyor belt.  It kept them busy and if they asked for things not on the list I would remind them that it wasn't on the list and we couldn't get it today, but when we got home we could put it on the list for next time. Usually they had forgotten all about whatever it was and never had to make a new list when we got home.  They were too busy helping me put it all away at that point.

As the kids grew older and learning to read, the list keeper became more important as they had to read what was on the list to us.  And even older (like 7, 8, 9 years old) we began looking for sales and comparing unit prices.  Sometimes if we had time one would use my calculator in my purse to add things up or help compare prices and quantities in the package.  Even at that age they can learn so much.

I know I have blogged about this before because I remember writing it, but when we were in the stores and saw a child who was misbehaving I would quietly point them out to my kids and tell them to look at how that child looked while he was screaming.  I would ask them to look at the mom and see how frustrated and upset she is that her child is misbehaving.  I would tell them that others see you when you misbehave just like we see this child.  I would thank them for behaving well and how proud I am that they don't misbehave in the store.

Now, my kids were not perfect and there were a few (only a few) times when someone would pitch a fit that couldn't be quickly extinguished and we would have to leave.  In those times, I would quickly try to find a worker who I could pass my partially filled cart to and tell them I was sorry but we had to leave right away.  I would grab the kids and out to the car we would go.  Buckle them all in and head straight home.  This only happened a couple times. But enough that they remembered and didn't want that to happen again.  No praise.  The idea is that I say what I am going to do and do it when it happens.

Before:
The idea here is to prepare them for what behavior you expect.  Kids are not mind-readers and they learn best when they know what is expected ahead of time.  Kids will learn from punishment of when they do something wrong but many times we can prevent the "wrongs" when we teach them how to do it "right".   The reminders in the car and telling them what they can expect helped so much.  They knew what we were getting and they knew where we were going and they knew how I wanted them to behave because I told them.

During:
In the store I gave them all important jobs.  Everyone always had a job, even if sometimes it was to "stand there and look pretty" (yes, that was sometimes a job). They were praised when they did their job and told how much they helped.  This made them feel good about themselves and they learned to function as a team.  Jobs ranged from "hold on to the cart and make sure it doesn't roll away" to "find the ketchup" to "help me push the cart" to "mark the items off the list" to "help me put the items on the check out counter".  It can be anything that will make them feel important.  Praise comes during our trip as well as after.

After:
Once in the car, I praise them again for doing such a great job in the store.  For helping me find all that we were looking for and for behaving so nicely.  If someone complimented my kids in the store I would remind them of that compliment and tell them that they should feel proud that they received a compliment, because I was!

I can't tell you how many times I was stopped by other people in the store after observing me with my kids.  They would say, "you are doing a great jog with those kids" or "I see you are teaching them money management early" or "your kids are so well behaved, a rare thing these days".  Ha ha.  For me I was just trying to survive.  I never thought about how it looked to others.  I just needed to get through the store with my kids and my sanity.  Ha ha ha.  Seriously, I was sleep deprived, never without a kid or three, and had to shop when I could and that meant bringing my brood along.  So in order to survive the trip we HAD to work together, help each other, behave the best we all could (including me) and return home with our groceries and everyone in one piece.  I do appreciate those compliments and often needed them when they came to continue to encourage me.

Kids love a job.  They love helping and they love feeling important.  That is what I tapped into so that our grocery trip or Target trip or whatever shopping trip we took was successful.

So, what happens when your child does act up in the grocery store?  Well, for me getting down on their level, eye to eye with them, holding their hands in mine and reminding them of their job during this trip and how important it was for us to work together to help each other and me usually straightened them up.  As I said before, there were times when I abandoned my cart and out the door we went, to the car and home.  This upset everyone but needed to be done so they learned that their poor choice in behavior hurt everyone including me, their siblings, and them. That fast response will teach them that you will do what you say.  As a side note here, most often poor behavior for my kids meant that they were tired and most of the time this occured when I was trying to push nap time and they really just needed a rest.  So when we got home to bed they went for a while.  Usually they fell right to sleep.

In short:
1. Prepare them for the trip.
2. Give them jobs to focus on while shopping
3. Praise during the trip and at the end.

I hope this is helpful.  Have a great day! :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

First Aid Kits - Home and Car Kits

I think I have posted a blog about this years ago but I am too lazy to go searching for it. Okay, I went searching for it and I did find this:

A Prepared Mom Purse

Our First Aid Kit

Both are exactly what I thought I had posted. Both were written 6 years ago and a lot has happened since then.

With three kids in their late teens we are pretty active and are in our first aid kit often.  Having also moved four times in the past four years I am so thankful that we started using a tool box for our first aid kit.  It was so easy to pack it up and take it with us wherever we were going.  Sometimes it was in the car, sometimes in our travel trailer (where we lived for a bit) and then it was always the first thing we moved into our new houses. And, boy, did we USE it!!!

I am currently restocking my big first aid "Tool Box" kit.  It is a true tool box.  Well, it is more like an art kit tool box.  It has a pull out shelf and it is translucent.  It's big enough to hold a full box of meds, bandaids, etc. It looks similar to this-------------------------->

 In it I keep:

  • A tube of Advil (our go-to pain reliever) This is the small tube that you can get at the check out line section at the grocery store.  I restock it when it gets low from a larger more economical bottle of Advil.  This is the kind that has the twist off top and is a little larger than a chapstick tube.
  • Chapstick - plain flavor not extra medicated.
  • Spray neosporin - small, portable and easy to use.
  • Tube of neosporin - because the spray isn't for everything. (like eyes or wounds where you don't want to be spraying something on it)
  • portable thermometer - we have a regular old school mercury one in a protective case.
  • gauze pads
  • first aid tape
  • ACE bandage
  • pair of scissors
  • lots of band-aids in different sizes, shapes, and materials.  Some are water proof, some are not.  Some are fabric, some are not.  Some even have cartoon characters on them.
  • a clean, large, all cotton cloth (to be used as a sling, large wrap, tourniquet, etc.)
  • fingernail clippers, toenail clippers, tweezers
  • Allergy meds like Benadryl (we have a couple kids who have allergies and Benadryl works pretty effectively for them)
  • Benadryl "after bite" itch cream.
  • Small trial size of hand lotion.

There are a few things that I have found that over the years we have no longer use or that I feel like I can leave out of the first aid kit now.
  • An extra pair of contact lens.  When we were living in our trailer in between homes, I kept an extra pair of contact lenses in there.  I also had an extra pair in my purse first aid kit and an extra pair in our bug out bag. It was redundant.  In a pinch we would grab our BOB and my purse before we would grab our big first aid kit.  So the contact lenses have come out of our big first aid kit.
  • Bactine Spray - if it came in a smaller size I would keep it but I have found that Bactine over time will start to make everything stink like alcohol as the alcohol in the Bactine evaporates.  So I replaced it with Neosporin spray. 
********************
Car Kits:

In the car we keep a smaller first aid kit.  In my son's car he has the basics (bandaids in different sizes, neosporin spray, gauze and gauze tape, ACE bandage, tweezers, Advil, sun screen, chapstick, hand lotion)  He plays sports so I figure sports injuries will prevail, like cuts, scrapes, etc from sliding into bases and colliding with cleats.  I have a feeling his first aid kit will probably end up in his baseball bag and go with him into the dugout.

My daughter's car kit has pretty much the same stuff including a clean cloth and allergy meds.  

Our family car kits again, have pretty much the same stuff.  It also includes allergy meds and contact solution.

As you can see I have tailored the kits to what they will most likely need for whom will be in the car with them.


*******************
Purse Kit:

In my purse I carry a small make up bag that I have filled with all the things we most likely will need.  I always have my purse with me so over the years the contents have become more tailored to exactly what we need.  Ready for this??? 
  • bandaids - few in each size, one pretty large one (I replace these as we use them)
  • Advil - a tube of Advil
  • Benadryl tablets
  • Dental Floss
  • Eye rewetting drops
  • Chapstick
  • Cough drops
  • Tampons
  • A sanitary pad
  • Hair rubber band
  • Eyeglasses repair kit
In my purse I already carry a whistle on my keychain, a small flashlight (you can get these for a dollar or so in grocery stores or at Walmart.) so I don't need these items in my first aid kit.
********************
Travel packs:

My kids are going away this summer on a mission trip.  While there will be a guide and chaperones each will still take a small first aid kit in their luggage.  They will be flying so some of the items will probably have to be packed in their suitcases until they get to their destination.  Then they can move those items to their backpacks. 

In their kits they will each have:
  • bandaids of different sizes and types
  • neosporin spray and cream
  • sunscreen
  • chapstick
  • a bandana
  • nail file, nail clippers, tweezers (probably these will need to be packed in their suitcase while flying)
  • Advil (travel size)
  • Benadryl Tablets (for my allergy girl)
  • small flashlight
They will be carrying a backpack each day with them while on their trip.  They will have extra socks (they will be hiking), flip flops, a sweatshirt, a rain jacket, water bottle, first aid kit, a bit of money, camera.... oh you get the idea.

Basically, think about where you need a first aid kit and then the items that you think you will need on a regular basis as well as on rare occurrences.   Find a bag or box to contain all the items in.  If it is for your car, do you need a soft pack or a hard case?  Does it need to contain a lot of items or can it be small enough to fit in your glove compartment?  Will you be using it to carry your other emergency gear like flashlight, jumper cables, rags or towel?  Personally, I like to keep these things separate from my first aid kit.  Often my first aid kit floats around in the far back of the car or in the trunk.

Everyone is different and everyone's needs are different.  Assess your family's needs and adjust the contents of your kit accordingly.  Think about these main ideas though: small cuts, bites/stings, pain reliever, allergy meds, larger wounds needing wraps (like gauze or cloth), more serious injury like broken bones or sprains.  

Another option is to buy a premade first aid kit rather than make your own.  A good kit has everything that you would need for general first aid events.  Then over time you can tailor it to your own needs.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin - Homeschool Literature Unit

Let me first say..... WE LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

It takes a couple chapters to get into it but once you do, if you like a good mystery, then you are hooked!

I borrowed three of the same books (same publisher, same publishing date) from our local library.  I chose this book because my kids love to watch mystery-type shows and thought they would enjoy a good mystery.   I also chose this book because I already had a workbook to do while reading the book.  You can buy it here: The Westing Game .  There are sales throughout the year and I think I bought it on one of the "pay what you want" sales they have every  couple months.

I printed out the workbook pages for the kids and put it in a folder with those three prongs in it.  This way it wasn't in their regular English notebook.  It was special.  I also created bookmarks for the kids with their name on the top of it so we could see whose book was whose from the bookmark.  The bookmark also had a picture of the book and on the back had special vocabulary.  Actually if I were to do this again I would have put the list of characters on the back. Throughout the book it can be a bit confusing who is who.  It would have been helpful to have a basic character sketch on the back of the bookmark. (I hadn't read the book when I created the bookmark).

We cruised right along with reading the introduction and about the author prior to beginning the novel.  We talked about the time period and that they didn't have ready access to computers, no internet, and no cell phones.

As we read we discussed the clues and discussed the characters.  The kids were assigned the workbook work as they read as well.  After a while we gave up on the "before you read" pages and focused on the while you read and after you read pages. By the end, we gave up on the questions all together and just discussed the questions together aloud.  We did focus on vocabulary though (as this was what my kids needed) and created a "murder board" on our white board. (read below for why)

With a bit more research on the book since we finished it, I found this awesome document that gives great study questions and chapter vocabulary.  Beware, it automatically downloads to your computer and takes Microsoft Word to open.  It is worth the download.

Here is another one that gives space for answers but has no vocabulary.  It is all short answer questions.

There are so many characters and clues that it can be hard to keep up with.  We ended up creating a "murder board" on our white board with the clues, characters, etc.  The kids created what they needed to keep track.  However, I found this great graphic for organizing all the information,

I also found an excellent, inciteful character list (don't read it if you don't want to know who wins until you read the book).

If you found this post helpful, please leave me a quick "thank you" comment, and if you would like me to continue to post our curriculum, let me know that too.  :)

Friday, April 7, 2017

Tom Sawyer ..... Homeschool Literature Unit

It's been a while since I posted a unit that we were working on.  This one is on Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  It is geared for Middle School but you can use it with elementary school and even high school.  We are high schoolers here and I adapted the sources I found to my kids and their learning styles.
The front etching found on the first edition.

Tom Sawyer is an American Classic.  Mark Twain wrote in the preface that he wanted to write a Tom Sawyer as a satire against the other children's books where the main character was always good, helpful, honest, and warm-hearted.  He knew this was not always a reality. He wanted to write a 'real' story about childhood.  He based his characters off people he knew including himself and told stories in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn that really happened to both himself and some other boys he knew.
book.
which kids will enjoy and adults will find themselves reminiscing about their 'good ole days' (my term not his).  When it was written, cities were booming with buildings and hustle and bustle of people everywhere.  Life was busy and people dreamed of simpler times; times when they were younger, without a care in the world.  They dreamed of moving out of the city and into smaller towns.  Twain wrote

In it he describes the scenes so clearly that you can picture them in your mind as they are playing out in the book.  He uses dialogue in real dialect for the times and from his childhood days living in Hannibal, Missouri.

This story is a great 'read aloud'.  It lends itself well in both narration and in dialogue to reading out loud.  With a bit of practice you can get the cadence and dialect of the language.  While reading aloud you may even find yourself reading faster and faster as the action climaxes.  After a few pages the characters begin to come alive and for me, they take on voices of their own.  As a family, we find ourselves laughing at the events in this book, particularly the church scene in chapter 5.

When choosing this novel, I researched online for a study guide or a literature unit that was already done.  I found these:

This one from Scholastic - 4 printables
And this one from Glencoe -this one is a whole workbook that you can print and complete.


Here is a great source for character studies:

Character List
Character Map
Character Analysis - look on the left hand side and scroll down to find the names of the main characters.

Here are some sites for quizzes to take online:

Interactive Quiz
Another Quiz - this one has several kinds of quizzes.
Another one - look on the left column and find the second quiz on this site too.  Submit your answers for grading.
Essay Questions

We borrowed our last novel we read together from the local library, but this time I didn't have time to make a request to the library to gather enough books for us.  So I just went to the book store and bought four.  It is not the most cost effective, but I wanted everyone to have their own book and I needed one too.  The bookstore didn't have four of the exact same book from the same publishing company.  I bought two of the same and one of another and one of yet another publisher.  All books had the same words and didn't paraphrase or rewrite the book in a different way.  So while we weren't all on the "same page" we were all reading the exact same story with the exact same words.  A bonus from getting three different book publishers was that we had a couple different introductions that we read to prepare us for the book.  One book had footnotes that gave additional background information.  One book had pictures throughout.  That was encouraging to one of my kids as they enjoyed seeing the pictures of the scenes while reading.


If this post was helpful for you please leave me a quick "thank you" comment so I know that it is worth my time to post these.  If you would like to see more or would like to suggest a book you want more curriculum on let me know that too.  We may have already read it, but no matter, I enjoy searching for curriculum and creating stuff too. :)


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Flashlights, Batteries, Weather Radio..... Oh MY!!!

We are in the midst of a "severe" storm.  It is a severe thunderstorm with the possibility of a tornado or two.  No big deal, right???  Right....

Yesterday morning my husband suggested we get our weather radio set-up, finally, here in our house.  We just hadn't done it yet since we moved in a little over a year ago.  Why a weather radio you ask???  I mean we have our cell phones and weather alerts are transmitted through them too.  Why duplicity???  Well, I am notorious for letting my cell phone die completely and not charge it.  My husband swears his phone doesn't hold a charge for as long as he would like, but he does charge it often and has a second, always charged, battery for his phone. A weather radio works on electricity AND battery power.  It is loud and can be heard all over our house when it sounds off.  I pulled the radio out of our closet where it has sat for the past year and my husband started setting it up for our locality (it is different from the locality where we used to live).  While setting it up last night he realized that the transmitter didn't work anymore.  It may not be the transmitter, it might be another part, but in the end, it didn't work.  We need a new one.  So that won't help us for this storm.

We moved on to flashlights and lanterns and batteries.  Our lanterns use the BIG batteries.  The D kind.  One lantern still worked with the existing batteries and the other one didn't.  We went to change the batteries and found corrosion in the battery cavity along with the fact that we had no more D batteries. {sigh} We move on to flashlights.  Why do I give flashlights almost every single year in my kids' stockings but when I ask if they know where they are, they can't seem to find them.  {double sigh}.  We found three flashlights for 5 people.  Luckily, we had new batteries for these flashlights and were able to replace the batteries and have extra for them if we need them.

It is the little things like these that I just assume that we are covered when this is the very things we are so not covered on.

Now in the midst of the beginning of the storm we still have power but if it does go out the house will be quite dark even though it is well into the morning.  We will need light sources if the power goes out.  We do have candles and will use them when we need them.

So while I finish this blog post, I encourage you to check your supplies now, don't wait until the night before when all the stores are closed.  Check them now.

Do you have a flashlight for each person in your household?

Do you have a larger light source like a lantern for larger areas like the kitchen table?

Do you have batteries, oil, or extra fuel for the light sources you plan to use?

Think about the rooms that have no window or are extra dark because of a little window, like a bathroom, and think about how you will light that area.

While you are thinking about it, do you have a flashlight in your purse?  A small flashlight can help in many situations.  Is there a flashlight in your car?  Extra batteries?

I am chalking this event as an emergency preparedness FAIL.  Batteries, a weather radio, and extra flashlights are being ordered today from Amazon!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Tacos on the Grill AND a Lovely Surprise!!

Tonight we cooked tacos and quesadillas on the grill.  Remember??? Our stove and oven are broken.  The repair man comes on Tuesday so we are cooking on the grill.




Our grill came with a cast iron griddle and that is on the left.  On the right of the grill I used my cast iron pan for the taco meat.  There is a burner far on the right where I made the Mexican rice for dinner.


The quesadillas were really good. This was the first time we had used the griddle on this grill and it worked beautifully.  I also used the griddle to heat up the tortillas.  Yum.









It was sort of chilly outside so I used the grill top to keep the heat in while the food cooked.


All in all the only thing I can think of that we need in an emergency situation is a tray with high sides to carry things from the kitchen to the grill area.  I had a folding table behind me as a prep station.  I should have taken a picture of the whole set up for you but ..... well while I was out there cooking we had a bit of excitement .......





One of our cows had a baby!!!














Isn't it cute????  It must have happened sometime today when we weren't looking.  Mom and baby seem to be doing well.