I have had a panic attack about every 3 days when the thought of homeschooling this year creeps up on me.  It's not that it's particularly difficult (uhhh..it is.  but not as difficult as I would have liked to make it our first year) it's just that I had no.idea. what we were going to do.  Violet is so different from GraceAnne and our lives are so different than they were 2 years ago. 

So after 60 days of panic, I knew that my requirements were these:
  1. Few physical books, since we will have to fit everything in the Suburban as we travel
  2. A traditional math curricula that could be challenging enough for GraceAnne, but simple enough for Violet.  Preferably from the same company so that I could get the hang of the teaching style
  3. Integrated learning into daily life so that we don't feel consumed by the work
  4. Non-traditional ways of learning because we are just a bunch of non-traditional people
  5. Not completely reliant on technology, since I don't know if we will always have access to internet
I read a few blogs, researched unschooling, looked at online curricula, but answers were really eluding me, so last week I looked up the minimum learning requirements for their grades in Kansas.   First, can I say it was a huge relief to look at the lists and realize that the kids already had a lot of the stuff down?  If we are completely consumed with our travels this year, we will pretty much be okay.

Second, it really helped me to see that all the things they need to learn are so simple to integrate into daily life.  I have the benefit of being a "veteran" homeschooler at this point and I've learned countless lessons as far as what works for our family and what doesn't, but I still sometimes suffer from "it must look like public school or it doesn't count."  That is so not true it isn't even funny.  In fact, my kids learn better when I teach them to count collecting eggs from the hens or teach them to add fractions by doubling a recipe to share with friends.  In GraceAnne's case, she absorbs more from her books if she is sitting outside to read them with one leg kicked up over something and her head hanging downward.  Violet needs more relational teaching than a classroom setting allows for and Corbin?  Well, sometimes Corbin needs to be beaten.  (Totally kidding, no child abuse in *this* family)

Maybe I should have started off this way.  I have always read my magazines backwards and done my math problems backwards, there's something about thinking ahead to the end goal and then setting the plans that just makes me able to get a handle on it.  I probably could have spared myself a lot of stress, but at any rate, we've finally arrived here:
  1. We have a lot of our Richard Scarrey books still, which the littles love to learn from.  I only have plans to order one Science book.  We will utilize the library wherever we are at for books we can't download on the nook.  The nooks will be our workhorses this year.  (we have 2 nook HD+ that we specifically got for this school year)
  2. Bob Jones math has great reviews from moms with non-traditional learners.  I think the 4th and K courses will be perfect for us.  Thankfully math curricula only consist of 2 books.
  3. I have practiced seeking more learning opportunities and asking lots of questions to engage the kids in their surroundings.  We live in a pretty historic area right now, so this has been very easy.  The kids are also very good at asking leading questions and love to learn.  Lucky!
  4. We sing a lot of lessons.  Violet learns very well in song.  I let the kids dictate how the day will go for the most part.  i.e. "We have ABC and XYZ to do.  How do you want to accomplish this?"  That in itself is a great learning tool for kids.
  5. The nook books will be downloaded, so we will have access to them even without a wifi connection.  The littles use ABCmouse.com and GraceAnne is going to keep a blog, both we can do at the library a few times a week.  Of course we'll have the physical books wherever we go and since we're focusing on integrated learning, that can happen anywhere with no physical tools.  
This year I'm going to be keeping track of what we do on different days and logging hours and whatnot.  Even though Kansas doesn't require us to do those things, (our home state for all intents and purposes right now) I want to make sure I have all my ends tied up nicely "just in case."

Oh, and for anyone curious, for 1st and 2nd grade, GraceAnne and I did Sonlight, which was positively, absolutely FABULOUS for her and for me.  It is definitely not something we can do right now because it is incredibly literature heavy (part of why we loved it and GraceAnne reads well above her grade level thanks to Sonlight!) and we just can't carry that many books with us on our travels.  But we do highly recommend the curriculum to others and it's a great way to get your feet wet as a homeschooler.  I call it "dummy-proof."  There's lots of room to be creative, but it's also all spelled out for you if you need that kind of structure/guidance.  We did actually consider buying the teacher's guides only and downloading all the books onto the nook, but we felt it just wasn't right for us this year.

So for fun, what do you think you would do if you were going to homeschool your kids from the road?  Would you stick to the 3Rs?  How would you integrate extra-curriculars?  What parts of it would scare you?  What parts do you think you and your children would really enjoy?


Autumn Encroaches?

Summer is my very favorite.  Even when we lived in Texas I loved summer.  In fact, in high school. my forest green backpack had "Terra est laeta en aestatem" scrawled on it in white-out pen.  (It means Tara is happy in the summer in Latin.  Don't beat me up if it's slightly incorrect, I was a first year student when I wrote it.)  Ever since I can remember I have this strange mixture of emotions toward autumn.  On the one hand I love it-for all the reasons everyone loves it-but on the other hand I feel like a piece of me is dying.  I tend to have horrific nightmares in the cooler weather and I am *not* a fan of cold and snow autumn hints toward.

This year, our summer has been absolutely glorious.  We have visited new places, explored a lot of the state of New York, eaten more than our share of ice cream, swam to our hearts content, relaxed and looked hard for fun to suck the marrow out of every day before Allan leaves.  The days have been slow and lazy.  Some months seem like they may never end and we're all okay with that.  So when the first signs of autumn started creeping in, I ignored them.

First there was the fully stocked Farmer's Market.  That's not too difficult to ignore, I lived in Texas and Kansas for the last 8 years, so these types of veggies and fruits at the stands signify time to start fall planting (and several more weeks of warm) for me. 
Then the trees started putting on the glitz, but I ignored them for a few weeks, wondering to myself if there was some NNY tree disease to cause the leaves to go brown and yellow in August.

Buuuuuut, after seeing the following today, I don't think I can ignore it anymore.
It started innocently enough.  I had to make some copies and the only place around here to do that is the library.  I figured the kids could use a good walk, so we headed out.  The temperature today is only in the 70's.  On the way out of the complex we live in, the kids asked to stop and get an apple.  From the grocery store?  No...from the tree across the road.

They've been eating apples off that tree for a couple weeks now, but today the apples were large, plump and very clearly ripe-the insides no longer pale green, but a healthy white color.  They made me think of apple pies and apple dumplings and cinnamon and...well, autumn treats!

When we got to the library, it was completely empty, like a ghost town.  My first thought was that we were in luck, but as I got to thinking about it, I realized that the local kids are probably in school.  We sat to read some books together after I made my copies and it occurred to me I really should have my plan for schooling these kids ready.  (don't freak, I do have a tentative plan and we will probably start it next Monday.  Further, we are *always* looking for teaching moments, so they're okay.)
I could hardly drag them away from the library, so I bribed them with some time at the park. On our way we enjoyed a cool breeze and found the park deserted.  Another reminder that the rest of the world spins on and moves forward while we are trying to freeze summer and our last days with daddy.
We only have a few precious weeks left.  Plans are making themselves without our consent.  This weekend we will move into the last beach house of summer.  In a few short weeks we'll celebrate an early Thanksgiving with some of Allan's family.  Only a few weeks after that we'll spend a glorious week off work somewhere to celebrate an early Christmas before we send him off.  By that time, the leaves will be ablaze, no doubt and I will be far past deluding myself with my jeans and jacket on.

We have found ourselves getting antsy in anticipation.  Occasionally we take note of the passing time and feel very sad.  Sometimes we feel angry as time flies by and yet we have no new answers.  Other times we feel nostalgic, knowing that we will regret it if we ignore the moments we've been gifted with before he has to go.  If I'm not careful, I find myself sinking into sadness at what is to come.  I've struggled with autumn anyhow, so adding a deployment to the mix doesn't make me want to embrace the changing seasons.

But my promise to my family is to not get caught up in the busy-ness this season is trying to thrust on me, but to look up at the colors, down at the littles, feel the cool air, bake and smell the cinnamon, give thanks for these moments and, as autumn encroaches, pray for many, many more to come.


A Quick Trip-Following Up

Click HERE to see the first post about the fly-by-night (literally) trip we took to KS and back last week.

We are home now and have actually had a full night's sleep, so I feel okay to post about the trip.  Ultimately, it was a huge success, but I promise the kids and I will never road-trip that way when Dad is deployed!  He is such a trooper.

On Monday, Allan took a shot of NyQuil and took a few hours of a nap.  While he was sleeping, I finished loading the Suburban and getting the kids fed, bathed and in jammies.  We took off at around 7:30p.

The kids were amped up and excited, so they didn't fall asleep until much later than usual, but they slept well in the car that night. 

Allan and I swapped out around 6am and he got a few winks in.  While I'm grateful the kids sleep well in the car, I tend not to.  Allan made a lot of fun of me because everytime we'd hit a bump in the road I would shoot straight up out of the reclined seat and look around to figure out what was happening.  When I saw we were still on the road, I'd lay back down and roll over.  Evidently I provided a lot of entertainment to him on that long, dark drive.

But-it would seem Allan sleeps well in the car, too.
Despite excited kiddies fussing and chatting in the car.  They were pretty close to his ears, too, since they all 3 started off in the middle row.  We had the back loaded down with all the things we were taking back to storage...everything is a preparation for deployment now.

The kids and I stopped in Illinois to get some breakfast and one practice I have so that they can work out some wiggles and Allan can rest is I take them on a walk.  We parked in a local McDonald's parking lot and walked about a 1/4 mile to the closest WalMart, where we picked up some gluten-free breakfast items.  They were able to jump and run and work out some anxiety that way and Allan got some rest.  He took over the wheel again when we left and I napped, (pensively, haha) between there and Missouri.
We opted for no-screens on this trip.  Typically they have their Nintendo DS, Nook HD+ and my old iPhone loaded with games, but this time we just took books and coloring stuff.  It still worked out very well.  The kids are versatile and I'm grateful for that.

We had made tentative plans to stay in St Louis Tuesday afternoon and evening, but ended up feeling good enough to get all the way to Kansas without stopping.  It worked out great for us because we got to unload our cargo into storage and meet up with a friend and her kids at a playland.  Thankfully, we were able to stay with another friend while we were there and didn't incur hotel costs this time.  Since we got there early, the 2 days we stayed felt pretty relaxed, despite being jam-packed.

The kids saw their Primary Care Manager on Wednesday and we accomplished everything we had been hoping to accomplish.

Since Violet had a really bad reaction to her very first bee-sting this summer, we had hoped to be referred to an allergist when we go back.  The Dr did us one better and sent in the referral as well as prescribed an epi-pen since we will be traveling so much.  She read my mind, I was nervous she'd be stung again and we'd be in a new-to-us place far from doctors.  In the research we did, we found that if a child is allergic, the first sting is a moderate reaction and the subsequent sting can be up to 60% worse.  It's a relief to have the epi-pens with us in case she experiences anaphylaxis next time.

We were also able to get Corbin and GraceAnne's physicals done and we got another referral to behavioral health to see if what we've been dealing with in Violet is actually Autism as we suspect.   It was a very productive doctor visit and the kids and I will be very busy when we go back in November. 
Again, since we had gotten a lot of what we needed to get done accomplished the day before, we got to actually rest and have some fun with our friends Wednesday night.  They live on a nice sized parcel of land with gardens, cats, a dog and quails (they raise them to release into the wild) so everyone was in heaven.
It really is such a relief to have friends who love our kids like we do.  Everyone got lawn mower AND tractor rides, petted baby quails and made kitties purr (and scratch), ran and jumped and played.  It was a great trip.  Super bonus, while were there we asked our lovely hosts if they knew of anyone with a guest house or mother-in-law apartment we could use for when we have to come back in November.  They had actually just stayed at a camp resort with a 4 season cabin and suggested we look around.  We did and hit the jackpot!  We struck a great deal with the manager and now the kids and I have a "base of operations" for while Allan is deployed.  I can't tell you what a relief that is.  

On Thursday morning our hostess made us an amazing breakfast of bacon, Scrapple (her husband is from PA like Allan's mom's family and they send him homemade goodies.  Allan was in 7th heaven, I'm pretty sure) and gluten-free cereal and then we took off to see Corbin's surgeon.  For our new readers, Corbin has suffered from a condition called Dacryocystis since he was 4 months old.  It's basically a really hellacious clogged tear duct.  To date, he has had 5 surgeries (he is 3) and will have at least one more spring of next year to remove the plastic tubing he had placed last March.  THIS is an earlier post about one of his previous surgeries.  I don't actually have any posts from his big surgery because we were fostering a 16-year-old and her 4-month-old son at the time and we couldn't talk in public about them.  Since they were a big part of the week Corbin was in the hospital, I just stayed quiet.  

Dacryocystitis is a fairly rare condition made even more rare by his young age and persistant problems with it.  In March they performed a "last-straw" emergency-type surgery to hopefully cure the problem.  They don't like to do these surgeries (a DCR surgery) on children under 5, but so far he has healed and recovered beautifully.  We have to see the surgeon every 3 months until the next surgery, hence our trips back to KS. 


A Great Traveling, GF Recipe

GF=gluten free.  Last November my dad died of cancers that everyone is pretty sure stemmed directly from unchecked celiac disease.  In January, we were all having some stomach issues, but especially me.  In April we decided to cut out gluten to see if it could help.  It did.  Infinitely.  We've found that 3 of the 5 of us are at the very least sensitive to gluten, if we're not celiac.  So we stay away and we also treasure recipes that are easy, healthy and delicious.  (note: people new to GF, not all GF foods are healthy.  In fact, they are usually MORE processed and cruddy than the items you're trying to replace.  Be careful.)

In April, I took a GF cooking class at Whole Foods in Kansas.  I had a great time and found our favorite ever granola bar recipe.  I do mean EVER.  That it's GF is just a bonus.

Granola "Traveling" Bars
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
2/3 cup maple syrup, honey, sorghum syrup or barley malt combo.  (I always use honey & maple syrup)
2 Tbsp black strap molasses
1 cup GF oats, ground to a fine powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup more GF oats
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 cup puffed millet
1/3 cup hemp or flax seeds, or a combo, whole and ground
2/3 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup sunflower seeds
2/3 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup dried tart cherries, raisins or cranberries
(or about 2.5 cups any combo of nut, seeds and dried fruit)

Tara's Note: Allan and I love this recipe as is, but we found the littles were put off by the pumpkin seeds and cherries, so I upped the other grains/seeds and added rainbow, chocolate covered sunflower seeds.  They are stoked.  It adds a bit more sugar, but not much and it gets the other good stuff in their bodies without fuss. MOM WIN!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Warm oil, syrup & molasses in a stainless bowl over very low heat.

In a food processor or blender, grind first cup of oats to a flour.  Add salt and soda and grind again to combine.  Add ingredients one at a time and pulse to chop and combine.  You want nuts and fruits chopped, but still have some shape.

Add the dry ingredients to warmed wet ingredients.  Mix with a strong spatula, the mixture will be stiff and dry.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Press the mixture firmly onto the paper.  It should be very dense and compact.  (wetting your fingers helps)

Bake 13-18 minutes or until lightly browned and puffy.  Immediately remove bars by pulling parchment with bars onto cutting board.  Cool 5 minutes.

Cut into rectangles while still warm.  Allow to cool completely on parchment.  Remove and store in ziploc bag.

We were told these would last a couple weeks in the fridge.  We haven't had them last so long, so we don't know.  They travel great.  Some of ours on the last trip got a bit crumbly...seems to me they were begging to be crumbled over some yogurt or into a bowl of milk for breakfast.  YUM! 


A Quick Trip

Today is a restful, yet busy day.  Allan has been taking a course that keeps him gone all day, so it's been up to me to prepare.  This is difficult only because I am not preparing for *me* to drive, I'm preparing for him, so I'm not sure what to do.  Typically, he likes to drive at night when the kids sleep, roads are less crowded and the temperatures are cooler.  He also likes to make "straight-through" drives, where I prefer to not go insane in a car. 

There really isn't much choice but to do it his way for this trip, anyway.  We need to be in Kansas to see Corbin's surgeon and get the kids' well-visits done.  We don't want to take too many vacation days so that we can enjoy some time with Allan before deployment. 

Preparations so far consist of deciding to take the Suburban, (more comfy and we need to take the bikes back to storage) mapping out a route, calculating gas costs and making lists.  and more lists.

Like what we're doing with our precious few hours in Kansas, the items we need to pick up while we're there, (organic staples cost a lot more here, we will pick them up at Costco while we're in the midwest) what snacks and activities to pack for the kids, etc.

Does your family make quick trips like these?  What are your favorite ways to deal with long trips in the car with kids that need to happen quickly?   Do you prefer to drive straight-through or make the road trip the adventure? 


Traveling with Littles

I have heard some people say that we might be out of our minds for choosing to live a mobile lifestyle for a while.  That they couldn't do it.  I'm not sure why they believe that, but I thought I might write out a few reasons we are a good family for this trip and a few secrets we have to make our trips run as smoothly as possible.

I am not currently a professional traveler, but Allan and I have certainly taken our fair share of trips in our 10 years together.  Since I despise flying with a fiery passion and Allan actually enjoys driving, most of those trips have been by car.  In our first 9 months together, before GraceAnne was born, we were in 28 states.  The first year of GraceAnne's life was primarily spent in a car and she was in 19 states before her first birthday.  We would stick close to home for a while and about every 6 months we felt a call to be on the road again.

We settled down a bit more while we lived in Texas between '06 and '12, but our form of entertainment was still going for drives.  We got to see a lot of that big state.

We are lucky in one area, though...all of our kids are road warriors.  Well, all but the biggest one.  Since she's not here often, we get off the hook.  Each one of our children has always enjoyed being in the car.  That's not to say they've always been angels or that they don't get antsy and screamy from time to time, but overall, they enjoy a good road trip.

They also think hotels are the bees knees.  Throw in a continental breakfast and a little cable TV and we may as well be the richest people on planet earth.

I'd like to give some tips for how we get through long trips in this post.  I can't promise these things will work for our big trip, and I will update as we go, but some of them should help if you decide to take a small adventure finding roadtrip.

Backpacks.  Now that the girls are a bit older (9 & 5) I have them pack their own backpacks.  I think backpacks are absolutely essential for people who travel.  #1. the kids feel special and get to bring a bit of home with them.  #2.  they can carry their own crap when we stop in the middle of the night and I have a sleeping pre-schooler in my arms.  #3. all those pockets and zippers are so cool!  Let's me stress: I think backpacks are so important that I spend a little extra on the ones that will last.  Typically I buy our kids EastPaks since they have a lifetime warranty, but you can see in the picture that Violet is currently toting a SkipHop.  

I tell them *what* to pack, but they pack it.  I don't care if it's folded or crammed in (though I make it a point to explain to them if they fold they will have more room for fun stuff) if what they wear on the trip is wrinkled to crap or has iron plaits.  As long as they have as many clean outfits as we are gone days (if we won't have access to laundry facilities) plus 2 extra pairs of undies and socks, I'm good.  With the extra space they are allowed to pack some special little toys.  BTW-this is quality homeschooling, folks.  They are learning serious life skills here.  If you stop to think about it, it takes a lot of forethought and planning to pack for a trip.  They are learning to think critically and plan ahead, to count and match outfits, separate the truly important from the less important and to plan for the unexpected.  Sometimes we take knowledge like that for granted, but fail to realize we learned these skills somewhere too.  (or maybe we didn't and we're terrible at packing)

Totes.  Totes, coolers, bins, bags, boxes, jars, etc. are a love of mine.  They hold things neatly together, but the things inside don't have to be so neat.  I have a creative mind, so organization is not something that comes easily to me.  If I can throw all the coloring accoutrement into one tote, put a lid on it and have it look great, I am a happy camper.  I like to find totes I can stick in obscure places in the car to keep things that make kids happy on long trips like coloring books, crayons, books to read, small games to help with motor skills, stickers, etc. 
There are some obvious benefits here, as in the items don't slide up to the front seat and get between the brake pedal and the floor, but the more obscure benefits are that you can clean up the car in a flash during potty breaks and you can pack a few new things in each tote, rotating them out as the kids get bored.  If you find the right tote, they fit great under seats or in trunks. 

I am the queen of buying new coloring books and crayons for our trips.  Sometimes my husband fusses about this, but the fact is, for a few bucks, the kids are entertained for hours.  The peace is well worth it to me.  My latest obsession and "need" are the new color sticks by Crayola.  They color like colored pencils, so they don't melt in the car or color on the upholstery, but there's no wood casing, so they don't need me to sharpen them every 5 minutes.  Genius.  I don't actually own any right now *sad* we used them at the Crayola store in KC before we left and I've been obsessed with getting some since.  Soon.

Snacks.  I like to pack as many easy snacks as we can, knowing that we will stop for big meals.  We try to avoid sugary drinks and snacks, as all that extra energy in children strapped to chairs is just bad ju-ju.  We opt for things like nuts, apples, pasture-raised beef jerky, bottles of water, granola bars and the like. I try to stick to high protein snacks-to keep our blood sugar at an even keel between stops.  If anyone feels the need for something sweet, Hail Merry's macaroons do a great job and are healthy too.  When we do stop, I pick a place where the kids can either run like crazy or it won't matter if they are maniacs.  Think: Chick-fil-A with a playland or a buffet, where everyone is pretty classy anyway, so we totally fit in after 3 days on the road. (disclaimer: this is NOT easy to do with dietary restrictions, but we make the best of it.  I have an iphone app called "find me GF" and we look for places with whole food GF choices first.) 

But I think the biggest tip of all is to run the trip around the kids.  Consider into the trip the time it will take to get there with the ages of children you have.  Mapquest makes it so tidy, doesn't it?  It gives you 3 different options, within a few minutes of each other.  They tell you the trip will take 12h16m if you take the scenic route and never need to pee or eat or get gas.  What they also don't account for is the 5 different bodies in the car (or 6 or 7 or or or) who have needs independent of the driver's.  It can be difficult, but put yourself in the position of the little people.  It's hard enough, as adults, to road-trip, but to be a tiny person, staring out the window for hours while strapped tightly into a chair can get old really fast.  Plan for 20 minute stops when you fuel up so everyone can *try* to go potty and stretch their legs a bit.  Plan for a few extra dollars to buy something silly once in a while.  It's amazing what a new trinket can do.  (note: we do not bust our budget on dumb souveniers.  Typically they are expensive,we have limited space and the kids are usually bored with this stuff quickly.  A good example of a new trinket could be those magic marker boards they sell at most truck stops or a new toy car.  They are cheap, don't take up much space, fun and if they get destroyed it's no big deal)  Plan for extended lunch breaks and at least try to spend them in a play land or a park so the kids can get some exercize and air. 

So those are some of my biggest road trip helps.  What are yours?  Do your kids like being in the car or are they miserable just thinking about it.  What are your biggest pet-peeves about long trips?


Keeping Healthy on the Road

This post is not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any ailment.  I have done loads of research, but I am not a medical doctor, and my opinion is just that: opinion.  Please do your own research and consult a physician before taking your family's health and well-being into your own hands.

Since we left our home in Kansas, we have considered ourselves "on the road." For all intents and purposes, we remain Kansas state residents.  (I will discuss that in a later post.)  While there are many  benefits and reasons for us keeping our residency in KS, one of the downfalls is that we are not near our PCMs (Primary Care Managers).  I don't want to cause undue worry, so know that we can seek out care when we need it and that we are taking the kids back frequently for visits.  

Nevertheless, our focus is on staying as healthy as possible for the duration of our travels.  This has been an extensive area of conversation and intentionality, so I thought it good to share what tactics we are employing to stay in as good a physical condition as possible so we can enjoy life on the road to the fullest.

First, we take a close look at our diet and figure out where we can add things that will help our bodies perform optimally. 
In this photo are some of our favorite "add-ins."  Coconut oil, cinnamon, raw local honey and garlic are all great ingredients to boost immunity.  Between them, they have components that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and have tons of other benefits.  These ingredients are also delicious and easy to add to your diet through recipes you already love. (though eating them raw increases their absorption and effectiveness in the GI tract) We buy organic fruits and veggies to keep as many chemicals as possible out of our bodies and we only eat local, pasture-raised meats and drink raw milk. If I cannot find these things locally, we opt for other alternatives.  

Next, we supplement with things that we don't necessarily get enough of in our every-day diets.
I love my "lady herb tinctures" from Meadow Mountain Herbs.  They have regulated my cycles and hormones which has been a huge help to me!  I was having some problems earlier this year that could have become pretty serious, but these tinctures have helped me feel great and keep the baddies at bay. 

We also utilize DoTERRA's essential oils to keep us healthy and to help with symptoms when we have issues.  I love this brand because they are certified pure and are okay for ingestion.  Most EOs are not okay for ingesting, so do your research!  This morning I dabbed some peppermint oil on my neck and drank a couple drops of the OnGuard blend for this stinky headcold/hay fever I have going on.  (yes, I recognize the irony of writing a post on keeping healthy while I feel crummy. haha) Violet and Corbin are wearing Lemon oil on some warts and Violet has lavender oil on her arm to help her recover from her bee sting.  

I am hoping to add to these supplements a fermented cod liver oil and high-vitamin butter oil to keep our teeth healthy and strong.

In spite of all this, there are times we need to understand how to treat and dress wounds.  Earlier I referenced Violet getting stung by a bee.  It was her first sting and she had a moderately severe reaction. For situations like this, that are serious but not life threatening, a great medicine chest/first aid kit and working knowledge of wound treatment/dressing are essential.  
We keep children's Benadryl, Tylenol and Advil on hand.  We also stock creams and ointments (organic where possible) and have a homemade first-aid kit on hand.  I actually have a kit in every vehicle and in our home.  We keep our medicines locked up in a fishing tackle box.  I can't take credit for these ideas, they were actually required for us to be licensed as a foster home and we liked the ideas, so we keep up with them.  

I also feel it's essential to keep abreast on first-aid practices (we are licensed in that, too.  I highly suggest you also get certified.  You never know when you will use the info you learn) and I am fairly certain I would fit in as a surgeon if I had the desire to go to school or work outside of home.  I only mean that I'm good at  cleaning and dressing wounds and take a lot of pride in it.

Finally, and probably most importantly, we make sure everyone is drinking a lot of fresh, pure water.  Water flushes toxins out of the system and keeps your cells hydrated to do their job. Our bodies were designed to heal.  In fact, if you are alive and reading this, your body is healing and regenerating on some level right this minute.  Pretty amazing, huh!?

I would be remiss to also not mention that is is absolutely essential for us to know our limits.  If you do not take the time to recognize when something is over your pay-grade, the effects could be devastating.  Had Violet developed hives or had trouble breathing after being stung, or had the red streaks continued past her elbow, we would have needed to seek emergency treatment right away, as the situation could have been fatal at that point.  If a bone is sticking out of the side of your leg, no amount of essential oil, wound dressing or dietary additions are going to get you better until the bones are set.  So please, set out to know your limits and stick to them.  Use natural cures or helps when possible, but don't worship at the altar of healthy living, rebuking all professional help.  There is a reason some people are gifted at healing.  ;) 

There you have it! Our family's guide to staying healthy as naturally as possible while traveling.

Do you have questions?  Suggestions?  Be sure to leave a message and let us know! 


Prepping for Launch

It would appear that it is time to stop lazing about for summer and begin prepping for our travels.  So far we have discussed things like:

  • What to do with Grandma's car while Allan is gone
  • Our first destination
  • Should we get a pop-up camper 
  • What kind of computer/mobile internet will we need
  • What type of curriculum to use while road-schooling (or should we research unschooling)
  • Staying healthy on the road, naturally
  • The logistics of 3 of the 4 of us being gluten intolerant and traveling
  • What does eating organically/locally look like on the road
  • What are some things we want the kids to experience
  • Who should we visit
  • Who to contact for sponsorships

This list goes on and on.  Honestly, we haven't really come up with many answers, only theories.  I suppose that is to be expected since this is our first time living on the road and since this has required serious paradigm shifts for everyone involved.

Such as?  Well, 1 year ago we "knew" these things about our life and family:

  • We lived in Kansas
  • We would adopt
  • Allan would be a prosthetist
  • We would farm
  • We were involved in church
  • GraceAnne was in public school
  • Corbin needed to be close to his surgeon
  • The kids and I didn't want to move again for a LONG, LONG time
As you can see, a few things have been flip-turned upside down.  We're here writing our way through it, documenting with pictures and hope you'll join us on this new phase in our life.  If you search the blog archives you'll see how far our little family has come.  I used to consider a lot of it failure, but now I just see it as learning, growing opportunities.  We have learned, we have grown and we will continue to do so.  Our family is your resident expert on "going with the flow."  

Check out the tabs above and introduce yourself below in the comments section.  We look forward to getting to know you!


Step by Step

It seems that God has spent a lot of time and effort teaching me to take life one step at a time.  Lately the theme has been GRACE.

If you're not where you want to be, show yourself some GRACE.

If your family is not moving as quickly as you'd like them to, show them some GRACE.

If you feel guilty and tired and depressed, accept GRACE.

So on and so forth. 

As a general rule, I like to have some idea of what my life will look like in the coming weeks and months.  I'm a terrible planner (always have been) and I'm the kind of person who works well under pressure-so I tend to put things off, but just comlpetely not knowing what in the world is going on with our lives is kinda crazy. 

And yet this is what we're signing up for.  I know that Allan is *supposed* to deploy to Afghanistan.  I also know that in the last 9 months we thought he was going to Africa and Afghanistan (once before) and neither happened.  So while it seems like a pretty sure bet, it's never a guarantee. 

I know that when he deploys, the kids and I have no one place we'd like to stay.  We are currently in Northern New York, and while we all adore it for summer, autumn is coming fast and furious and winter will be around the corner.  If you don't know this about me already, let me just emphasize...I do NOT like winter.  Snow is great for the month of December and then I am DONE.  So I know that when he goes we *will* leave, but we're not sure where yet, because we don't know when he's leaving.

I also know that we will have to decide what to do about homeschooling soon.  I haven't had a reliable enough computer to comfortably research all of my options.  I know that while we all love Sonlight, I can't carry boxes and boxes of books with me.  I have considered purchasing the curricula (4th and K, oh my goodness!) teacher's guides and just downloading all the books onto our Nooks (I got 2 Nook HD+ tablets to help with our  homeschooling plans.  It looks like school will "start" while Allan is still here, so I feel a need to "get on it." 

Our current (liquid) plan past deployment is to travel wherever we want when the opportunity arises.  I've looked at vacation rentals (during the off-season it's fairly inexpensive to live in beach houses!) and I've looked at house sitting, but I can't really decide on anything hard and fast since we don't have a leave date yet.  I am also considering a pop-up camper to tow behind the suburban, for a few reasons.
1.  We will always have a place to stay, even while we're on the road
2.  It won't increase our gas mileage much, since it is light
3.  They are short enough in stature that I could see behind me and actually feel comfortable towing it.  I am not a fan of towing things and I cannot back up with a trailer.  This seems like a good compromise.  Anyone out there ever have one?  What was your opinion?

A little bit more recent than those plans, though...we will be in Kansas for a couple days this month to see Corbin's surgeon and to visit the pediatrician.  Since we are going to be "transient" we are keeping the kids' PCM and surgeon.  That means we will travel back every 3 months to see the surgeon and pick up supplies (turns out there is no Costco here and NNY is much more expensive than other places we've lived.) 

We are also planning to move to a new house at the end of this month.  We found a place that is right on the water (as in, step off the back deck into the bay).  It is a 3-bedroom with a nice lawn, so it'll be great for us to stretch out a bit.  It's also less expensive than the apartment we are in right now.  The only down side is no internet and no potable water, but we are looking into getting a mobile HotSpot and a Berkey Filter and making the best of it.  This will be just one more learning experience.  One day we will be self-sustaining!

Despite the fact that we're learning to live moment-by-moment and take 1 day at a time, time is flying.  The kids and I have been here almost 2 months already and with temperatures only getting to the low 70's during the day now, it is evident that time is going much more quickly than I imagined it could.  Allan and I are both struggling with divided feelings on the deployment.  On the one hand, we both really want him gone sooner than later.  First, it will offer job security and second, it'll increase pay and third, it will get him home all the sooner.  We talk about this and as his discussions with the people involved progress, he tells them to get him out of here, pronto.  (With my blessing)  On the other hand, this is the most unnatural thing we could be doing right now.  To send our husband/dad halfway across the world for however long.  No matter Skype, phone calls, internet chats, etc, it isn't the same. I know it's hard for him, too, as he tells them "let me go now!" and further separates himself from the reality we've made the last 10 years...the reality of home life with him 100% involved. 

So one thing we are planning for, is being able to keep him home after this job (or the next one...who knows how long it will take) is up.  We are currently getting lots of education on investing and owning rental properties so that we can have our assets pay for our expenses instead of him being forced to work so we can survive.  I want him to work because he wants to and loves his job and feels called by the Lord to do what he chooses to do, not to take the next position because we'll be able to afford the types of foods we like to eat.  (organic, local, gluten-free...we're not eating caviar, but it gets pricey)  Please do not get me wrong here, he WILL and DOES work hard to take care of us.  He has been thrown way out of his comfort zone these last couple of years, but we're both tired of it and ready to find some way for our money to work for us instead of us working for the money.  It should be an interesting journey and transition.

So what does this post have to do with anything?  Not much I suppose.  But there it is.  Now you know as much as we do.  haha!