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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Show Me Your Neighborhood- Rural Idaho, USA

I'm so excited to be part of The Piri-Piri Lexicon's "Show Me Your Neighborhood" blog link-up!  Bloggers from around the world are writing about what life looks like in their own small part of the earth.  So neat!  I'm especially excited about the homeschooling possibilities as we learn about geography and cultures in the future.

Show me your neighbourhood around the worldRules- you must include these pictures:
- a playground/play area
- a local mode of transport
- a typical house/building
- a street nearby
- a school/nursery/ or other educational facility
- a market/supermarket/shopping outlet

A Play Area in Rural Idaho
Our towns and cities have plastic playground equipment, but kids in the rural parts of Idaho have to make their own fun.  In the summer, my kids love to ride bikes in the driveway, run their toy trucks in the dirt, and swim in the lake.  It's wintertime, now, so their play area looks like this:

The snow mountain was created by our snow blower.  Every time my husband uses the machine, the snow mountain gets bigger.  At the time of these pictures (Christmas Eve), there was about two feet of snow on the ground.

Town kids play at this playground.  This play structure has several adaptations for handicapped children, like 5-point harness swings and a wheelchair accessible slide.  In the nicer times of the year, this park can be very crowded.

A Mode of Transportation in Rural Idaho
This is our family car.  In Rural Idaho, most families have at least one car.  It's also very common for families to own more than one vehicle, with each vehicle serving a different purpose.  For example, a farm family may own a car that they use to drive to town, a truck that they use on the farm, an horse trailer, a "good weather" car, a snow plow, etc.  The car on the bottom of the picture is my husband's commuting car that he can only use about six months or so every year.
source: Car Organization
I also chose this picture to show you that it's not always snowy- sometimes the grass is green and the sun is shining.

  Public transportation (buses) are available in the towns and cities.  In our small town, a free bus runs a circuit every day.

A Typical House in Rural Idaho
It's difficult to say what a normal house looks like in rural Idaho, so I decided to include a picture of our old house (we're in the middle of a move- in the snow).  This house is a two bedroom and one bath house with an unfinished basement.  It has about 800 sq ft and would sell for about $170,000.  The orange fence is a renter's way of trying to keep kids from falling off the deck.

Here's another shot of the house in winter:

The blog post How to Survive a Foster Care Home Inspection has more pictures of the inside of our house (and a funny look at being a foster parent.

A Local Street in Rural Idaho
The day I took this picture, it was very yucky weather.  Normally, you can see across the lake to the town and mountains on the other side.  This highway runs north and south and connects the USA with Canada.  Can you spy the Canadian flag?
People in rural Idaho value outdoor adventures.  Our bike trails are wide and well-maintained.  In the winter, our region is renown for cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, and other winter sports.  In the summer, the highway is very busy and travelers come for our boating, fishing, water-skiing, swimming, camping, hiking, biking, and small town events.

Hunting is also a common activity, since Idaho is home to big game animals, like elk, moose, deer, bear, and cougar (mountain lion), and smaller animals, like turkey, pheasant, grouse, and quail.

A School in Rural Idaho
We homeschool, so my children's school looks like this:
source- How to Survive a Foster Care Home Inspection

Our learning wall usually looks more like this:
source- i is for insect

This is a picture of the local elementary school, which is about 30 minutes drive from my house:
This school is used by children age 5 (kindergarten) to age 12 (grade 6).  After elementary school, the kids go to middle school, which is in town and another 10 minutes away.  Their last years of public schooling happen at a high school, which is right next to the middle school.  After thirteen years of mandatory education, students usually attend college/university or enter the work force.

A Shopping Center in Rural Idaho
My favorite place to shop in town is this "country store."  The store mostly carries food, in pre-proportioned bulk containers; although they also carry kitchen items, some toys, and handmade gifts.  When you walk into the store, the first thing you notice is the smell.  It smells like home.  They bake bread and other pastries for sale and display them on a large counter.  The store also serves soup and sandwiches, and is a common sight to see a group of workers waiting for their lunch.  Unfortunately, the store is only open Monday thru Friday, so it's hard for me to get into town to shop there.

If the country store is my favorite place to shop, Walmart is my reality.  It's open everyday, all day (and night).  It carries all almost anything you don't know that you wanted.  Not only food, but also furniture, garden supplies, cleaning stuff, paper products, hardware, electronics, clothing, and baby care items.  It's hard to go to that store without spending money (or a lot of money).

Other Pictures from Rural Idaho
My husband and I felt bad that the picture of our neighborhood were so dull so we went into our archives and picked some pictures that showed the beauty of our area.

This picture was taken during the spring almost ten years ago.  I don't know the name of the wildflower or the mountain.  The body of water is a lake.

One of the common sights in our area is wild turkeys.  Despite their small brains, turkeys are fast and rarely end up as road-kill.

In contrast, these white tail deer are menaces to the road, and often end up getting hit by cars.  It's very sweet in the spring to see mothers and babies in the fields.  Many people in our area hunt deer (in the fall/autumn) for meat.

This is a large bird called a blue heron.  They live in marsh/wetland areas and eat fish.  They're rare and beautiful.

Old cabins are a common sight in rural Idaho, a dilapidated reminder of the pioneers and mountain men who forged the way for other settlers. This picture was taken in the fall/autumn.

One of the larger animals in our area is the moose.  Moose need to eat vegetation almost constantly to survive.  They love the plants that grow in marsh areas, but won't pass up an apple orchard (pictured) if they get the chance.  This orchard is surrounded by 6 foot tall fencing, but the moose just stepped over it to get to the trees.

I wish this picture was better, but hummingbirds are very difficult to catch on "film."  Their wings beat so fast that they make a humming sound like a giant bee.  Many people in our area set up sugar-water feeders for them during the summer.  The feeders allow us to get a close view of the tiny birds (their eggs are the size of a chickpea/bean).  When the sun shines on their feathers, they look like stained glass windows with hundreds of sparkling colors.  They're one of my favorite things about North Idaho.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my neighborhood.  I loved putting this post together.  Please click on the link at the bottom to check out other neighborhoods around the world.

Show me your neighbourhood around the world

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Link-Up Parties I Attend

Since joining Twitter last week, I've been introduced to lots of new link-up parties.  Instead of posting them on each post, I'm going to list them here.


Go Ask Your Daddy



Laugh and Learn Linkup: Join us every Tuesday to share your favorite home or family posts!


Christian Montessori Network






Tuesday, January 26, 2016

8 Moving Tips You Haven't Read Yet

I've been spending a lot of time on Pinterest planning the organization and design of our new house and reading everyone else's tips for moving.  Over and over, I've read about purging unwanted belongings, labeling boxes by room, and packing room by room.  I thought that all the moving tips had been blogged, and then I discovered a few more.

1- PACK WHAT RELAXES YOU LAST.  We've all read the moving tip that says you should leave some toys unpacked to entertain the kids, but I have yet to read a blog that gives me permission to leave out some of my own favorites.  I'm a crafter, so I need my craft supplies to be packed last (and even some to be left out and never packed).  For my sanity, I need to know that I can have an idea and start making it without too much waiting time.  Not being able to craft makes me anxious.  A bit of knitting or some random glue gun craft relaxes me and makes the whole move less stressful.  I don't know what relaxes you or makes you happy, but whatever that item/activity, you should pack it last.

picture source- Amazon
2- READ SOME GOOD MOVING BOOKS.  My kids are 4, 3, and 2, so this is the first move that they remember.  We've really enjoyed reading "I'm Not Moving, Mama!" by Nancy White Carlstrom.  The book was published in the 90's and is currently out of print.  The story follows a mouse boy and his mom as they pack for a move.  Every time the mom puts one of the boy's belongings in a box, the boy tells his mom, "You can take my ___ but I'm not moving, Mama!"  It's a great book for using your whiny/grumpy/bratty child voice- my kids love that part of the book.  The story provides an outlet to talk with your children about their feelings over the move and ends with the reassurance that even in a new house, the family will remain together.

3- USE UP YOUR SENSORY BIN STASH.  Ok, so this might be unique to us.  Instead of packing three boxes of cornstarch and five boxes of baking soda (cause that stuff is heavy), make some sensory soup or fake snow and use it up.  As a bonus, it'll give the kids something interesting to do while you pack.

source- Amazon
4- MAKE A MOVING COUNTDOWN CALENDAR.  My kids are very worried that the move is going to be a surprise.  To help them prepare for the move, I've made a countdown calendar to hang on our blank walls.  You can read about it more here.  Or, you can DIY a stress-reducing calendar for adults (or kids- if they make you share) with bubble wrap.

5- KEEP YOUR SCHEDULE.  Moving is a crazy time, but as much as you are able, you should try to keep the kids' schedule the same.

picture source- Pixar Wikia 
6- TREAT THE MOVE LIKE AN ADVENTURE.  In the stress of packing, organizing, and planning for the move, it's easy to forget that moving is an adventure.  Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do or all the things you're leaving behind, focus on the new things you'll get to discover.  Talk about the new house and dream about what life in the new house will be like.  A joyful outlook will make such a difference in your attitude and the children's feelings about the move.

7- PACK SOME GARBAGE BAGS.  Instead of bringing a box of garbage bags with you to your new house, pack some garbage bags in the boxes.  When you pack a box for the bathroom, for example, tuck a garbage bag in there.  Maybe you won't need it, but at least you'll have an extra one on hand.  Tuck another garbage bag in a kitchen box or bedroom box.  If you don't need the bag at the time of unpacking, stash it under the sink (or leave it in the same room as the unpacking) and save it for later.

8- THE STRESS OF THE MOVE IS TEMPORARY.  No matter how stressful the move seems at any given time, it will eventually end.  Take a deep breath and keep packing!

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Whole Ocean Printable

Picture from Pixar Wikia
I saved my favorite Finding Nemo printable for last.  The story (as you know) is about a Dad swimming the ocean and facing the odds to find his son.  I want this printable to remind the kids of our love for them.  To download, click here.

Finding Nemo Printables
Fish Are Friends
Keep Swimming
The Whole Ocean

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Knit Swimsuit (archived post)

This post (from my former blog "A Yarn About Knitting") was first published on Oct. 21, 2009.

I just completed my first real article of clothing [edited: since beginning knitting in 2005] and my first piece of clothing for a doll.  This pink and black beach set was knit with love out of acrylic super soft yarn.  Please feel free to replicate and improve it.  I'm not addicted to doll knitting [editted: no kidding- I just found over twenty doll outfits that I have knit over the years].  Perhaps when I get all the items on my Christmas to-do list done, I can try some sweaters, bath robes, pants sets, and even footie pajamas [edited: all for dolls].  I'm pretty excited.

The Suit:
I started the swimsuit at the bottom, knitting it in two pieces on size 2 needles.  Once past the legs, I joined the two pieces and knit in the round (92 stitches) until the piece was about five inches long (about an inch under the doll's arms).  I cast off the back and began shaping the front with decreases on each side.  Then, I created the straps, which crisscrossed and buttoned in the back.  To finish, I sewed the bottom flaps together.  I'm sure that if I was more skilled in this area, I could knit the whole thing in one piece by using a temporary cast on.

The Cover
This piece was knit in a simple lace pattern (yo, k2tog).  It's tied on with two i-cord straps, which I attached with a needle.

The Sunglasses:
I bought the glasses at Michael's craft store.  I added a piece of elastic to hold them onto the doll's head better.

The Sandals:
Trace the doll's foot onto black craft foam.  Cut out four pieces.  Knit an i-cord for the strap.  Glue the straps to two of the soles and glue another foam shape to each sole, sandwiching the i-cord in between the foam.  Punch holes into the soles and add elastic to help the sandals stay on better.  Finish with cheery flower buttons.

Jan. 2016 update: Here is a free "bodysuit" pattern which you could use to create your own swimsuit.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Keep Swimming Printable

I'm pretty sure that the world doesn't really need another "Just Keep Swimming" printable.  I made this one to match the other ones in my Finding Nemo bathroom series.  To download, click here.

Finding Nemo Printables
Keep Swimming
The Whole Ocean

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What To Do When the Family is Sick

I've been working on my "home management binder" recently and wanted to share a printable I made to go in it.  It's called "When the Family is Sick" and lists several tips that I've picked up from mom's of large families on the internet.  I'm going to stick it in the binder so I can refer to it as needed.  I don't know about you, but my first reaction to several sick family member is panic.  I'm hoping that this list will help me stay calm and check off items.

In our kitchen cupboard, I have a plastic bin labeled "sick box," which contains all the things I'd want to have on hand in case of sickness.  Our box includes flu meds, rehydration packets, crackers, lollipops, and jello.  I periodically go through the box and clean out expired things. So far, we haven't needed to use it, but I love knowing that it's sitting ready in case we do require it.

You can download the printable here.