Friday, August 23, 2013

Peach picking in Charlottesville, Virginia

We took the kids peach picking up in Charlottesville the other day. When I say "we", I'm talking about my mom and two brothers with my kids in tow. It was a gorgeous day and definitely a beautiful view from the peach orchards. The kids all had a blast and of course wanted to continue picking peaches but we know how fast that adds up financially. :) We drove out to a place called Chiles Peach Orchard which is about a 2 hour drive from Williamsburg. They have a nice little farm with some yummy donuts and tasty homemade ice cream. It's a good place to stop if you end up going through the Charlottesville area to get some local fruit.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Unschooling: the right decision for us.

So, lets talk about school, education and the many ways of learning. We have three wonderful children (ages 8, 5, and 4) who are all raised the exact same way but are completely different kids. While one learns in one way, the other two may not and thus begins our quest for teaching them in the best way that suites each child to their specific needs.

When we first started homeschooling Montana during kindergarten, I purchased a set curriculum and thought that would be the best option and figured it would cover everything both he and I needed to know. In the end, I was way off. Montana just wasn't picking up some things as fast as the books were going and in other areas, he was flying by. I then started to research more about different learning approaches and came to discover this wonderful thing called "unschooling". Unschooling is a unique word in itself because most people assume that it's not teaching at all... very untrue! Unschooling is basically the concept of allowing the child to lead the way in which he/she wants to learn or is interested in learning. For example, Montana is highly interested in countries, maps, cultures, animals, weather, etc. So, we base his education at the moment off of those things. Everything we do involves one interest or another of his. We use alot of movies, hands on activities, museums, travel and art. Even though we are not following a book or a curriculum, he is learning so much just through his experiences, interests and this little thing called life.

In unschooling, life itself is learning. There is no “doing school” … you are learning all the time!

To be honest, unschooling is not something that is new to us. The word may not be one that we have used much in this house but the concept has long been put to use here. Chris and I LOVE to travel. Did I mention that we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to travel?? :) Because we travel often, are on the go alot, are athletic and are both hands on people... our kids have learned lots just from living. So this idea of "unschooling" actually fits into our lifestyle and our ideas better than sitting with a book infront of us for hours. We would much rather spend quality time teaching our children by exploring and experiencing in a hands on enviroment so that when they walk away, they will fully understand what it was they just saw and did.

While we know that it's not for everyone, we do know that it is for us. And when the kids are grown and out of the house, we hope and pray that more than anything they will look back and realize that they had two parents who took the time to love, care and educate them in the best way they thought possible.

Here is to many years of learning and experiencing...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Our RV choices...

So, for the past 7 months we have looked seriously at pretty much every option under the sun. We have checked out trailers, class C's, class A's and all that is inbetween. I think we have narrowed it down to a class A or class C. There are many trailers that we LOVE but the cost of a truck and the trailer together brings us to the cost of a C or A and we don't really want to have two separate payments. That and our car is almost paid off.. yay!!

When looking at RV's it's hard to imagine these spaces becoming so small (which they will) because right now they look big in comparison to tenting. These spaces are also alot smaller than our house of course and trying to fit everything into one of these will be a bit of a struggle.  Knowing this will eventually be our "home", we are trying to make sure that we get something that will fit our needs as best as possible.  Nothing will be perfect but we try to make it the ideal space and in the same time keep in mind why we are doing this. Our goal is to get an older model that is cheaper and hopefully pay a good chunk of it before we actually hit the road, which we are aiming for in 2015. We will also be living in this for a full year before we do hit the road for good. So far, these are our top choices....

Class C: Forest River, Sunseeker Bunkhouse Model

- It has a cab on top for the a kid or two.
- It has bunks in the back for a kid or two with couch and T.V for rainy days.
- Nice space for each kid to have their own "room". 

- Smaller living space
- Non livable space upfront.
- Smaller storage space underneath.
- Smaller kitchen area with hardly any counter.

CLASS A: Forest River, FR3


- Flip down bunk in the front for a kid or two
- Nice living space.
- Good kitchen area with counter.
- Two desk sections for working.
- Good amount of storage area underneath.
- Nice usable space in the front driving area.
- Shorter length for staying in National Parks. :) 

- Only one bunk area, so one has to sleep on the fold out couch.
- Bathroom area is divided. 
- Less storage inside. 

CLASS A: Forest River, Georgetown Bunkhouse

- Bunkhouse in the back for a kid or two.
- Depending on model, drop down bunk in the front.
- Very roomy and spacious.
- Nice kitchen area with good counter space.
- Good amount of storage outside underneath.

- Cost more!!
- It's longer, making it harder to get into some campgrounds and National Parks.
- It costs more.. we love it, but it costs more. :) 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Our 5226 mile road quest across the United States.

So, in the very beginning of July we left and started our vacation west. We ended up driving 5226 miles to Colorado up to Wyoming and then back to Virginia which took us 17 days. It was AMAZING!! We had the best time and the kiddos did awesome in the car. However, I wasn't really worried about them having any issues because they love to be on the go. Montana had a check up at St. Jude in Memphis so we decided to combine our vacation with his appointments. Our family was just meant for the road. Something about being free to go where ever you please and to explore the open road... we thrive on that. The memories and the experiences we created with our children are priceless and I wouldn't trade it for anything. I only wish we could do it more often.... so we continue on our quest to find the perfect RV!!

Instead of writing a really detailed list of everything we did  I'll just post where we were on each day so that you can see how our trip went.... lots of driving. :) Here is a snap shot of our lovely vacation and because there are so many photos, I'll post them by location so you don't get lost. This is what 5000 miles looks like.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”  
- Ernest Hemingway

June 30: Drove to Bryson City, NC to kayak and play in the river.
July 1: Drove to Gatlinburg, TN to alpine slide go through Smokey Mountain National Park and then back to Bryson City to kayak again.
July 2: Drove to Memphis, TN
July 3: Spent the day at St. Jude to get Montana checked out and then drove on to Springfield, MO
July 4: Spent the 4th of July with Chris' family in Springfield, MO
July 5: Drove to Colorado Springs, CO
July 6: Spent the day in Colorado Springs, met up with our friends, & did a family photoshoot
July 7: Went to Garden of Gods in Colorado Springs and then drove to Cotopoxi, CO
July 8: Drove to Salida, CO to do a SUP lesson on the river, kayak and tube
July 9: Spent the day in Salida, CO kayaking and tubing
July 10: Drove to Winter Park, CO after stopping in Buena Vista, CO and Frisco
July 11: Spent the day at Winter Park
July 12: Our friends leave and we go through Rocky Mnt National Park to drive up to Casper, WY to kayak
July 13: Drive to Devils Tower and then to Rapid City, SD
July 14: Drive through Custer National Park, go to Mnt Rushmore, Bedrock City and stay in Custer, SD.
July 15: Drive to Des Moines, IA
July 16: Drive to West Virginia
July 17: Drive to Virginia... HOME!!