Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: TOS's Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others

Even for trips as short as heading to my in-laws (about 90 minutes away -- depending on the cooperation of traffic and construction crews), I've always been one to pack lots of different activities for the kids (and me).  Having suffered from some car-sickness as a child, I often needed something besides a book to read in the back seat of the family Buick. Back then, a deck of cards and a reliable AM radio theatre broadcast were sure bets to cure car fatigue.

So it was with curiosity that I downloaded and read through "Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others" right before we left on our trip. Had I packed the "right stuff"?

This The Old Schoolhouse (TOS) publication was written by Donna Rees.  You can pick it up at TOS's store for $12.45 as an ebook download.  The Travel Kits ebook is one of 153 ebooks that TOS has published for use in all areas of a homeschooling (and non-homeschooling) mom's job descriptions:  oganization, gift giving, encouragement, curricula, and support.

First, a hint: don't print it out. The document is laced with many photos and colors, and it is 93 (!) pages long.  Save your ink and read it on your screen.  If there are sections of text you want to print out, use your snipping tool (found in Start -> Programs -> Accessories folder on Windows 7) to cut and paste it into a Word or Open Office document.

The ebook is a lot more than a list of potential items to include in your kit.  She provides inspiration for all phases of the occupy-the-kids process.  Have you considered wrapping the gifts?  In what creative container will you pack the activities? Will you doll them out as you backup past your mailbox, or at creative intervals during the trip? What about food/ snacks/ treats? Will you include the Leapster/ Gameboy/ DS?  What will the 3-year-old do while big sis is having her "screen time"?  After you read through this book, I'm sure your creative juices will be flowing, and you'll be able to use this as a jumping off point to customize a travel kit for the kids in your life.

My big revelation after reading the ebook:  make travel kits for others (slap forehead with hand).  I cannot believe I never thought of giving some travel activities to some friends as they prepare to hit the road!  And, since I'm not always up to speed with girls (seeing as I have none), it was helpful that Donna broke down ideas for boys and girls separately. She even includes several sections to help you think of ways to bless mom or dad. (Wouldn't it be fun to include brochures of possible stops along the way or even a Sudoku book for them to share?)

I really appreciated all the ideas Donna graciously shared in the ebook.  It is definitely a handy reference for our family as we begin a season of life which will include more road trips to further destinations, and as I try to look out to others' interests ahead of my own.

If you'd like to hear what others say about the Travel Kits, head on over to TOS Homeschool Crew website to read more reviews!

P.S -- Here's a great book that we've added to our tavel kits over the past few years:  Kids Across, Parents Down.  I love to include activities that will encourage talking/ teamwork/ togetherness for our whole family.  I think Donna would approve.  Enjoy!

P.P.S -- Our Travel Kit was in the adorable collapsible striped bag between Luke and Levi in the top picture.  I included ColorWonders, books to read, stickers, Leapster/ Didj games, decks of cards, a magnetic travel bingo game, colored pencils and drawing paper, and our entire collection of Adventures in Odyssey on CD.  AiO was by far the biggest hit for us all!

Disclaimer the FCC requires:  I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher.  I wrote exactly what I thought of it.  No one told me to review it positively, negatively or otherwise.  I receive no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

God Spotting - Another way He speaks...

My latest God spotting involves the recent death of our washing machine.  It lasted almost 9 years and is the first appliance I've 'killed.'  We've just never lived in one place long enough to keep appliances for any real length of time.  Unfortunately, the washing machine died on Tuesday night last week -- not even half way through our week at Cub Scout Day Camp.  We all had to wear the same shirt everyday (a security measure to know who belonged on the property and who did not).  I decided to wash the shirts every other day, and when it died on Tuesday, I just decided we'd stink for the rest of the week!  The camp days were very long, so there was not time to shop for a machine.

Fast forward to Monday and I've finally got time to run into Home Depot, Lowes, Sears and shop online for a machine.  I decided to get a front loader (water rates are going up here), but I was not happy about the prices I was seeing -- and there are no big sales on washing machines in the middle of the summer!

I re-starting my Beth Moore Bible Study yesterday.  While watching the video lesson,  Beth had related a story about how God had communicated to her whether or not to buy a piece of property.  I decided to pray and ask God to really show me what to get and to provide an affordable machine.

Guess what I got in yesterday's mail?  A $25 coupon to Lowes!  On my second trip there in as many days, I discovered a washing machine in their clearance section -- and it has good reviews and is totally in our modest price range.  Yipee!  I'm so thankful and excited!  Yes, God used a coupon to speak to our needs. God is good all the time, and all the time...


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Positive Changes

Our vacation at the end of June made me realize something -- I'm missing the best days with my family.  I realize I've developed some habits that aren't the healthiest for our family nor for me, such as letting Dave take the boys on the weekend and do whatever they want.  Meanwhile, I stay home to catch up with dishes, lesson plans, emails, bill paying, etc.  They come home tired, hungry and dirty, and I meet their needs and hear a few comments hear about their day before sending them off to sleep. 

Well, that's just no fun for me.  I don't want to waste my family days with home management duties.  I want some F.U.N.

So this weekend I decided to change all that:

Aren't they all cute?  How could I trade them for --ahem-- online banking?

Dave being manly and sitting under the waterfall.  What a guy.

13 years.....

Conquered his fear of the cold and got wet!

Life is sweet.  I'm thankful to God for the wake-up call.