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A nod to the ol’ timers

A nod to the ol’ timers

I was on a walk around our little town awhile back and it made me wonder.

How many of us appreciate the trades men and women (got to keep it politically correct….) of yesteryears? Our downtown was built before most of us were born. Segments of an old bridge are still there to admire, an old generator on display on the north west side of city hall.

I invite you to tour your town with a new set of eyes. Not to just look at old stuff, but to think about the countless and nameless trades men and women who built and operated these things. The brick layers, carpenters, steel workers, mechanics, concrete workers, electricians, road workers, loggers and anyone else I am forgetting to mention. They deserve remembering more than the normal people we hold up, because without those tradesmen, NOTHING would get done.

Then think about the trades men and women of today. They keep the cogs of the machine we call society turning. Appreciate what they do. Take a breath, look up from the task at hand and appreciate what has been done for you and continues to be done for you by those nameless tradesmen. Heck! Maybe if you feel so inclined don’t let them be nameless! Thank them….. go to your local museum and look at old photos and see if you can identify people for them!


The Idahoan

The Idahoan

(Tips for the prospective Idahoan.)

For you the prospective Idahoan. We already covered the Idahoan’s staple food. The Huckleberry. Now let’s cover the actual Idahoan itself.

We already know, generally speaking, that the Idahoan is a blunt, kind, and a patriotic critter. What you may not know about the Idahoan, it is perplexing, is that they are never happy yet full of joy.

Now the Idahoan is constantly changing their minds. You will hear them complain….. A LOT! So these two things go together to form the perpetually unhappy Idahoan. An example of this was my first year living in Idaho amongst the Idahoan. I heard Idahoans complain about the amount of mosquitos (just so you are aware…. there aren’t any). To prove the point I had a co-worker show me the one welt on their ankle as proof of the quantity and viciousness of their “mossquitos”.

I heard Idahoans complain about the cold in the winter (southerners will find this complaint valid, Alaskans and Midwesterners will laugh). Then, when it warms up they will complain about the heat. The thing you have to realize is that the heat here is a dry heat. Meaning you can go in the shade and it gets cooler! (If you happened to be near a midwesterner or southeasterner, look at the disbelief in their face…… cooler in the shade pppffffffft!) In the spring the Idahoan will complain about the amount of rain and clouds they are getting. Then when it is dry and cloudless you will hear them wishing for rain.

Then comes they other half of the Idahoan. Strangely full of joy. If you heard an Idahoan during a complaint phase you may think they are a supremely unhappy person. But as stated above they can be perplexing. Because, the Idahoan, in general, will put their complaints, ailments, injuries and problems aside to help you. They will smile and be genuinely happy to help.

The Idahoan, although they can complain is also supremely happy with where they live. If they have moved (even within the state) it was due to work, health, or family. The choice to move away was not made lightly. An Idahoan away from Idahome is definitely scheming to get back.

They are also able to enjoy the different things they complain about…. Heat? Let’s go swimming! More snow than the winter of ’96 (apparently it was legendary)? Let’s snowboard, ski, snowmobiling etc! An Idahoan will let you know what they think of the situation (complain), but then they will help you figure out how to make the best of it.

So! If you haven’t had the pleasure of conversing with an Idahoan….. go out and find one! Grab a coffee with them, Speak to them, Kindness will follow!


Follow up comlaint

Follow up comlaint

(Also taken from North Idaho Life post I put up)

I have a FORMAL COMPLAINT (From the Raul portion of this account). I would appreciate it if someone could pay attention to it this time. Some time back I requested you folks stop putting beautiful photos which entice my family to Idaho. I was assured “the contest” was ending soon and the flood of photos would slow. WELLLLLL they didn’t. They continued. Then this guy Keith gets my kids involved by starting a youth art contest, so we check the page every day to see what is happening. Along with these great little artists are splashes of Idaho photos. THEN ANOTHER CONTEST! -.- I hope all of you are proud. You couldn’t listen to the pleas of a husband and father who was trying to keep his family in the Great Plains of the Red River Valley. Sooooo now we are moving to North Idaho. Will find out soon the exact time-line for the move but it is pretty much a for sure thing. ūüôā Have a good one and keep those photos coming.

A plea to an Idaho Group…

A plea to an Idaho Group…

(This was originallyposted on North Idaho Life on Facebook on March 30, 2016) *Click North Idaho Life to go to the original post*

If this doesn’t fit here go ahead and remove: I am the Raul portion of this account. I’m here writing today to file a complaint. First, a bit of background. My wife, my kids and I had gone out to CDA on a truly random road trip from the plains of Fargo/Moorhead. I’ll be the first to admit. The pan handle is amazing, breath taking and flat out stunning. I said what all tourists say when they show up in a beautiful place and a said “I wish I could live here”. Then after a short thought process I said “Why DON’T we live here?” “What’s holding us to the plains?”. The usual thoughts come to mind, a decent job with seniority, family near by, friends and comfort in the known. But Amber and I have always been nomads, at work everyone knows us as “gypsies” because of how often we had moved in the past and how often we move in our area. So that’s the background. Now for the complaint. I tired of this page. TIRED OF IT! You guys/gals CONSTANTLY posting your breath taking views, your beautiful clear streams and waterfalls, your majestic wildlife…. It’s never ending. Amber says SEE SEE we should move there and live there. So I come back with OH YEAH?! Look outside! See our views! There! The brownish hews of the plains! LOOK! we have a giant river that is mud colored our WHOLE “valley” is named after it! How do you folks expect me to compete?! HOW?! So please refrain in the future from showing the majesty of your state and tempting us to move there……. But in all honesty. It would be awesome to move there. Good work all of you. From a midwesterner used to plains, swamps, and mosquitoes the size of humming birds.

The Huckleberry…

The Huckleberry…

(Tips for the prospective Idahoan.)

Huckleberries. A strange little thing. The quickest way to start a war or thank a North Idahoan revolves around this strange little berry.

If you would like to offend the Idahoan I can give you the quickest route. The Huckleberry.

As in my previous post (on North Idaho Life), I informed you the Idahoan is a fiercly patriotic/loyal creature; to their country, state and county. But that pales in comparison to how a North Idahoan feels about Huckleberries.

Let me explain. To those of you who don’t know what a Huckleberry is look at the provided photos and educate yourself. You will NOT be accepted by the Idahoan until, at least once, your fingers have been stained purply-blue.

Now! Don’t you dare say they are blueberries! Goodness me. If you do that in front of, within earshot of, or in a fashion that an Idahoan will find out you said it you best look out. It doesn’t matter that they are in the same family. It doesn’t matter if researchers have a hard time telling the difference. It doesn’t matter that when you finally get up to that mountain and find them you will find out these berries come in a multitude of different sizes, colors and flavors (explained below). Get this in your head now rookie! If it is found on the mountain it is a Huckleberry. If you can pick it at a farm or buy it at the store, THAT is a blueberry. Okay. We saved you some grief.

The next way to get an Idahoan riled up is by asking them where they pick their berries. Jeeze! If the icy stare isn’t enough to scare you away and you are silly enough to persist…. well I wish you the best. I doesn’t matter if the Idahoan found a 50 acre patch with more berries than they could eat in a lifetime! They will put a ribbon on a tree branch, punch it into their GPS, and make whoever happened to be with them swear an oath of secrecy. This isn’t a game folks, it’s Huckleberries!

The actual berry is quite interesting. The flavor ranges from a real smokey flavor, to really sweet, to tart. They range in colors from black, red, purple, and…….. blue (THEY ARE NOT BLUEBERRIES!). Sizes go from tiny to grape size.

Bushes will be real short to the ground to higher than you knee….. well my knee, I don’t know how tall you are. They will range from bright green leaves to autum colors depending on their life cycle.

Early in the season (late June/early July) they will be found at low altitude. They will ripen later and later the higher you go.

So! We covered how to offend the Idahoan and what we are looking for when you go out. (For crying outloud TRY to have local-ish plates when you go out. Rent a car, borrow a friends, hitch hike… walk.) Now let’s cover the positives.

From my extensive (not really) research into the subject, if you want to win some favor points with an Idahoan, present them with Huckleberries. You could give them an old milk jug with leaves, stems, bugs and dirt. It will be as if you were giving them a long lost friend. They will smile, thank you, pretend they couldn’t accept them. Then they will tell you what they plan to do with them, just to put you at ease that those precious little gems won’t go to waste. Imagine the points you get if you minimally process/clean them or make them into a pie or other dessert. This is multiplied if you have heard the Idahoan complain about not being able to get up in the mountains to pick because of some reason or another. I believe if the Hatfield or McCoy families would have given the other side a Huckleberry pie all would have been forgiven.

So, my prospect Idahoan, get some good shoes on, get a recepticle of some sort, start driving mountain roads and look for those elusive (not really at all) Huckleberries!

Remember, when people ask if you went Huckleberry hunting, where you went and how much you got. The answers are Yes, in the mountains, and I did not get enough for you.

With these tips you are on your way to being a true Idahoan.


We killed all of them?

We killed all of them?

Bees are truly incredible creatures! As you may have read in my wife’s post earlier, our bees were doomed.
It was sad. Our package starving, likely with bee dysentary, a third dead. Then the weather was against them. Cold and raining for a week! 

We were like new parents. Sure that everything we did was wrong, that we had doomed these little critters! Then, we fearfully checked the hive. They were clustered. Barely any syrup consumed. In our minds….. goners. 

I was continually harassing a master beekeeper at Rusty was always helpful and her blog super informative! Go say hi and fill you brain with beeknowledge. Rusty is a straight forward lady with a love for bees and words…

Yesterday we exited the aparant nuclear winter! It was sunny and 70+ degrees! You know what miraculous thing was happening? Bees! Buzzing around, flying away from the hive as others returned. Some even had bits of pollen on their little legs!

The streaks are bee poop from the dysentary

We did another hive inspection. We have a top bar style hive. Why? Just ‘cuz. Anyway, bar # 1….. NOTHING. Not even a bee! Hmmm. Bar #2 & #3 same. Then #4!  Had bees and a little chunk of comb! I was so excited. (Which for me meant I smiled.)

#3 with the baby comb!

As we went on we found a “huge” drawn comb! It was amazing! They built this on their own, they were filling it with nectar and pollen. Against all odds (in our minds) these little critters were making a home. Amazing! 

There is nectar!
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!  

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.







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 ¬†

This website has been an invaluable resource for us since that fire. ¬†Since switching over to¬†¬†, 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‚Äôs 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.¬†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 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¬†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 ¬† 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.