Monday, June 19, 2017

Five Ways To Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness


Kids are naturally observant and often notice things we would not expect them to or want them to notice. They often say what is on their minds and ask questions we would never have thought to ask. You can take advantage of this for their safety.

While kids are young is a perfect time to teach them situational awareness. Teaching them to be aware of their surroundings can stop a potential kidnapping or may help someone else in need. Too many kids have their heads down nowadays whether they are playing on their phones or other devices or they are just not paying attention to anything.

Five Ways To Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness:


1. Play games with them. We would play a lot of "I Spy With My Little Eye Something..." passing the time at restaurants, doctor's offices, and ball games. I would start with the game with picking out a color of something. This game has the benefit of teaching kids to look around and notice things that wouldn't normally notice. I would also make up games like "Name 5 Things That Are (Color)" or Name 3 Things That Start With (Letter)".

2. Leave the electronic devices at home. When you are running errands or taking short trips, leave them at home. Instead of looking down at a device, kids will be looking up and around and probably noticing a lot more than you want them to. However, they are looking up and being aware of what is around them and that is a good thing. If they are walking to a friend's house, school, or the park, teach them to stay off the devices too. They need to be looking up, not down.

3. Teach them to be wary of strangers. I know there has been some debate on this, but the truth is that kids need to wary of anyone who they or you do not know. They need to be taught what to do in those situations also. If they are approached by a stranger and you are near by, they should be yelling for you immediately and running towards you. If they are approached by a stranger alone, they need to keep walking or start running for home or the nearest safe place. You should also teach them some basic self-defense in case they are grabbed.


4. Teach them to look for the good people. They should know to look for the good people or the "helpers". Just like they need to be wary of strangers and people who might harm them, they need to know that they can run to a teacher, police officer, pastor, or fireman for help or to get help.

5. Teach them to be confident. If kids are confident and look like they are in control of themselves and their environment, they will less likely become a target. There is a difference in being cocky versus being confident. You should teach them to look everyone in the eye, be assertive in their body language, and be vocal if someone is bothering them in a displeasing way. When they walk into a room, teach them to enter with confidence, looking around at their surroundings, and taking notice of everyone in the room. This will take practice and encouragement from parents. You should practice this at home as well as away from home. You can ask them questions about what they noticed and what problems could have occurred.

In what ways would you teach your kids situational awareness?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, June 9, 2017

Worried About Climate Change? 11 Ways To Make Your Own Changes!


Climate change (aka global warming) is the new "hot" topic due to recent events. All these countries are "worried" about the planet and want changes to be made. They want the United States to fund all these changes without any real say about where the money goes. All the while, the two main offenders of climate change, China and India, have no plans to decrease emissions from their factories and will increase their emissions for at least the next 5-10 years. Yet, they are criticizing the United States even though we have made great strides in reducing emissions and becoming more environmentally friendly.  However, this does not stop the supporters of climate change and those who do not actually read what the United States would have to do in order to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

Environmentalism is a popular thing right now and rightfully so. We should all care about the planet we live on, how we treat it. and what we can do to make it a better place. Climate change, though, is not just an international or national problem. It is a personal problem. We all have to make changes at every level to reduce our impact on the planet. Most of that can be done at home!

Climate change is affected by humans on a world wide scale. We have factories that put out emissions in order to keep up with our growing demand of things. We have a demand for oil that is at very high levels and we keep searching for more oil. We rip through forests without replanting. We deforest areas for more farmland and housing developments. We have huge factory farms to feed our growing population. We have huge landfills that are full and we are running out of room for more. And what fuels all of this: demand and consumerism.

If we make choices to reduce demand and consume less products, we would have a better planet.

11 Ways To Make Your Own Changes:

1. Stop littering! You think this is not a problem any more? I live on a county road and I can tell you this is still a big problem. Use a trash can and recycle! If we put trash were it needs to go and recycle all the cans and bottles that people like to throw out of their vehicles, we would make a big impact.

2. Think about what you buy and how it is packaged. Excess packaging leads to more trash and more resources used by manufacturers. Buy products with less packaging. Buy in bulk if you can and it is feasible for you. If your store has bulk bins for food, ask if they will allow to bring in your own containers and save even more on packaging.


3. Use plastic as little as possible. Bring your own shopping and produce bags when you shop. Choose glass instead of plastic. Creating plastic creates a strain on our resources and uses materials that can be better used for other things. If you need to use plastic, look for plastic that can be recycled.

4. Recycle. Recycle. Recycle. It may take a little more effort on your part, but recycling creates less waste going to the landfill. Less waste at the landfill means less natural resources being impacted. I grew up with recycling and it blows my mind how many people do not recycle simply because it "takes too much time". Recycling takes very little time.

5. Stop buying disposable products and reuse. We are such a disposable society and that needs to stop. Look for products that can used multiple times. Carry your own water bottle and coffee mug with you instead of getting convenience store paper or Styrofoam cups. Put a water filter on your tap, refill your own bottles, and stop using plastic bottles.

6. Fix your things. So many things end up in the trash because we don't have the desire or ability to fix them. Again, being a disposable society, we throw it away and buy new. With the Internet and YouTube, we have no excuse for not being able to figure out how to fix things. Fix your things and use them until they absolutely cannot be used or fixed anymore.

7. Buy used. Not everything needs to be bought new. Thrift stores are packed and overloaded with things that need to be bought and can bless another household. Craigslist, Facebook sale sites, Ebay, and local sale groups are abounding with listings of things that people don't use or need anymore. Buy used things and stop the cycle of consumerism.

8. Stop being a consumer. We buy so much stuff that we don't really need. People often have enough clothes to wear without washing for a month. Kids have more toys than they have time to play with them. Garages are stuffed full of things that we did not need. The cycle of consumerism needs to stop! You need to really think about your purchases, how much you will use them, and what benefit they will bring to your life. Most of the time you can live without it.


9. Rent or borrow things. While I do think you need your own tools and similar things, you don't need to have everything. We rent or borrow tools for our bigger projects because we will only use them once and owning those items will not have any long term benefits for us. Many people buy a tool or an item for a project that they will never use again. That item just sits there, collecting dust, and will not be a benefit to anyone.

10. Drive less and smarter. People are on the go all the time. Yet, they will run to town for just one thing. You should combine your errands. You can try to carpool. You need to question whether you need to drive at all or if you really need the things you are running to town for. You need to question the vehicle you are driving. Do you really need a vehicle of that size? Can you survive with a smaller, more efficient car?


11. Plant your own gardens and trees. One of the ways you can help with climate change is to grow things. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. We need more oxygen. Also, by planting your food, you become less of a consumer and more of a producer. By planting edible producing trees and bushes, you create a reusable food source for your family and your neighborhood.

What other suggestions do you have to reduce climate change on a personal level?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, June 5, 2017

Five Prepping Things To Accomplish in June


Summer is here! I find that prepping in the Summer is so much easier than any time of the year. While we do have to worry about storms and the "gentle" breezes that try to blow us down, we have decent weather that makes us want to be outside.

June is a good month to get things done. You can do so much outside! Your time should be more available unless you have kids in a hundred activities. Then you need to do your best to fit this in!

Five Prepping Things to Accomplish in June:

1. Fire starting skills. Most people have access to a fire pit whether it is fancy or just a hole in the ground. Otherwise, you can use a camp site, charcoal grill, or a spot in the yard you don't mind being torched. Now is a good time to work on your fire starting skills. While lighters and matches are awesome at starting fires, it is good to know how to use a striker and a flint and/or a magnesium stick. Research different ways to build a fire and start a fire. Then practice, practice, practice. This is one skill that will not let you down.

2. Freeze dried foods. Freeze dried foods are a great addition to any food storage. If you are unsure about them, many companies have small cans for you to experiment with. I personally think freeze dried fruits are pretty tasty right out of the can. I believe in a diversive food storage and pantry. Freeze dried foods do have a shelf life, but can last a lot longer than some canned foods. You will not be disappointed in having these in your food storage.

3. Get your eyes checked. One of the things that would be absolutely devastating to any prepper is the loss of your vision. Getting our eyes checked is not very high on anyone's list, but I would rather be looking through a good pair of eye glasses than wondering if that was an animal or small child coming at me while holding a gun. I have put this off for a few years too, but this is a definite must on my list this month. I know some of us are vain enough to not want to wear glasses, but your eye doctor might have some other options for you like contacts or corrective laser surgery.

4. Purchase and/or gather your personal safety equipment. We have talked about first aid in the past, but a critical component of first aid is preventing injuries in the first place. Having safety glasses, dust masks, gloves, hearing protection, arm protectors, and more will protect you from a serious injury. In a crisis situation, being protected from injuries can mean the difference between life and death. If you already have this equipment, please put in a clear tote by the tools you need to use it with so you remember to use it!


5. Get your death plan figured out and in place. You might think this is a morbid thing to do, but you need to have a plan for deaths in a crisis situation. Will you bury them in the yard, attempt cremation, or what? If you have a prepping group, what are the final wishes of the members of your group? Will you make coffins or bury in body bags/old sheets and plastic? Does your people want to prolong life if they know they are dying? What kind of end of life care will you provide? This is a lot of mind searching things to think about, but this information is vital to have on hand, printed out, and put in an important place.


Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, May 26, 2017

We forget to live life


Today is my kids' last day of school. They will be out at 11:30 am today and will have the whole summer to do what they want without the restrictions of school (for the most part). Yes, they will have daily and weekly chores to do. They will also have camps to go to, swimming to do, life guarding to do, 4-H fair to be apart of, and so much more.

Life is always a little crazy during the summer too, but life during the summer for a kid is mostly about living life. They don't have a strict schedule with many commitments on their plates. They aren't worrying about grades and papers. They can relax with their friends and do nothing if they want to until school starts again on August 23rd.

As adults, I think we forget that. We forget that life is about living. We get caught up in the work at a job, work at home, sleep, eat, and repeat. We forget to experience life and just live life. We don't go for a hike or go camping due to "time restraints". We don't go to a concert of a band from our high school days because we just don't think we have time. We don't go on dates with our significant other because of time and expense.

You want to know something? We do have the time, but we just don't take the time to do those things. Not having time is a pretty rare thing. We often have a million and one excuses about why we can't do things that would help us relax and enjoy life for awhile. We usually do have the time. Sometimes money and babysitting can be a legitimate problems, but there is so much else to do too.

We forget to live life.

It is so easy to caught up with prepping, homesteading, gardening, taking care of the animals, taking care of the kids, saving money, and a myriad of other things. Our to-do lists are mammoth on a normal day and some days are not normal. We work away from home and come home to work more. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and we keep working harder and harder to do so.

We forget to have fun.

No, life is not all about having fun. I have understood that for a very long time. However, life is not all about working either. We are meant to relax and have fun once in a while. To have a day that is not structured and filled by the never-ending to-do list. A day to be lazy, watch movies, and hang out with the family. A night to invite friends over for a picnic and a camp fire.

We need to remember what summer vacation time was like for us as kids. Yes, it was busy for some. Most of us though remember what it was like to be kids in the summer. We swam, rode bikes, explored, looked at the sky, looked at the stars, and just enjoyed life as a kid. We slept in tents in the back yard, hung out at the lake for the day, read books in a makeshift fort, and went on adventures. Sometimes we were with our family and sometimes we were with our friends. Sometimes we explored on our own. No matter which way you look at it, we have had fun.

Just because we are adults now doesn't mean we can't keep experiencing this and more. We forget to live life and have fun. Maybe if we started doing more to relax, our lives and health would be better too.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, May 22, 2017

10 Prepping Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer!


Summer is coming! The kids will be out of school very soon and will need ideas to keep them out of trouble and off your nerves. Teaching kids prepping should be at the top of your list of things for them to do. We put a lot of emphasis on adults knowing how to prep, but we really should be teaching the next generation how to prep too.

Remember: our goal in raising kids is that they are self-sufficient when they leave home. While we should expect phone calls on how to do things, we want them to know the basics and be able to care for themselves.

I am gearing this list towards first grade age kids and older. You obviously know your kids better than I do. You can be the judge about whether they are ready and responsible enough to learn these prepping skills. However, always teach your kids about how to be responsible while doing these activities.

10 Prepping Activities To Do With Your Kids This Summer!:

1. Camping. Even you can only camp out in your yard or at the county park five miles from your house, teach your kids to camp. You should be teaching them that the outside isn't scary at night. You can be teaching them how to cook without electricity. You can teach them to explore, forage, identify markings/plants/tracks, and pay attention to their surroundings. You should not allow any devices to come except for a cell phone and that is only used for emergencies.

2. Building and making a fire. You can teach them to how to gather kindling, sticks, and logs to build a fire. You can teach them how to light the fire without using a lighter or a match (although those methods are not bad to know either). You can teach them about fire safety. You can teach them about maintaining the fire.

3. Build a solar oven. There is several plans online to do this. I think it is a really neat idea and totally doable. If you have kids who are in 4-H and need a fair project or need a science fair project for the next school year, this is a great idea. After building it, you can experiment with cooking different things in it like brownies or chicken.

4. How to cook on a grill, camp stove, and other non-electric methods. While I always teach my kids to cook using the stove top first, I like to start teaching them alternative methods when they are older. Teaching them to grill is a good skill to learn so they can feed themselves if the power is out. If you have a rocket stove or something similar, they should learn that too.

5. Gardening. Kids are naturally curious so gardening is a great activity to do with them. You can teach them how to plant different vegetables, how to recognize the plant when it is growing, how to weed, and how to care for the plants when they are growing. You can also teach them how and when to harvest the fruits and vegetables. You may want to give them their own garden plot, but I don't do this. I have my kids work alongside of me in the garden and explain to them that is everyone's responsibility to provide food for our home.

6. Hiking. Like camping, you can teach them to explore, forage, identify markings/plants/tracks, and pay attention to their surroundings. You are also working on physical fitness for you and them. You are also teaching them endurance and stamina for when you might have to walk a long distance or work for longer than normal hours.

7. First aid. We are very fortunate that first aid is taught in most of our high schools in Iowa, but I think it should be taught when they are younger. I think kids should know how to treat a cut, a burn, and a skin reaction (itching, sun burns, bug bites, and allergic reactions) while still in elementary school. I think they should know to the basics of CPR. They should know how to treat someone who is choking. They should know how to call 911 - not just the number, but knowing their address or location, being calm while calling, and how to state what is happening to the victim. You can role play a lot of first aid situations and make it a fun game while emphasizing the seriousness of what they are learning.

8. Fishing. Teaching your kids to fish is a lifetime skill. They can learn fish identification, what is edible or good to eat, and how to catch them with hooks and lures. Not sure how to fish yourself? Find someone who is willing to teach you and your kids. There is usually plenty of fishermen who are willing to show someone else how to fish. Also, be aware of your state laws. In Iowa, residents and nonresidents over 16 years of age need to purchase a fishing license. If you are fishing trout, you will need to purchase or pay a trout fee.

9. Archery and gun shooting. Shooting and target practice is a great way to build skills and learn responsible gun and bow handling. Kids are young as 7 can learn to shoot. I would purchase a bow and arrow set in their age and size range for comfortable handling and less learning frustration. Also, get a lot of arrows. You are bound to lose a few.

A BB gun is a great way to start a kid shooting. With a BB gun, they can learn to sight in and target practice with a gun and ammo that is way cheaper than .22 ammo would be. When they show they can responsibly handle a gun, you can move them up to a .20 or .22 gauge rifle or shotgun. This is the process we have decided on at our home, but you can decide differently for your kid.

10. Reading. I am a very, very strong believer in reading. I think it gives you a solid foundation for every area of your life. Just because school is out doesn't mean they should not be reading. If your kids are younger or willing to listen, please read to them also. Find some good fiction and non-fiction books on survival and preparedness to read.

Some of my favorites are:


I know there is a lot more to do with your kids in the summer that would expand their preparedness and survival skills. Let me know in the comments what you like to do with your kids in the summer to help with their skills!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 15, 2017

Have You Trained Your Kids To Work? What Will They Do When A SHTF Happens?


Kids are natural helpers. Especially when they are younger and they want to "help" with everything. Many parents take advantage of that help and let the kids help them. That is the start of training your kids to be good helpers and workers around the house and the yard.

Doing chores and being expected to help inside and outside the house helps develop skills. Kids become contributing members of the household which helps lighten the load for the parents. Kids who are expected to help and do chores learn a better work ethic and become valuable members of the workforce and society after they leave home. They also learn responsibility and manage their home and work lives better.

However, there are parents who believe "that kids should be kids". They have no chores, no responsibilities beyond school, and no expectations besides getting good grades and being a good person. They are coddled and spoiled. They do not learn responsibility beyond school. They do not learn skills or accountability. The parents do everything for them.

What is going to happen to those households when the SHTF happens?

They are going to self-implode. The parents will be doing everything they can to survive and their dependent children will not know what to do. Instead of pitching in and helping to clean the mess or secure food and water, they will want to know why they can't eat right now! Instead of working to make the situation better or at least tolerable, they will be in a tizzy because their cellphones and smart devices are not entertaining them!

We would all like to believe that kids will naturally just step in and help because the need has arose. We would like to believe that they will just instinctively know that they are needed and will rise to the occasion. Some kids will do this, I am sure. However, in this day and age, I do not believe that most will do anything. That would be work and they know nothing of work.

We are seeing a rise in an entitled, selfish culture that is being fostered by parents who believe that their precious darlings should have and do whatever they want. They are overly involved at school, not involved at all, or they are considered special because they are really smart. They go to college and think they are special because they are enlightened with their college education. They get degrees in areas that will not really transfer into a career that will actually support them. And, for some reason, they get some really crazy ideas about life while they are in college.

Can you imagine what will happen when a SHTF happens to them?

I am not saying all kids and young adults are like this, but I am seeing a really disturbing trend. This trend that says this kids do not know any life skills, were taught very little responsibility, and would not survive at all when a SHTF happens. They will expect and demand that someone else takes care of them and this situation. They will be crazy when they find out no help may be coming.

That is why kids need to be trained to work. This training starts early when they want to "help". You are teaching them early that their help is a valuable contribution to the household. When they get a little older, daily and weekly chores teaches them responsibility and accountability. When they are preteens, they should be expected to help whenever asked in addition to their regular chores. By the time they are teenagers, they know what needs to be done inside and outside the home.

You are teaching your kids to work. You are teaching them to be valuable, contributing members of the family. Kids are not perfect. They may need reminders and lists about what needs to be done. You will have to teach them what to do and how to do it. There is always going to be a right way and a wrong way to do things. You will have to teach them safety. You will have to teach them the skills they need to know like cooking, gardening, keeping a home, and taking care of animals.

However, when a SHTF happens, the kids will know that they are expected to help you. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know to listen to you and to take your direction. When you ask them to grab a broom or shovel to clean up the mess, they will do it. When you tell them to cook supper, they will do it. 

Should kids still have fun? You bet, but you are teaching them that life is about getting the necessary things done so they can have fun. Parents should not be shouldering the burden by themselves. Kids need to learn that they are living under the roof provided by the parents and can help to take care of the house. Sometimes they will argue and whine, but you as parents need to be firm, insist on the chore being done right, and not to be afraid to give consequences if not done.

You are raising adults. They may be kids now, but they will be adults that the rest of the world will have to deal with later. Just like they need to be trained to work now, they will be ready to work later as an adult because they know that is expected of them. So whether they are living at home or on their own, when a SHTF hits, they will be ready to help in anyway they can and they can take care of themselves.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, May 8, 2017

Ten Great Mother's Day Gift Ideas for the Prepping and Homesteading Moms In Your Life!


Mother's Day is coming up soon! I know some of you may have had your gift picked out weeks ago, but some of us have not! Some of you may not exchange gifts and that is totally cool and wise too!

I was surfing Amazon today wondering what they recommend for Mother's Day. Usually, I get a pretty good laugh at some of their suggestions. However, I like some of what I am seeing this year. I thought I would make a list for you to find something practical and perfect for that special mom in your life!

(Yes, this article contains affiliate links. You are under no obligation to buy, but the commission I earn helps my family and homestead out! Thanks!)

Here are ten great ideas for that prepping and homesteading mom in your life:

1. A Good Garden Hose. There is definitely a difference between a regular garden hose and a GOOD garden hose. A GOOD Garden Hose is one that doesn't kink, is at least 100 feet long, stays soft and flexible, and has good ends that don't smash easily. I really like what I am reading about this hose!

2. Cast Iron Skillet. I am huge believer in using cast iron skillets. I like that they can be used on the cooktop, on the grill, and over the campfire. I think every household needs one, especially mom! While you are it, get one of these hot handle holders! They will save your hands!

3. Garden Tool Kit. I love a good garden tool kit. Every 3-4 years, I buy myself a new set because the handles get worn out or the tools get cracked or bent. This set would be a good present for your favorite gardener!

4. A Set of Mixing Bowls. I like a good set of mixing bowls especially if they are stainless steel and one of the bowls can hold at least 12 cups for canning recipes. I have a good set of stainless steel mixing bowls, but I think these bowls would be a great gift for any mom.

5. A Battery Powered Drill. Every woman and household should have a drill with drill bits and screw driving bits. I have a Black and Decker drill that works great. This drill also comes with a project kit which would be great around the house and homestead!

6. A Stepladder. Most of us women are not usually tall enough to fix the things that need to be fixed. I have found a stepladder to be indispensable! I am only 5'5" so I always need a step stool or chair to reach what I need. This stepladder would be much safer than a chair for that special mom in your life!

7. Work and Garden Gloves. I was not a gloves type of person until a few years ago. I got really tired of cleaning up cuts and picking thorns out of my hands. I do not use the same gloves for work projects and for gardening. My favorite work gloves are these Ansell gloves that Rob turned me onto. I love these gardening gloves from G & F. They are nitrile coated on the inside to get a good grip on those weeds!

8. Canning Set. I love my Ball canning set that I got a few years ago. It makes my canning go so much easier! Even if that mom in your life is an experienced canner, she might appreciate a new set. Sometimes we have problems letting go of our old, overused things! Also, be a good one. Give her some new jars too!

9. Aprons. Seriously. I get so tired of getting stains out of my clothes that an apron would have prevented, especially during canning season! Having extra pockets are handy too when collecting eggs, seeing what is ready in the garden, and/or holding screws and tools. Aprons are awesome!

10. Sewing machine. Every good homesteader and prepper knows that eventually they will have to fix something that will take more than a few quick stitches. Also being able to make your own things is pretty cool. That is why I recommend a sewing machine. I think everyone needs to learn to sew by hand and by machine.

What would you add to this list? What would you like to get for Mother's Day or Father's Day?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


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