I Can’t Homeschool: I Need ‘ME’ Time

Always nice to be reminded of the importance of taking time for ourselves. Too often we caught up in the mundane tasks of everyday life…

A Homeschool Mom

i_cant_homeschoolHomeschooling can seem like a daunting journey, especially for those who are new to the concept. We are unsure of where to start, overwhelmed by the notion of taking on our children’s education, and feel as if we are not enough. May we offer encouragement for families unsure of the adventure called homeschooling.

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Our day starts pretty early. From the minute I get out of the shower, till the minute my kids’ heads hit their pillows, I am on my toes. There are days I feel like I’m rushing from one activity to the next, constantly feeding hungry mouths, cleaning up endless messes, and running a myriad of errands. If I’m not careful, I can easily run myself into the ground. Taking personal time is not only recommended, it’s a must.

One of the arguments often heard against homeschooling is the lack of personal time afforded parents. With kids in…

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Wild Horses and Light Bulbs

We spent a weekend in April at Assateague Island National Seashore!

I couldn’t resist a free entry weekend to our National Parks. I also couldn’t resist a chance to get to the beach. Winter has been far too long and the first nice weekend was put to good use.

I knew little about Assateague Island other than it is an island, has a beach, is a National park, and is within reasonable driving distance for us.

We left on Friday evening after picking up and surprising Grandma with an RV trip. We arrived in Dover, DE and spent the night in an overflow Lot for Dover Downs International Speedway. (with permission of course)

Up bright and early, we had an hour drive down into Maryland and embarked on the Visitor Center in Assateague by 10am.

An educational movie enlightened us about the wild horses living on the island and how they came to be there. Fascinated, the girls sat and intently watched and learned before getting wet in the touch tank where they explored the horseshoe crab, welks and clams.

This park was perfect for us combining nature with history and playing at the beach.

We ventured on a nature walk with a ranger from bay to beach and saw wild horses as well as a frog and countless birds.

After our walk we spent some time playing in the sand and collecting shells. This was the first National Park we had been to where they encouraged taking home nature, no more than a gallon bucket of treasures from the beach.

We got crafty by making and learning about the endangered piper plover chick.

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We took some family portraits and finished our junior ranger booklets before getting our badges and heading off for dinner.

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A short ride to a state park in DE and we set up camp for the night; grilling steak, chicken, vegetables and sweet potato fries… mmm. We had s’mores and the girls were able to use their fishing rods for a few minutes as the sun set on a perfect day.

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Sunday was a day to get back because grandma had work on monday; we headed north.

The free entry fees were burning a hole in my passport. I couldn’t help but sneak another adventure into this weekend.

I’d been aching to bring the girls to Thomas Edison’s Laboratory for a long time. I begged Darryl to make the stop but he urged we needed to make it back for his mom’s sake.

A few miles up the road and he was rubbing his eyes, straining to keep them open. He asked if I could take over driving for a while so he could rest.

Ah ha! He rested. I drove. Before I knew it, we were parked in West Orange and staring at the Laboratory of one of the greatest inventors in history. (sneaky, I know)

Three o’clock and the Historic site closes at four. We had little time to waste thus ventured on a self-guided tour of the Laboratory including a musical talk from a ranger and with just moments to spare, we received more badges and were back on the road by four.

Darryl thanked me and said he really enjoyed it! Thomas Edison National Historic Site is right down the road from us and full of information, history and a plethora of learning opportunities. My only regret was that we didn’t have more time to see his house or spend more time exploring the exhibits. We will be back. (when it’s free)

We did leave donations with the parks we visited but Thomas Edison has a per person fee of $7. Reasonable for a small group but we are a group of seven. Most of our Nation’s parks have an entry fee per vehicle, the most expensive fee we ever encountered was $20 at Yellowstone, which did include Grand Teton.

For more information on our National Parks visit their website and be sure to check their free entry dates.
*** I am deeply sorry for the quality of the photos in this post. Not that my previous amateur pictures are anything to write home about but my usual trusty camera gives clear shots and has a nice zoom lens, however, it stayed home and I only had my point-and-shoot; one that has been battered and beaten by little fingers.***

 

 

NPS FREE ENTRY WEEKEND

 

We are hitting the road again!

Just for the weekend and not too far from home but the sunshine is calling our names.

Urgency to get out there arises from our National Park System’s Free Admission Days; April 18 and 19 is opening weekend for our nation’s most treasured places, and entry fees, although regularly minimal, are waived!

“If it’s FREE, it’s for me!”

I urge you to get up and get out there to visit and support our parks because if we don’t, future generations are at risk of losing these historic and beautiful gems.

The park system relies heavily on visitor contributions and support so we’ll be donating in spite of our waived fees.

If not for the parks, our big trip last summer would not have been as enriching as it was. My patriotic duty is to spread the love I feel for those memories with my readers (if I have any).

When you hear National Park, you may think Grand Canyon or Mount Rushmore but you’ll be surprised to find many right in your own back yard.

Here is the list of participating parks who waive their entrance fees.

Be sure to browse around the nps.gov website for information, trip ideas and web-based ranger programs.

Also, follow along for posts from the road and don’t miss anything by subscribing!

Family on the Road: Portraits

This gallery contains 24 photos.

Family Portrait Photo Album 2014 Thanks to our tripod, a few strangers and my long arm we collected a family portrait from all our favorite places along our 8,000 mile trip. Enjoy!

Our Last Leg

It has taken me months to finish posting about our trip from last summer. I’ve been inundated with life. My apologies. Without further adieu, here it is, Our Last Leg!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 Day 51

After first learning about Mt. Rushmore and the four most influential presidents of our country, Juniper took a strong interest in Abraham Lincoln. It was crucial to learn more.

We were ecstatic to find out Abe’s boyhood home and birthplace was on our way and part of our National Park System. Most americans don’t know he was born in Kentucky, with Illinois being nicknamed “The Land of Lincoln.” We spent today learning about his family, their struggles on the frontier, and how he acquired some of his many nicknames. We visited the farm he was born at with his actual cabin on display. We learned about his life and death and with all our new knowledge and another badge, we continued through Kentucky.

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We made it to the place where Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia meet and tried to acquire some geocaches. While Darryl fed the girls dinner, I went on a mighty hunt but did not succeed until my fourth attempt.

Feeling some time was waisted, we moved on as far as we could with the PA air so close Darryl kept it moving and stopped just before our home state line.

Thursday, October 2 Day 52

This trip has been more amazing than I dreamed it would be. I would do it again in a heartbeat but home is calling our names.

The last leg is bittersweet as Darryl and I are anxious to get home, Ash expresses her want to “see more places.”

“I don’t want to go home,” she pleads.

Ironically she was the first to mention going home way back on day 20, now after this grand adventure she didn’t want it to end. Who could blame her?

That one statement from my three-year-old made these 8,000 miles, 52 days, 22 states, all the trouble, hassle, heartache, pleasure, fun, sweat, tears, laughter, learning, vomit, diarrhea, vet bills, junior ranger badges, pictures, souvenirs, and MEMORIES all worth it, in those sweet three-year-old words.

“I don’t want to go home; I want to see more places.”

Well, the beautiful thing is we will see more places. After we recharge our batteries, fix all the kinks with our rig, and get through the holidays; we will get that eminent itch and we will go on the road again.

Rest area round of duck-duck-goose:

We made it home in record time with little stops and breaking our travel guidelines; Darryl drove over 500 miles today!

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We were home in our beds by 8:00pm and it never felt so good to stand in my shower ( I think I was in there for over 45 minutes) and flop into my bed and stretch out; it was heaven!

Life Lessons from the Road

Simple living means more memories.

Family bonds grow stronger when you can’t escape each other.

More space means more clutter.

Experiencing life first hand is nourishing to the soul, more so than reading about it in a book or watching it on TV. Without the space, clutter and TV, our lives were spent exploring, singing, talking, DOing.

Time saved from cleaning a smaller space was spent on more enjoyable adventures.

Go with the flow.

Think positive. If you encounter stormy weather, keep moving. Tomorrow is a new day.

10 Reasons I Homeschool My Kids

So, after yesterday’s post about the different ways we implement learning in our home, I thought it appropriate to share some reasons we decided to home school in the first place.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your reasons you do or don’t and to tell me how ridiculous mine are.

As a mama, I feel it is important to let my little ones grow and explore without pressure and negative energy forcing them into a classroom to learn something they are not interested nor emotionally or academically ready just because a group of scientists and educators say so.

Here is a list of 10 reasons I home school my kids:

#10 Identity– I am a product of a public school system. A good one! I have fond memories of my schooling and my teachers but during those years I did not flourish or become anybody. It wasn’t until I was left to my own devices that I found myself and felt I was anybody important. In a public school system (as well as most societal places) I am just a number in a crowd, not LISA. Not anyone special.

Achieving identity has rarely been reached by the end of High School. (Arnett, 2000) In a home school setting, children have the chance to express themselves freely and in some cases learn what, how and when they want. This freedom to explore the world at a pace suitable to the child’s individual needs can only help them set and achieve goals providing them building blocks for a successful approach to a happy life. It might even facilitate the early achievement of work towards a career of their specific interests.

#9 Taking the bus– In rural communities, bus riders will travel between 30 minutes and 3 hours per day. (Biofuels) Some people will say the bus helps mold these youngsters to have great social skills but sitting on a stinking bus with people you may or may not like or even get along with doesn’t sound like fun. This approximate hour and thirty minutes could be spent sleeping, reading, eating a more nutritious breakfast or spending quality time with family or friends. The commute in a car is not any different, however the exposure to diesel fumes would be minimal, but time still underutilized.

For a homeschooling family, being late for the bus or the first bell is not a problem.

#8 Freedom from schedules– This might sound like a reason NOT to home school; I disagree. Freedom from the bus, freedom from the bells, from the clock can do a lot for a person’s stress levels. Entrepreneurs who work for themselves in a deadline-less career have fewer heart attacks attributed to stress. The expression “live by the clock die by clock” comes to mind. According to Forbes, PR Execs, Event Coordinators, and Newspaper Reporters are among the 10 most stressful jobs of 2014. (Adams, 2014) What do they have in common? Deadlines. They are hurrying and scurrying to meet the needs of others because their job is please or report by a certain date and time. Mirror this stress to adolescents going to school, catching the bus, turning in their paper. Hurrying to make it to class before the bell rings. What if they have to use the bathroom between classes? They’ll almost never make it and be detained after school or worse on a Saturday for bladder control.

#7 Using the “facilities” – They don’t need to ask permission to use the restroom at home. Although, they do feel the need to tell me about their ins and outs, it’s not a requirement to receive permission. In public school, I understand the need for orderly conduct and such, but restricting when nature calls and belittling kids by having them announce to a room full of practical strangers is not promoting healthy bathroom habits. Children may not want to use the toilets at school and will voluntarily hold urine for prolonged periods of time which cause urinary incontinence later developing urinary tract infections and leading to an irritated or overactive bladder. (Health, 2012)

#6 Sleep – When we can sleep according to our individual needs we create a basis for maintaining optimal health. Being disrupted by an alarm clock before our body is naturally ready to awaken is harmful to our ability to ward off ailments, focus throughout the day and handle stress appropriately. Children are no different.

School going children were studied according to sleep habits. The results support the theory that sleep matters. It showed kids who sleep more perform better at school, they are less hostile show more happiness and seem more relaxed, they also do not get sick as often as sleep deprived kids. (O’Brien & Kellan, 2010)

Another study verified high school start times play a part in depriving our adolescents necessary sleep. It showed students performing better academically later in the day rather than early in the morning. This same study concluded the need for strategies that focus on the epidemic of sleep deprivation among juveniles to increase school performance and improve students health. (Hansen, Janssen, Schiff, Zee, & Dubocovich, 2005)

Until such strategies exist, we’ll be just fine sleeping in and schooling at home.

#5 Socialization– Don’t scoff at me yet. Dr. Patricia Lines of the Discovery Institute published a report with staggering results. Homeschoolers scored better than public schooled kids in a key area of controversy in the Home Schooling debate: Socialization. Homeschoolers were “well-adjusted” and demonstrated fewer behavioral problems. Dr. Lines concluded “there is no basis to question the social development of homeschooled children.” (Weight, 2006)

Now that business is out-of-the-way here is my philosophy: It takes an army to home school!

We recently took a trip to Mt. Rushmore. Our 5 and 6 year-old daughters participated in the Junior Ranger Program. The Park Ranger interviewed my kids. He stated boldly, “You are homeschooled.”

Astounded by this observation, my husband questioned how he knew. His response, “They looked me in the eye.”

Where in an adult life are you required to sit for hours against your will with people of your exact age for 13 years of your life? Nowhere. In the real world you need to speak and work with people of all ages in all walks of life. Homeschooled kids have more opportunity for real world socialization. So, who teaches my kids? Well, besides the obvious contributors, the supermarket checker, the chiropractor, the priest, the librarian, a waitress at the diner, Elmo, our dog and cats, the neighbor, Tom. Everyone we meet, everywhere we go, we have and use our opportunities for learning. It’s a worldwide classroom and the possibilities are infinite!

“Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled. They were not sent away from home each day to a place just for children but lived, learned, worked, and played in the real world, alongside adults and other children of all ages.” -Rachel Gathercole, Shansgazette

 

#4 Round peg, Square hole – People are unique. There are no two people the same. Everyone has a way of talking, tying their shoes, and yes, learning. Some are good at taking tests, some are better at hands on approaches. Unfortunately, public schools and some educational institutions in general pigeon-hole children into one uniformed way of teaching, learning and achieving. This sets some of the students up for eminent failure. If Billy has poor penmanship but is an impeccable public speaker he will get an incomplete in his debate class because his written arguments aren’t as compelling as his performance.

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.” -Beatrix Potter

 

A homeschooled student has the freedom to learn at his/her own pace practicing methods that cater to their own unique style of learning.

Freedom + Learning= Success

 

#3 Bullies– “One in four kids are bullied at school (htt).” either on the bus, on school grounds at recess, in a classroom or the internet. One. In. Four. That’s 25% chance that a child will be ridiculed, name called, made to feel inferior, worthless or suicidal.

#2 Innocence- “More than 4.5 million students are subject to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.” (Shakeshaft, 2004)

#1 Family– Raising children to the age of 5 years and letting them go off to an institution for six hours a day, at a minimum, sounds more like punishment than incentive for a good education. No one can take the home schooling memories, these moments away from me and my kids. Every day is filled with love, laughing and especially learning. Mostly, I’m the one learning from them. They teach me how to live life like there’s no tomorrow. They teach me humility and most important, patience.

These tiny humans are everything to me and my ability to be home learning alongside them is more rewarding than I imagine winning The Pulitzer Prize. We are building a strong unit of trust and understanding, gifts these girls will reap benefits of until their last breaths.

Quality education is a huge part of our little home school but we are first and foremost a family. Our house may not always be clean or our beds made but rest assured we are here, we are learning and we are loving it!

 

 

 

(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying-statistics.html

Adams, S. (2014, January 07). Retrieved from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/01/07/the-most-stressful-jobs-of-2014/

Arnett, J. J. (2000, May). Emerging Adulthood: A Theory of Development From the Late Teens Through the Twenties. American Psychologist, p. 477.

Biofuels. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.biofuels.coop/archive/diesel_part2.pdf

Hansen, M. M., Janssen, P. I., Schiff, B. A., Zee, M. P., & Dubocovich, P. M. (2005, June 1). The Impact of School Daily Schedule on Adolescent Sleep. Pediatrics, pp. 1555-1561.

Health, U. D. (2012). Urinary Incontinence in Children. NIDDK.

O’Brien, M., & Kellan, A. (2010, November 15). Retrieved from National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/science_nation/sleepdeprivedkids.jsp

Shakeshaft, C. (2004). Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature. Huntington, N.Y.: U.S. Department of Education.

Weight, M. (2006, May 19). Retrieved from Discovery Institute: http://www.discovery.org/a/3479

Schooling At Home: Unusual learning

We love our little home school!

I’m not about to preach and boast my kids’ test scores or reading levels.

I’m not about to try to lure you’re public-school-going-kids over to the dark side.

I’m about to share some of our unique ways of incorporating learning in our everyday lives.

These ideas are suitable for home school, unschool or to support their public school education at home, and let me know what you think!

Within These Walls:

Your home, whether you realize it or not, is full of free educational resources. The key to a well-rounded education doesn’t exclusively mean reading, writing and arithmetic. Sending your kids out into the world without common life skills is, in my opinion, worse than not teaching them to read. We all need to be able to manage money, prepare a meal or fold laundry. So, LET THEM HELP!

I know, it’s easier to brush them off and faster to do it yourself, but you’re not doing anyone any favors. Loving them is letting them do.

In the Kitchen

Math and reading tools:

Cookbooks and measuring cups support reading, calculating, understanding fractions and the process of following instructions.

Science:

Achieving a meal using ingredients is like performing experiments and learning science. Try a recipe that calls for baking powder twice, once with the baking powder and once without. Have your little one observe the difference and draw a conclusion.

You could simply boil a pot of water and watch what happens.

Try this musical experiment:

Water glasses experiment

Need: Water and glasses

Instructions: fill glasses with different amounts of water.

Wet finger tip and run around mouth of glass.

Do the same for all glasses and hear the difference in sound.

Draw conclusions

The kitchen isn’t the only place to home school, we’ll get deeper into these walls in another post.

Out In The World

The Backyard

Observing wildlife is an intrinsic part of childhood. Any little person marvels at the site of a squirrel or bird. Encourage your child to follow the bird and see where it goes. Did it hop? Fly? Walk? Where is it going? To a tree? Nest? Water?

Walking down the sidewalk or road is helpful to teach nature, geography and social studies. Point out a mailbox and explain how sending a letter works. Then, send a letter to someone asking for a return letter. Who doesn’t love getting mail? (as long as it’s not a bill, of course)

Observing the weather, saying hi to the neighbor, watching the garbage truck and other neighborhood experiences are all opportunities for learning!

The Grocery Store

Choosing products by reading labels and observing nutritional value teaches comparison by value as well as price and healthy eating habits. Teaching that the unit price is a portion of the purchase price depending on size, weight or quantity is invaluable. I didn’t learn this trick until I had a family of my own and I save so much money keeping an eye on the unit.

Watching for deals and coupons helps emphasize the importance of not paying more than you need to and saving money. Money that your child may have earned at home doing chores and how to manage while shopping will definitely teach the value of the almighty dollar.

The Public Library

I have yet to come across a paid library as I’m sure they exist but your local free public library will have the obvious, books, but also magazines, movies, computers and internet, as well as forms publications and a plethora of information about homeschooling and education.

The World Wide Web

This blog is free! Along with many other blogs teeming with free lesson plans, printables and downloads. A simple internet search of the grade level and materials will provide days of learning and seat work (if that’s what you’re going for).

Many websites offer free ebooks in exchange for subscribing for emails or newsletters. *you can always unsubscribe after downloading your goodies. Then again, why would you, when you’ll risk missing out on future deals and promotions being offered?

A popular shopping website known for books and great deals has free ebooks for download to any mobile device. The application is also available for pc or apple download. Finding the free books can be time-consuming but that is where the free subscriptions come in; websites devoted to sharing home school deals have done the work for you, just check your inbox.

Sites that offer free products need to earn money to keep what’s free, free. So, it’s important to make a purchase now and again. Be sure to never pay full price and search for coupons as well as get rebates on your shopping by joining that website that pays you a percentage of your purchases, you know the one.

So obviously, this post only touches the tip of the iceberg of homeschooling resources. I have not included any affiliate links because i do not have permission to do so (a quick search will get you there), I’ve only listed the ones that we use regularly or know to be helpful. As alway, share your thoughts or add your own free resources in the comments.

 

I’m working on getting more out here about our schooling life and hope you’ll stick around! Don’t miss a post; subscribe for emails.

Mammoth Heeey Boo-Boo

September 29 Day 49

We woke up 14 miles from the Kentucky line and made our way into Mammoth Cave National Park just before lunch. We checked out the Visitor’s Center and bought our 3:30 cave tour tickets then ate lunch and while Papa Bear and our younger three daughters took rest, I brought Juniper and Lemon to the exhibits in the museum. We learned about the different rocks and how this cave system was formed by an underground river.

 

Upon waking we had about an hour to have a snack, use the restroom and finish our Ranger booklets before descending into the cave.

It was chilly walking down the 62 steps and once inside, our guide showed us into a big “room” where early settlers extracted minerals and used them to process and make gunpowder.

It was cool to see the 200-year-old equipment preserved in here like it was just used yesterday.

Our tour was more of a talk and less of a tour, we barely entered the Mammoth Cave system and then it was time to turn around and come back out.

We were left wanting more cave and less guide.

He did tell us about early cave explorers that died in the cave and because of the cave’s steadfast temperature and humidity, their bodies and artifacts did not decay they would mummify.

 

After our cave talk, we were walking back to the visitor center when one of our many fans…I mean a stranger approaches; comments how beautiful all our girls are, proceeds to count them, comment on my looks and hand each of our daughters a $2 dollar bill. Yep, another random encounter… a day in the life…

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Juniper and Lemon received their 10th Junior Ranger Badges. Then, we went to the gift shop for a postcard and souvenirs. While there, a friendly lady approached and we began talking. Before we knew it, it was 9pm and we were neighbors at a nearby campground exchanging phone numbers.

Some times things just click and this was no exception. Our commonalities linked us inexplicably. It’s eerie and weird that I felt like soul mates with this wonderful couple but fun and comforting to know them and their beautiful family.

It is funny how things work out because we didn’t much enjoy the cave but hope a long-lasting friendship arises from the ashes of the Mammoth Cave and the end of our trip.

Tuesday Sept. 30 Day 50 (holy cannoli… 50 days!)

Jellystone Campground is cute with Yogi Bear and all his friends. This particular place has a humongous trampoline-like-pillow that we all had an absolute blast bouncing around letting off steam. I did some laundry, the kids played at the playground and Darryl caught up on some work.

This slide show is a bit long but the joy is immeasurable!

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This break from the road is just what we all need to replenish our spirits enough for the final push(800+miles).

We’ll stay here and rest one more night and our last leg from Cave City, KY to our home in Pennsylvania will begin tomorrow.

 

 

Health Foodies Fishing

I’ve done some serious soul-searching… in it all I’ve begun overhauling everything in my world to create a happy, healthy stress-free existence. I’d love to be able to share it all with you but I respect you, reader, enough not to leave you floating at the balloon museum…so I’m not giving up. I’ll take you home with us. Then, when I’ve worked all the “other stuff” out, you can try it with me and see if you, too can get happy, healthy and stress-free. If you want.

Wednesday September 24 Day 44

On our way out of the park we went for a walk for a geocache. We met fellow northeasterners and chit-chatted about RV’ing. The heat of the day hit us fast, so we were back on the road in no time.

Another long day of driving and we entered TX and strived for Amarillo. Darryl was craving steak dinner and without Costco or healthy edible options in the grocery store we had dwindled our supplies of snacks and easy meals so we were all craving something other than carrots, macaroni or cheese sandwiches.

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We spent the night in Amarillo and made a point to get grocery shopping as soon as possible.

Thursday, September 25 Day 45

These days of straight driving are long but go by quick. They’re also running together in my mind making it difficult to recount for journalling’s sake.

Into Oklahoma and it’s a “drag-our-feet” kind of day the girls alternated playing with their dolls, singing songs, coloring-workbooks and snacks…lots of snacks. Days like today i pump ’em full of snacks hoping they won’t notice we’ve been riding more than not, lately.

A visitor’s center packed with pamphlets, maps and books proved our suspicions 100’s of miles of nothing; well that’s not entirely true and if you are a Oklahoman, I’m deeply sorry to offend.

Even the friendly volunteer had little to offer besides obvious water parks in Oklahoma City. (not our cup of tea)

We like to go off the beaten path so we picked up the outdoor guide and found a state park close to the interstate with our must-haves, water and electric hook ups, a playground and a minimal camping fee. This park also offered a lake for fishing (something Lemon has asked to do).

It was perfect! Only it was on the other side of the state.

Friday September 26 Day 46

Our mission was to find a grocery store, of which we found…one.

We bought orange juice.

Everything in the store was sprayed with, made with or just chemicals in a box.

Not in line with how we eat and we were sad.

We thought maybe there is no demand for organic non-GMO gluten-free food in a small town grocery so we swallowed hard and ventured the nearby Walmart.

As we’re walking in we see about a dozen locals meandering either in or out and we had an observation: all but one of them was severely overweight.

Darryl and I discuss the cause for this and its a topic for another post, another day but i feel like shaking these sheep and yelling “Wake up! You’re dying a slow miserable death.”

Is it the water? Culture? T.V.? Technology? Education? Lack of options? Just plain stupidity?

EGH!

We picked up what little of “our” food we could find and chugged along across the state landing in Eufala Lake State Park just about lunch time. The girls played while Darryl and I got our fishing gear ready- Off he went with our little cherubs and I blogged while the 3 youngest of our brood slept. We cleaned up , they played, we ate dinner and after a game of bingo we all went to bed.

Awesome side note about Lake Eufala Park: The nature center was educational, fun and just really cool! With an amphibian house we entered a sweltering jungle-like atmosphere to see frogs all over. on the floor the ceiling the windows, we could literally reach out and touch them. The turtles were cute too swimming in the water feature. The main building had its moments as well, the touch table was the highlight but the girls wandered exploring and learning like crazy.

Some fun from today:

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Saturday September 27   Day 47

More fishing, cleaning house and bodies then into Arkansas we go. Rest time ended at a welcome center at the state line and another geocache found.

We walked around and stretched our legs before eating dinner at our favorite pastime, Panera Bread in Fort Smith.

Miles and miles and hours and hours to make it into Forest City, AR where we crashed. Not literally, figuratively we were exhausted!

This part of the trip is just as boring and miserable as I had agonized over it in Las Vegas.

We have the best kids in the world though, occupying themselves with card games, pretend play, Nintendo DS, watching movies quizzing each other in Math problems, reading stories, telling jokes and simply being sweet and silly.

I know riding down the road may sound miserable but we all had fun while looking forward to getting home.

Full of hot air

Tuesday September 23…. Day 43

New Mexico is warm at 7am. Lazily I went into the convenience store for coffee, juice and fruit. We ate breakfast and shuffled into the trading post just after they opened their doors.

The two-story gift shop was littered with wooden beams and indian artifacts mostly pottery and jewelry but the girls found these handmade dolls that are just darling and I fell in love with a turquoise ring with onyx inlay! As we wait for our purchases to be wrapped up, the sound of pounding metal is in the background. Oak and I follow the noise to see a lady pounding silver strips with a mallet. She’s preparing them for the craftsman to fashion them into earrings, necklaces or whatever their destiny.

It makes us feel good to support the locals and make it a constant decision not to purchase anything that isn’t home(USA) made.

The girls even know why we don’t, or hardly ever step foot in a Wal-Mart “China-crap”

We kept heading East on I-40 and into Albuquerque for a visit to the balloon museum.

This trip is filling up with fulfilling dreams. The trip in itself is my long time dream come true only my original version (quite askew) involved only me and a Volkswagen. Years later, more dreams piled up; like seeing the Redwoods and driving through a tree or walking along the Grand Canyon; riding a “duck” down the Wisconsin River or visiting Mount Rushmore.

If you’ve known me personally or been to my house you’ll see balloons- paintings, calendars, puzzles, sun catchers, garden wind spinny thingy. Hot Air Balloons Everywhere!

When Darryl and I officially got engaged, his proposal was accompanied by a gift certificate for a Hot Air Balloon Ride. In fact he expressed we would have been in a Hot Air Balloon for the proposal if life hadn’t gotten in the way, as it too often does.

See, at the time, Darryl was about to receive a corneal transplant and the altitude and pressure would put him in danger. So, we waited- then a year later we were married and a few short weeks after expecting Ash’s arrival.

needless to say we’ve been busy working, having babies, and just living our life.

Well, this day I didn’t ride in one but I learned a lot and we got to play with simulators, try ballooning experiments and see a ton of memorabilia. It was a very special place and the very next best thing to an actual Balloon ride. It’s the kind of day and place I will never forget!

After lunch, we worked our way almost clear across the state and into Santa Rosa.

I feel bad coming into towns like this-more empty lots, dim lights and boarded windows. A motel, gas station, bank and grocery store.

A grocery store with not more than five aisles. A grocery store with dusty cans and brown meat-meat that’s been frozen -thawed and relabeled because they just can’t throw out another piece of it. They’re about to go under holding onto a thread of beer sales and the ever popular rice and beans meal of the locals.

This town sits on historic Rt. 66. A town that’s flailing in this terrible economy and corporatacracy of Wal-Marts and interstates. I’m again reminded of Radiator Springs.

Towns once filled with life and lights are now dead and dim. Crippled.

So, what brought us here, you ask?

SONY DSC

While looking for a place to spend the night, we found a campground here in Santa Rosa Lake State Park. The fee is minimal and we managed full hookup with a great lake view.

It was quiet and peaceful with a playground where Darryl took the girls for a while so I blogged before we all showered and hit the hay.