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And off we go…sort of

Happy to say, we picked up the RV in Houston from our friends at American Greenfuels after the always amazing Rethinking Everything Conference.  Bud runs through the new “veg” system and we are on our way back through DFW for one last hurrah with friends.  Oh, and let me just say, the new “veg” system rocks!  We have driven up from Houston to DFW on veg and have since made our way to Amarillo, TX almost entirely on “veg”.  I will post soon entirely on how this system works with pictures for those interested.

We had such a great time at the conference connecting with old friends and making so many new friends along the way.  In fact, it was so great, we hosted a pot luck gathering at our campsite in Lewisville, TX after coming back up to reconnect one last time with many of these individuals.  It was such a great reminder of how many truly great friends we have in the DFW area.

We ended up spending a few extra days in Lewisville as we really sparked a connection with the Cameron family from British Columbia, Canada.  Sadie and their daughter Iris became inseparable during our  stay and Elijah and Simon were so similar in their mannerisms it was really quite amazing to behold.

The Camerons:

Sadie and Iris making acorn stew:

We eventually parted ways as they were heading to the eastern coast of the US and we are making our way out to the west coast.  Unfortunately, we then realized we had a leak or “leaks” of sorts that needed to be addressed.  The first thing we found (much thanks to Joseph Duchene) was an engine oil leak.  Joe identified a loose bolt on the oil pan and we tightened that bad boy up.  Then I noticed we still had another leak in action, and it was leaking both Diesel fuel or veg oil depending on what we were running at the time.  After a few days of me being unable to pinpoint the leak, we brough it to Abel Fuels in Lewisville.  These guys were excellent.  They provided a 30 amp hookup to our RV while there and Paul let me look over his shoulder the whole time as he diagnosed and fixed the problem.  It turns out one of the fuel lines was leaking and needed to be replaced.  A few hundred $$$ later we were back in business!

We headed northwest towards Amarillo, TX and stayed in a town called Canyon, TX.  Our initial plan was to head to Denver,CO but after looking at current temps, we decided to head west through New Mexico on our way to CA.  While staying here in Canyon, TX, we knew we just had to explore Palo Duro Canyon (which happens to be the 2nd largest Canyon in the US), and so we did.  Here are a few shots we took on our 6 mile trek up into the highest part of the canyon:

Ironically, as we headed west and stopped over in Albuquerque, NM, we came to find out that our good friends the Wagner’s  (Justin, Tara, and Zeb) were staying just outside of town as well.  We connected again for a few days and we are now lodged up in Leisure Mountain RV Park just outside of Albuquerque, NM until tomorrow when we plan to make our way towards the Four Corners Monument.  Since it is the only place in the country where one can essentially be in 4 different states at the same time, we thought it might be cool to swing through on our way out to southwestern Utah.

With a little help from Justin, I replaced the two starting batteries for the RV as they apparently have reached the end of their useful life.  On top of that, we hope to be filling up on “veg oil” in the morning as we trek out.

Updates from the next leg of the adventure to follow……

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Dogs on the Go- our rambling pups

Warning:  this is a furry post.  So often our pets get overlooked in the blog and it’s time they got their due.

These are the girls.  LuluBelle (right) is 5 1/2 years old.  She appears to be a mix of labrador and border collie.  She came to us 3 years ago as a temporary foster and required too much love and TLC (she has an abuse history) for us to let her go.  Lulu is big and tender and sheds horrendously.  She is a sweet, loving companion and an integral part of our family.  Skooter (left) is about 8 months old.  She was a handful of puppy given to us by our former neighbors who had found her on the side of the road on the way to the mall.  At the time, she was still trying to nurse and sleeping most of the day.  The calm soon led to the puppy storm but, overall, Skoots has been a really fun, cuddly, tender pup to have around. 

When we decided to hit the road, we had 3 dogs, a cat, and a guinea pig.  It was clear that not all of our furry family members were going to be able to make the transition with us to the RV.  Motley, our cowlicked and mullet-bodied guinea pig, found a serendipitous home with some friends and became fast buddies with their sweet, little, well-loved piggie.  Minka, our beloved old lady (an almost 13 year old whippet), was quickly becoming demented around this time and, over the time period of the house showings and sale, became so confused that she was fearful much of the time.  She had never enjoyed car rides so travelling in an RV would not have been the life for her.  After consulting a local whippet rescue society, we made the hard decision to have her put down.  We knew that the pups would be coming with us but there was still Sawyer- our wondrous, fabulous kitty.  He’s the kind of cat that will lie in the middle of the kitchen floor and watch you step over him while you cook.  He’s that awesome.  Down to the wire, we put out feelers to everyone we knew for a loving home for him.  Many cries later, Sawyer moved on to a family home with other animals in the arms of a woman who works with rescue agencies and was thrilled to welcome him into her family.  Oddly enough, the home was found and arranged by our awesome estate sale team- J. Darling Estate Sales.

A few weeks before we were set to go, Lulu’s hips started bothering her terribly.  She’s hobbled before which we chalked up to small hips on a big dog (65 lbs.) and maybe some dysplasia.  This time it was bad.  She was clearly in severe pain and I just couldn’t put a finger on the issue.  I took her in to the vet who diagnosed severe arthritis in her hind hips and knees, prescribed some heavy duty (and costly) pain killers, and told us to prepare ourselves for her rapid deterioration and inevitable euthanasia.  My inquiries as to more holistic methods of treatment were met with resistance and anger.  When the vet left the room, I looked at Lulu.  She was not ready to die nor be so incapacitated.  I refused the pain killers (Pain in this situation is a message to Lulu from her body.  She didn’t need us to take the pain away.  She needed us to fix the problem.  I did not intend to poison her with toxic chemicals.  I decided to fortify her body to heal itself- despite this vet’s determination that she would ‘never get better, only get worse’).  It felt good to know what we were dealing with and now I knew what to research.

Within two weeks of my research and implementing what follows, Lulu’s joint issues were reversed by at least a year.  She is now stronger, happier, more agile, and more resilient (when she does have some soreness, it’s very short-lived) than she has been in a very long time.  We didn’t ‘treat’ Lulu.  In accordance with what we know to be true about health and wellness, we knew that Lulu’s lifestyle needed a change.  Here’s what’s new with Lulu:

– She and Skooter no longer eat manufactured dog food AT ALL.  They are completely raw fed.  Commercial dog food (no matter how ‘good’) is processed and not easily digestable or good for dogs.  It contains grain as fillers which cause joint inflammation, aka: arthritis.  While we had transitioned them to being free fed on dry dog food (the kids called it ‘unschooling’ them :), we introduced raw meats and meaty bones on the basis of much research.  Interestingly enough, the relatively small amounts of meats and bones that we introduced left them completely disinterested in the bowl of dry on the floor.  They remained satisfied and content on the small amounts of meat so we easily phased out the commercial dog food.  One of my favorite sites for information on raw diets for dogs and cats answers the FAQs regarding raw vs. commercial dog food blends.  I am flat out flabbergasted at how little they eat in raw meats relative to the dry food we used to feed, how minimal their bowel movements are, and how contented they are with their feeding.

– Both girls now take glucosamine and chondroitin as a joint supplement to support joint health.

– Both girls take fish oil capsules daily for joint health.

– When Lulu is uncomfortable, she takes White Willow Bark- an herbal anti-inflammatory- which is very effective in small doses for her.

– Both girls take at least a 2 mile walk every morning in addition to many excursions and adventures with the family.  It’s so exciting for them as we move around- so much to explore every time they jump down out of the RV!!  One of the recommendations from the vet was that Lulu no longer go for long walks.  I understand that health hinges on happiness.  Leaving Lulu at home when she WANTED to walk was non-sensical.  While she is alive, she will live.  We are here to support her health and happiness.  I do think that this change in Lulu’s importance and place in the family in addition to the change to raw food are the key pieces to her health.

I’m thrilled to tell you that we have reversed Lulu’s arthritis.  Because of her size and smaller back end relative to front end, we must lift her into the RV every single time we come in.  It’s a small thing in the grand scheme and is keeping my arms toned.  🙂

Neither dog is particularly happy with the RV when it is in motion.  Having had several items fall from cabinets and shift as we were honing our system, Lulu especially became very anxious when the engine would start and was actually dangerous as she’d cram herself right up next to Chris’ seat while driving.  We have a great system down now with a collapsible crate similar to this  one that we set up prior to starting the engine and the dogs happily remain in there until we are stopped and settled in a new location.

Lulu’s shedding is a challenge in the RV just as it was in the house.  I sweep constantly and we are looking forward to adding a central vac system.  The wood laminate flooring feels great, however, because I can see it all and know that the hair can’t hide.  If it looks clean, it’s clean (for about 5 minutes).   I picked up a great wire brush which she loves so she’s super happy with an every other day brushing.  Our neighbors may be finding her hair in their barbeque, however.

We are really pleased that we decided to bring the girls with us on the road.  In this small space and with the increased attention and time that we have to spend together, they are even further integrated into the fabric of the family.  The kids cuddle, play, and take more of a part in their care than ever before.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Studded Sadie

Can you see what’s new here?  If you can’t, she’ll gladly tell you.  Sadie announced a couple of weeks ago that her plan for her 6th birthday (still several months away) was to have her ears pierced.  Good enough, I thought, and filed it away with birthday plans in my mind. 

Yesterday, as we ate lunch at a local restaurant, Sadie expressed a desire to do it sooner – like, that day.  My lunch didn’t settle so nicely.  She was ready right then to make the leap.  We went to one of those prissy little girl salon places (it HAS to be there, Mama!) around the corner.  It took all of five minutes in a giant pink throne and two irritated sounding, “Ow”s for the whole process to be complete.  She has little flower shaped studs with white petals and blue centers.  I got all wriggly when I saw the little stapler mechanism with the pointed stud set inside.  She held my hand rather than my holding hers which seemed strange considering the 10 piercings I’ve had over the years.  She continues to wow us with her pain threshold and is positively beaming with her new ‘eye-catching’ jewelry.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Hoop Mama

A couple of weeks ago (I’m catching up post our trip to New Hampshire), we got together with the Wagner and Janssen families for some potluck, conversation, and… hooping!  I was re-introduced to the hoop after what may have amounted to a 25 year hiatus.  We definitely didn’t pick up where we left off.  The first night was spent becoming re-acquainted- some straight up, old school waist hooping and a little bit of the booty bump.  Having done a trick and feeling really smooth with the hoop, I was hooked.  We were a group to behold- several women, one man (who rocked the hoop), and a handful of children all hooping in the twilight.  Those of us without, wanted hoops of our own.  We made a plan to get together again the next night for hoop making and more spinning. 

These are not your ordinary, plastic toy aisle hoops.  They are made of irrigation tubing making them heavier, more comfortable, easier to spin, and tougher to kink/break.  They’re also gorgeous and personal!  I feel very bonded to my hoop after spending the time making it.

Rather than re-creating the hoop- er…wheel, here are instructions for making your own hoop a la Sara Janssen.  I warn you- it’s addictive. 

Here are the hoops that Sadie (blue on blue), Elijah (blue and purple on pink), and I (alternating red/yellow & purple/blue) made.  They are all different sizes according to what felt good when we were hooping with others’ and that’s great because different sized hoops work for different tricks so I can switch it up if the kids aren’t looking. 🙂

Learning recently that I can collapse my hoop for easier travel, I am thrilled that we won’t have to be separated.  With our recent vacation, I was itching to get back in the spin.  I’ve been working on the lift and am now ready to move on.  My plan is to start watching more videos and trying out new tricks.  My hoop needs a little more weight so I’ll be adding more gaffers tape and possibly making one slightly smaller as Elijah is not always willing to share. 🙂  Many have asked about making their own hoops so I’ll be purchasing materials and having a hoop making party soon!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Parks, Playdate, RV, Uncategorized

 

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Dashboard Confessional

This has been such a time of tremendous shift in our lives.  I ‘came out’ on my Humans Being podcast a little while back about our plan to take the Clan on the road in an RV to minimize our expenses, free Chris to pursue his passions and spend more time with us, and to see as much of the world as possible.  This has been something we have discussed and pondered and thought of as a retirement plan or a ‘someday’.  When we embraced unschooling, we thought there could be no better way to live a connected life while seeing and getting to know the amazing, beautiful, quirky, historic, strange, and mysterious places and people of the world.  And yet we still could not think of a way that it could become reality.  This was our block, not reality.  As this was our dream, information came to us in fits and spurts and, the more we realized it was a possibility, the more excited we became.  The more excited, the more we sought, dreamt, and learned.

Did you know there are a great many families living ‘on the road’?  Here are a couple of sites to get started:

www.familiesontheroad.com

www.nurvers.com

There have been many considerations along the way and the decision has not been without deep analysis, excitement, anxiety, investigation, and re-analysis. 

– what will we do with the house?  And all of our STUFF? (I love what George Carlin had to say about STUFF.)

– what about the kids’ friends?  Nuther post, nuther time….

– what about financial income?  Ditto…

– where will we go?  Long list- the question is: where will we go in what order?

– how long will we travel?  However long it feels good!

– what if we decide it’s not for us?  Then we’ll set up a homestead again.

The questions we have been asked and have asked ourselves surface, are addressed, and re-surface only to meet with new knowledge and tweak the plan or perspective.   Aside from my open Humans Being discussion, Facebook and Twitter friends have seen only a few mentions of the plan and its unfoldings.  As we become more comfortable, confident, and knowledgable about our decision, it is much easier to disclose our intentions and the loose makings of a plan with others.  Come to think of it, this is the same process we encountered with unschooling- our guarded, thrilling secret gradually became exciting to share as we gained confidence in our choice and explored philosophy and practice.

Our house has sold once already but, with the drop in housing prices and consumer lending being curtailed to a fault, the appraisal on our house did not match the sale price (not by a mile).  While we agreed to sell short of what we (and both real estate agents) considered fair market value, the buyers became concerned and felt that this might be a message from on high (yes, we live in the Bible belt) that they should not go through with the purchase.  Even with our positive outlook and firm belief that we attract everything that we need at any given time (Law of Attraction), we were disheartened.  The plan at the time was to sell the house, quickly purchase an RV, move in, hold an estate sale for the remaining STUFF, sign closing papers, and be off.

After becoming inspired by the Janssens’ RV renovations, we decided that it will be better to locate and purchase an RV, perform any changes/overhauls/additions prior to move-in, move in, hold an estate sale, and continue with the house on the market throughout the deal.  Living in a house that is on the market is quite difficult.  I find myself always on edge wondering how quickly I could clean the house if we were called for a showing.  It’s not a fun way to live.

After many weeks of searching for the perfect RV in person and online, making offers not accepted, talking with sleezy southern RV salesman (excluding two who were absolutely helpful and lovely), haggling, researching, reading, and searching again, we have finally found what we believe to be our future home on the road.  I will post all the details once it passes all inspections and is, indeed, ours.

The test drive was scheduled and we were on our way to the dealership when dark, Texan clouds rolled in.  As the rain was light, the salesperson (loveliest and most knowledgeable of all and rightfully earning our business) approved the test drive and brought the RV to a location deemed a good practice area where he and Chris switched seats.  About this time the rain started coming down more heavily.  A short in the wire supplying the windshield wipers rendered them useless.  Downpour.  Construction zone.  Right turn onto a two-lane road with no shoulder.  Low-hanging branches.  Mental hyperventilation.  Picturing white light and trying to conjure feelings of confidence and calm.  Envisioning the RV with our colors, photos, alterations, and our energy all around.  Thinking of all the places we will see and people we will meet as we travel North America in our home. 

We made it home safely.  I am affirmed that Chris was able to drive this big rig in some serious weather with minimal anxiety and we are now clear what type of weather is optimal for RV travel- the clear kind.

I am excited to share this news and we are looking forward to the RV mechanic inspection going through with a clean bill of health and the house selling smoothly.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2010 in RV, Uncategorized

 

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Repurposing Plastic Packaging

Seriously.  The lighting in the house?  The camera?  Chris started talking about a new camera the other day and now it’s all I see.  Other people’s gorgeous photos, inadequacies in mine, poor lighting, arrgh!

Anyway… I felt inspired on this Mother’s Day and decided to look into something I’ve been wanting to do for a while- using plastic bags (that I keep b/c I can’t stand the thought of throwing them way) to make new items.  I checked out plastic fusing but, as it turns out, that works better for the thinner bags (a la sandwich and supermarket shopping bags).  I had these heavier duty bags from pretzels, chocolate chips, and organic sugar so I decided to try to make my own reusable tote.  Who knew that you can put them through the sewing machine?

I cut them flat and then around the edges so that they were all smooth.  Then (I don’t use patterns for anything) cut the two pretzel bags just enough so that they were the same size.  They would be the front and back of the bag.  The two small sugar bags were cut to form the gusset at the bottom.  And the chocolate chip bag (Costco size) was cut to make the wide sides.  Then I turned the right sides in and sewed them all together with a hem across the top just for finishing.

The shape of it came out great.  It was easy and very cool.  BUT I learned a little something about sewing plastic.  While the shiny, smooth, heavy duty sugar and chocolate chip bags worked great, the pretzel bags ripped easily and there are already a few holes here and there on the seams that I’ve tried to gently fix (insert frustrated growl here).

Next time I will: 1) use the smooth plastic food bags or fused plastic shopping bags for better durability and 2) use plastic for the handles (the brittle pretzel bag frustrated me so I sewed a shoelace on for handles and gave it to Sadie for a play bag).  It’s all learning and process and I’m psyched to do this again!

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sculptor

I’m not a daily blogger.  I’m a daily mother.  I try to blog whenever I can about interesting things that are going on in the approximate timeframe that the blog post is written.  Pressuring myself to document everything or even some things in a timely manner has proven to create a stressed out, not entirely present, Epic Fail of a mother and that just defeats the whole purpose of this life. 

That being said, this post just couldn’t wait.

What started with Sadie taking out a couple of 2x6s to make a ‘dog toy catapult/launcher’ ended in something entirely different.  There was launching, of course; and tailoring of the launch apparatus to achieve maximum height and distance.  Neither dog was very impressed but Sadie loved it then left in favor of some other activity.

Elijah came along and began rearranging the pieces Sadie had left, dragging out more of varying sizes, stacking, standing, focusing intently, and moving them around.  This was intense.  He was clearly enjoying himself with occasional exclamations and calls to look at the progress. 

Finally he said, “I guess I was just meant to be a sculptor of wood!  I’m great at this.”  This is not the first time he has expressed an interest in creating large sculpture of some variety.  I am in awe of his creativity and focus.  He also has some really cool poses…

Shortly after the completion of the first, he decided to create another version.

My kids often say how great they are at various things.  They talk about how smart they are, how great they look in a particular outfit, etc.  I have often thought about it (as I do so much about the differences in authentic children and traditionally parented/educated children) and have always felt the purity in the way their words reflect their self-confidence.

Do not confuse self-confidence with being conceited.  They are two very different things.  I am struck sometimes with the energy that is behind the words that they say and how differently the words would be perceived if the energy was not authentic in belief and self-awareness.  They do not say these things for anyone else; to upgrade the perception of themselves in the eyes of others; to call attention to themselves.  These are observations that they make about their level of confidence and generally feeling great about who they are- for them. 

Inspired again by the creativity, learning, excitement, self-awareness, confidence, and joy.

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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