Catching Up

I had forgotten just how hectic this time of year is for us. It is great being back in Kentucky and we enjoy being back to work at Amazon, but between work and school and trying to get a little sleep from time to time, there is not a whole lot of time for anything else.

Things are in full swing, though. Rob is on his last work-hardening week and then he is on full 10-hour shifts, as I have been for the last couple of weeks. We are both picking, meaning we are getting a lot of exercise walking around the huge facility every night, picking items people have purchased. Last year we both left here a few pounds lighter, so we will have to see how that goes this year.

Back on the 13th of October, I ran my first official half-marathon in Midway, Kentucky. It was such a wonderful experience running the rolling hills of Kentucky horse country. Horses were running the fence lines with us and were just amazing to watch. After not running more than twice since my marathon three weeks prior, I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I was able to run the whole way and finished in 2:18:55. I even met Jeff Galloway! I followed his training plans for my marathon and it was neat being able to meet the person who made it possible.

DSC_0947 half

We have gone fishing a couple of times. It is nice to be able to relax a little bit while the kids explore. The fish in the area are new to Rob, so he is still learning how to catch them. He can catch trout like a master, but the bass and catfish and crappie are a little different. He did catch his first Kentucky fish, but it was so small that he wasn’t too excited about a picture with it. Notice his “Please just take the darned picture so I can throw the darned fish back in the darned lake,” look. It still surprises me that he keeps me around…

DSC_0894 fishin'

I have already made reservations at an RV park down in Florida, so at least we know where we are going from here. Now we must make it through Peak season at Amazon while keeping up on the kids’ schooling. But today is already the 23rd, so we only have two more months here, and if it is anything like last year, it will fly by.

 

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!

Packin’ Up… Or Not

Around camp, people have slowly begun to pack up. The elaborate porches that were so painstakingly set-up are being taken down piece by piece. Rugs are being rolled up, wind chimes taken down, the garden gnomes are being boxed up. Tire covers are being removed along with windshield screens and mirror covers.

Our camp is a little more simple, but still, the time had come to start packing up.

And then we received an e-mail.

An e-mail letting us know that there had been a cancellation due to some last-minute plans. An e-mail letting us know that we were the next on the list. An e-mail inviting us to stay on with Amazon through January.

Of course, we accepted.

Suddenly there was no rush. The bikes and canoe can stay right where they are for a little while longer.

I had to sooth my wandering spirit a little bit, she was awfully excited about hitting the road. But she understands that sometimes we must be responsible and listen to our heads. Staying for another month will shorten the gap between jobs, therefore saving us more money for future adventures. It will allow for us to follow our rule of always making more than we spend.

So for now, we will sit back and relax, while watching the other campers pack up and hit the road. This time next week, I suspect that we will be among only a few campers left.

After Christmas, with the end of Peak, we will go back to four-day work weeks, so we will have time for hikes and road trips, for exploring and weekend adventures. And blogging.

There is still so much to see here in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

Endless Possibilities

It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes, especially when you aren’t paying attention. It seems like just yesterday we were anxious to set out from Great Falls and head for Kentucky, our first stop as full-time RVers. Now here we are, almost four months later, and our time in Kentucky is almost up.

Our job as part of Amazon’s CamperForce is coming to an end. Peak season is ending next week, and then we will set off once again. The only difference this time is that we still do not know which way we will go. There are so many options and we have yet to narrow it down. I suppose with only a week and a half to go, we might want to get on that.

There is a chance that we will be able to stay on with Amazon through January, but we have not heard for certain yet. There are many more people wanting to stay than positions available. We should know tonight, hopefully, whether we will call this campground home for another month. If that is the case, we have a little more time to figure out our next destination. If that is not the case, then we have a lot of work to do.

A family of five can really spread out when stationary for four months. Things will have to be stowed for travel again, Cricket the Canoe will have to be loaded back up on top of the van, the boxes of donate items will have to be dropped off.

I admit that I am a little anxious. I am a lover of what comes next. I have a wandering soul, and she sings when we are heading somewhere new. There is so much in this great Nation to see, and I want to see it all. I am greedy that way. If we end up staying here a little longer, then we will have more time to plan and to fatten up our wallet. If we go… well, if we go, then the possibilities are endless.

Amazon has been a really good first stop for us. We have worked harder perhaps than we ever had before, but they have treated us well and have taken good care of us. We are planning on coming back again next year, though perhaps not to the same location. But that will depend on where we plan to be come next fall. Rob and I are both in better shape as well as a few pounds lighter. Walking an average of 11 or so miles a night will do that to you. Neither one of us are complaining, though.

With all the noise and sensory overload that takes place on a regular basis, we are definitely ready for a little time off. We are thinking perhaps a nice Forest Service campground for a few weeks might be just what the doctor ordered. Quiet. Peaceful. There shouldn’t be too many campers this time of year, so hopefully the kids will be able to run wild a little bit. Or a lot. They truly are cavekids at heart. Nothing beats watching them collapse at the end of the day, exhausted from play and covered in dirt.

After a life of knowing exactly what to expect each day – what time to be to work, what time to have the kids to school, what time to get up in the morning – it is somewhat liberating not knowing what comes next. The ability to choose. (Scary, but) Priceless.

484324_435365406530777_889074191_n

Update: On December 23, our season with Amazon will end. Time to get busy…

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. 🙂

A Day in the Life

Eventually everything must give into the long arms of fall. It has been so beautiful and warm here that I was secretly hoping Kentucky was immune to the cold. This is proving not to be the case. As we near the end of October, we find ourselves having to pull out the sweatshirts. The season for shorts is all but over. I am not complaining, though. I cannot even remember the last time I was able to wear shorts at the end of October. Normally we would have been in winter coats for at least a month now.

As the peak season at Amazon.com approaches, the campground is getting quite full. I read that about 90 new CamperForce are starting tomorrow. The season is going by fast and I am having a hard time believing we have been here for two months already. The shifts are long, very long, but the time overall is flying. I need to start working some overtime in order to put us in the position we are hoping to be in by the end of the season. Not looking forward to it, but it will be worth it in the end.

Schooling is going great. My little kiddos rock. I love being able to adjust our schedule to fit everyone’s interests. It makes everything more interesting and keeps everyone actively involved. We are currently reading the book Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls. If you have not read this one, you should add it to your list. We are all laughing out loud at the funny and entertaining story. Even Rob and I cannot seem to get enough of it. Another of our favorite activities is collecting caterpillars. We have a jar full of about 20 and some have already turned into cocoons and we have even had a butterfly. How fascinating it is to watch the entire process. I haven’t quite gotten used to the strange looks from people when we are out and about during school hours, but I am sure I will get used to that in time. I know we are not playing hookie, so that is all that matters.

It looks as though some of our weekend trips will have to be put on hold for a while. Our van is acting funny and we don’t want to push it. Getting stranded is not high on our list of things to do. With 230k miles, I cannot blame it, but until we figure out the problem, we are staying close to home. Luckily I am married to Mr. Fix-It, so hopefully it is something he can take care of.

Catheryn was on her way to her puppy-walking job the other night when she was charged and bitten on the leg by a wiener dog. Luckily it didn’t break the skin very much, she just ended up with a teeth print and a bruise. The owner felt bad and was very sorry, but it doesn’t exactly make it any better. I assume the dog was a rescue and the owners are obviously aware of his tendencies. I wasn’t there, but Rob was none too impressed.

Overall, we are all doing really well. The kids are excited with Halloween right around the corner. I realized today that I better get my rear in gear and finish up their costumes or they will be forced to go as themselves. This is scary enough, trust me, but I don’t think it is what they have in mind.

But for now, it is off to work I go…

Happy Day everyone!

Right before my very eyes…

Between working and schooling and keeping on top of everyday things, there is not a whole lot of time for blogging, which happens to be one of my very favorite things. So once again, I am offering pictures.

My children are growing up. Some days too fast. Some days not fast enough.

But growing. Always growing.

Right before my very eyes.