Friday, November 28, 2014

Take the risk.

Have you thought about what it truly means to live? Do you feel like you've actually experienced all that life has to offer? So many of us go through life living it the way others expect of us. We're expected to have college degrees, to have "good" jobs, maybe a wife or husband and a few kids. But have you sat back and thought about "your" dreams? What do you want to conquer? What do you want to experience?

Chris and I knew we wanted to experience a life on the road, even if that meant suffering in some ways. We don't have tons of money and yes sometimes we struggle to make ends meet. Is it better though than having good paying jobs, never seeing our kids, and not living the dreams we want? For us, the answer is no. Even though we struggle, we know that this life is meant for us. Our kids are happy, we are giving them amazing experiences, and we won't have the regret of not living out our dream. To us, it's so worth it to take the chance and truly live our life.

We have been fulltimers now for 6 months and have met so many wonderful, unique and amazing people. To tell you the truth, we have met many snowbirds, many retired and many senior citizens. The campground we are living at right now is made up of mostly retired couples. We pretty much have the ONLY children and are the only couple under the age of 50. After talking with so many of these great people, they all have the same thing in common... regret. Regret for not taking chances. Regret for not truly living their life. The couple beside us is now retired. They are 68 and 69 years old. The husband was a sniper in Vietnam, he is sick, and he can hardly get around. She is retired, working her whole life and told me she has nothing to show for it. She has half a house and it has been their dream to get a camper and travel the country. Well now they are struggling with health. They waited, they have regret for not taking the chance when they were younger. We hear this story over and over and over. I can not tell you how many times we have heard this. So many older couples who are scared to spend their money, scared to take the chance, scared to let go of their belongings. My grandparents are a great example of holding on to "stuff". They don't move because they have so much stuff and yet they are in their late 70's. We DO NOT want to be this way. We are taking the chance. We are willing to live paycheck to paycheck. We are willing to count on His blessings to make ends meet. We do not want to live to save and not live in the mean time. We want to give our kids all the experiences we can and to know that we LIVED with them. All these couples we have met agree with everything we are doing. They are well above us in years and yet they always tell us we are doing the right thing. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring.  We don't always know how we will pay our bills but we do know that we are living our dreams. Chris and I have always wanted to get a camper, create experiences, travel the country, live on the road and now we are doing just that. It may not be easy, it may not be perfect, and it may not be your way but it is our way and we are doing it. The point is, take the chance, live your dreams and have no regret. Whether it's going to college, moving to a new state, getting married, or traveling to a new country... step out and take the chance. Later on, you will appreciate the risk of trying something new, something different. Get out there, LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Montana's photography in Florida.

Today's blog post is brought to you by Montana. Each and every one of these photos was taken by him, our 9 year old. About three weeks ago, he heard of a story about a 10 year old boy who won one of the most prestigious photography awards ever in nature photography. That was it. Montana saw an image of a boy about his age taking photos of animals such as alligators, snakes, elephants, tigers, fish and so on. He wants that. Montana's loves animals. He loves wildlife. There is no fear in his little body when it comes to wildlife. He asked us if he could do that. Sure!! Heck, I mean, I'm a photographer, Chris and I are artists and Montana is an animal lover. Combine all of those and he should be ahead of the game right? :) Well, I gave him my back up camera and told him to have fun. My only requirement was, DO NOT drop the camera in the water!! I knew he was heading to the water. This kid loves the water and sure enough, he was in the water with stingrays taking images. I have no doubt in my mind that if Montana wants to become a nature photographer, he will do so well. His love and his passion for the outdoors surpasses us all. His greatest passion is telling you exactly how it is. It's saving the animals, it's taking the risk of getting these living creatures out of danger and putting them right where they belong. It's about bringing them home and only he understand this. We believe he has found his passion. 

"Children make their own paths into the unknown, paths that we would never think of making for them."
- John Holt

Thursday, November 20, 2014

RV living in Florida.

Can you believe it? It's almost been a month since we have become Florida dwellers. Much of our days here have been about trying to relax, find work, get caught up on Etsy orders and prepare for upcoming craft shows. The kids have been enjoying the much bigger playground than the previous one and loving all the beaches of course. Luckily for us, the weather here has given us several beach days and a few kayaking days. So far, Florida is becoming a favorite of ours, especially after seeing the rest of the country covered in tons of feet of snow. The past two days have been cold and very very windy. Our cold is not like the cold in Buffalo right now but this is the reason we came south. I don't think our RV would hold up to well in the snow right now and so we are avoiding that at all costs at the moment. 

In the past week, we have really been able to venture out and explore the Space Coast. One day, we took a drive up north towards the Kennedy Space Center. To be honest there isn't much up that way. The kids saw the Disney Cruise Boat and wanted to get on it of course. I mean, we all did. We made it to the Kennedy Space Center but refuse to pay that kind of money to get into a museum. Hopefully a great deal will come along while we live here. The following day we drove south to Sebastian Inlet. It reminded us alot of the Outer Banks with the way the strip of land lays out. We paid to get into the State Park down there which is super popular for fishing. We'd never seen so many fisherman in one location before. Even the boats were all stacked up ontop of one another. The kids thouroughly enjoyed  seeing the fish jumping all over and were able to catch a few crabs. Just from being at the state park we saw a snake, lizards, fish, crabs, turtles, dolphins and numerous kinds of birds. We're still waiting to see some manatees even though the signs state they live among the waters here. Soon. On the way back, we stopped at a turtle rehabilitation center called, Sea Turtle Conservancy It's a small little museum but free and well done. They have numerous hands on activities and the kids thought it was pretty fun. 

We've come to find that it's windy at our campground. Like super duper windy!! When the water on the campground side has white caps forming, it's generally not a good idea to take the kids out in the kayaks. Who knows how far they would end up. We did eventually get to take all the boats out for a few days once the sun came out and the water became relatively flat. When it's nice out, it's nice!! This has been great practice for when the kiddos hit the whitewater come summer. We're hoping to get a few more days of kayaking and paddleboarding in before it really does get too chilly. 

We're super excited that Chris was offered a seasonal job at Target again. I don't think he expected to be going back to Target but it's a great place to work and work is work. So he will officially be decked out in kakhi and red once again. If you didn't know, he was employed with them for 6 years before joining the Army. Melbourne will be home for the next few months and then we will see what's in store for us. 

"you have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's talk roadschool.

So, people want to know about roadschooling. What do we do? What do the kids learn? How exactly are they learning if they aren't sitting at a desk for 8 hours? Let's just say that our kids are learning pretty much anything they want to. They are learning everything from time, to letters, to the way animals migrate. They are learning geography, about rip tides, cooking, dealing with money and mechanics. No, they aren't learning the way kids do in a public school. They don't have weekly tests and quizzes. There is no stress and deadlines. They have freedom and more importantly they actually enjoy their education. Our roadschooling is called life. Their interests dictate the plans for the day. Just like you and I, the kids know what they like and what exactly they want to learn. Based on their likes, we learn anything they want. Kids are no different than adults. I hate chemistry and Chris hates math, but we both love art. We actually met in an art class. We WANTED to study art and we WANTED to learn more about it. Therefore, we chose our path in education based off our likes. Why should kids be any different? Our kids love to learn because they are learning what they want to. To tell you the truth, they don't even really know they are learning because this is their way of life.

We asked the kids a few weeks ago what they wanted to learn or know more about. These were their answers. (with no help from us!)

- science experiments
- tornadoes
- reptiles
- how to cook
- mechanics of the RV
- robots/making things move
- electricity
- fishing
- maps and country flags

- how to read
- how to drive
- play soccer
- cats
- monkeys
- how to surf/paddle board

- how to swim freestyle
- ballet
- about hedgehogs
- about dogs
- pirates
- how to paint
- skateboards
- how to put on makeup

Kids want to learn. It's natural to WANT to know something. However, we are all different. We are people and we have different interests. No two people are the same, not even twins. I can say that, because I have twin brothers and they are so different in many ways. This is why we homeschool. We actually want to give our kids the privilege of learning what they want to and not what they have to. There is no right or wrong way to learn and there is no timeline on education. Who cares if a child learns to read at the age 5 versus age 10. The point is, they learned it. That 10 year may have known their state capitals at the age of 6 instead. Who is better? No one!! They are both learning and they are both succeeding. Education shouldn't be about competition but rather about passion. Our son is dyslexic. He still has the hardest time reading. Phonics do not come easy, letters are backwards and they move before he can sound them out. He is in the "4th grade". Did you know that he can capture snakes, lizards, bugs, butterflies and tell you about all of them? He can also tell you the flags for pretty much all of Europe and many other countries. His passion is about saving wildlife, travel, and geography. It's not reading. If he were in a public school, he would be behind all because of his reading level. Why should he suffer for something that doesn't interest him. Do you or I? After I graduated from college (AFTER) I taught myself photography. I then started my own business where I shot weddings for 7 years. I also taught myself how to start a blog and design it. I then went on to teach myself how to create a children's hair boutique. The point is, if you want to learn it, you WILL. There is no deadline on education and this is our point when educating our kids. What may not interest them now, may interest them later. You will continue to learn as you grow. Education isn't about what others tell you you have to learn but rather about what you learn from pure will.

Here is an example of learning from want and being creative just from pure will. Our daughter, Myla loves art. She is very meticulous when it comes to coloring. From a young age she would color only inside the lines and took the longest time in making sure it was perfect. The other day we went to the beach to look for seashells. I gave them the idea of picking out a few to take home so that we could paint, color and decorate them. I had no idea that Myla found this awesome little seashell. She is our seashell enthusiast however, so it's not shocking. Later that day, I saw a seashell that looked like a rose and asked where that came from. Chris said, Myla colored it all on her own. WOW!! Our 5 year had the thought process to realize that the seashell she found looked like a rose and then went on to color it accordingly. Montana colored all of his seashells as flags from different countries. He is always studying other countries, flags and maps. Makenna, well she was found coloring a few and then was off to climb trees and make new friends. These are the types of projects we strive for our kids to make and do. We want them to learn and to grown from things they see and experience. Kids do not always have to be told what to learn. If we give them the chance, they will tell us.

We give our kids the opportunity to learn pretty much anything they want to. We research, we read, we watch and we do lots of hands on experiments. Some love animals, some love art and some love sports. Chris and I do our best to give them what they want. We do our best to give them the tools they need to learn, to grow and to succeed. If they can figure out how to find the answers, they can truly learn anything.

"Homeschooled children have greater potential to work outside the box because they are educated outside the box." 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hair Bows, Headbands and Craft Shows.

The fast few days have been a whirlwind of catching up on orders and creating new things for the upcoming craft shows. Next month we have two back to back shows that we have to prepare for all while continuing with the Etsy shop. It's something I enjoy doing so I don't mind it in the least. If you know of someone looking for stocking stuffers or sweet headbands for newborns and girls, feel free to send them our way! 

We have since settled into our lovely spot here in Melbourne, Florida and are excited to explore the area once we get the chance. The kids are anxious to go look for manatees and dolphins that swim in the local waters here. Montana has already caught numerous frogs and lizards and was already bit by tons of fire ants. Those little things are a beast! I will post more on our location and what has been going on in the next post. 

"Do more of what makes you happy!"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Broke Down at Disney World

If you've been keeping up with us on facebook, then you would know that we have been broke down in Orlando, FL. I know, I know, what a horrible place to brake down. But in all honestly, it truly is horrible. I mean, the Magic Kingdom is right there and so is Epcot but we can't go because of the cost. It's kind of like dangeling candy infront of a child but never giving it to them. It's not very nice. :) Luckily for us we still have our Busch Gardens Platinum Passes. Praise Jesus!!

Let's jump back to the day we were so blissfully unaware of the problems that were about to bestow upon us. If you remember correctly, we were hanging out in Jacksonville, Fl. The kids were swimming, we were going for walks and watching the sunset. Life was great... finally. Then that next morning all hell broke loose. We started the RV, headed on the highway and things went downhill. Bessie started to act up, she stalled, she broke down, and things flew downhill... fast. In the meantime, Chris and I thought it would be fun to surprise the kids by taking them to the Magic Kingdom to the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Needless to say, it didn't happen. No trick or treating or anything of it's kind happened this year. As we drove onto Disney property, Bessie quite on us. What??? Chris managed to start her and we went on our merry way. Then we parked at Disney's Campground and she just died. She truly quite and would NOT start. I mean, really... at Disney World?? Truth be told, she did die and we had to call a tow truck. People were feeling pretty bad for us. Other campers were coming out and the old guys just stood and stared as they whispered quietly to one another. Getting towed while on "vacation" is not a good thing. Especially when you're in the middle of Disney World. I ended up taking the kids to the pool to swim for the day while Chris dealt with the the "problems". At this point we thought it was the starter. We were hoping for a $500 fix. I mean, that would have been a blessing. So we finished the day swimming and ended up booking a hotel at the Animation Studios Hotel. From here, things continued to go downhill even faster. Get ready...

We swam and swam and swam. The kids loved it. The pools were awesome, the tans were great and we were still somewhat hopeful at this point. That evening we received a call from the mechanic. He told us that Bessie had NO brakes!! The mechanic had NO idea how we made to Orlando alive. Turns out that the brake line was severed and Chris was basically running on imaginary brakes. Thank the Lord we were safe and that we were somewhere amazing. Then we found that one problem lead to another and lead to another. After all was said and done... it was was a $1600 fix. Mind you, we just paid $1200 the week before for a brand new fuel line. This doesn't even fix it all but we will deal with that as time goes on. After 6 nights of hotel hopping and living day by day... We are now in Melbourne, FL and we are safe. We can work, we can live and we can continue to create amazing memories, both great and horrible. :)

These past few weeks have had very many highs and VERY many lows. We have been stressed, we have cried, and we have prayed. This life of living on the road is NOT easy but it is what we want. We KNOW that this is for us. Some friends believe in us and some do not, but either way, we WILL make this life happen. Bessie is all we have and we will put all we have into her. She is our home now and she will make this life happen. The kids are happy, we are happy and we all LOVE to be nomadic. I mean come on, would the "normal" family truly make it by living in the same outfit for days on end and moving from hotel to hotel for over a week? Probably not. We are nomads and we are survivors. Life on the road was meant for us, even the bad and the ugly. The kids never complained. They were fine sleeping on the floor. They were fine wearing the same clothes. They were completely happy and that is all that truly mattered. Oh to be a child. It was Chris and I that had to stress and to worry. It was him and I that had to figure out a plan and ask for help. The kids, they had no worries. They enjoyed their time at Sea World and at Aquatica. They enjoyed the spontaneity of going from place to place. To them, this was an adventure and to us, in some small way, it was as well. In the end, their happiness was and is first. We'll figure this out and life will go on. They will continue to learn, they will continue to grow and we all be closer because of it. Here are to the many nights ahead of us and the many memories we will make. This nomadic life is our life now, follow us.

Our new home for awhile - Melbourne, Florida