Wednesday, November 14, 2018


We get asked a lot if we homeschool. Obviously this questions comes while we are out and about with school-aged kids.  It also takes some explaining.  There are so many forms of homeschooling that no 2 families look alike.  We take a position in the middle of traditional homeschooling (with printed curriculum) and unschooling (using their interests and environment to learn).  Travelling makes this a lot easier than while stationary, in my little bit of experience.

These are some of the common questions we get about our schooling choices.

Did you always want to homeschool/how did you get started?

I grew up in Florida, where to my knowledge, there are plenty of free options for preschool.  When our oldest, AJ, was preschool aged we were stationed in Omaha, Nebraska.  Most of my friends had their children enrolled in preschools in the area.  After some discussion, we decided not to enroll AJ and to start a simple curriculum at home with him to see how we liked it.  Some of the reasons were: 

  • I quit my job to be at home with our kids, so I really wanted to have the kids at home with me as much as possible.
  • We also felt the expense was a bit unnecessary for us. I felt equipped to provide the basics for AJ, initially.  We would surely send him to school later on.
  • It wasn't required to send him to preschool.
  • I found a free/low-cost preschool curriculum that I loved.
After that first year I just continued.  When we hit the road, we really didn't have any other options but to homeschool, so we embraced it. Yes, there are days I think about enrolling them in public school, but that fades quickly with a cup of coffee and a quick prayer for patience.

Short answer, no I didn't plan to be a homeschool mom, it kind of just happened. Now, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

How long will you homeschool?

I cannot possibly answer this question.  I love teaching my children.  I love watching them learn and being there every time they discover something new or a new ability they didn't know they had. I love watching them light up when they find a new passion, and I love being able to customize their learning to run with their passions. I see us homeschooling for the foreseeable future.  I really can't imagine a reason that would make me stop.  Ask me in a few years when they hit their preteens and I may have a different opinion.  Don't get me wrong, there are days.  Like today when I had to just walk away before I lost it with my oldest.  He loves to test me.  I try to remind myself that this will be a good characteristic when he is older.  Stubbornness now, as long as it is healthy, will be determination and refusal to settle when he is older.
AJ found an interest in everything George Washington,
so we took the family to Mount Vernon to learn more about him.

What curriculum do you use?

As with many homeschoolers this is never a one word answer.  We mix and match. When able, we participate in a Classical Conversations community.  It is a classical based curriculum for a one-room schoolhouse style of teaching.  This works so well for us because I can review the material with all 3 kids and then focus on their abilities to dive deeper, when needed.  It uses a lot of song, repetition and hand motions to memorize facts and details that they will learn more about when they are older.  When we are in one location for a longer period of time we can join a community that meets once a week.  We do a science lesson, fine arts lesson and then new grammar (memorization of math facts, history sentences, science information, English and Latin.)

Exploring a Crayfish at CC Community Day.

Learning about being a Blacksmith in the 1800s

At home I use multiple curriculum for the kids. AJ uses Explode the Code for grammar, Bob Jones Press for math and we do book reports after a trip to the library.  Right now we are using First grade level subjects but primarily just reading as much as possible to improve his reading skills.  LJ is only 4, so we do a very relaxed schedule with him.  He too is using Explode the Code, he likes it because it is like a puzzle for every lesson.  We were using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but it wasn't really fitting well with LJ (AJ successfully completed it last year).  I also picked up a Kindergarten book from a discount store that covers letters, numbers, less/more than, time, money, phonics and patterns that he seems to enjoy.

My favorite curriculum of all are our travels. These kids can tell you all about the US, Bison, Pronghorn, Presidents, State Capitols, Bats, Caves, Mountains, trains, budgeting, priorities, schedules, and so much more.  The opportunities our lifestyle provides will be the richest education I can give my kids.

One of our campgrounds was covered in chestnuts. They taught me how to open
them without getting poked because they had already been playing with them.


How do you make sure your kids are socialized?

First of all, we live at campgrounds.....that is where kids go with their families for vacation. They are around kids ALL THE TIME.  A snarky remark a lot of homeschool parents use is, "You socialize your dog, you educate your children."  The truth is, my kids have met so many people from so many different backgrounds.  When they are around other kids AJ is a standard bossy oldest, LJ is forever in his shadow and Baby A finds the other girls and admires their sparkly shoes and shows off hers.  You know what else my kids do when they are around other kids, they protect one another. At home, AJ is LJs nemesis, on the playground AJ is LJs bouncer.  They praise each other, and honestly that makes my heart happier than any other behavior they may show.

I'll never forget how AJ struck up a conversation with a commuter on the train leaving Boston.  I just sat and acted like I wasn't listening, but he told her all about our day to include the Boston Tea Party reenactment we did. She told me after the conversation that she was so impressed by, not only his ability to converse with her, but his comfort in conversing with her.  He had his normal, "you're a stranger" apprehension at first, but then was very willing to chat with her. He was 5 at the time.

We have a hundred different opportunities every day for our kids to be around other people, their age or not. We hike with other families we meet along the trails, we chat with other families about homeschooling and RVing (because there are a lot of us to run into), we have cousins and family friends everywhere that we meet up with.  I personally think that our lifestyle enables them to experience more diversity in people than anything else could.

The short answer is, I don't.  It doesn't really cross my mind if they are getting enough "kid time", because the way we live they are meeting and socializing with so many people of different ages, backgrounds, experiences, etc.  I asked AJ what his favorite thing about RVing is and he said, "I get to see all of my friends and cousins and travel around."

(Least favorite thing, for those that are curious, "I don't get to ride in the RV while we are driving." Haha)



 Do you have any questions for us about home/roadschooling?  Leave them in the comments and I will answer them.

Friday, November 2, 2018

It's Amazing What a Little Paint Can Do

We moved into the new rig about 6 weeks ago.  After a few weeks of hard work painting, re-flooring and organizing, it's home.  We are enjoying the extra space, the washer/dryer we installed, the larger water heater and the "great room".  We now have enough room to kick our feet up and watch a movie or football game as a family on the giant couch, something we couldn't do in the last RV.

Some of the upgrades and repairs we've made, with some information as to how we did it are included here.

Fixed Leaking Tanks
Painted Interior wood
Re-floored Master Bedroom and Dining Room slide
Installed a Vented Washer/Dryer Combo
Installed a Bumper/Frame Bike rack

Fixed Leaking Tanks-Priority 1

We bought this unit used, but we had no idea how used it actually was until our first test drive of the entire rig.  We pulled into our local campground, hooked everything up and discovered multiple issues.  The most concerning was the leaking tanks.  You want your tanks to be sealed shut for many reasons.
1. So you don't get an unwanted shower while removing the drain cap when hooking it up. (See Jon's blog here.)
2. So you don't get backwash into any different tanks.
3. **Most importantly**  so you don't get a huge mound of 'ehem' solids stuck in your tank with no liquids to wash it down.

The fix: After checking the cables that activate the valves, we discovered that the valves weren't closing completely.  Jon removed them, cleaned them, replaced some of the seals, and then reinstalled them. After making some small adjustments to the cables during re-installation, we have sealed and working tanks!!


I know there are so many ways of painting the interior of an RV.  It's nothing like painting a home.  There isn't a lick of drywall or stucco anywhere.  It's all finished wood and textured luan, making it difficult to get paint to stick. Being a mom of 3 youngins I wasn't really excited about taking the time to sand everything down.  Many other RVers have had success with using chalk paint, cabinet paint, and bonding primers without having the sand.  So I set about making a plan for how I was going to do it.

Materials: I decided on 2 coats of primer and 1-2 coats of paint.

Let me preface this with a full picture of what this process was like.  It was June, in Maryland, and we were working on the RV in the storage lot.  No electricity, no air conditioning.  We would arrive, start up the generators, pray the AC wouldn't overload them and get to work. By the end of the day we were drenched in sweat and our hands were cramping from holding a paintbrush from 5 hours straight. Not to mention the speckles of paint in our hair and drips down our arms.

The Process:  I first started by cleaning all of the surfaces to be painted.  I made a mixture of vinegar, lemon essential oil and water to de-grime the entire place. After wiping all the surfaces and allowing it to dry I tried to figure out where to tape and removed all hardware and cabinet doors.  Some taping was a waste of time (it didn't stick to the luan) and some was crucial.

There are a ton of small areas that require a steady hand and a lot of focus.  Something I got better at as the process went along.  I chose a shade of white with a bit of purple in it. I do not like purple and did not want purple, but I wanted to find a shade of white that wasn't blinding or made the RV look dingy.  I ended up with this color and am very happy with it!  I went with a dark indigo for the island, which had been black and needed a good coat of paint to hide the scuffs and gashes the previous owner had made.

It took me about 5 full days to complete the process and there was a bit of a learning curve.  I thought, because latex paint is water based, I would be able to clean up my small errors after all was said and done.  But that is not the case. I went back over with a very small makeup brush and diluted lemon essential oil to get rid of the mistakes I had made alone the way. It was tedious and hopefully this save you from making that mistake too.

Stock Photo for Before the Painting



During that first trip to try out the RV we decided to give the carpets a nice washing.  We rented a carpet cleaner from the store and set to work.  Now imagine, if you can, what it's like to have 3 kids running around in 350 sq ft with a full sized sectional in the middle of their room while shampooing a carpet.  It was a circus. After 2 days and numerous tanks of black water the carpet still smelled overwhelmingly like a wet dog had expired on the carpet.  It had to go.

The master bedroom was a slightly different story. It didn't smell like dog, but have you ever been in one of those cheap hotel rooms where the carpet is almost sticky?  Like, you sleep with your shoes on because you won't dare touch the carpet with bare feet when you have to use the restroom at 2am?  That is what the carpet was like in the master. Gross!

So where do we begin?  After contacting the manufacturer we agreed it wasn't worth the cost and process to order the exact flooring from them. We didn't want to build up the floor to install floating laminate and I was really opposed to having carpet in our 'dining room'.  What is with that anyway?  Most RVs have carpet in the dining room!!! Obviously they have never had to pick dried oatmeal out of the fibers before. Our slide is a 12 foot slide and most rolled linoleum comes in 10ft lengths. So I was going to need an excess 8 feet in order to pull this off.  But I fortunately found a flooring store that had a few options in a 13 foot length.  So I settled for something with the same color tones and placed the order.

Can I just say that installing linoleum is so ridiculously easy!  I wasn't totally sold on the linoleum we got, so we trimmed it, placed it and then set the couch on top for a trial run.  Well it's been 3 months and it hasn't moved and I actually LOVE it!  But what about the master bedroom??  This product right here took me 1 hour to install and looks beautiful!



Washer/Dryer Combo

We decided it would be really nice to have a washer in the RV.  Based on the reviews of the campground laundry facilities we are likeyl to be living out for a year in MD, we decided it was a must have.  We purchased the Splendide Washer/Dryer Combo.  This beast is 100 lbs of metal and concrete (yes there is concrete weight inside). The install literally took blood, sweat and tears to finish.  We drilled a 5 inch hole in the side of our RV for the vent and started washing!  Unfortunately our luck would run out after 3 washes.  We've had to replace both the motherboard and heating element already.  It works great, but I'm a bit unhappy with the warranty work already needed.  I'll keep you posted on this one.

Bike Rack

We've been toying with the idea of installing a bike rack on the back of the RV since Day 1.  But the problem is, most bumpers aren't actually designed to carry any weight. With 4 bikes and a bike trailer in use now, we needed to figure something out. Jon found this really cool apparatus that reinforces the bumper connection to the frame, adding weight tolerance enough for the bike rack.

While we have made some other minor modifications, these are the major ones we've completed.  We have a few ideas for some other things we'd like to change but for now home is bigger and better than ever before!

For a full video tour check these out:  

Sunday, June 24, 2018

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

It's been a small point of disappointment knowing my youngest children will have effectively no lasting memories from the journey of our first two years of RVing.  Even AJ, at age 4 and 5, will only cling to so much (hopefully the good stuff).  

With this in mind I worked hard to ask the children at the end of each day , "What was your favorite thing about today?"  And then I jotted the y down on our calendar for some context.  Hopefully it will offer the kids a way of "remembering" these past years.  

Here is what they had to say...

Quotes by AJ in red...   LJ in blue

                                     May 2017

-Driving to New Orleans-
The train at Lambert's Cafe
Crossing the "big bridge" in New Orleans
Playground at the campground
Playground at the campground

-Kayaking New Orleans Bayou-
Seeing airboat pass by the kayak

-Downtown New Orleans-
Playing on boats at the Children's Museum
Playing with trains at the Children's Museum

My favorite - 25 cent oysters and $1 drafts!

-Driving to Houston, TX-
Watching bonus features on Chuggington DVD
Playing outside

-Lake Conroe Campground-
Playing tetherball with Daddy

-Visiting friends in College Station, TX-
Playing with toy train and playing "green monster" with Madison
Playing soccer outside with Daddy's friends

-Day at the pool, Lake Conroe Campground-
Watching TV poolside in the cabana
Swimming and watching TV at pool
TV... Seriously?  *Sigh*

-Houston Zoo-
Playing outside after dark (tennis, tetherball, playground)
Unfortunately no pictures were taken of the intense tetherball battles!

-Lavon, TX campground-
Swim lessons
Swimming pool and going to Nana and Papa's

-Lake Tawakoni Campground-
Chick Fil A
"How To Train Your Dragon" movie
Nana and Papa visiting and all the fun activities
Swimming w/ cousins
Spaghetti dinner and bike ride around campground past playground
Quiet time during dinner listening to birds

 See more from this trip here.

                                           June 2017
-Lavon, TX-
Baseball game with Uncle Ben & ice cream
Ice cream sandwiches
Birthday part for AJ at bowling alley x2

                                             July 2017

-Independence Day, Golden CO-
Fireworks and soccer
Getting face painted

-Rocky Mountain National Park-

Bighorn sheep
Seeing a bear
Playing on Thomas the Train at library
Shark puppet at the library
Playing in creek and hiking to waterfall x2

-Bicycling Glenwood Canyon, CO-
Throwing little apples at each other next to the bike trail
Fast tunnels in the bike path

-Penny Hotsprings near Glenwood, CO-
Playing in hotsprings along the river
Finding orange rocks

-Hike to Hanging Lake, Glenwood, CO-
Seeing nocturnal animals - bugs, snake and mouse
Rock climbing the trail

-Moab, UT / Arches National Park-
Climbing to Pinnacle Arch
Arches National Park Junior Ranger badge

-Kayaking Colorado River, Moab, UT-
Swimming in the Colorado River from the kayak
Playing on an island in the Colorado River

-Canyonlands National Park-
All of Canyonlands

-Duchesne, UT / Starvation Lake State Park-
Running in the sprinklers
Giving Baby A kisses
Dinosaur National Monument

-Salt Lake City, UT-
Chick Fil-A
Dinosaur Museum
Great Salt Lake

                                         August 2017

-Grand Teton National Park-
Spending the day in Jackson and playing by String Lake in the park
Antlers in Jackson Square and playing cornhole outside brewery restaurant
Boat Ride
Seeing the wake from our boat crossing Jenny Lake to our hike to a waterfall

-Yellowstone National Park-
Old Faithful sprayed us
Seeing bison up close & the roiling water pits
Seeing the golden eagle at the Grizzly Bear Refuge
Hot chocolate by the fire
Bike ride through Yellowstone and the geyser and bubbling mud
Seeing the fox with new friends while climbing Mt. Washburn
Time with Mommy
Seeing Old Faithful
Ice cream by the Dine-In Bus in West Yellowstone
Seeing the osprey nest at Yellowstone Grand Canyon and drinking hot chocolate by the fire
Seeing bubbling mud pits at Fountain Paintpots
Seeing the fox
Eating chicken fingers from the cafe 

-Bear Tooth Highway, South Dakota / Montana-
Playing in the snow on the side of the highway
Playing in snow and throwing rocks in the waterfall 


Driving through thick clouds on Chief Joe Highway
First day of (virtual) kindergarten
Walk with Mommy at the RV park

-Black Hills, South Dakota (including Mt. Rushmore)-
Train ride through campground
Wind Cave National Park
Playing basketball at Pizza Ranch restaurant
Train ride, marshmallow roast, playing on playground at RV park
Wind Cave National Park
Running in puddles by the pool in the rain


I unfortunately failed to capture their memories on paper from this point forward.  Which is a shame, because we still had most of the country to cover before arriving in New York in the fall.  

But in the end, after seeing so many beautiful places of such variety, one thing stood out to me.  For a young child of three or five years old, these were the only things that really mattered:

1) Attention and love from his or her parents
2) Time to play outside
3) Way down in third place: new experiences

I suspect as the years pass, the visit to Mt. Rushmore will replace the time on the playground as a key favorite memory that day for the kids.  And for me, I'm just happy to have been there with them.  Granted, I still prefer the new experience type memories, such as playing on a snow covered mountain in August at 10,000 ft, compared to running around on the playground in the RV park.  But even the playground times have made some worthwhile memories for me.  I'm excited to see how the boys and little lady's interests change in the years to come!