It's been a long time coming, but we finally did it. We have created an online gallery for all of Travis' amazing landscape images. We couldn't be more excited about it. Before photography became a business for us, Travis' passion was landscape work. He has an eye behind the camera and I love what he sees. If you don't yet follow his personal instagrams, he's got a few, check them out here at TMwoodworksandmetal as well as his new black and white gallery my_rearviewmirror.
And....here it is ladies and gents. The online gallery. If you love following our travels and love his work as much as I do, we'd love to see these images hanging in your home.
We had such a fun day adventuring in Tombstone, Arizona. The boys of this household are cowboy obsessed. Trenton believes he is truly a cowboy and Travis dreams of being a rancher. We knew this stop was a must! We have childhood friends who live near Tombstone, so they played hookie from school and met up with us, along with Marissa and Nathan from LessJunkMoreJourney, who we've caravanned with for the last few weeks. It was so fun exploring this cowboy town and learning the history behind the real cowboys who once walked these streets. We even saw the historic gun show at the O.K. Corral.
1. Movies, movie and more movies. Just like in a home, when the rain came in California, we jumped at the chance to stay in our pajamas and watch movies all day. Now that we are in a travel trailer, movies can be the best way to kill time. It just so happened, we've enjoyed boondocking a lot more lately, which means we've opted out of hook ups. Thank goodness for the generator.
The last 2 days, we've watched the Emoji movie and Woody Woodpecker on Netflix, Big, Sing, and Planet Earth. It's too bad we saved that one for last. The cinematography was amazing.
2. Make Play Dough! (Recipe Below). This has been our 3 year olds favorite activity. It's entertained him for hours and he carries the bag with him everywhere, all within 350 sq ft.
3. Card Games. We've recently become hooked on Phase 10, and yes we are keeping score. And, if you're wondering, I am currently leading.
4. Science Kits! The boys get subscriptions to Groovy Box which are prepared science experiments for kids. Although this is all a part of home schooling, they enjoy them so much that it's almost just play to them.
5. Bake! I love to bake when it's raining. Now, if I had the space to really get down, I would. Being in a small space, I'm limited to the amount of food and baking machines I can keep around. I've enjoyed finding the Red Mill Muffin mix, which actually, is really hard to come across. I always check for it. It's a gluten free muffin mix that you use and add your own ingredients to. Like blueberries or carrots or bananas. They kids love them and I enjoy mixing up the flavors each time. (Seriously tho, if anyone comes across it, send it my way!)
6. Draw. Jake is our artist. This kid blows me away with some of his art he creates. He has several drawing books and on rainy day, this is his go to! We also recently got an Oslo. If his iPad is charged, this is always something fun to get out.
7. Move the island (that is in the center of our trailer) and have a dance party. Actually, it's been more like a The Greatest Showman soundtrack sing along party. Anyone else as obsessed as we are? Currently counting the days until this movie is on DVD.
8. iPad activities. As a family, we have several favorite iPad apps we use as a family. One would be YouTube. We love going back and watching our old videos from the last 8 months of travel. We also have so many science channels we enjoy watching. GoNoodle is also a fun app that is great to help get kids energy out in a small space.
9. Tent building. We obviously don't have a lot of space for this, which means that when tents are built, the entire trailer becomes a tent. This has only recently happened once, but it was fun to see how excited this made the kids.
10. Books on Audio. We've recently enjoyed listening to the book Wonder on audio. I knew this was one I wanted to read with the boys before seeing the movie. We've never done this before, but it has been so incredibly bonding and soothing for us all at the end of the day. Trenton usually falls asleep on me within minutes of the audio starting, but once its on, we are all engaged. I often stop it, we talk a little about whats happening, especially if I feel the boys are becoming distracted. (Spoiler alert) Tonight, Bryce cried when they put their dog down. He got up, needed a hug and then said he needed to go outside to see our dogs, in the rain, at 9pm. We will continue books on audio for sure.
There you have it! Whether you're stuck in 350 sq. ft on a rainy day like we are, or 5,000 sq. ft, you can still find things to do, together, to get you through it with your hair all in your head. After the rain lets up, ditch the kids and get a Starbucks. You did it.
I always hated when it rained at our California home and the kids were cooped up inside. We called this cabin fever and we all felt like we were on top of one another as we attempted to entertain ourselves. Californians don't function well in rain, I'll admit it. Having to toss our flip-flops and sandals aside for boots, Uggs (which are not waterproof), or something called shoes with socks....no thank you! Jackets? What's that?! You mean to tell me a hoodie can still get me wet? Ugh, forget it, we're inside for the day because rain stops our world when you live in California. In California, rain doesn't typically last for more than a day, so a day inside, manageable.
I now look back at this thought of cabin fever and laugh. Like seriously (is that Californiaian enough for you?), I laugh. We are now living in 350sq ft of living space. Cabin fever has a whole new meaning. We've had very few times where it has rained all day, forcing us to stay inside all day. What the heck do we do on these days? How do we not lose our minds? This mama gets creative. Yesterday, we made play doh. (Instructions are below). Luckily I had everything we needed and I made three batches. We staying in our pajamas all day yesterday too. Without a washer and dryer in our home, it helped not wasting another pair of clothes just to sit around in. We ran the generator most of the day and watched movies. My mom recently mailed us the movie Big, and the kids loved it. We colored and the boys even got free range on their iPads. WhAT? iPads all day? Yep! That's how we survive each other. Travis took Trenton with him for a grocery store run so that gave them a break. I did some homeschooling with the big boys and we made due. Today, we spent half the day home, cooking breakfast, watching more movies, schoolwork and such. A much needed break was taken when we went to explore Las Cruces in the rain. There are 4 museums in town that are completely free, so we killed time walking around two of them. I then found a kid play area we paid to go to. It was more run down than I had anticipated, not worth the $17 we paid for 2 kids to play, but they sure enjoyed themselves, so I guess overall, it was worth it for an hour of time killed.
Rainy days in a trailer are just like rainy days in a house. Mom gets creative to keep little minds busy and we attempt tp enjoy each other company, we are just stuck in 350sq ft of living space. Sounds crazy, but its doable. Seriously, it is.
Someone once commented that our "poor kids" would never have the chance to form and develop solid relationships with friends in school or a neighborhood. I chuckled because I knew how far from accurate this was. Before leaving on this adventure, our kids had, and still have, best friends they regularly keep in touch with. When we go back home, our kids have sleepovers and play dates and see their friends and cousins. We also have friends across the entire United States. The best part about this adventure? They've had the opportunity to see them all, spend time, play, and even have sleepovers with them. They've met new friends and formed new relationships they otherwise never would have had. We've connected with other traveling families, met up with high school friends who have grown kids and created lifelong friendships. My "poor kids" will be more well rounded, open minded human beings because we've exposed them to a world of new faces, new people and new friendships. Last night, Bryce went to a friends house for a sleepover. The friends happen to be our middle school friends who now have kids our kids age. Our oldest boys hit it off immediately and Bryce packed an overnight bag and jumped in their truck without even saying goodbye. These friendships are meaningful and important. We are so grateful for all of the friendships we've made.
First of all, what is boondocking?! Boondocking is essentially camping without hookups. We used to call this "dry camping" when we would head out to the desert. I believe its the same. We didn't boondock much in the first 6 months of our travels. We spent a lot of time at RV parks and state campgrounds. Hooking up to electricity was convenient. Having the ability to dump the black and gray water was also nice. We just didnt know much about bookdocking and we were not completely prepared, so we didn't do it. We decided on this next leg of our adventure, we wanted to boondock more. Most people who travel full-time and boondock LOVE it and would never go back. We used apps like Campedium and Park Advisor to find BLM land and since we left a week ago, its been the best decision we've made.
How does it work? Once we find BLM land, we make sure the reviews are good and we located the site. Typically, the spot is littered with campers and fellow boondockers, so we find a space of our own and set up camp. This past weekend, we met up with new friends, who are much more expierened in the boon docking world and we've quickly learned the tricks of the trade. We invested in a few solar panels, to keep our battery charged up. I believe we need to invest in new batteries to keep it up to par, we'd also like to install the solar panels on the roof, but we are a tad inexperienced in this area so they remain on the ground and our fingers are crossed a bat or ball doesn't get chucked at them. We also went and bought 3, 5 gallon water containers to fill when we head into town and hang on to until our water supply in the trailer gets low. So far, we've been in one spot since Monday and it's been amazing. We've heard that as we head east, we will find less and less BLM land, so if you have a favorite boon docking spot, let us know! We will be doing more research to find more, but this is the new normal for us and we love it.
Whats the plus of boondocking? We are not restricted to the rules of a campground. Our kids and dogs can freely run around, when kids are melting down, I dont have to worry about the neighbors 10ft away hearing it. We feel such a sense of freedom. The locations, those have proven to be the best part of it all. We are currently in a canyon surrounded by walls of mountains and it is incredible. Downside of boondocking? Our bigger appliances don't work. TV, Microwave, hair dryer, etc. Yes those are all things we can totally live without. If we had a larger generator or upped our solar, it may work, but were okay without it all.
Have any advise on boondocking? Share it with us! We're always open to new ideas.
Our first full day back in the trailer on our second leg of this adventure and it was a good day. In fact, it was a great day. I yelled at the kids less than 10 times. That sure makes for a good day. Our first sleeping night was on the shore at the Salton Sea. Although Ive camped nearby this area so many times, bringing out dirt bikes and quads to ride into the desert, I had never been near the Salton Sea, other than the one time I rode my quad a little too close and sunk into foot deep mud. Yea, but the shore camping on the east side is awesome. It really felt like this ocean was laid out before us. It smelled like it too. Although this is not water you want to play in, let alone touch, the view made up for it. Sunsets were amazing. The kids enjoyed the weird shore line, other than the time Jake slipped off the coral like shoreline rocks and scratched any part of skin on his body that was showing. Dead fish covered the shore, so we stayed back. The view tho! The view. School started off better as well. I only refocused the boys 45x rather than 100+. Afterward, they played on the skateboards outside behind the trailer, beyond them the highway and beyond that, the train tracks. (Don't worry, this was all very far off and not nearby). It was quiet and serene and beautiful. Travis and Trenton went out and bough solar panels so we could dry camp, boondocks, more often and dinner was okay too. That night, we taught the boys Phase 10 and it was quite funny. Game night is still not a regular thing in the trailer, but without electric to run the tv, game night it was. Needless to say, mama is kicking their butt.
It was a good day. If every day were like this, our travels would never end. Heres to many more good days.
Whats it take to pack up and move every few days? Travis and I have a pretty good routine. Watch our latest YouTube to find out!
We've shared a little about our Jakers and his KT Syndrome, but so many have asked, what is KT Syndrome? Is he okay? So, the best way for me to share, is to blog about it. Our middle son Jake has something called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome (KTS). Link is attached. KTS is a lymphatic and vascular malformation. To put it in non medical terms, he basically has a ton of extra lymphatic tissue, too many blood vessels to manage and cysts throughout his abdomen. KTS is treated symptomatically meaning when he spikes a fever, we go into the hospital, when he has pain or bleeding, we go to the hospital, if he isn't acting himself, pale or mama is concerned, we go to the hospital.
He was born in 2010 and we knew from ultrasound he was going to have some sort of malformation on his leg and bottom area, what it was, we were not for sure. When he was born, his right leg and bottom were larger than the other. He had 3 little blueberry colored toes and several port wine stains (birthmarks) on his bottom and leg. He was kept in the NICU at Loma Linda University in Southern California for 9 days before the doctors realized he's okay and sent us home. The next few years were followed by several infections, clots, laser treatments and lots of hospital stays. During this time, I also lost my husband, Jakes Dad, in a motorcycle accident. (I'll save that for another time.)
When Jake was 3 1/2, he was admitted for 2 weeks at Rady Childrens Hospital in San Diego. This was his longest stay and this mama bear was not about to be sent home without answers. They decided to start him on a trail medication that was heard to have slowed down the growth of his leg. We were released on Halloween, 2013 with a home IV and nurse visiting for the next 2 weeks. To our surprise, the medication worked. Before we knew it, we hit 3 months, 6 months and then 1 year without a hospital stay. The medication began to control the growth of the lymphatic tissue and lessen the pain he felt. He became more active, happy and better all around.
Overall, Jake will deal with his KY Syndrome for the rest of his life. How does it affect him today? He is quick to get more tired than other children, his heart is pumping so much blood through his body, that he wears out more. Hence, the reason for the wheelchair. We can be out for longer periods of time when there is a lot of walking. The wheelchair also helps because on days he is in pain or uncomfortable, we don't have to hold off visiting the zoo, we can all still go and enjoy ourselves.
How do we travel with Jake and a chronic illness? When we first decided on this adventure, we didn't want Jakes medical stuff to hold us back. We knew he could do it, and if it didn't work, we'd come back. I travel with his medical file and the knowledge of where a hospital is in reference to where we are. I have his doctors number on speed dial, hematologist, dermatologist, urologist and his pediatrician. So far, so..... I don't want to jinx anything. Each time we come home, we visit doctors, take care of blood draws and make sure he's healthy. Are we anticipating a bump in the road? We are always prepared for it.
Hes a tough, stubborn kid but my hope is that it makes him a stronger more well rounded man one day.
Feel free to ask questions!
When we first moved into our tiny home for this adventure, I worried about creating stability for the boys. Would it be strange for them to sleep in a new place each night? Would they be worried or scared or confused or not feel like they were "home"? Quickly realized that our tiny home, with the curtains shut tight each night, was the same place they were sleeping every night. We are all crawling into the same exact bed, the same comforts of home, surrounded by the same 4 walls, sleeping under the same heavy blankets that make someone feel the safest.
Travis and I often crawl into bed at and quickly wonder where we are. Are we on the beach? Are those ocean waves we hear? Did we bring in all of the food? Are there bears in this area? Are we surrounded by redwoods or are we in the middle of a desert? Are we in my parents driveway? We have these same feelings when we wake up each more also. Where did we just sleep last night?
It's an odd feeling, but also a feeling of such freedom. Where we can decide the surroundings beyond our walls of our tiny home and be anywhere.