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Our lovely Marmot tent

Our lovely Marmot tent

Who would have thought that I could love a tent as much as I do? Our  Marmot Halo 6 person tent has been used for several years now, and it very quickly became our favorite. We have used several other name brand tents in the past, but there has always something that broke easily or was inconvenient about them. This tent has been amazing.  The poles are STRONG. There are tabs on the corners that are color coded, allowing  you to put the rain cover on corrctly the first time. Vey easy to assemble overall. A couple of years ago, our then 8 & 6 year old daughters put it up on their own.  That’s how easy it is. 

We now use this tent as our sole car camping tent.  There isnt any reason to have any other. It just works so very well for us! We have actually been considering purchasing a couple of smaller backpacking tents made by Marmot for our family in the future as well- for we will be hiking Glacier Nat. Park this fall, and we  have many multi-day mountain hikes within’ 30 minutes of our home that we hope to hit sometime this season as well. While this tent can be split up between members of your hiking crew and packed into back country spots, it really is far too heavy to do this on your own if you plan on taking one trip. It was intended as a car camping tent- and that is where it shines. 

    If you have a family of 6, This tent has ample room. We gave a family of 5, and feel if we had a couple of friends come along , we would still sleep very comfortably in this tent. With the overhead Halo system, this tent has ample headspace.   Ontop of the ample headroom and sleeping space, this tent also offers 2 spacious vestibules off of each door that serves as a great place to store gear, packs, shoes, etc. If you’re camping in bear country, always be sure to store your food and even dirty clothing at least 150-200 ft from camp, at least 10 ft up in a tree or food storage area.  While you may be tempted to place coolers of food underneath the vestibules- please do not do this.  Keep yourself, your family and the bears safe from unnecessary interactions and store your food properly.   

Happy Camping!

Our seasons first package of bees installed

Our seasons first package of bees installed

Unfortunately the night before we picked our package of bees up, there was a big freeze and the bees were left unprotected in the back of the suppliers truck.   About 1/3 of our bees were already dead when we picked them up. The supplier did not offer to discount our package-  which was our first red flag. Unfortunately, package bees are very weak already- as they’re unprotected, without any “home” or honey stores and already stressed being with a bunch of new bees and new queen. 

   We took a 2.5 hour drive home with bees escaping the box here and there throughout the journey. When we arrived home, we decided to quickly install the bees into their new hive as it was late afternoon.   We took a much less stress filled approach to installing them by leaving the open bee package in the hive body itself and allowing the bees to move out of the box at their leisure.                  Unfortunately their syrup can that was in their package was bone dry, and who knows for how long.. so that definitely could have attributed to our bees suffering so much initially.   We were able to check on the queen and she was in the cage. She was slowly moving, but there. We removed the cork that kept her inside, and quickly placed a tiny bit of Marshmallow in the entrance to keep her inside for another hour or so. 

  The bees were left untouched for a couple of days with 2 quarts of 1:1 sugar syrup installed into an internal feeder.  When we opened the hive to remove the package box we had allowed the bees to leave themselves- another bunch  of the bees were in there, dead. All clinging to each other. Those poor bees didn’t have a chance. They were likely dead when we picked them up- and they just looked alive like the rest of the bunch clinging to the queen box.    We didn’t touch the hanging queen cage when we opened the hive for the first time to take out the box as that had a cluster of bees around it still.    It was quickly closed up and will remain untouched now for about 5 days when we go in to check on the syrup and fill them up.  With half of our 3lb package of bees already dead the day we picked them up, they would have a lot of building to do with a such a small amount of bees.. and that’s if the queen survived the cold in the suppliers truck as well. We’re trying to keep up hope! It would be difficult for the hive to thrive with the numbers they have- but still possible if they snap back. If the queen died, however, they really have no chance.   

   We’ve done everything that we can to help these guys thrive if they’re going to get over that big freeze in the suppliers truck.  You live and learn. In 4-5 days, we’ll have a better idea of whether the hive will survive or not.   Here’s to hoping!  

Homeschooling freedom.

Homeschooling freedom.

We thank God for the ability to raise our kids in this beautiful state.    Not only is the area we live and learn in breathtakingly gorgeous- but our state has some other qualities that makes it the ideal place to raise our children. The primary reason for our moving here would have to be the freedom we  have in homeschooling here.  Even though Minnesota wasn’t really a horrible place to homeschool- Idaho had more freedom in doing so.

Here in Idaho, we aren’t required to contact our school district each year with a “notice of intent to homeschool”, nor are we required to send in yearly vaccination records and/or exemption forms.

Standardized testing is not required.

Our curriculums do not have to be approved.  So long as they are  “instructed in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools”- we’re free to make our own decisions in the direction of our children’s schooling.  If we want a family member, friend or other unrelated person to teach our children- we have the freedom to choose to do that as well.

We teach Science, History, Mathematics, Language Arts, etc.. but this doesn’t mean that we have to teach the subjects AS they are taught in the public school setting.  We have the freedom to teach these subjects as we see fit.   This right here is a big deal to our family, as we really enjoy having the ability to teach our kids what WE feel is important-and in the way we want to.  It also allows us to focus on what they are interested in, if you can make learning fun- go for it!  If your kids show an interest in bees?  Hey- that’s Science.   Want to do some animal track casting?  Again- Science.   A trip to Yellowstone- Science, Geography & History all in one! Throw in a written essay on thermal activity, tourism, native peoples, seeing the park through the eyes of an animal, etc- you have Language Arts thrown into the mix as well.

We have the freedom to school in whatever homeschool style that we choose..We can teach what we want, without feeling like we are required to force our children to fit the same mold as those in the public school system. We can take a classical approach,  Montessori, some may choose an eclectic or relaxed approach, and some will choose unschooling, etc.  You may even decide to “school at home”- following a schedule and curriculum that very closely resembles area public schools.   You as the parent can decide which will work best for you and your family.

Idaho is one of the last states that really allows you as the parent to decide what is best for your children.. not just limited in schooling, either.

Homeschooling IS legal in all 50 states- but laws regarding homeschooling will vary from state to state. HSLDA’s website has a lot of great information on each state, and they have the ability to give you legal advice as well.

If you have questions about homeschooling in Idaho, in your home state, or homeschooling in general, I highly recommend looking into local homeschool Co-ops,  or visiting http://www.HSLDA.org for more information.  Don’t take my interpretation of Idaho’s homeschooling laws as infallible (or even accurate)! The laws may have changed since this post was published.  Look into them yourself!

Blessings,  -A

 

 

 

GSI Outdoors camp dishes for everyone! 

GSI Outdoors camp dishes for everyone! 

We recently put a post up on Facebook stating that we would be replacing all of our stoneware with enameled steel camp dishes. I bet some people probably thought we were joking,  but I was serious. I have bought 2 different sets of nice stoneware dishes… and we have destroyed all of them. I have 6 settings left from my last collection that have gotten by with only minor chipping. When you consider I started out with 12 sets, it’s easy to see why I’d try and save what we have before they all disappear. We have succeeded in destroying half of our dishes in less than 3 years. For those of you that can go their entire lives with the same set of dishes and then pass them on to your offspring- I commend you. That is an amazing feat.   The worst part of it all, is this is my second set that we have purchased and destroyed. Not the same brand or design.. but they were both stoneware.   Apparently stoneware wasn’t designed to play Frisbee with. Who knew?   They just don’t work for our family. I know there are other options out there, including Corelle- but I think these camp dishes will probably work best for our needs. Now we can bring half of the kitchen with us when we go camping now, too!

Looking forward to seeing how these will hold up for our rowdy bunch.

Since I bought both a table setting and the Pioneer camp set, we now have a kettle, little frying pan and a cooking pot that we will probably use exclusively for when we go camping. The camping season is right around the corner- we can’t wait!

And the hive build continues!

And the hive build continues!

We finished installing a removable bottom board, built the roof, and installed #8 mesh on the bottom of the hive. Our next goal is to cut the top bars to fit the hive and then coat a strip on the bottom of the board with beeswax so that the bees have something to work off of.

 

Hinges will probably be next. Some people build them with hinges, some people just lift the entire roof off and set it to the side.   Because the kids will be working with the bees too, the hinges will make it easier for them to get into the hive. No need to lift the heavy roof off- just lift it up!    We primed and painted the entire exterior- including the roof for a little extra protection under the tin. We left the interior bare, as the bees don’t need to be chewing on paint.  🙂

 

The part that we’re most concerned about right now is getting the entrance placement right. That will probably be the last thing we do before we put the bees in the hive.   You’ll see different types of entrances on every hive you see.  We think we’re going for a non-traditional entrance, but we’re doing a bit more research before we decide whether we’ll be doing this or not.  It’s a bit more work than just picking a side and drilling some holes in the sides of the hive. We have wasps to contend with, local hives that may rob ours-  and critters of all sizes that will try and eat the bees, honey or both. We want to be sure we are doing everything we can to make our hive defensible, but also comfortable for the bees. That first year is extremely critical for new hives. If we can build it in a way that will help our bees thrive this summer and successfully overwinter- we’ll be in great shape for collecting a bit of honey AND comb next year.

Topbar Beehive Build

Topbar Beehive Build

Our bees have been ordered so it’s time to get on the beehive build!

  This is one of our goals to being a bit more self sufficient- bees will provide us with wax for candles and bodycare products, a little honey for our teas- and pollination for our gardens. Needless to say, we’re over the moon with excitement!

First we started out with 2 inch thick pine boards. We went this route, as we figured the thicker the body, the better chance the bees have to survive our winters here in North Idaho. While milder than Minnesota- they certainly can get long, especially if you’re living up in the mountains.    We painted the body with a latex based primer and latex exterior paint.   We chose a drab green instead of bright white because we want the hive to be camouflaged as hive theft has become a bigger concern as of late.

We’ll be putting hardware cloth along the bottom, and build a track to allow a bottom board to be placed down there as well for the fall and winter months.

The top will be built as soon as we have the topbars themselves placed into the hive for correct measures.  We plan on doing a peaked roof for water shed as we can get a lot of rain where we’re currently at.  We’ll put some tin on the top to keep it nice and dry.

The bees were ordered for April pickup- so we have plenty of time yet to get ready- we’re just a bit excited.

We’re looking forward to putting this hive to use this year- and will write up regular progress updates it’s first year.  We do not expect to take any honey the first year as they’ll need it for overwintering,  but we’ll have plenty to document!

 

 

 

Dashing through the snow, in a one dog open sleigh..

Dashing through the snow, in a one dog open sleigh..

They’ve waited through manufacturing, failed attempts to go out and pick it up due to snowstorms- additional time it took for the manufacturers to tear it back down, box it up and ship it here  when it seemed like we’d never find our window in this weather- but wait is over.  The kids finally have their dog sled.

It’s quite the learning process for all involved (including mom & dad), but they have had a blast getting their first dog trained up enough to pull them around.  They’re having a blast- and getting better at running the dog on their own without help.  They have another dog that’s training as well that is young yet- so we’re waiting for him to mature some more before he can run with them.

This has become quite the adventure for the entire family.  The kids already have big dreams of getting their own sleds and teams of their own so they can all run together.  Sounds like a plan to me.

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Affordable homeschooling option for the entire family

Affordable homeschooling option for the entire family

Many families new to homeschooling can have a difficult time choosing the right curriculum for their children.  Some of us may struggle for years with different learners and teaching styles until we finally find the perfect fit.  We are not “one size fits all” families. We have little ones that do not all learn in the same way. They have different interests,  limits, and personalities- all of which need to be considered when choosing the right curriculum for them.   You may not have a problem finding a curriculum that works for your children- but for some of us, it’s a learning process for ourselves that can take many years of trail and error to perfect. After a few years of trying a more traditional approach to homeschooling,  I have found that it is best for our family to build each child’s curriculum around what they love most.  In doing this, they are always look forward to learning.  Coming to this realization, and trying to figure out how to do this has been quite the experience.  If you’re able to do a little research and find a curriculum that works real well for your family on the first time- consider yourself lucky! Most families I have come across have gone through a much similar process of elimination when trying to settle on a curriculum that fits. We have tried out 4 different math programs in one year for one of our children before finally finding one that works for her, thankfully she really enjoys it.  For some families, they’ll do that several times over with 5-7  subjects, sometimes with 3 or more children- possibly even for years before they find their niche.  I’m not joking- the struggle is real for some of us!

Two years ago we had a curriculum set up for our children that ended up being ridiculously expensive. I was actually homeschooled using them.  I didn’t die, so I figured it would be worth a shot trying it out with our own children. For whatever reason, I failed to remember that I was the only one in our family of 4 homeschooled kids that really did well with this curriculum. The others were bored out of their minds, were unable to get through their lessons in a timely manner, or simply didn’t enjoy doing it.   I didn’t care much for it to be absolutely frank, but they worked. They were long, drawn out lessons on very boring, too-simple subjects for me. Not even considering how I was the only one in our family to do well with this specific curriculum- I went all out and purchased all subjects in for all 3 of our children.  That was a huge mistake. They really did not work out very well for our kids.  We continued with it for the first couple of months of that school year because we had already purchased them, and didn’t really feel like wasting any more money on more material that may or may not work out.    I  didn’t want to admit that I had just wasted over $1400 on school books and other materials for 3 children that just wasn’t being enjoyed by the kids. They all hated it. It was a total flop, but we had to make the best of it.

We were about 2 months into our school year with that particular curriculum when we lost everything we owned due to a fire that burned down our apartment building.  We made it out OK- but we had to completely start over. We had lost all of the precious books we had acquired over the years & that awful, expensive curriculum that we all hated.   When we hit our rock bottom, couldn’t justify spending a bunch of money on a new set of school supplies that we all hated..  but we had to figure out a way to continue schooling.  I searched high and low, eventually finding  a couple of amazing options for us.  Our greatest find was  Schoolhouseteachers.com.

This website has been an invaluable resource for us since that fire.  Since switching over to  Schoolhouseteachers.com, I have saved an unbelievable amount of money. I have actually spent less on the membership for this website for 2 years than I had previously spent on ONE SUBJECT, for one child. After years of trial and error, we finally have something that works for us. That fire was a blessing. If we hadn’t lost all of the overpriced long winded school material we had before, I would likely still be doing the same thing today. Our children would still hate their schoolwork. We’ve been using this as a large part of our schooling for the last 2 years now, and couldn’t be happier with the variety in lessons.  There are so many options on this one website that every family out there could find something on there to supplement to what they already have going on at home.   And the great thing is that anyone can use it.  You don’t have to be homeschooling.  If your kids are enrolled in public school, or you run a daycare- the lessons on there are fun and would benefit your kids as well.

If you’re switching over to this from a more traditional curriculum- you’ll be amazed at the money you save.    You pay a small one time fee for access to 300+ self-paced course options for your child’s age/grade, preschool through high school. It includes as many courses as the family needs. There are over 150 teachers that have lesson plans and material on there for you to print out- with no additional textbook fees. They set no limits on classes.  Check out whatever you want- and don’t waste any money “trying” new material from new teachers. If it’s not what you’re looking for- go onto a new teacher within’ the same subject.  Some lessons have videos for the lessons or as supplement to the lessons- also at no additional cost. Did I mention that you also get FREE access to RIGHT NOW Media,  a christian video streaming service? It’s similar to netflix- but has wholesome content.   Sign up for the year for your kids curriculum- and you have access to this amazing video streaming service for FREE!  It’s an amazing resource that I feel so very blessed to have found. Schoolhouseteachers.com truly does help make Homeschooling FUN again.

Having so many options for curriculum materials  allows us to find what we feel fits our children best- and which teaching style we prefer. We have so many options! I believe that most families that use Schoolhouseteachers.com use the materials on there as a standalone curriculum for their children. We use the materials on there as our framework for most subjects- and then use library books and videos that we find as supplemental material.  Most subjects I feel do not need any additional supplementation to already well planned lessons- but I like to add as much fun and interesting information I can find out there to  keep them thinking.

When I think about what I used to spend on homeschooling supplies and curriculum- I just smile.  I cannot believe that we now pay less for materials to school all of our children for the entire year than we were paying for one subject for one child using the previous homeschool curriculum.  That just blows my mind.

Now, that being said-  this probably isn’t for everyone.  It’s worked out very well for us, and I thought I’d pass on the information to those looking, but having a difficult time finding something that works for you.

I do hope that you’ll take a look at what Schoolhouseteachers.com has to offer..  It truly has been an invaluable source for our family.  It isn’t FREE- but it’s affordable.  They also offer discounts for Military and Police families- and also to those who are members on HSLDA.org.   Check it out today for $1.00 for your first month.  Print out as many lessons as you want. You’ll have full access to their website.

Autumn gold

Autumn gold

Fall has always been my favorite time of year.  I love when the first dips in temperature comes,  turning the leaves brilliant reds, orange and yellows. The crisp north winds hits your face, hinting at winter which waits patiently just around the corner. When we’re out for a walk and see the animals hurry about getting their last stores in before snowfall- it is a great reminder to start doing so for ourselves. This is the time of year we start collecting firewood, preserving food, sippin’ hot chocolate- and the last of the years bonfires slowly pass us by.

Our first fall in North Idaho is proving to be nothing short of spectacular.    We have already discovered a few new fall favorites.   The ice cold mountain creeks fill to the brim with the first fall rains- where kokanee salmon were spawning within’ them just a few short weeks ago.      The tamarack trees turn to beautiful Autumn gold among the evergreen hillsides- and you can’t help but smile at how they pop up more and more as the season progresses.   So thankful to God for allowing us to live here.

 

 

Our adventure begins.

Our adventure begins.

20161011_174351   I bugged my husband off and on throughout the last 10 years to go to Idaho with me- just for a visit.   Getting him to agree to it was the easy part. Getting him to actually COMMIT to it was something entirely different.  😉

After years and years of hinting, mentioning, and downright begging him to consider visiting Idaho- he surprised me with a quick trip to Idaho 2 years ago.  We had our van packed up to the brim to head out to our cabin in Northern Wisconsin- and then he headed West. He made a spur of the moment decision to go to Idaho instead of our family property up near Lake Superior..  We were finally headed towards Idaho!   I did make him turn around to drop off some of the huge unnecessary things I had brought along to leave up at the cabin-   hoses, lawn mower, water filters- That sort of stuff. After the quick U-Turn to get rid of all of that, we were on our way.

My husband came out with no intentions of actually moving here, but he did look around and found a couple of places that were hiring. We drove around Coeur D’Alene, Post Falls, Up through Sandpoint, Ponderay, Bonners Ferry-  then headed East through northern Montana towards Glacier National Park for a quick visit before heading home.

 It was incredible.   I was so excited he finally got to see a bit of Idaho.. I got to visit some new places myself, and fell in love with one area in particular.

We took another trip for an interview after a long, drawn out background check with a department there in CDA. After waiting 4 months- and thinking about it for a long time,   he decided that it was best if he pulled his application from the hiring process. He wasn’t impressed with the way they were handling things- and didn’t want to start out life in Idaho with a crappy employer.

A few months later,  a job in the same area we fell in love with popped up for what he was currently doing in Minnesota- and he put in the application on the last day they were accepting them.  I don’t need to get into details- but we prayed on it, and it just seemed like it was  meant to be.  We took another trip very shortly after for an interview with this place- and we made preparations for our move the day we arrived back home.  He was given the job offer when we were on our way back home- we moved here after about 6  weeks of preparations- and we’ve been here now for 5 months.  We couldn’t be happier.

It was quite the adventure in itself finding a place to rent…  We actually lived in hotels or our van for 2 weeks before we found a place..  We did get into a tiny little place that allowed us to keep our pets- and that was incredible.  It’s close to impossible to find a rental here at the time of year we came- even more incredible that they were pet friendly. God is good.

We’ve been on many incredible hikes and mini adventures in the short time we’ve been here.  We still feel like it’s a dream, and that any day now we’ll have to pack our bags and head back to our old life in Minnesota.  I wonder if that feeling will ever go away?  I’ll be happy when I can lose this crazy anxiety about having to “go home” and leave this incredible vacation we’re on. We’re here to stay.  My brain hasn’t grasped that idea yet.
As a team, we’ll be using this blog here as a journal of sorts- a way to document our life here in Idaho as well as our travels.  If you happen to find yourself reading here, I hope you’re able to enjoy our journey as well.

 

Glory to God in all things,

MrsTFN