The Days of Summer

Unfortunately, internet at our campsite is pretty bad. It goes out as quickly as it comes in, and it usually isn’t until you have finished working on something that it lets you know it has dumped your connection. I cannot be certain, but I am pretty sure I have heard it laughing at me as I throw mini tantrums at my inability to complete something I have started.

So yesterday I had decided that enough was enough. I had many things I had been wanting to catch up on and I came to the conclusion that the only way to get them done was to go somewhere with a reliable connection. So I loaded up the kids and the computer and headed to a (forbidden) fast food restaurant with the intention of mooching free wifi and sipping a (forbidden) cola while my kids ran wild in the playland. The stars must not have been aligned, though, because just as we pulled up the rain began to fall. The east coast does not seem to be a fan of indoor playlands because all of the ones we find, and there aren’t many, are outside. There is a chicken joint that has an indoor playland, but William outgrew their maximum height limit a couple of years ago. He may be tall and he may be 10, but he has as much energy as about 12 toddlers and he needs to run. When he gets too much pent-up energy he turns to teasing and then we all suffer. Best not let it get to that point.

So we drove home somewhat defeated and I decided that the best thing to do was simply type up some sort of nonsense, wait patiently for an internet signal strong enough to last for a few moments, cut and paste my ramblings, and hope for the best.

That brings us to today. We find ourselves at the park. It is cloudy but for the most part, the humidity is on vacation, and I am grateful for that. It is warm and the breeze is wonderful. The sun makes an appearance every now and then and it feels so wonderful that all I want to do is take a nap in the grass.

This summer has been very quiet for us. There is so much to see around the area, but we have been busy playing catch-up and find ourselves staying close to home. We plan to spend next summer here as well, so there will be a lot of time for exploring. Rob is really enjoying his job and feels quite lucky to have gotten a position so quickly. The kids and I love that he drives by multiple times a day and is able to walk home for lunch. They never tire of hanging out the windows to yell a cheery “Hello!” to their daddy as he buzzes by.

We had a toilet leak that took us quite some time to realize, and by the time we did, it had pretty much destroyed the flooring in the kids’ room. We had been talking about making better use of the space in their room, and since we had to replace the floor anyway, we decided it was a good time to start. The kids all agreed on a shade of yellow for their walls. It looks like a school bus, but everyone likes it. We have new linoleum squares for the floor and plan to get those in sometime this week. Then Rob will be able to create new beds. It was much easier painting and building before we lived in Waldo. There is no room to put anything, so our house quite the disaster area right now. Luckily, we never have any visitors…

The twins are ready to begin 3rd grade and William is excited about 4th. Homeschooling is challenging and rewarding at the same time. Like everything, it has its ups and downs. I find myself trying desperately to inspire one who doesn’t always care, to encourage one who doesn’t always get it and support one who learns well unassisted. I love knowing that they are not getting lost in the system, but it is not always easy. I have read that it can take a few years to find a system that works for your family, so I am remaining flexible and am always open to suggestions and ideas. (Hint, hint.)

Rob and I are on board to return to Amazon this fall. It was a really good job for us last year and we look forward to returning. We won’t be starting until the end of September versus the beginning last year, and we also won’t be staying on after Christmas like we did last year. Three months will be a good stay, though. It is hard work, but we both enjoyed it. Last year we even lost a few unwanted pounds, so that was a bonus.

I find myself wondering what has happened to the summer. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. August is almost half over already and I am reminded that with September comes fall. I do love the fall and the beautiful colors, I just have a hard time saying good-bye to summer. It does help to be in warmer climates, though. Winter last year was a walk in the park as far as the weather went. We weren’t buried in snow so I was able to enjoy the little that we did get. Actually, I was grateful for it because it always made the kids so happy. This year should be just as enjoyable, so I don’t find myself dreading it as much as I have in years past.

I think I have rambled on and wasted enough of your time for now. Until next time!

Resuming an Old Habit

There was a time not too long ago when blogging was such an important part of my day, that my day didn’t feel complete if I didn’t share something. Sometimes it was a story or a memory. Other times it was simply a picture and a quote. Daily life happenings made their way onto the pages of what was slowly becoming the story of our lives. When I began blogging about three years ago, I didn’t exactly know what my purpose was, but as time has passed, I have begun to realize that this is my memory book. Life has a way of passing by so quickly that simple things are often forgotten. A day at the park, goslings in the spring, a road trip that resulted in a flat tire in an isolated ghost town. Being able to read the stories and relive the memories has become very special to me.

I have realized that my purpose in blogging is to give us a way to look back over the years of our lives. Everything from farming, which was a very special time for us, to hitting the road in our RV, which we found incredibly liberating. I want to remember how we felt as we visited new places. I want to look back at the pictures of my children, who are growing up way too quickly. This blog is my way of doing just that.

Unfortunately, as time becomes short, blogging is one thing that gets set aside if needed. That happened last fall, and try as I may, getting back into the habit of regular posts has been more difficult than I would have thought. I write things in my journal almost daily, silly things, random thoughts, stories, but I don’t get around to sharing them. And yesterday, as I was reading through my journal, I realized just how much of our story is now missing from the blog.

It may take me a week or two of sharing whatever I can come up with in order to make blogging a habit once more, but I don’t want anymore of our story missing. As I read back through the pages, I want to know that the story is complete. I want to know that we truly lived.

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.  ~Grandma Moses 

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

This week’s photo challenge was the perfect excuse to scroll back over the events of the past year. Our family had a pretty nice 2012, and choosing a picture from each month was much harder than I would have expected. What I realized was that no matter how slow or boring a month may have seemed, none of them actually were. From remodeling the RV and getting ready to hit the road, trips to the park, camping and drives out to Freezeout Lake, everyday held something special for our family, although I may not have realized it at the time. So now, as we sit on the front porch of a brand-new year, full of endless possibilities and potential, I am reminded that every day counts. Not just the big ones when we are doing grand things. Every. Single. Day.

January 2012: In our house, we have a couple of kids who get really excited when January rolls around. They know that once the New Year hits, their birthday is just right around the corner. Of course that means that once again, the twins are excited about their birthday and turning eight. Last year, though, seven was pretty exciting.

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February 2012: After months of stress and worry, we finally sold our small Hobby Farm. No matter how much we were hoping things would work out, it was really hard to let it go. It was our choice to leave it, but I think for quite some time we felt as though we had made the wrong decision. We walked away from what we loved for a job in a place that never did feel like home. But if I am to be completely honest, we were restless on the farm as well. Now that it is all said and done, I can’t help but feel as though letting it go was a step in the right direction. Someday we may find the place that feels like home, but we have not come across it yet, and until we do, settling down is not a hight priority.

Can't help but look back...

Can’t help but look back…

March 2012: While we were in Great Falls, Freezeout Lake was one of our favorite places to visit. There was always such a variety of birds and the sunsets were beautiful. The back road was through a horse pasture, so the kids were able to get out for a walk. The (insert foul word here) wind was always there to keep us company as well. This is also where we came upon a sweet group of horses who surrounded the van and let us scratch and love on them. When we finally drove away, they followed us for a while, while the twins looked out the back window and cried… It is safe to say that every person in our family is hopelessly in love with horses. (Even Rob, although he may not be willing to admit it.) 

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April 2012: Our family suffered a great loss in April: our beloved black lab, Bailey B. He was such a wonderful companion, and losing him broke our hearts. His collar now hangs around the rear-view mirror of Waldo, so he always has a front row seat, just as he would have wanted. From time to time, we still hear him, or smell him. When we do, we spend some time remembering how wonderful he was, how bad he smelled (no matter how often he was bathed), or how much we missed tripping over him as he sprawled on the floor of the RV. We miss him dearly. Life is not the same without him, but we are extremely grateful to have had him as a part of our family.

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May 2012: Goslings! With May came goslings galore. The river was lined with new families, some with only two new additions and others with a dozen. I loved to lie in the grass and take their pictures. Such a wonderful sign of spring.

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June 2012: June was an exciting month. The school year ended, summer began, Rob and I celebrated our 11th Anniversary, the kids and I ventured to Boise to visit my family and William turned nine. William had been asking for a new bike for his birthday, and I was pretty excited to find an orange one (his favorite color) for him. It is strange to think that this year William will enter his double digits. Time really does fly…

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July 2012: Glacier National Park!!! Rob’s sister and her husband were brave enough to meet us in G.N.P. for a few days. We hiked some beautiful trails and had a wonderful time. I am not sure when we will be back up there, but when we are, we will have to tackle some more trails. It is so incredibly peaceful and I had such a strong urge to wander into the woods and not come out.

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August 2012: The long-awaited Launch Date had arrived!! After months and months of planning our RV life, it was finally time to head out. We had a wonderful week as we headed from Great Falls, MT to Campbellsville, KY. Mount Rushmore has been on my to-see list forever, so it was neat to finally be able to see it in person.

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September 2012: On the first of September we pulled into Kentucky. I have always had a secret love affair with Kentucky, so arriving was thrilling. Since then, we have been exploring as much of the state as possible. The hiking trails are wonderful, and it is always fun to try to identify trees, plants and birds that we don’t have back in the Northwest. Every member of our family comes alive out in the woods. 

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October 2012: I have loved every minute we have spent exploring Kentucky, but one of my very favorite places has been Lexington. The horse farms are breathtaking, and seeing them in the fall with the beautiful setting-sun made it that much more beautiful. Kentucky is all that I hoped it would be. And so much more.

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November 2012: As many of you know, our cat, Remington, travels with us. He does very well on the road and adjusts easily to pretty much everything. I am very grateful for this because not only do I want Remi to be with us, but I also need him. He is my therapy kitty. The simple act of petting him calms me. All my insecurities, all my anxieties, they melt away when I place my head against Remi’s warm, purring side. He is an amazing, well-traveled kitty, and I love him dearly.

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December 2012: One of the great things about being in Kentucky is that we are really close to Tennessee. We had been so busy exploring Kentucky, though, that we had not made it down to Tennessee. That is, until we received a check and needed to go to the bank. Suddenly, a trip to Tennessee was at the top of the list. And we had the best time. An early barbecue dinner with live music, an over-dose at a candy store and rain made for an adventurous afternoon. We enjoyed Nashville so much that we plan to head that direction for a few days when we leave here in a few weeks.

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Well, I guess that about sums up our year. I want to take a minute to personally thank all of you who have been a part of our journey. This game called Life goes fast, and it is easy to get caught up in the past, or dreams of the future, but it is important to live one day, one minute, one breath at a time. I am finally beginning to learn this. Happy New Year!

An Unexplained Absence

Hello there, Stranger! Or am I the stranger? I forget. Either way, Hello! I have missed you, though the fault is all mine. My absence was caused solely by the realization that I am not super-woman (who knew, right?), and unfortunately I cannot do everything, though believe me I have tried. My desperate attempts to accomplish more than humanly possible in a day have resulted in my picture under the word insanity in the dictionary. My list of “things to do today” was becoming unbearably long and something had to give. A few somethings actually. And a seemingly normal blog post was my wake-up call.

I have a tendency to leave the computer on during the day, and whenever I manage to find a few minutes, I will sit down and work on a post. A normal post usually takes me about 12.5 sit-down sessions before I manage to get it somewhat done. Some days I cannot even get that far. I can live with that. Most of the time. But on one sunny Saturday afternoon, after 19.28473 failed attempts at blogging, it hit me: I was spending far too much time attempting something. Even when the attempts were (somewhat) successful, they still consumed too much time. Not to mention the days when they were not even close to successful. And while I was spending my time grasping for the impossible, my three kids were here. Right in front of me. Requesting, demanding, my time, as they have the right to do. What I found was that my specialized time with them during our home school lessons was not enough. They wanted my time all of the time.

So I decided to compile a list of my daily goals and expectations. Homeschooling is my top priority, followed closely by sleeping (’cause nobody likes Mama when she’s a bear), regular household chores (you can only fit so many dishes inside an RV), working (have to support the RV lifestyle somehow), and showering (per Rob’s request.) After running out of time day after day after day, I realized that I was spending too much time reading, running and blogging. Three things that are not high on the priority list.

So I had to simplify. The three items at the bottom of the list were on the chopping block.

Running. I walk an average of 10-12 miles a night at work, possibly even more now that we have hit Peak Season, so even though I am not out there running every morning, I am getting more and more fit every night I go to work. I am getting stronger, healthier. I can feel it. When the season is over, I can hit the road again, and I know I will be in the position to do so.

Reading. If only I could make a living reading books… Getting lost in a good story or learning about somebody else’s fascinating life is one of my favorite things to do. Not to mention that reading the classics is helping me to better educate my kids. But finding the time is a little challenging right now, so I read aloud to the kids a lot. I have always read to them, but lately we have been reading some great classics. They loved Summer of the Monkeys and are currently enjoying The Secret Garden. And every now and then, when I can keep my eyes open for just a few more minutes, I sneak in a chapter or two from my own personal book. So even though I am not devouring the books the way I might like, I am still getting in some quality reading time, and I cannot complain about that.

Blogging. This is the big one for me. And the hardest to let go. I compromised with myself and decided just to blog on my days off, about once or twice a week. That way I can stay up after everyone else is in bed (like tonight) and I can let my mind wander at will and not feel guilty about neglecting anyone. During the day I have not been turning the computer on at all, which has helped everyone. I have come to realize that I was depending on it a little too much, and I do not want my kids to think that it is a necessity in life. I think this is why my absence has been so long, I needed to make sure I was taking myself seriously, which I fail to do most of the time.

I have found that if I don’t set out to do more that I possibly can, then I feel better at the end of the day. Trying to accomplish certain things and failing always leaves me feeling defeated, and that wears me down. But being realistic about my goals and expectations, and actually being able to finish everything I start, well, that makes me feel good about myself. It boosts my self-esteem. Makes me feel like a rock-star. All right, perhaps that is pushing it a little bit. (Or a lot.) But I think you know what I mean.

So while I value your amazing companionship, I hope you will understand if I don’t come around every day. At least not for the next month or so. When Peak Season is over and things slow down a little bit then I will be back for our almost-daily visits. Driving you crazy as usual. That is, after all, my specialty. 🙂

Lucky Number 500!

Today is my 500th post! Just for fun, I checked my stats and Great Follies has had 13,026 views and has 86 followers. Some blogs out there see these kinds of numbers daily, but they are huge for me! But it is not about the numbers. I am not out to see how many visitors I can get or how many people I can get to follow us on our journey, it is about the journey itself. It is about remembering the moments that matter most. The years pass so quickly and it is nice to have a way to look back. I enjoy sharing all of our moments with you, and I am so glad you that you have all chosen to be a part of our family.

I have always enjoyed scribbling random thoughts down in my notebook, but when Rob suggested I start a blog two and a half years ago, I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy it. It started out as a farm blog back in Spokane, but that only lasted a few months until we ended up moving back to Montana. Continuing the farm blog was not really an option since there was no longer a farm, but I wasn’t ready to give it up, so I started Great Follies. It quickly became a family blog, a place where I could share daily life, dreams for tomorrow, memories of the past. Great Follies has become such an important part of my life that my days do not feel complete unless I have shared something with you. I skip days more than I would like to, but that is life with the three crazy kids that you have come to know so well.

Life has changed so much for us over the years. We have struggled to find our place and after many failed attempts at things we thought would work for us, I think we may finally be on the right path. There is still much to learn, but I feel as though we are at least headed in the right direction. I guess it just took us a while to realize that we weren’t meant to fit in the box.

So I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for sharing your time with us. For being such an important part of our journey. For your encouragement and support. For your kind words. In my eyes, Great Follies is successful in its own way, and I owe all of that to you.

Let the journey continue…

A Day at Home

While we all enjoy seeing where the open road will take us, sometimes it is nice to just stay home. We have been exploring for the last few weekends, so we decided that a couple of days at home were in order, not to mention that there were several things on the “to-do” list that needed tending to.

First act of business: clean the turtle tank. I don’t know if you have ever tackled a 20 gallon fish tank or not, but it is not an easy task. They are big and heavy and slippery and, well, heavy. Throw in an RV bathtub and it becomes quite the challenge. And while I was inside, sweating like a little piggy, wrestling a tank that weighs almost as much as I do, Flash was at the spa, a little car wash for aquatic turtles. The twins, armed with a spray bottle and tooth-brush, polished her until she was as shiny as a new penny.

I think she is quite appreciative of her clean tank. She is swimming around like a little champ and “talking” up a storm. Her favorite hobby is begging for food, always begging. And I, being the sucker that I am, always fall for her little tricks and cannot pass by without tossing her a tasty little tidbit.

She is grateful for the fresh water and I am grateful that I have a full two months before it will become necessary for me to, once again, tackle the turtle tank.

Second act of business: macaroni and cheese. While this may not sound like a necessity, I assure you that it most definitely was. Several years ago, Rob and I made some positively sinful macaroni with a crumbly top too good for words. Many times this macaroni and cheese has been the topic of conversation, but we had never gotten around to making it again. It was time to change that.

Rob and William made it together, outside, in the dutch oven, while sharing a cup of coffee. You want to talk about a boy feeling bigger than life, William most definitely was. He cherishes each and every moment he gets to spend with his dad, sans siblings. Their cheesy macaroni turned out perfectly, and the two of them enjoyed some quality time together.

Third order of business: simply be. No requirements. No expectations. No exceptions. While William spent most of his time with Rob, feeling like the coolest of the cool, the twins had their own thing going on. I love watching them play, especially when they are not paying attention to the fact that I am watching them. Their innocence melts every ounce of me. I am always amazed at just how much those two are willing to do for each other. They may have their moments, but their love for each other is unmistakable.

And so, with full bellies and happy hearts, we watched the sun set on another beautiful fall day. What they say about home is most definitely true: there is no place like it.

Courage, Squid and an Uncharacteristic Move

I don’t recall how long I stood there. Too long. Perhaps not long enough. Courage is not something that comes naturally to me, and yet there I was, trying to get up the courage to go inside a restaurant I had never been in, in order to meet a man I had never met. Courage. I had it in there somewhere, I just had to dig a little for it. I just needed enough to open a door…

This is not something I normally would have done, and yet, it was all my doing. I placed the personal ad. I responded to a reply. I agreed to meet a stranger. Me, a quiet, timid loner, was about to go on a blind date. What was I thinking? I would have to worry about that later.

I knew him instantly. He was sitting all alone, not too far from the door. A white shirt, black vest. Handsome. I started walking his direction and he stood up. Tall, confident. He was a perfect gentleman, kind, sweet, funny. As conversations usually do when I am involved, it moved slowly. I never know what to say, but this didn’t seem to bother him one bit. He filled in the gaps with stories and questions.

As the evening went on, I nervously drank white wine and ate calamari. Squid. I ate squid.

That was 13 years ago today.

I am not sure what made him come back, but he did. Over and over. Even when I thought I had scared him away for good, he came back, until nothing seemed more natural than being together. Until neither one of us could remember a time without the other. Until forever couldn’t possibly be long enough.

Our life together has been an amazing adventure, full of ups and downs and sharp right turns. We went from not planning on having kids to having three. We have struggled to find our meaning, our purpose, our direction in life, but the years together have taught us what really matters, how strong our bond is, and how everything does, in fact, happen for a reason. Our thoughts and plans have changed, but our bond never has. Every day brings us closer together, more dedicated. We still have a lot to learn and experience, but we will do it side by side. Together. Always.

A blind date, a little courage, and Rob. For these I will be forever grateful.

We still laugh about the squid…