Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Our First Christmas – in the Motorhome

Christmas is always an exciting time of year around my house, but we were slightly worried about how we were going to fit some of our traditions – like a Christmas tree and tons of Christmas cookies into our new, compact house.  There was no need to worry however, and every tradition went off without a glitch.


We purchased a 3 foot artificial Christmas tree, which fit perfectly on top of our living room table.  Each year, the boys get a new ornament for Christmas.  Every one of their ornaments, plus a few from my childhood and some bows and beads, fit perfectly onto our tree.  The stockings were hung from the cabinet behind the tree.

Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis. 


My oven is a bit on the small side, with only one cookie sheet fitting in at a time.  So, the boys and I spread out our cookie and candy making with one or two projects a day for most of the month of December.  We chose not to do any structured homeschooling lessons during December, allowing us to have plenty of time for daily baking – and all of the unplanned math, science and history discussions that came up.  We even created our own cookie recipes on Christmas Eve.  (Find the details of this cookie project on our sister site – Raki’s Rad Resources.)

Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis

Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis

Family is a huge part of the holidays for our family.  We are currently parked only twenty minutes from some of my family, so we had Christmas dinner at my Grandma’s house.  Additionally, my dad flew in and spent two weeks with us.  It was great to see the boys spending quality time with their Papa!

 Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis


Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis

On Christmas Eve, we went out for Mexican and then returned home to watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas and snuggle up for ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Then the boys set a plate of cookies and a mug of milk on the very small kitchen counter and headed off to bed.  My 7 year old was ready for bed at 7:30 – unfortunately he didn’t fall asleep until 11:30!  Oh the excitement of being a kid waiting for Santa.

  Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis

Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis

Christmas morning was a huge success, with the boys receiving presents that could be used and stored easily – headphones, bike accessories, goggles, binoculars, pocket knives (for the older two), a journal, a sketch book and a water bottle.  There were also some nerf guns provided by Papa, but we won’t talk about that!


 Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis


Celebrating Christmas in an RV with three children. - Details on how we made it work from RVing with the Rakis 

Thanks to technology, I was able to share all of these pictures out on Instagram – aka my new technology addiction.  If you’re on Instagram, find us at rakisradresources!


Here’s hoping your holidays were as happy as ours.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!








Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Virtual Communities – the BEST Part of Technology

Virtual Communities

Technology provides us with so many opportunities that weren’t available to us before.  It allows us to watch any t.v. show or movie that we want to with just a click.  It allows us access to the written ideas of others from all of history through the digital archiving of books and papers.  It allows us to scan an item on our smart phone and compare prices with other stores without driving all over town.  However, for me, the most important thing that technology does is to form communities of people in similar circumstances, but separated by distance, time, or any number of other challenges.


As a new mom, I found it hard to make new friends.  We had just moved to a new area of town and I didn’t have many neighbors.  I was working full time and didn’t have time to go out to Mom and Me classes or playgroups that were often held at 10:30 a.m, when I was teaching a class full of kids and my son was staying with my husband or my mom.  I felt like an island, and it was very lonely.  However, one day I found a website that changed everything.  It was called Atlanta Mommas, and it was a group of amazing women.  Some were stay at home moms, some were work at home moms, some were working moms. There were young moms and older moms and everything in between.  Through this group, I met moms who cloth diapered, co-slept, baby carried and breast fed and I met moms who used bottles, disposable diapers, cribs and strollers.  I could post a question in the forums and generally, someone knew the answer, or could point me in the right direction to find the answer.  And then there were meet ups – Mother’s Nights Out, weekend and evening playgroups, a chance to get out and meet other moms.  This group was a life saver for me and the friendships I have formed from it are life long.


Before we moved to Morocco, I worried about not being able to meet anyone.  I could walk by a person who spoke English there and never know it, unless I stopped to try and talk to them, or was introduced to them by someone else who spoke English.  However, by using technology to join a group on Facebook – called American and English Speaking Women Living in Morocco, I suddenly had access to hundreds of women, most living in the same city I did.  All of these women spoke English and lived in Morocco and they were a combined wealth of knowledge.  These women knew where to find expat items like maple syrup and vanilla extract.  They knew how the education system worked and who to talk to if you were looking for a housekeeper.  Additionally, there were meet ups and gatherings to get you out, meeting others and building friendships.  While we were in Morocco, this group provided me with an enormous amount of support, and when we decided to leave, they were able to help me find buyers for many of the items we decided not to take with us.  Through this group, I formed friendships that I still maintain.


So, when we decided to move back to the US and become full time RVers, we knew there must be other people like us out there  - full time RVers with kids - and so I went hunting for blogs and facebook groups to help us connect with them.  I found a few groups and I like them all, but I have to say that my favorite is called Fulltime Families.  It is a place to go with questions about being full time in an RV.  There are discussions about great places to take the kids, way to help kids make friends, how to store your stuff, etc. etc.  Somebody in this group recently recommended DIY – an online “scouting” and networking program for kids that my boys are in LOVE with.  Additionally, there are rallies and ways to help people get together when they are close to teach other.  Now, I’m new to this community, but I am so excited to add it to the list of communities which have shaped who I am today.


What virtual communities are you a part of? 


Monday, December 1, 2014

Kitchen Updates – Creative Storage Solutions

Storage in an RV is always an issue, but storage in the kitchen is essential – especially with how much I cook.  My drawers and cabinets have started to overflow, so my husband has spent his week cooking up some new storage solutions for me.

Creative storage solutions for the kitchen - from RVing with the Rakis.

He started by creating a cabinet for the spices, which have previously cluttered up the space behind the stove.  The cabinet includes hooks for my rolling pin and the hanging recipe cards that my cousin made me.  Next to the cabinet, he hung my strainer.


Creative storage solutions for the kitchen - from RVing with the Rakis.




Next, he added this garbage can and the plastic bag holder that we picked up at Ikea.

Creative storage solutions for the kitchen - from RVing with the Rakis.


My knives were previously in a knife block which cluttered up my limited countertop space.  In order to give me back that countertop space, my husband hung up two magnet bars - also from Ikea – behind the stove.  Every knife (and a few other metal items) now hang from these magnet bars.

Creative storage solutions for the kitchen - from RVing with the Rakis.


Finally, my husband hung some hooks from the cabinet between the stove and the sink to hang some of my stirring spoons and spatulas.


Creative storage solutions for the kitchen - from RVing with the Rakis.

Going into the holiday baking season with this extra space is making me super excited!  More counter top means more space to roll out dough, cool cookies, store goodies, etc. etc.





Thursday, November 13, 2014



When we first started living in a campground, my boys wanted to have s’mores every night.  I mean what kid wouldn’t, right?  Cookies, gooey marshmallows and chocolate, all smooshed together, it’s a delciousness that’s indescribably good.  However, even my boys are starting to get sick of s’mores.  I noticed this when the boys were given the option between making s’mores and watching a movie and they chose the movie, lol!  So, now we save making s’mores for special occasions or when we have visitors!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Where are the Homeschooling Materials?

As a classroom teacher, I always had so much “stuff” that I “needed” to teach.  So, when we decided we were going to home school our children while living in an RV, I had to re-look at what I really “needed” to teach – and then I had to figure out where to put it!


First, what did I absolutely need?  Books!  Although we got rid of a few English books, we kept the majority of our kids’ English books and purchased additional French and Arabic kids’ books so that the kids would have a lot of options for quality reading materials – both fiction and non-fiction.  Additionally, we purchased a Kindle Fire for our 2nd grader (the 5th grader already had one), so that he would have additional e-book options. 


We store pleasure reading books under one side of the dinette and in the three drawers in the boys’ room. 

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Rakis


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

Since we are homeschooling not only in English, but also in French & Arabic – languages that I am not a native speaker in, I felt it was very important to have curriculum books for this work.  This helps me make sure I cover all of the right grammar rules and keep the kids practicing skills like reading the directions and using important vocabulary. (In English, the kids mainly use materials that I make and sell in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)  We keep these curriculum books in the boys’ “locker”, where they each have a shelf with their notebooks and textbooks.

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

Additionally, the boys have these white paper organizer totes that I picked up cheap at Target.  My husband screwed these down to their table and the boys keep their current pleasure reading books, their kindles, cameras, and headphones (as well as other random “kid stuff”) in these white totes.  After books, the next most important homeschooling supplies are office and art supplies like crayons, paint, scissors, pencils, etc.  We keep these supplies organized in ziploc bags, which fit nicely into this single drawer.  The drawer fits on the boys’ table in between their white book totes, and also provides them with a place to hold library books!


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki


Rather than having a lot of manipulatives, we tend to use toys and games to help illustrate math concepts, and to allow our 3 year old to play with different concepts like taller and shorter or how many blocks long is that?  We also use a bunch of food supplies for math manipulatives – for ideas about this check out my blog post: Math Manipulatives from Your Kitchen

We keep the toys – wooden blocks, legos, soldiers, cars and marbles – in milk crates underneath our desk/table. 

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki


We keep puzzles and games – pattern blocks, scrabble, perfection, and a variety of board games – underneath the other side of the dinette.


Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

The last element of our home school supplies is technology.  As I already said, each of the big boys has their own kindle, which helps with reading, online research, watching their “listening videos” and the creation of some projects.  For projects that require a PC, the boys share a laptop (and sometimes use mine). 


Two random pieces of our organization process are: the boys laminated to-do lists, which hang on a bulletin board in their room, and the two kitchen timers that we use to set time limits on work – and play – time.

Homeschool organization while living in an RV - RVing with the Raki

We are now officially finished with our first two months of homeschooling, and have really found the “swing of things”.  We have changed our organization over the past two months, putting the items that get used regularly in more accessible places.  Having these items organized makes the day go smoother and leads to more learning!  For more information about our home school schedule and our home school curriculum, check out this post from the beginning of the school year.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Portable Garden

One of the best ways to eat local, fresh, organic food is to grow your own.  While this can be a challenge in an RV, a small pot garden is our current solution.  Here is what it looks like:

Portable pot garden - great for living in an RV - RVing with the Rakis

We are growing broccoli, spinach, cabbage, lettuce and mint. We chose plants that are appropriate for this growing season, so the boxes stay outside unless we are on the road.  When it is time to transport, the boxes fit under the dinette, in the bathroom, and on the dashboard. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014


After three years away, my boys and I are making the most of Halloween this year, and this started with pumpkins.  The boys picked out three of the BIGGEST pumpkins I have ever seen.  This morning, we carved those pumpkins into some pretty cool jack o’lanterns. 


 Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis

Then, we picked out the seeds and roasted them on the fire.


Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis

And we cut up the left over pumpkin – from the eyes, ears, noses and mouths of the jack o’lanterns and used them to make pumpkin pie!

 Pumpkin fun in our RV - from RVing with the Rakis


What a fun, and delicious way to start out the Halloween season.  Being in a motor home gave us the perfect excuse to do almost the entire job outside, which means less mess in my house!!!


Happy Halloween!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Storing Kid Art in an RV

My kids love to draw, color and paint, but this 30 foot RV doesn’t have room for piles and piles of kids’ artwork.  So, how do we store artwork without having piles of papers everywhere?  Here are a few of our solutions:


1.) Take a photo!  My kids are much more likely to let me throw things out if I have a picture where they can save their art or creation forever.  My 7 year old even let me throw out this amazing salt map he created because he knew we had a picture for his Country Study project.  We store our photos in Photobucketfind more ideas for Photobucket at this blog post I recently wrote.


2.)  Chalk!  Let the kids play with chalk, they can draw twenty pictures, which are quickly erased by the rain and I have nothing to store.


3.) Virtual Art!  Let kids draw on the computer or tablet.  There are tons of specialized apps, programs and websites, but my kids have always had a great time just playing with paint or layering shapes in Power Point.  Also, movie making websites satisfy the same creative needs in many children.


4.)  Make gifts!  Many of the paintings and drawings my kids make get signed at the bottom and given away as gifts to their loving grandparents and aunts.


5.)  Build with Nature!  My kids love to glue sticks together and pile rocks into sculptures.  These creations can either be put back to their natural form or burnt in a campfire.  To preserve the creation before destruction – snap a photo!



6.)  Edible Art!  Have kiddos decorate cakes and cookies or create those cutsie Pinterest snacks.  Once they have finished, snap a photo and then gobble it up.


7.)  Keep a scrapbook or journal!  I hate having paper lying around, so unless the kids are using paint or playdough, I try to keep their drawings in their journals.  A notebook of drawings seems to take up so much less storage than 20 random pieces of paper which create clutter!


8.)  Dry Erase Boards!  Like chalk, kids can draw and erase over and over.  If a kid wants to save a picture he has drawn – snap a photo!



9.)  Photography as an Art Form!  Hands kids the camera and see what they can come up with.  Then, create a video collage of their photography.

sammy took the pictures

10.) Fashion Design!  Let kids decorate white t-shirts with fabric paint.  Or let them cut out designs from different fabrics and glue them together into designs on white sheets and use this for skirts, capes for dress up, or even curtains.


What handy art storage trick do you use?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids

Being back in the United States has reminded me of how lucky we are to have such amazing programs available to us for free or cheap.  Between story time, home school classes, hikes, museum visits, and Junior Ranger badges, we have been very busy lately! If you are looking for field trip opportunities – for a classroom or a home school family or just an educational weekend trip, consider these options:


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis. 1.) Libraries:  Most libraries offer more than just the chance to check out books, they also offer access to computers and a myriad of different kids activities.  At the Cartersville Public Library here in Georgia, my kids have attended story times, a snake visit, chess club, computer coding class and Lego building day.  Some libraries also offer programs like book clubs and pairing up older and younger children  for buddy reading.  While you need a library card to check out books, most libraries don’t ask for your library card to attend these programs, making them a great “go to” field trip option for families on the road.  Most of these programs are free, although a few may require a materials fee.


2.) State & National Parks or Monuments:  Not only are state parks, national parks and national monuments great places to go and hike, they also sponsor amazing learning programs for kids. I have written before about the Junior Ranger program that the National Parks provide, but state parks provide lots of programs too.  Some, like Red Top Mountain Park here in Georgia, even have lists of home school and weekend classes.  My kids have attended nature story times, map reading classes, creative building sessions and art classes.  In addition, these parks often host weekend festivals with historical re-enactors or musicians.  Most of these programs are free, although a few may require a materials fee.


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis 3.) Museums – big and small:  Museum admission is a great day field trip without anything extra, and that goes for the big, fancy museums and the small, local museums.  Recently, my kids and I talked about the Civil War, the creation of the Cherokee Alphabet, the economics of politics, the changes in the school system and the evolution of technology all during a visit to the Bartow County History Museum.  In fact, while I love large museums, sometimes small, local museums make for better field trips, since they are more focused and allow you to get in and see everything without having to rush.  (See my blog post about Making Curriculum Connections with Museum Field Trips.)  In addition to regular exhibits, museums often offer classes for home schoolers and special programs for larger groups.  Within the next month, my kids are signed up to take a class on art history, one on the civil war, and one on the life of colonists.  These classes require fees, although some may be included in the cost of admission and many are very reasonable ($3 - $10 per kid)


4.) Universities:  Many colleges and universities have outreach grants and special programs that allow them to provide classes and programs for those who do not attend the university.  Georgia Tech, for example, provides science classes for elementary aged students once a month – on a Saturday.  I have also attended Jazz concerts and exhibits on the Holocaust, all provided by local universities.  Some of these programs are provided for free, while others are available for a charge.


Free or Cheap Fun and Educational Activities for Kids - Great for home schoolers and road schoolers - from Heidi Raki of RVing with the Rakis 5.) Zoos & Aquariums:  Like museums, zoos and aquariums are often great places to visit for no special reason.  However, like museums, they also often offer special classes.  The Atlanta Zoo offers entire courses for home schoolers and specialized programs for larger groups.  Additionally, many zoos and aquariums offer reduced admission on certain days for home schooling families. 


As a road schooling family, one of the first things to do when you stop in an area, is to check out websites for the libraries, parks, museums, universities, zoos and aquariums in the area.  Often special programs will be listed on their websites.  Also, if you stop somewhere to simply explore with the family, ask at the desk, or check the bulletin board.  Often places advertise cool events, classes or festivals that are upcoming at their facility.



Monday, September 22, 2014

Wheat Bread – Finally a Success!

There’s nothing like fresh baked bread, and since we’ve left the land of delicious, freshly baked bread available at every store or bakery for just pennies (A.K.A Morocco), I’ve been playing around with my bread recipe.  The arrival of my KitchenAid Mixer helped to speed this process along, as I don’t have to take days off of kneading to let my tendinitis heal.

Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe

Last week, while doing a search on different bread recipes, I read that 2 tablespoons of wheat gluten will help the bread to be less dense – which has always been a problem with my bread.  So, off I went to the grocery store to buy a bag of wheat gluten.  $8 for a bag – wowzers, but with only 2 tablespoons needed, I shouldn’t have to buy it that often.  Even if I do, it truly makes all of the difference.


This week, our bread turned out so good, that we ended up going through an entire batch in one day and I had to bake more the next day!  Luckily, it’s a nice easy recipe:


Put 2 cups of luke warm water into the KitchenAid Mixer bowl (or a regular old mixing bowl) with 2 tablespoons of sugar (or 1/4 cup of honey) and 2 tablespoons of dried yeast.  Let this set for about 15 minutes, to “proof” the yeast.


Next, add 4 cups of white flour and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Knead with the dough hook (or a good old wooden spoon), and let sit for 30 – 45 minutes.  The mixture will rise quite a bit as the yeast activates.

Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe

Now we add the wheat gluten – two heaping tablespoons, as well as 4 cups of whole wheat flour.  I also had about 1/4 of a cup of milk, as yeast LOVES milk and this increases the fluffiness of your bread too.  Knead with the bread hook attachment (or by hand if you don’t suffer from tendinitis) until the dough comes together and there is no flour left in the bowl.


Time to let the bread rise!  If you’re using the Kitchen Aid, you need to take the dough OUT of the mixer bowl.  You can oil the mixer bowl and put it back in there to rise if you’d like, but be sure to add a tablespoon of oil, or the dough will stick to the side and you will lose your air pouch when you remove the bread – making for a much harder, denser bread.  I prefer to use my large, stainless steel Pampered Chef mixing bowls, because the size is just perfect for rising dough.  Cover the bowl with a towel to keep the flies away and place in the sunshine if you can – this will cut down on rising time.  If there’s no sunshine, just pick a dry, warm spot and the bread will rise in no time. 

Warning – don’t let your dough rise on the stove if you’re cooking on the stove.  I had a whole bowl of dough “bake” in the bowl on my because my lovely Stainless Steel Bowl got too warm!

Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe

Once the bread dough has at least doubled in size (generally 1 – 2 hours), punch the bread down with your hands and form it into the types of loaves you want.  I generally make one “sandwich loaf” in my Pampered Chef Stoneware Bread Pan and then make the rest into round, Moroccan style loaves.  I can get 2 – 3 small rounds or 1 large round out of the remaining bread.  (In the picture below, I didn’t make a sandwich loaf.) Once the loaves are made, leave them to rise again.  I leave mine to rise right on the pans I cook them on.  I even put them in the oven while they rise, which saves me from having to jostle them too much or even cover them with a towel!  Of course, if it’s a warm, sunny day, the bread will rise faster in the sun.

If you are needing to move your loaves before you bake them – be sure to put them on a cotton sheet where you won’t break an air pocket if you move them.  (My Moroccan mother – in – law taught me this trick and it makes all the difference!)

  Homemade Wheat Bread Recipe


After the bread has risen four about 45 minutes, it should be the right size to bake.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf, or until the loaf is golden brown.  If you want a more golden crust – coat the crust with an egg white or a few tablespoons of melted butter right before you bake.

Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources

Friday, September 12, 2014


What did the goose say to the car? HONK! Did you know that baby goose is called a goslings or that Canadian Geese migrate all the way from Canada to Georgia? Keep reading to find out more.


Do you know what happens inside an egg? Well let’s find out. Before the female goose lays her eggs the sperm and egg combine. Then she lays he eggs and makes a gosling. The gosling take time to form and create, think about it as Legos. You are trying to make something amazing, but it takes hours, days even months to create. That’s how a gosling forms, it takes 4 to 5 months to form and hatch from the egg. Hatching is not an easy thing.    It can take days to hatch and once you hatch an adventure is put in front of you.


During winter, when the hatchlings grow up and are old enough to fly they migrate to someplace warm. For example Canadian Geese travel to Georgia for the entire season! Migrating is not easy at all. There are storms, prying eyes,DSCF7042 tornadoes etc that can easily kill a goose. They must keep their eyes and ears on the lookout for creatures, plants, weather and other dangerous things. I learned most of this information from watching geese at our campsite. At our campground (Holiday Harbor Marine Resort, GA) we can experience the life and nature of Plants, Animals and most importantly EARTH!