My Scrapbook

July 2010

I woke up some time ago and was unable to fall back asleep. As I lay there, as silly as it sounds, Great Follies was floating through my mind. I have been on the fence for the last several months about whether or not to continue blogging, and I realized tonight that perhaps I was basing that decision on the wrong things. I thought I could let it slip away and not think too much about it. But sitting here at almost 1am, reading through old posts, watching my beautiful children grow up over the years, I realize just how wrong I was. Truth is, this little site is like my scrapbook, and it is very special to me.

I started Great Follies five years ago this month, right after we moved to Great Falls, Montana. If you had asked me then, I probably would have said that we would stay there forever, find a little house, settle in for the long haul. I never in a million years would have imagined what lay in store for us. And here is the thing: our journey is far from over. I have no idea where we are going to end up, or when or how. All I know is that anything can happen, and we are ready for whatever comes our way.

I also know that if I do not continue to share little stories and pictures, then so many of the details will be lost along the way. I need those details. I need to be able to pour over the story of our lives. I need to remember the little moments that might otherwise be forgotten.

It may take me a while to get caught up, but at least now I will be able to do so. Great Follies is back up and running…

May 2015

May 2015

Firsts

Since we are going to be living here for at least a year, we had to make necessary changes in our residency status. North Dakota does not participate in the K12 program, so we had to consider other education options for the kids. After much discussion, we decided public school would be a good option for them. There were a lot of reasons for this decision, but the most important one is that the kids were really excited about it. It has been over two years since they have been in public school and I think they were looking forward to being in a classroom setting again. My hope is that after all of our travels, and the combination of homeschooling and public schooling, they will be well-rounded kids.

It was still pitch black out this morning when we walked them up to the bus stop for their first day of school. They are the first kids on the bus in the morning and they will be the last kids off in the afternoon, so the ride is a long one, but they were excited about it. Getting up at 5:30am will take some getting used to, though…

Today was also Rob’s first day as a permanent employee of the National Park Service! He had been looking forward to this for so long and I know he was excited that his start date had finally come. The staff here is amazing and I think he is really going to enjoy working here.

And since Rob and the kids were all gone today, it was my first day home all alone. It has been over 11 years since I have been by myself during the day. I have kept myself plenty busy and do not think ‘boredom’ will ever be a word in my vocabulary. I will say this, though, it is crazy quiet here without the kids home…

Rob will be home in a few minutes and then it will be time to meet the kids at the bus stop. I cannot wait to hear how all of their first days went.

Oh, and one more very important thing before I go…

Happy Birthday, Esther!! We love you!!!

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Decisions, Decisions…

Last week the transmission in our beloved minivan began to slip. After having it inspected, it was determined that certain parts needed to be replaced, with an estimated cost of $3000. Rob contacted the Honda dealer for a second opinion and they would not be able to simply repair our current tranny, they would have to replace it with a factory refurbished one, running $4500.

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These repairs were a little too steep for us, and with 252,000+ miles on our van, we were nervous about putting so much money into it. The fear was that more things were going to begin breaking. So we had a decision to make. There were a few options to choose from:

  1. Repair the van and hope that nothing else broke anytime soon.
  2. Take out a small loan to fix all the things that needed tending to. (There were several.)
  3. Buy a new car.
  4. Go without a car for a while.
  5. Buy a new-to-us used car that was less expensive than repairing the van.

Taking out a loan was not something we even wanted to consider, so that ruled out buying a new car and a loan to fix more repairs on the van. We also decided that replacing the tranny was a no-go. Going without a chaser vehicle was considered for a bit, but in all honesty, we love to drive, to explore, to go the grocery store without having to unhook Waldo. While that would have been our cheapest solution, it was not the most desirable. So we decided to look into the new-to-us used car idea. I thought it was a long shot, but it was worth a look.

We stumbled upon something most intriguing, so we drove down the road to Salvo to check it out. It just so happened that a family of six was moving to Texas and had too many vehicles. They were selling their Cherokee because it only seated five. (On a side note, Rob and I had a Jeep Wrangler once-upon-a-time that we thoroughly enjoyed, but it only seated four, so we ended up selling it for the very same reason.) This Jeep had been maintained very well and had lots of recent updates and repairs, including a new transmission. Rob, being much more mechanical than I, checked it out and felt like it was a good solid car.

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Needless to say, we decided to buy the Jeep. It was less than repairing our van and has less miles, even though it is two years older. The fact that it is a Jeep is simply a bonus. We have always loved Jeeps and have often talked about getting another one.

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We cannot drive it yet since we do not have plates, but we can register it through our mailing service in South Dakota. It should only take a couple of weeks to get it licensed. We are continuing to drive the van for now, only as little as possible. The Odyssey (Dory) has been a great van for us over the last six years. We drive a lot and we ask a lot of our cars. The van definitely has not let us down. It will be strange not driving her anymore, but she has earned her retirement. We will have to leave her here when we leave North Carolina in a few weeks.

Why is it that sometimes cars feel less like cars and more like a part of the family? Is it because of all the places they take us? Or the memories we make while in them? I have no idea. What I do know, though, is that while getting a new car is exciting, leaving one behind is not always easily done…

Our Wild and Precious Life

…Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
~Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

I have been trying to decide how to word this blog for quite some time now. How to make everyone understand what we are about to do. And why we are about to do it. But no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get it right. I’m not sure I will ever be able to. Even now, as I sit here determined to finally get this post done, I have no idea how I am going to do it. Just spit it out, I tell myself. But how? One word at a time…

Mistakes. I am finally beginning to learn that there are none. Everything in life happens for a reason, though it may take years to figure out exactly what that reason is. All those wrong turns we made in our youth, all our bold decisions, all the paths chosen in error. As it turns out, they weren’t mistakes at all. We learned things that we would need later in life. We learned what really mattered and what didn’t. We learned that not all of us fit into the same mold. Not all of us are meant to follow the exact same path.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.  ~Author unknown, sometimes attributed to W.M. Lewis

Last summer, feeling as though we had made yet another wrong decision, Rob and I began considering becoming full-time Rvers. Could we do it? Would the kids like homeschooling? Would we be able to find work? I must admit that I was much more anxious than Rob was in the beginning. I wanted to head out the door right that minute, but Rob was sensible, so we talked it up and down and left and right and inside and outside until the only thing that made sense was… going.

One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now. ~Paulo Coelho

Why? We were always restless anyway, always wanting to know what was around the next bend. We had yet to find a place that felt like home. We had already decided that we wanted to home school the kids. We all enjoy traveling and going new places. There are many work opportunities for people on the road. The education we would all receive would be priceless. The memories even more so. Not to mention that owning a home had lost its appeal after we lost our hobby farm

And suddenly, everything began to make sense. So we cleaned out our rental house, put our special things in storage, sold and donated a lot of stuff, found an RV that would work for us, purchased it and made it home. That was 11 months ago.

To change one’s life:  Start immediately.  Do it flamboyantly.  No exceptions.  ~William James

And now, in just two short weeks, we are taking off on a full-time RV adventure. All five of us along with our pets. Not many people understand why we are doing this. Even fewer approve. But we are doing this for our family, for our kids, for ourselves. Life is too short to be spent doing what everyone else expects of you. Passion. That is what we have been missing. And courage. Rob and I have finally arrived at a point in our lives where we have everything we need, and there is nothing stopping us.

This decision is definitely not without risks. We don’t have steady income from an online business or rental property so we will literally have to work our way around the country. Nor do we have nearly as much saved as we would like, so we will have to be very careful. There is a chance that a job won’t come exactly when we need it to, or something will break when we can’t afford for it to, but we all take that risk no matter where we are. And, I speak for myself here, I am more confident in this decision than I have been about anything for a long time, and I can’t tell you how liberating that feels.      

Never be afraid to fail. Failure is often the first step on the ladder of success. ~Vaughn Hay

So, as it turns out, all the mistakes we thought we had made were merely stepping-stones. They brought us here, where we found the final piece of the puzzle. And although it took us years to get here, we are exactly where we are meant to be at this exact moment in time. Are we crazy? Possibly. Or perhaps we have simply come alive, finally, and that is all we were waiting for.