Friday, December 3, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things.....

Watching The Sound of Music sure puts a smile on my face tonight.  Sitting around with my children and husband, enjoying each other's company as well as a classic movie. 

There are many difficult times traveling full time in a camper with six children, one of which is a young adult trying to stretch his wings in 42'! 

Yet, the difficulties that we endure are much fewer than the amazing experiences we enjoy.  Spending the last six weeks with my grandmother have been priceless.  My children spending countless hours with aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends have brought a lot of joy, some pains, and much fun. 
Cousin Eleanor in Montana 

We organized an impromptu family reunion held at a Veteran's Center.  I made some phone calls, emailed, and sent messages on face book.  Many relatives came and we had a wonderful time.  To see so many loved ones visiting, laughing, and telling stories was worth more then my entire home.  To watch my grandmother talk and play with my children, Cody play the Bodran with Uncle Steve playing the penny whistle.  Hanna leading worship at a local youth group.  Naomi talking so pleasantly with anyone of any age.  Tytus running to and fro making everyone giggle.  Gabriel and Josie making friends with cousins.


How can I put things and bricks before this?  Things are not eternal, people are.  I do want a house some day; a place to call home.  But, I will not go so far in debt to buy one that we can no longer afford to travel. 

There have been a few hard times while we were here.  Some family and friends are harder to get along with than others, yet, the Bible says that what kind of Christians are we if we only love those who are easy to love!  I saw some walls break down in some relationships here.  It took six weeks to break them down, but they are down none the less.


Great Grandma reading a book to the kids.


We celebrated Advent in the rental cabin on the lake.

Naomi loved making angels in the snow.



Celebrating Great Grandma's 82nd birthday - priceless.






Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving in a Camper

I was asked by http://www.rvparking.com/ to write about Thanksgiving in a camper.  Read it at their website.
It was a lot of fun to remember the craziness of our first Thanksgiving in a camper. 

Check it out at the above website!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Heading North This Time of Year

Crazy is an adjective used to describe us for numerous reasons.  I am about to give you another...

We headed NORTH
a couple weeks ago, to stay in Wisconsin for a month or two. 

Yes, you read it right. 

We headed NORTH!

This time of year most RVers are heading south to get a spot at the quickly filling campgrounds.  There aren't a lot of places to spend a warm winter, so reservations are a good idea.

But, of course, we just couldn't do the norm.  Instead, we packed our bags, left our camper behind and made the long trip to northern Wisconsin.  You see, it has been six years since I have seen my Grandma and I decided I didn't want to wait another winter.  So we winterized our camper, left it at a friends, and headed north.  This is the first time away from our home on wheels in over two years.

After three days on the road, in motels, and with family, I told my husband,
"I am never traveling without the camper again!"

It took us sooooo long to get to our destination.  On day two we stopped almost every 45 minutes for the 4P's
PEE
POOP
PUKE
OR PLAY

We left a trail of bodily fluids from Missouri to Wisconsin.  I have children of all ages, and getting them on a potty cycle is almost impossible.  So, we decided to enjoy the trip no matter how long it would take or how gruelling it would be.

The good news is that we found a cabin to rent for a month!  It feels so weird to stay in a house again.  We actually have privacy and peace and quiet again! 

And, with visiting family comes the faithful sicknesses.  It seems when ever we visit family we get sick.  Why is that!?  So we enjoy the cabin while we are cough, snort, and wheeze!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Life gets busy...we must not be blind

Traveling with six kids, trying to home school, and write three books, can sure be time consuming.  Back on the road, after staying put for the summer.....life is busy!  But, it is a good busy. 

After two years on the road, we are finally getting to visit my Grandmother.

We only have two weeks here, so we have to treasure it.  But, like with all plans, things change.  Upon arrival, we found out two uncles died.  One uncle was 88 and died of cancer, while the other was only 53 and his death was quite a surprise. 

(This post was written before we rented the cabin)

Our happy vacation turned into a time of mourning and bonding.  I brought my grandmother to the viewing of Eugene.  The family was sad, but not overly distraught.  Eugene was old and ready to be with the Lord.  Of course, he left a huge farm with lots of items of value on it.  I am hoping greed doesn't divide the family.  If everyone will do what is fair and right, things will be fine....

Uncle Orville died too young.  He has four children, all adults, but still too young to be without a father.  When we got word of his death, we dropped everything.  I told my husband that our vacation was over.  Our only job was to help the family through this hard time. 

You see, I lost my dad when he was 53 also.  It was one of the hardest things in my life. 

We made a huge salad and tons of enchiladas.  I bought paper plates, silverware and cups for them.  We brought them to their house.  As I walked in, my cousin Sara rushed to me and collapsed in my arms.  I'll never forget the sobbing and her body shaking with sadness.  This was her daddy that died.  Her heart was crushed.  I led her to a bedroom and rocked her in my arms.  We cried together for a while.

We didn't stay long, in fact, I didn't let the kids come inside.  When someone loses a loved one so tragically, it is not time to visit or make it into a family reunion.  I held her and comforted her until she was ok, then we left. 

Two funerals were not what we wanted to do on our vacation up north.  Yet, it is times like this that makes us question our motives for our traveling full time.  Yes, we travel to see great sites, spend time as a family, have fun....but are we willing to sacrifice our own plans to help another in need.

We gave up three days of our vacation to help our family.  I told my kids, "Are we here for us, or for God."
We helped clean up after the funeral, which took up most of our one of only two Saturdays here.  It was the right thing to do, though.  People must always come first...before sight seeing, playing, or resting. 

It is like the good samaritan....when we see a desperate need,

Do we go on with our plans?
Do we keep driving and say the next person will help?
Do we feel that it is not our responsibility and they wouldn't do it for us?

Sometimes, it is the hard choice that is right.  I am not saying all of this to act like we are so great and look how holy and wonderful we are.  I write this to remind all of us to

take the time
love others
give of ourselves when it is inconvenient or difficult
prioritize

I know we have not always made the right choice, or helped when we should have, but we are trying to be thoughtful to those around us and hopefully spread a light, that is not our own, but Christ's.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fighting Fires!

When we stay at a nice campground, we assume that things are relatively safe.  Usually the camphost is friendly and wants us to feel welcome.  The bathrooms are somewhat clean, and the sites are acceptable. 
But, yet there are dangers at all campgrounds; the mediocre to the best.

Fire.  Definately a danger we did not expect to have to deal with.

A volunteer at a campground decided to leave a huge brush fire unattended. 

The fire began to spread, out of control, towards our camper and the cabins near by. 

My husband and I were on our daily walk, enjoying the pleasant fall temperatures when suddenly our 18 year old son came flying up to us on his ATV.

His frantic voice gave us a clue as to the seriousness of his announcement, "The field is on fire!"

My husband jumped on with Cody and they sped back to the camper.  I walked as quickly as I could.

When I arrived, I told Hanna to take the kids to the lodge on the other side of the campground.  I got on my ATV and drove to the field behind the trees next to our camper.

I made a quick assessment.  There was no way Shae and Cody could put it out by themselves.  I asked Shae if he wanted me to ride to the cabins on the other side of the campground to get some men camping there.  I hoped to get them before the fire reached the forest tree line on the back side of the field and our camper on the other.

He told me to go.

By the time the men arrived back to the field, Shae and Cody had put almost the entire fire out.  A couple of men were able to help finish.

I was astonished.  The fire was huge!  How did they put it out?

Cody told me later, with awe, "You should have seen dad.  He was a crazy man.  The fire got to the cedar trees.  Dad was standing under one hacking at the tree branches with his shovel.  The fire was above him and he just kept going."

Shae told me that when the fire reached the cedar trees on the edge of the forest, he thought it was over, the fire was going to spread to the surrounding national forest.  From there it would spread to the lodge and cabins on that side of the camp, (not where the kids were, though), and our camper.

He told me that the winds would change at just the right time.  They ran around the perimeter of the fire, with only shovels, trying to put it out. 

The camphost showed up with the tractor and took over, making sure it did not flare up again.

I looked at Cody and Shae.  They were black from head to foot, both coughing from all the smoke.  Cody didn't have regular shoes on, only sandals.  He said he didn't have time to get anything else.

Shae told me that if they had been even one minute later, the forest would have burned, it was that close.

All of this happened so fast, that I didn't need to call the fire department.  This camp is so rural, that it would have taken too long for them to get there anyways.

With the Lord's help and His strength, the fire was put out, and just in time.














Thursday, October 14, 2010

Staying on track...Remembering why we travel.

When we first decided to sell our home and travel full time, we made numerous lists.
  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Budget
  • Where we want to go
  • Goals
Some things we wrote were right on the money, while others were completely wrong.  Other lists, like our goals list has stayed almost totally the same.  But, so often I find us wandering from that list. 

We get distracted with so many different things such as too much sight seeing, continual chores that never seem to end, computer, tv, work, etc.  It is not that these things are bad in themselves, it is that anything can be done at the wrong time, too often, or not enough. 

The other day I looked at our list of goals we made when we first decided to do this trip.  I wouldn't change much.  In fact, I need to remind myself more often the reasons why we did this trip.  Writing a list and putting it in the bathroom will be the best reminder for everyone.  Any time I want the family to learn something, Spanish, Latin, bible verses, I put them on the bathroom wall.  It is a captive audience!

Friday, September 24, 2010

My memories of kayaking Lake Wappapelo, pregnant!

Lake Wappapelo, in Southeast Missouri was a great place to stay. It is one of those few areas that we would consider moving to when we are ready to settle down. The small town, self-sufficient, not a suburb, was very appealing to us. But, since this is the kayaking article, I best stick to that subject and not go on a rabbit chase.

The lake is quite beautiful and has good fishing. Shae, Cody and Hanna went on an exploration kayaking trip around the lake. The air temperature was pretty cold, so no swimming.

The next day we took the kayaks to the spillway for the reservoir.
Spillway of Lake Wappapelo, Missouri



I was very pregnant with Tytus at the time, but decided I would take a quick spin anyway. Those of you who know me know that I can be very adventurous. I climbed in, with a lot of difficulty since my belly was huge! Josie decided she wanted to ride with me. She climbed in and we headed out. I didn’t get too far from the shore in case we tipped over.

Fisherman dotted the shoreline, some catching fish, others not.




Seeing the spillway and enjoying the water from a kayak is a wonderful way to enjoy God’s creation. There is something special, peaceful sitting on top of the water; no waves, quiet, no rushing or appointments.

Josie got a little antsy and wiggly, so I decided I better get to shore before she tipped all three of us over; her, me, and sweet baby in my belly! I paddled to a little inlet where I thought we could disembark. Cody, my 17 year old was nearby so I hollered to him for some help.


He grabbed little Josie and set her on shore. I, on the other hand, was not as easy. Sitting so low in the kayak coupled with the water being much lower than the rocky shore, made for a bad combination. I put my left leg out of the kayak and realized that there was no way my large, pregnant body was going to follow.

The police officer, sitting in his car, near the shore, looked at me like I was crazy as I attempted to boost myself out of the kayak, with no success.
I had Cody grab my left forearm. He pulled as I pushed with my right.
Legs flailing, arms grasping, loud grunting, my dress flying up, are just a few of the actions of the moment!

I noticed the police officer looked away politely as my legs flew up and my dress slipped past my knees. I think I would have rather had him come help me, though!
With absolutely no grace and complete embarrassment, I got out of the kayak and on to shore, vowing not to get back in the kayak until after the baby was born.


Shae had two kids for a ride in his kayak.


Cody and Hanna tried to ride together. It was so funny as they almost
tipper over - over and over again.
Gabriel thought he discovered a new island
and named it the "Island of Pine".  He got to
be a real explorer, and THAT is one
of the many reasons we do this trip, so our
kids can do amazing things.

(This story actually took place in the spring of 09.  I am going back in time to tell some of our earlier stories.  Hope you enjoy!)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Do Eight People Use One Bathroom?

Many people want to know...."What about the bathroom, for all of you?"

Shae, hubby, cleaning out toilet with our drinking water hose??? I hope not! 


We have six kids and have been living in the camper for 2 years now.

One bathroom!

I think it would be great to have a second, though. I do not use bath houses at campgrounds. My thought is, this is my home, I wouldn't go to the neighbor's to go potty, why go to the bathhouse. The amount of time it would take me to run 4 small children back and forth to the bathhouse would be ridiculous. I don't like my older daughter using them alone, too many weird-os out there.

My son and husband use them some, but not a lot.
Cody, my 17 yr old, dumps the sewage tank every four days, sometimes we can push it to five.

We figure Cody must like toilets after
we found him drinking from this one
at the Discovery Center



There is a pecking order to the potty

1. me, when I was pregnant and now our little wee one potty training

2. our 3 yr old daughter

3. our girls, the boys can pee outside if need be

4. our 6 yr old son

5. me, when I am not pregnant

6. dad and our oldest son

Now, when dad is going in to the bathroom, everyone else better hurry up and go first. He may be awhile.

No reading in there, or at least not any longer than how long it takes you to go, except for dad.

We did put a lock on the inside, up high so the little ones can't reach it. We have tried signs that say occupied or empty, but they didn't work, our little ones kept tearing them down.




Privacy is horrible, though! If someone makes a sound in there...everyone can hear it. Giggles fill the room when daddy goes in.  He is so loud and the kids think it is so hilariously disgusting! 

A little secret, turn on the tv or music for cover noise when in the potty.  I don't know if my husband realizes that is why I put Jimmy Kimmel on the tv for a few minutes later at night!!!

Another problem, not to get crude, but the stink can spread quickly. We always turn the bathroom fan on.
Our sink and shower are seperate from the toilet which is nice.
I cut a shower curtain in half and put hooks through the holes. The hooks hang over the side of the shower. They can be moved around the door to cover the shower for more privacy.

This was no doubt one of the grossest times on our trip.  The poo overflowed in the dump station and our own turds were floating across the road!  I was pregnant and got out of the truck to see what was going on, I almost puked.  It was so unbelievably disgusting, I am cringing now, two years later, just thinking about it!

It was quite unpleasant when the sewer hose ran under our
stairway!  Everyone had to be careful not to trip on our poo!

For more stories about poo and other (fecal) matter, read my son's article
"Into the Depths"


Happy camping!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sometimes I don't think I can do this anymore....

I about lost it.  Sometimes I don't think I can live in a camper anymore.  I don't have these days very often.  Just every now and then.  If I can get through those moments, hours, or days, I will be fine.  Endurance....it is very hard sometimes.

It has been two years on the road now.  Traveling has been wonderful, yet I miss having a home sometimes. 

Trying to get all of our stuff, for eight people, and live in a 8'X42' box is so hard.  I have been working at it for over two years, from when we bought our camper.  About two weeks ago, I walked into our back room and said, "I give up, it is impossible. Eight people cannot live in 42'.  So, it can be messy, cluttered, and some things can break, and I'm ok with that."  I can't fix it.  I try and try.  I purchase different storage shelves, change things around, pack up some items while purchasing others all in an effort to make our life better in this home on wheels.  I finally realized that no matter what I do, I cannot do it!  It is actually a good place to be, in my heart that is.  I spend too much time trying to live in an impossible situation. 

I have found that in my moments of greatest weakness, God moves the most.  When I am trying to fix, change, manage, and do, I tend to fail at some level if not all levels.  Am I saying that I don't have to do anything?  God will sort my laundry and change diapers?  No, I am talking about my striving and having no peace in the midst of such abundant blessings.  Yes, I am preaching to myself right now.  It is so easy to get caught up in the here and now, the immediate need of the moment and lose the eternal value of the day.

My one year old tried to go in the back room two days ago.  He couldn't even walk because of all the "stuff".  It is all really wonderful "stuff" mind you, but still too much of it!  If we had a house, it wouldn't be much at all.  In a camper, not much is a whole lot of "stuff".  I lost it.  That is it!  Walmart was my destination and nothing would stop me.  I bravely jumped in the van with my 17 year old son and 1 year old son.  Everyone could sense that mama had reached the end.  I bought a bunch of plastic containers of all sizes, crammed them in the van and headed back, after paying of course.

Everyone had to sort, again, and try to take out as much as possible.  One of the main reasons we sold our home and gave away or sold most of what we owned was so we would not be so bound to material things.  Yet, here we are, once again, spending all of our time maintaining our "stuff". 

NO MORE!

I have to admit, it was not easy.  It was like I was packing away some of my dreams.  I thought that I would have more time to paint, draw, craft, sew, cook, etc, with my kids.  I brought lots of projects I had hoped to finally get done, thinking I would have more time.  This is not the case.  So, as quickly as possible, I passed the boxes to Cody, who crammed them in the van.  It was a lot of hard work for everyone, and sad in some respects. 

I know, though. all those things are just things.  I want to see my kids hike mountains, kayak rivers, meet amazing people, learn the history of this wonderful country. 

We will do those projects some day...or not....

But, I do know that I am ok...my kids are ok....and the earth will still revolve with out all of our "stuff".

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Day Like Today Makes it All Worth It

As I have said before, this lifestyle is not for everyone and for us, with six kids, it is not an easy one.  But, days like today make it all worth it.

I enjoyed a long walk and swim today.  It was amazing.  The family went to the pool this afternoon and we had a blast. 

Hanna tried driving for the first time.  She has her permit now.  It went pretty good, lots to learn.

If we had a house, we would not be here, right now. 

Sometimes I want a home so bad, but then I take a deep breath, thank God for my life, and enjoy my day.  I didn't feel that way today, though.  Today was wonderful.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wild, Dangerous Beasts are Everywhere!

One of my bigger problems is all of the dangerous animals we encounter in our travels.  I have kids of all ages and it seems that most places we go they are like bait.


Last year we spent the winter in central and south Florida.  I couldn't believe all of the alligators!  They were everywhere.  One campground had a pond in it, and guess who lived there?  Yes, an alligator!

The parks we walked in and playgrounds we played in had signs everywhere that said to beware of alligators!  Why in the world have they not killed them or at least relocated them?  Kids run right by those ponds every day!
This sign is found on the way into the Florida Keys!

Then, of course, there were the sharks in the ocean.  I have never let my kids watch Jaws, and never will.  We had a lot of fun playing in the surf and kayaking the waves.  Cody got a little freaked once when he saw something swim by him in a wave, while he was on the kayak. 

Cody on his kayak at Playa Linda, Florida


I actually paid to hold an alligator!  I rested it on by pregnant belly.  The kids thought I was crazy!
 But then they did it, too!

We can't seem to get away from snakes.  I grew up in the northwoods of Wisconsin.  Nothing deadly can live up there, except bears, lymes disease carring wood ticks, and millions of mosquitos.  But, when I was a kids I didn't even really notice them.  Up there, though, no poisonous snakes.  I could walk through a swamp and not even worry about it. 

Living in Missouri, I have had to get used to copperheads.  We had 13 on our property one year!  We saw one in northeast Kansas, in Marysville.  It got real close to Shae and Josie.  Shae was so mad at it, he chased it down the hill with a tree branch, trying to kill it!

There was one, huge rattlesnake at Superstition Mt. near Phoenix.  He was right on the side of the trail, all coiled up.  Nasty thing. 

Heading into South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana brought a whole nother' level of beast.  Mountain Lions are down right evil.  I hate the way they watch us at the zoo.  Then the black bears, grizzlys, and moose, sure keep us on our toes.  I remember hiking in Glacier National Park.  We all sang, "This is the Day", clapped our hands, rang bells, carried bear spray, and stayed together as we walked to see an amazing water fall.

While at Yosemite, we giggled that the sign said to not even leave food in the open because bears will break into our cars! 

We did see a grizzly and two black bears at Glacier National Park.  I was thankful we were in our van, but just in awe of those magnificent creatures.  Now, if I had been on foot, it would have been another story!

A grizzly at Glacier National Park


A black bear at a bear encounter in Bozeman Montana.
 A black bear at Glacier National Park eating huckleberries.

Black bear in Glacier National Park

Yummy huckleberries


Grizzly at bear encounter

Since being in Missouri, we have killed 3 rattlesnakes and two or three copperheads!  I can't believe it!  I have decided there is nowhere safe, no place is free of its beasts, I just have to learn to live with them, or at least in the same forest as them.  Now, if they come after me or my kids, well, that is another story.  I have hunted my whole life and am not afraid to kill an animal of any sort.

I remember in Key West, there was a scorpion.  It was on my kid's toys.  I took their play hammer and beat it so badly that the only thing that was left was a claw!

I unloaded a whole clip on a copperhead, just to make sure it was dead.  I didn't want to get close to check, so I just kept shooting.

Now, I did check the law, and it is illegal to kill poisonous snakes in Missouri unless they are a threat to people.  Well, all of these were in our yard and where the kids play.  We had to kill them.

Speaking of scorpions, there was a very poisonous one sitting on our atv tire when we were in Arizona.  Cody kept it in a cage for a while until it climbed out.  It was a good thing he didn't have it in the camper! 

Lastly, Cody was riding his atv this afternoon and came across a huge tarantula.  I am thankful they aren't very harmful.  He wanted to catch it of course.

We try to read up on what are the dangers in a particular area or state.  Education is the one of the best deterrents to fear.  We try to learn all we can, and then do all we can to not be a victim.  Beyond that, it is out of our control. 

We pray and trust and have a lot of fun!

There is always something, everywhere.  We enjoy our trip and deal with what each day brings.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I am back!

No, we did not fall off of the face of the earth.  A few weeks ago, one of my sweet children set my laptop on my black office chair with the mouse in between the top and bottom of it.

I began to sit down on the chair, not suspecting the laptop to be on it, and crunch.  I heard a crack as I quickly stood up.

To my dismay, my laptop screen was cracked.  Thank goodness Shae had enough forethought to buy the black tie protection at Best Buy when we bought our computer. I brought it in to Best Buy, hoping they would give me a new one, but not a chance.  They did fix it, though, and pretty quickly!  I got it back Monday.  I have a lot to write about, but it is too late tonight.

A quick update. We are still in southern Missouri.  It is terribly hot here, but, we are sticking it out.  Some friends of ours borrowed us their portable air conditioner.  We have an air conditioner unit in the camper, but ours doesn't cool the camper well enough.  Now, having the second, portable one, it stays much more comfortable.  Although, it is not really cool during the day, at least we don't sit and sweat all day.

Gabriel, our six yr old, learned to ride his bike today!  He was awesome.  It didn't take long at all.  Shae took off the training wheels and he was gone!

Hanna turned 16 today!  She is so sweet and beautiful.  We got her a laptop, with her birthday money and Christmas money chipped in.  It is also for Christmas, too!  It is nice and she loves it already.

I better run.  It is hard to write a complete thought at 12:40 in the morning.
Sheri

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Bit About Us

I wrote this entry in response to a comment on a homeschool chat room I am part of.

I noticed in your response on this subject that you mentioned families that do travel full time and what an education their children get. We are a family of eight who have been on the road for almost two years. We lived in Highlandville and sold our home in 2008. It has been an amazing adventure for us. I have children ages 1, 3, 6, 9, 15, 17. Being on the road full time has its draw backs, but is well worth it for our family. I have always home schooled, so that did not change for us, now we get to study volcanos not just out of a book, but actually in them and near them.
We go to where the Battle of Little Big Horn was. My kids kayak with manatees and in rivers and lakes across the country. We hike and four wheel in deserts, forests, mountains, and grass lands. We take time for people and family we have never met. My children learn skills from the people we meet. We volunteer at camps and churches across the country. Our time is not consumed with things, but what really matters, people. We love God, We love eachother, and we love people.

If you want to learn more about us, go to my blog and website.

www.thelemonadedigest.com

www.thelemonadedigestblog.blogspot.com

Also, KY3 did a piece on us couple of weeks ago. You can check it out at http://www.ky3.com/home/video/Highlandville-MO-family-sells-off-everything-to-travel-volunteer-with-family-98100609.html
 
If you have any questions, let me know!
Sheri

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh no, I am babbling....

Every now and then I need to stop.  Stress and energy levels get higher and crash, respectively.  Sometimes during our travels, we park it for a while.  We may move a lot for three to five months, then we just sit for a few months.
We just spent a wonderful seven weeks at my mother's.  Now we are at a camp doing volunteer work.   We have been here for a while and are truly enjoying it.  I am getting us on a daily schedule, some kind of routine.  Since I got pregnant in Sept 08, and then had sweet pea in May of 09, our life has been at quite a state of chaos.  Well, I mean managed chaos.  Now, it is time to get back to it.  So I got out the tag board and made a schedule and calendar.  I prayed and asked the Lord what His priorities are for our lives right now and what I need to set aside.
Of course, some things I want to do I am not and other things I did not feel like doing are getting done.  One such thing is counseling.  I am going to share a secret with you.  I know you won't tell anyone, right?  I was raped when I was in the military.  It was a pretty bad deal and one I have just kind of put out of my mind.  When we came back to Missouri this time, I decided I was going to apply for health benefits.  That way if we ever lost our insurance, I could get basic care at the VA hospitals.  When I went in for my first appointment, they asked me a ton of questions.  After giving my answers, they told me I needed to see a counselor.  I really wasn't sure if this was the time of my life I wanted to deal with it.  I am so busy, I can't imagine having to relive and think through all of these deep, dark topics.  I have all of the kids and hubby to love and care for.  I just really wasn't sure this was the right time to get into this.  But, I went one time.  She is a super lady.  I really liked her right away.  I could tell she was smart and really cared.  I know she is a christian, so that made me feel better also.
We began talking about the subject of my rape and she helped me to realize that it doesn't matter what I did or didn't do, no one deserves for that to happen to them.  It really helped me start to release some of the guilt and shame.  I have to keep telling myself that and encouraging myself that it wasn't my fault.  I don't want to get too deep into all of that.  My point is, I am going to stick it out for a while.  I am going to see her consistantly until I feel she has helped me enough.
I had another appointment with her today.  I told her about my trip up to Lake of the Ozarks.  The kids and I drove Cody to a camp this past weekend.  Shae stayed at the camper and worked.  We were gone five days, which is the longest I have been away from hubby in years!  After a long day of driving and errands in Springfield, we got to Lake of the Ozarks.  I was on a road that was two lanes, narrowing down to one lane.  I began to pass the man in front of me.  I was driving much faster than him and wanted to get in front before it changed to the one lane.  The lane began to merge into one and he would not hang back at all to let me in!  I know he saw me, he was just being a jerk.  I would have put on my breaks, but then the van would have slammed the kids around.  It really wasn't a big deal and I just kept going.  When I got to the stop light, that same man and woman drove up to me at the stop light.  He hung out his window and began screaming at me, swearing, and making all sort of gestures!  I tried not to look at him.  After he was done yelling, he squeeled ahead, ran the red light, and kept going!  The people in the car in front of me turned around and were watching him.  He was a psycho!  I began to go when the light turned green, but I did not take my eyes off of that car.  I made sure there was a huge distance between us.  I then pulled into a outdoor mall parking lot, hoping that awful man would drive far away.
The kids couldn't believe that guy!  I was stunned, too.  I tried to shake it off and get to camp.  It was later that night when I began to get afraid and then again later that week I was scared he would track me down.  The counselor showed me how some of my fears were misplaced and some were valid. 


Meanwhile, we worked our tales off at camp, washing the walls and scrubbing sludge off of the floor of the huge dining hall.  Even Gabriel and Josie helped.  Hanna worked really hard and Naomi also.  We actually got a lot done in between driving back and forth to Cody's camp, swimming, putt putt golf, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches, and hanging in the motel room. 






I sure was ready to get home on Sunday.  It  had been a long weekend.  I don't think I will do a volunteer job with out Shae and Cody.  It was hard on the rest of us, but still good.

Friday, July 9, 2010

On the News!

Exciting day for us, WE WERE ON TV!  Check out this link to see the news story about us on KY3, Springfield, MO

http://www.ky3.com/news/local/Highlandville-MO-family-sells-off-everything-to-travel-volunteer-with-family-98100609.html

It was a lot of fun to film it; a great experience for the kids.

Also, check out my new article about the trip at Christian County Headliner News  http://ccheadliner.com/ 
I have been writing articles about our trip for about a year.


Let me know what you think!

Sheri

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Really am Blonde Even Though my Hair is Getting Darker....

I know that if I am driving the van, it is my responsibility to know how to take care of it and what to do
in certain emergencies. Shae does all of the oil and maintenance, so I just rely on him for most things
to do with our vehicles. I rarely even put in gas. When I am out driving around, I have to purposely
look at the gas level, because sometimes I just forget to; I have gotten so used to Shae just filling it!

I don’t believe in blame or excuses, so I take total responsibility for what I am about to tell you. We
knew our van had an overheating problem. This was going to be my first big mountain pass to drive
over. I was hauling the flatbed with all of our toys on it. I should have researched overheating.

BUT I DID NOT

I DID NOT RESEARCH ANYTHING

Well, I know you know where this is going...

We began going up Hwy 16, from Buffalo to Ten Sleep, over Powder River Pass, in Wyoming. I hadn’t been climbing the mountain long when I noticed my water heat gauge rising. It was just a little at first. I tried to slow down a little, but that didn’t help.

I called Shae on the walkie talkie and he said to slow down
and .....what?

Oh no! We lost signal.

I hurried and tried him on the cell phone....

Oh No! No signal!

I really didn’t know what to do. I had Hanna dial Shae’s number over and over, but no answer.

The gauge kept rising.

I knew I needed to pull over. I found a spot and got off the road. My father passed away in 04’, so I
couldn’t call him,

WHO ELSE?

I tried my father-in-law. He said to turn off the air.

BIG OOPS ON MY PART!

Never turn on the air if your vehicle is over heating. My mother-in-law shouted from the background...”I just read in a travel book to turn your heat on high if you are overheating!” So, I cranked the heat.
After a few minutes, the temperature began to go down. I got back on the road and drove ahead to
where Shae had finally found a spot to pull over. He couldn’t believe I had the air on. It was pretty
dumb of me. I should have known better.

I did learn a lot that day...

•First, be prepared for what situation I am in. Shae may not be there to help me.

•Second, do not turn on the air when we are driving up a mountain.

•Third, my mother-in-law knows random facts that she doesn’t need to know living in flat Florida.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sorting the camper and taking a break

Thank goodness the worst is over.  I can't believe how much stuff we had crammed in 42 feet.  Bad news is that we filled our storage trailer.  We have had to stuff boxes in my mom's attic.  She has been so great to let us do that.

Traveling full time can get exhausting.  We have hardly gone anywhere the last five weeks.  It is nice to just park it for a while. 

We have decided to wait to buy some land for a home base.  We do want to keep traveling, but would like a piece of property to come back to.  But, at this time, we decided it is not right for us.  My husband told me he is concerned about his job.  His company is very successful, but might have to lay some people off this fall if a few things don't change.  He has had two job offers recently and turned them down, so I hope that if he does get layed off, there will still be some opportunity there for him.

Of course, he would love to write about ATVs and ride them for a living.   Cody is doing great with his writing for the ATV Magazine Blog.  We are so proud of him and hope some doors open up there.

We still don't have a clue where we are going next.  We have narrowed it down to North, South, or West. 
Guess that is still pretty vague...ha ha ha

One of the reasons we did this trip was because we felt that our possessions were holding us back from doing the things we needed to.  But, I feel like we may have missed out on visiting some dear people while back in Missouri because we had to sort out so much stuff.  Of course, it takes extra long to do anything with six kids and one being a baby!  After all of this work, we are going to go have some serious fun and do some visiting.

Maybe we'll come see you next!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Almost done sorting....where do we go next?

It is hard to believe it has taken me so long to sort all of this.  I spent last Saturday digging through the front part of our storage trailer.  I had to move a few boxes and then slide my body on top of all of the others to the middle of the camper.  I was looking for some dolls Naomi wanted, our collection of GA Henty books, dinosaur catcher cars, and a box of my christian cds that had been accidentally packed two yrs ago.  Well, I found a lot of things and didn't find others. 

Shae moved the storage trailer to a new parking spot, not in our friend's cow pasture anymore.  He had a bugger of a time getting it around the corner.  He made it, but put a hole in our trailer and ripped part of a gutter in the process.  Now, if you know my husband, you know that he is a motor guy and can drive any vehicle anywhere.  So, I know he did an amazing job getting it in that tight spot.  He fixed the hole and the gutter easily, too.  We are so thankful to park it where we did, it will be much easier to get to.

I have great news, the VA accepted me for health care!  I will have to make a co payment probably, but that is alright.  I'm thankful to have that available to me.

Now, we are not sure where we are going next.  It is always hard to decide.  We have to think pretty long term.  With six kids we tend to travel very short distances and only on the weekends.  Shae has to work during the week on his laptop, so we try to move only on Saturday or Sunday.

We are watching the temperatures and realize our camper only has one air conditioner, so it is really hard to keep cool in blistering heat.  We may have to head north soon, but we'll see.  I don't want to go to far out of Missouri.  I need to slow down our trip a lot.  We need to move less and stay places longer for a while.  I think we are all a little wore out.

I better get to bed.

Sheri

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Too Much Stuff!

We had a great winter in Arizona and NM. It just semed like we accumulated so much stuff. Now, there are 8 of us in our camper, so that is easy to do. It is my husband and I and six kids. Some days I don't know how we do it and other days I can't imagine not doing this.


But, things have gotten to a new level of crammed. I know I could not shove another thing in another hole anywhere in here. I really got to be quite stressful as we constantly cleaned and picked up things before sweet baby would shove them in his beautiful mouth. He is one year old on Thursday and every bit of curious. So, I know I have to baby proof the best I can. Also, my five and eight year old have grown so much that they have to hunch over in the back room, where we have bunk beds that come out of the ceiling. I don't want my children to be hunchbacks, so I knew I had to change things in here, A LOT!

So, we decided to skip southern NM and TX (boo hoo) and head back to MO to get out as much stuff as possible.

That is where I am now. I am parked in my mom's yard with our big, ugly storage trailer up and out of our old neighbor's cow pasture and sitting in it's future location, my mom's woods. It has been hard to do a lot outside since it has rained so much, but I have managed to get a ton done. Today I actually finished our bedroom/bathroom/office and almost finished the living room/kitchen/school area/foyer/pantry/loft bed area. Tomorrow I was going to run errands but instead I may have to finish the back room. I'm not sure what I will do.

It sure is hard work. I have been at it for two weeks now and am still not done. I know it takes me longer because I have so many little ones to tend to. My older three sure help a lot, but they take a lot of time also.

We haven't visited with hardly any friends. A close lady friend of mine and her two daughters that are my kids dear friends came over the other night. We had dinner, which ended up being a total disaster. I don't know why I try to cook for others in this camper. It is a long story, so I will not share all the details, but I will tell you the night ended with my 5 yr old walking around farting on my leg, then his two sister's legs! Now, I know we live in a camper, but do we have to act like wild animals!!!! Who taught him to do that anyways??? I won't blame anyone, but you can probably guess who. And it IS NOT me.

I have had such a wonderful time with my mother. She has been great. This has been or best visit with her ever. Her fiance, Tom, is just great, too.

All the kiddos are in bed and sweet husband is snoring loudly. I am enjoying a few minutes to myself before I climb in bed in my newly organized bedroom.

Please think of us as you accumulate junk. I know how it feels. I read Tom Smythe's blog entry about it a couple weeks ago. It made me feel a lot better knowing that everyone accumulates too much stuff and we just need to go home and unload what we want to keep and give away the rest.

Sweet dreams,

sheri

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Followers

I just want to thank my "Followers" for becoming Followers.  I appreciate your interest in my life, my family, and our trip.  I hope that we can cheer up your day with our wild stories and maybe help you learn about our unique and crazy life style.  I encourage you to leave comments on our blog and ask any questions.
Have a great day.
Sheri

Out of the Desert

I have learned that I am not a desert girl.  I think it is beautiful, but have I missed trees! 

Trees
Sparkling rivers
Green grass
No mountain lions
Few poisoness snakes
Humidity

I have missed these things.  Well, maybe not the humidity.  My kids were screaming today as they saw trees and green grass. 

Naomi said, "Is it real? Or is it that fake stuff?"

I can't wait to feel the grass between my toes tomorrow....

Why don't you go barefoot for a while, too?

Changes on a Daily Basis

We have gotten used to changes in our life.  Weather dictates where we go a lot, so sometimes we think we may be leaving an area and then have to stay.  We only planned on staying in Glendale, AZ for a month and a half but stayed there for four months. We stayed at Shae's grandparents for 8 weeks last year but had only planned on staying a few weeks.  We were thankful we did, his grandfather passed away a couple of months after we left.

Sometimes the changes are easier and sometimes harder.  Today was one of those days. 

We have planned on being to Missouri by May for a long time.  We have paperwork to do, drivers licenses, vehicle tags, take some stuff out, etc.  It just seems like we have been moving like molasses.  Which, honestly, has been nice.  I think we need to slow down on our trip.  It gets too hard when we go go go go.  We have been planning on going to Texas for a couple of months, but it has gotten so late in the year, that we just can't do it.  We feel we need to get back to Missouri and get our stuff done.  Once it is done, we will enjoy our trip more.  The bad part is that we might miss seeing Shae's grandmother and mother.  They are going to be in Texas, and I don't think we will be back down there in time before they head home.

It was a tough decision.  Shae and I prayed about it a lot.  We talked about it a lot.  I know deep in my heart that going back to Missouri is the right thing.  Yet, I have looked forward to going to Texas for a long time.  I am hoping to find some land there to buy as a home base.  We are going to look in KY, MO, KS, OK, and TX.  We just want somewhere to go back to, not our permanent home.

I have learned to be flexible.  We never know from day to day where we will go or how we will get there.  Today I only knew that we had to head towards I-40 and then east.  I had no idea how far we would get or where we would stay.

I like it that way, though.  It gives us freedom to stop or go, linger or run, explore or nap.  There are so many options it can be difficult but a blessing.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Gilbert Ray Campground, Sonoran Desert Museum, Saguaro National Park, and who broke our door?



Driving to Gilbert Ray Campground northwest of Tucson was quite a ride. 

Read my earlier post about getting lost and then add this story to it! 

We came in from the north.  We took W Avre Valley Rd from I-10.  Went west on it and then turned south on Sandario Road.  That goes for 10 miles or so until it reaches Mile Wide Road where we turned left.  That brought us past the Sonora Desert Museum and to the second entrance to the McCain Loop Rd where we went right to get to Gilbert Ray Campground. 

Let me go back to Sandario Rd.  It is so full of dips!  I was following Shae who was driving the truck pulling the camper.  I saw our things flinging up and down as he traveled somewhat slowly down the long road.  I just prayed the Lord would put angels to hold our things in place.  One of the hard things about traveling full time is that we got rid of most of what we owned.  We either gave it away or sold it.  I still have some in a storage trailer in our friend's cow pasture but not much.  I was always reminding myself that "I can't take it to heaven".  There were days that were more difficult than others as I saw things that I liked leave my home.  It was very character changing for me.  So, as I saw our things getting tossed around in the camper driving down the awful road, I had to keep reminding myself that it is just stuff.  I can't stress about it or worry.  It is a constant choice to keep things in perspective.  Yet, I know that we are to be good stewards of what God has given us.  Shae works hard to make the money that pay for everything we own.  So, I pray for God to protect our things from breaking, yet know that if I do lose something it is not the end of the world.

Shae was the first to go into the camper.  Things weren't terrible in the front.  The back was a mess.  Stuff had been tossed everywhere, but thankfully nothing was broken.  After about an hour of cleanup, the camper was back to normal.
There was a nice concrete pad at our site.

My teens do sword fighting for exercise in our campsite at Gilbert Ray Campground.

Gilbert Ray Campground is very nice.  I didn't ask if they had a shower house, I just assumed they did since they didn't have full hook ups.  I won't make that mistake again.  There is no shower house.  We planned on taking showers the day we arrived, so instead, we continued to stink.  Sink baths only last so long, so we did eventually take turns having showers outside.  I washed the girls hair with the outdoor shower.  One night, I went out after dark and started my shower.  The wind was so cold and I kept screaming quietly when the air would blow on me.  I found out there was a star gazing group just through the bushes.  I am sure they had a good laugh as they heard me freezing. 

The cactus were in bloom, so hikes were beautiful.  The bad part is that the rattle snakes were coming out and being found all over the campground.  That makes it hard with the kids running everywhere.  I had to be watching out all of the time.  There are also a lot of mountain lions in Arizona, so we had to watch the kids on any hikes we went on.  It makes it difficult with so many little ones.  I don't know how many times Gabriel almost fell into a cactus.  The spines on those things are huge!




We stayed in campsite C1, which is the biggest site in the campground.  They gave it to us since we had so two vehicles and two trailers.  It was nice to have some privacy.  It used to be the camp host site.


Of course, we loved the Sonora Desert Museum.  We bought a family year pass, so went 4 times in a week.  Josie loved all of the bronze animal sculptures.  She kissed them over and over.














There is so much to do there for everyone. 

The Saguaro National Park was just a few miles down the road.  It is amazing to drive through so many stunning cactus.  They have a great Junior Ranger Program there.  We always have Josie do the programs, even though she is a little young, at 3 yrs old.  But, it would be hard on her if Gabriel and Naomi always got badges as she didn't.  So, Shae took her and read her the questions and helped her find the answers.  When we went back inside to get their badges for completing the book, the Ranger at the counter looked unsure about a 3 yr old actually completing the older kids booklet.  She took Josie's book and began to ask her the questions to see if she could really do such a difficult book.  Josie answered every question correctly!  The Ranger told me, "I was sceptical that a 3 yr old could actually do this program, but I was wrong!  She did great!" 


We went for the drive around the scenic loop.  Shae stopped the van so we could look at the holes made in the ground by animals.  I opened the side door so the kids could see them.  As I went to close it, Shae told me he would do it by driving forward and then putting on the brakes.  Then, the door would slide forward and shut.  This is something he and I have done for years with different vehicles.  So, I sat back as he pulled forward, but he slammed on the brakes!  Wow!  We flew forward, thankfully in our seat belts.  The door rushed forward and smashed into the lock.  Well, it closed, but we were all a little surprised at the force of it.  He just cringed and kept going.  We enjoyed the rest of the drive down the terribly bumpy dirt road.  We were almost out of gas and I had read the map wrong.  I thought the scenic drive was a lot shorter than it really was.  So, when we arrived back at the visitor's center, we were very low on gas and now our sliding door wouldn't open!  The door jammed when Shae put on the brakes too hard!  The kids and I went back inside and left Shae alone to fix it.  I have learned over the years to leave him be when something like that happens.  We try not to bother him when he is fixing broken items.

He did fix it, though.  I was not surprised, he can do just about anything.  That is what is nice, if he can break it, he sure can fix it!

All in all, we had a wonderful time in that area.  We shopped at a grocery store that made me feel like we were in Mexico.  It was fun to try to figure out what to do with all the different foods they sold there.  We left the area ready to get to a new state and maybe some trees!