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, 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!