September 24, 2006

We thought this was kind of a funny sign.

Minnesota Children's Museum

Dad and boys are out on a bike ride, so now that the floors are all swept and scrubbed, I thought I'd jump on here and give a quick peek into what our day looked like yesterday.

After everyone was awake, we talked about what we should do. Thought about doing the Minnesota Science Museum, to see the Body Worlds exhibit, but then thought that John and I would probably enjoy that more than the boys, so we started planning a trip to the Minnesota Children's Museum. (that, and the fact that it was $29 for adults, $12.50 for children for Body Worlds, and a mere $7.95 for the children's museum! :)

After we'd discovered that Saylor was woefully lacking in jeans to wear, we made a quick trip to Target, picked up a couple pair of jeans, a coat (he didn't have one for this winter), and a Green Day T that he just *haaaad* to have! Oh, and a new belt, sheesh, he's growing!

He threw on his new duds, and looked so handsome, I must admit! Then we were off to St. Paul for the museum. We took in the whole thing, I think? Got there around noon, and stayed until they closed at 5:00, with a little break in there for a fabulous lunch in downtown St. Paul. During lunch, the kids spent lots of time feeding pigeons and birds pieces of their french fries.

After we played like crazy people all day at the children's museum, we made a quick and delicious stop at an old-time home-made candy store just a couple doors down from the museum, sweetly named "Candyland". The boys each chose some candy, and so did the grown-ups! I had a piece of sponge candy -- it's sort of like this divinity type of textured candy covered in milk chocolate. Oh, yeah! Mama like! Since it was raining pretty well by now, and pretty cool, we stopped at Dunn Brothers, grabbed some coffee and hot chocolate, and then headed to Uncle Jim's house (John's brother) in Northfield.

We had a really full, fun, memory filled day.

It's a good life!

September 22, 2006

RVP 1875

When we were at the Des Moines home/unschooler park day on Wednesday, Ann mentioned to me that she and a group of homeschoolers made a trip to Story City (where we're staying) once to attend a workshop at this very unique business. RVP 1875 stands for this gentleman's initials and the year that he researches for all of the pieces of furniture he builds in his store. Everything he makes is made in the same fashion that furniture would have been built in in 1875; meaning he only uses the tools from that year as well.

After story time at the public library, we decided to drop in on this quaint little shop that I'd been eyeing since arriving, since one of his window signs says, "Coffins". Just made me wonder? We walked in only to find another group of homeschoolers busy building their own little tool boxes, using the tools from 1875 and learning a lot about cabinet making in those days in the process. Since the class had started an hour before, we didn't jump in, but just watched for a while. Robby (owner) did let each of the boys try their hand at hand planing a piece of wood. I asked if it would be ok to come back later in the afternoon and see more of the tools and ask more questions. He said his apprentice (a real apprentice, too, this kid doesn't get paid!) would be there all afternoon and would be happy to let the boys use some of the old tools.

We made a quick trip to the grocery to pick up some fruit, then home to eat lunch and ask Dad if he wanted to go with us, and we were off to RVP 1875. The boys, with JD's (apprentice) help, built themselves a nice sturdy little tool box. They got to saw the wood, plane the wood, rip the wood, and nail it all together. They loved it!

If you are ever in this neck of the wood, I *enthusiastically* recommend checking this place out! They are passionate about what they do, and it shows! The store was very charming, with exquisite handbuilt furniture pieces, ranging in price from $100 to $5000 and up. We especially loved all of the sawdust and wood ribbons scattered all over the floor. We took some with us for our next bonfire.

September 21, 2006


(((Hooray for Awesome Iowa Kids and Unschoolers)))

Wow, Wow, and Wow again! We had a terrific day today! We left the bus about 9 am, quietly sneaking out so as not to disturb John who’s been working 6pm til 6am. We drove the hour drive to Des Moines under lovely sunny skies. Heather and her boys were waiting at the zoo for us, and so we got started there. Blank Park Zoo is such a wonderful little zoo. I was quite impressed! The animals were very close, easy to see. There was one part that you actually walk right into the enclosure with emu and kangaroo. They didn’t seem the least bit worried. We just stayed right on the path, and all was well.
The boys fed hungry goats that were brazen enough to jump right up on you if you weren’t fast enough with the food. The koi fish were hilarious, too, as hilarious as fish can be, anyway! They were all jumbled into a single corner, mouths gaping above the water, hoping to get lucky enough to land a treat!
We even got to see a sloth hanging on the fence, close enough for us to touch! We were literally less than a foot from this beautiful little creature, with the kindest eyes! It was so neat to see it up close, and watch it eat it’s apple and cucumber slices for lunch.
And to think, the day can get even better! We went to the Browns’ home for some quick pizza lunch (yummy--thanks, guys!!!) and then off to the park to meet with some area unschoolers! One of the mothers there noticed Saylor’s Live and Learn 2005 t-shirt, so came right over to us to tell us she and her family were there last year, too! There were a couple other families that were there in 05, and one of those made it to ABQ this year, too! That was the coolest thing! Connecting with complete strangers, over something that we all feel so passionate about. Again, fast friends were made all around.

We arrived at the park around 2:00 and didn’t leave until after 6:00 (I think it was like 6:20 to be exact!) I hardly saw my 2 big boys the whole time. Stone and Holden were off doing their buddy thing, and I was touched to see that. Stone seems to always be the one that gets left out, so I reveled with him in his time with a friend *just for him*. Saylor was playing with a group of 9 other boys and girls, of various ages. They played hide and seek and freeze tag; then spent some time building fairy houses, I mean cabins. (Saylor just corrected me ;) At one point, a little 4 year old boy, not with the group, starts to wander over to the big group of kids. His mom calls him back, and Ann (awesome woman I really clicked with) goes over and explains that he would be welcome to play with the kids, and that she (Ann) would walk him over and introduce him if she (mom) wouldn’t mind. Ann shared that as this young mother was leaving a while later, she was in tears over how warmly this large group of children welcomed him in. She explained that her son was already on an IEP and didn’t know how to play very well with children; and that these kids today just absolutely MADE HIS DAY!!!! As it’s been said a million times over and I’ll say it again ……
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!UNSCHOOLERS ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 18, 2006

Sunday with the Browns

We met some Iowa Unschoolers! Yaaaay! Heather is from Des Moines. She’s been following us on our blog and we got in touch, and arranged a get together. Des Moines is only about an hour from where we are in Story City, so it just worked out so nicely! Her and her husband, Cliff, and 2 darling sons, Holden and Camden came and spent the day here with us on Sunday.
We ate and visited and ate some more here at the bus/campground. The boys were ultra busy the whole time catching 1 armed frogs and large toads missing their back legs! Well, only one of each of those mutations, but interesting, nonetheless! They also caught a gigantic bullfrog. And to think, people eat those legs? Eeeewwwww! And we can’t forget the gardener snake!
It’s always so fun to hang out with people that feel like ‘home’. Having never met them, there wasn’t an ounce of that ‘hmm…what to talk about’ stuff. It was just like hanging out with friends. I guess it’s easy when values and choices align with each other; always something comfortable and familiar to talk about.
After we played here, we went into Story City and rode their antique carousel. Beautiful! (thanks for letting me steal those pics, Heather! J Then, it was off to the park to play; the park is right beside the carousel, so that was just a given! We did get them out of there by promising ice cream cones at McDonald’s. It’s always nice to ease the transition with something else fun! We said goodbye to the Brown’s, with hopes to see them again on Wednesday when local Iowa Unschoolers get together for their weekly park day!

September 15, 2006

Quiet Time

I have such guilt about being on the computer too much during my boys' waking hours, so I've decided to try to do most of my computer stuff when they are dreaming (and snoring, from the sounds of it!)
I was just spending some time checking e-mail: Yikes, Amy! I hope that bat wasn't rabid. We were using big thick gloves, and it was squeeking at us and showing it's teeth, so don't be so sure we weren't handling a rabid bat. Great. We put the bat on a tree beside the bus, and it climbed up, hung out there until dark last night, then moved up higher. We kept an eye on it all day today. It's in the same tree, but it's been in several different places. It was kind of funny earlier, because it's pretty windy here today and the thing was blowing around in the wind, hanging on by it's toes for dear life! We'll check on it again tomorrow.
Then I spent some time browsing other unschooler and fotr (families on the road) blogs, and they are ever so inspiring. Every one of them. I love this life we have chosen! We're lucky and grateful--very, very grateful. My favorite discovery tonight was They live in MEXICO part of the year! And the pictures on her blog are stunning; as are her children.
John has been gone this week, doing 'bump grinding' (yep, that's what they really call it! :) so the boys and I have been flying solo since Monday night. He should be home tomorrow afternoon, then doesn't have to work again until Monday night, so we'll have 2 full days together. He misses the boys, and of course they miss him, and of course I think he needs to get his fancy pants back here, but, gotta make the money when you can, especially when you have 2 mortgages hanging over your head.
Our Sioux Falls house has fallen back to square one. The friend who was going to rent it can't now, and so here we are with that payment. Yuck. I'm tired of it, but waiting for the universe to bring to light the lesson we're to learn. As the old saying goes, and it always proves to be so true "everything happens for a reason".

September 14, 2006

Photo Explosion

Here are some of the fascinating creatures we've been finding at the campground (Whispering Oaks CG) we're staying at in Story City, Iowa. The bat is my favorite! I love bats! I was walking over to the laundry to wash a load of diapers and noticed this little darling sitting on a hosta. We grabbed a pair of Dad's thick gloves and have made a dark little place for it to sleep for the day. We're wondering what it'll do tonight. I'd like to create a custom made leash for him and have him buzz around our bus at night gobbling up mosquitos for us! S'pose that's do-able?!? ;)
The water way you see is right by our bus, and that's where the boys spend their days catching and releasing tad-pole like things.

Photo Explosion, Continued

The photos of the water are from our own little "private beach" we had, no one else was there! We had fun playing monkey in the middle, building sand structures and splashing around. The other 2 are in the bus; the boys all snuggled up in the bedroom watching Looney Tunes on a rainy day, and the other of mum and babe, surfing and nursing.

Gentle Parenting Guru

I recently discovered this guy through my unschoolingbasics yahoo group. He has a free "Daily Groove" (gotta love that name!) that comes right to your in-box, and it's been so inspiring every day. The groove is always very short and easy to read, and always such good food for thought. This journey called parenting is sometimes difficult, but most certainly the biggest and best thing any of us will ever do; it's always nice to have a little coaching along the way.

The groove below discusses being 'present'. Boy, we can all use practice there! I found it especially interesting because this past week and a half (since being on the road) I have felt so extremely present and peaceful, just *being* with my boys. We've all gotten along so well, have been sharing laughs and adventures, and I'm seeing the true beauty in being present. It's worth any amount of work it takes, just to have a pay-off this big.

I hope you all enjoy his insight and can find some use for in your lives, as well!
Happy grooving!

September 13, 2006

September 8, 2006

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

That’s what these little boys are made of! Though the only puppy dog tail we have around here belongs to our big dog who technically isn’t a puppy, our boys had a great day searching for and catching frogs. (We did see a few snails, too, but they just weren’t as enticing as the great frog hunt!)
The boys brought home a total of 8 frogs, 2 large, weird tad-pole looking things, and 1 actual tad-pole. One of the frogs still has a bit of a tail, and another has only 1 eye. Stone thinks we seriously need to make an eye patch for the one-eyed frog! We were laughing thinking of all the ways we could make a little tiny eye patch for our little tiny hopping friend. We decided fishing line and a soft green leaf might do the trick. Then Stone closed one of his eyes, and imitated what the frog might say, “Arrr, Matey, ribbit!”

September 7, 2006

Mosquitos Terrorize Family

Night two at Brown’s Lake, and the mosquitoes really had it in for us tonight! Before we went to bed, I rubbed lavender all over the boys and myself, hoping that would keep them at bay. I think it did keep them from actually biting us, but they were noisy little pests, just the same.
I laid there for a long time, listening to them buzzing around my ears, trying to swat them in the dark, constantly sweeping my hands over Sage and Stone to shoo away any would be offenders. Finally, around 1:00 am (((yawn))) I got up and got the fly swatter and got to work. Poor John was awake too, between the blood sucking pests and his allergies…sigh.
We probably killed at least 20, and you could literally hear them buzzing around the room. As I was telling the boys this story at the beach the next day, we were making up stories about them. One of them went like this:
The mosquitoes are all on those noisy little motorcycles and they have cut-off shorts, and tattoos, and missing teeth, and the lead mosquito says to his pals, “Hey, guys! I see a whole bed full of warm, tasty bodies. Attack, attack, attack!"
It was so funny to imagine these little fella’s as having a pre-meditated plan to get us, and joking about what they might say to each other as they come in for the assault.
Night 3 will be a better night!

September 6, 2006

Making Lemonade

Nope, not the kind you drink, but what you do when life hands you lemons.
Our first full day at the campground started out great. John got off to work, the rest of us woke up joyfully, anticipating *something* fun ahead. We had eggs for breakfast, our first cooking breakfast in the bus. Saylor helped, because he can reach the stove really well and he's already announced he's making breakfast for us tomorrow!
I told the boys how much I love being close to them like this; how it's great that I can be right here in the kitchen and they're in the living/family room, and still right beside me!
We all went outside and discovered some interesting looking spiders. The boys got out their creature identification guide, and as we found a new bug, spider, etc, we would take a photo of it, then look for it in the guide. They even saw a big spider wrapping up lunch that had gotten caught in its web.
John needed some things for lunch, so we loaded everyone up in the car (this is where making lemonade starts to come in!) and after I'd let it run for a while, it was smoking. Uh-oh! I turned it off, only to have it refuse to start again.
Luckily, we have our bicycles!! Stone and Sage crawled into the Burley, Saylor on his bike, and we started the 1 mile trek towards the sleepy little town of Sloan. First stop, a local pizza joint where we ate some tasty home-made pizza, and the boys blew some (ok, lots) of their cash on the video machines there. Then we peddled the 3 blocks to the park; very nice park! A climbing wall and horses and airplanes for swings, as well as the usual big playground equipment. I pushed all the boys in the baby swings and Sage enjoyed the slides.
Next stop, grocery store, about 3 blocks back toward Main St. again, everything is really within a 3 block pedal, really! The boys got a few little $1 items from their dollar section, and a snack and then we headed back to the bus. As we were riding back home, I was thinking about what a good day it had been, and how there was a time in my life that I would have chosen a very different 'attitude'. I'm glad I chose joy today. It was a good day!
Notes from JohnÂ’s day:
(written by Karen w/ his permission)
He came home from work, I headed over to check out a campground 6 miles away, by a lake we hear? We decided to move over to the new campground, so he buttoned everything up, loaded up the bikes and the dog and the Saylor, and headed over. He was so focused on making sure everything was in traveling order around the outside of the bus, all doors shut, hoses, cords in, etc, but then overlooked the crockpot sitting on the kitchen counter, full of our chicken and brown rice dinner. When he got here, he told me it ended up on the floor! Ooops! He scooped it right back in with a spatula, though, and it was delicious even if it did spend some time on the floor! Our glass butter dish also fell out of a cabinet, hitting and ***gasp*** breaking, our espresso carafe; the caramel syrup we use for our daily breve's glug, glugged a bit down onto/into the stovetop.
I had to laugh when I got in here and saw the damage. I can just imagine the drive over here; food on the floor, stuff flying out of the cabinets, Max (our big dog) trailing dinner all over the floor with his paws! Funny if you think about it, really, but John wasn't laughing. I got it all cleaned up, no problem, and am chalking it up to the old 'sh--' happens thing!
We had a fleet of mosquitos that snuck their way into the bus somehow, so random slaps of the skin could be heard into the night as we all tried to drift off to sleep as they feasted on our blood. Johns words: "Tomorrow will be a better day". Yep, let's just hope the skeeters pick another family to torture tomorrow night!

September 5, 2006

'Twas the night Before...

this family hit the road.

John and I are sitting here in the bus, the boys are all snoring in bed, while visions of gas prices dance through John's head! :)

Ok, seriously! We've been busy the past couple days moving what we'll need into our cozy little rolling home. We've decided to sleep in here tonight, so the boys can stay in bed while we start up the engine and get moving. Our maiden voyage will take us to Sloan, Iowa for a few days, then to Osh Kosh, WI.

It's been a lot of fun getting everyting ready, way more fun than I thought it was going to be, actually! And wonderfully smooth, too! We're all still really happy and really excited, no freaky outburts by any of us, so far! I feel like this is *exactly* what our family needs to be doing right now. I'm so grateful and looking forward to being close, in every way, to my family and to myself. Life is grand!