Posted in Random

Do you have a plan?

What happens if you are suddenly not available? Can your spouse take over without issue? Do they know where everything is?

That is not the case in my house, while I keep my husband informed, he lets me take care of “administrative things” record keeping, taxes, insurance, kid’s health information, etc. He doesn’t try to commit it all to memory and that is ok, he has enough on his plate. While he remembers their pediatrician’s last name and could Google his phone number, he doesn’t know their insurance details off the top of his head. While he knows that Zen has multiple allergies, he can’t recite the list from memory. This is ok while I am around but what if suddenly I am not?

I recently witnessed an acquaintance going through this challenge when his wife suddenly became unavailable for several weeks. I don’t want my husband to go through the same.

So I have set out to figure out a way to make sure that if I have an accident or suddenly become seriously ill that he can know where to find everything without having it memorized.

Some people have “Emergency Binders” but I am too techie for that, I just don’t see myself keeping a binder up to date. So I took inspiration from my USB stick of important info in my bug out bag and set out to make an alternative for which he doesn’t have to remember an encryption password (this is the guy that doesn’t remember his e-mail password).

My solution? A “Cheat Sheet” in the cloud.

There are various options to do this but I choose Google Docs as it was easy to setup “sharing” with his e-mail address and send a link in his e-mail to ensure that he doesn’t have to remember where it is, he just needs to go to his e-mail and find the link to the file or log on to his Google Drive and see it.

Since it’s a cloud file he will always have access to the latest information without me having to e-mail or print a new version every time I make an update.

The document lists essential info including:
– location of important documents such as: birth certificates, social security cards, medical records, house deed, insurance records, tax records, etc
– where to find the key to my documents safe
– contact information for all healthcare providers, insurance and prepaid Legal Plan
– list of allergies, medications, blood types and any other relevant medical history for the kids and I
– details on insurance payments, renewal due dates, etc
– Umbrella School enrollment information and contact info

For security, I didn’t include social security numbers or account login information on this document, instead I reference where he can locate these documents in the house.


What is your plan?

Posted in Homeschooling

Dodged the Bullet

Last week we dodged a bullet.

Hurricane Mathew Cone
I made this image on a whim and it ended up going viral with several thousand shares

Hurricane Matthew was scheduled to come within just a few miles of our coast as a very powerful Category 4 Hurricane.

The reactions of the locals ranged from “the sky is falling, run for your lives” to “it’s nothing”. Thankfully our prepper skills came in handy.  Since we plan early for hurricane season we didn’t have to deal with the madness of Walmart, Home Depot, etc. We live in a mandatory evacuation zone due to my front door being less than 1,000 feet from the river. Normally I would be mandated to work at a local shelter but my son was sick and contagious and thus unable to be in the shelter childcare.

I have a bug out bag with essentials so packing wasn’t too difficult and the only stress for us what where/when to evacuate. I did have an internal struggle between wanting to bring everything that I didn’t want destroyed in the storm vs. bringing just what we need to get through the storm. In the end I compromised, I brought our textbooks and curriculum as I would have hated to see them destroyed and just tried to protect the rest of the items from water if the house flooded.

We lucked out with a decent rate at a local hotel thanks to a homeschooling association discount so we didn’t have to go far. During this process my children learned a lot about the weather, hurricanes, weather forecasting, trajectory tracking and more. So while we haven’t cracked open a book in days, learning has been a continuous process.

Our curriculum evacuated with us

In the end the hurricane made an unexpected wobble in it’s trajectory at the last minute that had it passing further away from the coast. We still had a sleepless night listening to the howling wind but were blessed to get through it unscathed and still having a home to come back to. Not everybody was so fortunate, that could have been us.

Now I am trying to get back to some semblance of normal, difficult as our household is in flux due to uncertainties about an upcoming move. I used to be a gypsy but lost those skills. The stress has impacted routines and affected our immune systems, we tend to be fairly healthy but not this month. For the first time ever everybody in the house is sick at the same time, that is not very conducive to productivity.

I am supposed to be packing but I am writing this instead because I didn’t want to leave you hanging. There it will be a while longer before I can get back to a semi-normal writing schedule but I hope to be able to pipe in as I am able. Meanwhile I’ll be posting on Facebook

Posted in Homeschooling, Parenting

Talking to your kids about safety… it’s never too early

Recently I heard from a friend that works at a 911 call center about a very stressful call that she handled. A 7 year old girl called to report that she and her 3 year old brother were alone with their father and he collapsed and was unresponsive. She didn’t know their address, they asked her to go outside and read the house number but she still didn’t know the name of the street (apparently it was a long street) and no neighbors were home.

It took an hour for the ambulance to find them and by then the father was dead. Such a tragic burden for a young child.

safety planThat reminded me that it had been a few months since I’ve had a safety talk with my kids. While I hope that we are never in the position that they will need to use this information, I do my best to have age appropriate discussions on emergency and safety procedures with them every few weeks to keep the information fresh. I believe that any parent with a child of toddler age or older will want to at least cover the basics.

I admit that this was tricky to do when I first started but it’s gotten easier with practice. Some parents create lesson plans with activities and worksheets, I personally found it easier and less intimidating for the kids to have a conversation while we are sharing a meal. If you want some resources to get started, check with your local community agencies. I have gotten some helpful materials and workbooks from the local police department, EMS and other agencies.

I don’t put the pressure of memorization on them, I simply repeat things and quiz them occasionally about it to see what they know. For example Zen doesn’t have my phone number memorized and only knows the house number and town but not the street. He however knows very well what to do if he sees a gun, he knows which strangers are tricky strangers and what the passwords and code words that we use are. Shammy on the other hand has everything memorized and while he may struggle remembering how to make an emergency call from my cellphone, he knows what to do and say once that’s done.

The things we discuss (not all at the same time to avoid overwhelming them):

  • Types of emergencies and what to do- Fire, medical emergencies, car accident, etc.
  • Home address- I make sure that they know our home address (house number, street name and city), I don’t worry about the zip code as I want them to be able to tell it to 911 dispatch or a police office, not mail a letter. I also mention not sharing their address with others except in an emergency.
  • How to call 911- We don’t have a landline in our house so we review how to dial 911 from a cell phone with a lock screen. I keep a unactivated old cellphone charged and my son knows where it is since they can make emergency calls even without being active. I sometimes forget to check the battery charge and it dies so my cell phone has an emergency call button on the lock screen so my son doesn’t have to remember how to unlock it to dial.
  • Memorize mama and daddy’s phone number- I want them to know at least one of them, preferably both.
  •  Discuss “tricky strangers”. I personally stay away from “stranger danger” because not all strangers are bad. Instead I teach about tricky strangers and make sure they understand what makes someone “tricky”. This website is a good resource for that.
  •  Discuss gun safety. Even if you don’t have guns in your house it is important that your children know gun safety because they may visit a home of a friend or relative that you don’t know has guns. We use the NRA’s Eddie Eagle curriculum but I expand on it through discussion. My gun isn’t a mystery to them and they are allowed to ask questions and look at it yet know that under no circumstances are they allowed to touch it without permission. They have seen a video of the damage that a bullet can do to a watermelon and can easily imagine what it can do to a person.
  •  Review safety code words- We have a code word that if used outside the house it means “we need to go RIGHT NOW, follow me with no arguments” and if used inside the house it means “hide”. We also have password for an adult other than family having permission to pick them up, if the person doesn’t know that word they know not to go with them.
  • What to do if we get separated in public or mama/daddy collapses- Their first goal is to find another mother with kids, if not find police or employee. If nobody is around, use parent’s cell phone to call 911.
  • Body smarts- I remind them that they are bosses of their bodies and nobody can touch them in the areas covered by their bathing suit. Parents or doctor can only touch with their permission. There are no secrets or games when it comes to their body.

This post is not meant to be comprehensive and it doesn’t include all safety aspects but it should be a good starting point for a parent that may not have given safety planning a lot of thought before.