Christmas is a great time of year for giving and for some parents all the “stuff” can feel overwhelming after all the wrappings and trimmings are torn off. I know in our personal experience, we saw materialism creep up in to the lives of our children and we knew that sense of entitlement we saw was not what we wanted so we made some immediate changes. We have tried to make a shift from buying “stuff” over the years to investing in memories and experiences.
Memberships or tickets to events provide not just one, but SEVERAL visits to experience and learn. For those with larger families, family memberships can enable parents to take their children to places where costs would otherwise be prohibitive. Another advantage to memberships for those with Homeschool Days is the membership holder can receive discount ticket admission to participate in special Homeschool Days. Do try to keep your gift choice to something that is within an hour from where your child/grandchildren live.
To give your gift, simply print off your membership confirmation page and put in a fun envelope or wrap inside a box. It will be a gift that keeps on giving throughout the upcoming year and your children/grandchildren will remember it for years to come the experiences you shared together. Not to mention, many museums are non-profit and memberships can be counted as a donation for a tax-write off.
Here are some ideas on family memberships with links to each (click on name of museum or location):
One of the things about being home we’ve had to consider is how our eldests (we have twins) could earn money to fund their many interests. I think we’ve come upon something that fits our need to hit the road and has the flexibility to say “no” when it doesn’t fit our family plans. What is it you ask? Working as a background extra on a movie set.
My older three were recently booked for a movie as background extras and it has been a great fit for our family. Since we homeschool, we can work our studies around when the boys have to work and the work environment when the boys are on location is such that while they are waiting to be in a shot in the holding area, they can work on an assignment.
Atlanta is becoming the second Hollywood some say — filming popular motion pictures like the Hunger Games and the TV show, the Walking Dead. If you want to get started in working as a background extra, you’ll want three professional photos of yourself in various outfits. You’ll also need to know your measurements like height and weight. These details need to be included on the photo along with the color of your hair and eyes — and finally your age. The casting company will send out certain criteria they are looking for — usually with an age range. If you fit the age range, you’ll want to submit your photo via email and the details that are listed in the casting call. Then you wait. And wait. And maybe you’ll be chosen or maybe not. I met one father of a 15 year old that said his son had been in four movies as a background and submitted for about 20 casting calls — so don’t expect to get in each time. And as for our experience, they chose people from all looks and ethnicities, so you never know what the casting company will go for when they are looking for background extras for their movie.
Be prepared for a long work day as a background extra. You’ll need to plan on additional time getting to and from the job site. In addition, you need to expect to work a long day. Law dictates that anyone who is under 18 is limited to a 10-hour work day, so the kids get paid their hourly rate for the first 8 hours and then overtime is at a designated slightly higher rate. They expect you to be there no later than 15 minutes prior to your call time (your call time is when you clock in essentially.) So, a 10-hour work day is really an 11-hr plus commute time there and back for us. When we were called to work as a background extra, the casting company called and discussed what days we would be working. The start time usually varies and you won’t know your call time until the day before. In our case, this movie has the boys booked for 10 days that vary over the course of several months.
Be prepared to furnish your own wardrobe as a background extra. Depending on the needs of the film, the casting company may ask you to bring several outfits. You are to arrive ready to go in the outfit that you like best, but be prepared that Wardrobe may change you into something else. They will also have some clothes as an option depending on your fitting size. I do have to say that this is the more difficult part of this job for me as I scramble the day before their booking (because they don’t tell you until the day before what you’ll need to bring) to pull together enough wardrobe for three people to bring to set.
If you are interested in looking into this as a possible source of income, you can do a local search for casting agencies in your area. Not only L.A. films, but also in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, and elsewhere around the nation depending on the movie being shot’s needs. You can also go onto Facebook and “Like” these casting companies and select the default to show alerts in the top of your feed. (Heads up: I don’t understand Facebook’s algorithm because I’ve done this step, but it still doesn’t post alerts in my feed, so I have to go to the page to check on updates.) Just be forewarned that you want to make sure it’s a legit casting company. Some have posed as a casting company and requested information including social security numbers. Be careful when submitting that you are working with a reputable casting company.
You have to be able to keep a secret. You are often asked to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement promising that you will not share details about the film or share on social media sites film details. You are not even allowed to take photos on set.
If you’re looking to pick up a part time job that gives you flexibility to travel, this is one option that you may want to consider.
*Due to a non-disclosure release form the kids signed, we can’t go into details regarding what the movie is, where it is being shot, or specifics about the movie until after it has released in the box office.
Ah Memphis… When I think of Memphis, I think of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jazz music, and world class barbecue.
The night before we rolled into Memphis for the first time, we stayed outside the city and boondocked at a Super Walmart at Olive Branch that offered overnight parking.
RV Terminology: Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups and at no cost using public land or parking overnight with permission.
In the morning, I began to look into activities that we could do while also towing a travel trailer because we only intended to stay in Memphis for the day and then continue on to our next destination. When researching options, the key is to make sure there is adequate parking and sometimes that means calling ahead and having a game plan.
All my sons love music. My middle son (who is 11-years-old) he tends to be the one that wants to make music, so I asked him if he wanted to go see where Elvis lived and the museum that talked about this music legend. I realized I hadn’t done due diligence in teaching him about the King of Rock and Roll when he simply asked, “Who is Elvis?” (Gasp!)
So, I did a quick search on YouTube and played some videos of Elvis. I was shocked – my boy was unimpressed. When we weighed the cost of going to Graceland, I did not want to drop $171 when our family that didn’t have any interest. When traveling cross country, our goal in choosing activities was to keep it cheap to stretch resources and to make sure that things we chose to do would be something everyone wanted to take part in. So, right out of the gate, Graceland got bumped.
Graceland and Platinum Tour:
– Adults $40 ea x 2 = $80
– Youth (13-18) $36 ea x 2 = $72
– Youth (7-12) $19 ea x 1 = $19
– Child (under 5) $FREE TOTAL for Graceland Experience for 7 people = $171
That kind of money would purchase about 73 gallons of diesel (@ today’s cost of $2.35). And 73 gallons of diesel would take us about 728 miles (using our average 10 mpg when we tow.)
When I checked Trip Advisor, the number one rated thing to do was Sun Studios. The cost for our family would be $12 ea. x 4 adults = $48 (children 6-11 are free, so one child would be free in our situation.) The downside to this option was that there was no convenient place to park a travel trailer nearby AND they do not allow children 5 and under in (we’ve got two in this age range). So, Sun Studios was put on the “visit another time” list when we were in a better position to enjoy the experience.
We decided to check out the National Ornamental Metal Museum since our older two sons have been interested in taking up welding. But this museum is more about blacksmithing than welding and they include a one-of-a-kind apprenticeship program for those wanting to learn the art.
Our boys loved the sculptures in the garden and we enjoyed the quiet courtyard and the picnic tables that invited us to enjoy a picnic lunch.
Most interesting was how the docent explained to us how one goes about passing their Journeyman Bladesmith Certification by making a knife and what his/her knife must be able to do before being considered a work master craftsman. The make two knives — they make one for structure and one for aesthetics. The one made for structure goes thru a series of tests and ultimately is put in a vice and bent at a 90 degree angle. If it survives, the test is passed. (You can learn more by watching this video.)
If you’re looking for unique, one of a kind hand artisan gifts, check out their online store.
WHAT KIDS CAN LEARN THRU THIS EXPERIENCE:
The craft of metal working and the diversity of the trade and how much practice a skill requires to become good at it.
It took us about an hour-and-a-half to go thru the museum buildings and walk around the grounds. Here are the details for planning your budget and outing…
RV & Bus parking available along road outside of the museum. *Children must be accompanied by parent or guardian. Be sure to check their website before you visit to see if there are any other restrictions as things change from the time of this posting.
TIP: Bring a picnic lunch on a nice spring or fall day! They have a couple of picnic tables and a lovely courtyard. If you go on a Saturday or Sunday, you may be able to see a demonstration. Check the Web site for details.
Tuesday–Saturday / 10AM–5PM *Closed Mondays, Easter Sunday, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Dec 24-26, Dec. 31, and Jan 1. The Museum is CLOSED due to weather when Shelby County Schools are closed.
Demonstrations: Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (forging) and 3:00 pm (casting), except when there are classes in the Metals Studios. Visitors are invited to watch classes. Please call to confirm demonstration schedule.
Was this information helpful to you? If so, please click the links below to share on Facebook or pin to Pinterest so that others may enjoy this experience as well. Thanks for spreading the word!
5 Kids and a RV recommendations are based on personal experience and do not represent the business or not-for-profit we feature. We share our experiences in an effort to inspire parents and caregivers to engage and explore with their children. On occasion we may post a review or provide information as an affiliate.
5 Kids and a RV: “Let’s go learn something today!”
If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might want to consider getting the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands — more than 2,000 in all. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is offered free to all active duty military members and their dependents. Information on these and other pass options is available online.
*Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.
It’s the holiday season and the RV is currently parked. We are busy making treats for Christmas holiday parties and wrapping gifts for a book exchange. I gaze out my window and there our travel trailer sits, waiting for our next adventure. I hope it’s soon, I’m getting antsy to go somewhere!
One of the great things about having an RV is that it can also double as a guest house when guests come into town, it provides them with their own private space, away from the noise of the family and common areas where they can relax and recharge. Here are some things you can do to make your RV welcoming to those visiting your home.
1. Create an inviting entrance. Put down a welcome mat. Place a potted plant or bushes near the front entrance to the RV. And if you have a someone who is finds stairs a challenge, make a gradual stair step for them so that getting in and out of the RV is safe. We also have put down bark to create a path to the walkway which is great in the event that it rains – it keeps the footpath from getting all muddy.
2. Stock the fridge with snacks and water. I like to get a mix of fresh fruit, trail mix, chocolate and if I can have it relate to the region where we live even better as it gives it a personal touch. I also keep some microwave popcorn and ice cream in the freezer for my guests typically. I will also get 1 gallon of water to put in the fridge to use for coffee and tea and the rest are travel size so my guests can grab and go when they need a drink.
3. Have a coffee and tea station. A warm drink is one of those comfort things when you’re away from home, so keeping a small coffee maker in the RV is a must.
4. A good cleaning… before our guests arrive, we make sure fresh linens are put on the bed and pillows, counters and handles disinfected, floors vacuumed, and all the mirrors and windows sprayed with glass cleaner. We also make sure all the drawers are empty as well as the closets leaving hangers in case our guests wish to unpack and hang any of their garments. We also keep some extra blankets in case they are needed as everyone has different comfort levels.
5. I also go thru the medicine cabinet and give it a good walk thru keeping in mind that leaving new toothbrushes in packaging and new toothpastes, mouthwash, floss, hair spray — basically anything that may have been forgotten or left behind because of having to go thru security as a travel carry on.
6. We have a pretty small shower in our RV, so we discourage guests from showering in it because a) it’s small and inevitably we’ve had water damage to our sink area when a guest didn’t close the screen and b) it fills up the grey water tank quickly! So, instead, I leave a couple of hampers in the tub area where they can toss dirty clothes. They are lightweight and easy to pack to the house in the event that they want us to do a load of laundry during their stay.
7. We fill the propane tanks and hook up the water so that the facilities can be used. We make sure that the black water tank is empty and that the stabilizers are put down so that the trailer does not wobble when someone is walking around in it.
8. It’s also nice to provide some reading material in the event that your guest might enjoy perusing thru a magazine or reading up on the local news if you get the newspaper.
9. Do a sound check on your radio so it’s tuned and ready to go. It’s nice to have some music softly playing in the background when they arrive.
10. We also have an Apple TV for our travel trailer which is great because there are a lot of options for guests to choose from when they feel like watching a movie after everyone has gone to bed.
11. Leave a small note by a charging area with the wifi password in the event they want to connect.
12. And as a final touch, I also try to put a live plant or bouquet of flowers inside.
Do you use your RV/ Travel Trailer as a guest house when not in use? If so, feel free to share some ideas as well.
So, the Scrubba caught my attention today… it’s a little sack that you can seal and swish (agitate) small items that need to get cleaned when you don’t have a washing machine nearby. I’m thinking I need this on my Christmas Wish List for the RV.
First off, I love that it is light weight and collapses. This is a major plus for storage and for traveling when every ounce adds pennies to your fuel bill. If we want to see a lot of sights, then we’ve got to keep things light!
Second, I love that it isn’t very big and clumsy. I can forsee using this for when the boys soil a shirt, when the littles soil their unders, or wet the bedsheet, or if we need to clean some socks until we get to the next laundry facility. My mind is reeling with the ways it can save me the hassle and stress from dirty situations. This could definitely be my ally.
One key factor using this set up is you need a spot to rinse and dry items, so keep that in mind if you’re looking at this to buy as well. But definitely going to circle back to making sure this is on our next trip. I’ll give you a review once I use and let you know if it was worth the $50 or not. 😉
Kids get dirty. This would be a great backup plan for when we don’t have a laundry machine nearby. Maybe I’ll buy five and each kid can do a load. Hmmmm…. Now there’s a thought… 😉
I’ve been pinning areas of interest we’d like to visit via Pinterest for awhile now. But, today I began the process of requesting Visitor Guides from the states we plan on traveling through as a way to involve the kids (holding tangible brochures with pictures and information) in the planning process. We can also use the materials for educational purposes as they learn about each state they visit and add it to their scrapbook. Each state also has digital versions available to download. Click the link and look for “Travel Guide” and you’ll see usually both options: print and digital. Hope this helps your research!
Our first time boon-docking was a bit of an adjustment as we are accustomed to being at a campsite – not on pavement. We weren’t entirely comfortable with the attention we got from curious folks we asked if we were “camping”. My pride twinged a bit and I shook it off as I reminded myself that the money saved that night could go back into the travel and play fund. A woman sat on a nearby curb, having a smoke and talking on the phone – an odd spot being that we were parked at the furthest point away from the store.
The kids felt a bit uneasy, too. My middle child asked if he could lead us in a prayer. I loved that he knew God could be our source to qualm any fears and that we could place our trust for safety in Him. Daddy headed into Walmart to grab some ice cream – a great treat as we watched the sun set.
The evening was warm and we found it more comfortable to sit outside and enjoy the breeze. At one point, while settling in at night, a van towing a pop up tent parked right outside our front door. My husband asked if he couldn’t park further away being that the whole parking lot was available.
When it came time for bedtime, we fired up the generator and the AC did it’s job to make everyone comfortably sleep. Everyone except Daddy that is. He never quite settled into sleep as any noise had him up checking on things.
Evidently we had a drunk wander past and continued on after hubby opened the door to make himself known. The parking lot cleared out quite a bit. Our youngest woke us up at 7 am, so we just packed things up and off we went down the road in search of coffee and breakfast.
I have to hand it to to Walmart at Hamilton, TN. The manager was very accommodating and friendly. There were other trucks and another camper that joined our area later that evening.
I think one nice addition for our own peace of mind would be so sort of video on the front to see the vehicle and door as well as the back if the trailer – that would give my husband and I some eyes to what might be outside. I know my Mom’s Tiffin has these feature and I can see why that might come in handy now. Otherwise, I loved how we saved money and would be open to trying it again!
Before heading out on a longer trip or cross country by RV, it’s a good idea to do a practice run at a local campground close to home. You’ll be close enough to run home to collect any forgotten items saving you money for the trip ahead.
For years we spent countless dollars on fire starters from the grocery store. The good news is, with a little pre-planning, you can make your own at home using items you may already have around.
To do this project you will need:
Empty cardboard egg tray
Lint from dryer
Old pot or old Pyrex glass measuring cup with heat safe handle
Stove or heat source for melting wax
Kitchen Shears or box knife
Plastic Ziplock Sandwich Bags
Step 1: I keep a used egg carton tray (paper not styrofoam, nor plastic) near the dryer. Stuff lint into egg carton as you do loads of laundry — you will want each egg unit to be completely full of lint.
Step 2: When you have a couple of trays full of lint, you are ready to do a batch.
Step 3: Begin by placing old candles in a old pot or old Pyrex measuring cup with handle and melt at a low temp over a burner.
Step 4: While wax is melting, place egg carton tray on a sheet of aluminum foil — this will keep any wax drippings from going onto your counter.
Step 5: Once wax has melted, using hotpad to stabilize the hot Pyrex, pour carefully and evenly over the lint coating well.
Step 6: Allow wax to cool.
Step 7: Once cool, cut into individual units. I placed four units into a Ziplock plastic sandwich bag to keep them dry.
Step 8: When ready to use, place one under kindling and fire will start with ease! We use this to start camp fires as well as the smoker with success each time.