Saturday, February 28, 2009

Heading Out to San Francisco

Well, technically we are just heading out west, but the song has been running through my head all day long since we officially headed out on our quest to see the wild west. We have been patiently biding our time in Florida since it was too cold to be elsewhere, and we became so restless that we moved our schedule up by almost a month to get going sooner and today was the day! I was so excited that I could barely sleep last night.

This morning, we did our moving day thing and it went very smoothly. Before we headed out, the kids said goodbye to Barb and Dennis:
Barb is the one who introduced us to Pickle Ball and she has adopted my kids since then. She tells them like she thinks it is and they adore her for it. She introduced me to fish tacos and the best Mexican restaraunt we've visited since being on the road. And she made my Valentine's Day gift. Barb rocks, and so does Dennis.

We hadn't really planned to make friends when we first began this. We thought we'd meet neat people, but didn't really think of counting any as friends. She is one of the first people to change our minds on that topic.

We landed in Like Oak, FL at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park campground. So far, we are really enjoying it.

As Nathan was trying to fit our RV in our spot, this man comes walking out of the woods from a hiking trail and I about fell over because it was someone we knew. I thought, "How did he get here?". Nathan made a production of telling the kids that we might go eight months without seeing one person we know and here is someone we met at Peace River, walking through our site, at the very first place we stopped. LOL

It was Mike and he went to get Linda, his wife, and brought her over to gab for a bit. They, as most people we know from TT, are the most interesting people. They are also pondering living on a boat and they are from Maryland and knew where New Market was (where we lived in VA). They were a great reminder that although the world is big, it doesn't always have to feel that way. And they were a great reminder of how much we normally adore people from Thousand Trails. They just tend to be good people as Austin would say.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Where's Austin????

Because this sure doesn't look like him:

Teachable Moments

One of the comments that others who are not familiar with homeschooling will make is one on what they call "socialization". I think that they are meaning to ask about their social development, not socialization, but I digress. "Aren't you worried about their socialization?" would be one version of a way to bring up what they in fact are worried about. My simple answer is, "No". Inside, however I think, "Although my children spend much of their time interacting with adults, there are some adults that are still as immature as any high school aged person, so my children are still exposed to it."

The wonderful thing about this is that it gives us tons of teachable moments with our teens. For example, once when a gentleman was calling other people names such as "butthead" and a friend commented to Austin that he needed to not act in kind due to the other person being a person of an older age, we were able to counter that we teach and model a higher standard for Austin. We want him to treat others in a respectable manner regardless of something as arbitrary as age. I want him to behave respectably in fact, because that is who he is, and that has very little to do with what others around him are doing.

Most of our interactions have been so wonderful and so filled with people exuding a generous spirit towards our children that I was almost starting to be concerned that they'd have this idyllic view of the world that was not completely balanced. So this week, I was delighted that life presented something other than that for us to explore another view. Truth be told, I was not initially delighted. I initially wanted to call the person a butthead or worse because in my view, that is how he is behaving. I suspect this is the same person we had an interaction with before and he is truly a bully in my mind and I have no respect for that type of relating to others. Once I moved past visions of immature behavior on my part, I was delighted though, because I realized the opportunities for some learning and growing to take place.

The details aren't relevant because a week from now we will have forgotten them. The important part is what we do with moments that challenge us. And we've chosen to now try and understand a different view while working through our frustration over it. We have had opportunities to have deep and meaningful conversations about changes in our society over the past 100 years. How the generation that we are most exposed to at this time has been asked to make huge, major adjustments in their views over their time in our society and how difficult that must be for them.

They've lived through gender changes, racial changes and role changes in the home/family/workplace and more recently preferences that were once considered deeply personal and private matters. To think of a group of people who once were able to hold a view that an adult, white male was superior simply because he was white, adult and a male now being asked to be respectful of someone coming out of the closet is mind blowing if you think about it. We've spent much time talking about imagining how ever changing their world must seem at times when you do look at what views our society held 70 years ago compared to today. I appreciate the toll this must take at times to live in a time period when the norm has been to challenge the norm to bring more and more equality and less and less discrimination. There has been little rest for that generation. There has been little time for them to settle into the known when that was ever changing. It is our country's story since the beginning of its conception and we are still living it today.

What an exciting and intimidating thing for my children to be a part of the generation that is now exploring children's roles and worth in our society. And what a neat thing for us to be exposed to the most opposite end of the spectrum in this thinking, simply because of the time when one was born. I hope it brings balance to our lives while we, along with the rest of our generation, are living this newfound opportunity to explore what is most human, honorable and respectable in our dealing with what our society still tellingly refers to as minors. I love it when life gives us real moments of opportunity for education through history, human development, changes in society and all of that other good stuff.

Living the life in sunny Florida!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

More Bye For Nows

We spent today seeing the people we most wanted to say our goodbyes to. First we spent time with Aric:then we drove down to see my brother Steven:
Stevie is one of the coolest people we know and we all equally adore him, both young and old. He is handsome, funny, talented, smart and a joy to be around. He just finished culinary school and is looking at an internship in Europe (not sure if I'm allowed to say more yet).

He made lunch for us (superb) and performed for us, which is a great combo in our minds. Here he is jamming on one of Austin's guitars:Then we went to see our favorites and had far too short of a time soaking up their delightfulness. I cried when we left here because I know they will change the most while we are gone.
Last, but not least, we saw Ambir and said a sad goodbye to her:It will be interesting to see what will have occured between now and when we see them each again.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Milestone for Aubi

Today we had to head back down to Boca Raton to wrap up a most important thing, it was the day to remove Auburn's braces. Aren't they (and she) just gorgeous?
We woke up and left very, very early and arrived just in time to eat lunch at Aric's work and then head over to her appointment across the street. Aric joined us for dinner and then spent the night with us. Ambir came over after she got off of work and so we had a great time with just the four of us, hanging out and gabbing. Then we watched a movie and laughed together. It was a long day, but a very memorable day for me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Necessity and Laundry Drying Solutions

I believe the quote that is coming to my mind when posting this is, "Necessity is the mother of all inventions" and if so, we have found that to be true since full timing. Since some things are just unique to this lifestyle we find ourselves more and more thinking outside the box to find solutions when we need something.

This is one of Nathan's inventions and I must say, it is quite impressive to me:
He tends to take after his daddy according to my MIL, and this is one way that I'm thrilled he does.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saying Goodbye Again

Life is full of hellos and goodbyes I suppose, but some are harder than others. Today we said goodbye to our traveling buddies and it took everything in me not to sob because it will most likely be months before we see them again. My nephew will change much during those months and he won't remember us that well I'm sure. My niece will continue to blossom and grow and will be more mature and more teenager-ish when we see her again. And I won't have a friend to laugh with each day while we go through the daily business of life.

We have been so busy that we are all exhausted so we took an extra lazy day today. We are gearing up for heading out West and are beside ourselves with excitement about that.

Living the life in Florida.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Florida Railroad Museum

Tonight while we ladies did some digital scrapbooking, the guys took the kids on a hobo train ride in Parrish, Florida. It was on a really neat historic living museum.

Nathan's account: This was a really cool experience, we took the 13 mile round trip ride from Parrish to the next station west on the hobo train weekend. The train was powered by a
diesel electric engine and pulled 3 enclosed and one open air passenger car, and a caboose. We asked the conductor how much diesel the trip would take and were surprised to learn the whole night would only take about 25 gallons. The trains are actually very efficient for moving large numbers of people. There were about 250 passengers on our trip. The entire crew from the engineer to the ticket takers and complementary hobos were volunteers. We rode in the open passenger train on the way out, and an enclosed car for the return trip. It was dark and getting colder on the way back. It was interesting to see some of the Florida scenery from a back-of-the-property perspective. The tracks pass through farmland, orchards and swamps. The 6.5 mile stretch we traveled is leased from FPL who purchased the unused line from the rail company that was no longer using it.

The hobo camp is setup in a small "train yard" with about 30 campfires waiting when you arrive. Everyone is issued a hobo kit which contains everything you need to get started wrapped in a bandanna on a stick. We picked out our campfire, and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. They had extra hot dogs available, so there was plenty of food for all.
I think we all enjoyed the trip, perhaps Josh and I more than others, but it made for an excellent evening.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Helping at the Horse Refuge

Today we all went to the Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary , which is the refuge that we came across yesterday. Ambir and Santos drove up and met us there so our entire family was able to spend time there together. We went to volunteer some of our time, but I think we took away far more than we gave.

One of the things I hoped for my children to experience when traveling was to see that we can all make a difference. In a society where the stars can draw most of the attention, I wanted them to know that it is important to do what you can to help, no matter how big or small. I hope they saw some of that today.

We were honored to meet and spend time with people who demonstrate this principle in their lives each and every day. These selfless heroes, Robin and Dutch, run a horse refuge and have rescued most of the 30 some horses here. They have provided a "forever" home for these animals and have also provided a safe place where they are not only cared for, but deeply loved.
We were humbled to see how much work they invest each day in order to commit to this mission of theirs. It was also fascinating to hear some of the things they do using a natural method developed by Pat Parelli to handle the horses.

I was impressed with how hard Austin, Lauren and Josh worked today. Austin never stopped working the entire time we were there:
Rambo isn't sure what to make of Miss Royal. They were intrigued with each other:The guys working hard, pushing a wheelbarrow of horse manure:Another gentle soul, thriving under their care:I think out of all of us, Josh amazed me the most, he worked as hard and as long as the grown ups did:The horses seemed to love Nathan:Austin seems right at home here, doesn't he?What could be sweeter than horse kisses:Feeding one of the newer arrivals some apples:
We had a great time here today!
Please consider donating to this great place. You can click on the link at the top of this post to get more information. They are a non-profit organization and can use funds, items on their wish list or if you live close enough-volunteers. You can make a difference too! It doesn't have to be some huge thing. Just consider what you can give and then do it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lipizzan Horses of Austria

Herrmann's Lipizzan Stallions was our destination today, and it was a trip worth making to us. Founded in the 16th century for the exclusive use of the Hapsburg Royal family of Austria, the Royal Lipizzans are unquestionably the rarest, most aristocratic breed of horses in the world. The pride of the Hapsburg Empire, the Lipizzan breed was first established by Archduke Charles at Lipizza (now part of Yugoslavia).
Only a few hundred have ever existed at any one time. Indeed, it is a contemporary miracle of sorts that this precious bloodline is not extinct, having barely been saved by General George Patton from the Russian advance during World War II. The Lipizzans' celebrated escape was recounted in the Walt Disney movie, "Miracle of the White Stallions".
Assisting Patton in the clandestine mission to rescue the regal Lipizzans, Colonel Herrmann and his father, Colonel Ottomar Herrmann, Sr., smuggled the horses out from far behind enemy lines, riding at night and hiding by day. "We moved out into the night with nothing," recalled Herrmann, "only a handful of horses". The Lipizzans' they saved under the protection granted by Patton, were "more precious than jewels", he declared.
Colonel Herrmann, joined by two subsequent generations of Herrmanns, created an American renaissance of classical equitation's. His family maintains a 200 acre ranch in Florida to ensure the propagation of this extraordinary breed.
All Airs Above the Ground, originally outlined by Xenophon the Greek, derive from defensive horsemanship created for war and predated-dated the birth of Christ by some 400 years. These spectacular leaps and plunges were originally meant for use by mounted riders to inspire terror in the hearts of foot soldiers.
That this nearly lost art remains alive, is due in very large part, to the commitment of Colonel Herrmann, scion of the Herrmann family, and historically among the world's greatest trainers of this rare breed.
In a lively and informative narrative throughout the presentation of his remarkable stallions, the history, evolution and contemporary application of this most sophisticated horse and rider training is recounted. It is repeatedly noted that extreme patience and, most particularly, love are the requisites to such highly schooled animals. Herrmann epitomized the master of classical European equitation.

Sixteenhands Horse Refuge

While driving home from the Lippizan horse show, we saw a horse sanctuary, Sixteenhands. We stopped to check it out. I can't recall her name now, but the sweetest lady came out and talked to us for some time.

We decided this would be a great place to volunteer our time so we are coming back tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates

Today we visited the winter estate homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford in Fort Myers, Florida. We started on the lab and museum side where this great banyan tree lives. It is from Calcutta India and is approximately 400 feet. The Banyan tree was a gift from Harvey Firestone in 1925.
Across the street is where the homes are and the gardens continue. This is the caretaker's house and garage:Edison's office with a gorgeous little garden in the back:Along with the buildings, there are 20 acres of tropical gardens with more than 500 unique plants so the grounds themselves make this a place worth visiting.The chemical laboratory is one of the most absorbing features of the Edison Estate. Here, workers helped Edison in his research on goldenrod as a source of natural rubber. Throughout the laboratory, where Edison conducted his last major experiments, all of his things are just as they were in his lifetime, including his "cat-nap" cot. Because of his deafness, Edison's sleep was undisturbed and relaxed him so much that 15 minute sleep to him was as good as is several hours to anyone else.
One of my favorite features of the houses is the porches that wrap around the entire house. I can envision their families spending hours on these lovely porches. Austin demonstrating his gyro sphere that he purchased here.Afterwards, we visited a Lion's park that was located close by. The kids had fun burning off energy and being kids.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Madness

Monday must be the day most things are closed in this area because we tried to visit Pioneer park and it was closed, headed over to the Animal refuge and it was closed, then drove over to Solomon's Castle and it was closed. It was very frustrating. Then I remembered that TT had bowling at the bowling alley on Mondays so we decided to try that. Success!

We had so much fun!

We headed back to TT and were able to play some pickle ball this afternoon and early evening and I have to stop and mention that our pickle ball recruits are starting to play a mean game. Daryl has a mean spin on his serve now and Diana is slamming the ball with the best of them. We forgot to tell them that they are not allowed to ever become better than the people who recruited them!

As we were playing, I was pleasantly surprised to see Faye and Ken come over to the courts. I don't think I've seen them since Chesapeake, but I follow their blog and Faye always writes me the sweetest emails so I'm a huge fan of theirs. It was great to see Ken up and moving around so well and I'm hoping you are feeling better too Faye.

We made fajitas for dinner with meat that we bought at our favorite Mexican restaurant and it was wonderful. After that we sat around the campfire and chatted. We love days like this and we love it even more when Daryl and Diana are with us to share the day with.

Overheard This Week

My normally wise husband, has been on a roll lately, so I thought I'd share some of the things that have come out of his mouth while conversing with me:

"You are really funny on your blog" (As opposed to my real life not so witty banter?)

"I can't remember what your natural hair color is, but I like this color better?" (Huh????)

"Did you do something with my underwear?" (Yes, because my plate isn't full enough with the teens that I spend all day long with!)

After returning home, when I commented that he didn't even let me know he was leaving: "I didn't tell you I was leaving? Oh sorry......well, I must have just thought it in my head" (Okay....Next time I'll dial in to that channel so I can pick up the message there)

and the winner this week was while playing pickle ball tonight:

"You just need to practice" translated meaning "See, you could be good at this game if you'd just practice" (The worst of this being that this was after I had a good shot and he thought he was being encouraging-Oh.My!)

Ya just gotta love men!

Now, in his defense, he did respond correctly when I asked the dangerous question of, "Can you see lots of little fine lines on my face with this makeup on?" and he pretended he couldn't see them. Well, I think technically he said, "I can't see a thing", but close enough. So the years and years of training aren't a total waste and the week wasn't a total wash for the poor guy.

Hmmmm....wonder if he still thinks I am really funny on my blog after reading this?

Living the life in Florida!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Highland Hammocks Park

Today Austin and I had some things we needed to get done, so Auburn and Nathan headed over to Highland Hammocks Park. They were having a Music in the Park Day.Although there are many things about this park that make it a great one, by far we think the trees are what make it an incredible place here. I believe this tree is over 1,000 years old (and if I'm wrong, please feel free to let me know).And just because I think he's the cutest thing ever, I have to show off Ace's newest trick-he can "walk himself" now. No human necessary.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Today Nathan's computer, otherwise known as his baby, died on him. Just went kaput, wouldn't even turn on type of thing. Not even blue screened, black screened or whatever else screened-just dead. I think it died from over exhaustion, but he doesn't believe that is possible, so he called the Apple store to see who could give it mouth to mouth resuscitation and bring it back to life.

I did the wifely thing and tagged along to go, and since it was in a mall, we decided to do our Valentine's day dinner and he bought me one of my gifts there too. It was a great meal at California Pizza and can I say for the record that the chocolate banana cream cake there was divine!

We came out to the sound of music and saw there were live performers. We love this kind of thing, so we parked ourselves there and enjoyed:

I forgot to say that I also was gifted with a sweet bracelet that Barb made. I love it. We've been married long enough that we don't make a big deal about this day, but we try to live it out each day-sometimes more successfully than others. I'm still a sucker for gifts though, so I thought it was very sweet that he did try to make the day special for me.