Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day in the life

Birds chirping, rays of gentle sunshine warming my face, the smell of gourmet coffee filling the air, gentle breeze blowing through the trees and flowers... drool oozing down my cheek.... wait drool...what?    "SLAP... Momma wake up, you're sleeping, wake up!"

I awake to a demanding toddler, dreams of drinking a cup of coffee while lounging in the morning sun and listening to birds sing... quickly vanish. Back to reality, to my REAL life. Sounds much like your life you say? Maybe, especially if you are a mom or dad. I've received feedback on Facebook that wanted to know more about what life my life is like on a typical day. I don't have typical days, but I am more than happy to try and oblige.

Day in the Life:        I am a Fulltime RV Road Schooling Gypsy Mom

830am: Alarm goes off. One eye opens with raised eyebrow. Snooze button hit.

835am: Snooze expires, Alarm goes off again. I place pillow over my head. Snooze hit again.

845am: Alarm sounds...again. This time, before eyebrow raising, Que is up. He does his morning routine in what many would consider record time.

858am: Que leaves for his morning commute. Wait is a walk across the park a commute? What about just com since it's so short...?...Mute better? No, oh well, I tried.

900am Que is at work. I lay in the bed, wide awake.

930am Lay in the bed and beg sleep to return. Wait for it. Wait for it.

935am A little head pops up. A dialogue ensues:
Kaeden: "Momma. Momma. Momma. Ma. Ma."
Me:        "What?"
 Kaeden: "I gotta go potty"

9:36am: Potty; This is the last potty break on the timeline, WAY too many to post.

9:40am: Breakfast. I'd like to say that every day we eat some awesome culinary creation, but mostly its just eggs, turkey bacon, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, bagels/toast, or something similarly simple on rotation. Today it is Pancake and Sausage muffins( but only bc I found the idea on pinterest, made a bunch and froze them for homemade convenience food).

10:00am Clean up both breakfast and bodies. Pretty typical brushing teeth, washing hands and dishes.

10:17am School is in session. But not really. I grab my basket and we head outside. First, I let Kaeden get some energy out and free play with outside toys. There is no point in trying to force a toddler to sit when they are so full of kinetic energy.

10:42am School is in session, for real this time. I run inside quickly, grab a juice box and raisins, put water on low setting stove for experiment, then I get my book for the morning, Today we are reading Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Usually it doesn't take much to get his attention. I open the book and begin to "read" to myself and laugh out loud. OR it could be the allure of juice and fruit. Either way, I got the spark I needed, he notices and comes over curious. I introduce the book and ask if he'd like to sit down and read it. He agrees. Score! We read the book, taking time to play with the language of the rain sounds.{Sometimes he plays another 10, 15, 20, 30 mins. At some point he gets thirsty, hungry, tired...whatever, but I wait until he is ready to abandon his toys and sit. Once he wants to sit, I can keep his attention way better than had I ended his play time myself.}
Book time ends with my question, "Where does rain come from?" Answer: "Oh, rain? Ummm, rain in the sky." Well at least I have direction. We do a quick nod to the scientific method that I prepared. The sheet is a picture representation of the question posed. I pre-selected three pictures(to glue) as possible answers, a cloud, a bird and a house. He says no to all three. Perhaps because the picture of the cloud is not in the sky? But this is still an acceptable hypothesis. I ask him if he wants to draw a sky he says yes. I give him crayons and he scribbles draws something, that we call and label "sky".

11:08am Science time! Our wonderful book inspired Kaeden and I to find out exactly where rain comes from. Ok, really I just manipulated  guided it by having the experiment ready and cool looking. Had I fumbled around for more than a minute with just the promise of something cool, I would have lost him again to toys, running and/or mud. So I dash in for the boiling water, grab some ice from the freezer and carefully bring it out. We do the rain in a bottle experiment. { Note: I wrapped the inside of the bottle(where the ice goes) with white paper to make visual "clouds".}  I explain how the water gets hot, becomes water vapor aka clouds, cools then turns into rain. I throw out the word condensation and precipitation and he repeats both. Score! I pull the our hypothesis out and ask if we were right. Yes, rain comes from clouds in the sky. Should you be curious where this unit takes a two yo next, here is the link for tomorrow's science. Feel free to email a request for the lesson plan, book lists or other resources used for the water and wind unit(or any other) I am always happy to share;)

11:29 Extension play time/Math! I give Kaeden a magic bottle and tell him that he can make it rain. I provide him with a wagon full of water(to refill his bottle) and some measuring cups, funnels and bowls. He looks at me as if I just made him king of the world and goes at it begins work. Off for more play experimentation. I observe while I check my fb and blog do important things on my computer.

12:23 Oops, lunch prep time is a little late! Darn  fb  work. We leave the water outside and head back in our RV to begin lunch prep. Kaeden was not ready to leave the play, but when I mentioned food, food won. Simple chicken salad sandwiches for today. Kaeden enjoys helping so we mix the ingredients together so he helps there, but loses interest when sandwich assembly begins. Luckily, starting at 12 Calliou is on for an hour on Sprout. I turn it on and hide my face in shame. I also finish my lunch prep, wash dishes used, and cut some watermelon and wrap some portions for snacks. Kaeden? Still glued to Calliou. *hangs head

1:05 Dad is home from work and joins the family for lunch. Silence, save the occasional crunch of a chip.

1:20 Dad and Kaeden lay down to watch tv take a nap. Dad chooses the science channel. Kaeden falls into sleep within minutes. I explain to dad that he must take notes today, including times, when I go to work. He agrees. I go through my notes and add little details(before I forget).

2:13 Kaeden pops up. I ask Dad if he wants to take on a lesson or two. He agrees. They go outside to work shape sorting puzzles. I watch some tv.

2:26 Dad peeks back in. Dad: "What's next?" Me: "Wanna do art?" Dad: "Sure. What's art?" Me: "Oh, um it's mud painting." Dad: "-_-"

2:30 Dad and Kaeden made a bowl of mud. Dad gets out the paper. 10 big sheets wasn't enough. Fail. So Dad puts remaining mud into the wagon. Kaeden likes Dads idea and engages.

3:40 Dad and I look at our son and shake our heads. We give each other the look, you know the silent long pause look that confirms "MY BAD".

4:00 Impromptu midday shower. After Kaeden's mud bath painting I helped him shower off.

4:34 We finish showering just in time to see the reptile show. Kaeden feeds Iggy the iguana, Stinky the moniker, Scooby Doo the blue tongue skink. He also plays with Lucy the boa constrictor, King Caesar the giant tortoise and his tortoise buddies.

4:55 While Kaeden is still with Dad and the reptiles, I run home to put away our shower things.

5:00 Time for me to go to work. I remind Dad about notes, he nods.Dad and Kaeden ride the train.

6:00ish Dad and Kaeden go for a nature walk. They see 2 rabbits, 1 grasshopper, and lots of birds, butterflies and other flying insects.

6:45ish Dad allows Kaeden to play with his bestie, Colton(who is also two).

7:00 ish The boys share snacks and waters...quickly,

8:02 I return home from work. Kaeden and Colton are still playing outside. Hugs and kisses from the two best two year olds.

8:05 Dinner is working. We are having meatballs and rice. I cooked the meatballs in advance and froze, so really only the rice is cooking. We sit outside and share another book, this time Rain Drop Splash by Alvin Tresselt. Dads turn to read!

8:25 Dinner begins. Followed by our nite time routine. It's nothing uber fancy like a song and dance that magically takes kiddos away to dream land, just typical bed time stuff: brush your teeth, use the potty, make sure you got all the worms, all of them, that one yes, read a book, fall asleep. You know, the usual.

9:45 Kaeden sound asleep. PARTY TIME!

9:46 Grown up bed time routine. Clean up, mess with my hair groom, watch tv, read.

11:45 Power down.

4:49 Rudely awakened by uber bright lights and a crash.

6:55 "I didn't do it"

9:13 Slap! "Momma, wake up!"

I hope this glance into our day gives you some perspective of what it is like being a fulltime RV road schooling mom. I have found that when I share this detail of my lifestyle in conversation most people have very different (and sometimes absurd) images that come to mind. While this lifestyle is not for every one, I hope that somewhere, someone is inspired.  I feel very fortunate that our family can share this life and experience with eachother and moreso to share our ins and outs with you.

If you have questions regarding our day that you find still unanswered PLEASE feel free to comment below. Thanks!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another year, A Fresh Start

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
—Hal Borland

One year ago I was much like any other typical American. I was getting my a** handed to me beaten down by the economy. I had downsized from a 3 bedroom 2.5 bath house to a two bedroom apartment to compensate for the financial strain. Savings were on life support, prices were rising and disasters, the costly kind, lurked around every corner. Then life decided that we were dealing with our hard times too gracefully and threw a wrench in our well planned coping strategies. We were successfully handling living with one income instead of two, why not no income at all? Yes, in the middle of the largest unemployment season in our lifetime we found our household without any income at all. Trying to make a budget of $0 work is impossible and savings can only stretch so far. In addition, Atlanta was far from the best city to live in unemployed with a hiring environment of at least 1000 applicants to one position, at best.We found ourselves in an impossible situation and we lost big. Being homeless is a situation that many of us never believe will happen, at least not to us. We are careful, educated, hard working and homelessness is something that doesn't happen as a result of being "that kind of person". It happens to unfocused, uneducated druggie winos not hard working, intelligent people. Luckily, we were offered a way to turn things around. We secured employment elsewhere and family helped us move from Atlanta, GA to Birmingham, AL. There we settled into two new jobs, a modest rental house and after a couple of months, life seemed to normalize again. The problem is that this "fresh start" didn't seem fresh at all. It reeked of familiar frustrations and a haunting doom lurking over our shoulders.

I found myself unhappy as I had been in Atlanta. I felt stifled and trapped. It was as if life was a never ending loop of meaningless tasks that accomplished an invisible, unrewarding goal. Depression overtook my bubbly persona and I became a social recluse. To make matters more complicated, towards the end of the year, my maternal grandmother suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. Luckily, she survived but not before many long weeks of not knowing whether she'd make it through the surgeries, the stress of the surgeries on her aging body and immune system, not to mention the complications. When I returned to Alabama, I saw my tired excuse of an existence and felt ashamed. I felt as if I were wasting my life away. I had (and still have) an awesome partner, a wonderful child, yet life didn't seem meaningful.

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin — real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
— Alfred D. Souza
It took some time to figure out how to bring meaning and happiness to my life. It took abandoning my comfort zone and seeking a new way of living life, a real fresh start. That meant taking an idea off the back-burner, for when enough money was saved and putting it in the forefront of our plans. It meant stripping all the expectations given to me by others and creating my own. Armed with courage, support and a new dream we abandoned the American dream for our own.

It is hard to let old beliefs go. They are familiar. We are comfortable with them and have spent years building systems and developing habits that depend on them. Like a man who has worn eyeglasses so long that he forgets he has them on, we forget that the world looks to us the way it does because we have become used to seeing it that way through a particular set of lenses. Today, however, we need new lenses. And we need to throw the old ones away.
— Kenich Ohmae

We began our journey of living our dream in a motorhome and seeing the United States in February on 2012. Since then, six months have passed. In those six months alone, I have lived a life full of more passion and meaning than the last 10 years combined. I've embraced the magic in sunrises, evening walks and smiles. I released the attachment of wanting more stuff, keeping up appearances and worrying about what others think of me. In the last year alone my family has gone from rock bottom to living a dream. Don't be disillusioned to think it was easy, that there weren't sacrifices or that we are finished with our transformation. Instead, feel inspired, be challenged and examine what is keeping you from living your own dream.
Even though you may want to move forward in your life, you may have one foot on the brakes. In order to be free, we must learn how to let go. Release the hurt. Release the fear. Refuse to entertain your old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto the past is holding you back from a new life. What is it you would let go of today?— Mary Manin Morrissey

Life doesn't have to be the plan that you wrote when you were 21 or the one given to you by your parents and teachers when you were 18. Instead it is an ever changing, ever evolving journey. Be open to new experiences, overcoming challenges and bringing about change. What could you accomplish in one year? If you are open to hard work, overcoming challenges and stripping away all that is unnecessary, the possibilities are as endless as your potential and as unique as you.
We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is awaiting us.... The old skin has to be shed before the new one is to come.
— Joseph Campbell

Good luck on your journey.  Thank you for sharing in our journey!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Life IS Change

“Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.” –Jim Rohn

Change is life. Life is change. There is little no sense in fighting to remain stagnant. Yet, making the transition from caterpillar to butterfly isn't easy either. Change requires tasks that are seen(and known), i.e. feasting on leaves, making the cocoon but also has its components that can't be witnessed( and many don't even know take place), i.e. phases of transformation, actual metamorphosis. Change takes courage, endurance, perseverance and patience. All of this has been true for our own life changes. Despite the thoughtful planning, strategic plotting, and careful consideration we gave our transition, we still encountered chaotic instances of chance that made us want to curl up in a ball and cry for mommy hardships and challenges. This was the price we had to pay to achieve great change.

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” -Deepak Chopra

It began when researching a possible work camp opening in Georgia. The position appeared out of the blue when life canceled our plans of going far West to Utah. The first thing I did after we spoke with the owners was consult my many Rver groups on the web. The community of fulltime RVers is a close knit and supportive one, so who best to give us information on this particular business than those who have worked and/or visited? While the groups have been a valuable resource in many other instances, this was not one of them. The feedback I received was very negative. Some said they had a lot of turn over in staffing, others said the park wasn't a nice place, and others said that they had been warned not to work at the park by many other RVers. We discussed the opportunity and feedback, deciding to pursue our own experience(hoping not to regret it).

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” 
― Eckhart Tolle

Oh boy! What an experience life had for us on moving day. Despite my checklists, handy research or any other part of our preparation, moving day was a complete nightmare full of challenges and opportunity for significant growth. To give you a quick glimpse without tramatizing boring you, according to mileage the trip should take two hours or so being generous to allow for my speed racer traveling speed of 60 mph in the camper. The trip was planned to launch at 10 am, it launched at 4 pm. Based on these figures we should have arrived at out destination at 6 pm Central or 7 pm Eastern. We arrived at 4 am. I am proud to say that despite our many reasons to give up, we worked together (with eachother, family and even complete strangers) until we reached our destination.

When we arrived, I immediately put Kaeden in his bed. (He'd been sleeping/traveling in his car seat) Que and I began the process of setting the camper up. As we finally got the camper ready to greet us to a long awaited and deserved night's sleep the sun came up. Instead of rushing to sleep, Que and I watched the glorious sun rise. It's light radiated across the sky and the warmth kissed our face. At that moment the fatigue of the previous day's trials faded away and a new feeling emerged. Happiness? Fulfillment? Freedom? Triumph?  I couldn't narrow it down to just one. It was a feeling of triumph for the challenges we'd overcome, a feeling of happiness and fulfillment for having chased our dreams and a feeling of peace for seeing them realized. There was also the flutter of butterflies in my stomach, reminding me that this was only the beginning.

How are you realizing your dreams? What will you turn to when you face those tough challenges that will try to discourage you? How can you grow from these challenges? Here is some inspiration for you while you begin or continue your own journey. Best of luck to you!

"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it." 
— Mother Teresa

"She had just realized there were two things that prevent us from achieving our dreams: believing them to be impossible or seeing those dreams made possible by some sudden turn of the wheel of fortune, when you least expected it. For at that moment, all our fears suddenly surface: the fear of setting off along a road heading who knows where, the fear of a life full of new challenges, the fear of losing forever everything that is familiar." 
— Paulo Coelho (The Devil and Miss Prym)