We've made it! One month in! For all of those people who bet 1 month or less, sorry, you lost. We are still at it and going strong. I've debated on the best way to write this blog to update everyone on the realities of this adventure we've embarked on. I want to tell you it's been all rainbows and sunshine, as our Instagram may portray, yet the reality is, we are raising 3 boys and two large dogs on the road in 300 square feet of living space. The idea that this is going smoothly is ridiculous. Granted, it could be 100x worse and I am very aware of that.
Overall, its honestly going well. We've had bumps in the road but it isn't anything we wouldn't have encountered had we been living in our 1,500 sq foot house in Temecula. Let me say, I miss it terribly. The truth of the situation is I miss it so much. I cried hard once about it. Lost it a little over the fact that the routine we once had is gone. I'm pretty sure when my friends kids start school and the pictures of their first day of school come rolling in on my Instagram feed, I may lose it again. No back to school shopping there, new backpacks and shoes, walking them to their first day back at the school we adored. Gah. I'll stop there. I don't get emotional about things like this! Who am I?! Yet, the reality that we don't have a home to go back to is settling in and its hard. We loved our home and our neighbors. We loved our routine and our family and friends. We really were settled and good. So why did we leave? We had an opportunity that most people don't get and we ran with it.
So, here we are. 1 month in to living on the road. When I look back at the last month, I really cannot believe all of the things we have done and places we have gone. It's quite impressive. Best part so far, spending so much time with my kids. Worst part, spending so much time with my kids. I do feel like I hug them more and listen to them more. I watch them play far more often because we are in a new place each week and I cannot just send them outside to roam, yes, I'm one of those moms who doesn't let her kids stray too far and I don't care. Yet, spending so much time with them means I'm correcting their behavior more, yelling at them more (I'm not perfect, I totally yell), and not getting any personal space. I am learning my kids personalities more. Their needs, desires and abilities.
One month in, bio of each kid.
B- He's obsessed with cars. Broncos, old cars, engines and the sounds they make, Jeeps and drawing them all. He also learned how to "jump" his bike over speed bumps in the campground, he loves to ride around and make friends. We received his report card as well from the 3rd grade and he killed it. Conqored the 3rd grade. As a reward, we took him zip lining. He's turning into a kid you can have real conversations with. He's held my hand more than he ever has and I love it. He's too cool to dance to the songs at VBS but I caught him doing the movements when Jake was singing. B loves working out with Dad and makes up his own Crossfit workouts. He's been awesome and he's loving this adventre.
J- Oh Jake. Jake loves each and every place we visit. So much so he never wants to leave. He wants to stay at each spot, move in with the family member we're visiting and never leave. When it's time to move on, he is sad for a good full day and then quickly adjusts to the new spot. He has enjoyed the lakes and has no fear when it comes to jumping off the kayak or paddle board, over and over and over. He wants to fish all of the time and hopes to catch something soon. We have not had the best of luck. He's still a snuggly kid, so much so that sometimes he just can't keep his hands off his brothers. I've snuggled Jake more than ever in the last month. He's also done more burpees in the last month than he ever has before, if only he could keep those hands to himself. Overall, he's been good. Challenging, but good.
T- This kid turned 3, two days after we left and on his 3rd birthday, he decided he was done with diapers. I had really wanted to potty train him before we left but he was totally not interested. Suddenly, he's telling us when he needs to go and in 3 weeks, he's had one accident. (Little mommy cheer). He also got a bike for his birthday from his Nino and Nina and after riding it for just 2 weeks, he's over the training wheels and wants them off now. We've seen so many animals on our adventure and he wants to hold them all. "Look T, an Elk!." His response, "Mommy, me hold it?" As he stretches out his arms. He did 2 days of VBS and by the 3rd he realized the routine, us leaving him, and he was done. He loves his cowboy hat and often wears only that and his new Paw Patrol undies.
Travis & I- We celebrated 4 years of marriage on the 12th. No date or anything special, just enjoyed our quite time the two previous days while all 3 kids were at VBS. (Thanks AK). We try to laugh at situations where we want to rip our hair out. There is no way I'd ever do this adventure without him. He's my sanity when I'm about to lose it all.
So, there you have it. 1 month in. 7 stops, 1 vet visit, zip lining, no more diapers on our kids, new hitch, a few hiccups but nothing major. So far, so good!
For most of my life, when I heard the term, "mamas boy" it was something you didn't want to be. I used the term, "Mamas boy!" as a diss towards my little brother. When someone couldn't handle a situation, didn't take a dare, were worried what their Mama would think, they were a "Mamas boy." As the mom of 3 boys, who are very quickly growing into men, I love that I have "Mamas boys". I have boys that completely love their Mama. I am currently their world. I hear the word "Mom!" 1000x a day, between screaming, needing me to watch them do a new trick, them needing a snack or a wipe or just to say they can't remember what they wanted." It makes my head spin and sometimes I even say, "Moms not here right now." Yet, I am their mom. Their one and only lady and right now, I am going to breathe that entire thought in.
One day, I won't be the number one lady in their life. This thought goes through my mind on a daily basis and it breaks this mamas heart. Maybe it's because we photograph weddings regularly and each time, I am faced with looking through the lens of a camera of a Mom who is giving her son away. I watch each and every mom dance with their son on the dance floor, bury her face in her little boys chest once more. When I am faced with that same reality, I pray I am ready for it. I pray they are ready for the world. I hope they'll come back home once in a while. I hope I will still be needed in their lives, just a phone call or quick question, sometimes dinner and a hug. I only hope and pray when I am that mama, I love the person they have chosen to have me hand them off to.
For now, I will breathe them in, hold their hands, kiss their owies and cheer them on. Today they are "Mamas boys" and I'm so okay with that.
Have you ever watched a married couple attempt to back a trailer into a small spot at a campground? If not, then you should. I'll be your muse. I must look and seem ridiculous. Today, I was hanging out in the trailer eating a plum with Trenton when I noticed a woman standing behind an oversized RV making hand gestures like I've never seen. When I stand behind our trailer to help Travis back into a campground space, I feel like I make movements with my arm that resemble "backing up." I wave him back, simply. Not like a beauty queen in the 4th of July parade wave, but a smooth wave of the hand, gesturing him to back up. If he needs to move to one side or the other, I point in that direction. When there is an arms length of space between the back of the trailer and whatever tree, rock, stump or gate is behind us, I feel like I give him a good hand gesture to explain that too. This woman I pretty much paparazzi-ed without a camera from my trailer made gestures I couldn't even make sense of. I swear if I had put music to her moves, she could have been on a club floor dancing in the 70's. Granted, she got that oversized whale of an RV in there on the first try as she made these obscene hand gestures to her husband. Kudos to her. She's doing something right. Maybe I'll ask her for some advice. We've got too many campground to count coming our way. Some advice may be needed.
It's taken Travis and I about 5 years to get our system down, that was until someone said, "why don't you just call him and talk to him when he's backing in." Ah-ha moment as well as a stupid me moment, all rolled into one. So, I call him when I'm standing behind the trailer assisting him as he backs into the campground space and don't look like a crazy lady with obscene hand gestures.
For now, our You Tube is more of a home video and keepsake for us. We want to share with our family and friends and we look forward to watching these years from now! Enjoy
We've been on the road for nearly a week. Mammoth was our first stop and it was great. About 6 months ago when we were mapping our adventure, we had wanted to go up the CA coast to get to Oregon by July when we have a family reunion. This proved difficult, as everyone tends to swarm to California in the summer and the beach camping locations booked quick. For most of our trip, we will wing it as move along, but for the summer, I wanted to get locations booked so we didn't have scramble and fight for a spot in a town we wanted to be in. Since the beach locations booked up ASAP and were not completely ready to wing it, we opted to stay inland and head north to Oregon. So, Mammoth seemed like a great first stop. Little did we know there was an offroad MotoX race and the campground would be packed with the bros from So Cal. Don't get me wrong, we were once desert people. Dirtbikes and quads were our thing. Yet, we've found ourselves over the last few years liking the woods and beach a little more than the desert. With kids not too interested in dirt bikes, we sold them. So, here we were in Mammoth, surrounded by bikes reving up, country music blaring and golf carts swarming the campground. We headed out more often, in search of hikes and adventures and were pleased to find so much.
Our first stop was to Convict Lake. We hiked a good 45 minutes which was a great first hike for the boys. We take hikes easy for now, as our middle kiddo has KT syndrome and we are unsure of how far his endurance will take him before he is done. Once the kids saw others fishing, they were ready to cast their lines into the water, so we headed back to grab our fishing poles and attempt to catch some fish. We are amateurs at best. I killed it as a kid with a fishing pole, baiting the hook, grabbing the fish and using pliers to get the hook out, tossing it back into the lake. I had awesome adventurous Aunts who taught me everything. Yet it's been years since I grabbed a pole and fished. Something to do with screaming, high demand toddlers and kids yelling "Mom!" all of the time. So, we spent some time casting and breaking lines, losing bait and getting tangled in line and then watching Bryce almost take a hook to the face. It was a little too forced and chaotic. Plus, middle of the day heat kept the fish in the deeper parts of the lake, no where near the shore. So we enjoyed the scenery and headed back. On our drive, we took side roads and checked out the streams, hot springs and stunning views. We so badly want to force the boys to appreciate the views and stunning mountains, yet kids are kids and they look, act amazed, shrug and ask if they can go swim the second we get back to the campground. I hope one day they look back and realize the beauty they have seen with their little eyes. We found trailers boondocking, which was fantastic and sometime we plan to do sooner than later.
Around the 3rd day in, the kids began to explore more around the campground and enjoy the other kids who were there for the weekend. Every kid Jake met was his friend and Bryce found kids to play basketball and ride bikes with, until some older kids turned into little a-holes and teased Bryce, who then had his little heart broken. He will learn, some kids just suck and he better not be one of those kids. The boys did enjoy swimming, basketball, Bryce liked riding his bike around the campground and they even found a pretty sweet treehouse up the hill.
On Saturday we went to Bodie. This cool ghost town was awesome to explore with the boys. We took Kona, our two year old golden, along for the trip. Our older pup Hana is more apt to chill in the peace and quite of the trailer. She's our 11 year old old lady. The boys enjoyed Bodie and running around to each building. We'd check the number out front of each place, look it up on the self guided map and learn all about that spot. What was once there and who used it. Some were bars, or saloons, hotels and shops, homes and fire stations. Bodie was a mining town in the 1800's and was once 10x bigger than what we walked through. It was hard to believe men on horseback roamed through the town. It was a super neat experience and I recommend it to anyone, especially with kiddos. Bring water, as it is a good walk and warm in the summer. The Park Rangers were all very knowledgable and answered any and all questions. They all seem to really love their job.
On Father's Day, we left that day completely open to Travis and whatever he wanted to do. We gifted him Lonesome Dove, the novel. As a kid, he was obsessed with the tv series. Travis says, "Everything you need to know about life, you can learn from Lonesome Dove." He's enjoyed diving into the book. He woke up at 4:30am and headed out for some landscape pictures. We were going to get the boys up early and fish, but before Travis came back to the trailer, he casted out for a while and nothing was biting. There was a good breeze on the lake that morning so maybe that could have been why. We ventured out and explored. We took the scenic drive around June Lake and our minds were blown with the waterfall pouring down the mountain. It's great to see California out of the drought. Back at home in Southern California, there's not much evidence of that. Heading North, the amount of water everywhere is mind-blowing. It's almost as if the melting snow and water doesn't know where to do. Rivers are rushing and water is spilling down from rocks everywhere. It was beautiful. We stopped and took a quick walk up a hill, got back in and headed to Mono Lake. The clouds were insane and thunder was booming. You could see showers all around us. It was great. We explored Mono Lake, their museum and welcome center and took some fun pictures. On our drive home, we hit crazy weather, hail and steam coming off the road. It was eerie and exciting.
Mammoth overall was great, despite not having much luck fishing. I think we would have tried fishing more if we were on a quick trip and heading home, yet the fact that we have so much adventure ahead of us doesn't make us feel rushed. We were ready to leave Mammoth by Monday and move on to the next spot, so timing was perfect.
It's hard to believe we are not just on a vacation and heading home soon. I'm not sure when that feeling goes away. Our tiny home is proving comfortable and quaint. We are in love. There have been high and low emotions as we all adjust to this new lifestyle, yet we are still enjoying each others company. So far, so good!
We actually did it. Seriously, we did it. I still cannot believe it. I need to keep saying it to actually believe that we did it. We left my parents house at 530am this morning. 3 1/2 hours past the 2am departure Travis had wanted, but it was perfect. Sun was rising as we headed out. We hit a little traffic but for the most part, it was a smooth ride. Stopped in who knows where for breakfast and made it to Mammoth at 2pm. Just in time for check in at the campground. We ended up in more of a parking lot type campground at Mammoth RV Park. Sorta a bummer, but we made due and know we won't be at the campsite much. There is a great walking trail next to our site that takes you under the highway and over to the visitors center. As we were walking, we were in complete awe. We couldn't believe we were actually here. We did it.
I am feeling an entire range of emotion. I have a but of a weird calm within me. I think that may be because Im going on about 8 hours sleep from the past 3 nights. I also feel like we are just on vacation. A quick weekend getaway. Similar to last summer when we did 3 weeks away in the trailer. Maybe this doesn't feel like home yet and that why. I'm still rearranging everything in the cabinets and finding spots for things that still don't have places. I also know I could get rid of more, but I'm also sick of downsizing. I hit a wall when it came to selling or donating things. So, for now, I'll find places for it, eventually. I also have feelings of complete shock and WTF moments. The reality of this all is too much.
Today we set up our home. (I'd typically say we set up the trailer and campsite, but this is home.) While we were driving in, Trenton saw a boy with a cowboy hat and just about lost his s*&^. He needed one and he needed one now. He has birthday cash so we headed into town to see what we could find with no luck. After coming back, we had dinner and settled in for the evening. Usually when we camp, we make sure we outside, all of the time. No kids allowed in the trailer, go play outside. This time around, Travis and I have this understanding that this is our home. We should be able to lounge around inside, play and be comfortable. So we didn't push outside play on the boys too much.
Tomorrow, we head out for a hike. A little adventure. We keep looking at each other, reminding each other we don't have to go back any time soon. We don't leave Monday and head home. We leave Monday and head to the next location. And so on and so forth. I think the concept of this being a permanent lifestyle has not quite hit us. Attempting to wrap our minds around what we've done is overwhelming and exciting all at the same time.
We've already had our fair share of ups and downs. Which have really been minimal so far, knock on wood, and I'm grateful for that, but it hasn't all been a piece of cake. The tension is high at times as we find a new routine. The boys are learning their new roles within the family and that's work in itself too. Bryce has been great helping Travis outside, setting up the trailer and putting things away. Trenton is their little shadow who needs to try it all too. Those three together are great. Inside, I give Jake super important, busy jobs that no one else could really do as good as he can. Get my drift? So far, it works.
I want to thank our support system who got us here. My parents were incredible. They let us take over their home for more than a month. They smiled and laughed every time our kids did something ridiculous and we were beyond frustrated. They fed us, put kids to bed, gave us nights out and never complained, even though I probably did 100 loads of laundry. Travis parents were equally amazing. For the last year, we have used their property and building on their property to do our renovations. We've trashed their yard, cleaned it up, made noise, brought kids and put our storage unit on their property as well. We are so lucky and so blessed, which made it so hard to leave. Our friends, you are all the very best. We love you so and will be back, someday.
So, I must sleep. I am enjoying this slower pace. We did it.
Let me start by saying, parent getaways are amazing and you should all do it. Don't get me wrong, I love, adore and totally miss my kids. But people, talk about relaxation at its finest. We had only decided a few weeks ago that we should take a few nights off to ourselves before moving into the trailer. A few adult nights without yelling at children, attempting to make them eat their dinner, which by the way consists of everything they like, yet today they don't. We needed a few day to unwind before we live in a 300sqft trailer with 3 little boys, 2 dogs and each other. I checked out Airbnb and wa-lah, found a casita in Palm Springs, booked it and we are beyond relaxed. This quaint little casita is perfect. It has a pool outside and the owners are at work all day. I thought it would be strange lounging in someone else backyard, but it was so private and so peaceful, it couldn't have been better. We snacked, laid by the pool, drank a little, ran some last minute errands and enjoyed having conversations without being interrupted 100x. We will cherish these moments. Not kidding, lol.
So, now we head home and load up the trailer with the final items. We will be heading to Lake Skinner to camp until Tuesday, when we head to Mammoth, our first real stop. We have a few loads of laundry to do, which I greatly thank my parents for being so accommodating and letting us use their washer and dryer every day. I sure will miss that. I'll also miss long hot showers. I think those are the two things I am aware of that will change the most. Convenient laundry and long hot showers. Believe me, I've been saving up my quarters for this trip, although I'm sure they won't last long. Ready to feel like I'm back in college.
Last night at dinner, I asked Travis what he was most nervous about. He said, "Feeling like its a vacation all of the time and getting lazy." I agree. When we camp, we let things get dirty, we don't worry about laundry or a routine or eating all that well. We bum it and enjoy it because we know in a few days we will be heading back to the chaos of life. This time, we are not heading back, and I don't think the reality of that has set in yet. I think we both feel like we are going back, yet we don't have a home to go back to. We are in our home. This is it.
The adventure we have talked about and planned for over a year is happening. I remember after we had talked about it for several weeks between the two of us, before we told our families, Travis said, "If we say it out loud, start telling people, we have to do it. There is no turning back." I remember telling my mom. She shook her head and smiled and said, "Well honey, that sounds like a good idea." Her complete "mom attempt" to be supportive and realistic all at the same time. I tried to tell her it wasn't an idea. This is what we were doing. Well we did it. Today. We move into our trailer today. Although we are in town until Tuesday, camping locally, today is the first of so many days. We are nervous and excited. Are we ready? I sure hope so. I'm not sure this is something you can ever be ready for.
It's done, it's done, it's done! I don't think Travis has ever been more excited to finish a project. This trailer renovation has been an 8 month project. Its been a lobor of love. Our intention when we bought the trailer last November was to renovate it. We wanted to make it feel like a home, not a trailer. While going through the renovation, it was all about maximizing the space we had. Every corner had to be useable and practical. I think we achieved that. We are so in love with our tiny home. So, here it is! The before and afters. Enjoy!
Did you know there is such thing as un-schooling? YES, UN-SCHOOLING. Sounds ridiculous right? Just the word sounds crazy. Wouldn't unschooling mean that you don't go to school? Not quite. Unschool means you don't force school on anyone, you let school come to them. According to a great article written by Earl Stevens, "A large component of unschooling is grounded in doing real things, not because we hope they will be good for us, but because they are intrinsically fascinating." Since we will ultimately be living on the road, with new and exciting things at our fingertips each and every day, the ability to un-school is at our doorstep. Of course, why wouldn't we?! In 2007, I graduated from CSUSB with a major in Liberal Studies, I was going to teach. I wanted to be in a classroom. I know the curriculum, I love writing lesson plans, I love teaching and watching little minds learn. I was in and out of the classroom for several years as a substitute teacher. Becoming a full-time teacher has yet to fall in the cards for me. So the idea of just un-schooling, blows my mind. There are standards for each grade and core subjects that each child just master for their grade level. How could un-schooling ever really work? My kids would be bored, they wouldn't be self motivated, I'd just fear they were missing out on long division and proper sentence structure and the definition of an idiom. Wouldn't they need a weekly spelling test? How would they keep up? And when we come back to school, how do they prove they have mastered the 2nd and 4th grades to move on with their friends? (That is if we return when we say we will). So, un-schooling just doesn't sound like the best option for us, unless it is. Is it? People, this is where my mind is tonight at 10:13pm, while my husband and 3 boys are snoring upstairs.
So homeschooling seems like the best option. Yet, there is one holdup. Each student needs to meet with their assigned homeschool instructor every 21 days. (This is what is required via the program attached to my kids charter school). Nope, can't do that. And since FaceTime or Skype isn't an option either, there goes this homeschool program.
But wait! They offer virtual school? Online schooling for kids? Yes! I currently have the boys signed up for this program. I don't know much about it and Im hoping after spring break, I'll learn more. Only downside, internet won't always be an option for us. If this program requires internet at all times, we may be SOL. Which than means, I have to do some major research on homeschooling, unschooling and road schooling. Yes, ROAD SCHOOLING.
So, if anyone has any advice to throw my way, I'm ready and willing to take it! I am a worrier and a researcher and I always want to get it right the first time because I am terrified of failure. There you have it.
On that note, I'm off to search out my bedtime essential oils and read myself to sleep.
We've been planning this trip for 9 months now. 9 months of prep work. 9 months of day dreaming, minimalizing, renovating, 9 months seems like a good amount of time. Holy crap, it's gotten real really quick folks, let me tell you. We are officially out of this place we've called home in 26 days. We've had our enormous yard sale, which was a huge success, we moved a ton of things to storage and Travis is near complete with the trailer renovation. It's gotten real.
It's funny because in the early stages of sharing this adventure with our family and friends, telling them our plans and dreams, we were the ones convincing them as to why we were doing this. We reassured them that we would be gone only for 1 year and we convinced them we would survive for 1 year. We shared with them were we wanted to go and why, how the kids would adjust and how this would all around be healthier for our family. We have now completely switched roles. Our family and friends are excitedly asking us when we launch, what's our first stop and if we are beyond excited. Our answers are less enthusiastic each time. We are nervous, wondering if we have made the right choice and questioning our every move. Should we have waited longer? Should we have not sold all of that? Should we maybe keep this and should we be moving out of our comfort zone? Is homeschool the best option for our kids? Is it the best option for me and my sanity? Questioning it all. Every move we make. We are all on the edge right now. Our home is a mess, we eat our way too often, things that need to be stored but we may still need are piled up or strewn across the floor. Another 18 days is what I keep telling myself. Enjoy it, breathe it in because this is the home where we became a family. This is our home.
When we watch other peoples adventures on social media, we are reminded as to why we are doing this. When each person we come across who hear about our plans say, "I wish I would have done that", we know we are doing the right thing. We ARE excited to get out. We are hoping it bring us all together. Slowing down.
So, as the trailer renovations continue, I cannot wait to get before and after shots together. Travis is working on clutter closets for the boys bunk beds. Each will have a space to store their stuff as well as a desk to go with it. He is building a hamper in the bathroom, as the toilets obnoxiously sits far away from the wall, leaving a huge empty space between the toilet and wall. He's built a laundry box to fill that space and will add shelves above it. It's all about the storage space people. Next project would be a small closet up front for us along with book shelves. Reading on this adventure is one of my many goals. After we put our mattress inside on our bed, he will then build the wall, operating the living space from our bedroom. It will also be the spot he hangs the TV.
So, after typing that, Im once again excited for this adventure.
We have lots more to do and will continue to share it all on our instagram @ourlivelytribe.