Thursday, December 31, 2009
A. My husband could fly back to Alabama (where it has been decided that we will stay for a while) and the kids and I could stay in Ohio until the repairs were made.
B. We could rent a car one way (a steep $250, but cheaper than a last minute plane ticket) and leave my vehicle behind for the time being. I won’t have a vehicle, but we will be home…together.
We decided to go with option B. However, it certainly was an interesting drive; we’re used to driving a 7 passenger SUV with plenty of room for everyone. The largest rental car I could get was a 5 passenger Nissan Altima- for all five of us- did I mention that my kids are giants? Plus let’s not forget our faithful travel canine, Vincent.
We couldn’t fit our luggage in the trunk so we packed everything in garbage bags and left our suitcases behind- along with my super soft fleece sheet set that I got for Christmas that I really couldn’t wait to put on my bed and snuggle into. But we all need to make sacrifices right? With people and stuff shoved in every possible spare inch of space, we departed.
We hadn’t gotten very far into our drive when the grumblings began and our puppy started drooling and shaking uncontrollably- which I’ve been told is an indication of something worse to come…we made our first stop 60 miles from our starting point so the puppy could get some air and the kids could stretch. Every time our dog opened his mouth wide to yawn, we held our breath hoping it was indeed only a yawn.
Since I was driving my husband decided to take pity on the kids and trade places with them so each one could have a chance to sit in the front passenger’s seat and start the car, which really was neat. This car had a remote starter so to start it all you do is push in the brake and push the ignition button and presto, it’s like magic!
So, at last we’re back in Sweet Home Alabama with no lasting stomach virus and our Trailblazer was delivered to the mechanic today.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I’ve discovered that since my kids are older and I no longer clean up dirty diapers and spit-up that my immunity to clean up messes without flinching or gagging has worn off. Of course, I imagine that cleaning up after a teenager whose last meal was Taco Bell is less than desirable as if that would be my dream chore in the first place.
All I can say is that I feel really, really bad for my mother-in-law and I’m praying that we don’t repay her hospitality by leaving her with a terrible departing gift. Yikes…
So imagine my distress when 2 ½ hours into our trip I noticed that my vehicle wasn’t driving quite right. My husband noticed at the same time because he mistakenly thought that I had forgotten how to drive and suggested that I ease my lead foot off the gas so the gears would shift easier. Frustrated, I decided I’d show him, and I pulled over so he could drive. Ha! Take that!
OK, well, that’s not exactly how it happened, the end part that is…I actually pulled over so someone in our party could pee….and to fill up the gas tank. Nevertheless, I did suspect that something was wrong. My husband checked under the hood, pumped the gas and away we went. This time with him at the helm. And then… it happened. The vehicle began making a terrible noise and wouldn’t shift.
It had become crystal clear that we would not reach Alabama without some intervention. So we found a Wal-mart and my husband spent the next two hours freezing to death under the car, changing the transmission fluid in hopes that we could make it home.
So we tried again. And just when I thought it was safe to declare that everything was better, the noise was back and not soon after the vehicle started losing speed and wouldn’t shift. We all knew we wouldn’t make it to Alabama so we headed back in the same direction that we’d come from hoping to make it back to my mother-in-laws without the help of a tow vehicle.
And several hours later, we did. We had driven all day and hadn’t even escaped Ohio. And it seems as though we returned just in time for a snow storm. It appears that soon we will be stuck…in more ways than one.
So...wanna peak? Here's a BEFORE pic:
And now...drum roll please...after spending two entire afternoons so far...half of my dinette is finished. Here's an AFTER pic:
So...what do you think?
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
We chose the Italian Flatouts that are made with Italian herbs and seasonings and are only 90 calories per serving...added our favorite pizza sauce, toppings and cheese...served with a delicious Romaine lettuce salad with tomatoes, red onions and croutons...and a dessert that consisted of juicy orange slices. This quick and easy meal certainly hit the spot! So...have you tried Flatout Flatbreads yet?
Monday, December 28, 2009
Not only the very first outing we went on with friends in Alabama, but also one of our favorite outings, Cherokee Rock Village is certainly off the beaten path. Known as a great place to rappel, among the huge house-size boulders are many nooks, crannies and caves to explore. Unfortunately, vandals have spray-painted some of the amazing formations, leaving their own unpleasant marks. The irresponsible behavior also extended to the on site porta-pots which we found tipped over and rather disgusting. My advice? Stop at a service station just before your arrival for a potty break and take plenty of water so you don't have to cut your trip short. Whatever you do, don't forget your camera! Read more about our trip here.
After visiting the well known cottage, Ivy Green, birthplace of Helen Keller, we drove about a half hour through the Alabama countryside to the Key Underwood Coon Dog Cemetery, the only cemetery of its kind in the world. While visiting, we enjoyed reading both the comical and heartfelt epitaphs on the graves of the once beloved hunting companions. Free, and not to miss if you like that sort of thing...and if you like movies, you may notice that the cemetery was referred to in the movie Sweet Home Alabama with Reece Witherspoon and Matthew McConaughy. You can read more about it here.
Finally, though not free, Ave Maria Grotto is one of those unique not-to-be-missed attractions that is well known in these parts. You can read all about our trip to the St. Bernard Monastery where we learned about the inspiring art of Brother Joseph- a monk that spent much of his life at the monastery recycling trash into treasured miniatures of well-known buildings throughout the world with a touch of whimsy every now and then. And if you're passing through with your RV, you'll find plenty of space to park your rig. So pull over, stretch your legs, take a tour and enjoy a picnic followed by a leisurely walk along the grounds of the monastery.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
2. Packing- everything we will need for the next couple of weeks- this includes Christmas gifts, clothes, toiletries & school work
3. Cleaning- everything, inside & out- I can't stand to return home to a messy camper
4. Unhooking the RV
5. Driving our home to a storage unit- we've decided not to take our RV to Ohio with us
I know, it doesn't sound that terrible does it? Well let me assure you that since we have been stationary for a bit, it's a lot more work to pack up and go than if we moved every couple of days. We've gotten way to comfortable...
Oh, and did I mention that my husband just sprung the news on me yesterday that we aren't going to return to Northern Alabama right away? He's considering a new destination. I'd be lying if I said that I'm not a wee bit stressed out right now.
So, while we are away trying to figure out where on Earth we will be heading to next...I'm going to take a break from blogging for a couple days. Actually, the real reason is that I won't have Internet...sigh...how will I ever survive? I have scheduled a couple blog posts in my absence.
So back to the drama, will the Traveling Praters return to their current location, or will they head off into the horizon to a new adventure...stay tuned to...As the Wheels Turn...
In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, filled with precious memories with your family, friends and loved ones!
Monday, December 21, 2009
Huntsville, Alabama is known as Rocket City U.S.A and with good reason. This is the site where Dr. Wernher Von Braun and a team of German scientists settled in Huntsville to build rockets and help launch the United States to the moon during the Cold War. It was also Von Braun's idea for the state of Alabama to create a park similar to an amusement park that would educate its visitors about space and science and allow the public a glimpse of what was being designed and manufactured at the nearby Redstone Arsenal; resulting int the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
With over 12 million visitors since opening in 1970, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center has grown into the largest and best known tourist attraction in Alabama and is known for the phenomenal Space Camp program, which I dreamed of attending after watching the movie by the same name when I was young. Located directly off I-565 at exit 15-just look for the huge Saturn V rocket; a distinct landmark that can be seen for miles.
You can read about our visit here.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Since than, it just doesn't seem like Christmas if my husband and I haven't driven somewhere to see lights. Even if it means just driving through our own neighborhood viewing the displays that have been carefully, painstakingly created for the pleasure of each passerby. So the tradition continues with my own family...
Tonight we packed up and headed to the Huntsville Botanical Garden to see the Galaxy of Lights...a beautiful light display featuring more than 700 light displays in 150 scenes set in 10 or so distinct themes. Our family loves to see the light displays...wherever we may be. So on with the radio and traditional Christmas music...let the light show begin...
We laughed and recited nursery rhymes...the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe...Little Miss Muffet...Humpty Dumpty...
Beautiful, sparkling trees...
Hungry, Roaring Dinosaurs...
Where would we be without Jesus?
a sparkling palace...
and our favorite icicle forest!
We really enjoyed this display and of all the light displays we've been too, this one certainly had a ton of lights!
While reminiscing about light displays we've seen in the past, we all agreed that the most unique location to view Christmas lights that we've seen so far, would have to go to Virginia Beach for their light display along the Boardwalk.
How about you? What do you think has been the most unique place to view Christmas Lights?
Friday, December 18, 2009
Well our fun day was planned on Monday when it was roughly 65 degrees, but if you read about my week, you know we had to postpone for another day. So, we planned for Wednesday when it was supposed to be 48 degrees but was actually much colder...or at least felt colder as the wind whipped through the open air mall. To our relief...ummm...disappointment, the gondolas weren't open for rides...I imagine it would have felt even colder on the water.
We'd planned to grab snacks at the Chocolate Crocodile- a neat bistro style shop that sells yummy...you guessed it...chocolate treats. In this store, you will find the largest chocolate, caramel, ooeey, gooey nut covered apples you've ever laid eyes on! I think my son started drooling the moment he spotted them. He finally selected the Worms and Dirt apple- a huge apple topped with caramel, crushed Oreo's and gummy worms...how could he resist? While in the store we also sampled the chocolate covered pretzels, cupcakes and pumpkin bread before heading outside to the photo booth so the kids could cram themselves in and document their day in pictures.
We spent the next two hours warming up and hanging out at Barnes and Noble- how could a homeschooling mom resist?
So, how did the kids rate this outing? As far as the Chocolate Crocodile goes, they thought it was a wee bit expensive. My daughter said it would've been a 10 if she was eating chocolate, but it's not good for the complexion- so she settled for a cupcake. My middle child thought it was expensive, but he didn't purchase what he really wanted...the apple of his eye...My oldest son absolutely loved it and rated it a 10.
Highlights of the mall from a teenagers perspective? It has a photo booth, AMP machine and Dipping Dots vending machines. If money were no option, the mall would be a 9. If money is an option, they rated it a 5. So...there you have it...the low down on our mall outing...
The best part of the day for me? Hanging out with my friends!
Well, the past couple months we've been pretty stationary and have stayed at the same campground with some other 'full-timers'. While here, we met a couple that we really liked. We didn't do a lot with them, they came over for dinner a couple times and we'd talk here and there. But I'd like to think of them as friends. Today they left. And though we knew it was coming, I didn't even get to say goodbye because we were running late for an appointment. I asked my husband to stop, but he was in a hurry and continued on.
At first I was upset, than I decided it was better not to stop because today of all days I am extremely overly emotional and likely to break down in a complete sob at the mere thought of goodbyes. I truly would have frightened our new friends. I'm sure they would have thought I was a total and complete freak!
Returning to the campground, I see the empty spot where their camper used to sit and wonder if our paths will ever cross again. Though we're excited for them to continue on and see what exciting adventure awaits them, we were all sad to see them go. I really hope we can keep in touch.
So, for those of you that have been on the road longer than we have...how do you deal with saying goodbye?
It all started last Sunday...
My vehicle began making a terrible noise. My hubbie asked me not to drive it until he has a chance to look it over and make the necessary repairs. That meant postponing a fun outing with friends that we'd really been looking forward too.
Monday- It didn't matter if we had planned to go anywhere...in addition to the problems my vehicle was already having...we woke up to a dead battery.
The DVD's I'd ordered through Netflix that we need to watch for school didn't arrive though they were supposed to.
Tuesday- My computer charger died, but luckily my computer is only two months old, so it's still under warranty. Spent nearly an hour on the phone with Dell's customer service. They assured me that I would recieve a replacement part on Wednesday.
I haven't paid attention to our on board moniter and our camper ran out of gas. Not gasoline. LP gas. The kind necessary for cooking. And hot water. And heating. Not a big deal...but it is a pain to pack up your camper and drive it away to get gas only to return and hook everything back up and level it...
As if that wasn't enough...our electric heater that we've been using so we don't use all of our gas died too.
Still no Netflix movies. Hmmm...we're now two days behind in our Medieval Japanese study...
Wednesday- After waiting for my part to arrive all day, I finally listened to my messages on my cell phone and noticed I'd missed a call from FedEx. The package I was expecting had the wrong address and they were unable to deliver it. Waiting on my return call so they could make the delivery. In my excitement, I rushed to pick it up myself only to find out that Dell did not send the entire AC adapter as I'd expected. Computer still does not work.
Spent another hour on the phone with Dell customer service to straighten things out... and to request that the correct part be sent to the correct address... only to discover this time they won't overnight the part and I should get it next week.
Good news, $250 later, my vehicle is fixed.
Bad news, on the way back from FedEx it began to make another terrible noise. No more driving until my husband has a chance to look at it again.
Still no movies. I reported the ones I'd ordered missing.
Thursday- Missed a webinair that I was supposed to watch as part of an intern position that I'm undertaking.
Discovered that one of our holding tanks was full and I missed it...(back to that moniter thing)...water backed up into our shower that is our temporary dirty clothes hamper. Can you say eeeeewwwww??? Now I have a mess of really stinky, wet, yucky clothes. Good news...I just bought trash bags and tomorrow can be laundry day.
Found out the movies I'd requested from Netflix had been given to someone else. Instead of giving them to us, they sent them back to Netflix...we are now 4 days behind on our study...and I was so proud of myself for planning ahead! Well, replacements should be here tomorrow.
Sooo...how about your week? I'm going back to bed...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Since I have a strict budget for the total makeover, finding what I need has been a bit tricky and I’ll have to be a bit creative. After searching all the fabric stores in the area and unable to find exactly what I had in mind, especially at a low cost I was about to give up and settle on something I wasn’t really happy with when I found just what I wanted in a most unusual place. Goodwill. That’s right. A thrift store had exactly what I wanted. And more. Lo and behold, hanging on a rack were brand new curtains in just the color and patterns I was looking for! I had hoped for upholstery material but the pattern is right on target. I’m simply going to remove the seams and wala…just what I was looking for.
Soon, my dinette will have a brand new look and as a bonus, I’ll have enough material to create curtains for the camper. Can’t wait until it’s finished! So...what do you think of the color scheme? I know it's not as clear as it could be, but I promise, one of these days I really will get a better camera!
Monday, December 14, 2009
In the spring my daughter and I played Connect Four almost daily. But Connect Four is a great game for my ADD brain that doesn’t seem to be able to focus or strategize on anything other than blocking my opponent from lining up four of their red or blue chips in a row.
Risk, now that is a stretch. Not only is more thinking involved, it also takes a great deal of time. And then there is the alliance factor. Do I form a partnership with my oldest son, youngest son, my husband or do I take them all out in an everyman for his self mentality? Hmmm…all this under the pretense of family fun???
As the game progressed, it didn’t really matter what alliances were alluded to or implied, diplomacy was forgotten as world domination was foremost in our minds. My husband fell first, happily I might add. Though I fought a good fight… or rolled a good dice…I was next to go, leaving the boys to duke it out against one another.
As the temperature in our camper began to rise we suggested...or rather...demanded...that the game end. Immediately. I think I’ll stick to Connect Four. It's not as confrontational.
Do you have any ideas on less competitive games we could play that wouldn’t erupt in WWIII?
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
6-8 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
½ package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 10 ¾ oz. can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 10 ¾ oz. can of Cream of Celery Soup
1 10 ¾ oz. can of Cheddar Cheese Soup
1 med. onion, diced
Boil potatoes in just enough water to cover them. Cook until potatoes are firm, but tender. Add soups, bacon and onions. Simmer until warmed thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley if desired and serve. Mmmmmm....good...
I know this is just one of the awesome potato soup recipes out there, why not share your favorite too?
Friday, December 11, 2009
While you're there snooping around, you should take the time to watch this video on homeschooling. It's a bit lengthy but it really does a great job of showing the diversity of homeschooling and how homeschooling is truly a lifestyle; not something that takes place from 9-3 and then you're finished.
Finally, Debbie Harbeson, the author of the blog has a free book that you can download that offers you a glimpse of her own homeschooling experiences.
Well, there you have it, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and stop by and have a look. If our interview doesn't interest you, I'm sure you'll find one that does!
Have a look and tell me what you think...
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Curious about our life on the road? Want to know what it's like from a kids' perspective? Well, here's your chance! This past week I sat down with my oldest son and asked him some of the questions I thought you'd like to know. Enjoy!
Tell me about yourself.
I’m Nickolaus. I’m 16 years old. I live in a camper with my father, mother, brother, sister and dog, but we could get rid of one of them.
I’m almost scared to ask this, but which one would you get rid of? (Laughing) Vincent. He’s always biting me and licking us. In the morning he jumps on me when he wants to go outside.
Other than living with your dog, Vincent, what other challenges have you encountered? Well, we don’t have as much room for stuff. We don’t have as much stuff as we did when we were at our house. But I don’t care about that. As long as I have my books and my Xbox, everything is alright with me. Now I know that we don’t need all the stuff we had before.
You are also around your brother and sister and everyone all the time. That’s a challenge.
Oh yea, I have to walk to the bathhouse to shower every morning. Even when it’s cold out. Other than that, it’s not too much different.
Describe your life on the road. It was hard at first because of all the driving, but I’ve gotten used to it.
How have you gotten used to the driving aspect? Ipods. Also I’ve gotten used to sleeping in the car which I could never do before. Now I can relax and sleep for most of the drive.
What do you do when you want to get away from everyone? When it’s not cold I can read one of my books outside. I started to keep a journal . I write in it when I’m sad, mad or want to remember something. Sometimes I throw the football around with my dad, that helps me relax. I also work with my dad once in awhile. My dad gets a helper, I learn a skill plus I get out of the house and make a little bit of money. I really like the time to myself though.
What aspect of life on the road do you enjoy? I like being able to go to new places. I don’t like being in one spot for too long. When we were at home, I was always anxious to get back on the road.
What type of places do you like to go to? I like to travel where it’s not too hot or too cold. I like trees. I like woods. I like mountains. I like to go hiking and when it’s nice we hike a lot. I enjoy hiking because it’s just you, your family and God, enjoying His creation. My favorite hike was in Tennessee at the Great Smokey Mountains, but that trail was pretty busy and I prefer to enjoy nature with less people. Just me and my family.
What other places have you been to that you really enjoyed? I’m really interested in history so I like to go to historical museums. The War Museum in Virginia was great and it wasn’t crowded. I like to go to museums when they aren’t busy, I like to concentrate on the exhibits and not feel rushed.
The Cleveland Museum of Art was great. I loved the architecture and columns. They have a really great Armor court.
The Holocaust Museum in D.C. was neat. I think I’d like it better now that I’m older because I didn’t fully understand what it was about the first time. I still don’t understand why the Germans did what they did.
COSI in Columbus had an incredible Star Wars exhibit that I loved. I’m a big fan of Star Wars. There were costumed characters walking around and we got to sit in the Millennium Falcon. The simulator was neat but we had to sit for over an hour waiting for our turn. The exhibit will be in Alabama next year. I’d love to visit again and take my Grandpa.
Speaking of your Grandpa, how do you stay in touch with friends and family?I Google talk with my friends. Face book helps a lot. Text messages. Xbox Live. I don’t really talk on the phone much. Sometimes we send postcards of the places we’ve been.
How has your current on the road lifestyle affected your schooling? I’ve been forced to take my schooling seriously, so I’m learning a lot more. At home I could slink off and hide every chance I got, but not here. Mom knows just what I’m up to. I’ve also had more educational experiences because of the places that we’ve visited. We always stop at science centers, history museums and battlefields that we find in the area. We’ve been to places that we read about in books. That’s pretty neat.
One more question. What advice do you have for other teenagers on the road? Well, all I can think of right now is to be friends with your brother and sister- or it could be a nightmare.
Well, there you have it...Life on the Road from a slightly different perspective. Did I miss something? No problem, I'll have another interview coming up with another Homeschooled, Roadschooled teen in another week or so.
Why not leave a comment with any questions you'd like to ask? Of course if you have a Homeschooled, Roadschooled Kid that would like to participate, let me know that too? Why should it be all about us?
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Talking my husband into any major changes is a difficult feat. Not that he isn't open to making those changes but let's just say that in the past I have had a tendency to...ummm...frequently change my mind when it comes to decorating. Southwestern, County, Traditional and Shabby Chic, you name it, I've decorated accordingly. I used to love watching all the design shows on TLC and HGTV. I've even taken Interior Design classes that I loved; so to say that I found a few things in the camper that I wanted to change is not out of character for me. I would have found things in a brand new camper that I wanted to change. After all, this is our home, shouldn't the decor reflect that?
Well, the late eighties, early nineties interior of our camper did not reflect us. Imagine. Pink. Everywhere. Carpet. Furniture. Tile. Pink...or...to be more exact...mauve....Yikes! It had to go and I couldn't wait for that day to come.
Well, last week, my husband and I had a date...to Home Depot...I know, we won't win any awards for the most romantic date idea, but he's a contractor, what can I say? Anyway, while we were shopping, we ran across some flooring that we really liked so we bought a couple boxes and began our project.
My son ripping up carpet
Demolition complete and clean-up begins
Installation of vinyl, wood floor look-a-like begins
And finally, a preview of the finished project
So, what do you think so far?
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
In the course of decluttering, I found some really awesome books, resources and programs that I had planned to use someday. Items that made the cut and were actually stored on board the camper and not stored elsewhere, traded, sold, donated or tossed. There was a reason that I purchased them and now we're going to find out why.
Over the course of the next few weeks, when many families are slacking down on their workload and preparing for the Christmas holiday, we're adding to ours in preparation for a possible break after Christmas. So my kids can expect a more rigorous workload- as far as our Relaxed/Charlotte Mason/Unschooling philosophy goes...
Now, because I am sometimes great at planning, but not so great at following through with all my incredible plans, I've decided to blog about my intentions and hope that it encourages me to be accountable.
So, what are these awesome materials that I found?
1. Back issues of The Home Educator's Tutor
This magazine is one incredible resource! I have used it in the past and loved it. In fact, this was an indispensable resource when we first began traveling. It enabled me to pack some quality literature like Shakespeare and Plutarch as well as incorporate picture study, music study- complete with a CD and handicraft ideas in one slim publication and not a hoard of books. In fact, I enjoyed this resource so much, I don't know why we didn't continue to use all of the issues. So...this is one resource that I'm not ready to part with. I plan to go through each issue relatively quickly, in addition to the courses my children already take with Connect the Thoughts. Unfortunately, this great resource is no longer available in the original form, but you can find a similar item, The Tutor, which has replaced it here.
2. Learning Through History Magazine
Okay, I didn't really find these in my stash. I helped a friend declutter her shelves earlier in the week and walked away with four of these gems; Medieval Japan, The French Revolution, Colonial America and The Great War. Since my boys LOVE history, I knew this would be something they would really enjoy. I also plan to go through these really quickly, probably one every two weeks and though we'll do the crafts and literature study, we'll probably skip most of the extra reading. Partly because we are using this magazine in addition to our regular curriculum and partly because some of it will be a review. What isn't new will just help fill in any gaps my children have in their schooling. I think they'll really enjoy Medieval Japan so we'll start there and end with The Great War because I know we'll spend a bit more time on that one.
3. Kids Discover Magazines
These interesting issues are packed with colorful pictures, diagrams, maps and information about World History, American History, Life Science, Earth Science, Space, Physical Science and the Human Body. Though these are written specifically for 8-12 year olds, the subject matter is appealing to older kids as well. So if you have an older child that struggles with reading, I think these would certainly keep their interest. I've decided that I will part with these, but first, I'd like my kids to look through them one more time just to make sure they read all the issues before letting them go.
I plan to add more details about these products as we begin to use them over the next couple weeks. In addition to these three fabulous resources, I found several books that I will be reading and many that I will assign to the kids over the next month. But I'll comment on those later....
Have you used any of these products in your homeschool? Why not share your experience?
Monday, December 7, 2009
Aaahhh...Mondays. The kids don't have an excuse for not hopping out of bed at the crack of dawn. They are teenagers; they never want to get up. If left on their own, I'm convinced they would lay there awake or not for the entire day. Well, maybe not, eventually, they would get hungry. I guess that's what normally happens. They stay in bed as long as they can and then they have to get up and feed their belly. On Monday I always allow them to sleep in just a bit longer. Any other day of the week I would hear their alarms going off right around 7:30, but not today. It's nearly 8:30 and not a creature has stirred since my husband left for work two hours ago. Except the puppy who jumped on my bed, licked me to my displeasure and after he was convinced that I was truly awake, laid down at my feet and promptly fell back to sleep. Satisfied that his work for the morning was indeed done.
Mondays are one of the only days that we have regular scheduled activities so despite the temptation to sleep in, we are needed elsewhere. And today elsewhere happens to be to a nearby homeless shelter where we have a standing appointment each week to serve lunch to nearly 150 men, women and even heartbreakingly, a few children.
I have to admit that our reasons for helping are a bit selfish on our part; my son is determined to earn the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Self-serving or not, after each experience we have left blessed beyond measure by the amazing people that we meet. This particular shelter has a program available for its residents. They are fed, clothed, counseled and have some place safe to sleep that gets them off the streets. In exchange, the participants agree to be part of a 'program'. I'm not entirely sure how it works, but the residents are given jobs like working in the kitchen, guard duty, etc. They are also responsible for attending all programs that are offered from different individuals and churches. One of the men told me today that last week they had a rock band that was made up of bikers that are Christian bikers. They gave their testimony and shared Christ with the residents. They also sang Christian rock songs. He was amazed because he'd never heard of Christian Rock music before and he really liked it, as he described...'because it was just like Van Halen, but the words were different!'
I also worked with a woman that has just celebrated 30 days of sobriety! She is so proud of herself, as she should be. She's taken a huge step by enrolling in the program and she's had a really difficult time the past month and faced a lot of temptation, but she hasn't given up. She's determined to remain sober. Tonight she will be recognized in a special program and she's excited to show me the pin she will receive when we return next week and I'm excited for her. I pray that this will truly be a life changing experience for her.
I know our hours of service have certainly been life changing for us. I for one am learning not to judge. To be merciful and kind. There are many, many people that have been affected by this economy. I don't think any of us can take for granted what we have. Many of those that gather at the mission daily are not alcoholics, they've never taken drugs, they've planned for the future and then sometimes, something, out of their control has left them not knowing where to turn. Many have suffered car accidents, illnesses, the death of a loved one, or job loss. Many had nice clothes, beautiful homes, cushy jobs and a family- and yet they've found themselves somewhere they've never wanted to be, often alone.
One man I spoke with remarked that he would have a good day today since I spoke to him. Wow! He'll have a good day, just because I had a kind word for him? That really made me think...and feel guilty. How many times in the past would I walk past someone in his shoes and not even look at them, let alone offer a kind word? How could I think that they weren't just like me? From now on, I'll try. I'll make the effort. Even when it's uncomfortable, which makes me think of one of my favorite songs by Casting Crowns, If we are the Body, that you can watch below. I chose a video that displays the words, because I don't know about you, but sometimes I really need a reminder of what I'm supposed to doing, living for Christ and sharing sharing His unfailing love with others. I am part of the Body. Sometimes, I just need to a reminder.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Now it's official, the consensus among us seems to be that it is easier to live full-time in a motor home when it's warmer rather than when it's cold. We haven't even felt the full breath of winter and yet I'm thinking we must drive further South, or rent a temporary apartment if we're going to stay here.
In fact, last night around 3 a.m. I even thought about waking my husband and suggesting that we rent a hotel room for the remainder of the night, but I couldn't speak due to the chattering of my teeth. Oh, and the fact that a hotel room costs money and right then I was cheaper than I was cold. So...I burrowed deeper into and under my covers and dreamt of summer...
So, exactly what is this meal I speak of? Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Tacos served with a simple colorful Bean & Corn Salad and Seasoned French Fries, ready to serve and eat in about 30 minutes. On a scale of 1 to 10, this meal earned an 8.5 from my family. Definite thumbs up!
This meal will grace our table again, and maybe I'll have my new camera and can actually take a picture that will do the meal justice.
Want the recipe? Here ya go!
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts diced and cooked (to save time, I heated up a package of Tyson's Fully Cooked Oven Roasted Diced Chicken Breast)
1/2 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled (I use Turkey Bacon)
1 cup Ranch dressing
Mexican blend shredded cheese
Chopped tomatoes, if desired
Your choice of hard or soft taco shells
Mix chicken, bacon and Ranch dressing together. Prepare tacos by adding chicken mixture to the shell and top with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. Yummy!
Bean & Corn Salad
1 can Black Beans
1 can Sweet Corn
1/2 cup mild salsa
Drain beans and corn. Mix in a bowl with salsa. Serve.
(You could add 2 Tbsp. of Italian dressing, but I like this dish just as well without).
Seasoned French Fries, well that was the really easy part. I just bought a bag of Ore Ida's at Walmart and popped 'em in the oven.
There you have it. A quick and easy meal. Think you'll try it? Why not let me know what you think?
Saturday, December 5, 2009
After driving in the stuff for half my life, I on the other hand thought I wouldn't care if I ever saw snow again. Not true. I was even excited.
When my husband left for work he discovered that several of the main roads were closed. Certainly not what we'd expect to find up North! So, how much snow does it take to close the roads in Alabama? Apparently this much:
Can't say the puppy enjoyed the snow. He'd rather stay in until it melts. Everyone else is a cold, but happy camper.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
So in preparation for our field trip to Nashville that I just know is coming...we began learning about Georgia O'Keefe, her life, her art and her ever changing style. At least her early art was ever changing. I think.
Though I managed to pack some wonderful art books to use as resources on the road, neither of them mentioned much about OK (the signature she sometimes used to sign her paintings). Not to worry, the internet is always a good backup plan. I found this website all about Georgia and I always love to see if Harmony Art Mom has anything to say about our current artist of choice and unlike my books, I wasn't disappointed.
As a wrap up to our oh-so-brief art lesson, the kids created their own work, first by copying a piece that they enjoyed from her collection and then trying to create something of their own..."Georgia style". My son enjoyed the giant flower collection and decided to paint a giant daisy using acrylic paints. I don't think he did a bad job. What do you think?
Monday, November 30, 2009
MOM...where did you put my throwing knife?
MOM...where's my iPod?
MOM...what happened to the shampoo?
MOM...have you seen my cell phone charger?
MOM...I can't find the hair brush!
MOM...did you take my Skillet CD?
and MOM replies....ENOUGH!!!
UGGHHH...it's enough to drive this mom craaazeeeee...
And...there are four other people that live in this camper- what makes everyone think that I know where their stuff is anyway? Does the fact that I'm a mom mean that I have inherited an uncanny ability to find anything that is currently hidden, misplaced or lost?
For a brief moment, I allowed myself to daydream about the good ole days when we still lived in our house and everything had a place and everyone put everything back in its place when they had finished using it. A time when I never heard the words...MOOOOOOOMMMMMMM....WHERE IS...???!!!
and then, reality sank in and I remembered...
this isn't new...there were times, though not as frequent, when they lost things, misplaced things and couldn't find their treasured belongings and essentials at home either...when everything DID have its place.
What's a mom to do? Well, in an attempt to avoid a complete collapse if I hear THOSE WORDS one more time...I've brainstormed and have come up with a couple ideas that I hope will place the responsibility on my children and no longer focus on me. After all, my kids are all perfectly capable of caring for their own possessions, especially their most beloved cell phones, iPods, CD's and Xbox games.
Here's what I came up with as I begin to teach this basic concept all over again.
• I will teach by example. I will be responsible and not lose my keys, my purse or my shoes...and if I do happen to misplace them, I know it's not MY fault!
• Also, teaching by example, in the rare, almost unheard of instance that something I need is MIA- I will not blame anyone for losing it!
• Following the above theme of…ummm…teaching by example…if in the rare instance I am unable to locate something of mine, I will search our home thoroughly before I enlist the reinforcements in my mission and ask the kids for help. ..
(However, if my keys are missing, I will call my husband before I begin searching because he has been known to unknowingly take them on occasion…)
Now that I've laid the groundwork, I'll give the kids some tools to help them keep track of their things...
• They will each have their own shower bags with their own soap, shampoo, hairbrush, etc. that will hang in the bathroom on a hook AT ALL TIMES when they are not in use.
• The kids will also have their own cubbies for storage in their cabinets where the things they’ve brought from home can be stored. If they have an actual cubby or plastic bin their treasured items will not slip and slide in the cabinet when we’re traveling and will stay much more organized.
• We will also continue to sell, discard or donate all non-essential items. After all, it doesn’t take long for overcrowding to occur when you live in small quarters.
And now, I'm hoping someone out there can give me a few pointers. How have you managed to make the best of small spaces?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
It turned out that my brother-in-law joined me in the kitchen, so I wasn't the only cook for the day. We only had a few minor mishaps, we forgot to cook the ham, not good for those that don't like turkey, the sweet potato casserole wasn't finished on time and I had mistakenly bought Brownie topping and not brown icing for the cookie craft that I had planned for the kids to make. They were to construct turkeys out of cookies and paint on their faces. Due to my mistake, you couldn't really tell what the turkeys were so I won't bother posting a pic. They weren't at all cute like the website I found them on. That's okay though, the kids still had fun making them and the worse they looked the funnier it was to watch them and listen to their comments!
We visited for a couple hours after dinner before making the trek back to Alabama. While driving through Chattanooga, once more I tried and was unsuccessful in coercing my husband to allow us to stop at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo. That's okay though, I'd rather stop when we can spend the night in one of the train cars which my daughter thinks would be the coolest.
We arrived home to a freezing camper Thanksgiving night, thankful to be home. For a brief few minutes, I thought about joining the crowds and getting a start on my Christmas shopping, and then I remembered the year I had climbed out of bed at 3 a.m. to get in on the madness. That memory was enough to persuade me to stay home, in bed, snoozing away...I did do some online shopping though.
I found some awesome deals at C28, a Christian clothing store, and bought t-shirts for $10 each. They are offering their Black Friday sale until Sunday, November 29th. We were first introduced to C28 at a Decyfer Down concert in October. The band members wear and promote the clothing line and passed out fliers. Curious, we took a look and my kids couldn't wait to add to their wardrobe. I love the message that you find on the clothes, the statements are definitely bold. I used to think that people didn't really pay attention to what t-shirts say, but after wearing one that I picked up I now know that's not the case. In fact, if you're going to wear it, be prepared to answer the questions that will follow. We love this line of clothes...take a look and let me know what you think.
Christian tee shirts from NOTW
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
So...I was absolutely thrilled when my sister-in-law, who also lives out of state, suggested that we celebrate Thanksgiving together...at her house. It would save them a trip to Ohio and we'd still spend the holiday with family. And...this is so great...I can do all the cooking, in a real kitchen! I'm excited, my kids are excited and my husband is looking forward to a day off work and relaxing visit with loved ones. So, Tennessee, here we come....Happy Travels Y'all!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
1.Where is your cell phone: Beside me
2. Your hair: Blondish brown
3. Your mother: just talked to her
4. Your father: is missing me (also in Ohio)
5. Your favorite food: Deschner’s Pizza in Mansfield, Ohio- there is nothing else like it!
6. Your dream from last night: That I was camping and it was freezing; then I woke up and found that I was camping and it was freezing!
7. Your favorite drink: Mt. Dew, but I’m trying to break the habit!
8. Your dream/goal: To travel around the entire U.S. before my kids graduate and to be self-supporting
9. What room are you in: In the kitchen/living room in the motor home
10. What is your hobby: Blogging, traveling, writing, reading
11. What is your fear: Running out of gas
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years: Still traveling
13. Where were you last night: At the camper with my husband watching My Sister’s Keeper
14. Something you are not: Skinny- though I’d like to be
15. Muffins: Blueberry
16. Wish List items: A custom designed motor home with a matching tow vehicle.
17. Where did you grow up: Ohio
18. Last thing you did: Took the dog out
19. What are you wearing: fleece pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt
20. Your TV: off
21. Your pets: An adopted pound puppy that is missing part of his ear, affectionately known as Vincent Van Gogh. A beautiful Siamese cat named Cleo that could not cope with the traveling lifestyle so she is in a loving foster home with friends of ours.
22. Your friends: Love them!
23. Your life: Never a dull moment
24. Your mood: Excited!
25. Missing someone: Everyone
26. Vehicle: SUV
27. Something you're not wearing: Socks
28. Your favorite store: Thrift stores, used bookstores, Books-a-Million or Barnes and Noble
29. Your favorite color: Green
30. When's the last time you laughed: Just a few minutes ago
31. When's the last time you cried: At a funeral last week
32. Your best friend: My husband
33. One place you go over and over: Walmart
34. One person who emails me regularly: Karen
35. Favorite place to eat? At home
Now for the hard part, I have to choose 6 Over the Top blogs to pass this award on to which is a lot harder than you may think! So, here goes:
The first blogger I’m passing the award to is my lovely daughter that you'll find at Chelsea’s Blog. She likes to blog about her favorite things the Jonas Brothers, Skillet and attending Christian concerts. It’ll make her day if you stop by and leave a comment.
My friend Shannon has a great blog called Living Life at Home. She shares tips on how to balance working at home while homeschooling four active children.
Show Us the World is a blog I’ve been reading for quite some time. A fellow full-time traveling family, I love to see their beautiful pictures and read about where they’ve been, adding some of the locations on our own list of places to see.
I’d also like to pass the award to Calina at Love 2B Home. She’s a thrifty homeschooling mom that shares a bit of everything!I enjoy reading what she's up to.
Don’t Blink, is a blog that I just found that I really love. Bridget and her family are getting ready to embark on their own traveling adventure and I’m looking forward to reading about all about it!
Not one to frequent the doctor’s office, I’m always interested in natural healing & supplements. I’ve really enjoyed reading through the articles at Jo’s Health Corner. Interested? Take a peek.
There you have it! I hope that you find that by reading this, you’ll find some new blogs to enjoy!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This is how it began. We were sitting outside when my husband moved a camp chairs from the ground and a mouse scurried out from underneath. My husband was going to kill it, but it was so cute! I begged him not to injure the creature and at my wish, the mouse was spared. Oh how I regret that plea. It wasn't a few days later when I began to see evidence of a mouse in our house! The first clue I noticed was that the toilet paper had been nibbled and shredded and then I found mouse poo nearby!
As if that wasn't evidence enough, several nights later my husband and I awoke to a chewing, gnawing sound coming from the cabinet above our bed. No amount of yelling, pounding or shaking could convince the mouse to shut up and leave. So, I went to the store to buy traps. Lots of them. My husband strategically arranged them inside the cubby above our heads and we waited in anticipation. But it appears that we have a smart mouse because once the traps were in place, he moved.
We now have traps covering every inch above and below the bed, in the bathroom and no mouse. Then we realized that the mouse had moved to the front of the camper and was now keeping the boys awake.
Back to the store to buy more traps. At this point, you couldn't even reach into a cupboard without fear of getting your fingers snapped and yet we still had not caught a mouse! In desperation we decided to use the De-con, it wasn't long before we noticed that our camper had a bit of an odor. Assuming that the De-con had finally worked, we began to remove some of the traps. My husband lifted our bed and there was our mouse, caught in one trap which then flipped over into one of the sticky traps which somehow managed to push itself into another trap which got the mouses feet and tail. Finally the traps had worked and it had only taken three to catch our mouse!
Sunday, November 8, 2009
I'm sure there are many errors that full-timers make when starting out. Although we'd hoped to embark on our journey for several years and I'd spent much time reading and researching, we still felt unprepared when the big moment actually came and this led us to make a common error. Or so we've been told. So if you are reading my post and you are a full-timer, you may be able to relate to what I'm about to write, if you're reading this because you hope to one day own a camper of your own, please heed this warning before it's too late.
Our camper is an older camper so it lacks some of the features that are now pretty standard on newer models. One of those features are automatic levelers or leveling jacks. The camper did come with a few pieces of boards that appeared that they should be used for something, but to be honest, we really didn't give them much thought. After all, when everyone talked about un-level sites, in my ignorance I thought an un-even site would have hills, bumps or potholes and the spots we camped didn't seem to have any of these characteristics so they must have been even, right? Wrong! And for those of you that have campers, I'm sure you already know why you want to make sure your camper is level to ensure that your refrigerator is not damaged or ruined.
Well, when our refrigerator quit working, we began to give this a bit more thought. Especially when replacing the frig is a costly $1500-$2000! Well our camper is older so to invest that much money in the refrigeration unit was probably not the best option, but to pull the unit and replace it with a small house model also had it's drawbacks. After much thought we decided that if the unit could be repaired rather inexpensively, we'd go ahead and put the money into it. So off to the repair shop the camper went. Turned out that the refrigerator wasn't the only thing that needed to be repaired, but the entire converter box was faulty which was not allowing the frig to run properly. A new converter, a new circuit board and $600 later, we were back at our campsite loving the fact that my frig was working again. That lasted for a couple weeks and finally one day when I returned home from the grocery store with just enough food to cram into our frig I realized that it was no longer working and began doing the exact same thing it had done before.
Frustrated, I called my husband, who called the repair shop, who told us that they would need us to take the camper back to them or we could pay them $130 to come to us. Yeah right. My husband thinks we may have gotten a faulty part, but does not want to put the camper back in the shop because that means we have to stay in a hotel which at this point in the journey, I've shared that is almost an unbearable thought for us. He also does not want to pay to have the man come to us because for $130 we could buy the part that we need. So, my husband has decided to do the repairs on his own.
Today he planned to remove the frig to work on it a bit outside of the camper but that was easier said than done. So as an alternative, my husband decided to climb into the outside cubby that holds the frig. Some of you will understand what I mean when I say that I was claustrophobic just watching him but if you don't realize just how small that space is take a peek at the picture that I posted. And to think that this all started because we failed to make sure our camper was level!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I actually stumbled upon the HS Neighbor when I clicked on a banner that read Want to travel? Free accommodations for homeschool families. Well, that ad certainly got my attention. After all, I’m always searching for ways to reduce our expenses. Lower costs mean we can see more! I clicked on the ad and though I thought the program sounded fantastic, I really didn’t think that it’d work for us. We don’t have a house to exchange, and the camper barely has room for my own family. That’s when Amy explained the hospitality program to me.
The ‘Hospitality’ program is for people like us that may be passing through on their way to another location. Maybe you’d like to meet other homeschooling families while you are traveling. This program allows you to do that while sharing a meal or possibly exploring the area with your own tour guide. If you just want someplace to rest your head, or park your camper, that’s OK too.
The ‘Home Exchange’ program works this way; you swap homes with a family that would like to stay in your home while you explore their city/state/country while staying in their home. This saves you money and allows you to travel when normally you may not have been able to do so. After all, why spend all of your money on accommodations when you could really visit some incredible attractions with the money you’d save? You can read more about the program at the website.
It’s easy to get started. Once you sign up, you create your own listing on the website which will allow others to get to know you. Your listing will include information about your family, pets and home as well as attractions that may be in and around your area. You can then begin perusing the listings on the website and contacting families in areas that you may wish to travel to. The website offers a chat feature where you can ‘talk’ to other members until you are comfortable contacting them via another method. There is also a blog, the Neighborhood Clubhouse that you can follow and a Yahoo! group that you can choose to participate in.
This incredible program is available to those that currently homeschool their children, grandparents of homeschooling families and homeschool graduates worldwide! Normally you’d pay $34.95 for an annual membership, less than the price of one night’s stay in the cheapest hotel rooms, but for a limited time you can give the Home Schooler’s Home Exchange Neighborhood a try for only $14.95 or you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with the words "Travel Giveaway" in the subject line by midnight November 20th, for a chance to win a free membership. You don't have to become a follower of my blog, link to this post on your blog, tweet this or become my Facebook friend- though all those things are great and I certainly wouldn't mind, I've opted to keep this simple. Be sure to pass this along to everyone you know that enjoys traveling, the more entries I have, the more winners I'll have. I can’t wait to get started and who knows, maybe we’ll come to your house to visit!
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Of all the categories I've listed, thrift store finds are my favorite, hands down. I love to shop. And I'm cheap. Thrift stores allow me to satisfy my near shopping addiction while spending a minimum amount of money.
To my delight, I've found a thrift store nearby that frequently has homeschool curriculum and an awesome selection of books for next to nothing. I normally stop in at least twice a week to check out the new donations and each time I walk away with an armload of books. Last week I hit the mother lode and carried out a box loaded with awesome titles for under $8.
It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize that I can't possibly keep all of the books that I've acquired this way, after all, we are living in close quarters. So when we finish with the books that I buy I share them with friends, swap the books at Paperbackswap.com, trade them locally for store credit or sell them online and use the money to purchase materials that can not be found at thrift stores which allows me to keep our budget for homeschooling books and curriculum low.
Take a peek at what I've found this week:
I think thrift stores are just one more awesome way that the Lord provides for our needs.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
But with all the styles and options for campers, we were torn as to what type to purchase. We needed something large to accommodate our family of 5 and our pound puppy.
A driving camper would be great, but we doubted we could afford one without a loan. And our goal is to get out of debt, not go further in. Neither of our vehicles were really equipped to pull a large travel trailer or a 5th wheel, and we weren't in the position financially to upgrade. That means we'd need to hire a company to move our camper when needed or we were stuck.
We began window shopping, visiting dealerships and RV shows, touring the displays and finding many units that looked like they'd be perfect. Judging by the price tags, it was clear a used model was in our future. But even at that, we needed to be frugal.
When it looked like finding something to fit our budget was impossible, I ran across a dealership that advertised a camper that we thought might work. It cost more than the cash we had on hand, but we were hopeful we could deal with them a bit. Though the unit drove well and appeared in great shape, there were a few issues that should have been glaring problems from the onset.
- The camper was only 24 ft. long, not a lot of space, huh?
- The 'bathroom' was not a separate room, rather there was a curtain that could be pulled closed around the commode when in use
- Everything was in that one room. Can you say, NO PRIVACY???
We reasoned that with it being relatively small as far as campers go, it wouldn't require as much gas to go places. Besides, we were planning on being outside most of the time anyway, right?
We made an offer to our salesman who tried hard not to laugh and took our piddly offer to the manager, who politely declined. However, and this was the part that scared me, they did have ONE camper that had just happened to arrive that was in our price range. They had no idea what condition it was in, it would be sold AS IS and they needed to know immediately if we wanted it. I don't know about you, but deals like that never work out for us. And yet, we were unable to run...
In desperation we couldn't resist taking a peak at what they were offering. When the salesman directed us outside to the back lot and pointed out the camper, I couldn't look. I waited for my husband to look and when he sounded pleasantly surprised, only then did I dare to peer across the lot to a large Class A motor home. It certainly looked better than the other, but looks are deceiving. So we had a peak inside. There were certainly a few obvious benefits to this new camper.
- It was 31 ft. long, doesn't sound like a lot but believe me 7 feet can make a huge difference!
- It had a bathroom; with a door
- It had a separate bedroom with a door
I was beginning to become hopeful. Maybe this was the camper the Lord had planned for us after all. My husband and I were beginning to get a bit excited and decided it wouldn't hurt to take it for a test drive. It seemed perfect but even at that, we were cautious. We told the salesman we'd think about it. He gave us a day.
We prayed about it, talked to friends that gave us pointers of what to look for and decided to go back for a thorough look through. We decided if everything worked, well ... if the air conditioning at least worked, we'd take it. After all, we'd been visiting in our home state of Ohio and were planning to leave in two days. We did not want to go back to a hotel room!
In the end, we decided the camper was a huge blessing. We wrote a check, packed what belongings were essential to life on the road and away we went, back to Alabama. And this time not to a hotel, but to a perfect mountain top campground- just in time for spring showers.
We had embarked on a new adventure. And it would take a bit of getting used to.