Sunday, October 15, 2017

Moving In: Our Little Homestead

I know it's been forever since I posted. (Literally forever.) I blame it on Instagram. It's SO easy and quick to use. But, it doesn't allow you to really give details about what's going on. I would like to go back and fill in the blanks of the rest of our travels, but for now I'll do a quick recap of the summer and pick up in the present.

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After Jon's accident in the spring, we had to stay put and let him heal. It took months until he was finally able to drive and even longer before he could do strenuous up a camper. We did manage to get out for a final two week trip in the camper, and it was amazing. We loved living on the camper, and we loved traveling. But all good things must come to an end (for now) since we made some farm promises to the kids.

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During the healing time we were able to sneak away to look at homesteads, and we managed to find the one we wanted. It took a ridiculous amount of time to close...more than 60 days...but close we did. Everyone loves it, it was a unanimous choice, and being there is like being home. (Which is good, since it is)

 After traveling to Alaska, Georgia and Florida for a month, it was finally time to move in. We've been in the house for about two weeks  Unfortunately, because of bats, no one will be moving upstairs any time once again we're all sleeping together in one tight space. (Thankfully we like it that way!) Most of the bats are gone, but their grossness remains, so all of the ceiling and insulation above the upstairs bedrooms will have to be removed and replaced. Once everything is clean and new, the kids can move into their long awaited bedrooms. Yes, that is bedrooms...after sharing a bedroom on the boat for two years, and on the camper for another two...both kids are ready to have some space to call their own.

Personally, I am a little excited about it too....but also sad. It means a chapter is closing on our life. But, it also means chapters are opening. We have a homestead! A beautiful mountain oasis in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. I literally sit on the front porch for hours being amazed by the beauty around us. Especially now that it's fall, the leaves fall all around us. We have half a dozen apple trees, and equally as many mountain springs flowing down our part of the mountain.

This spring will mean ducks and chickens, maybe some goats...and then who knows. This is just a continuation of the experiment....if the kids want to try something, we will. And when the kids are done farming, who knows, maybe we'll turn our farmstead into our home-base and start traveling again. I love that our lives have become a place where anything is possible...and in the meantime, it's nice to have a home again.

The view of our farm from the top of the property.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Growing Boy

This poem makes me think of Luke, at exactly this age. He is so full of ideas and dreams...huge, seemingly impossible plans...and he believes that he can accomplish them all. 

If only we all still felt that way.

This is an age of magic and wonder, of growing and trying. Right now he's loving planning inventions and grand treehouses. He still loves when I read to him. He's adventurous and outgoing. Kind, but impatient. Suddenly he's got a voice, something to say about everything...ready to fight, love or laugh. 

Nine will be a good year.

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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Majestic Redwoods

Oh my goodness.

The redwoods really are as awe inspiring as you'd think they'd be.

It makes me so sad that only 5% of the original forests are left. It does make it feel sometimes like we simply can't fix the damage we as humans have done, and are still doing to our planet.

But, this post isn't about dwelling on the bad, rather it's about renewing the spirit. Crescent City and the surrounding ocean and redwoods have been revitalizing for us. The temperature seems to be permanently stuck in autumn, which has been wonderful! We've spent part of every single day in the glory of nature; hiking, swimming, beachcombing or kayaking. We've also chosen this place and time to start up school again.

As a homeschool mom, I LOVE the start of school. (Don't get me wrong, I love the lazy days of summer too!) But, there is something about beginning again that I just love. Cool mornings, warm drinks, sitting around the table together working on something...or snuggling up on the couch to read together. I am not someone who loves to have a strict routine, but a little bit of routine (every once in a while) seems to be just the thing we need. We are easing slowly back into the school year, a week at a time, adding a little more as we go.

This place has been magical for us, the kids built a teepee in the woods behind our campsite, and have slowly been building it up and working on it for the last few weeks. It's this kind of project-based, nature-inspired unschooling that I love the most.

So this year I've worked hard to streamline the more regimented parts of our schooling so that it takes up only the pre-lunch hours. The rest of the day is for playing, being in nature, working on projects, or anything else that we decide to do that day. I am a little afraid that in a different place we won't find everything so wonderful...but alas, as travelers, we must travel on and have faith that it is us, and not this place that makes us who we are. (But I won't lie, there is something magical going on here!)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

50 Million Year Old Fossils...and they're all mine!

I love seeing history in action. As a public school kid, I learned not to get too excited about learning. Just memorize the information so you can get the best grade, do NOT think about, do NOT get excited about it, do NOT question it. Learn it, take the test and move on. (And I was good at the game...I tested well, and then promptly forgot it all.)

It has taken me years to undo this. Actually it's taken years of homeschooling and 9 months of travel to realize that history is an amazing, exciting and very real thing. I have never enjoyed museums and battlefields as much as I have this year. (Thankfully, that seems to be true for my kids too!)

As we were hoofing it across the country to get to Oregon in time for Laurel's birthday, we didn't really have a lot of time to stop and look at things. We did decide to stop for two days in Wyoming; we spent one day at Fort Bridger, and the second day at Fossil Butte National Park and Warfield Fossil Safari.

Fort Bridger was a surprising distraction for us, we spent most of the day there. We toured the buildings, and spent longer than probably necessary in the museum. What can I say...we love documentaries, and they would just keep putting on a new one if you asked. (We connected the dots later that the song The Story of Jim Bridger was the SAME guy that founded Fort Bridger!)

The next day we set off to look for fossils at the Warfield Fossil Safari, not knowing what (if anything) we would find. First we started off at Fossil Butte National Monument to learn some history...what an amazing place! Beautiful, filled with really gave a timeline to all of the changes in life and geology that has happened over the millions of years. We saw amazing fossils, cool documentaries and got to watch a ranger actually cleaning and finishing a fossil that was pulled out of the ground there.

Onto Warfield, we drove and drove, not knowing where we were going (the GPS knew even less than us!). When we got there we were faced with looming cliffs, and handed a hammer and a chisel. George, the manager at Warfield was so helpful, showing us where to pull out rock, and how to chisel it open to find fossils. We hammered and climbed and carried...and with a little patience we all found 50 million year old fish fossils!

It was truly exciting to know that you were the first thing that had seen that fish in 50 million years! We found dozens of fish, several that were in layers where there was a mass die out (due to temperature or salinity level probably). And while we were there George found a rare large gar in the cliff. (Exciting stuff!) By the time we left we were soaked (it rained and stormed several times), filthy (all that rock turns into dust), exhausted and super duper excited. In 12 years of public schooling I never felt one minute of one day the way I did driving away from Warfield that afternoon. I love that I am able to show my kids that learning is a lifelong pursuit...heck, I am glad that I'm finally learning it!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Experiences=Vomit

Traveling full time with your kids, it's all about spending quality time together, living slow, and trying new things...right? 

Well, sometimes new experiences are just gross. Such as, the balut egg. For those of you who are not-in-the-know, a balut egg is...

Yuck, right?

My kids first heard about balut eggs in Ketchikan, and read about it later in a duck magazine. (Yes, there are duck's a thing) So when we came upon a food truck at a Farmer's Market that had balut eggs, my kids could not pass it up.

So we bought it, and brought it home. (Just in case anyone was going to throw up, I figured they'd rather do it in the comfort of their own campsite.)

Jon cracked a hole in the top, and Laurel, Luke and Jon took turns taking sips of the "broth" which is supposed to be what you do first, before cracking the egg completely open to eat the yolk and tiny duck.

 (I use the term "broth" could also call it warm-baby-duck-juice...blegh.)

Then it has to be cracked open to reveal the yolk and tiny duckling...

Are you tempted yet?

Oh boy, it just gets better and better.

Oh my, the reactions were worth the $2.

Honestly they all said it tasted fine, ok, or interesting...but two of them gagged, and one of them threw up. Want to know who couldn't hold his duck?

THIS GUY. Yep, this picture is post-vomit.

How did it taste? 
I have no idea. 

I love trying new things, but I have limits.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Girl Unscripted

I have a girl who loves many things. The ocean, rabbits, ducks, the woods, crochet, reading, cooking. She wants more than anything to raise animals on a farm, have guinea pigs and a saltwater fish tank. She reads late into the night, no matter how many times we tell her she should go to bed. She is growing into the woman that she will become, and I both love and despair at her growing independence of thought and action...because it means, she is growing up.

I am riding the waves of her life, and realizing that even when it's rocky I'd rather be here then on the shore watching. I am thankful that at this time in my life I can devote everyday to growing with my kids. And what I've learned is that the older they get the more complex, interwoven, delicate and beautiful the relationship becomes. I live in those moments right now, and it is worth the work to make it as beautiful as it can be.

Happy Birthday my girl.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New England

We played in the ocean.

 We had some fun.

We learned some history.

We went to quirky museums.

We visited quaint towns.

We also; sat in a lot of traffic, fought for parking, paid crazy prices to park at the beach ($20 a day!?!), and spent way too much money. Thank you New England, you are beautiful...but I must admit, when we drove away I felt some tightness relieving in my chest. Too many people, too much hustle and bustle...I'm not sure where people come from that this would be a place to relax! It took me a few days to relax FROM our trip!

If we had more time, we would have headed further up the coast towards Bar Harbor, and then onto Eastport. They were calling my name more...less people, more nature. Hopefully next year...but for now, we are headed West. (We made a promise to a little girl, and it must be kept.)

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