I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Monday, November 14, 2011


It can be a challenge to teach five kids at four different grade levels. I am always looking for ways to streamline so this year I decided to choose a History curriculum that would work for multiple grade levels.

This is our supplies basket. We have clips, pencils, colored pencils, scissors and sometimes glue or other items depending on what we are working on. It works well having this in the middle of the table during work time.

This particular day the kids were working on maps of the area we had been reading about. We are currently studying the Middle Ages.

It is fascinating for me to study history as an adult. I feel like I am learning as much as the kids are learning.


Teaching multiple ages groups has its challenges but it also has some advantages. I have noticed that my youngers are mastering skills earlier than the older ones did. They really are sponges soaking up everything going on around them.

I love that they all are learning the same thing and it makes for some fun discussions around the house.


This girl loves to do anything that involves color. Can you see that smile? If it resembles art, she is in.

If you are interested we are using Story of the World, Volume 2. We read the current section, answer comprehension questions, do a narration exercise and then we choose activities from the corresponding activity book to keep things interesting. History, Geography, Writing and Art all in on place. I love it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It was raining.

The weather has changed here in the Northwest. There are moments of sun where we send the kids out to "Hurry and get some rays!"

Recently on a drizzly and cold day our youngest decided he wanted to roast marshmellows...over a candle.

Well, why wouldn't you?

It took awhile but it worked! Yum! (If you like marshmellows that is.)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Favorite Place

My family really loves the outdoors but we do appreciate modern conveniences.

I posted earlier this year about our purchase of a travel trailer. We love it!

Three or four years ago we decided to visit a campground in our county that had become very popular. It quickly became our favorite spot to go. It is 30 minutes away, on a river, has private campsites and has a really nice playground.

It has become a yearly tradtion to go at least once per summer. We have also gone in September when the weather is still nice and the campground almost empty.

There is room to stretch out if we happen to get some rain.

Curtains can be drawn for early to bed kids.

We are pretty spoiled I think. We can even bring movies to watch on the laptop when some have gone to bed and others aren't quite ready.

Each campsite has a firepit and table.

Steve doesn't take the time to read very much but he almost always has a book when we are camping. He started and finished that one on our four day trip.

Lots of memories are made away from the busyness of the daily grind. (Wow, those are some diva sunglasses. Thanks, Lil!)

Time for games, just plain time.

I can't wait to go again next year. Hmm, might need to see about winter camping this year.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fun weekend ahead

I am so excited for this weekend. If you want to know why click on this link to my review blog. See you there!

Monday, September 26, 2011

School organization

I have found keeping our school supplies and books to be a bit of a challenge over the years. I have tried various methods including some shelving in our garage. Having the items in the garage proved to be unwise. There is a saying that I have found to be true - "Children don't do what you expect, they do what you inspect."

I had the thought that if our supplies were visible to me I could monitor those who were being less than careful about putting items away. I also enjoy looking at organized school supplies so win-win. There are boxes that hold manipulatives, magazine holders that hold seperated subjects and activites and then there are the planners that the kids use to organize reports and papers they are writing. Two weeks in and so far, so good. I still need to make labels for the magazine holders but have been too busy schooling so far. I am really enjoying how nice the shelves look each day and love even more that there is a place for everything and every in its place.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Saving money and sanity while traveling with a young family

It is no secret that traveling with a larger than average family can be spendy. A few years ago we purchased a tent trailer so that we would be able to go on vacation more often but not spend very much. The size of our family requires two hotel rooms for each stay. That adds up and having a trailer instead means we have plenty of room, a bathroom and a place to cook. This year we upgraded to a hybrid trailer that was less complicated to set up.

We attended a family reunion in Canada about nine hundred miles away and came up with a plan to make sure the spending didn't get out of control. Having a plan means less chaos and less spending.

There is a bank of cabinets under the boys' bed for storage. I purchased foldable bins that fit very well in the cabinets. Each of the kids had their own bin that held their clothing for five to six days. We were gone for ten days and did laundry at a campground half way through the trip. The shower worked great as a laundry basket since we were using campground facilities for showers.

We weren't sure what the weather would be the entire time but knew that some mornings would be chilly. The bank of hooks by the kids area served well for all of our jackets. 

We had a second area of hooks on the outside of the bathroom that worked perfectly for bath towels, kitchen towels and swim suits.

I had tried a large tote bag for toiletries on trips past but we always found ourselves having to dig through items that had sank to the bottom each day. It wasted time and was a little frustrating at times. This toiletry bag I found at Target for less than $7 was the perfect solution. The fabric wipes off and each pocket has a couple of little riveted holes in case a shampoo bottle or toothbrush is still wet when it is put away. I kept toiletries as well as medications and first aid items in this bag.

It is no secret that a big budget buster on a trip is food. We worked hard ahead of time on food prep and organization. I made two quiches and 2 dinners of burrito mix. We had lots of lunch meats, breads, chips, bagels, cream cheese, eggs, cheese sticks and fruit. Our goal was to only eat out once per day and we did really well with that. Alternating each day purchasing dinner or lunch helped so that we didn't get tired of the same foods. Also, sticking to places like Subway also kept it affordable and less greasy. I used my regular grocery budget for the make ahead meals and we really only spent about $20-$30 each day eating out which came out of the trip fund. All in all we were able to stay under budget with a minimal amount of chaos. What do you do to keep costs in check while traveling?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fall is here

I know it looks like I fell off the face of the earth but I didn't. We went on our big trip up north and when we got back we hit the ground running. There has been school planning, firewood cutting, house rearranging and organizing and the never ending laundry pile. Then there was the matter of the almost 600 ears of corn that were gifted to us. Talk about a busy summer!

I tend to do my writing when the kids do theirs for school. Since summer arrived late here in the Pacific Northwest we decided to start school a few weeks later than the public schools. We have been taking advantage of the nice weather to get our firewood prepped and canning finished.

We opted to have a log truck deliver a load of firewood to my husband's mother's property. It will come out less money wise in the end to purchase it this way and her property has a much larger driveway than we have to give us room to cut it up.

Steve has been faithfully spending his free time working away at the pile and Nathaniel has been working along side sorting big pieces from little pieces. Big pieces stay there to be cut again and small ones that are ready to be split get stacked in the back of the truck.

It has been a family affair though Steve and Nathaniel have been doing the lion's share of the work. Splitting has started over at our house and the first stack has been moved into the new covered area that Steve built behind our garden shed. More pics and stories to come!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Headed North

We found a great little resort/campground in Northern Idaho to stay at for our first night.

It has a giant chess set that was alot of fun for our kids to play with while we are were unwinding from the long drive.

The pieces were huge though they were made of plastic so still easy for all of them to move.

We are having lots of fun and can't wait to see what else is in store for us up North!

Run, kids, run! We still have a few more hours to travel tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Where have we been?

It has been one wild and crazy summer so far. It was late to arrive so now we are trying to cram everything in while the sun is shining. We have been to the lake, made icecream several times, continued junior high youth, bought three storage units, had a garage sale and now to top it all off we are headed to Canada. We are in full swing of the final preperations. The trailer is getting packed, clothing is getting organized, house is getting clean and lists have been made and re-made. I am working on some posts about how we are organizing for seven people for a road trip. Things like how we will save on meals, pack our stuff and keep five kids busy for the long ride north. We are all excited to see new landscape and have some fun on the road. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The internet is our friend

We are in the final stages of getting ready for a really big trip to Canada. We are towing our trailer and safety requires us to install a special trailer brake. Installing said trailer brake will reduce the amount that our vehicle will have to stop the trailer if you wondered.

We had received a quote of $300 to have one installed. Steve decided before scheduling it he would see if he could look online and see how hard it would be to do it himself. He found a 4 minute real time video. 4 minutes, people.  

Long story short, $98.50 later and we have our trailer brake installed.

Then a few days later the resistor that controls the blower fan up front went out. That meant no AC up front. That meant a hot momma. That meant trouble. Enter more videos. One ten minute video and $54.99 and we had a fixed fan. Yay, internet and Steve!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Food, folks and fun

We cooked up the beans last night and it was fantastic. Boil snapped beans for 20 minutes, add the new potatoes and bacon then boil for another 20 minutes or so. Perfection.

I also made a cucumber/corn/tomato salad. It was so fresh and screamed summer.

We invited my husband's sister and her husband. We wined (iced tea) and dined. The kids were throwing the football around the yard while we visited as the sun was going down.

I have been craving corn on the cob and found it 5 for $1 this weekend. I'm pretty sure we haven't seen that price in a few years. It did not disappoint.

Grilled pork rounded out the meal as our protein. Dinner on the deck as the sun went down proved to be so much fun. Life gets so busy and we often forget to stop and enjoy the simpler things in life. It doesn't take much to make the every day feel special. Last night it was a colorful tablecloth and summer foods on the table on the deck. Love it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Garden Update

We picked up some new potatoes at the farmer's market last week. The plan was to boil them this week with some green beans we canned last year as well as with some yummy bacon.

I was ecstatic when I went out to the garden this morning and found that the plants were ready for the first small picking. Fresh green beans tonight!!! 

Someone was having a hard time waiting for dinner. Can you blame him?

The garden has been doing really well despite the lack of sun we have had this year.

Can you see that little pickling cucumber? I could be pickling very, very soon. 

It appears we have a little stowaway. 

Is it my imagination or is that tomato turning orange? There is no better food to me than a plate of sliced, fresh garden tomatoes. I love summer!