Broken Photos!

All my old photos were hosted by PhotoBucket and PhotoBucket recently made a change that took all photos off third party sites so you will see those broken link images all across the internet, including my old traveling pictures 😭

I have to go through my accounts and find each picture so I can replace it manually. It’s a project, and in case I hadn’t mentioned . . . we’re in the middle of a GIANT MOVE (with kids)!

So the old pictures will have to wait until we’ve settled in to our new place.

For new posts, there will be no problem so you can follow along on our adventure!

Too Comfortable?

Can you be too comfortable?

When we get really comfortable, are we still growing? I think we humans thrive on constant challenges. That’s why routines start to feel like ruts. And you start to wonder if this is really all there is to life.

All of which is to say, it’s time for us to move again!

What’s Going On

I haven’t blogged here for years. This blog was intended to document our nomadic life when our family of five lived in a 22′ RV and traveled the country, rarely staying in the same spot two nights in a row.

Our original adventure in 2011

That was a great adventure. It was also sooo hard. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m pretty sure that easy is to adventure as parmesan is to spaghetti (oh, I should mention here that I loathe parmesan cheese).

And we were so ready after that adventure to accept my parents’ invitation to move in with them and have some stability, a couch, and the ability to plug things in whenever we wanted. My parents are angels. I absolutely could not have imagined any better parents.

While we were here, we expanded our business teaching and selling woven baby wraps for parents who want to keep their baby close to their heart. We were able to reach vastly more people with the incredible benefits of baby wrapping, and we made a ton of friends.

While we were here, our kids experienced school for the first time and then experienced being taken out of school to homeschool.

While we were here, our children grew from ages 2, 3, and 8 to ages 6, 7, and 12. They learned to ride bikes, bake cookies, and play chess. They have swum in the Gulf of Mexico, splashed in rain puddles, caught frogs, caught lizards, and spent lots of time with friends.

We're A Little Wild...

A lot has changed.

The Next Great Adventure

We are moving onto some land in the mountains of New Mexico!

We cannot wait to finally get to experience country life as we’ve wanted to since we had kids. We’re looking forward to mountains and forests. And seasons! Spring, Autumn, and Winter have been missing from our lives for too long!

Why Not Make it Really Uncomfortable Exciting?

Oh, yeah. The home that is available for us to move into is a beautiful one room cabin with skylights and a wood stove but no electricity and no plumbing.

So that should be interesting.

A Corner of the Cabin Waiting For Us

Keeping Up Wrap Your Baby

While we are physically moving in a very drastic way, our family business – Wrap Your Baby – is not going anywhere 🙂

You will still find all the wrapping resources that you need at WrapYourBaby.com

Diana, owner of Wrap Your Baby

You will still be able to buy high-quality, comfortable, and beautiful wraps from us. We will use solar panels to power our computers so we can receive orders and answer questions.

We will have to go a little farther to get your packages to the US postal service, but we are willing to do that every day for you ❤️

You’ll Have To Forgive Me

Benny the Brave in the desert

I am finding it impossible to report on our doings at all, and the other day I realized why.  I was marking down an appointment towards the end of January in my calendar, and as I looked down at the month of January, I saw that we had been in Albequerque on the 3rd.

Albequerque!  Then Flagstaff, Arizona.  The Grand Canyon. Phoenix. Los Angeles. Santa Cruz Mountains. San Francisco. San Jose. Sausalito. Nevada City. Tomorrow Sacramento.

It seems like ages ago we were in Albequerque, but it’s only been weeks.  When we travel, we have so many new experiences, and see so many new and remarkable sights, that we’re fooled into thinking it’s been a year.  Our minds aren’t used to so many different things happening in such quick succession.

So, a lot is happening.  And every single day, whether we’re spending the day at the Grand Canyon or a city park, we are feeding, clothing, unclothing, reclothing, preparing food for, feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.
There are no breaks.  We’re lucky to get ourselves fed, dressed, and brushed.  We’re lucky to get a few hours sleep between coaxing the last one to sleep and rising with the first one to wake.

And a walk down the block takes twenty times as long as it does for a couple without kids so all of our trips are day-long.  And at least some portion of each trip will involve the kicking and screaming of one who doesn’t want to stay off the wall, out of the glass shop, or generally head in the same direction as the rest of us, so a lot of the time we spend doing the other things is also spent exercising amazing patience and deep depths of unconditional love.

And every trip requires the packing of diapers for two, wipes and a wet bag, water for all, snacks for three, spare coats/gloves/pants/hats/shoes.  And this packing must occur while feeding, pottying, diapering, handwashing the dishes for, handwashing the laundry for, tooth brushing, hairbrushing, reading to, soothing, feeding, shopping for, storing the leftovers from, cleaning up after, singing lullabyes to, and feeding the seven year old, two year old, and nine month old.

Did I mention that we are also executing a musical tour, finding time to rehearse, sending out press releases, and scheduling other bands; while simultaneously running an internet business, answering daily customer communications, taking orders, mailing products, and hosting a busy Facebook page?

I have such dreams and plans.  There is much I want to create and accomplish.

But, new plan.  Survive right now.

Take pictures when possible and blog later.

In the meantime, will you join me on a new Facebook page for our travels?  I’d love to develop Free Range Dreams into a community of people encouraging and supporting each other, sharing resources and stories, each becoming stronger by being surrounded by other dreamers who are working towards dreams . . . but as per the above, I’m going to stick with the real small and impress myself by just posting daily photos and updates on my family and our status re: exploring this great wide country!

Free Range Dreams on Facebook

Window Shopping For the Soul

People Art

I’ve always had a tough time resisting buying little, cool, one-of-a-kind things that are full of grace and character, and are usually handmade.  It is a cheaper shopping habit than most, but it still owns a bit more of the consumer attitude than I’d like to think I’m victim to.

It took selling or giving away 90% of our possessions, short-selling our house and beautiful yard, and packing up for a year of travel, but I have experienced the most pleasant shift in my shopping habits.

I still drool over amazing items, but I don’t have to resist them anymore.  Because I have no way to get them and no where to put them, they have lost their irresistible control over me.
Not only am I physically free of the burdens of ownership, I appear to be emotionally free, as well.  I am content.  At peace.

So now when I see amazing examples of artistic functionality, I think excitedly, “When we have a house, I want to have something like that for the kitchen/by the door/in the hall . . .”

And that simple decision fills me with all the satisfaction I used to get from purchasing the things.  Turns out it was never the things themselves that made me happy, but the decision to love that item, to make it (spiritually) mine and claim it for the aesthetic chambers of my heart.

So now I gain incredible delight from beautifully crafted things whether I leave them in the bargain basket of the antique shop, whether I find them in other people’s homes, or whether they sit in a shop window with a four-digit price tag.

In letting go of all the stuff, I have allowed myself to own the whole world, if I want it.  My arms are opened wide!

Peace

The Country Mystique

Beautiful Fruit Orchard

For years now, I’ve been wanting to move to the country where neighbors are just out of sight, there is no traffic, and there is open space for the soul!

At this point in my travels I’ve had a revelation.  I love the idea of growing my own food, but there are things I would rather spend my time doing.  There are things I want to paint, and things I want to write.  There are online communities I want to create and foster and imbue with life and energy. there are projects uncountable I want to undertake with my kids, and travels to avail myself of with my husband.

At this moment I want a home that will be most fulfilling for childrearing and for my children themselves.  I want cozy and beautiful but not time intensive. I want busy but not hectic.  I want every one of us to be pursuing our passions.  I want us not tied up with house and yard maintenance, farming or cooking or cleaning.  All of those things are good, but when they come at the expense of what you are meant to be doing, the joy of them will rot and life becomes a drudgery.

I want to live close enough to town that we don’t have to drive to get there.  And I want it to be a town I LOVE.

I want dance classes and flute lessons for Ada.  I want lots of friends–the wonderful, forever, deep-down kind of friends, not mere acquaintances and nice neighbors.  And I want my kids to be able to walk to their friends’ houses, and the library, and beautiful parks or creeks, or woods.

I want local farms to buy from or trade with, and for my kids to spend time on.

I want stunning scenery as a backdrop to my life.

I want the kind of culture that is full of theatre troops and homeschool entrepreneurships. Surprising people with varied experiences and conclusions, and new ideas and great, glowing projects that rip across your day or your life with the tremendous energy of their ingenuity.  I want diversity and trades, and people to apprentice with.

I’m not describing country life…

I want alternative design and alternative energy. I want sustainability and self-sufficiency. I want the time, money and energy not spent on a mortgage and utilities to be available for crafting and art, for trading with or buying from local artisans, for soul food, and theatre and classes, bright ideas and daring endeavors!

Don’t let anyone say wanting is not a valuable pasttime.  It proves the world contains beautiful possibilities and it fuels the human intellect.  It is both the reason for and the result of our imaginations. Don’t forget to ask yourself what you want.

Dedicated to Amanda, who is invited to join me anytime.  Remember when we had this written on our dormroom wall?

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

Petrified Wood

7 year old discovering petrified wood in Arizona

In Arizona, Ada and I were thrilled to find both Kokopelli and petrified wood.  If you don’t have time for the Petrified Forest, don’t worry.  The stuff is everywhere and how cool is it that trees from the Triassic Period were preserved all this time by Nature for us to marvel at or study (depending on your inclination) today and tomorrow, too?

These trees must have been submerged in water or mud before they deteriorated.  The individual cells deteriorated anyway, leaving hollow husks that filled with mineral rich water and when the water evaporated, the minerals hardened in the tree-cells so that now we have rocks that are also trees.  I can hardly stand it, it’s so cool!

By the way, the brown color of the tree cells is replaced with whatever color is the predominant color of the mineral that took it’s place.  Iron is red, for example. Calcium is white.  Some of the trees contain veritable rainbows–shocking color revealed at the slice like a geode!

petrified tree stumps

colors in petrified wood

What It’s All About…

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We’re hitting the road again and this time we’ll be crossing the SouthWest with our quarter-dozen children ranging from 7 months to 7 years.  The trip is planned out: David has a tour booked all across our route and we know where we need to be each day to stay on track.  We’ll look for state and national parks to camp in, farms and wineries to stay at, and hope for plenty of boondocking opportunities.

I’m not half caught up reporting on our adventures from our trip earlier this year, and I hope to keep up better this time.  We learned a lot from our first trip and hope that we’ve managed to better organize time and possessions this go-round.

I hope my stories can shed some light on how it is possible to live unconventionally despite the peer pressure, and I hope you, too, are pursuing your dreams instead of your neighbor’s 🙂

Big Family; Small (motor)Home

Baby sleeping in baby hammock in motorhome.

We just put up the cloth cradle we’ve intended to use from the beginning.  It’s a baby hammock, designed to be baby’s bed, and my wonderful husband hung it over our bed in Benny so that now, it is possible to put Cassidy (6 months) in the hammock, and then (until Annabelle–22 months–joins us sometime in the night) the mommy and the daddy can be alone in the bed.  The luxury of having no one but the two of us in our full size bed cannot be overstated.  We can both lay flat on our backs if we want to, without our shoulders overlapping!

Sometimes when Annabelle creeps into our bed in the middle of the night, David will switch ends of the bed so that he and Annabelle have their heads at the foot of the bed, and their feet (David’s more than Annabelle’s) next to my head.  This helps because feet are narrower than shoulders.

When Cassidy wakes in the night, I bring him down into the bed with me to nurse.  Since the hammock is just two feet above our bed, I barely have to sit up to accomplish this.  When he’s done nursing I either do nothing because I am asleep, or I can put him back in the hammock and enjoy the more room in the bed.

There is an entire other bed that Ada too often gets completely to herself while the rest of us play puzzle pieces in our bed.  The table and benches convert into a bed that the girls share–Ada at one end, and Annabelle at the other.  I guess I should be grateful that Ada stays in that one, at least!

Baby in Baby Hammock above bed.

Home Again

Benny the Brave at "home"
Well, we’re home now. This house in Clearwater isn’t supposed to be home anymore, but it’s difficult to loose the habit of calling it that.  We have an offer on the house, for less than the amount of the mortgage, and we’re waiting to hear from the bank whether they will accept it as payment in full. So, until they see fit to assign a negotiator and render a decision, it’s still our house.  Somewhere to park Benny with electricity, not to mention a full kitchen and two bathrooms! The rest of the rooms are mostly empty, which turns out to be the perfect set up for us.  This is as child-proof as houses get!

So we’re spending as much time as we can with family, though our parents and my sister all work and are busy so it’s mostly one or two evenings a week.  Never enough!

We’ve decided to stay through Thanksgiving so that we can spend that holiday all together as a family since we won’t be around for Christmas.  When David first suggested this I was shocked. Three months?! It took us so long to get going and now after less than three months of travel we’re supposed to take a break for three months?

But that also gives us time to prepare for the next leg of our journey.

While we’re “home” David is working construction three days a week.  Unfortunately, this is just like it was before and I have to fight against the returning sensation of desperation to change our life.  This time it’s temporary, and optional.  But I don’t like his being away from us for so much of our lives, and I don’t like the way my kids get short-changed by my inability to give them all the attention they need at once because I am, however hard I try to be more, just one parent.

Annabelle is very hands on.  She can be quite solitary, and is not clingy, but she needs constant supervision to keep her and the things around her safe from her climbing, pulling, tearing, and otherwise exploring of the world.  She also needs hugs when she (frequently) bumps her knee or her noggin, and she needs cuddling when it’s been a long day and her personal powerful tensions are running high, and she needs to be put on the potty, and have diapers put on and taken off her, and she often wants shoes put on, or socks, or jackets, or random clothes, or a doll wrapped on her, or a glass of milk, or to be provided with food or put into or taken out of the bath, or to be yanked out of the path of oncoming traffic.

She’s one, and she’s just dependant!

And Cassidy, of course, is an infant.  So hands-on should go without saying.  And I don’t wish either one of them was different, or easier, I just wish that our lives were arranged in a way that facilitated all the many needs of my children in such a way as they could follow their age-appropriate behaviors to their hearts content.

Ada IS self-sufficient to an extent, but I still must make sure she is eating and sleeping and hugging and resting enough that she stays pleasant and sensible, else I regret it in a powerful way.  And I want more time to spend with her that is usually tied up juggling the little ones.

So, I know, quit complaining.  My lot is the lot of many a mother of multiple children.  I could have had one or two children and stopped there.  I could send them to school, or daycare.  I’m the one choosing to be home with three young children.  Yes, it’s true.

It’s like this: I don’t think my kids are less fortunate than others, but I do want more for them.  I envision a really, really safe place, with lots of inherent activities of interesting natures, and I envision both their daddy and I there to spend time and the world with them.  And this is segueing into an entirely ‘nother post I intend to write about my vision.  For now, sufficient to say I don’t like sending David away to work every day as I feel it compromises my children’s quality of life, not to mention his and mine.  We are happier together J

Getting back on track, while we’re in Clearwater David will be working three days a week making money.  Two days a week he will dedicate to music, booking his tour across the southwest and up the west coast (our trip set to begin in early December), booking and playing local gigs, writing newsletters to his mailing list, updating websites, etc.

Evenings and weekends are to be kept free for family time, and in all honestly this will be tons more leisure time than we have on the road.  That, too, is another post.

While we’re here I plan to:

  • Catch up on all the blog posts I haven’t written for the trip we just finished.
  • Look into getting some advertising for this blog.
  • Launch a facebook page for Free Range Dreams where I can post a picture and update every day.
  • Order winter inventory for my Wrap Your Baby business.
  • Look into advertising for the Wrap Your Baby blog.
  • Set up Quickbooks to keep track of Wrap Your Baby business.
  • Announce winners for a Wrap Your Baby photo contest that has been running for over a month now.
  • Use the photo submissions to create an educational wrap video (not RAP video).
  • Contact the Bureau of Land Management about land where RVers are allowed to dry camp free.

But you may have noticed that my evenings and weekends are reserved for leisure.  Hard to argue with, but difficult to reconcile with all I need to get done when you consider that the rest of my time is spent with a seven year old, one year old, and five month old.  And really, there’s more to the to-do list:

  • Change RV insurance carriers.
  • Change banks (ours just instituted monthly fees and fees for debit usage).
  • Get Benny a mechanical check-up and tune-up.
  • Paint Benny to get him looking two decades younger.
  • Re-organize our things inside Benny so that it works better.
  • Have Ada do a communication course at our church.
  • Have me do a time-management course at our church (yeah, I could use that).
  • Dentist appointments for me and for Ada.

And three months begins to sound like a very short span of time.  If only David wasn’t spending five days a week away from us!

Give Me Spots on My Apples, but Leave Me the Birds and the Bees…Please!

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I tend to let my children go out and adventure without hovering, and moreso with each child. A few weeks ago when her sister was chasing her over the sidewalk, Annabelle had a terrible spill and scraped up her lovely face: nose, lips, and chin all lost the top layer of skin and generated tiny beads of blood for a few days.

But it wasn’t because I wasn’t standing close by on the monkey bars, or standing preventatively below the opening in the jungle gym. It wasn’t because I let her climb fences, balance on curbs, or walk on walls. It was just simple running on the safe, flat ground.

So in a way, this accident reassured me that I wasn’t a neglectful mom. Because I can’t prevent injury and literal defacement. I can make sure she doesn’t fall off the swing by forbidding her from riding on swings, but I can’t prevent her from falling at all, so what’s the point?

It is my firm belief that it is more important for kids to have freedom than to be kept safe. It is from freedom that they will cultivate an ability to keep themselves safe, whereas the other method would leave them unprepared for the world, and worse, might convince them that they are delicate.

And isn’t that sort of the same lesson that led our family on the road in the first place? Weighing safety and reliability against freedom, freedom won. And what happens when you rely too heavily on the predictability of a weekly or monthly salary and then the sidewalk comes up and smacks you anyway, in the form of layoffs, or unexpected medical bills and you still have all those credit card bills and a home equity line? Mightn’t it be safer to plan on unpredictability? Mightn’t it be better to run on the sidewalk and get a hug with every inevitable tumble?

*This post was actually written a few months ago but I just found the picture to go with it :)*