2018 Preparedness Reset

 

When I first started this blog it was mainly about how we were trying to lead a more self-reliant lifestyle. Chickens, gardening, and old-timey skills were always on the menu!

We’re nowhere near doomsday preppers, but we do recognize that stuff happens and it’s good to be prepared with common sense, skills, and a few supplies on hand.  This is just how people lived before our lives were overtaken (and in many ways improved) by modern conveniences.

Well, life.

Over the last couple years we have had some major life changes and let our level of common sense preparedness slip right along with our level of organization.

When the new baby came (Can you believe she’s already THREE?!) and I left my job we adjusted to the smaller budget and lower energy by dipping into our food storage, and even some of our emergency supplies.  (Why hello, paper plates, yes I would like to use you rather than wash dishes tonight!)

Then we added homeschooling.  Planning and adjusting to that new norm dominated my mental energy for a long time.

Now the dust from all those big changes is mostly settled and we’re ready to put preparedness back into the rotation for 2018 by boning up our skills, knowledge, and supplies.

KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

The nice thing about knowledge and skills is that once you have them, all it takes to keep them up is a little practice.

The nice thing about country living is that it gives you lots of opportunity to practice those useful everyday and survival skills like building fires, food preservation, gardening and scratch cooking.

Even so, it doesn’t hurt to add a class or tutorial to the line up and learn something new.  This year I’m going to focus more on outdoor skills including target practice (archery, pistol, and rifle) orienteering, and intensive gardening.

I’d also like to improve our game processing skills by watching some tutorials, and gleaning knowledge from (and offering to help) our more skilled neighbors!

SUPPLIES

Since the supplies are what took the biggest hit when our preparedness took a back burner these past couple years we’re going to start by restocking our 72 Hour Kit.  This is really just a few basic items you might need to get you through minor emergencies like a big storm or a power outage.

FEMA recommends three days of supplies, but we’ve all watched enough news to know that you need more than that for more serious disasters that do happen every year.  That’s why we try to have a deep pantry, including some home canned, dried, and commercially packaged long term storage foods.

Obviously I can’t blow the budget by doing a big one-stop shopping trip for this stuff, so I’ll start by taking an inventory and then plan to add a case of this or that to our regular grocery shopping trips.

I rarely buy anything for storage that isn’t part of our regular eating habits,  but I do try to have a can or two of freeze dried dairy products (cheese sauce, milkbutter, etc) on the shelf.  I use them occasionally so that the family is accustomed to them, but mainly they are just for the horrifyingly dystopian possibility that our cheese and butter supply might be interrupted by a disaster some day!

Physically we could endure it.  But our souls would die a little.

Aside from the pantry we’ve taken a hit in the first aid and emergency lighting departments.

The “sexy” first aid items have held out, mainly because they are for real emergencies which we thankfully haven’t had.  But at one point last summer, I asked myself why I even bothered putting the basic First Aid kit away between ouchies.

Burning through Band-Aids is just the price of having outdoorsy kids, and I’m 100% willing to bear it.  I’d rather have kids who pilfer my supplies and get scraped up on adventures than couch potatoes who only burn through remote batteries. (although they do dabble in couch potatory if we’re honest)

Speaking of the little pilferers, I might be able to find a flashlight if the power were to go out right now.  That’s a big might, and and even bigger might that the batteries would be good.  For the longest time we had two headlamps hanging from the same hook as my aprons in the kitchen.

That was a good system while it lasted, but now that the kids can reach said hook our handy lights are MIA.  In addition to locating and replacing batteries in the flashlights we do have I’d like to get some solar recharging ambient lights.  My neighbor has several Luci lamps and they are super durable, and give a decent light for basic tasks.

The last preparedness issue we need to correct this year is to replace our water storage containers.  We have always loved Aqua-tainer water storage jugs, (I shared why here) but we’ve had one crack each of the past two summers leaving us short on stored water.

Thankfully they both cracked while we had them out on camping trips, and not while they were in our basement.  The remainder of our jugs still look good, but I’d like to replace them before they blow out leaving us high and dry.  I’m happy to hear your recommendations!

In addition to correcting the above issues I’m using The Survival Mom’s FREE 2018 Prepping Planner.  It’s an easy-to-follow calendar of two or three small, common sense steps you can take each week toward being better prepared to handle whatever life throws at you.

No bunker necessary!

What are some small things you could do to be ready to face life’s challenges confidently?

 

If you make a purchase by clicking certain links in this post I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Mom, Get Off Your Butt!

Can I confess something?

I’ve been giving myself a lot of grace lately.

After all, I have three kids (and all their activities), twelve chickens, two cats, a dog, a rabbit, four side hustles, AND I homeschool.

When I put it that way, it’s easy to understand how I might be exhausted both physically and mentally. It’s easy to play the grace card and let the laundry pile up for one more day, or step over the scattered shoes and coats instead of picking them up, even though I’m on my way past the coat rack.

It’s also easy to say I don’t have time to clean up even though I just spent two hours pinning No Fail Housekeeping Routines, and lurking on Facebook home management pages.

The internet is super supportive of us moms who can’t quite keep it together.

Wearing third-day yoga pants and a messy bun when you screech into the drop-off lane at the last minute?

Casually shoving the laundry pile aside to give an unexpected guest a place to sit?

No problem!

That’s modern motherhood!

You’ve got your priorities straight!

You don’t have to try to impress us!

Really, you don’t.

And you shouldn’t.

But there is a line, guys, and I think I’ve crossed it.

Read more at Her View From Home

3 Essential Items for Enjoying The Outdoors In Less-Than-Perfect Weather

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

We’ve always been what I would consider an outdoorsy family, but in the last year or so I’ve been making an effort to be more than fair-weather friends to the great outdoors.

There were so many little hinderances cropping up (choking wildfire smoke, and orchard spray to name two) that we couldn’t really afford to let crummy weather be among the things to keep us from getting our nature fix.  Especially when good weather vs. bad weather is really just a personal distinction.

In our house we’ve adopted the adage that there is no bad weather, only the wrong clothes!

Here are a few items I find make all the difference on those less-than-perfect days.

Thermal Base Layer

That’s code for long underwear, and they’ve come a long way since the trap-door, waffle-weave union suits your grandpa wore.  (Although, deep in my old-fashioned heart, I still love those, too!)

Depending on your climate you can go with light, mid, or heavy weight.  Here in North Central Washington I find that mid-weight is usually a good first layer.

We like these ones

Good Quality Wool Socks

I don’t know about you, but cold feet are the quickest way to ruin an outing for me.  Good quality wool socks are worth every penny.

And I’m not sure why, but I manage to keep track of them better than I do their white cotton multi-pack counterparts.  I’ve had some of my good wool socks for five or six years, which reduces initial sting of spending upwards of $10 for a pair of socks.

I’m a huge fan of Smartwool.  Aside from their overall good quality, they are one of the few outdoor companies that realize babies need warm gear too.

 

Water Proof Outer Layer

We don’t live on the rainy side of the Cascades, but a couple years ago we traveled to the coast in spring, and purchased simple rain gear for the kids.  It has since proven worth the extra purchase of separate rain gear from their usual winter gear.

Another good option if you live where there are four seasons is a three-in-one like this:

And I have to say I love this toddler rain gear we got as hand-me-downs from our great friends who are Alaska Fisher-folk, which means they know rain! (Hazel says thanks for the awesome rain gear,  Sena Sea!)

And as a bonus, here are some things you just realize you don’t want to live without, even on the nicest days! 

Good sturdy hiking boots

The right footwear means the difference between stopping to get yet another rock out of your kids tennis shoes and getting to camp before dark, with minimal whining.

Hi Tech is a good entry level hiking boot, that both of my older girls have worn comfortably.

I also love anything by keen for it’s ability to outlast most anything your kid can throw at it.  I have a pair that I bought used for my oldest kid, handed down to my second kid, and a friends kid, that my youngest kid just outgrew–that’s 5 kids in the course of 11 years–and they still have a ton of wear left in them!

River Shoes

When I was a kid the idea of river shoes seemed weak and pampered to me.  Why not just go bare-footed?  Well, my kids inherited their dad’s tender feet, and the heavier I get the more those river pebbles feel like Legos.   Again, with the Keens.  I run each pair through all three kids.

Sun Protection

I’ve never been able to get my kids to keep hats on, even winter hats when their ears are cold, but my friend’s kids wear some like these and they are adorable in them…and not sunburned!

And since it’s impossible to tame the inner esthetician, of course I have to add sunscreen to the list!

Well!  That post took me a while to write.  Time to get myself outside and away from the computer.  Grab some gear and come on out!

Six Must Read Christmas Books

We schedule the entire month of December as our homeschool Christmas Break, but if we don’t have something planned, I find we get irritable and worn out.  So instead of loafing for an entire month we take a casual approach to school, join our library’s winter reading program, read a few Christmas favorites and don’t worry too much if we miss a day here and there.  This gives us plenty of time to craft, bake and visit neighbors without descending into total chaos.

Here are a few of the Christmas books I find myself recommending over and over!

The Glorious Impossible, by Madeline L’Engle tells the story of Christ as seen in Giotto’s frescoes from the Scrovengi Chapel.  We used it last year because it just happened that we were studying Giotto just when Christmas rolled around.  Easiest artist study ever! And we are re-reading this year as a way of keeping in the true spirit of Christmas.

Apple Tree Christmas, by Trinka Hakes Noble, tells the story of a young girl who has a hard time getting into the spirit of Christmas after losing something special to her.  We loved this one so much that we checked it out from the library for the whole month of December a few years running. Finally I started to feel bad about hoarding it and bought us our own copy.  Now we read it year round.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss.  Do I really need to say more?  We love the book, and the original movie too!  Just try not to recite along when you’re watching the movie.  I find the kids don’t appreciate it.

The Christmas Day Kitten, by James Herriot tells the heart warming story of how a kitten finds a home with an old lady and three hounds.  All of James Herriot’s stories give you a cozy feeling, and especially so when you’re snuggled up next to the fire with a cup of cocoa and your loved ones.

The Family Under The Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson is a story about a family who finds themselves homeless just as winter sets in.  They meet an old man who shows them the ropes of life on the streets, and helps them find a new kind of home.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson is the hilarious tale of the horrors that ensue when “the worst kids in the history of the world” decide they’d like to star in the town Christmas Pageant.

FYI these are NOT affiliate links, they’re just here for your convenience.

Even better, why not see if your local library has these titles in circulation?

Feel free to drop a book suggestion or two of your own in the comments!

Happy Reading!

So Which Curriculum Do You Use? (And Why I Have A Hard Time Answering)

If I scroll back through my messenger feed I have a minimum of one or two friends PER MONTH ask me about which curriculum we’re using for homeschool and how we like it.

And I kind of panic every time.

I should have a good answer by now, but I don’t.

Here’s the thing.

I had YEARS – really-  YEARS to figure out the direction of our homeschool. And, in addition to all that time, I had zero pressure, because my husband was dead-set against homeschooling, so I got to do all my reading, dreaming, and scheming in the pressure-free zone of believing it was all a beautiful daydream.

So when a friend who is in the early stages of toying with the idea of pulling her kids from public school pops the question, I know that I won’t be able to really explain what we’re doing in a way that won’t be completely overwhelming.  In fact, when my husband finally gave me the green light to homeschool, I was overwhelmed despite having gathered the information gradually over years.

So where to begin?

First you have to know that we follow a Charlotte Mason inspired philosophy, which means we don’t do much that looks like it would in a conventional classroom.

If I had to sum up the Charlotte Mason way of doing things I’d say it’s all about good habits, living books, narration, and nature. You can read more about the guiding principals here. Or read her original six-volumes on education here.

There is very little written work (at this stage…it will come later) and not much in the way of worksheets or workbooks. It’s hard to teach math without workbooks, and we’re using a workbook for our initial cursive practice.

Essentially we’re reading great living books, enjoying great music and art, and doing life together. Throw in a little math and plenty of nature time and you’ve got the gist of our days.

But how?

As I said before it’s a lot to take in all at once. The quickest way I can think of for a beginner to get the “How and Why” of this method is to watch Homeschool Made Simple by Carole Joy Seid. You can watch a preview and get a copy Here.

I’d still highly recommend reading the original Charlotte Mason volumes, but I would have had a very hard time figuring out how our day should look without the DVD.

After I figured out how to lay out our day, I had to decide which books to use.  There is no one “right” set of books to provide a CM education, and there are a lot of companies who would love you to purchase the books they’ve selected for you, from them.  That is one great way to go. But it wasn’t going to work with our budget.  There are also several businesses and individuals who will customize a plan for you for a fee.  But again, I’m cheap.

When I first found Ambleside Online, I took one look and decided it was way too intensive. I spent several months scouring book lists, and trying to build my own curriculum.  Then I realized that is essentially what Ambleside has already done for you, for FREE.  And they’ve selected mostly books that are available as free e-texts. The few books that aren’t available free, or that just don’t work for your family can be subbed out for something you can get from the library or something that better fits your family’s values.

So I modeled our daily routine around Homeschool Made Simple, and plugged in the book list and resources available at Ambleside Online.   Then I just picked a math curriculum (well actually we’ve tried a few, but that’s another post) and at the end of the day I feel like we’ve got our bases covered and a lifestyle we enjoy.

And we’re flexible.

We’re only on our second year of this homeschool journey.  Right now I can’t imagine anything I’d like better than doing things the CM way.  But this isn’t about me. It’s about doing what works best (not to be confused with what is easiest or most enjoyable) for my kids. There are things about the method and curriculum that we’ve tweaked to fit our family better, and there are things that we will probably need to change to suit changing needs in the future.  The beauty is that there are no CM police.  If we decided to drop classical music, or drawing from our curriculum, no one is going to come and stamp a big red F on my homeschool records.  We may not be CM purists, but we can still graduate thoughtful, intelligent persons from our home.

So there you have it.   

I hope this has given you an idea of what we’re up to over here.

Overall I’d say we’re happy with our curriculum and method choices so far, (except my tween misses her PS friends terribly. We’re working to mitigate that.) and I would consider us successful academically speaking.

If you want to delve into more into what our day looks like check out the following articles or feel free to comment here or catch up with me on facebook.

Our Charlotte Mason Summer

Teaching Multiple Ages, One Room Schoolhouse Style

 

Pinterest Fall Recipe Roundup

I don’t even actually know what season it is. I typically consider it fall up through Thanksgiving, but we awoke to three inches of snow and counting this morning. So I guess Winter has arrived on the Half Acre.

Whatever the weather is telling me, my tummy is telling me it’s time for all things seasoned and spiced.

Hearty stews, roasted fruit and vegetables, a fire on the hearth and a mug of something hot in my hand. Yes. This is fall.

Here’s a roundup of some of my favorite fall recipes from Pinterest. 

I hope this gets you on your way to enjoying a warm and tasty season!  To get a peek at the other fun things I’m pinning follow me on Pinterest.

Enjoy!

Dear Younger Mom. . .

I’ve become an older mom. Ugh. I didn’t see that coming!

I first realized I’d rounded the bend when I was reading a book by an even-older-than-me mom who reflected that she would love to sit and visit with young moms, but they seemed to find her reminiscence annoying. I was thinking I’d be thrilled to sit and visit with this particular seasoned mom and glean her wisdom when I realized that at nearly 40, I probably don’t exactly qualify as a young mom anymore!

How sad is that?

A few weeks later I ran across a discussion on a local moms Q&A forum and a younger mom suggested forming a separate group for moms under Twenty-Five because older moms can seem to be so judgmental toward young moms.

Having only just identified myself as an Older Mom, I was a bit defensive. Why wouldn’t you want me in your group?

I’m not that old!

And hey, I know some stuff.

I’ve got three kids under my belt!

But then again, I always hated when my mom or mother-in-law would take it upon herself to tell me how I was feeding my baby solids in the wrong order, or didn’t have her dressed warmly enough, or that in her day babies wore wool stockings up to their diapers.

Excuse me, Nosey Old Lady, you haven’t had a baby in thirty years. We have central heating, and I read ALL the books!

Continue Reading at Her View From Home

Five Baby Steps To Getting The Family Outdoors

We all know by now how important time spent in nature is for our health, and especially the health of our growing children. Not only is fresh air and exercise essential for healthy bodies, more and more studies are linking time in nature with mental and emotional health.

Unfortunately getting out is one of those things we often strongly believe in, and yet don’t quite manage to do. I know. The commute is killing your evenings, and soccer is eating up your Saturdays. You don‘t know where to go, and when you get there the kids melt down. Then there’s the mess when you get home.

I had all those same issues keeping us from getting out as often as we knew we should. Finally I had to decide that getting outside was as essential as food and water and build bridges over the hurdles keeping us from making it happen.

1. Clear Time

We are in a over-scheduled season at the moment and it is making outdoor time harder to accomplish. For future planning purposes I intend to keep each kid to one activity at a time, and be very selective about my volunteer time. But for now one thing I’ve done to get us out is to make a morning walk part of our homeschool checklist. That way even if we can’t clear time later in the day, we’ve had some fresh air and a bit of nature first thing after morning chores. It’s not quite enough time for my taste, but it’s better than an hour in front of a screen any day.

2. Gear Up

As the old saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes”. Last winter I gave up trying to squeeze into my old snow gear and finally bought the right size. Suddenly taking the kids out sledding didn’t seem like such a chore. Having the right gear for whatever Mother Nature throws at you will keep you comfortable and enjoying your outdoor time much longer. At a minimum you’ll want to dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and a carry a backpack for snacks, water and a first aid kit.

When it comes to sporting goods, I’d recommend renting gear for your first season so that you can decide whether the new activity is going to stick before you shell out your hard-earned money.

Here is a list of the outdoor gear I wouldn’t want to live without.

3. Pair Up

If you don’t live in an area with easily accessible open spaces it may be that you are uncomfortable getting out because you are unsure where to go, and when you do get out you are on unfamiliar turf. It can be helpful to find an outdoorsy friend to show you the ropes until you get your legs under you. Another option is to join a nature study group or an outdoor education club such as Scouts or Camp Fire. If there is cell coverage where you venture, bringing a phone can also give you a sense of security.

4. Start Small

If you’re new to getting outdoors with the family you won’t want to jump right in with a full-on hike in the woods. Instead find an out-of-the-way corner in a nearby park, and ease into the dirt, bugs, and weather with short initial visits. As you get more comfortable being outdoors you can try a short jaunt to a good picnic spot, and then a day hike before taking on longer treks, or over-nighters.

5. Just Be

When you’re decompressing from a hyper-scheduled lifestyle it can feel like you should be doing something at all times. For that reason it may be good to have a scavenger hunt or a nature journal with you for your first few visits to the woods, especially if you are bringing children who are accustomed to fully regimented days. But part of nature’s wonder is the peace it can bring when you are able to let go and just be. Eventually you’ll find yourself ditching the crutches and letting your senses fully engage with the sights, smells and sounds surrounding you, while the kids get engrossed in watching bugs or clouds.

Getting out isn’t always easy, but I’m more and more convinced its absolutely essential. Taking these baby-steps will get you on the path to more time outdoors and all the good it can do for your mind, body and spirit.

For those who already regularly get out, what baby steps would you add?

To The Twenty-Something In A Thong Bikini

Free Stock Photos for Blogs at picxclicx

Hi there. I’m a homeschool mom. I haven’t quite gone over to the denim jumper side, but I’m pretty modest. I think it’s more a mom thing than a homeschool mom thing. I only bring up clothes because I took my kids to the water park the other day to commemorate the end of summer, and take advantage of the short lines, since public school started backup. While we were there I noticed my kids snickering at something, and following their gaze I saw you. I saw a lot of you.

Oh. My. Gosh. Becky!

I have to admit my first instinct was to put on my McJudgy britches and look down my nose at your complete lack of modesty, or at least join my children in giggling at your naked buttocks. And I also have to admit that if you had been Brazilian Butt Lift perfect, or airbrushed clean of any hint of cellulite, I probably wouldn’t have resisted the urge to scoff at you. That is a failure of my character, and I’m working on it.

But you weren’t bikini model perfect. Don’t get me wrong. You have a better body than my mirror has seen in the last decade. Still, I could tell you don’t deny yourself the occasional carbohydrate. Maybe your desk job has taken a little toll on your figure. But there you were. Wearing whatever-the-heck you wanted, and not worrying about a few extra pounds. You were laughing and splashing with your friends. I even saw you eat ice cream, and you didn’t seem worried about it.

You were so confident!

Now I have never been one to let my weight dictate how much fun I’m going to have. Life is too short for that. So I’ll jiggle my thighs all around the water park, plop down in the wading pool with my two year old, and eat the damn ice cream too. But I do think it bears mentioning that I do this while brushing aside worries about how I look and wearing a bathing suit that is basically a dress with a built in girdle.

Physically that bathing suit is not what I would call comfort wear. It actually feels a bit like steel-plated armor. But it is emotionally comfortable. I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

I remember being you.

I remember a trip to Hawaii, in my late twenties. We didn’t have kids yet, but I had put on weight and certainly wasn’t an airbrushed looking 19 year old anymore. But I wasn’t going to go to Hawaii and NOT wear a bikini! In fact I bought two new ones just for the trip. I wore them pretty much the whole time. I climbed up a waterfall confident of my body in a stringy blue slingshot I called a bathing suit.

Where is that girl? I haven’t seen, or even thought about her in ages.

She got buried in mundane tasks, and heavy decisions, and big ol’ cotton granny panties.

You reminded me of her.

Of myself.

A self I need to find again.

So I want to thank you. Thank you for reminding me that, while I’m doing okay in the fun department, I need to be a little kinder to myself in the confidence department.

Motherhood has changed my modesty settings. I’ll probably never wear a bikini again. But I am definitely going to loosen the ratchet straps on the girdle of my soul.

All because you wore a thong bikini to the water park.