Thursday, August 28, 2014

Time Continues.

Today is "little bits" birthday. Myla is 5 today and all we can say is wow. Time sure does continue and while that is great, we all know that it can come with sadness as well. This sweet little girl was a gift during a tragedy. She brought us joy and lots smiles during a very hard time in our lives. Only 9 days after my brothers death, she came into the world. A gift was given to me that was once Pauls'... his baby blanket and from that time I thought it would be neat to see her with it on every birthday. Proof of time, a collection of memories and love from her uncle.

If you know Myla, then you know that she is crazy, silly, and hilarious. If you just met her, then you would think she is shy and some may even consider her to be rude. She turns her back and walks away, scared of everyone. Finally, when she lets her guard down, you see the trueness that is her. She is a lover of horses, Olaf, prairie dogs, coloring, and riding her scooter. She has a deep giggle that makes so many others laugh along with her. We love her to piecess and are so thankful for another little girl that was added to our family. Happy 5th birthday to our "little bit".

"Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!"
-Dr. Seuss

Birth : August 28, 2009

First Birthday

Second Birthday

Third Birthday

Fourth Birthday

 Fifth Birthday

Friday, August 22, 2014

Our happenings in the past month. Follow us.

We've been keeping busy. There is no doubt about that. Besides all of our cars officially breaking down,  we have been having fun and making memories. But like the saying goes... when one thing goes wrong, they all go wrong. That would be referring to our vehicles. Today our last good car decided to quite on us. Since starting this journey of living with less and letting go of things that don't matter, I've learned to let it all roll off my shoulders. We are alive and we are well. When in doubt.. we are breathing. That is all that matters. I'm sure we will fix this and go about our business. God has us in the palm of His hands.

So what have we been up to in the mean time? Well, we have been hiking and beachin' and hanging out. Life has been good and we have been busy. In about two months we will start our move south. I have two craft shows coming up that I am preparing for as well as lots of Etsy orders to get out. This mobile "bowtique" is working well so far. I'm hoping that the mail as we go forth works just the same. My brother came home for two weeks, we went hiking in the mountains (Blue hole again), we have gone to Virginia Beach, my niece came to visit at the campground, we went to Arlington to honor my brother who was killed in the war, we ordered pizza for the first time in almost 4 months and we are unschooling at its finest. This is the life in the Oatman household. We are happy and that is what matters. 

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5 years gone but not a moment easier. Living a life without my brother.

Today marks 5 years. To many it's been exactly that, 5 years and it stops there, but to me it feels like yesterday. You say 5 years and it only makes that pain worsen. How? How in the world have 5 years gone by? How in the heck have I managed to live each day without someone who meant so much to me? I'm not quite sure honestly. I do know that I live to honor him and maybe that's how those days have passed. I wake up each morning and vow to live a life that he would be proud of and that will in turn honor what he died for. I speak of him often. I share his stories and I pass around his photos. He deserves that. It's the least I can do.

Growing up, we shared much in common. Our humor was spot on. Half of my life I was on the floor laughing because he was truly that funny. I miss that. We were both athletic and adventurous. He loved the outdoors, as do I. We did crazy things. We pushed the limits and we made amazing memories. It's those memories that I still talk about and that I still remember with each passing day.

My brother was also a great artist. He knew that drawing/painting was a passion of mine and he would always call to ask me questions and to see what I thought of his own drawings. I felt honored that he would even consider what I thought. Passing ideas back and forth and giving each other critism was something we shared quite often. The images he drew while deployed and at home now hang in the rv.

It's been hard seeing my children and my siblings all grow. Each birthday is just another year passing without him in it. Our youngest daughter, Myla, was born just 9 days after his death. He never saw her, but knew I was pregnant with her. She will be 5 in 9 short days. It's just all so sad and heartbreaking. My sister has since had a girl who is now 2, one of my brothers has gone off to college and will graduate in a year, we have moved.. twice, and so much more. There has honestly not been a day that has gone by that he was not thought of. So much reminds me of him... music, photos, vacations, memories, places, food and friends. Trust me, that's a good thing. I want things to remind me of him, I want to speak his name, and I want to share his legacy. He fought for America and in the end, he DIED for this country.

This is my brother's headstone. Please put his name and image with this photo. He is not just a white stone up at Arlington National Cemetery. He is so much more than that. His life may have ended but his legacy has not. Sgt Paul Dumont Jr. is my brother. He is a son, a brother, a husband, an uncle and a friend. He is our country's hero. All of the men and women who fought and died for our country are the ultimate heroes. We should never forget their names nor their faces. They had a life and they still have families. Their stories matter. They are all greatly missed.

Today I honor my brother. I remember, I never forget. 5 years may have passed but just like yesterday, and today, tomorrow will hurt the same. No words could ever even begin to describe the amount of pain and loss we have all felt.  Until the good Lord calls me home I will love him always and forever.

Our last trip with him to the beach... these are the memories. July 2009

"So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever."
2 Corinthians 4:18

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Living in an RV. 3 months of life lessons.

It's been almost three months since we said good bye to the stick n' brick home and to tell you the truth, we have not looked back once. The transition (for us) was not shocking, drastic or hard in the least bit. In fact, it was so easy we've wondered if we did it right. However, the drastic part will be coming upon us in the next two months. Maybe then we can give you the down and dirty on struggling but as for now it's been easy peasy. When we say easy peasy, we are referring to moving and living in the new home. It has nothing to do with fixing broken appliances, RV parts or water leaks. Put that aside and it has truly been awesome.

People want to know why we do this and how are we are going to make it work? We've learned a few things in the past as well as in these few months. Some have been great life lessons while others are just tid bits of info shared with us about the "camping" world. No matter what though, the most important advice comes from the bible verse, Colossians 3:2 - "Set your mind on the things above and not on earthly possessions. "Things" don't get you an eternal pass into heaven. Only by accepting HIS death on the cross will you step foot through the gates and into the Kingdom. We want to live our lives in such a way that it glorifies HIM. We want our life story to be about who God is and what He does in human hearts. We want to share love and hope. We want to live.

1. Time waits for NO ONE. 

For many years Chris and I dreamed of one day living a life on the road. We never thought in a million years we could make it happen. We never had the money, we didn't know where we would work, we had kids, it seemed to good to be true, and the list of excuses could go on and on. Eventually, life happened. Our son battled cancer, my brother died in the war, people lost jobs, family members passed away and we decided to wait no more. Just like everyone else, there will NEVER be the PERFECT time. There is never the perfect time to have a child, to get a new job, to buy a house, to live a life on the road or to take any chance you've been wanting to take. Time does not wait and in the end, you only have regret. We already have regret. Why did we wait so long? We both knew that if we never took this chance, we would one day down the road wish we had. Regret would eat at us. This life is so short and it's ours to live. We chose to not live the life that everyone expects of us. Yes, money is tight and it's only going to get tighter. We have no clue what our plans are, where we will end up, or what our future holds but we do know that we are creating priceless memories with each other and sharing those with our children. To us, that is worth so much more than money. You can not get your time back. Choose wisely.

2. Experiencing life is PRICELESS. 

We were taught as kids to do great in school so that we could one day get into college. Then once we made it to college, we were taught to do amazing so that we could get that great paying job. When we finally received that job we were taught to work and to work and to work. Why? Oh ya, so that we could get that huge house, expensive car and to save for the "future". What happens after that? What do you have? In the end you have tons of "stuff" that you worked your butt off for and for many of those people, they went into debt to acquire those possessions. As for the future, well, you aren't guaranteed to even wake up tomorrow. Now all those people have to work more hours and longer days in order to keep their things. All those things you worked so hard to own end up owning you. THAT is not what we want. We want experiences. We want memories. We want to know that we lived our life actually living it. We want to know that we did what we wanted and not what others wanted us to do. When our life is coming to an end, we want to know that we truly experienced everything it had to offer.  There is a difference between "thinking" you know what something looks and feels like and actually KNOWING what it looks and feels like. Would you want to be the person who says they think it would be awesome to go skydiving or would you rather be the person who could say they actually experienced skydiving and that it was the biggest freakin' adrenaline rush of their life?  We want to be the latter. We want to create stories. We want to visit many places, meet new people, and make so many memories that they could never fit in a book. Experiences are priceless... they can not be bought. We're not saying to live careless but we are saying to take that chance.

3. Truly get to KNOW your family.

We live in a time where the average child has their own bedroom, a place to call their own. We're told that it's important for them to have space and privacy. It's almost as if you don't give them that then you're being a bad parent and denying them their youth. Most parents don't spend more than 4 hours a day with their children after school, sports and activities. The same goes for husbands and wives. We all spend more time apart than together. Family bonding is no more. Everyone is told they need space. All I've found is that in actuality people have less patience and are in a bigger rush. As a family, we don't want this. We want to see our children more than 4 hours a day. We want to see them laugh, play, learn and experience life right in front of our eyes. 

Living in the RV hasn't been a difficult change. If anything, it's been a great life improvement. The kids have to share the T.V. They have to agree on shows or movies, they play together all day (sometimes bickering), they've learned to pick up after themselves right away, they have chores, and they are making amazing memories... TOGETHER. We won't find them hidden away on video games in their own room or sitting behind closed doors doing who knows what. Instead, our home is small and we are forced to live and experience life together. We do more mountain biking, family walks, trips to town, Frisbee, grilling and camp fires. We are getting to know and bond with our children. We chose this lifestyle for this exact reason. We want to enjoy their childhood and we want to be apart of it. 

4. Homeschoolers can be SOCIAL.

If you want to see some social kids, come here to our campsite. It's the number one question we get when others find out we homeschool. "Do your kids belong to any kinds of groups or classes and do they get to socialize?" First off, kids in school are not any more social than a homeschooler. If anything, they are less social. The last time I checked, no talking is allowed in class unless called upon. They walk in straight lines, sit on quiet rugs, and look for the speed light monitor. PE is cut short, recess is being taken away and socializing while in school is becoming less. So if the socializing they are talking about is on the school bus while on its way to school... heck no! Nothing good happens on those school buses. Trust me, I've been there. Instead, our children are out making friends daily. They've never met a stranger and have made friends with children from all over the country. They play hours upon hours of make believe, learn about animals, teach other kids to ride their bikes, study nature and the list goes on. Believe it or not, they even socialize with other adults. Homeschoolers are social, trust us and it may scare many, but they just may be more social than the typical school child. 

5. Living with less is truly worth MORE.

It's true. Gosh is it so true. We do not need what we think we need in order to be happy. The American population feels that they NEED so much. We all need our own car, own rooms, closets full of clothes, the newest purse, latest gadget, newest iPhone and so on. In actuality, you need way less than you think. It goes along with the next topic and that is appreciating what you have. But let's go back to living with less. Four months ago, we pretty much got rid of it all. We have some clothes, a few family games, two small totes of toys and our family bonding items such as bikes and kayaks. We are living with less to experience more. Our kids are not suffering. They are not sad, depressed or angry. In fact, they are happy.. very happy! Sure, they got rid of 90% of their toys. Everything from the Little Tykes kitchen, doll beds, transformers, halo Legos, and so on.. all gone. Instead, they ride their bikes, skateboards and scooters. They slack line, swim, play tag and run around. The items that were given away didn't take away their happiness. In fact, the more they had, the more they whined and fought. It also made them only want more. Buying things becomes addicting and it makes them spoiled and ungrateful. We were done with that. No more purchases on just frivolous items. Instead, our money will now go to experiencing life and creating wonderful memories. Living with less has been worth so much more.

6. APPRECIATE all that is around.

Take the time to look around and see all that you have. We tell our children over and over to appreciate their own lives. To appreciate the things they have gotten to do, see and experience. It's easy to see what others have and to want only more. It's unnecessary. Even as adults we want to do more, have more and make more. Right now we are located in Williamsburg, VA. It's gorgeous here with lots to do and see. However, we've been here for years and since getting the RV, want to travel all over the country. We can't. Money doesn't grow on trees. Not sure if you knew that. :) So in the mean time, we appreciate the location we are in and look forward to the many places we will eventually get to visit. Not only do we need to appreciate what we have but we also need to appreciate our lives. We can breath and that in itself is a gift. It means that we awoke and because we awoke, there are boundless opportunities. We can change today, tomorrow and the future. This life is ours, own it and make it yours. 

7. COMPARISON will destroy your dreams. 

It's so hard to not want what others are doing, what they have or even who they are. But the reality of it all is that if you keep on comparing yourself to others, you will never truly be happy. We've read countless stories of other full timers and what they do. Some get to travel non-stop and that is by far a dream of ours. We want to be nomads in every sense of the way. We want to be a family that can just continue on the road of travels for as long as we want. The reality of that though is non existent. We just can't. We do not have jobs that allow us to bring in enough financially that would allow us endless travels. That means we must stop and work for months at a time. We have to build an account that would let us go forth to the next stop. It's what WE have to do to make our dreams come true. Chris and I are willing to do what it takes to make this work. Sure, we could be down and negative just because we can't do what others can but that's not what we want. We are US and this is our story, not theirs. The same goes for everything from body images, to comparing children, materialistic items, lives and even spouses. Don't do it. Don't fall into that horrible downward spiral of comparison. Seriously, when you start comparing yourself to others, it will kill all the joy in your life. You are you. You are unique and you have qualities that could far out weigh those around you. Be thankful, be different and tell YOUR story. 

8. You don't always need a PLAN. 

Be spontaneous. Live outside the box and explore the world. Many people think that without a plan, your life is literally going to fall apart. It's so not true. Sometimes the best memories happen when they aren't planned. Last summer we went to Colorado and then up to South Dakota. We had an idea of what was going to happen but not necessarily a laid out plan. Let the events going on at that time dictate what will happen next. The same goes for our future. We have an idea but not a plan. There are no 10 year plans in our life. Goodness, we don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow let alone in 10 years. Chris didn't plan on joining the army but it came into his life and he accepted. Montana wasn't really a thought out plan but he has been a blessing to us in so many ways. When Chris and I make plans, they are usually ruined or changed. Over-planning kills the magic. It kills the spontaneousness of life. We do our best to not stress over every little thing and trust that HE knows what's best. Step out of your comfort zone, take that chance, let go and see what happens. You may find yourself even happier.

9. You aren't GUARANTEED anything. 

My dad always told me that only one thing in life is guaranteed and that is that everyone will eventually die. Sounds kind of sad, but it's true. Anything that happens from the moment you start to breathe is not. Life is not a hand out. You have to work hard for the things you want and even then you are not promised certain items or rewards. My brother came home for his R&R from Afghanistan 5 years ago. He went shopping and purchased some new sunglasses, jeans, and a few shirts. He was excited. He talked about coming back and going camping with us, taking my brothers 4-wheeling and getting to see his new niece. Well, he never got the chance. He went back to fight in the war. Showed up to work on a Monday and was killed on that Wednesday. His plans, his purchases, his excitement... all gone. We live this life on a lot of hope and tons of prayers. Only the Lord knows your story from beginning to end. No one can guarantee you a happy life or even a long life. All we can do is try our best, give it our all and live with no regrets.  Be thankful and always give thanks. 

10. You are here to HELP others.

Think about it. What does it mean to have a successful life? Success is attributed to wealth, materialism, academics and athletics. When we speak of someone being successful, we are usually referring to how well they have done for themselves or what they physically own. So and so has a huge house, oh.. they must be highly successful in their job. Even myself. I had the opportunity to swim at a Div 1 school on a scholarship. Sure, I was a great swimmer, broke some records and won some awards but in all honestly it has nothing to do with my success as a human being. What if instead, we started attributing success with characteristics. Chris and I want nothing more than for our children to be good people. We want them to be kind, caring, loving, generous and helpful. The job they acquire, the college they go to (if they go at all), the house they live in, and the cars they drive will have no value in our eyes on their success. We truly don't believe we were put on this earth so that we could put tons of cash away in a bank. I don't think God said, "My plan for the human race is for them to save as much money as possible before entering the gates of heaven." I do believe He wants us to help as many people as possible. Even if we just help a few by donating or physically being there for them, we are doing something much bigger than just thinking of ourselves. Some of the happiest, most caring and generous people in the world, own very little. They give and continue to give. Above anything else, I want my children to care. That would be successful.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

when it rains, it pours

We've all heard the saying, "when it rains, it pours". It's like a downward spiral of everything negatively possible happening one after the other. That's pretty much how it went over the past two weeks here in the Oatman household. It all started with heading to the doctor to find out that Montana had strep. Following close behind were the girls. However, after a few days we found out it wasn't strep. It turned out to be hand, foot and mouth disease and let me tell you, IT WAS HORRIBLE. We wouldn't wish that on our worst enemy. While one was crying and up all night because of the sores in her mouth and throat, the other was crying because of the sores on her feet. They were so bad that she couldn't even walk and is actually still healing from them. In the mean time, while all this was going on, Montana and I had to catch a plane to head to St. Jude. Everything there turned out great and after a few days, we were on our way back home for our summer vacation.

This is where it gets fun. We landed, went straight to bed and got up early the next day so that we could pack, get the RV situated, and finish everything needed in order to head to the Outer Banks. All the chores were complete and Bessie was on her way. Everyone was super stoked. About 15 min down the highway, the RV decides to start going crazy on us. Bessie didn't want to go to beach. At the time, we weren't sure what the problem was but every time the RV would start to go, it would eventually just stop and we would find ourselves on the side of 64. So frustrating. After all the sickness, the fevers, the throwing up, the late nights and so much more, we SO wanted this trip. An hour later, we admitted defeat, turned around and limped the RV back home. We sat there. What were we going to do? After a few hours we decided to book a rustic cabin at the OBX for two nights anyway. Not what we wanted but it was going to have to do. 

Then we got to the cabins. Not what we planned and we weren't completely prepared for "camping". Most people leave their RV in order to get a break from "camping". You know, get a hotel or maybe at least something with a warm shower. Nope, not us. We go even rougher with no water at all and beds with no sheets. The cabin also had ginormous ants and a few spiders. My kiddos love camping and the outdoors but they're like me... no bugs in the house. It ended up being a rough night of sleep. Needless to say, by the time we left, Bessie was looking like a 5 star hotel. The kids still had fun, the beach was nice and grilling is always a blast. Our getaway was short compared to what we had initially planned but it was a getaway none the less. Then we had to head back home to see what the heck was up with the RV. 

Because we live in a vehicle, getting it fixed is tricky. We can't just drop it off and then leave it for a few days. All of our belongings are in it and that means more packing. They ended up telling us it would need to be left overnight and we could go back to it to grab what we needed. Luckily, my parents are still close by and we were able to crash with them for the night. If not, it would have been a hotel. Bessie just needed some tender love and care. Turns out it was the fuel filter. Because the RV sat for so many years, the gas that sat in it during that duration has been giving it problems. Our next trip with her should be interested to say the least. We look forward to it but will be a bit nervous. 

Since our vacation was cut so short, we had a few free days left on Chris' time off. We did our best to try and make the most of it. We aren't the kind of family who takes days off and then stays home. Our days of leave mean going some place else... not home. We couldn't financially just go and so that meant hanging out here.. at home. During those few exciting days filled with "adventure", our paddle board came in. After months of paying on it, it was now ours!! This meant doing something actively different and tons of fun. The kids have been having a blast playing on it as have Chris and I. Great purchase, but we knew it would be. Now we just need to get it to the river. 

While our vacation didn't turn out to be what we wanted and the kids have spent days upon days of being sick, we still try to keep things in perspective. We know we have much to be thankful for and that there are blessings to be found in each day as long as we look for them. Chris and I do our best to teach the kids to keep a positive and upbeat attitude. Life will NEVER be perfect, things will go wrong and most likely, many at the same time. How you take life's challenges and go forward impacts the kind of person you are and your attitude. We still had fun, we still created memories and many more adventures lie ahead.