Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sweet Home Alabama

Well we got an unofficial estimate for repairs to our vehicle; between $1400 and $1800 to rebuild our transmission. Not exactly what we wanted to hear right after Christmas, but that’s life, right? Of course it will take time to have the work completed. The highly recommended mechanic can’t get to it for about three weeks. We certainly couldn’t stay in Ohio that long. So we weighed our options.

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.

OR

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

Sick and Stranded

It wouldn’t be enough to be stranded. No way….to add to the suspense, we have to be stranded WITH some type of stomach virus. Not an ideal situation. It started with the boys and then I was next. Well, I don’t really know if it was the stomach flu or just a sympathy puke on my part. Hard to imagine, huh?

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…

Hopelessly Stuck in Ohio

After spending the past few days with relatives in Ohio, we were looking forward to our return home. At least, I was. And not a moment too soon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy visiting everybody; it’s just that after a couple days I begin to miss my own place.

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.

Motor Home Makeover: Phase Three

Well, last week I shared with you the colors that I was planning to use in my makeover. I was also planning to upload a few pics of my current project- covering the dinette cushions- but the power adapter on my computer died and I never had the chance.

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

Flatbread Pizza

Grocery shopping is not my favorite thing in the world...especially when I have no idea of what to buy. I try to have an idea of what I'm going to buy, but sometimes I just don't manage to think that far ahead. So this particular day my daughter and I were roaming the aisles of Publix hoping for a revelation. That never happened, but we did run across these yummy flatbreads...which gave my daughter a great idea...Flatbread Pizza...after all, who doesn't love pizza?

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

Alabama Adventures: the Unique and Quirky

While we tend not to search out all the commercial attractions when we're traveling- I have to admit, sometimes we really enjoy going with the flow and following the masses en route to the local tourist traps. But more likely, you'll find us at totally out-of-the-way quirky attractions that are off the beaten path and often absolutely FREE!

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

Merry Christmas to All!

Well, Christmas is nearly upon us and I am busy with last minute preparations. Not the normal last minute stuff you would come to expect this time of year,though I certainly do have a bit of shopping to complete yet. No, the last minute preparations that are keeping me busy-in order:


1. Laundry

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

U.S. Space and Rocket Center- Adventures in Alabama

One day I may transfer all my posts from my original blog here, but in the meantime I thought I'd link to some of my older posts so if you happen to be passing through Northern Alabama, you won't miss a thing.

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

Christmas Traditions...

I can blame my desire to see the annual Christmas lights on my grandparents. Each year, my Grandpa would load my Grandma, my mom, my brothers, me and as many of my cousins (and I have many) into his truck as he could and we would drive through an awesome display with hundreds of lights. Our little bodies would be crammed into the back of the truck under the cab, pressing our faces against the windows so we wouldn't miss anything, wrapped tight in blankets to help ward off the cold- afterall, that was Ohio weather!

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...



Snowflake tunnel...



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

The Apple of his Eye...

This week we did something that we don't do on a normal basis...we went to the mall. Normally I avoid malls like the plague, but the kids weren't eager to leave town without doing a bit of exploration. So we invited friends and made an afternoon of it with the sole intention of taking as many goofy pictures as we could and riding the gondolas...yes...GONDOLAS!!!

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!

Saying Goodbye is Bittersweet...

One of the aspects that really excited me about becoming a full-time RVer was that I was sure I'd be able to meet so many new people wherever we traveled. Being the social person that I er...ummm...sometimes am.. I just couldn't wait to get on the road, start meeting new people and develop friendships with around the country.

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?

What a week...

Chalk it up to just one of those weeks. This is it. I'm thankful that not everything that could go wrong has, but yet it's been just enough to make me want to swear on more than one occassion. Why is it that after all these years of controlling my mouth, when I'm angry or upset, those bad words are still the first things to pop into my mind? Uggghhhh...

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

Waiting....


Today I caught my puppy gazing off in the distance...
waiting for my boys to return from an outing with friends...
or for my husband to return from work.
So sweet.
I couldn't resist snapping a picture.
Too cute...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Motor Home Makeover: Phase Two

In addition to replacing the yucky mauve carpet with a wood-look floor, I also decided to recover my furniture that is you guessed it….pink. To modernize and bring the d├ęcor up to date, I decided to add chocolate brown to the existing color scheme. But I also didn’t want the colors to seem mismatched so I'll add a great floral print to warm things up and tie it all together.

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

War Breaks out at the Campground

It all began in the name of family fun. Honestly. It did. Off with TV. Off with Xbox. Let’s play an old fashioned game of Risk. My 14-year old has only been begging for weeks to play. It’s not that I don’t like to play board games. I really do. In fact, we’re a big game playing family.

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

Road Trip: a Digital Scrapbook Kit by Adori Graphics

At home I loved to scrapbook but moving into the motor home with limited storage, forced me to leave my supplies and tools in storage. I've thought about checking out the digital scrapbooking craze, but just couldn't find the exact theme I was looking for...until now. Adori Graphics, my favorite blog designer, just launched this brand new Road Trip Digital Scrapbook Kit...based on...you guessed it...my blog theme! I love it and I'm sure you will too! Check it out here. And while you're visiting her incredible website, don't forget to sign up for some of the Countdown to Christmas giveaways.

Homeschool Phys. Ed.

My kids couldn't leave home without packing their arsenal of air soft guns. At home they had a group of buddies that they would play with on a regular basis so they were so excited when they found friends here that enjoyed the game too. Last week they invited a friend over to participate in a game or two and though they normally play for hours, it was a bit cool outside so they cut their play short in exchange for a steamy cup of hot chocolate. Seemed to be a good trade-off.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Souper Saturday

With winter around the corner and the cold weather gearing up in full swing I couldn’t think of anything better to prepare for dinner than a pot of steaming hot soup to warm these cold fingers and toes. Boy,was this potato soup yummy! Wanna make a pot of your own and warm your tummy?

Potato Soup
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

Homeschooling: Freedom and Fun for your Family: another look at our Family

A couple months back I found a neat website called Homeschooling: Freedom and Fun for your Family which is a collection of short interviews from all types of homeschooling families from around the globe. I haven't met a homeschooler yet that doesn't love hearing or reading what other families are up to and I happen to be no different. I really enjoyed browsing through the interviews and as a result, I decided to participate too! You can read all about the flexibility and fun of our homeschool here in our interview.

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

Life on the Road: From a Teen's Perspective

An Interview with a Homeschooled, Roadschooled Teen

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

Motor Home Makeover: Phase One

When we purchased our motor home seven months ago, we were grateful to find one in our price range...CHEAP...that was mechanically sound and something we weren't embarrassed to drive down the road. With that said, there were still a few aspects of the camper that I knew from day one that I would change if ever given the chance...meaning if I could somehow manage to talk my husband into the work and expense that doing so would entail.

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

A few great resources for your homeschool

I'm sooooo excited! Today I spent the day planning our next few weeks of school, before our Christmas break. I didn't originally plan to do that today. I'd simply planned to go through the mounds of books that clutter our motor home so that we can once again meander through the walk way without fear of stubbing our toes on the boxes or laundry baskets that hold the books in place.

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

Serving the Homeless; a few lessons learned

Mondays. I don't know what it is about Mondays that makes me want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head just a bit longer. I know why I feel that way today. It's cold and it's rainy. The sound of the rain drops hitting gently against the roof of the camper in a soft, soothing pitter-patter makes it hard not to fall back to sleep and into dreamland.

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

Did I Ever Mention....

...that the camper is cold? Not just cold...FREEZING! Last night the temperature dropped to 27 degrees!

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...

An Easy & Delicious Dinner Idea

I know my camera stinks and this is a lousy picture, but I took a chance and decided to post it anyway. I hope the poor picture quality doesn't make you loose your appetite because I was hoping you'd try this deliciously simple recipe for yourself. Easy enough to prepare in my teeny-tiny motor home kitchen. Not that I can't cook just about anything in my kitchen, but who doesn't appreciate a super easy meal every now and then?

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!

Chicken-Bacon-Ranch Tacos
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
Shredded Lettuce
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

Snow in Alabama

The kids were thrilled when they peered out the windows this morning and discovered snow. Not enough of the white stuff to make snow men or dig tunnels under, but snow nonetheless. Something they thought they'd never see again. Aren't they funny?

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

A Common Bond


Our family was featured this week on A Common Bond at The Frugal Homeschooling Mom's blog. Why not stop by and check us out or find out how your family could participate?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Learning about Georgia O'Keefe

While driving through Nashville this past weekend, I saw a billboard advertising a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit at the art museum. My brain automatically began making plans for a return trip to Nashville- that's how planning for school works in our life right now. Something captures my attention and away we go...

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?
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