The Survival Mom » Featured http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:59:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Product Review: The no-batteries-necessary UVPaqlite http://thesurvivalmom.com/product-review-batteries-necessary-uvpaqlite/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=product-review-batteries-necessary-uvpaqlite http://thesurvivalmom.com/product-review-batteries-necessary-uvpaqlite/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:59:33 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13641 Just yesterday afternoon I sent my son on a search for 3 AAA batteries for my headlamp. It was time for my CERT class and I wanted to make sure I had a bright work light after sundown. Eventually he Read More

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UVPaqlite

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Just yesterday afternoon I sent my son on a search for 3 AAA batteries for my headlamp. It was time for my CERT class and I wanted to make sure I had a bright work light after sundown.

Eventually he found the batteries, and therein lies the problem with almost every emergency light source in the house. Batteries.

They die and need to be replaced, which requires a steady stream of purchases. If they’re re-chargeable, they have to be charged — when you remember to charge them!

The answer to this dilemma is a light source that never requires batteries, and that would be UVPaqlite.

Products from UVPaqlite never need batteries. Not ever. From their GloStick to their UVO Necklace, their products provide a constant, steady glow for many hours, far longer than any glow stick.

How does it work?

Each UVPaqlite product is made of a combination of 3 all-natural elements, strontium, aluminum, and europium. These elements are safe and there’s no worry if children handle them. In fact, they’ll go nuts over the magical lights, which is why I highly recommend the UVO Necklace or UV GloStick in every kid’s emergency kit.

The natural elements combine to create a glowing light when exposed to a light source. That source can be just a minute in the sun, a couple of minutes exposed to a flashlight, or 10 minutes in ambient light. The more intense the source, the quicker the charge.

Once charged, the UVPaqlite is ready to go. When they aren’t in use, the glow will diminish, so I recommend hanging one on the outside of an emergency kit or backpack, so it’s charged when you need it. I keep one right by my computer monitor for those nights when I’m burning the midnight oil and need just a bit of light.

A different Paqlite for different needs

UVPaqlite is a small, family owned business, and over the years they have developed a wide variety of products based on this unique, patent pending technology.

The UVO Necklace is particularly good for kids and pets. Attach it to your dog’s collar when you’re in the wilderness, and they’ll be easy to spot. Attach the necklace to the zipper pull on an emergency kit, tuck it into your kid’s school backpack, and place one by their bedside for an always-ready nightlight. As of this writing, the UVO Necklace is just $4.95 each.

I own one of the large UVPaqlites. This is a flattened, sealed bag that has more surface area than a glo sticks and can provide a broader area of light. One of these is handy in a tent, and rolled up, it takes up very little room. I keep mine in the glove compartment of the Tahoe, and it’s been a good light source within that small area.

When the power’s out in the neighborhood, it’s amazing how dark it can be. Even maneuvering around a familiar house can become a challenge. Glow in the Dark Spots (GIDS) can be attached anywhere to provide illumination along a hallway (place them a couple of feet apart along the baseboard), on each step on a staircase, or anywhere in the house where there’s a step up or a step down into another room. The last thing you need on such a night is a sprained ankle!

Is the flashlight extinct?

You’ll still want a good LED flashlight in your emergency kit and around the house for times when a bright spotlight is needed. UVPaqlite products provide a constant, steady glow useful for overall, ambient lighting. But unlike the flashlight, these will never need batteries and can be reused over and over again. A single purchase will provide a light source that will be handy and ready for use indefinitely.

Check it out in person!

I bought my UVPaqlites last year at a prepper expo in California. You can find the UVPaqlite at survival and prepper events around the country. Click here to see their current schedule.

© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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Product Review: The Abeego Wrap, something a little different for your emergency kits http://thesurvivalmom.com/product-review-abeego-wrap-something-little-different-emergency-kits/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=product-review-abeego-wrap-something-little-different-emergency-kits http://thesurvivalmom.com/product-review-abeego-wrap-something-little-different-emergency-kits/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:35:11 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13625 Thanks to Earth Easy, I’ve been playing around with a new product called the Abeego Wrap. The Abeego Wrap is a natural alternative to plastic wraps, such as Saran, and plastic storage bags. The Abeego is a flat piece that Read More

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abeego-multi-wrap-webThanks to Earth Easy, I’ve been playing around with a new product called the Abeego Wrap. The Abeego Wrap is a natural alternative to plastic wraps, such as Saran, and plastic storage bags.

The Abeego is a flat piece that resembles canvas, but it’s made of beeswax, jojoba oil, hemp, cotton, and tree resin. It can be wrapped and fitted around any number of objects. In my kitchen, it became the designated onion-wrapper whenever we had an unused piece of onion. In spite of this use, the Abeego didn’t retain the smell or flavor of onion and we used it with other foods.

Because it’s so sturdy, I expect mine to last for a very long time.

I’ve been using the Abeego Wrap, which is, incidentally, very attractive in an all-natural way. Mine has purple stitching on one side, two round purple buttons, and a purple cord that can be used to help secure the Wrap. Abeego Flats are also available and are demonstrated in this video:

In your emergency kit, the Abeego could be used to wrap anything damp, partially eaten food, or used as a sort of envelope to enclose several smaller items. It could be slipped into a diaper bag, backpack, or purse, and would be helpful to have when camping. Think of it as a Zip-Loc bag or a roll of Saran Wrap that you can use over and over and over.

Wash the Abeego with warm, soapy water; it’s not dishwasher safe.

For more product reviews, click here.

This article contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting The Survival Mom blog, newsletter, and podcast network with your purchases.

 

© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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Survival Mom Radio Network Re-cap http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-radio-network-re-cap-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-mom-radio-network-re-cap-2 http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-radio-network-re-cap-2/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:19:44 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13624 In case you missed some of the shows from my radio network, here they are! This week, I interviewed Dr. Susanne Bennet about simple ways to combat allergies. You can listen here. I also spoke with Fernando Aguirre of Modern Read More

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Bug-in-Bug-Out-FerFAL

In case you missed some of the shows from my radio network, here they are!

This week, I interviewed Dr. Susanne Bennet about simple ways to combat allergies. You can listen here.

I also spoke with Fernando Aguirre of Modern Survivalist about common prepper myths. Check out that interview here.

Every month our network of all-women hosts produces dozens of podcasts, all about 30 minutes long, for you to download to your iPod or iPhone, mp3 player, or listen directly from your computer.

You can visit our network’s website directly by clicking here.

Take a look at the wealth of information we produced just this week:

© 2014, Brenda. All rights reserved.

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Survival Mom Quote of the Week http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-quote-week-3/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-mom-quote-week-3 http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-quote-week-3/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:35:17 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13626 Pin it —> http://bit.ly/1iieZz6 See more quotes like this —> http://bit.ly/1nvR5Vg © 2014, Brenda. All rights reserved.

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Latin Proverb

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Try it Today! Diatomaceous earth for controlling pests http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-diatomaceous-earth-controlling-pests/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=try-today-diatomaceous-earth-controlling-pests http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-diatomaceous-earth-controlling-pests/#comments Sun, 13 Apr 2014 17:53:57 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13601 Well, it’s Sunday again, and chances are you have a bit of free time on your hands. Why not learn about food-grade diatomaceous earth and head over to the local garden center or shop online at Earth Easy to pick Read More

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Well, it’s Sunday again, and chances are you have a bit of free time on your hands. Why not learn about food-grade diatomaceous earth and head over to the local garden center or shop online at Earth Easy to pick up a bag?

Why diatomaceous earth? (DE)

image of diatom by Derek Keats

image of diatom by Derek Keats

A multitude of Americans is becoming more and more aware of the chemicals and other potentially dangerous ingredients in the food we eat, household cleaners and products we use to maintain our gardens and control pests. We’re trying to eliminate these products from our lives with more natural, less toxic products.

That’s where DE comes in. It’s non-toxic and all-natural, made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, an ancient algae.

For insect control, when bugs of all types wander through DE, it clings to their bodies and acts like a sort of dehydrator, drying up the insect’s body until it falls over dead. This usually takes around 48 hours.

DE can be used both indoors and outdoors. Does your dog have fleas? Then rub a bit of diatomaceous earth into her fur. If she has a case of parasites, mix a small amount of DE into her food for 3 or 4 days until the worms are eliminated.

For use inside your home, place shallow containers of DE in crawl spaces, in the attic, on windowsills, behind the refrigerator, or anywhere else you find insects. In just a matter of days, those insects will disappear.

Sprinkle DE around the outside of your home, especially where plants grow close to your foundation. If ants are a problem, and this includes the infamous fire ant, sprinkle DE directly on the ant hills where it will be tracked into the colony. Suddenly, ants will no longer be an issue without the use of toxic insecticides.

Keep in mind that DE will kill beneficial insects as well as the ones you want to be rid of. That would include friendly ladybugs and earthworms that you want in your garden.

Ridding pests in your food storage

Want to keep pests out of those bags and buckets of food? Simply mix it in with your wheat, rice, oats, etc., using about a cup of food-grade diatomaceous earth for a 5 or 6-gallon bucket of food. Leave enough head room at the top of the bucket or bag so you can shake the container, making sure the DE is thoroughly dispersed.

At the same time, lightly sprinkle DE around the baseboards of your pantry room and at the base of any outdoor windows. Pests aren’t welcome anywhere near our food, right?

DE for human consumption?

Some people ingest DE as a de-toxifer and claim that it’s beneficial to bones, skin, nails, and hair because it contains silica. A teaspoon added to juice, water, or a smoothie makes it more palatable. Since DE isn’t regulated by the FDA, there aren’t any official claims of its health benefits to humans, but there are plenty of positive testimonials you can read online.

All in all, DE is worth having around the house as a non-toxic, multi-purpose product that I recommend.

WARNING: Do not use the DE intended for use in a swimming pool filter. Buy the food-grade DE, even if you aren’t planning on using it in food that is stored.

 

*Earth Easy provided a bag of diatomaceous earth as a sample. I’ve linked to their DE product, Insect Dust, since it’s the brand that I’ve used and because everything I’ve purchased from Earth Easy has consistently been high quality.

This post includes affiliate links. Thanks for helping support The Survival Mom with your purchases.

 

 

© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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Getting found when you’re lost: 4 low-tech strategies http://thesurvivalmom.com/getting-found-youre-lost-4-low-tech-strategies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-found-youre-lost-4-low-tech-strategies http://thesurvivalmom.com/getting-found-youre-lost-4-low-tech-strategies/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 08:00:32 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13443 By contributing writer, Jim Cobb. Getting lost in the wilderness can be dangerous, not to mention frightening.  Search and rescue teams are trained how to track people, of course, but you can do them a big favor by carrying with Read More

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By contributing writer, Jim Cobb.

Getting lost in the wilderness can be dangerous, not to mention frightening.  Search and rescue teams are trained how to track people, of course, but you can do them a big favor by carrying with you just a few simple tools to use to signal for help.  Using these items will help get you home much sooner.

SignalsNaturally, if you have a cell phone with you, that should be the first thing you grab.  Remember, even if you don’t have enough of a signal to place a call, sometimes text messages will still get through.  It never hurts to try.  But, don’t rely only upon the much-vaunted smartphone to get you out of this jam.  Even Siri, in her infinite wisdom, may be ineffective.

Low tech tools

One of the smallest signal tools is a simple whistle.  It can be carried in a pocket but I suggest looping it around your neck on a lanyard, preferably using paracord.  This serves to keep the whistle on your person, no matter what.  Plus, paracord is extremely useful for a variety of tasks.

There are two basic types of whistles, those with peas and those without.  If at all possible, carry the pea-less variety.  In extreme cold, the moisture in your breath could freeze inside the whistle, causing the pea to stick inside the whistle and rending the whole thing useless.  It is also due to the possibility of cold conditions I suggest the whistle be plastic rather than metal.  Remember that scene in A Christmas Story where the kid sticks his tongue to the flag pole?

When using the whistle to bring help, blow three short blasts at regular intervals.  This is the standard rescue signal.  The sound of the whistle will be heard at far longer distances than that of your shouts.  Plus, you won’t get a sore throat from blowing a whistle.  All of my children are equipped with a whistle when we embark on a hike, just in case.

Attract attention with light

A signal mirror is a common item found in many prepackaged survival kits and for good reason.  Used properly, the reflected light can be seen for miles.  The downside of this tool, though, is it requires sunlight so it is useless at night or in very low light conditions.  You can improvise a signal mirror with a compact disc, if need be.

To use a signal mirror, you hold it in one hand and raise your other hand up, making a V shape with your fingers.  Look through the hole in the middle of the signal mirror and slowly rotate around until you see a spot of light appear on your outstretched hand.  Angle the mirror and that hand up until that spot of light reaches through your raised fingers.  Continue looking through the mirror’s sighting hole aim toward your target, such as a plane overhead.  Waggle the mirror slightly up and down to create flashes and call attention to your location.

Another signal tool that uses light is a cyalume light stick, sometimes called snap lights.  You can find these in dollar stores and toy departments just about everywhere, especially around Halloween.  They are thin plastic cylinders you bend and shake, mixing the chemicals inside until they begin to glow.  To signal for help with one, tie it to a length of cord about two long.  Then, twirl the cord in front of you, creating a large circle of light.  While you’ll need to be in a cleared area so it can be seen, it is far safer than trying to get a signal fire lit quickly.

Another inexpensive product on the market is the UVPaqlite.

Then there’s the smoke signal…

Speaking of signal fires, they aren’t a bad plan, provided you don’t let them get out of control.  For use during the day, you want to burn a lot of green wood and leaves so as to create smoke.  The smoke is what will be seen during daylight hours.

At night, go the opposite route and burn dry wood that will cause big, bright flames.  If you believe there may well be search planes or other aircraft looking for you, find a clear area and build three fires in either a line or a triangle.  This is a common distress signal.  Of course, if the clear area is large enough, you could spell out HELP with rocks or tracks in the snow.

Now, all these various methods of signaling for help are at least somewhat contingent upon people looking for you in the first place.  It is vitally important that before any hiking or camping trip you let someone know when you’re leaving, where you are going, and when you plan to return.  Be sure to instruct them that if they do not hear from you by a specific date and time, they should alert the authorities that you may be missing.  Naturally, in order to avoid embarrassment, don’t forget to keep your end of the bargain and let them know you’re home safe and on schedule.

Jim  Cobb is a Disaster Readiness Consultant and author of Prepper’s Home Defense, The Prepper’s Complete Book of Disaster Readiness, and Prepper’s Long-Term Survival Guide. His websites are Survival Weekly and Disaster Prep Consultants.

© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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Help Wanted! Join our team of writers http://thesurvivalmom.com/help-wanted-join-team-writers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=help-wanted-join-team-writers http://thesurvivalmom.com/help-wanted-join-team-writers/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 08:38:49 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13482 It’s hard to believe, but on June 1, The Survival Mom blog will celebrate its 4th birthday! All along the way I’ve had so much help, from a great IT guy named Greg to multiple designers, an intern, and an Read More

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It’s hard to believe, but on June 1, The Survival Mom blog will celebrate its 4th birthday!

Writing TeamAll along the way I’ve had so much help, from a great IT guy named Greg to multiple designers, an intern, and an assistant, but what I’m really needing now is to expand my team of writers.

I’m looking for a team of both men and women who are into the whole survival/prepper niche but not necessarily survivalists. These writers can come from any walk of life, can live in an apartment in the biggest cities or wake up when the roosters crow on their farms. What’s most important to me is that they are writers who want to be part of a team and contribute on a regular basis.

Job Description

1.  Title: Contributing writer for The Survival Mom blog. Articles may also be included in The Survival Mom Minute, my newsletter.

2.  Requirements: Contribute 1-2 articles per month by specified deadline. One or two photos or graphics should be included with each article. Additional articles may be accepted, depending on editorial schedule.

3.  Proficient writing skills: Articles should require minimal editing and consistently use correct grammar and spelling. They should also be on topics related to preparedness and/or survival in general.

4.  Consistent communication with editor, Lisa Bedford, via email and shared folders.

Benefits to Survival Mom writing team members

1.  Exposure for your byline and blog/website to nearly 150,000 visitors per month to The Survival Mom blog.

2.  Each team member will be highlighted in a special section of the blog, currently being developed. This will include a brief bio, photo, list of your accomplishments (books authored, etc.), along with a link to your website.

3.  Performance bonuses. Yes, there is cash involved.

4.  Widespread social media for your articles on our blog.

5.  Additional perks as we develop them

My needs and goals

I’m looking to expand the variety of articles here on the blog. The Survival Mom blog was established 4  years ago and has a loyal following, but it’s time to broaden our scope. Some of the topics I’d like to expand upon include:

  • Homesteading
  • Gardening
  • Disaster/emergency preparedness
  • Urban survival
  • Outdoor survival
  • DIY projects related to preparedness and survival
  • Parenting during difficult times
  • Physical fitness as it relates to survival
  • Financial preparedness
  • Ideas and projects for families and kids

Each article needs to include at least one photograph or graphic, and these must be original. All too often, bloggers innocently use licensed photography without permission and end up facing fines. The photographs don’t have to be studio quality but should be clear, well lit, and using good composition. For graphics, I highly recommend PicMonkey.

I’m looking for articles that are interesting, engaging, and reflect your personality.  They also should be well organized and easy to follow. There’s no need to write an encyclopedia-style article when your own style is casual and humorous. However, your style is all your own and will establish your own fan base.

Finally, I need a team of writers that I can depend on. Life happens but, overall, I need writers who can commit to 1 or 2 articles per month and submit them by the established deadline.

Ready to apply?

You likely have questions that haven’t been answered so far, and you’re welcome to send them my way via email at lisa@thesurvivalmom.com.

Click here to access the application form, which will provide a few more details. If I need more information, I’ll be in touch via email. I hope to review all applications and make my final decisions by Monday,  April 28. I will let every applicant know their status by Wednesday, April 30.

Thanks so much for considering sharing your skills and knowledge with us. Feel free to share this information with anyone you know who might be interested and would make a great contributing writer to our team.

© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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Survival Mom Quote of the Week http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-quote-week-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=survival-mom-quote-week-2 http://thesurvivalmom.com/survival-mom-quote-week-2/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 19:08:17 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13502   Pin this quote —> http://bit.ly/1hlXb77 For more quotes like this —> http://bit.ly/1nvR5Vg © 2014, Brenda. All rights reserved.

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Seuss Quote

 

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Last week’s Greatest Hits on The Survival Mom Radio Network http://thesurvivalmom.com/last-weeks-greatest-hits-survival-mom-radio-network/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=last-weeks-greatest-hits-survival-mom-radio-network http://thesurvivalmom.com/last-weeks-greatest-hits-survival-mom-radio-network/#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13256 Last week I had the opportunity to interview 2 fascinating guests, taking a look at 2 potential worst case scenarios: a mini Ice Age and a nuclear event. David Archibald is the author of Twilight of Abundance and has a Read More

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Last week I had the opportunity to interview 2 fascinating guests, taking a look at 2 potential worst case scenarios: a mini Ice Age and a nuclear event.

Worst Case ScenarioDavid Archibald is the author of Twilight of Abundance and has a varied background as a scientist in oil exploration, energy, and climate science. He bases his climate research on a number of factors, but solar activity is his main focus in this interview. We talked about how our sun is at one of its lowest levels of activity in many decades and how similar periods in the past led to ice ages. He also addresses global warming and why he believes it’s one of the biggest hoaxes in history.

Click here for the interview —> http://bit.ly/1emNwrh

My second interview was with Janet Liebsch who, with her husband, is the author of It’s a Disaster…and what are you going to do about it? This all-purpose guide to multiple disasters was one of the first I read when I began learning about preparedness. I wanted to talk with Janet about potential nuclear disasters because she constantly has her ear to the ground where current disasters and research is concerned. In this interview we discuss Fukushima and try to separate fact from fiction and in the second half, she shares tips for surviving a nuclear event.

To listen to my interview with Janet, click here —> http://bit.ly/QYoJVq

Here are links to those 2 shows as well as all the others in our network. Give a listen to a new host this week! You just might find a new favorite!


© 2014, The Survival Mom. All rights reserved.

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The smartest and stupidest things I’ve done as a homeschooler http://thesurvivalmom.com/smartest-stupidest-things-ive-done-homeschooler/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=smartest-stupidest-things-ive-done-homeschooler http://thesurvivalmom.com/smartest-stupidest-things-ive-done-homeschooler/#comments Sun, 06 Apr 2014 12:19:17 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=13495 This article originally appeared on the blog of my dear friend, Patrice Lewis, Rural Revolution . As the school  year winds down and amid a lot of controversy about the Common Core curriculum, many parents are wondering if homeschooling is Read More

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This article originally appeared on the blog of my dear friend, Patrice Lewis, Rural Revolution . As the school  year winds down and amid a lot of controversy about the Common Core curriculum, many parents are wondering if homeschooling is for them. Here in all its glory is a list of the smart and stupid things we have done as a homeschooling family. Trust me. If we can homeschool, anyone can!

image by jimmiehomeschoolmom

image by jimmiehomeschoolmom

For the past ten years I have homeschooled our two kids.  My daughter is now finishing 9th grade, and my son is a 6th grader.  I’d like to say it’s been smooth sailing, but I have made some pretty stupid mistakes.  I’ve also made some smart decisions that have ultimately been responsible for ten wonderful years.  Here are a few of the smartest and stupidest things I’ve done.

SMART:  We decided to homeschool long before my kids were ready for school.  This gave me lots of time to research and time for our families to get used to the idea.  All the other grand kids were headed off to public schools.  Ours weren’t.  That took some getting used to.

STUPID:   It was futile to argue with family members about our decision.  With time, they saw that our kids were turning out just fine.  In fact, just two years into our homeschooling venture, I heard my mother-in-law comment about a particularly well-behaved kid, “I’ll bet he’s homeschooled!”  Bottom line: you make the decision to homeschool based on your own beliefs, research etc., and let family members think what they will.

SMART:   I introduced my kids to literature that I thought was too advanced for them.  We either read it aloud, listened to the unabridged recorded versions, or they read it on their own.  I was so proud of my daughter for reading Little Women, Robin Hood, Mary Poppins, and other unabridged classics that no longer appear on public school reading lists. As a former teacher, I’d been used to basal readers, aka dumbed down literature. It was refreshing to see my kids enjoying the real thing. Currently, my son and I are both engrossed in Treasure Island.

STUPID:  Initially, I thought we would always use the same curriculum.  We began with an activity based curriculum, KONOS.  It was fun building our own model of a medieval castle and turning a chicken into a preserved mummy, but after a while, it became burdensome to constantly have major projects to prepare for.  When I saw that our next unit included making leather moccasins by hand, I started looking for something different.

SMART:  We formed friendships with other homeschooling families.  We’ve vacationed with one particular family at different times of the school year, gone on numerous field trips together, and it’s turned into a whole-family friendship. We now belong to a very large homeschool group that offers clubs, sports, field trips, and numerous other activities. It’s a matter of picking and choosing what we want to do. I highly recommend connecting with other homeschooling families, if for no other reason than you can schedule playdates in the middle of the day and aren’t tied to a public school schedule.

STUPID:  I was naïve in not realizing that politics and personalities can cause problems within homeschooling groups.  The first group we joined was wonderful, or so I thought, until I learned that one of the moms had taken a singular dislike to my six year-old daughter.  The woman was deranged, but we ended up leaving the group when we realized she had influenced other families and we no longer felt welcome.  Yes, it was bizarre and maybe not the norm, but I was probably too trusting.

SMART:  I’ve been willing to stop using a particular curriculum or method when I found it wasn’t working.  Saxon Math was a terrific choice when my daughter was in kindergarten, but halfway through first grade, she started freaking out when faced with a page of dozens of math problems.  After a few weeks, I switched to Singapore Math, and it was a much better fit. As a freshman, she’s back in Saxon! Flexibility is key, as is giving yourself permission to say, “This just isn’t working. Let’s find something else.”

STUPID:  At times we really overdid it with field trips and extracurricular activities.  In our city, there are dozens of possible field trips.  We belong to an email loop that informs me of every ballet, play, and other cultural event, all with unbeatable ticket prices.  After two years of one, and sometimes two, field trips a month, I realized it was too much.  The field trips were great but between traveling to and from and then a good dose of socializing at the event, we ended up losing entire school days.

SMART: Choosing the best over the good.  Field trips and extracurricular activities are all well and good, but ultimately, you have to remember that you’re supposed to be doing school!  One year, we dropped everything: a Tuesday morning Bible study, AWANAS, ballet, and sports.  It wasn’t that those things weren’t important.  We had just started spending less time with school, and I needed to refocus.  Bit by bit we’ve added some of those activities back into our schedule, but I constantly have to maintain a balance and drop the good when it starts overtaking the best.

STUPID:  At first, I didn’t think I needed guidance.  I was maybe a little too cocky my first year of homeschooling.  After all, I had been a classroom teacher for several years and had trained teachers, so homeschooling would be a piece of cake, right?  Well, not quite.  I had some real difficulties with coming up with a schedule that worked for us.  I also hadn’t counted on trying to do school with a three year-old climbing all over me, the table, and the math manipulatives.  It was our third year when my daughter was in second grade, that we started using curriculum that came with a weekly schedule.  It was such a good feeling to check off each activity and lesson and a little humbling for this know-it-all.

SMART:  Not trying to duplicate school at home.  We’ve only used one or two books I suppose could be called textbooks, and my kids have never sat at desks.  Years ago, before we began homeschooling, I saw a poor little eight year-old boy sitting at his family’s kitchen table with a stack of textbooks and workbooks two feet high.  I felt sorry for him and knew instinctively that this wasn’t how I wanted to homeschool.  We’ve always been, what I call, casual homeschoolers.  Definitely not the textbook/desk type.

STUPID:  I tend to be pretty independent and I didn’t think I needed a boost of motivation every now and then.  I’ve missed several homechooling conventions, but when I go, I leave charged up and ready to take on a new year.

SMART:  Early on we realized that homeschooling is a lifestyle.  Learning becomes a whole-family activity.  Family vacations become long distance field trips.  Questions from the kids become research assignments.  Yeah, it doesn’t always make us popular with the kids, but life is all about learning, and we try to reinforce that concept every day.

STUPID:  Doing something just because other families are doing it.  It was cute watching my little five year-old doing ballet, but it took her taking me aside, as a nine year-old, and saying, “Mom, I just don’t want to do ballet anymore.  It isn’t me,” for me to realize we’d overstayed our welcome with ballet.  I had fun visiting with all the other ballet moms, but while I was busy chatting and sharing recipes, my little sweetie was feeling like a clumsy misfit.  We immediately dropped ballet and never looked back.

SMART:  Taking comfort that tomorrow is another day.  When we have a day when we’ve been busy with errands, chores, and other stuff and no “school” happens, I know that tomorrow we get to try again.  Besides, the kids are always learning something, even if it’s the fact that the dry cleaners will donate a bedspread to Goodwill if it isn’t picked up on time!

My takeaway lesson is that homeschooling doesn’t demand perfection.  It’s more a matter of enjoying the journey, learning from mistakes, and focusing on what is most important, fostering a love of learning in our children.

 

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