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!

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

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!

Ada

Photobucket

She’ll be seven years old in just one month and she is the most kind, thoughtful, sweet and caring girl I could have hoped for. When I ask her if she will get my sandals, hold my purse, or hold her brother, she responds with a sweet, “Of course!”

Annabelle adores her sister and chats with her and calls to her constantly, and Ada is nearly always willing to answer her, play with her, or read to her. In fact, she loves having Annabelle as a playmate and spends a lot of her time describing to me the very detailed make-believe that the two of them are engaged in, what roles they are playing, how their outfits are appropriate, etc.

Ada’s world is better than ours because it is so heavily decorated with imagination. Her fantasies are charming and important to her. They came with her when we left the home for the motorhome.

You know how noteworthy people, when they relate their childhood stories, always say of their extraordinary childhoods that they just thought it was normal because it was all they knew? Well, I have a new theory that kids will think what they are doing is normal, even if they have known something else. Ada lived in the same house her whole life until now, but this fulltime RV business hasn’t tripped her up in the least. I think that at her age, she is still living in the NOW. Whatever is happening now is normal, even if it never happened before and it’s not happening to anyone else.

Maybe it’s because a young child’s world is so often out of their control. What is a mundane trip to the bank for me, comes out of the blue when I announce we’re going, and suddenly she’s swept up in putting away books, putting on shoes, and getting in her booster seat. Just like when I announce it’s time to get out and see Niagara Falls. What seemed obvious and predictable to me isn’t to her because I don’t always remember to share my plans and thoughts with her. So in a way, unpredictable is normal.

Ada has been looking forward to our getting on the road, and now she is enjoying the millions of stars in the black night on the Catskills, the Tansies on a Vermont roadside, the people we are visiting and those we are meeting everywhere, and every yellow car we see on the way. She is writing letters to friends and family about the highlights, which are never the ones I expect, and she is planning with eager anticipation a reunion with her best friend again when we go through Florida.

Cassidy

Ah child of countless trees, ah child of boundless seas…

Photobucket

Cassidy always struck me as a little Buddah baby and that impression remains now that he’s growing up. I can’t pinpoint what it is. It’s not that he doesn’t cry, because he does. But his general disposition is jolly and easy going and he seems to have such a peaceful center. We could use a little peace around here after high-strung number one, and dictator-of-the-universe number two.

Cassidy does not enjoy his carseat. None of our babies have. I hate them myself. Something about strapping down a helpless, crying person just doesn’t set well with me, call me a hippie though you will.

But he usually falls asleep quickly once we are underway, so there is a relief from the awfulness of not going to your crying baby. In fact, he’s an all around quick going-to-sleeper. He’s found his fingers and sucking them soothes him. I was big on ecological breastfeeding with Annabelle, but in my current life I can only appreciate a self-soother.

He’s also my first baby who recognizes nighttime. It always made sense to me that a baby might not be naturally predisposed to recognize nighttime as any different than daytime (especially in our indoor and electric light culture), so I was surprised when Cassidy fell into a pattern of sleep around 9pm, and persisted in sleep so deeply that he didn’t mind my putting him down (a rarity in his early days), but continued to sleep soundly for many hours. This was very handy at home when I was the only parent trying to parent three kids to sleep at once!

He wakes less at night than my prior babies, and when he’s done nursing he just goes back to sleep, though during daylight hours he is a very light sleeper (unless the engine is running and we’re speeding down the interstate). But somehow I don’t live in fear of his waking like I sometimes have of other babies, because he often wakes to a pleasantly quiet alert state and if he does need more sleep, he slips back into it easily.

He does like being held, which you can hardly resent when he’s such a pleasure to hold and beams joyously at you when you pick him up. And besides it is his right as an infant to be in arms as often as we can manage. So after waking, he chills a bit, then starts complaining and if you don’t hop to, you get a real wail to pick him up.

Cassidy particularly enjoys lying outside naked and wiggling all his parts joyfully up at the sun and the trees.

Ada often goes to be with Cassidy when I’ve left him wiggling on the bed, and I find her holding or hugging him, or telling him the names of his toes. When he cries she picks him up and sings to him. Sometimes I catch Annabelle’s having climbed onto him without anyone’s noticing, and she pokes and prods and grabs with real hearty affection, and I pull her off in anticipation of screams of pain only to find that he is grinning widely in enjoyment. I can count on one hand the number of times he has laughed out loud and the most recent time was when his sisters both congregated around him on the bed to take turns blowing raspberries on his tiny tummy, and then Annabelle threw a cotton wipe onto his face and Ada pulled it off and he laughed, and both of the girls did, too. I delight in their delight of each other.

And for him, there hasn’t been much adjustment to make to our nomadic life…he’s living in the same arms he was back home, surrounded by all the same voices, and really, we’ve been living in this motorhome since before he was born, even if it was in one spot.

Annabelle

Photobucket

Annabelle was eighteen months old when we left, was adjusting to being a big sister, and starting to talk. A couple of weeks into our adventure I decided to wean her. She was having a really rough time sharing nursing with our new baby and there was a lot of screaming and thrashing involved when I wanted to finish nursing Cassidy before nursing her. It seemed to me that it would be easier for her to accept never nursing, rather than sometimes nursing with no prediction of when she would be allowed to and when the baby would bump her from that esteemed position.

So the next time she asked to nurse I told her that our baby only eats mommy’s milk, but Annabelle gets to eat all sorts of delicious things, naming several of her favorites. So, I told her, we were going to let the baby do the nursing, and instead of nursing she and I would do hugs, and kisses, cuddling, and this little piggy. We’d read books and tickle each other.

I didn’t expect this to have much affect right away, but I wanted to start the discussion and gradually distract her more and more away from nursing. Instead, she accepted what I told her and turned her attention to something else. So we didn’t nurse that time, and the next time she asked, we had the same conversation, and she accepted it, and we haven’t nursed since.

That’s right, cold turkey, tear free weaning! I was shocked.

She was already not nursing to sleep at night—she had taken to nursing almost to sleep, then suddenly shaking herself wide awake and ready to play. So removing nursing from our night time routine was actually helpful. It was like cutting out her midnight caffeine drink.

She wasn’t nursing down for naps either because she had developed the habit of falling asleep while driving.  So that wasn’t a problem.

Nursing as a heal-all is always nice, but Annabelle had become accustomed to going to David when she was hurt or upset, as I usually had a baby in my arms and on my breast. Or else she would let me hug her against me and the nursing baby. We had already stopped using nursing to heal all.

Annabelle is extremely hale and strong and eats a large and varied diet, so while my milk has beneficial qualities that cannot be replaced by anything else on earth, I was not concerned with her nutritional needs being met, and I felt happy with the benefits she had already gleaned from our nursing relationship.

Maybe because I already have another nursling, I did not mourn the end of this part of our relationship at all. The only twinge of regret I may have felt was for the tandem nursing relationship I had expected Annabelle and Cassidy to have as tandem nurslings. However, their relationship is already strong and adorable and full of love, so I can let that go.

Annabelle is a complete daddy’s girl, in part due to the fact of having become a big sister at so young an age (although she and her daddy were close from the beginning). The timing was not ideal in many ways, but at the same time, I cannot believe it is anything but perfect because it is what it is, and we all have so much love and gain so much joy from the fact of each other member in our family that there can be no concern that our situation or any of our decisions is less than exactly what they should be, even if they are different from the choices my peers would make in a similar situation.

And here I want to give a shout out to my peers without whose love I might not be so comfortable in myself and my choices and instincts (waves to peers).

The only time when Annabelle’s having weaned was inconvenient was several weeks later when she was sick for the first time since weaning. Cassidy got a very mild cold that didn’t bother him, and I think that it was the breastmilk that got him through it so easily. Annabelle was sick for a whole week and felt miserable with a high fever, cough, and vomiting. But she got through and is back to her all-too-energetic self!

Energetically dissassembling all our pens (and sometimes dropping them down the AC vents in the dashboard, I finally figured out), emptying every wipe out of the drawer of wipes, spooning yogurt into her mouth, and other places, emptying the glove compartment, ripping the toilet paper holder from the wall (screws and all)…Annabelle is a handful!

She accepts each new place matter of factly and without apparent surprise and with the same eagerness to get out and go. She enjoys playing with Ada in the RV, or gong on excursions in all the new places. She mostly wants to be put down to get into mischief and resists getting picked up, unless it’s inconvenient, and then she needs to be in arms right away.

She is quick to protest, and loud, and can be quite dramatic, but she is secretly easy going and reasonable and relatively easy to sooth and restore to good spirits or to gain cooperation from.

She sleeps head to foot with Ada in their bed, but usually wakes at some point in the night and one of us (David) has to get up and cuddle her back to sleep, or else we’re too tired to get up and she climbs into our bed which is way too crowded. It’s full size, and so are we, with two adults and a baby already!

So how is she adjusting to fulltime RVing?  She is happy and thriving, and getting more attention from her parents than they had at “home” so for Annabelle, life is good!

One week to takeoff!

Counting Down!

  • Roof vent cover replaced.
  • Roof painted (twice) with sealant.
  • Benny checked out with mechanic.
  • Benny checked out again with electrical mechanic.
  • Birth certificates acquired for everyone.
  • Passport sent for.
  • Drivers license renewed.
  • Car sold.
  • Work van sold.
  • Utilities canceled as of 17 June.

Still to do:

  • pack every last thing in Benny except for…
  • things taken to charity thrift store and…
  • things stored with friends and family.
  • Give away pantry items that don’t fit in Benny.
  • Clean house.
  • Test roof for leaks.
  • Replace spare tire.
  • Fix kids’ window.
  • Replace one light fixture with fan/light combo.
  • Change oil.
  • Find vegetable oil to fill both tanks to capacity.
  • Install toilet lock and oven lock for Annabelle’s benefit!
  • Get box made to fit on hitch haul with veggie oil tank.
  • Pack tools in box.
  • Post things for sale on Craigslist and if they don’t sell by next week…
  • Add things to pile for charity.
  • Find farms to stay at en route.
  • Plan visits with friends along route.
  • Locate state and national parks and forests to camp in.
  • Locate good, cheap RV parks to stay in once a week for recharging batteries and dumping tanks.
  • Identify attractions to see along route.
  • Find books to read with Ada about the places we’ll be visiting.
  • Send posters and other promotional material to venues.
  • Continue booking shows farther North and then along return route.
  • Get PA speakers fixed.
  • Install Quickbooks on laptop and set up two businesses.
  • Copy CDs onto computer and store CDs.
  • Scan copies of birth certificates and other documents into computer and…
  • sell scanner.
  • Transfer contents of computer to laptop and…
  • Sell computer.
  • Change address of LLC.
  • Register new address with City of Clearwater, bank, and other business entities.
  • File change of address with post office.
  • Supply parents with several postage paid envelopes to send us our mail in monthly.
  • Pay insurance and phone/internet up through October.
  • Bring beloved kitty Throckmorton to new (wonderful) family—our dear friends who will love and feed her until we come back for her.

Why is my second list so much longer? And only a week left—yikes!

Everything but the kitchen sink!

This is our last week.  Way too much to do.  I’m waiting for David to get home from his last day of work (!) and then I’m hoping he can post a bunch of stuff on Craigslist WHILE watching the kids so I can make dinner and simultaneously pack our kitchen into Benny.

Our Kitchen in the house
A picture of our kitchen from this one time when it was clean.

Once I’ve packed our kitchen into Benny, I’ll know what’s left.  Pantry items will be donated to our parents or thrown away.  Fridge items will stay in the fridge until we leave, and then anything left will probably be thrown away.  I hope to use it all.  Dishes, pans and containers that don’t go in Benny will be donated.

Theoretically I could get the whole kitchen done tonight (I’ve been working on it for months, so it’s not THAT impressive), but only if David comes home soon because it’s almost 6pm at 8pm, I start getting kids to bed . . .

June 17th…

…is the day we leave Clearwater!  We’re getting really excited and have way too much to do!

So, come June 17th, what will be doing, exactly?

We will be following David’s gigs in our motorhome, as that’s our purpose for going on the road.  But I plan to make a list of things I really want us to do and see on the way so we can plan the tour to allow for those things, which will include but not be limited to:

  • visiting Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg
  • exploring some caverns complete with stalagmites and stalactites
  • day trip to NYC
  • day trip to Washington DC
  • going through the Athens/Princeton WV area
  • visiting a whole bunch of precious people who are scattered along our general route

We have a museum membership that has an excellent reciprocal program around the nation, meaning that we get in free to kids museums and science museums in all the states we’re traveling through.

We also plan to spend our days learning about the unique culture of the different states, cities and towns we traverse, visiting their tourist highlights, participating in their festivals and events, and finding examples of their industry (such as fishing piers or maple syrup taps). I’m also very interested in taking Ada (my 6 year old) to sites of historical significance, such as Gettysburg.

We plan to spend most of our time outside of the RV when we’re not driving or sleeping. We’ll cook meals ourselves, but that can be done outside, or else one of us can take the kids outside while the other does food prep. Nights spent at Walmart may find us parked at a public playground while dinner is made, retiring to the parking lot only at bed time. I could even make dinner while David and the kids buy groceries, and then we could eat in Benny in the parking lot… Other than cooking, our days will be split up by periods of driving as well as errands in new towns and fun explorations. I anticipate keeping very busy.

We plan to visit family and friends all along our route and we plan to make new friends, too!

Yes, between waking up, eating breakfast, driving, doing errands/exploring the town, having lunch, driving, doing a fun thing (museum/hike/playground/farm/statue of liberty), having dinner, playing music, working (blogging/customer correspondence/booking gigs/playing gigs/logging sales/facebook), and daily chores (dishes/laundry/bathing everyone), I expect us to have busy days and fall into bed with loud plops each night.