Saturday, January 31, 2009

I Did It!

I just realized after sending this that I managed to blog every single day this month! It was harder than I thought it would be. I do much better with the challenge of a taking a picture every single day. I think that's true, at least. Maybe I'll try that this next month.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cold and Rainy Weather

Last night I went to head to bed and realized our fantastic fan is not so fantastic after all. In case you don't know what a fantastic fan is, it's the fan on our ceiling that closes itself automatically when it senses rain. It was pouring rain. I know, you are thinking that I'm going to share that it hadn't closed. Wrong. It wasn't even open, so it didn't have to close.

Instead, alongside of the outside of our not so fantastic fan there was a gap that apparently was allowing rain to pour into our room. Right on our bed. With our new sleep by number mattress. And my new down comforter.

I would have cried but I was too alarmed by the fact that my husband really can sleep through anything. He has now proven it. Picture water pouring on your feet, and still sleeping and snoring through it. Maybe he was dreaming that we were traveling the world in a boat instead of an RV, which by the way is his next goal. And not mine. But back to the rain. Pouring into my room and on my bed.

I ask for HELP and he is half asleep so he gets out of bed and stands under the problem to observe in order to know how to best fix it. I guess the engineer in him couldn't resist. When I suggested he might want to actually do something right away to stop the water from hitting the bed he stuck out his hands to catch the water. Really, he did. It reminded me of when I used to do that when my children vomited. Poor guy. I really screamed then.

I went and got a bucket. And stuck it under the running water. The only problem was that it had to sit on the bed in order to catch the running water. So after we decided to go to bed because there was nothing else we could do for now, we realized that we had to make sure the bucket didn't overflow. He set his alarm so he could get up and check it. What he lacks in quick response, he more than makes up in sacrificial acts of love.

I was once again reminded of why two can be better than one. Despite what it looks like at times, we really are much better as a team than when we are alone.

Thanks honey for helping to fix the problem. Oh, and sorry that I kicked the bucket in my sleep and spilled it all over the bed after I yelled at you for letting water get on that same bed. Maybe a public apology with me eating humble pie will be accepted as a peace offering?

It's cold and rainy and I don't function great with either. Praying for sunshine tomorrow!

Living the life in Florida.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Guitar Hero

Our guitar hero on Wii and in real life. He doesn't actually play Wii that often. He's too busy doing things like today: Badminton, Bunco, Wheel of Fortune, real guitar practice (he learned three songs) and a cooking class complete with a healthy food guide. I think retirement will be an easy transition for him.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Making New Friends

Today while talking on the phone to girlfriend support, I looked up just in time to see this walking by our site (actually 2 of them together):
Austin tried to go and stand next to it in order to produce a great photo op, but the birds were having none of that so this is as close as he was able to get to it.He had just arrived back from hanging out with his new friend, Natasha or Tasha as he calls her. He is having tons of fun with her and her grandma.

He has been practicing his guitar with the instructional DVD's he received for his birthday and he must have felt he had made good progress because he went down to the jam session and he played three songs in front of a big crowd. He played Country Roads, Knockin on Heaven's Door and Wild Thing. Rock on dude!

He is still working on his tennis game and another TT member brought him a video to watch between now and when we go to Peace River. I love it when people who are great at something take the time to help my children (or me) learn that skill.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Company Mode

If you know me well, you will also probably know that I hate having company. Not so much that I hate the company as in the people-I hate doing the whole having company part though. I am not a hostess and I hate playing one on TV or real life. It's not that I don't care about people, but I really am not great at thinking of getting drinks, making meals, do you need this or that-all of that.

It makes me a not so wonderful nurse too. I told Nathan today that he had to get better. It isn't optional at this point. I just can't keep taking care of him and me and the kids! The pressure of being responsible for it all is completely overwhelming to me. Babies/little people-yes; big people-no.

I do however love camping with people because then I don't feel as if I am in hostess mode. You take care of your needs and I'll take care of mine and we'll just hang together and enjoy each other's company. I am all about that!

I can still find myself getting a tad bit obsessive about making sure my house is just so, even with living the camping lifestyle. So with Daryl and Diana coming in a few days, I did what any logical person who has severe company anxieties would do. I tore apart my whole RV and reorganized it. Because don't you know if they are coming, they will surely look in my cupboards and when they see how neat they are they will completely forget that I can't cook so the food in there does neither one of us any good. ;-> Ah, the things we do for the illusion of control.

The really silly part is five minutes after they are here, I will forget the days of me getting all worked up and all I did to prepare and just enjoy them. Now if I could just skip all the days ahead part and remember to just wait for the just enjoy them part.

In the meantime, I have really neat cupboards that will probably not even last until they arrive.

Living the life in Florida!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Overheard Today

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm:

Mother in grocery store yelling at child: Why do you always have to yell?
(Gee, I dunno)

Women to friend commenting on mother yelling at child: That's disgusting-can you imagine being so hateful to another human being?
(Why yes, now I can)

Woman to man in grocery store: Well if I had money I wouldn't be here now, would I?
(I guess if you have money, food is no longer necessary)

Man who bought two chairs from us to other man who came along to help: Will the chairs sit in the van?
(as opposed to what-dancing????)

Other man in response: If you put them in there they will.
(Spot on!)

A sister to her brother: Your feet smell so bad I am getting a headache from them.
(No comment)

and the best news I heard all week:

my husband after I came back home from selling the two chairs and grocery shopping-taking a line from the movie Big Daddy: I can wipe my own *beep*! I can wipe my own *beep*!
(translation-His seized back unseized enough so he could get out of bed to attend to his uh....personal business)

Oh my.

FAQ-How Long Do You Plan on Doing This?

How long do you plan on doing this? This seems to be the latest popular question that our friends and family want to know the answer to. I initially said I would do this for a year, and I think that mentally that allowed me a safe end in sight in case I hated it. I can be a person that gets very fired up and thinks something sounds great and then when I actually try it go...ummm.....not so much. Given this was a pretty huge thing to try, I knew I needed to be fairly certain that I'd enjoy it before trying, but I also knew I needed to be fairly certain that if I didn't love it we could quit at some point.

In other words, I wanted it to be long enough to give it a fair shake but not so long that if I hated it I wouldn't be able to finish out my commitment.

Now that we've been doing this for six months I am thinking a year won't even begin to allow us to see all we want to. Some of this being due to the timing of when our house sold and how much we could actually travel because of the weather. Some of that being that we do in fact love this and want to go slow so we can really absorb it.So my today answer to this question is we are still on track to do at least a year's worth of this and we will continue do this as long as it is still working for us.

Not related but in writing this it has hit me that we have been on the road six months now so it's a little mini anniversary for us I guess. In reflecting on that, my reaction to how it is going so far is that this has been much harder in some ways than I thought it would be. And I love it even more than I thought I might.Living the life in Florida!

The cutie patootie is my nephew Josh. No, he doesn't have anything to do with this post. I'm just excited about seeing him later this week so had him on my mind and I was too lazy to take pictures today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interesting Visitors

We had some interesting visitors to our site today. I tried to post pictures of them but it just wasn't happening. It was two great blue herons and a big tortoise. I love it when we can get that up close with nature.

We also had some interesting health issues. Nathan somehow twisted the wrong way and hurt his back. He has been flat on his back ever since. Every time he tries to get up, he yells in pain. Poor guy. I keep telling him we are getting older and right now he is agreeing with me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

He Gets It From His Father

My mother in law reads our blog, so it'll be interesting to see if she agrees of disagrees. I know in times past she has accused my side of the family for the wackiness of my children but this one is clearly from his father's side of the tree.

Every night we have what we refer to as "room time" and what that means is we give ourselves time in our room without any other people, meaning the kids. We live in an RV so it's not like we can't hear their every movement, but it is nice to carve out time just for us.

Austin has problems with this at times. Tonight, after him coming up for things that did not involve fire, blood or vomit (that's the three things we ask they do come get us for) I ever so lovingly said, "Don't come in our room again. I mean it. I don't want to see your face until morning!"

He goes down to the living room. Only to come up two seconds later telling me something about Tom Petty and Craigslist. (I don't know-I didn't ask) When I look up from my laptop I see he has honored my request. He's standing in the bathroom like this:
Really. It is from the other side of the family. It has to be.

I think he is trying to give Valerie from Tacoma,WA some competition because I just told him she was really, really funny. So now he has to be really, really, really funny.

This is why we rarely watch TV. We have no need for it when we have this live 24/7.

Aubi's First Paying Gig

Auburn has wanted a "job" since we started traveling which led to lots of interesting discussions about it. Since we typically move from one location to another every few weeks, it has called for her to be very creative in order to make this dream come true.

At some point she said she'd really love to make money doing what she loves-working with dogs. We thought that was a great idea given tons of people in the parks have dogs. She wrote up an ad and I converted it to a poster she could hang up.

She wasn't sure she was ready yet though. She trained her own dog, but was she able to train another dog? She ended up getting to do a practice run on a sweet dog named Snookums (thank you Tom and dear wife) and that gave her some confidence. I noticed she still didn't hang her poster though.

I asked, she hemmed and hawed, so I gave her space. I guess she was finally ready because the first day we got to this park, she went and hung her poster. And while she was hanging it, someone saw it and asked her about it and she got her first paying gig.

This is the beauty she is working with: I'm so thrilled for her. It's always a sweet thing in life when you can do what you love and make money doing it.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Austin

Today was all about Austin. It was his fourteenth birthday. He was bummed that he didn't get as many phone calls for birthday wishes as he'd have liked or have family around to celebrate the day so we tried to make the day extra special.

He is the owner of a new guitar that I'm sure you'll see many pictures of in the future because it is "awesome".

We also went to a comedy club in Orlando that was a blast. It was two teams doing improv while competing against each other. So, so funny! We laughed until we had tears running down our faces.

He said he gave the birthday five stars so I think he was pleased with the day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Live Oak Trees

I love the live oak trees here:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

School Day

Austin went to school today:Technically, he stood on the front porch of a school. He still thought it was pretty cool though.It was the oldest surviving school in Polk county. Which you can figure out the same way we did, by reading the sign. So I'm not sure why I felt the need to repeat it. Today was one of our typical homeschooling days which means you never know what will happen or where life will take you. We were going to get groceries. I saw what looked like a War reenactment of some kind. I went down a side road to find it. I never did find it. As I was looking I found this instead. We stopped to check it out. We had a great time and learned some neat things.I just remembered that I started to say to Austin when we saw the cabin above, "Can you imagine our family living in a space that small?" I stopped and laughed when I realized that duh....yeah....because we already do.

And just because he thought this bike was awesome, a picture of a cool bike we saw in Lakeland
I also shared an awesome moment with him in the car. He was listening to an audio book and stops it to say to me, "I love this book". Knowing it is one of Nathan's favorite books, I tell him that I think that's very cool that he does enjoy it also.

He stops and emphasizes it by saying, "No, I mean I get really (makes noise like someone who is giddy) inside when I listen to it". I say, " do really, really like it". He says, "It's one of the best movies I've ever seen".


"Oh" LOL "You know how a book is so good it's like a movie you can see in your head?" (I nod)
"That's what this book did inside of me!"

I don't say it out loud, I don't even indicate the slightest embarrassing to a teenage boy emotion, but I cheer very loudly inside. He's been reading for some time. Today I know he's become a reader.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nature Walk

Just a few pictures of our "nature walk" this morning, while hiking the trail at Peace River Thousand Trails. We saw an armadillo while hiking with Renie/Bryce and the kids, so I keep hoping to see it again while I have a camera in hand. No such luck so far!
The rest of our day went something like: hiking, breakfast, pickle ball, lunch, grocery shopping, library, movie time, dinner then jam session. We had a purposely slow paced day because we are heading out tomorrow.

FAQ-Why Did You Decide To Homeschool

Long before we decided to become a Family on the Road, we were asked this question. I was reminded of the answer this weekend as we laughed about some of the story with our visitors.

The answer I want to give today is: Because, apparently I needed it.

I had zero desire to ever be a "homeschooling mom" personally. I had a brief stint with homeschooling myself and it was a positive experience but for the most part Nathan and I attended public school then college and loved both. We are both geeks and did really well academically in school. We still love all things geeky. We sit and have talks that would make some people's eyes roll back into their heads. Not saying we see ourselves as brilliant, but admitting that we know we are excruciatingly boring to others at times due to this aspect of our personalities. It is something I have always struggled with being embarrassed over and try hard to hide it, but I figured it would at least pay off when I had kids. Meaning we just knew we'd have kids that were the same way. And that they'd do great in school. End of story. Or so we thought.

I wasn't anti-homeschooling. I had friends who homeschooled and thought more power to them but didn't want to do it myself and I didn't see it as being a great option for my kids. All of them did end up doing well in school and loved it. Okay, loved might be a strong word. They were compliant members of the school system, had lots of friends and got good grades. They were doing "well" overall by the school standards. Sure we had stuff from time to time but we'd address it and they'd fall back into line and we'd move on. It was all good. Or so we thought.

Enter the youngest child. Kindergarten was wonderful. Great teacher, great class, great experience. First grade was a bit more rocky but he did okay overall according to his teacher. By second grade it was not going well. Our youngest had some issues and by issues I mean he liked to talk all day long in school and the other children preferred listening to him talk over the teacher talking and were laughing too hard to do their work because of that. She called me weekly. Yes, weekly. To discuss what we could do about the problem. (meaning the talking and making other kids laugh-he was doing fine beyond that) I was too mortified to even volunteer in his classroom because of the calls. We tried everything she recommended and so did she. Nada. At the end of the year, she politely asked if I'd ever considered homeschooling.

No. Well, not true. Considered it, decided NO and quickly moved on.

She pressed the issue, a little less politely. She said she thought he'd make a great candidate for homeschooling. Given I get the impression that a public school teacher would find homeschooling to be about as great of a thing in life as the loss of a system where tenure exists, I took that to mean please remove your child because it's better for him to leave willingly than for us to boot him for good.

Oh, and then she told me she was retiring after this year because she just couldn't do another kid like him again. After twenty years of teaching she'd never had a kid like him and wanted to quit while she was "ahead". No, really, she said that. To me, his mother.

So I decided I'd keep him home for a year so I could whip him into shape. Oh, and I thought he was behind in his reading so I decided arrogantly I'd take on that challenge too. Thus our venture into this wonderful life began.

We joke about this today because it's not a painful thing for him or for our family. We aren't embarrassed in the least that he wasn't a great candidate for school and I'm happy to say that because of him we are 100% a homeschooling family today.

I did not in fact whip him into shape. I still haven't. He did read better after one year. I have no idea today how well he reads compared to if he had stayed in school. What is more important is that I've changed in ways far more significant than his behavior or his reading. It's been years now and in time this little project took over our whole family in ways we never could have imagined and we have all changed because of what it has brought into our lives.

And even though I had to fall into homeschooling in a sort of unusual way, the rewards have been as great to us as if we'd actually been the one to decide to do it. We didn't pick it, it picked us is what we like to jokingly say. It is like being someone's parent though, it was our honor that we were picked. And like being a parent, it doesn't really matter how you get there, it's what you do after you are there that matters IMHO.

I won't bore you on the many, many details of how much our style of homeschooling has changed since we began. What all I went through during those changes. How scared I was at times. How frustrated I was at other times. How amazed I was other times. The many times I wanted to give up. The many times I was so glad I didn't. What other things have happened in our lives since we took this leap of faith and how differently I see so much of life today because of it. I can say I'm so glad we are exactly where we are today.

I couldn't imagine it any other way today. I forget what our life was like when we did have kids in school. It's kind of wild how quickly we have adjusted and this became our normal, which leads me to believe it was the right thing for us completely.

I just read a quote by Martin Luther King where he said, "Thank God for the maladjusted child" and I mentally high-fived him. Because that is exactly how we feel about our story which led us to this most remarkable thing. Thank God for our "maladjusted child". God knew that was exactly what we needed to be brave enough to strike out on a very different path than we'd ever imagined ourselves being on.

It's been humbling to say the least. And through that humility, these formerly arrogant geeky geeks who thought they knew so much about education, have learned so much that we needed to know and didn't. We are now humbly aware that we have things yet to learn, so we're still homeschooling. Seriously, it's been a great decision for us.

Oh, and I think it's worked out pretty well for the kids too. ;->

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are listening to this lecture about MLK, so I thought I'd share it. It is a free lecture from The Teaching Company, which is one of our favorite resources to use during our driving time. Link here.

Goodbye For Now

We were able to make breakfast with Liv and Gabe this morning, which used to be one of our special things to do together when we lived next door to them. We made banana and chocolate chip pancakes which were fabulous! Then we took them and the dogs for a hike on the trails. The weather was perfect for hiking even though it was overcast so a tad bit chilly for other activities.Then we sadly said goodbye (for now) to Renie, Bryce, Gabe and Olivia. We had a blast with them and will cherish the memories from this special time with them. Our hearts were sad as they drove away and yet we hope we will share many happy times with them again, God willing.

It is one of the emotionally charged aspects of this life choice, that it affects how we spend time with extended family. The saddest part being that we don't see some of our family as often as we used to be able to. On the other hand, we've been able to spend more time with other family members more than we have been able to before now. And there doesn't seem to be a way for both to happen so we will always be torn emotionally over that fact, I suppose.The weather is warming up here and I'm thrilled about that. I don't mind chilly but we ran out of propane the one night and it was so cold I couldn't even sleep because of it.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Weekend Fun

We had a fun weekend, and it was extra fun because we had company all weekend long. Bryce, Renie, Olivia and Gabe joined us at Wauchula TT so we were able to spend lots of great time with them. Today we did hiking with the dogs-including a run in with an armadillo, orange picking, pickle ball, sand castle building, playing on the playground, visiting the animal refuge, having lunch under a big tree in the park, a run in with fire ants, bike riding with a run in with a hill, football, fabulous steak dinner, music trivia fun and marshmallow roasting. Whew!
Living the life!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Pickle Ball Tournament Winner

Austin competed in his second pickle ball tournament yesterday and proudly won second place. I'll have to get a picture of the ribbon he won to share here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Love Letter #64

Letter to my children

Question-Who was a teacher that changed your life?

One of my earliest and most loved teachers was my Aunt Maureen. She was vibrant, fun, interesting and dynamic. Most of all she had a heart for us "girls" (my sisters and I) and she spent time with us and treated us like people. She believed in us and she helped me to believe in me. You can do it seemed to be her life theme song and it inspired me. I started to imagine I could do anything, be anything, pursue anything, and conquer anything when I spent time with her as a young girl.

I hope she left a bit of her legacy with me/my life. I see her in how I interact with all of you. I hope a piece of that is left and seen in your lives. You would have loved her and she'd have loved you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pet Parade

We are still at Peace River Thousand Trails and have been having fun with their activities here. Auburn and Ace participated in a Pet Show today. (Loving the pink coats/sweaters on the cutie pie dogs)
They had different categories and each dog was able to show tricks, look cute and show off. Ace won "dog that knows the most tricks" and here was his prize:
It was so much fun. Auburn used to be very hesitant when it came to life. She'd stand back and watch a lot, but had a harder time jumping in. I've seen her slowly evolve other the past few years and it's been neat to see her mature in this area. She is still cautious by nature but she can jump in when she wants to.

I loved that Auburn signed up for this and did this on her own. I'm always impressed when they can pursue their interest and don't let life or other people intimidate them. They can jump in with younger children, teens or adults and do equally well with each group.

Warning-whine ahead: It is cold here. Not rest of the country cold, but for Florida-it is cold. We are not liking it one bit. I hope it warms up soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Arranged Marriage

We don't really believe in arranged marriages, but we saw something today that made us change our minds. We just couldn't pass this opportunity of a lifetime up. So we are proud to announce that we are seeking an arrangement for Auburn's hand in marriage . Her future husband is a visionary. He is frugal. He is creative. And he is able to think outside the box, which is one of the things we admire most in people. I offer up the following pictures as proof of his obvious bend towards genius. The whole deal:The back of his handiwork:And here is the front. You can see how fascinated Auburn is by this thing. Then again, so is Ace. Or maybe that is fear. Fear and fascination look a lot alike.And here is what let us know that Miss Aubs has a chance to spend eternity in wedded bliss with this prince of peculiarity. You have to click on the picture to read the fine print:Now don't try to outbid us on our offer, because we are willing to toss in Austin as a potential BFF and he is willing to say Git 'r done as many times a day as is necessary. We are quite confident that this along with the boat will seal the deal. Oh wait, boat.

Daryl, can we borrow your boat? I know you haven't bought it yet, but can you hurry up and buy it so we borrow it? We can throw your kids in the deal as dog and chicken caretaker girl and hunting buddy boy. Wait, if we did that then you'd really want the boat. Drat. Need to figure out plan B....quickly.

Living the life in Florida!

Florida Flywheelers

Today we visited the Florida Flywheelers in Ft. Meade, FL. Austin and I went last year with a group from the Peace River campground but this was Nathan and Auburn's first time there. Isn't the sky gorgeous? So what exactly is this unique event? It is lots of neat antiques and cool classic cars:
This was one such a beauty!An entire antique village:A 2 story outhouse-I get the top!A house made out of a Redwood log:

and tons and tons of tractors. Joshua would never want to leave this John Deere heaven!Let's see...what else do they have? There is also music, good food and a whole flea market type swap meet with rows and rows of goodies. Plenty to keep you busy and lots of friendly people to keep you entertained. Very fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Wii Scream

I'm trying to work out using the Wii Fit and it is not cooperating in the least. Is it considered a workout if I sit and scream at the thing for fifteen minutes while waving the wii-mote wildly around in the air? If so, then I'm good for the day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FAQ-What is the Hardest Part of Living This Way?

Another question that we get asked is, What is the hardest part/s of living the way you do?

Initially, the hardest part was just learning a new way of doing everything. So much of our lives has remained the same, but to say it is just like living in a house is far from true.

So what has been hard? For me, it is hard to adjust to not knowing the details about where we will be staying next. It is hard not knowing the roads that will take you there. Are they RV friendly or not? What about once we get there? What's the park going to be like? Will it be easy/hard to get into our site? Will the people be friendly or not? What about the local scene? How can I find the best places to shop, eat and play? Where is the library, post office, hospital and police station? What areas are safe and what areas are not that safe? What will the weather be like?

It's very similar to moving when living in a house, except you do it over and over and over again, sometimes within a matter of days.

Mail delivery and banking is not as easy as when living in a house. You can't always count on your cell phone working. You can't hop in your car and see friends and family in a day to day way (if you used to live near them-and we did).

I think hands down the hardest thing for us has been we don't have high speed internet. That might seem to be a pretty minor thing, but it really is the thing we find the most irritating on a day to day basis.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Cool Car

We really like cool cars. I really like taking pictures of cool cars. We saw this one at the park today:

Highland Hammocks Park

Today our day went something like pickle ball, hanging out at the campground, cleaning the carpets in the RV, playing ping pong, cropping digital pictures, reading and my favorite thing-visiting Highland Hammocks Park. This park is so incredibly awesome. There are trails in the woods that are dry trails and trails through the swamps that you navigate using boardwalks. We visited the Mexican restaurant Tacqueria Merlo in Avon Park again.

We are just living the life!