Keeping your family safe from terrorist truck attacks

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Terrorism is a real threat in today’s world. One of the more recent method is a terrorist truck attack-having a lone terrorist drive a truck towards a crowd of innocent people. It may be worth rehearsing your actions in your mind in case this does happen.


Terrorist truck attacks are one of the latest methods of terrorism. They are easy to plot and skip over the entire complexity required for a bombing or shooting type of attack. Bombings require specialized knowledge and materials which open up a risk of being tracked before the attack is executed. A shooting event requires training and acquiring of the weapons and a vulnerable target. On the other hand, the truck requires an individual who can drive, and he can rent a truck from just about anywhere. The attacker will only need to pick the time and place where he can inflict optimum damage-that is about all the planning he would need.

We have seen this attack in Nice, France and a few months ago in Berlin, Germany.

It has yet to happen in US soil, but given how simple the attack is and how it has seemed effective-it is possible that someone in the US will pick up after this method and create some damage.

If it is a possibility here, how might you be able to stay aware of this danger and keep yourself and family out of harm’s way?


WHAT ARE THE PREFERRED TARGETS?

So far in previous truck attacks the targets were large crowds gathered outside. The crowds were gathered for some type of festivity, but the same risks can be found in other events. This might apply to a protest, a marathon, a concert or a busy Friday night in a downtown outdoor venue.

The key is:

  1. Lots of people
  2. Accessible to a fairly large vehicle (truck)
  3. Wide enough space to maneuver the truck for multiple attacks

The easy pattern is to find a large crowd in high density cities when they are gathered for some kind of celebration. The celebration itself has a theme that can be used as part of the message of the attack. Nice is the 5th most populous city in France, and Berlin is the capital of Germany. The significance of the city may have been part of how they were selected as targets.

2010 Parade in Nice. Photo from Wikivisually.com

Consider also the nature of the festivities. Remember, it was Bastille day (French National day) and Christmas. Similar festivities in the US might be Independence day or a Thanksgiving day parade. In both previous attacks people were in good spirits and care free. If you do decide to participate in an event where such an attack can happen, what can you do to stay ahead?


HOW DID PEOPLE REACT?

Watching the videos for both terrorist truck attacks, we can see how a lot of people stared in disbelief-some until it was too late. People can freeze in these types of situations as the mind tries to process the unusual information coming.  Some people stood still and motioned their hands up, gesturing the mad attacker to stop.

After enough people had screamed to get out of the way, most of the crowds had enough presence of mind to react. There is panic and everyone simply tries to get out of the way. There is pushing and disorientation. Some people even managed to keep their heads and found a chance to fight back. A few people tried to stop the attacker in Nice by grabbing onto the side of the driver’s door and attacking him. (In retrospect this was dangerous as the driver may have well been armed.)


WHO SURVIVED?

Mainly those who were far enough from the attack had a great chance of survival. They heard the commotion and were distanced enough that they could process what was happening. They then had enough time to get to safety. If you were far away enough, you had a pretty good chance of surviving it. The truck had a very limited maneuverability and traveled in a fairly straight line.

Those who were close to the truck had a smaller chance of surviving, reaction time is very important. If you are closer to the source of danger, you will need to react faster.

 


STAY AWARE

Does the event you are participating in have a religious or political theme that can be leveraged for the attacker’s message?

What are the socio-political hot topics right now? Would any of them be tied to this event in some way?

Are there any high value targets possibly coming to this event? Maybe a public figure is giving a speech of some sort. A quick review on the event’s website can give you most of this information. A quick online check can also give you some idea on news trends that may have some connection to the event.

It is interesting to note that the Nice attacker had lived in Nice. He was parked along the promenade of the attack earlier that day. The promenade had been closed off to vehicles for the festivities. He was a local and had rented the truck himself. He parked the truck and was waiting for the time to attack. Sometimes you will notice these kinds of signs-most of the time they will be nothing, but in this case the attacker was real.


KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Situational awareness is key. If you are going to be stationary in this event, you should plan some things. Keep an eye for a safe way to get out in the event of a panic. Can you find a driveway which is small enough that it is probably not where a truck attack might come from? Are there obstacles you can reach, which will provide you with protection? These obstacles may include:

  • Bollards
  • Walls
  • Concrete planters
  • Thick bushes
  • Trees
  • Permanent platforms or ditches
Bollards
Heavy and permanent planters

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Teaching my 5 yo how to deal with being left out

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Children are often subjected to an unnatural environment in school where they have to “deal” with bullies and rewire their understanding of normal-how to sit, when they can drink water, when they can use the bathroom, etc. In this post, I wanted to share how our son is having issues with his teacher and how we plan to deal with the problem. Not by making him blindly obey the teacher, but by learning what the real issue is and building his character to face it.

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My 5 year old has been having issues at school, his teacher has sent us notes about his tantrums and about him not listening to her instructions. So, the other day, I went to my son’s school to talk to his teacher. I already read her note about my son’s behavior, but it was not very informative. It was the size of a note pad, so not much info could fit in there. I needed details. I went to meet with her with the goal of understanding why the situation started and how we can work around it.


GET MORE INFO ON THE WHY

 

Note: it is important to speak with your kid’s teacher and work to get that done. I tried to do a walk-in to chat with his teacher one morning when I took my son to class. The office told me I could not do that. I could fit in a few minutes early in the morning and would have to coordinate a time with the teacher. In my case I had to email her and set that up. So I got her email, sent her a short email saying I wanted to know more about her note and learn what happened. I think it helps to keep these letters short. We set up a meeting a couple of days later.

When I met with my son’s teacher she told me how my son behaved and how difficult it was. This went on for a bit, but I kept prodding around and asking, I cannot be content on just hearing how hard it has been to deal with my son. My goal was to find out why it happened and not just hear reactions about it.

After a while I got some useful info on how the routine was in the class. You need to learn to listen and ask questions and wait to hear what you want to learn. I learned how students are grouped and how they do their exercises. I learned how many students there are and how many stations they have to share amongst. By asking more questions, I learned that my son got upset at a particular scenario. There was an activity where kids started in pairs-but on occasion he would start without a partner and would feel left out. They took turns in this activity as to who has a partner and who doesn’t mainly because their groups were composed of 5 kids for the activity. This was the info I was trying to get at, because this lets me understand what I need to focus on teaching my son. Read more “Teaching my 5 yo how to deal with being left out”

Thrift store flipping – how to make a side income from frugal shopping

HOW DOES THIS MAKERESILIENT?

Reselling helps you learn about business at a very low cost. This helps you become more resilient because it shows you new ways to earn income other than working a job.


My wife is making some side income from one of her favorite past times – shopping. I am all for this revamped past time as it is profitable and it empowers her. Several reasons for this:

  • She can shop at whatever schedule works for her.
  • The location can adjust to her and it can keep her preoccupied when we are traveling-or when my plans for the day are not interesting for her.
  • Her expenses are pretty low, as she is purchasing at insanely low prices.
  • The resell is almost always above the purchase price so in theory these are profitable
  • We purchase things we may also use and can sell afterwards

How does it work? Let me explain.

Like a lot of people, my wife likes to shop. This can be an issue when money is tight-and earlier versions of this habit was a problem. However, currently my wife has been shopping with a different mindset altogether. She has learned to find valuable items at ridiculous prices with the intent of using them and then selling them back to others thru different sites.

First step is to find a source with good selection and good prices. A good example is our favorite thrift store. With enough regular visits and by asking the staff, you will learn when they get large new inventory and how long it takes to put them out to the shelves. There are times we go there and the there’s nothing of value, and there are times when we can find a whole bunch of stuff. Keep track of the bad days and the good days. It’s also a good idea to check things out when seasons change and holidays have just ended. Think of times when you might be in the mood to purge your home/garage of old stuff. Now reverse engineer the dates when it might be good to check the local Goodwill store.

Other location options are:

  • estate sales
  • flea markets
  • discount stores
  • regular stores on discount days or seasonal sales

The location of the store will also affect your findings. Some neighborhoods have thrifty people. Some have wasteful consumers who go thru their stuff much faster-so you get things in better condition. Drive around new areas, check the houses and cars in the driveways. Check the kind of stores in the area. Then find the local thrift store and see what kind of stuff they get on different days.

Next step is finding your preferred schedule. This will require some finagling. The initial research will need you to be out there as much as possible. For my wife, since she stays home, she can go out as often as she wants and she can cherry pick the days when great inventory comes in. This is a huge advantage. That, plus she can come in on days when they have great discounts and other customers have not yet picked up on it.

You will also need to figure out your own schedule on when to post things (best done as a bulk task) and when you want to pack and ship things. Here she can really do this at the time that best works for her.

Look at items that can be resold. This is a balance between what we want and the value the item will have for other people to whom we will sell it to afterwards. Look thru the overall wear and tear of the product. Is it dated or are people still interested in this type of stuff? Are all the parts there? A lot of times we will buy a toy for my son and parts of it will be missing. Posting these for resale, you have to be very clear of what is included in them. Toys are a good item to purchase as your kids will have fun with it and later on, as long as they have not painted it or dismantled it, you can sell them to other parents who are looking. We once got a large Nerf gun with missing parts. We had it around for about a year, then we sold it when we noticed my son was not using it anymore. We earned about $10 maybe if I recall it right.

As you look around, check how much the item sells for if new and if used. Check online if the item is popular. Check Ebay for typical prices and how many are “watching” the item.

Check items and see if they are in demand and at what price

Let’s say you found some good stuff, bought them and used them, now you are ready to get rid of it. Where do you sell these?

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DIY active home security for $15

Here’s how I put together an active burglar deterrent in my home for $15. These work at night and help make my home less attractive as a target. Unlike having alarms blaring when someone breaks in, this leads burglars look for another home to consider even before an incident occurs.

I’ve been meaning to write about the steps I take to make my home less of a target. With my wife and my kids, I cannot take risks (actually nobody does). I read a few home invasion incidents on Nextdoor.com and realized that my neighborhood is normal. By normal, I mean it is not a fancy neighborhood, it is not a high crime neighborhood, it is one that is just like everyone else’s. That means that those home invasions that happened there can happen to mine as well.

BECOME LESS OF A TARGET

If a criminal wanders into my street looking for an opportunity, the homes will all look about the same. One home might have nicer cars or windows. Another might have a dog or a good fence. For me, my home looks like someone is up and working all night. Do not come here, somebody is awake.
By this, I mean the garage has lights and a loud radio turned on at night til the early morning. In the quiet of the night, my neighbor does not hear it. From the sidewalk you might faintly hear the music. From the driveway, you will hear it and you can definitely see some light. All signs of human activity.
Here’s what you will need:
  • appliance timer
  • FM radio
  • lamp
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The appliance timer is available on Amazon or Home Depot. This one is an indoor timer and is manually set for hours of the day you want stuff turned on. There are fancier ones, but this is my choice for my budget.
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Used radio-part of my DIY home security setup. The sticker is still on it, cost me $5
I went to my local Goodwill store and got myself this radio for $5. Set it to your preferred radio station so you at least like the music if you hear it at night.

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Finding a house fit for resilience

My family and I have been planning on buying a house and hope to do so in the next few months. There are a lot of things to consider in buying a house,these are some of the more unconventional considerations I have. These may rage against what your broker will say, but then again, these are unconventional ideas for unconventional times.

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I do not get too hung up on the school district.

My wife hates this, but I do not believe the public school system will be as prominent in the future. The flaws in the school system has been made more obvious with the surge of entrepreneurship-and people are realizing that school only teaches kids to be wage slaves. There is a massive growth in alternative schooling and public schools are being shut down all over the country.
If your home value is tied to the local school district, then your value goes down when they do. BUT your taxes will probably remain the same.

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The city should have a good local, robust economy

We are not looking at distant cities, but just those around us. We scouted some ideal locations a few weeks back-however after checking out the city info, it turns out they have a couple of large universities in the area. This is not an issue by itself, but this may mean the local economy is tied to the college (probably is). My issue there is the future of the university as a thriving institution. Fore more info, Google “student loan bubble”.
A few other considerations are:
  • is the area dependent on manufacturing jobs which might be automated? 
  • Are there large retail areas which are showing signs of decay? 
  • Are there signs of rezoning for apartment construction?
  • How much land is still undeveloped?
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The city should not have regulations about homesteading

A few cities in my area-including my current one-have restrictions to owning livestock in the backyard. If we are not purchasing a large lot, if we are staying in the suburbs, I at least need to be free to have some type of livestock. As an example, it turns out that most cities we looked at only allow 2 chickens.
This ties to my plans for gardening also. I plan to have a good sized, producing garden in my yard. I do not want any restrictions on rain catchment or water storage or where I can install a trellis. These things don’t sound important-until you realize that you cannot build them.

No HOAs

I do not want to be burdened by my neighbor’s preferences. I do not want to fund their authority to dictate to others or to myself. Do not talk to me about property values-I plan to address those from a higher vantage point that does not need the HOA as an excuse to exist.
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Distance is not as big an issue

Travel distance is still an issue but it may notbe as big. With the predicted arrival of autonomous cars, it will be easier to commute a 20 mile distance to the office. Plus the fact that telecommuting will be a more common part of most jobs in the future. The 20 mile commute may even be a very pleasing experience, where one gets to escape from the humdrum tasks and focus on personal leisure-like writing or reading. You will of course still need to consider the time to commute, as that would be time away from the family. But, with robocars and telecommuting you have a lot of options compared to how things used  to be.
So there you go, a short list of things I consider when we look for a house. These may sound contrary to most advice from real estate professionals-this is just my list. You will need to do some research on the concerns above. You can read more of it here but I really suggest doing your own research as new information comes up on these issues on almost a daily basis.
Do the research, form your opinions and discuss it with your family. What are your goals for the home in the next 5 years? In the next 10? To me, a few of the items above are critical so I need to be prepared to talk about it with my family.
Do you have other suggestions? Please help a guy out in finding that home he can really set roots in.

Family safety tips for long distance traveling

The holidays are upon us, and like most families, we embark on a long drive to visit our loved ones. In our case the travel is from Texas to Kansas, approx 450 miles. We’ve gotten better at getting organized for these trips (we typically have a few every year). As we learn more about these trips, they get easier and more comfortable. I actually look forward to these nowadays. Here are some things we did on a recent Thanksgiving trip. I hope you find some of these ideas useful.

Vehicle prep

Days before the trip itself, I slowly purge the vehicle of any clutter. On the day of our trip, when we are loading, the vehicle is ready and you basically start with a clean slate. The trunk is empty, the glove compartment and the console between the 2 frontseats is empty. This gives me a psychological boost and a countdown to the day of the trip. It also helps me to visualize what is needed in the car.
Check the vehicle for any maintenance needed. Depending on vehicle upkeep you may need to do more. In my case, I needed to air the tires. Others to check for are wiper fluids, oil and coolant. The vehicle we used for this trip was a lease so it was pretty well maintained.
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Fill up the gas tank ahead. I filled up the tank on Wed night, since we were leaving early AM on Thursday. This saves me from having to gas up at 5am and have to worry about how safe the gas station might be. It also makes our trip more fluid when we leave. Small disruptions during the first 2 hours of the trip really slow us down as it prevents us from building momentum.

Family stuff for the trip

We planned days earlier on what we were bringing. We had agreed on easy to cook meals so that we save prep time at our destination. This meant we allocated a big cooler for all frozen food we were taking with us. We had a separate cooler for our meals during the trip-this is super helpful if your kids have specific diets like ours do. This cooler does not go in the trunk, but is kept within reach of the passenger seat.
We pack enough supplies so we are self sustained during our trip and while we are at our relatives’ place.
We rely quite a bit on ipads and phones to keep our kiddos busy on the road. Having phone chargers and a way to charge multiple devices are important. We have an inverter in our vehicle-which allows us to charge usb, 110 volt items, 12 volt devices (like GPS). We also saved some videos onto our devices, in case internet is slow or unavailable.
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Inflight entertainment
We load the vehicle while it is in the garage with the garage door closed. We do not want to show passers by in the street that we were leaving on a big trip. We woke up early for any last minute preps and loaded up. Kids woke up last and were the last to get loaded in the car-this lets them sleep thru the first few hours of the trip.

Weather check

This goes without saying-check road conditions before the trip. Usually we drive thru one or two thunderstorms every time we go thru Oklahoma. Our return trip would be rainy. We get dressed for this so when we take bathroom breaks we are ready.

Home security

Before we left the house obviously we double check that all doors are locked and no appliance is left on that is not needed. For security, we leave the porch lights on. I also set up lights and a radio so that they turn on at night so as to simulate activity in the house. I use an appliance timer I got from home depot and to this I plugged in lights for a bedroom-so that it is seen from the front yard and street. I also plugged in a radio so that it can be heard throughout the house and when you approach the front door. From the backyard, one can see light within the house from the bedroom.
porch-lighting-1a1
If you have a paid home security service, that works too. However I like the idea of making my house seem occupied with or without a security service. Also, I have heard some rather disappointing stories about how these systems work. They are more passive than active basically. I consider my lights+radio on timers more of an active deterrent.
Update:There is also a product called FakeTV which makes your home seem occupied with somebody watching TV. I have not personally tried this but folks have said great things about it.

Bathroom breaks and stopping for gas

During the trip, all doors are always locked and windows are closed. Particularly when we stop for gas or food, doors are always locked. If I leave the car for gas, I ask my wife to stay alert and keep the doors locked (our vehicle automatically unlocks when the driver leaves the car so she has to manually lock it).
I cannot emphasize this enough. I have seen way too many car jacks because the victims
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We are careful when we stop for bathroom breaks. There are way too many truck stops on our route and we sometimes end up in undesirable areas. In general, these stops have risks to them because it is very easy for a child to be lost/abducted and taken away. There are too many strangers just passing by and there are vehicles leaving the area every second.
When my wife goes to the bathroom she makes sure to have her phone and her pepper spray with her. I take note how long she is gone. When I take a break I have my phone and ccw with me. Since having my pistol with me on these trips, I feel way better equipped to protect my family in case something bad happens. I highly advise being armed when traveling. We are working to get my wife her ccw permit also, but for now at least I am prepared and provide this extra layer of safety for the family.
Since we travel with kids, I try to have an empty bottle of water ready for those super emergency bathroom breaks for my son. Sometimes we do not make it to a rest stop. This allows us to just stay in the car while being pulled over somewhere (safe and away from the highway please).
When we stop for gas, I try to pick a spot that is favorable to my safety. No dark areas, away from other vehicles and preferably a spot that lets me get a good view of my surroundings. This does not mean isolated areas, just something that allows a good vantage point. Sometimes this means avoiding the middle pumps at the station and trying to be on the outer side. I do not stare at the pump while filling up, but I am aware of what’s going on around us.

Navigating safely

Over the years me and my wife have learned to work together as driver-navigator. It is nothing complicated, but she knows to use her phone and check for traffic ahead. She knows to look for alternate routes as well. This took some practice but we learned it during one long trip and has since proved beneficial. Our dedicated gps does not adjust for traffic, but her phone app can show us real time traffic conditions. When she drives, we trade jobs and she gets these info on demand from me.
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No traffic in Dallas at 2:19am
This also helps us to pick locations of restaurants if we are getting food. We can pick ones that are along the way and not have to take long detours. She can also confirm weather on our route ahead. For example, we saw it was supposed to rain by lunch time in OK, so we set a goal to get past certain cities before the rain came. Passing thru cities, the highways get slower and denser, so having that behind us before rains started would make for less stress.

Last bits of advice

With relatively small planning, these long trips have become quite relaxing for us. It gives me and my wife time to just sit and talk while the kids are sleeping and strapped in. Sometimes we drive a route that offers better views than the interstate-if we are making good on time or if we are early. Initially these long drives were quite stressful, there was always some big thing we had not prepped for. We kept mental and written notes of previous issues and future trips have become easier. The main thing for us is to be self sufficient during the trip. This means food, water, gas, portable bathrooms even, and inflight entertainment. If we have these and if we set them up for comfortable access then half the battle has been won. If there are external factors that are unlikely-we can pick a different route, or we can stop somewhere.
Take some time to plan the trip and think things through. Make a list of both big picture things and small details. The biggest improvement on this trip of ours was that I had a ccw and we felt safer knowing that I was armed. The best changes that made the most noticeable improvements were the food preps and entertainment.
I hope these ideas prove useful for you. If you have other suggestions please add them in the comments. I am constantly learning and I am always open to ideas.

Gifts for family resilience

Christmas is here and I am trying to avoid cramming last minute shopping for gifts. I would like the gifts to have long term meaning for me and my family. Aaand since I encourage my family to live a better lifestyle-I am always looking for gifts that will lead us to resiliency . Here are some cool ideas for both parents and kids. Please note I have not tried out all of these, but they are some ideas I am considering for my own family.

For the kids:

  1. $$ A subscription to kid activities that will entertain and educate them. Some products that come to mind are Kiwicrate.com and Mystembox.com. Both these sites provide you with a kit that teaches you about science and technology.chromatography_current
  2. $$ Select apps that will educate your kids. We have Toca Builders and Minecraft-both allow my son to create in a 3D world. I plan to supplement this and increase my sons spatial skills
  3. $$ Ebooks-these are great for bedtime stories and road trips. Be selective and find stories that inspire critical thinking and problem solving.
  4. $$ Legos are always good as it helps kids imagine and build. However, sometimes their excitement for these have already worn out and you might need to raise the bar to the next one-which just might mean….
  5. $$ Robot kits-be age appropriate or you will be dealing with a few tantrums. There are options as to how complex the kit is. Some start from the smallest pieces (like Lego EV3 robots) and some have bigger pre-assembled parts. Most kits allow some type of programming, and all kits come with instructions(Hooray!)robot-kits-for-adults
  6. $$ A martial arts class that will focus on character building, respect and discipline. Some parents are wary of martial arts class for kids because of potential damage to their softer bones, but there are options. Most kids are interested in martial arts at an early age-mostly from movies and cartoons. It would be good to channel that interest into something productive. They may make friends and learn respect and discipline.
  7. $$ BB gun-if you feel comfortable and if your kids are old enough you might consider a bb gun. Use this to teach them about gun safety and respect for the tool. It will encourage being in the outdoors and teach the value and results of practicing. If your kids are younger, consider lower powered bb guns (check the “feet per second” or “fps” on the box) If your kids are younger still, maybe a Nerf gun is appropriatered-rider-daisy-tin-1000-web
  8. $$ Books are also a great option and some focus on topics that promote resilience. You will need to be selective to find the right book. Most sites provide book reviews to help you. Perhaps you can find books that help deal with frustrations, facing challenges or learning new things.

For the lady of the house:

  1. $$ Martial arts classes – We have been planning on my wife getting martial arts classes, this way she can start it in January after the holidays (this works for the man of the house too. I am mainly listing it here because I’ve had some already and my wife is next in line to get some training.) She was always hesitant to this until we went to an all woman’s starter self defense class. The sensei was very informative and gave actionable ideas which got her interested.
  2. $$$ If we had the money we would get her CCW permit-then again this is not restricted to Christmas. This for us is really more of a budget issue than it is a timing issue.
  3. $$$ Bike, running shoes or exercise gadgets (a Fitbit)to get her started on her exercise routine. Sometimes people are looking to start new things and need a push, an excuse or inspiration.surge-2016-0fd2880053305928cdaf399527734bcf
  4. $$ My wife likes to knit and sew, a gift card to one of her favorite hobby stores is a good idea. It puts her in the creative mood and it always comes back to the home. The idea is to nurture a productive hobby. I find that this is sometimes better (and easier) than getting her an actual item from that store-unless I really know what she is looking for.
  5. $$ An online class-there are month long classes and there are mini-classes. The price range varies, but there are classes for just about anything. You can find some cool classes on sites like Skillshare, Smallfarmacademy.com or if you have a profession she is already interested in you can check those out also.
  6. $$ A dutch oven might be a good idea if the lady loves to cook. It lets you experiment with a whole new set of recipes and later on is an alternative way to cook without your oven.flamedutchoven
  7. $$ to $$$ Gardening supplies for spring-never too early to plan for that spring garden. These can be tools, seeds, trees or even a bird bath to encourage habitat.
  8. $$ An indoor herb planter-it skips the slow stage of starting up an herb garden but lets you jump right in to learning to use and appreciate the herbs you have. Stick to some herbs you know you are likely to use.

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For the man of the house(I will try to not go crazy on my wish list):

  1. $$$ Additional firearms training (this works for the lady of the house too)
  2. $$ Gardening supplies for spring. In my case, this would be an irrigation system, but this varies. Mom has her list and so do I.847976f2-9565-4ff8-a585-fb56bdaae6a1_1000
  3. $$ Credits for audiobooks for learning new things-Audiobooks have been a great source of learning for me. I like books, but due to time restraints I have moved to audiobooks which allow me to listen to them during my daily commute.
  4. $$ Outdoor cooking gear – a camping stove and propane tank. This doesn’t need to be the latest charbroil high end grill+smoker combo. But if you don’t have an alternative way to cook other than an indoor stove, this might be a great add to your home. It brings everyone out of the house and sparks a time to bond over a  meal. (Obviously using this will need to wait til the weather gets warmer) This is also a great backup if your house relies on electricity for cooking. In the event of a blackout, you will be able to save the food in your fridge and still stick to your diet.
  5. $$ Powertools! I almost forgot but this is always a good option if the husband is inclined to building. Sometimes, the tools are just fun to use that it gives you an excuse to try to build something.61pwvgiefkl-_sl1500_
  6. $$$ A First aid class (basic or advanced). Everyone should know CPR and ways to treat wounds. Usually the schedule for this needs to be worked out, but with some planning it an be done. A budget to build your own kit is also useful.
  7. $$$ A good self defense knife-having a knife is a given in my opinion. It gives you options in a defensive situation. Hopefully you will never need to use it, but if you ever do it should be reliable.
  8. $$ A small utility knife-sometimes your self defense knife is just not worth cutting up packaging and gummying it up with tape. A utility knife can be one that fits into your keychain or can be a neck knife.
  9. $$ Bread maker – if the man likes to cook, perhaps a bread maker is a good option. It reduces the mess and makes baking bread a bit more convenient.

 

Some of the items listed are not very exciting-like the audiobooks for example. But, as they purchase the books through the course of weeks, they will be glad to have those credits. The benefits will be long lasting and is really a way to invest in one’s self.
If you have noticed, some of the ideas are not specific. These are not gadget specific gifts, these offer more of an idea on what gift types can promote learning, improving oneself or gain a new skill. The ideas are also interchangeable between mom and dad depending on interests or current skills.
Also, livestock did not make it in the list. I mean, winter is just a bad time for starting it anyway right?
If you have other suggestions or gifts you wish your spouse thought of, please feel free to post it below. I can definitely update the list as I know I probably missed some really good ideas.

Finding a website name and getting a site up under $50

I have been going back and forth on what to name the blog, as I get closer to doing an actual website. Just some quick notes on researching key words, setting up the site and trying to make it easy to find on searches. I plan to run the site under a $50 a year budget.

 

I have been going back and forth on what to name the blog, as I get closer to doing an actual website. Just some quick notes on researching key words, setting up the site and trying to make it easy to find on searches. I plan to run the site under a $50 a year budget.

Godaddy domain name = $35 for 2 years
hosting = approx $10 per year

resources:
www.godaddy.com
www.bubweb.com

Road trip: Convoy tips for families

We have been traveling quite a lot, and on more than a few occasions we find ourselves with another family in a separate car. Sometimes it is on our turf, other times it is on theirs. Either way, we have learned some practical convoy techniques. This blog will be short and sweet, so here we go:

Each car must have the same address of the destination
Sounds very basic, but keep in mind if you get separated the following vehicle’s first reaction goes kinda like “Oh crap now I have to catch up or I might miss the turn/exit” or panic and just try to catch up. Having the knowledge that you can all get there with a gps reduces this stress

Communicate stops/breaks
This way if you decide you want to get some burgers for the kiddos, the other car is not scratching their head why you are taking the wrong exit

The more conservative/careful driver may be better at taking the lead
For me, driving with my kids in the car make me more careful and I take less risks in driving. In a sense I am driving slower for the following car, but we all need to work as a team. You can only be as fast as your slowest team member-in this case that driver sets the pace. If communicated before the trip, the following cars will take note and can anticipate a reasonable speed.

The last vehicle can open up lane changes

changing-lanes
The last car is in the best position to open up lane changes. He can change lanes (one at a time preferably) and each car ahead of him can change lanes in sequence. This is very effective but needs the first car to signal the lane change early on. The signal lights get relayed to the last car and he looks for an opportunity to change lanes. If you are on a freeway waiting for your exit, depending on your speed, you will want the first car to signal the change maybe 2 miles early.

At stop lights, stop signs, give lots of room
These create big gaps in your convoy if not timed right. The car ahead must adjust timing considering if the cars behind can keep up. Do not run thru yellow traffic lights or you risk the car behind you getting cut off.

Cellphones are good, radios are better

gettyimages-476985830-0
Each time we drive with family in a convoy, we keep wishing we brought a 2 way radio. The main convenience is you hit one button to communicate, and you can do so to the entire convoy. You don’t have to dial someone on the phone and redial for another car. An FRS/GMRS radio would work well for this, and those are fairly inexpensive.

Communicate the route

google-transit
Even when we have given addresses so we all have it on our GPS, we still communicate what route we plan on taking. No specifics, but just so they understand the general pace/route. On our last road trip, I took an exit and stopped for coffee at a small town. While there, I explained to my dad how we will change the route and stay out of the freeway and use the backroads. This implied we would drive slower, but may have a more scenic trip in this place we were exploring.

Lead car checks traffic

driving-in-heavy-traffic
My wife has gotten really good at being my navigator on these trips. Part of the task is checking for traffic ahead before we hit it. This way, we can veer off the freeway and take backroads. Instead of spending 3 hrs at the freeway, we can spend 2 hrs exploring the small towns along the way-less stress and a more pleasant experience.

 

Giveaway: homeschool activity sheets on entrepreneurship & critical thinking

WHAT?

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I am giving away free activity sheets for homeschoolers who are interested in teaching their kids about:
-entrepreneurship
-problem solving
-critical thinking
-resilience

These are aimed at kids from 4 to 7 yo. These will be in pdf format for you to print and do the exercise with.

WHY?

I want to know if there is a desire in the homeschool community to teach on these subjects. If the demand is there, I will gladly provide free materials for 8 weeks (1 per week) to folks who help me validate this business. I do ask for help by giving me some feedback. These are things I really hope to teach to my kids, and perhaps other parents could use some teaching materials on the subject! If there is not a lot of demand/response I will still email you the first set of worksheets for your use. This survey does not capture emails, so I will reach out separately later on for the download link to the worksheets.

Please email me suggestions and questions at resilientdadblog @ gmail dot com.

Thank you!

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