When a RV fire is fun

Maybe you remember that time I recently stepped outside the RV and was met with the sight of a blazing fire licking the sky from the rooftop of a neighboring motorhome.

I rushed over to assess the situation and offered a consoling hug to the lady dressed in a teal robe who had just exited her flaming fortress. While we stood together in the dark evening, faces illuminated by the glow of her burning rig, all I could do was whisper, “I am so very sorry” over and over to her. It was a crazy, crazy thing to witness and it has been permanently burned into my memory.

Later that evening, after the firetrucks had come and gone and we were tucking our kids back into their beds, I thought to myself, “We need to plan a day to have a RV fire drill.”

Kids going out the exit windowThis week was the week for said drill. If you could have sat with us in the RV while we talked about how to safely exit the RV in the event of a fire, you would have felt the excitement. When we closed all the window shades and told the kids to crawl into their beds and pretend to go to sleep, they were giddy with anticipation. After they each had a turn to exit the escape windows and pretend to be the fire and mimic using the fire extinguisher, I was stifling giggles at how much fun the kids were having. I literally heard our youngest say that he wished we could have a real fire so we could have more fun like this again. Aaaaand that’s when I feared he’d somehow missed the entire point.

RV fire drill

why visiting the Ingalls Homestead is now a favorite memory

Last Saturday was a perfect day. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it was one of my favorite days.

We awoke at our leisure and took our time moving through our morning routines. Outside the RV new views greeted us through our tinted windows–this time a city park complete with playground equipment anxiously awaiting our children’s giggles and grins. After packing our lunches we piled into the van and took the short drive to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Homestead in the town of De Smet, SD (which was the setting of her books By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie, These Happy Golden Years and The First Four Years). We arrived around noon and began exploring the quarter section of land which is privately owned and operated as a hands-on living history experience.

sod homeStepping into a sod house and shanty we were able to learn about the differences in how or why these two homes were built as well as the pros and cons of each.

driving the horses

From there the kids took turns driving a covered wagon and visiting a one-room school house where a teacher gave us a feel for a some of the history and examples of lessons and activities.

bad boy in class
Trent demonstrating how children might be disciplined for bad behavior

one-room-schoolhouse

Afterward, the kids each took turns riding a horse or pony before seeing a demonstration of how hay was twisted into sticks for fuel to burn (as told in The Long Winter).

pony ride on the ingalls homestead

Next, the kids were able to use a hand-held wheat grinder to grind wheat into flour, shell an ear of corn with an old fashioned corn sheller and use fabric to turn their corn husk into a corn cob doll (just like Laura once had).

corn-cob-doll
making a corn cob doll

cob-doll-book

A homemade jumprope made from bailing twine was constructed by each child using a hand crank machine used at the end of the 20th century.

making a homemade jump rope
making a homemade jump rope

Need to go potty? An outhouse with side-by-side seats is available. One of my children decided to make use of this opportunity and said the door was almost fully closed when latched. No sooner had he sat down, when visitors came by to see the authentic little john. “Occupied!” he hollered hoping no one would be able to see through the crack in the door.

Ingalls Homestead washing clothes

Nearby a washboard, rinse station, and wringer awaited my children’s curiosity and soon they were practicing washing hand towels and hanging them to dry on the line. After they had perfected their technique, Hunter asked if he could wash is own shirt. “Why not?” I responded. Soon, all three boys were grinning, shirtless and elbow-deep in wash water.

Once their clothing was flapping in the breeze on the clothes line they discovered the water pump. This provided more timeless entertainment and gayety.

Ingalls Homestead Water Pump fun

We had intended to leave by mid-afternoon however, around wash time we realized that the fun had only just begun and decided to cancel our travel plans for the day and just be.

ingalls homestead water pump

It was at that moment that the day became my favorite. A perfect combination of adventure, new experiences, learning, curiosity and fun minus a rushed schedule. This was when I first tasted the freedom of this new lifestyle. Granted, we always have the power to take control of our day but how often do we let our day control us? On September 10th we controlled our schedule and I’ll remember the image of my kids pumping water while Trent and Hunter laid on the grass looking at the clouds for a long time to come.

*Affiliate links were used for the Little House books on Amazon.

the best habit I’ve developed this year

Quick: what is the most useful habit you have developed this year?

No seriously, what comes to mind, anything?

If so, please share with me in the comments below because I am going to give you mine and it’s really good!

The life altering habit that I am going to share with you should take less than an hour to put in place and less than 5 min a day to implement. However, the pay off is huge! Ready to find out what it is? Let’s go. . .

Scripture memorization (or memorization of any kind) can be difficult and tedious unless you have a plan in place and approach it from a perspective of slow and steady winning the race. Here is the most pain-free method to memorize that I’ve found:

My 7 year old listening to his playlist

Continue reading “the best habit I’ve developed this year”

snack shop

Most habits and routines in our home are intentional and planned, but the snack shop was not.  It started out as a fun hands-on one time math lesson for Hunter almost a year ago.  I gave him a dollar and a homemade menu and he purchased his snack(s) for the morning while we discussed coin values and making change. He enjoyed it more than I anticipated and requested that we repeat the routine the next day.  A weekend came and went and both of us forgot about the fun snack shop until a month or two ago when he looked at me with eyes laced with hints of nostalgia and said, “mom, can we do the snack shop again?”

As I thought about it, I realized the snack shop could be a really fun and educational routine in our home.  We began doing it almost every morning between 10:00am and 11:00am. Here is how it works: Using a container of loose change to hold my coins, I “pay” my older two kids (9 and 11) $1.00 and my younger two (3 and 5) 0.10.  The menu is written up on a small white board and changes periodically based on the availability of the items listed.  For my menu items, I stick to basic things that I almost always have on hand and foods that are quick and easy.  I have two columns of prices, one for the older kids and one for the younger kids.  I have a variety of price ranges for the older kids to allow them the opportunity to use different coin values. I often price anything sugary higher than the healthy options and limit the purchases to one.

I began by giving my younger boys ten pennies (counting them out loud) and stuck with that until they were very familiar with the routine.  Later I began giving my 5 year old his pennies two at a time so we could practice counting by twos allowing my 3 year old to listen in and learn as well.  Recently I introduced the dime to my younger two.  I give them a dime and then they trade it in for 10 pennies and then begin to make their purchases. I plan to continue with the dime concept for another month or so until I feel they really have the idea solidified in their mind that one dime is equal to ten pennies.  After that, I will give them two nickels and we will trade those in for ten pennies and then later I will give them one dime which we will trade for 2 nickels which will then be traded for 10 pennies. Continue reading “snack shop”

top three book finds from 2014

Happy New Year!  We have been in Minnesota for the last two weeks relaxing with my in-laws.  I’ve been spoiled in every sense of the word.  Sleeping in, not cooking, reading books and playing games. Don’t get too jealous though because my jeans are feeling a little snug tight. It isn’t my fault however.

My mother in law has stocked her pantry full of different kinds of cookies and treats.  That is not an exaggeration.  I present photo exhibit A (each plastic cool whip type container contains a different type of cookie or fudge).  I count over 10.  And never fear, in the garage there are larger plastic containers to refill these smaller containers as needed! She is amazing and I have the sugar pulsing in my veins to prove it.

All this extra downtime has been great for reading.  I finished two books and Hunter and Ashlyn have almost cleared out the stash I brought along for them as well. As I have been lounging and turning pages through some thought-provoking books, I’ve been secretly wishing I was in a book club so I could verbally process all that I have been taking in. My next best is to share the books with you so ready or not, I am going to start including some posts related to literary loveliness. To start, allow me to share with you my three favorite book finds from 2014: Continue reading “top three book finds from 2014”