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Meet my Fulltime Family

These winter months that have been so brutal with cold and snow (even in Tucson where we spent last winter in balmy, sunshiney weather!) in most of the other states, we have created safe haven in the sun in Orlando, Florida. Chris’ grandparents winter down here as well and we found a great KOA (Fort Summit) just down the road from them. We were eager to spend more time with them this year, having fond memories of early 2011 that we spent here with them) and help out as much as possible given that their 8th decade of life is slowing them down a bit.

Our time with them is priceless and the kids squeal when we can add their Great Grammy and Great Grampa to our adventures. We’ve even had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Chris’ Great Great Aunt Lucy, now 97, who was the most gracious hostess and regaled us with stories of her extensive camping and travel adventures “many years ago” with her late husband, Don. I took notes on routes and campgrounds about which she still recalls every detail. She and her son (a former school teacher) could not express enough times how excited, pleased, and proud they are that we have chosen this way of life and how wonderful they feel it is for our children. We happen to agree but it’s always good to hear.

When we started on the road 2 1/2 years ago, we thought mostly about places we wanted to visit. It became clear to us all early on that this travel life has been made rich and soulful mostly by the people we visit and meet along the way. The faces, as we travel, can change quite frequently but almost all are friendly, inviting, and interesting. I joke that my 20 minute morning dog walk can take an hour if I don’t get up early enough. Travelers are a friendly bunch.

But there is a part of us all that needs consistency and support… understanding and unconditional acceptance. This life is not always easy with new rig issues popping up, questions on travel logistics, not having families right nearby who understand what it means to live this way first hand. I tire sometimes of being “the RVing family.” It’s not who we are. Living a traveling life does not define us. It is so interesting to most people, though, that it can be the only thing I talk about in conversation as the curious questions just keep rolling. I overheard Sadie at a public playground one day with a peer. “Where do you live?” said the girl. “Let’s not get into it. Let’s just go play,” Sadie said. When asked about it later, Sadie expressed that she knows that kids find her living in a motorhome so fantastic and interesting that she ends up answering all kinds of questions and misses out on playtime.

We get support from our families and friends who, after 2 1/2 years no longer think we’re crazy or have resigned themselves to it. This year, though, we’ve added a new family to our lives- the Fulltime Family. Shortly after we went on the road, still fresh with questions and looking to find our traveling groove, I became aware of a website then a Facebook group founded by and for Fulltime Families. I referenced the site and lurked on the group for a long while. It was a place where I could go to search questions but also to be comforted that, although I couldn’t see them next door, there were many other families out there, new and veterans of all ages and with all aged children, living and loving a traveling life.

Did I mention I lurked? Then I started to ask questions and even answer some on the Facebook group. People responded inviting more virtual engagement. I began to know names and think of Jennifer, hoping she got that job at Disney, or whether Kimberly’s engine trouble was diagnosed. What are the great places to stay? What should we see for cheap or free? What do we do about the moisture on the windows? Anything you can think of, and most you can’t (unless you live in 300 square feet with several children and pets), can be answered there.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve met up with a family or two (like the Lundy 5) from the group as we passed each other in our journeys. This year we find ourselves once again in the hotspot (literally and figuratively) for Fulltime Families in the winter months- central Florida. While we missed this year’s winter rally, we are having a positively wonderful time here with regular pool parties, potlucks, and field trips with other traveling families- making new and lasting friendships on each and every outing. On a moms’ afternoon out to IKEA, I was so moved by how personal it felt for me to be shopping for home items with other people who understood all too well the dilemmas of organization of a small family space- that moves. Speaking of IKEA, we did a whole living/dining area makeover and someone I had never even met in the Fulltime Families group offered up their family’s truck for us to pick up our furniture. Now that’s family.

Photo 2 - 2013-02-24
photo credit:: Stephanie Clarke

So I’d like you to meet my Fulltime Family. We are not the same. In fact, we are more different than most neighbors in traditional neighborhoods. We come from all over the United States and even some other countries! We have different backgrounds, jobs, hobbies, interests, children who range in age from gestating to 20- something and beyond. But we share a common passion- a similarity in lifestyle that transpired in a different way for every family that creates and fosters a bond, an understanding, empowerment, vulnerability, and a wealth of knowledge.

Photo 1 - 2013-02-24

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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in Florida, RV

 

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Sadie’s Fashion Show

Sadie decided to stage a fashion show last week as a surprise for Daddy.  She painstakingly chose four outfits (off to France, evening wear, sleep wear, and beach wear) for each of us, choreographed our moves, and helped to edit the video clips to music.  What a fun project!

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Family

 

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Inspiration Monday- It’s all around

Tara Wagner of The Organic Sister  posted her Inspiration Monday blog carnival post today.  Being that we’re with them on the road right now, I found it only fitting to participate (now that I understand what a blog carnival is (insert, SNORT- “you’ve been blogging how long?!” here))….

We’ve been hanging with the Wagners on a picturesque mountainside outside of Albuquerque by complete happenstance (as if there were such a thing) for the last week.  What was meant to be a night… or two… has become a caravan adventure.  Our plans have changed… AGAIN.  This is big.  We’re planners.  We’ve always been planners.  And since the beginning of our life on the road about 7 weeks ago, the plan has changed at least 3 dramatic times.  And that was OK each time.  We made decisions and settled on a new plan.  But now there’s something new on the scene- FLOW.  We embarked on this adventure because it felt good to be free and yet we were tying ourselves to expectations- places to be, things to see, timeframes- all along the way.

So I have to say that today I’m inspired by FLOW- going with it, being in it, and enjoying it.  Rather than trying to beat feet to Santa Cruz for my mid-October conference, I’ve bought a plane ticket from Las Vegas.  Chris and the kiddos will stay around the city of sin for the weekend while I’m away and maybe by then we’ll have a new destination in mind.  There were places we had planned to stop on the way.  Time with friends and supporting each other’s journeys has taken precedence.  Between our two homes on wheels, the Wagners and we have seen our share of fixer-upper afternoons and it just feels great to have more heads and hands in those situations.

What else have I been inspired by this week?

 – The fourth issue of Rethinking Everything Magazine– the quarterly magazine I began co-publishing with Barb Lundgren this year.  It feels like a first date every time I send it out and this marks the last issue of our first year in publication!!!

– Shopping carts that fit adults so my kids can push me around the store- it’s slow but super fun!

 

 

 

 

– Tireless men who wrack their brains and dirty their hands until it’s fixed.

 

 

 

 

 

– Boys who play Barbies and Legos… together.

 

 

 

 

 

150,000 year old art.

 

People who remind us to think about what inspires us– thanks, Tara!

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2010 in New Mexico, Travel log

 

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RV Renovation Update

I’m behind on blogging and I know many are waiting for the photos of our RV renovation.  I hope I can accurately convey all that has been going on in a separate post.  We’ve been RV living for two weeks and still have some cosmetic tweaks as well as big technical projects in the works.  For the most part, the inside look of the RV is complete (minus said tweaks).  It feels like home.  It’s us.  We are very comfortable inside it and don’t feel like we’re missing a thing (except some of the ‘before’ photos we had taken- when I find them, I’ll share).  As you can see, the difference is quite remarkable.

BEFORE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFTER (below):

Among the renovation projects were:

– Removing back closet doors and rod, reinforcing the subfloor, and building 6’4″ long bunks for the kids.

– Making mattresses to fit the irregular size specs of the bunks.  We used a self-inflating camping mat and three layers of foam for each, covered with purple flannel (chosen by the kids) and held in place by sheet clips underneath.

– Replacing all of the existing carpet/linoleum with wood laminate (bedroom, hall, living, and kitchen areas), linoleum tiles (bathroom area), and carpet (only where necessary for function- next to the bed and under the dinette/couch).

– Removing the leather recliner that was previously bolted to the floor in the living area.  We replaced it with two hassack/footstools to hold shoes and the kids’ musical instruments.  One serves as Chris’  ‘office’ chair as needed and both can be used as additional living area seating.

– Removing wallpaper border (what a BEAR) and painting all walls.

– Removing all of the wooden window casings/treatments and custom sewing all new curtains (I used several panels from IKEA and cut/hemmed them to fit the various windows.  The kids have a double curtain to add privacy to their bunk areas and the kitchen window has diagonally cut placemats draped over the sheer).

– Covering the couch with a slipcover and custom sewing dinette cushion covers to match (out of a loveseat slipcover that matched the couch cover- sewing these was no small task out of material that was already shaped and sewn to other specs).

– Sewing draw curtains for each of the kids’ bunks for personal privacy/space.

– Caulking all floor joints, bathroom, and kitchen seams.

– Installing (mounting and wiring) flatscreen televisions (2) in place of the existing heavy and impossible to tune CRTs. 

– Installing and wiring amplifier, BluRay player, subwoofer, surround sound speakers, and home computer.

This may or may not be all of the projects that we have done thus far and there are more to come as we supe up our home to make suit our family’s needs.  The biggest trick with all of these renovations has been combining the look of a traditional foundation home with the mobility/wear of an RV.  Because of the small space, every area is a high traffic area; and every area is a ‘wet’ area (especially with two drooly dogs).  Periodic moves mean easy stowing and firm fixing of everything on board lest someone get a book, spice jar, or framed picture to the head during a quick stop.  Despite our best efforts, we continue to learn many new things about RV living from experience and practice- some lessons we’d rather not learn.

Overall, we are so happy with our cozy, little home on wheels.  It really is just like a small house.  The minimal space has not been an issue at all.  It’s actually been really amazing to engage in such a constantly connected way with everyone.  Our big house put space between us which made it easy to separate emotionally from situations that could have been used to bring us together, problem solve, learn, and respect each other more.  Having the kids in their own beds so close to ours has saved us loads of time and energy moving couch cushions to our bedroom floor every night (as they get bigger, co-sleeping for long periods of time isn’t comfortable for anyone) and they are really loving having their own personal quarters abutting ours.  And, yes, Chris and I have plenty of privacy for ourselves. 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2010 in RV

 

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