Permission to Relax

Belle at the beach

I’m starting to think that when all the work of preparing for serenity becomes stressful, I’m doing something wrong.  Shouldn’t serenity be one of those things that you don’t have to prepare for?  Can’t I find serenity and then expect the logistics to fall into place BECAUSE I’m serene?

After a tearful morning, I’ve realized that for me, yes, the answer is to be serene, not to work harder towards serenity.  The love of friends and family has calmed me down, and I’ve made some decisions that will lighten the stress.  If this blog is about chasing dreams, I would officially like to propose that actions (and thought processes) which make you feel peaceful will bring you nearer your dreams than those that are “productive” but stressful.  I encourage anyone reading (whether you’re to the point of tears or not) to look at what is making life difficult and resolve to let it be easier.  Not lazier, but more peaceful.

Be willing to let go of some plans.  Maybe letting go is a better plan.

When my actions are better aligned to my intentions, I am actually more productive, because I am excited and energized and the things I work on actually lead to the results I care about.  I just wanted to share.

What About Family?

Our Family

This is the big question for us.  Family is what brought David and I to Clearwater years ago, which was a lucky thing because that’s where we met and fell in love.  Family is what has kept us in Florida for seven or so years, even though neither of us actually want to live here.  So don’t think we are giving up family lightly.

Both my parents and his live here, and we are very close to all four of them, as well as my sister who has been a most wonderful aunt and godmother.

Hugging her Aunt Cake

Better yet, they are all friends with each other and our birthday and holiday celebrations tend to be combined, and lots of fun.  Ada LOVES her grandparents.  She loves overnights at Grandma’s house and the days she spends with Grammy, too.

Gardening with Grandma

She loves being teased by her grandfathers and sitting on their laps.

Ada and Granddaddy

Annabelle has turned the corner too, from the clinging-to-mommy baby to a toddler who lights up when she sees her grandparents, coming forward with arms spread to be picked up.  I really want my children to have this relationship with their grandparents.  I feel impossibly lucky that my children have four grandparents who are so wonderful, who respect our wishes, and who were just the sort of parents to us that we want to be to our kids.

Baby on Shoulders

And then there’s the convenience.  On the road, we will NEVER have a babysitter.  Never an overnight at grandma’s house so David and I can go out alone.  So we are aware that we will feel the sting of that slightly-more-selfish sacrifice as well.

Annabelle with Grammy

The grandparents are not happy about our taking their kiddos away.  And the last thing we want to do is seem uncaring (because we love you guys so much) or ungrateful for all they’ve done and for being there all the time.  And yes, it gives me great pause to think that we will have a newborn that will not be growing up seeing these wonderful grandparents regularly.

Baby and Grandma

BUT . . . we cannot go on living an unfulfilled daily grind for the once or twice a week that we have a fullfilling family day.  We will not forgo the adventure of travel because our 9-5 lives have one highlight.  We are not weighing the value of grandparent time against the thrill of the Grand Canyon or Old Faithful, because both are valuable and should be experienced.  And that’s why . . .

We are seriously compromising our travel agenda with plans to get back to Clearwater Florida and it’s natural wonders (four amazing grandparents and one stellar aunt) every few months.  I hope our families will see this for the genuine appreciation it is.  Three months is hardly long enough to get halfway across the country the way we want to travel, but instead we’ll be planning to set out and get back in that span of time for Ada’s birthday celebration.  Clearwater Florida is the opposite of centrally located.  Getting anywhere and back is a waste of a lot of the nation, but worth it because we don’t intend to deprive our children from sleepovers and Grammy days, and we do want our new baby growing up knowing his or her grandparents.  And because, as wonderful as they are, it’s the least we can do.

And we hope the grandparents will see fit to come have some adventures with us.  Maybe my parents would take a vacation to Yellowstone with us and have an adventure with their grandchildren, one in which they spend every day together for a week, instead of one day out of the week.  Surely that would help to make up for our absences.  Maybe Grammy and Granddaddy’s business trip to Colorado could coincide with our travels, and we could even travel down to New Mexico together and they could be there when their grandchildren first discover desert.

Maybe such concentrated grandparent-grandchild time will be more rewarding than now when we try to fit each other into our work weeks.  And maybe David and I can go out on a date, too 😉

Grandparents
Grammy and Granddaddy with their son and their grandgirls.

The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.  ~Dodie Smith

Apollo Beach and Lithia Springs Park

Lithia Springs Park
Lithia Springs Park (Hillsborough County Park)

Yes, it’s taken us a month to get away for our first weekend in Benny!

This was our first time really using Benny as a home.  We’ve turned on the lights now and then, and the toilet’s been used several times in my weekday activities with two kids.  But we really needed to get away and use all the systems in order to learn how to use them.

We started out with a trip to Apollo Beach to see the manatees that hang out in the warm waters of the TECO plant during the winter months:

TECO smokestacks
TECO smokestacks--surprisingly aesthetic on this beautiful day
TECO solar panels
Part of Tampa Electric's largest solar panel array.

manatees at Apollo Beach
Millions of Manatees!
TECO manatees
Us girls in front of the manatee viewing.
David and Ada at the manatee viewing
David and Ada at the manatee viewing

happy passengers
Happy Passengers

Florida Mesa
I didn't know we had mesas in Florida?

Then we drove to a county park to spend the night:

hooked up motorhome
Benny hooked up to a campground for the first time.

Lithia Springs Park trail
Exploring the Park

Lithia Springs Park Trail
Exploring the Park

Family at Lithia Springs Park
I LOVE THIS MAN!

He made my weekend.  He did all of the man stuff–propane, hookups, driving, navigating–and most of my half of the work too–carrying children, cooking dinner, washing dishes, reading stories, sweeping, etc.  I got a much needed break, even though he probably needed one just as much.  David, you are my valentine 😉

At dusk we were back at the campsite:

Hooking Up the Water Hose
Ada helped David hook us up to the campground water.

one year old eating watermelon
We enjoyed some watermelon.
dinner in motorhome
David made dinner (our first time cooking in the RV).
Dinette Bed
We made the dinette into Ada's bed for the first time.
motorhome bed
Our Cozy Bed in the Morning Sunlight
Toddler Walk
Setting Out on a Morning Walk

walking

Waldorf Doll
Ada takes such good care of her littlest sister!
Lithia Spring
Natural Warm Spring is 76 degrees, year round.

Lithia Spring
Not warm enough on this chilly morning!
girls behind fence
Poor Caged Children

My favorite part of our short stint living in the RV was how easy it was to focus.  Instead of going looking for Ada to come brush her teeth in the morning, potentially getting sidetracked by an emergency diaper change or potty trip, a spilled cup of water, the ringing phone, and Annabelle’s finally being unable to wait to nurse any longer . . . instead of all that, I just said, “Ada, come here–let’s brush our teeth.”  And there she was.  And while we were there, I brushed my hair and hers.  Then we prepared breakfast, and cleaned up breakfast.  And keeping an eye on the children was built in because they were RIGHT THERE interacting with us.

One thing at a time.  Easy peasy.

In a moment of too much honesty, I will report that mine and Ada’s hair don’t necessarily get brushed every day because the children get hungry and I have to start cooking, then we’re late for wherever we’re supposed to be first, and I haven’t sliced apples and prepared other snacks to bring with us, and Annabelle needs to be redirected away from the oven, and someone gets hurt and needs comforting (even though I need to be stirring the scrambled eggs), and on, and on.

Having all of our family activities in 176 sq ft (and that includes beds, cabinets, engines and drivers seats), brought a level of simplicity (although it reeked slightly of randomity) that I appreciated.

Ada with Winnebago
Ada and Benny

What if you just took a month long trip?

What if, instead of renting out our house and living in our MotorHome fulltime while traveling the United States, we just saved up money and went for a month long trip?

Honestly, I’m not sure how to answer this question.  What if we did?  Then we would probably have a very nice vacation, not get very far from home (driving only a few hours a day), and come back and resume living in our house and sending David to his 9-5.

Never mind the fact that we have no way to save up money for a month long trip because we use it to pay our mortgage and groceries.  But playing along with the “what if” I reply with the above scenario.

But are you asking whether we are interested in doing that?  Whether it will fill any of our needs or wants?  Whether it could replace the plan of living on the road?  Of course not.  Are you implying that it is a better plan than re-inventing our lives?  Better in what way?  What problem are we trying to solve here?

Because I don’t have any problem with the plan to live fulltime on the road.  It’s not that we’re getting evicted and have nowhere to live but our vehicle.  It’s not that all my friends are doing it and I’m under some sort of fulltime peer pressure.  And it’s not a mid-life crisis.

The fact is, that we have formed a plan that is our ideal scene, that fits with our goals and purposes, that inspires and excites us, and that solves the problems we have with our more conventional home, lifestyle, and schedule.

So don’t worry about it.  We’ve solved the problems, and there’s nothing left to solve.  We’re just revving up now for the grand adventure we can’t wait to embark upon.

Don’t worry.  It’s not a mistake, it’s an adventure, and I refuse not to make mistakes OR have adventures so don’t try to talk me out of it.

I know that the people who want to live fulltime in a motorhome with children are few and far between, so I can imagine that to most of you, this doesn’t sound ideal.  But it does to us.  It’s not a life that will be tough but we’re going to man up and live with it because of whatever-old-reason.  It’s what we dream of doing, and we’ve decided that dreams were made for doing.

Don’t worry.  And thank you for your concern and your love.  And if you have any more theoretical lifestyles to propose to us, perhaps an explanation of what you think would appeal to us about it?  So we have some idea how to answer, “What if?”

The Plan

My perfect husband, our two amazing daughters, my belly and I are going to move into a 22′ MotorHome named Benny.  We are trading in all our savings for Benny because, well, we’d rather be traveling than staying at home with savings.  David is going to quit his day job and be a musician.  I am going to take my wrap business with us on the road.  And the soon-to-be-five-of-us will spend our days together on a journey of adventure, discovery, and living our passions.  I can think of nothing more educational for me or my kids.

Problems to solve (and here “problem” is not a dirty word, but part of the fun, challenging nature of the beast):

  • Rent our house out for enough money to cover our mortgage payments.
  • Find a home for our cat, who was our first baby and is more than just our cat.
  • Earn money to pay for six months of RV insurance, cell phone and internet service, and an emergency fund.

One of my favorite things to do is simplify.  This doesn’t mean lack of ambition, by the way.  It means that everything you do is part of your dream and aiming at your goal, and the other things . . . have been simplified away.

Ways that the new lifestyle will simplify our lives:

  • no more lugging gabillions of things from my house to my car and back everyday, while carrying a one year old, and no more tremendously messy, disorganized car because I can only carry so many of them back to the house again when we get home.  Instead, everything we need will come with us . . . . neatly put away in it’s drawer at home.
  • no more dragging worn out kids on another errand.  They can stay home with one of us in the parking lot of the errand that the other one of us runs in to do.
  • no more having to walk away from my six year old while she’s talking to me and she has to chase after me to finish.  In our tiny home, all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, diapers, and babycare will happen in one place and I can keep up with things while staying in her line of sight.
  • no wondering if my one year old is climbing a bookshelf in the other room while I’m nursing the baby in the living room.  The living room IS the other room, and whatever she falls off of, I’ll only have to extend my arm to catch her!
  • no more scheduling meals and lives around my husband’s 9-5.  We’ll sleep, cook, eat, and play when convenient.
  • no more waiting for daddy to come home and missing him all day.
  • no trying to figure out how to take care of a newborn and a one year old all by myself.
  • no more wondering how to go turn off the burner in the kitchen with a sleeping child on my lap.  Two parents will make everything easier.
  • no more endless hours of cleaning just to get it up to the point of “messy.”  With so few things, and such small space, cleaning will take 5 minutes.
  • no more of our life taken up paying the mortgage.  Instead we’ll spend our money on festivals, concerts, events, and attractions that we can’t resist.
  • no worrying about my husband being able to work the next day if we have a rough night.  We can take turns sleeping in, or nap during the day as needed.

Things that I can’t tell you yet how they will work, but I look forward to finding out:

  • Nighttime parenting of a newborn and a one year old who still wakes several times a night in a single room domicile.
  • Nighttime parenting when our RV is parked near neighboring RVs that expect “quiet hours” to be respected.
  • Driving for hours a day with 3 children aged new, one, and six.
  • Running two businesses and storing inventory in a 22 foot home that only has two dresser drawers for the five of us to share.
  • Fitting our clothing, a few toys, musical equipment, CD inventory, wrap inventory, a laptop, 3 books, kitchenware, towels, diapers for two, coats and jackets, barbecue, box of important files, first aid kit, games, arts & crafts, printer, car seats, tools, camera and video camera, bedding, and my wraps in the rig.
  • Finding a post office in every town to ship out products to customers.
  • Rainy days or sick days spent at home.
  • Finding hours each day for David to work on his music.