Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in a Camper - Arizona

We have a very large 5th wheel, 42 feet to be exact. It is one of the largest that is made. My husband and I have a king size bed, huge closet, and dresser. There is one twin loft bed and two extra long queen size bunk beds. The kids have a 8 1/2 x 12 foot room in the back to sleep and play. It really is roomy, yet extremely squished! You know what I mean! So, to this big camper that is ridiculous packed with all of our stuff, we add a Christmas tree, garland, ornaments, lights, and presents. We have to squeeze down the two stairs that come from our bedroom. The presents piled high, there are 8 of us, so there can be a lot of presents fast, especially when you add to that pile the ones mailed in by loved ones.

The kids were so excited. We celebrate Advent, so reading our Barthalomew's Passage book, singing carols, eating cookies, and prayer is how we spent almost every night from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Well, this year we didn't get the whole book read by Christmas, so we will continue it until we get it done.

This year we stayed the night at my Aunt and Uncle's home. It was a lot of fun. They are so good with the kids. It is hard to find people that can truly handle six kids with two of them being young and very active. They really love our children and show it constantly. Of course, I can't complain. I am getting spoiled, too. Growing up I spent a lot of time at my Aunt and Uncle's house. My cousin Karen and I are the same age, so we had a blast giggling the night away when we were young. My Aunt has cooked hundreds of meals for me and tucked me into bed at least that many times. Now, she is taking the opportunity to tend to me again, and boy does it feel great. She won't let me hardly help in the kitchen. She doesn't want me to help clean up after. She loves to serve my kids and husband. She even cut my meat for me tonight, again. I brought her all of my mending and she not only sewed that, but also made skirts and doll clothes for my girls. She made quilts for my boys and Josie. She just keeps on loving us in such wonderful ways. The best gift they have given me is complete acceptance of our family and life style. I don't worry about Gabriel getting too wild at their house. I do try to train him, I don't just let him be a monkey! They just understand what a 5 yr old boy is like. When Josie fussed loudly at 11pm Christmas Eve, neither of them even said a word. I can see the pride in their eyes as they introduce us to others. They love us and are proud of us. I lost my father 5 yrs ago and I feel like my Uncle is a father to me and a grandfather to my children.

We had our nutcrackers on display.
Christmas was good, because we were with good people that we love and that love us. Sure, we got some great presents, too. It was nice to see the joy on my kids faces as they opened them all. Gabriel set a new record on how fast a child can open them all. Josie opened hers for two days she did it so slow. We enjoyed a wonderful brunch at my cousins as her and her new boyfriend entertained us with good food and big smiles.

The kids loved getting the most amazing barn, castle, and doll furniture made by their Uncle. The craftsmanship is so incredible. To have those made so perfectly and lovingly was such a blessing. He sure went above and beyond the call of duty as an Uncle!

It was a great day, crazy with all the kids, but that good kind of crazy.

Merry Christmas, thank you Jesus for blessing us on your birthday.

Gabriel sure enjoyed getting his huge barn made with love by Uncle Hogie.

Naomi was in shock by her table and chairs, hutch, and doll bed made by Uncle Hogie.  Aunt Sandy also made a table cloth and clothes for the dolls and for the girls.  She worked hours on Josephine's doll's hat.  It was so beautiful.

The castle he made is awesome.  It can fold up and be put away, too!

We got Shae a recorder for Christmas.  He could never play any instrument in school, except the recorder.  We have heard the stories numerous times.  He only learned to play Mary had a Little Lamb, and he does it wrong.  It was a great laugh.  He is so funny.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kids act crazy in front of pastors of church....oh boy...

Living in a camper with six kids, well, is not easy. Now, many people say, "Well, at least you have two teen agers to help." And, yes, they do help. But, they can be just as time consuming as a toddler. I love my teens. They are incredible, just time consuming. So, life is challenging enough and then we throw ourselves into a camper. It is pretty wild. Now, make it Christmas, throw a Christmas tree in our little camper, an extra table, and lots of presents! Wow! It is crammed! I just take a deep breath and walk around everything. It is crazy, but a good crazy.

Now, today was an adventure. I had to finish up my shopping. I am a little tired, so I will spare you the long version. The short of it is this, Cody went with my Uncle to help with my cousin's garage door. Shae is working and then volunteering by pulling wire to help build a huge new church. Hanna, Naomi, Gabriel, Josephine, Tytus, and I set out for a day shopping at Guitar Center, Old Navy, Justice for Girls, Best Buy, Toys R Us, and Walmart. Well, we didn't make it to the last three.

We were at Guitar Center when the pastors of the church we are doing volunteer work at walk into the store. It was nice to see them. But, of course this is when Gabriel decides he is going to play with Tytus. He pulls on his legs. I tell him to stand by me, (Hanna had Tytus). He came to me and then headed back over to Tytus to pull his legs some more. All the while I am talking with the pastors. Gabriel goes to Tytus, I tell him to come back. Gabriel comes back and then goes to Tytus. I tell him to come back. Gabriel comes back and then goes to Tytus, again. This happens 4 times while I am talking with the pastors. It never fails, the kids disobey in front of the last person you want them to.

So, we head to Justice for Girls, can't afford anything, so on to Old Navy next door. We find Naomi a couple of shirts. While we looked, there was a cute little toy puppy I let Josie sit by to play with. She needed a little time for her. She enjoyed talking to it and sitting on it. It was time to go, but she was not going to leave. No way. Absolutely not. I asked her nicely, then firmly, then strongly. She came with me. We got about 4 isles down. I saw another cute shirt for Naomi. Just about then, Josie decided she was going back to the toy dog, now. Off she ran, with me calling her from behind. She made it to the toy dog and was not going to leave. I was carrying Tytus, so I had Hanna go get her. Josie would not leave. Hanna had to pick her up as she screamed and cried no. We got to the check out when Josie decided she didn't want to stand in line anymore. She hid in the clothes rack. Needless to say, I loaded up the kids, informed them they were not going to Toys R Us and we would head straight home. Now, I tried to have extra compassion on them, I knew Josie had a little cold and wasn't in her right sorts. But still, I could not ignore her disobedience. We got home and I sent Gabriel and Josie in the back for a nap. Hanna then told me she had seen the pastors in Old Navy, too! You have got to be kidding me. So not only did they see Gabriel disobey, but they got to see the show put on by Josie!

So, I feel this is a good time to mention two things I feel very strongly about.

1st. It is good for people to see that we are not perfect.
I remember there were two women I thought had it all together. They had lots of kids, homeschooled, cooked perfect, had great marriages, etc. But, I was wrong. They had problems, too. Their lives were not even close to perfect. As I got to know them better, I saw that they struggled some, too. I think it is so important to not try to live up to an unrealistic expectation that we usually put on ourselves. Do you know someone that you think has it all together? I dare you to get to know them better and see that they have flaws too, just like you and me. Now, I am not saying do not better yourself, or learn from other peoples lives. I just mean that we have to be careful to not try to live up to a standard that is not realistic or possible. If we do , we will always be a failure in our own eyes.  Everyone has hard days.  This doesn't mean we can over look complete disobedience, it just means it is not realistic to think we will not have those days.

2nd. Living in a camper is not easy. Many people think this is the easy life, that traveling is like a year round vacation. It is not. Like I told my Grandma today, my camper is a house, my home, it just has wheels. I need a vacation like anyone else. Traveling full time with lots of kids is a ton of work. But, I always ask myself, "Is this problem the result of living in a camper or would it be this way in a house?" A lot of our difficulties would be in a house also, they are not dependant on a camper.

Well, it is after midnight and I have 3 sick kids. I better get to bed so I have enough energy to take care of them.

God bless you,
Prickly days in the prickly desert.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild time at the airport...

It seems there is never a dull moment with us. Every day has an adventure or something absolutely hilarious or exhausting. Well, our trip to the airport was extremely exciting and terrible at the same time.

Shae got a call from work that he had to fly to Oklahoma City for some training. Now, if any of you from his work is reading this, hello, we love you, and we would like a raise, Just Kidding, kind of. So, off we go to the airport, 15 passenger van, 6 kids absolutely sad that dad is leaving for the very long 2 days, and 1 wife excited for the field trip to the airport.

We found the parking garage and attempted to pull in. I opened my door and peeked on the top of the van to see if we would clear the 6' 10" sign at the entrance. To our dismay, our van is too high. We have added a rack on top for our kayaks and it put us just over the height for the garage. We all envisioned us pulling in there and getting wedged in, tight. I slammed my door shut so we could hurry up and back up before someone came. A very calm voice came from behind me, saying, "Mom, you slammed my hand in your door." I looked next to me and saw most of Cody's hand shut tight in the door. I screamed as I attempted to open the door quickly. I seemed to grab everything but the door handle as I scrambled to open it as fast as I could. He just stood there waiting patiently. "Cody, why on earth would you put your hand in my door!?!?" He had peeked out the back sliding door to see if we would clear the sign, too. I didn't even notice his hand in the door. He said, "I am fine. I can move all of my fingers!

So, now what? We saw a sign for parking for high clearance vehicles. So, we drove around the loop to Terminal 4, but could not find the entrance for the lot. We made the loop around Terminal 2, 3, and 4 again, but still no entrance to the high clearance lot. Finally, Shae said, "I'll just jump out at the departure doors. You'll just have to drop me off." Of course, I was disappointed to not be able to walk him in. The kids would have loved it. But, we couldn't find anywhere to park! Shae jumped out of the van and grabbed his bag. He shouted his goodbyes and took off into the airport. We had to hurry since we were parked on the curb that was for unloading. All the kids were so sad as daddy disappeared into the terminal. I got in the drivers seat and headed out. Gabriel said, "I already miss him." All the kids said they agreed.

Now, I have never been to this airport, much less this particular city! I did not want to get back on the freeway, it was too busy. After looking at the map, I decided to go a side road back to the intersection we would take north. I had seen a Best Buy near there and needed to stop at one, desperately.

I got turned around a couple of times, really wasn't sure where I was going, but after 15 minutes, I was on the right road. I happened to glance down,  and saw Shae's cell phone sitting in the cup holder next to mine!

Oh No!!!!

He has to have his cell phone!

In the rush to get out at the curb and all of us wanting his attention, he forgot his cell phone! I knew I had to get it back to him. He never forgets anything. In fact, he usually remembers things for me! I was not happy to have to turn around and head back to the maze I had finally found my way out of, with six hungry kids in the van! But, daddy needed his phone, and we had to get it to him, somehow.

I have to run, baby just woke up.... I'll write more later....it involves, paging, soldiers, strangers, driving for 1 1/2 hrs around the airport...grouchy lady at curb.... did Shae ever get his phone???

a cliff hanger...check back later....he he he he he

I am finally getting back to finish this entry. Baby is back asleep and the other kids are happy.

Well, I knew Shae had to have his phone. He was flying into Oklahoma City to meet a lot of his co-workers and boss for the first time. I didn't think it would look too good not having his phone. And, Shae would never forget his phone. This was so unlike him!

I turned the van around, thinking in my head, "Oh, he owes me big time." But, I knew that was not the right attitude. Here he was flying across the country to work so we can eat and live comfortably and I'm complaining! So, I gritted my teeth as I turned around and attempted to smile. I told the kids, "It's like we are Dora and Diego! We are going on an adventure to see what we can find. Down the freeway, to the airport and on the plane! Watch out for Swiper!" As I said that, my two year got very silent as she contemplated whether or not Swiper would really be there.

I tried to find the high clearance parking garage, but to no avail. I found one entrance to it, but it was blocked off by three orange cones. So now what? I see trucks in the lot, but how on earth did they get in there? I circled the airport attempting to find a place to park, but couldn't. So, plan B. Send Cody in. I explain to him that he must go to the Delta desk and tell them our situation and ask them to page Shae at the gate. Now, I don't know the flight number or gate, but I figure that there should only be one plane leaving for Minneapolis at 1:09pm for Delta. Cody took Shae's phone and mine. I kept the kids phone to communicate with him. He headed in, right for the Delta desk. The lady there instructed him to use the paging computer to get a hold of Shae. So, Cody filled out some form on a computer that is supposed to send a voice page over an intercom and also put up the information on TV screens throughout the airport. Cody headed to the security checkpoint to wait for Shae. While he is doing this, I am driving round and round the airport, keeping watch on the curb in case Shae realized he forgot his cell phone and came down to the drop off point to see if I came back. I just hoped he would think of that.

After a little while, I saw I could park in the cell phone lot. So, we sat there for a little while. After driving and sitting for over an hour, I knew we had to do something else. His plane would be boarding soon. I drove around again, for about the 13th time. I saw some soldiers standing on the sidewalk. I pulled over and told them our situation. I asked them to escort Hanna inside to the Delta desk to have the lady actually call Shae's gate and have them find him. Hanna took her cell phone and kept Cody on the line while I watched her walk off with quite a few soldiers, into the airport.

Now, I must admit. Panic tried to set in. Two of my kids are now in the airport. They have no way to get a hold of me or Shae. Hanna is with a soldier, which did make me feel better, until I drove around the airport and came back to where I had dropped her off and all of the soldiers were gone! "Ok." I told myself. "Breath deep. She is fine. I never should have dropped her off." I was praying quite feverishly now. I drove around a few more times, Tytus was still asleep. Josie, Naomi, and Gabriel were happy. Shae's plane would be off soon, and there was nothing I could do.

The kids were still not back out. Where on earth were they? I pulled up to the arrival gate, where I had dropped Hanna off. I waited a minute until security walked over. She said, "You can't park here! You're on my crosswalk! Just keep driving in circles." So, once again, I drive around the airport, no cell phone. I saw a soldier standing on the curb, so I pulled over. I told him I was looking for my daughter, who I had dropped off. He said the other soldier and Hanna were looking for me. He ran to get them. I could finally breathe. I looked out my rear view mirror. There came Cody, Hanna, and a soldier. Oh, I was so thankful. They got back in the van and shared with me their stories. Shae got the message from the lady at the gate. He ran to security to get his phone. Cody went down the escalator, got Hanna and began to look for me.

Shae called me from Minneapolis. That 3 hour flight for him gave me time to calm down. I was really trying to think positive and nice thoughts. He got on the phone and said almost the worst thing he could have.

 "I figured I would just go without it for a couple of days."


I knew he was just trying to be positive of his situation, which was the right thing to do. He didn't even realize his phone was missing until 15 minutes before his plane boarded! AHHHHH!

Well, we had quite an adventure. I like to say it was good until it was bad. I am sorry to say it got worse. I went to Best Buy to get broadband internet. I had them help me install it. It won't work wireless! I sat there for 2 hours trying to get this thing to work! The SIX kids were great until the very end. I finally let the little ones run circles around the equipment. I figured maybe they would give us a TV if we WOULD JUST LEAVE! HA HA HA HA HA HA

Hope you enjoyed the story! I'm off to bed soon. I am working on our website. It got messed up on our computer, so I have to re-do it! Yikes! It is a lot of work!

Check back tomorrow. I will write about the publishing company that contacted us about Hanna...... another cliff hanger!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should someone else travel like we do?

(For an indepth article on this subject, go to our on line magazine - http://thelemonadedigest.com)

I had a question recently about whether or not we recommend people selling their home and going on the road. It is a very personal choice. Circumstances are so different for everyone. For us it has been wonderful and difficult at the same time. I have to ask myself continually if the difficult times would be any better in a home or is that just life with six kids. Does living in the camper help us to see the issues my children have and better enable me to deal with them than if we owned a home and I would not see all of the character problems they have?  Now, I am not saying my kids have a ton of character issues, I just mean that there is no hiding a bad attitude in 42’ with 7 other people.
A big difference for us is the age of our children. It seems that most full time travelers have older kids. Not us, we have ages 5 months, 2, 5, 8, 15, and 17. It is difficult to travel with the little ones. They get sick of sightseeing and being in the van too much. Yet, they love it at times also. It is hard, but yet I know this I what we are supposed to do. We do not want to go way in debt for another home so we will continue to travel until we decide not to. I think if I could have at least 10 acres with a pole barn or cabin on it to go back to, it would be just about perfect. We could travel 3 months then rest 2 months. It seems like after 3 months on the road, we are ready for a month break. There is so much involved in this. My husband works full time from his lap top, so we have to go where he has good internet, so we are in campgrounds a lot instead of the national forest like we had dreamed. We can't afford satellite internet that would make it possible to camp more remotely, so sometimes I am disappointed how much we stay in “parking lot” type campgrounds. Although, we have stayed at some pretty awesome ones, too.
Having the new baby was a bit of a surprise, a wonderful one though. He certainly has changed things. I have to constantly deal with bears, mountain lions, alligators, scorpions, and other creatures. It is hard to have children that are perfect size for a predator to eat. Being out in the forest hiking, I have to really watch out for the young ones.
Visiting people is one of our favorite things. We really enjoy spending time with family we have never met.
Oh, I could go on and on. I guess I would recommend keeping a home if you have it paid off or can afford both. We couldn't afford it, so we had to sell our home. I am going to start looking for a little land to build a little something on, for short stays and then get back on the road. Do you have an extra 10 acres?
I love traveling full time. Like I say, it is "wonderfully hard". I am happy we did this. It is days like today that make it worth it. I saw my daughter play her guitar on stage at a youth group. She sang and played a song all by herself. Oh, she was so beautiful. She looked like an angel singing to God our Father. Her voice rang and her smile spread love through the whole building. My son played drums and rocked the room, while I, mom, sat in my seat in tears at how wonderful my kids are. I walked back to the camper to find a 5 yr old "Rescue swimmer" with goggles and flippers on. My 2 yr old had goggles on with her princess dress. When we had a house we didn't have as much time together or time to do some of the little things in life. We are able to help many people and spend lots of time together. It is great, hard at times, but great.

(0ct 2012 - I wrote this post about 3 yrs ago.  I hope you go to our magazine to read my thoughts on the subject now.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What an average day looks like......

Gabriel decided to go on a camera shooting spree... this is life from the lense of a 5 yr. old.

He took pics of the signs on our bathroom door. We have no locks.

Hanna mending her shirt.

He took great shots of everyone, including himself!

Today was one of those long days. I got a call from the Rachael Ray show a few weeks ago. They are interested in our life. The lady on the phone asked me what an average day is like. Well, that is what today was, an average day.

But, with us, and average day

is wild and crazy!

I was so behind on chores. After waking up early and attempting to read my bible before anyone wakes up, Gabriel comes to join me for an early morning mommy time. Not long after, Tytus and Josephine wake up. Cody is helping the men today doing some volunteer work building a huge 36,000 square foot building. We went to their meeting and sent him off to work. Shae began working on his laptop in our bedroom/office/bathroom/sewing room/shower/storage room. Hanna had made eggs, and I began to make grits and bacon. I decided to make a double batch of homemade pancake batter to keep in the fridge and lots of sausage to freeze and take out as we want it. I didn't get the pancakes batter done until about 2pm. It seemed like a lot kept me from it. We ate in shifts and some began school work while others began their morning play. Between everyone needing me constantly and trying to do school with Hanna and Naomi, I felt like not a whole lot got accomplished on my list of chores I am behind on. At least the clothes piled all over my dresser are clean, right? Cody came back for a break and lunch. Gabriel and Naomi built a raft from some wood by our camper. It was a pitiful raft that they couldn't even pick up because it was so flimsy. Gabriel decided to try a huge pole and in the process got over 15 slivers in his hand! That took me at least 20 minutes to get most of them out and Shae did the rest. Everyone played while I cleaned and changed numerous poopy diapers. We were all extremely thirsty since we were out of milk and the water here is gross! Cody was supposed to work this afternoon and Shae and him were supposed to go help my uncle hang some lights. I didn't know what to do. I called my family and asked them if they needed the guys still today and they said no. So, it worked out great. They will hang the lights tomorrow! Hanna finished her school and began to help me get things in some kind of order. I carried Tytus in the sling a lot today. He is very happy in it. Shae moved his laptop down to my desk since I have the comfy chair and his back hurts pretty bad. He went over and helped with drywall after he finished his work, though. He is so tough! We had left over night for dinner. I took everything out of the fridge and defrosted it. I have to do that quite often. We cooked glazed carrots, cranberries, chicken, salads, chicken bites, made a pie and some had leftover hamburger on noodles with alfredo sauce. It is a great way to clean out our little fridge. Shae and I ran to Walmart and bought lots of water. We got back just after nine pm. I had to clean up the playroom so I could make beds on the floor. Josie and Gabriel fussed at each other until we finally had them in jammies, teeth brushed, kissed by all, and off to bed. Josie came out from the back and Hanna and I played her to sleep with our guitars. Cody worked on getting his Gold Medal of Achievement and Shae ate pie. I put Tytus down, fell asleep watching TV while my husband started snoring next to me. I woke up again, came out here and started on the computer. You see, I need to make about $20,000 to pay off our van and hospital bills. Then, we need another $300,000 to buy and build the home we want. We want to try to do it debt free. So, this blog will help with that. It is hard to type though. My L didn't work the other day, then it was the E, and now it is the S. I have to push real hard to make it work!

Well, today was an average crazy day, but a good one. I am tired and a little dehydrated. I am going to take my vitamins, and do some research on the internet. I might try to be to bed by 2am and then up at 7am for bible study and the start of another wonderfully crazy day!

I'll add pics later, the connection is too slow! (I finally have a good connection! I'll add the pics)

Good night,


Changing a bad tire in the desert!

How do you spell spoiled? National Treasure Rv Resort in Pahrump Nevada. Wow, it was great! We joined a club called Passport America. We get to stay for 50% off at different campgrounds.

We were on our way to Beatty, NV (after Hawthorne, and one night in Goldfield, NV). The weekend we were coming to Beatty happened to be totally full for their craft show! So, we called Amargosa Valley. There was an opening there, but no grocery story. The store in Beatty was so tiny and had 2 packs of diapers neither the right size!

So, on to Pahrump. The National Treasure RV Resort was only $20 a night for 4 nights with our Passport America discount. It was incredible. We had two pools, one was heated, the other not.

There was a huge hot tub that we enjoyed. Shae and I even had a little date night in it. It was great to spend some time alone!

There is a bowling alley inside where we bowled 2 times. Shae won, then Cody, Naomi, Hanna, Me, Gabriel, and Josie. Naomi and Hanna were both better at it than me! I have the moves, just can't seem to keep it out of the gutter! We played horseshoes and shuffleboard. The restaurant was good and had good prices. Most of the workers were so friendly.

We made a trip out to Death Valley National Park from here. It was a little bit of a drive, but not bad. It is nothing like I expected. I pictured some huge, flat desert with sand dunes here and there. Instead there were huge mountains, ravines, washes, salt flats, salt sculptures, natural bridge, and that is just a few things.

We drove the 21 mule team road. It is not made for large vehicles, but that didn't stop us!
We think our van is 4 wheel drive and
can go anywhere and do anything!
We loved it. The road is now one of our favorites! Yes, I did get nervous a few times. Our van is not 4 wheel drive and is really long - it is a 15 passenger van! Shae loved that it was hard to drive. He had that fire look in his eyes when we rounded each corner and almost scraped through the rock. We stopped and the guys and Hanna climbed a big rock formation. They were up pretty high. Hanna really wanted to go, but I was not so sure about that as I watched her slip on the loose rocks on the way up. I kept yelling, "Hanna, you don't have to go!" But, she was determined and finally made it to the top. I am not sure if it was worth the trouble and all the work to get up there, but hey, they conquered yet another mountain in another National Park!

From there, we headed to a beautiful look out, something like - Zawleiski's look out. It was a breathtaking view of the mountains and rock formations. We hiked up a small hill to see the remains of what was once an underwater ocean bed. Usually by the time I get all the kids ready to get out of the van and hike to the destination, Shae and Cody are already on their way back. This time was different. Shae and Cody stayed and helped us get shoes on, diapers changed, and children carried up the walk. Just before we headed out, Shae noticed the tire on the back of our van had a huge bulge in it. He had known it would need to be replaced soon, just not in the desert! So, after enjoying the view, we headed to the gorgeous oasis resort in the middle of Death Valley. It was so beautiful as we drove through the gates and headed for a shaded spot for the guys to change the tire before it blew! The kids and I played on the playground.  Shae and Cody changed the tire. I'm not sure if we were supposed to be in there. We weren't guests of the resort, but just passing through as we switched tires in their shade. The kids had a blast feeding the birds while Tytus watched. We finally continued our journey to the lowest elevation in the western hemisphere, Badwater. It is in the middle of salt flats. We took our pictures and then headed home. We were all real tired from a long day of heat, hiking, and bad tires.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our freedom isn't free - Hawthorne, NV

We enjoyed the park, Walker Lake, and our desert Princess.

The Army training was awesome to watch. Gabriel sat out there for long periods of time watching them.

Veterans Day reminds me of our stay in Hawthorne, Nevada. We had wanted to stay in Lee Vining, but the elevation is a little high. With the cold air hot on our tales, we didn't want to take any chances. We went from a nice campground way out in the country in Likely, CA to a casino RV park at Bordertown Casino north of Reno NV. Then south to Hawthorne, NV. We stayed at Whiskey Flats RV Park. It was nice, considering it is in the middle of the desert! The night we got there we had a special treat. We got to watch military helocopters do exercises right by the camper. We found out they are training to head out to Afghanistan. I couldn't help but watch them with admiration and love. They are training for war as we get to camp, four wheel, sight see, and enjoy our family. I know they risk their lives daily so people like us can do what we do. Our military is a volunteer one. These people volunteer to put their lives at risk for all of us and the American freedoms we all enjoy. It is not only the ones that carry a gun, it is the soldier, sailor, or airman that does the bookkeeping, does accounting, teaches and trains them; they are all heros.

We were at the park one day. Some attack helos flew over us numerous times while we were running around. They looked so beautiful to me. I felt so safe and secure. As I watched them fly off in the distance, tears ran down my cheeks. Some people don't agree with these wars. All I know is that our soldiers are there, keeping the enemy busy over there, not on our soil. I was watching a show on PBS and the lady said something like, I don't think we should be over there. I wouldn't want someone coming into my country and telling me how to live and how our gov't should be. I think of the women and mothers in many of these countries - how they are made to wear masks so you can't see their faces - how they are beat and not allowed to leave home - how women are treated horribly by the govt and men. I think that if that were happening to me and my children, I would want anyone to come in and deliver me. I would be thankful for the country that had the balls to stand up to horrible men likes these. I just don't agree with her, I guess I like my freedom as a woman, as a human.

Well, time to get off my soap box, and into my bed. Sleep well America, it is a blessing that not everyone has.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Should we get a different camper or fix up the one we have?

(Written in my journal 10-14-09)

We have had our 5th wheel for a year and a half now. It has been good for us. But, we are considering changing our way of travel. The 5th wheel and truck are good. We have lots of room in the camper. We don’t all fit in the truck, so we bought a 15 passenger van that I drive. I haul a flat bed with 4 atvs, 3 kayaks, and 6 bikes. We really like to four wheel, so if we bought a driving camper we would have to leave them behind. Also, with a driving RV, we wouldn’t have enough room. We would have to get an older one and remodel. The new ones are way out of our budget. A driving RV would be so nice when we travel, though. Tytus, our baby, gets tired of his car seat real quick. Also, I feel like the time I waste driving I could be taking care of the kids, feeding them lunch, doing school, playing with them, reading them books, and we would have a bathroom to use. Two of my kids need character training. It is hard to do when I am driving. Then we are all quiet when the baby is asleep, so he DOES NOT wake up.

So, we have two choices:

1. Buy a driving camper. If we do that, we will have less room and not be able to bring the fourwheelers. I think it would be too cramped so we would need to buy a cabin somewhere to go back to every few months, to stretch out a little.

2. Keep what we have and remodel a little. Also, we are trying to not drive longer than 2 hours at a time. If we leave when it is his naptime, it is a pleasant drive for everyone.

I think for now we are going to do option 2. We will keep what we have and just change the ways we travel. Driving 2 hrs at a time seems to work better. Also, if the National Park or museum we want to visit is more than 45 minutes away from where we are parked, we’re not going. We will just have to move closer with our camper and stay for a few days. We are limited on where we can camp because Shae has to have internet with his air card and signal for his cell phone. Most National Park campgrounds do not have signal, so we have to stay at campgrounds outside of them. We would like to camp in National Forests more. It is free and tends to be very beautiful. But, there too we are so limited by Shae’s work. But, when I think about how we are limited on where we can camp, I just remember that we like food.

 No work, no eat.

 So, we are happy with what we can do and where we can go.

I would really like to remodel or consider getting a different 5th wheel. The carpet in the camper just grosses me out! It is the cheapest stuff and is just disgusting. I am constantly sweeping and vacuuming. I might just buy a decent vacuum, instead of the cheap shop vac I have. I want to pull all the carpet out and put some other flooring in, but the carpet is what helps the slide outs go in and out. I am going to try to be creative and come up with some way to get the carpet out. My husband thinks I am crazy. He said it would be so much work. I know he is right, about me being crazy and it being a lot of work (ha ha ha). So, I am going to do some research and see if there is an alternative.

I also want to take out the big bench seat table we have and put in a real table. The benches we have are cloth! I have 6 kids, and two eat like little pigs! I try so hard to teach them manners. But, it is very hard to in the camper. Josephine really needs to be in a high chair and Gabriel a regular chair.

 I would like to change out our windows, too. We really need the double paned windows. There is a little draft that runs through them.

That is all for now. I am ready for bed. The wind is terrible outside. I can feel our camper shaking!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heart Mountain Japanese Relocation Camp

We have never been to a Japanese Relocation Camp. At the beginning of WWII, the Japanese from the west coast were gathered up and brought to camps like the one near Powell, WY. It was occupied from 1942-1945 by 10767 Japanese Americans. They had their own hospital, fire and police department, judicial system, post office, sewage treatment plant, power station, water system, 2 grade schools, 1 high school, pool, sports teams and more. While there they built 2 miles of irrigation systems that still flow through the area today. They planted 2700 acres of crops. There were barracks that the families were crammed in with little insulation and no privacy. The living conditions were terrible in the beginning and improved some as time went on.
We were told there were death threats made on the Japanese Americans while they lived in California. So, the gov’t decided that for their own benefit they would be relocated to these facilities. I am sure that some of the reason was because they were Japanese. I was also told that they were concerned that some of these people were actually spies and could attack America from within.
This is a very difficult subject to teach my children.
Did locking up these people of Japanese heritage save our country from attacks from within our borders?
Did locking them up save them from beatings and death from other angry Americans?
These are questions we cannot answer. It is always easier to look back in time and make judgements on decisions made by our government. I used to have a Top Secret clearance. I know there is so much we do not know. For our own security the government cannot tell us everything. What did they not tell the American people back then? Did that information justify locking up innocent Americans along with some that might have terrorized our country?
These are the questions I discuss with my children. Whether or not the decision was right, we must remember and always try to learn from history. Maybe in the future we can handle it better, maybe we can learn from mistakes of the past and make better choices down the road.
The only thing I do know for certain is that the facilities should of been better. If there was justification to lock up some of the Japanese Americans and they had to lock up innocents with them, the facilities should have been warm, humane, private. Women and children lived there. Pregnant women and children. They deserved better. Should they have been left in their homes and only their husbands taken?  What would they have done financially with out him?  The women and children deserved better - enemy soldiers do not. Our soldiers know that when we join the military we are willing to risk our lives for our country including being taken captive and held in prison. Soldiers do not expect pools, schools, hospitals. Soldiers can handle it. There is a difference.

 Was our gov't trying to protect these citizens? 

Was it better to keep families and communities together?

Heart Mountain was like a small city. Some even earned wages. It is a tough subject..... with many angles.  I think most Americans have a really hard time understanding this type of profiling.

Such a tough subject to teach my children.  It is such a sad time in history.  I love being able to discuss these difficult questions with them and especially since we cannot answer them.

What do you think?

More info go to www.heartmountain.net

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

hard drives, potty stops, Mt St. Helens, I love my hubby!

It sure is cold up here. We are in lovely Oregon. I think I like it here. The people seem friendly. There is no sales tax and they don’t allow you to pump your own gas…it is against the law! The campgrounds are friendly, not so strict that we are afraid to move. We stayed at one in Washington that was ridiculous. It was a state park and they charged us about $36 a night! And, it cost $1. per 3 minutes in the showers! This was in Yakima, WA. The drive over there from Idaho was horrible. We took hwy 90 west from Couer D’ Alene, ID. The dust was terrible. The wind was ferocious! It was the worst drive of my life! I will hopefully never have to drive on that road again!

We had to go for over 4 hours in wind and dust. What a mess. At one point I turned around and saw some air coming out of the tire on the camper Shae was pulling. He saw it too and called me on the walkie talkie. He said, “I have a problem, pulling over.” I told him I would drive ahead to the next exit and find somewhere to park until I heard from him. I didn’t want to pull over on the freeway with a van full of kids while he changed a tire. We have been fortunate enough to have not blown a tire so far on the trip.  I was very concerned about Shae and Cody out on that dusty, windy freeway with semis flying by them. I just started to pray. I found the next exit and pulled off to the side of the on ramp. I have to be careful where I pull because I am not good at backing up. I can get myself in a real pickle if I’m not careful, like I did two days ago, but that is another story! I was getting the kids a snack, changing diapers, and helping Gabriel pee on the side of the road, when Shae and Cody pulled up behind me. Thank goodness the tire hadn’t blown after all. It was a big dust cloud that went around our tire that looked like air coming out. We were all so relieved. I did the usual. I went potty on the side of the road. The kids are always mortified when I do that. I would much rather pee there than on some nasty toilet in a gas station or rest area. Who knows who sat on it before me? I need to write a book, “Peeing on the back roads of America.” By Sheri Smith Ha ha ha ha ha ha

We did go to Mt. St. Helens. It was amazing. We went on the east side, just didn’t have time to go around. With bad weather on the way, we knew we needed to get south and fast. It's freezing up there on the mountain. To see the devastation…astonishing.

 The trees are still laying there on the ground. 

 Spirit Lake has thousands of dead trees floating around it. Shae and Cody hiked down to the lake. It was too cold for the rest of us.  Gabriel enjoyed dressing up like the Lone Ranger.

 It was a really long day. It ended up being a lot longer drive than we thought. It took us about 3 hrs from Yakima. We stopped at a really great veggie and fruit stand on the way. We bought tons of great food that is grown in Yakima. We found a used American Girl doll there. I picked it up for the girls for Christmas. It isn't in the best shape, but they will be happy.

The drive back wasn’t the best. We were all hungry. There was a little grocery story on the way back. I picked up what I could and we ate the best we could. Shae has always liked to drive fast. Now, the last 7 years he has really slowed down. Now when he owned his Evo, it felt like we were taking off at every stop light! He sold that 5 years ago and now we drive an awesomely cool 15 passenger van! He doesn't even complain. I am so proud of him. For him to drive a “van” is a miracle! So, we are winding down these mountain roads leaving Mt. St. Helens. I was getting car sick and so was Gabriel. I didn't feel safe. I know I need to trust my husband. I just don’t trust the roads, mountains, or other drivers. I was dealing with many emotions as we hustled home. I had to pee real bad and was not about to go in the grocery store. After I got the food, we headed out again. I asked Shae to stop at the next side road so I could go potty. I really had to go. Well, all I see is the speedometer at 60 mph and 5 side roads flash by as I attempt to not pee my pants. Oh how I wanted to yell, “If this had been you, you would have stopped a long time ago! Plus, you are making me car sick…slow down!” Well, I have learned over the years that yelling at my spouse does absolutely no good. It would not help me, him, or the situation. So, I prayed. I said, “God, please put it in Shae’s heart that I need to pee. “ No joke, 30 seconds later Shae slowed down and pulled over so I could pee. I got out of the van and went right on the ground next to it. Sure enough, a car drove by. I don’t think they saw me. I was so thankful I didn’t react to Shae’s insensitivity to me. I sat there and thought about the flowers he gave me earlier and how he took the kids up the trail and spent time with them. It is a choice. I chose right this time. I don’t always. I chose to turn to prayer and then think of the good things my husband has done.