Jul 22, 2010

Fun Times on the Road!

As readers of this blog are aware, the title of the blog includes the phrase "How to raise twelve children, operate a goat dairy and deliver babies..." As you should know by now, those are twelve homeschooled children. We have always educated our children at home, having decided three years before our first child was born that we would do so. (Amazingly there was a time before children--I just do not recall it very well!) To be precise, all twelve of them are not being taught at the same time, two have actually graduated and three of them are really too young to be considered to be "homeschooling", although with a father whose motto is "life is school" there really is no time when they are not learning.

One thing that we do not do that often, is travel. Therefore when I received the E-book "Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others" to review I was unsure that there would be much in the material that would apply to our family. The E-Book is written by Donna Rees and published by The Old Schoolhouse and is available for $12.45 for immediate download. I received my copy of this E-Book for free in exchange for my review of the material as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. In the past, prior to owning a goat dairy, we did more cross-country travel and I always tried to have a small bag or box with toys or coloring books to entertain the youngers and keep them from repeating the dreaded "are we there yet" ad nauseam. I expected the E-Book to be a pleasant reminder of the benefits of keeping the kids in the back row(s) entertained so that mom and dad can reduce the amount of Tylenol needed on the trip because no matter how well behaved and sweet tempered one's children may be, hours in close confinement can make anyone twitchetty and the effect increases exponentially with each additional passenger. (I did appreciate the honest recognition of how hard travel can be in the comment in the book that Tylenol could be a useful item to include in the travel kit for parents!)

I was taken aback at the length of the E-Book. Frankly I was hard pressed to imagine what could be said about the subject to fill that many pages! The first few chapters were pretty much what I had anticipated, an introduction to the concept behind travel kits and the benefit that they could be. There were specific things suggested to consider that made me see travel kits as more than simply a tool for parents and more as a thoughtful gift for the recipient such as considering the particular needs of the child, likes and dislikes and even creative packaging. A big floppy sun hat to hold goodies for a trip to the beach--what a good idea! The section on wrapping each gift individually was such an obvious one that I wondered why I hadn't thought of it myself, after all what child doesn't enjoy opening gifts and the sense of anticipation that would be inevitable with a mass of small gifts is undeniable. The book actually does exactly what it promises, offer many different--though simple--ways of blessing others and as such, has something to offer for almost every family and situation.

As I moved through the sections that delved more into specific ideas I was smug as I saw some of my ideas from years gone by mentioned--and put to shame when I read ideas I'd have never thought of before. Everyone has spent many a car trip trying to distract themselves by crossing off things on a list as they see them on the road, be they license plates from as many states as one can find or as many black trucks as can be seen. But the idea of making BINGO cards with the potential items represented and playing BINGO as you look for said items? A sense of competition keeps the mind sharp and minds that are thus engaged are far less likely to be engaged in devising ways to make your older sister squirm!

The book also touches on ways to adapt the ideas presented to other situations such as a travel kit for children to make for their grandparents, or a very special gift from home for a young adult away from home for the first time.

I found myself enjoying it more and more as my imagination started working on ways to take the suggestions and make them our own, until I thought "but how often will we use something like this? It isn't as if with twelve children and a hundred goats that we will be setting off for parts unknown anytime soon!". It is a mark of a well thought-out and creative book that I was actually prompted at that point to try and consider occasions that we might actually have to use such ideas and I was embarrassed at how simple it was to see a need right in front of me that I had never even considered--our weekly trips to Austin to sell our products at the farmer's markets there. To the adults on the farm the trip is simply a commute, a necessary part of bringing great products to great markets. To the children, however, it is over four and a half hours of car travel each and every week, followed by five hours outside watching (and sometimes helping) while mom and dad sell goat cheese. Yuck! (The day in general, not the cheese, the cheese, as always, is wonderful.) Inspired by the book, I was able to take the basic concept and make it my own. This will need to be a travel kit with staying power as I simply cannot create a new kit weekly. What I can do, however, is to start with a container that will work well for the needs of our vehicle and fill it with a "starter kit", in our case this will be a simple scrapbook and some basic supplies, along with a disposable camera. Each week this kit will be expanded both with supplies such as stickers and an assignment sheet for each week's market such as "how many pictures can you take of the different dogs that come to the market today?" or "interview one vendor today and write an article about their farm". Before someone cries that this sounds more like a school assignment than a thoughtful gift, let me assure you that my children love nothing more than exploring the market and talking to other vendors, this simply shapes their interaction with the other vendors. Market time itself has always been enjoyable for our children, implementing the ideas in this book will also make the travel to and from market not only enjoyable but--just maybe--educational as well.


Denise said...

Loved your review~ one of the best I have read! Really informative (and I enjoyed your writing style)!

And with all that homeschooling experience (life experience) I may need to hit you up for advice along the way this year! :)

Catherine said...

What a great review. I really enjoyed it.

April E. said...

Great review, LeeAnne! I ended up with more of a short and sweet review this time. I like how you explained just how you'd personalize it, and your thoughts as you progressed through the book. :)