Smooth Sailing One Week After the Sale

It’s now been one week since we closed on our house and have been officially “house-less.”

To Mama’s relief and surprise, it truly has been smooth sailing.

The new owners have been in touch with us and met their new neighbors, who we love very much. As expected, they really like their neighbors and feel incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful people.

Not a single tear has been shed, and there’s yet to be any feeling of sadness or regret felt by anyone.

Time and again the boys get excited that this is truly our home and that we’re doing something we never though we could…or would.

Despite it’s now May and the temperatures have climbed well into the 80s, only a handful of times have we turned on our air conditioner, simply because June has so many windows and is parked under the shade of a large oak tree, so we constantly have a steady cooling breeze blowing through the open windows and doors.

Just last week a new pair of volunteers moved in, so it’s no longer just us. It’s been nice to have another couple here again, both to chat with and share the duties. They’re very nice folks from Arizona.

The population of turkeys, squirrels, armadillos, and deer visiting the Village remains steady, and now we have a baby racoon that stops by nearly every night. The wren chicks in the nest on our site are being taken care of by the parents very nicely and are getting big quickly.

One day we even came across a very large yellow rat snake that had clearly just swallowed a meal that will probably keep it content for a few weeks!

We continue to learn new things and take part in more projects, and it’s been amazing. The only problem we foresee is that this park and its staff are so wonderful that they’ve raised the bar so high we’re concerned we may be disappointed anyplace we go after this!

Something else our boys love is that they are finally able to play in dirt. It’s not that we didn’t used to allow them to play in dirt before, but rather that our house was built on a mix of fill dirt and sand that they never had dirt in our yard. When it rained, no mud formed. When they tried to play in the yard, they had issues with ants nearly everywhere. They are positively thrilled to finally have dirt — and when it rains, mud — to play and dig around in.

That’s not really something we’d considered before. It’s one of those things you just take for granted, we suppose.

Now that we’re officially full-time RVers we’re making plans to redo the galley. We want to replace half of the dining area, get a new loveseat, and set up a better work station for Papa ‘Skiy. Ultimately, we’re going to make it more homey.

So yes, it’s safe to say it’s been smooth sailing since we sold the house. It’s gone better than we’d imagined it would, and we’re genuinely looking forward to what the future brings, no matter the wake.

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One Month As Workampers

It’s hard to believe that one month ago today we moved to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park and began our workamping position as camp hosts!

So much so that our boys still don’t quite believe us.

Fortunately, we moved into this position very smoothly and with ease because our house was located only thirty minutes from here, allowing us to spend some time at the preserve three times in two months before we actually began volunteering here. During our first week and a half we were guided and trained by a few of the volunteers that had been here since the previous season, so at no time were we ever uncomfortable and uneasy about anything. Not to mention each park ranger and staff member here is extremely helpful and accommodating, which was truly a blessing since we were still in limbo with trying to sell our house.

In the month we’ve been here, we’ve opened and closed the park, tidied sites and trails, picked up trash along the main road of the preserve as well as anyplace else we find it, and helped out with miscellaneous projects such as fetching some needed equipment during a controlled burn. Mama has been working at the visitor center at least one day every weekend and keeps the restrooms there clean. She also vacuums and empties the trash at the visitor center and cleans the administrative office, where the administrative assistant and three park rangers house their offices.

We are just entering the rainy season and will also begin mowing several of the frequented areas, such as the visitor center and parking locations. Mama was also informed that she and the boys will be able to assist the biologist here with an upcoming project with the scrub jays.

There’s work to be done here, but in no way is it stressful or redundant, and we — namely Mama — look forward to anything asked or expected of us.

In terms of wildlife, this place is teeming with it!

We’ve seen families of deer, including fawns still tiny enough to have spots and only about the size of cats, and every night we have to travel the road here carefully because more than a dozen will run out in front of your vehicle. The day we moved into our site a Carolina wren was building a nest in a hose box on the side of our well house, and the other day the four eggs that had since been laid in there hatched and we’ve been enjoying watching the wrens take turns feeding and caring for the chicks. We see turkeys daily, especially males strutting their stuff in an attempt to impress females, and the dozens of young squirrels playing tag together and jumping between the branches have not only entertained us but also our cat, Luna.

One evening D ‘Skiy was just about ready for bed and decided to lie down on one of the bench seats of our dinette, below an open window, with his eyes closed. Why? He was listening to crickets and whippoorwills. Then he declared the sounds here are better than any sound machine we’ve ever owned…and best of all they don’t require batteries or a plug! His words, not ours.

On top of that, we sold our house five days ago, and not once has Mama (or anybody else, for that matter) cried! Perhaps deep down we truly were meant to do this all along, but it also helps that Mama and one of the new owners (the mother/wife) also contacted her the day after closing and continues to communicate with her daily. Not only did they purchase (and love) our house, but now they’re also our friends. It doesn’t get much better than that!

So we’re one month in, and although we know things will pick up and get a little busier now, we’re not sure when — or if — we’ll set an end date to this journey. Yes, it’s still quite early in this expedition and new chapter, but time definitely flies when you’re doing something you truly enjoy down to your core.

Case in point: it’s already been a month?!

Moving Forward On the Pink Full Moon

This year the Pink Full Moon rose over the United States on April 29th, peaked around 8:30pm E.S.T. that evening, and continued on into a portion of the day on April 30th.

Symbolically this particular moon in the sign of Scorpio brings about new beginnings, growth, and opportunities. It opens the door for letting go of what may be holding you back and provides the chance to welcome changes into our lives that will make a long-term impact.

Well, it’s safe to say we lived up to it this year.

First, we got word last week that we would not be closing on our house on April 26th, as planned. The buyers were having issues with their lender getting the paperwork completed and delivered to the title company in time, so closing was tentatively moved to the 27th, then again the 30th.

Friday, the 27th, came around and we were notified by our realtor that the lender still had not sent all of the documents and that they requested an extension until May 4th, seeing how even if the title company did receive the paperwork that day they’d still need 24-48 hours to review it and prepare for closing.

We felt badly for the buyers because we knew they were anxious to get the house and move in, but we’d already been under contract for a month and a half, and in doing so no other potential buyers could even see our house. At that point, we’d decided to amend the contract to close on the house no later than May 4th or they’d forfeit their deposit and we’d put the house back on the market.

It wasn’t exactly what we’d wanted to do, but as time went on we were continuing to put money into the house, although we hadn’t lived in it for nearly as long as it’d been under contract.

Monday, the 30th, arrived and Papa decided to follow up with our closing agent to see if any progress had been made on receiving the packet from the lender.

Then he called Mama with some news: we could close that day at 4:30 in the afternoon!

The Pink Full Moon.

Of course, we said we’d be there and certainly wanted to close that day.

Without a doubt we knew that when the day finally arrived to sell our house Mama would be an emotional wreck. The previous week had been very difficult on her, and the day after the house had been completely emptied and we’d said our farewells to our amazing neighbors and beautiful home she spent hours crying, wondering if they’d made the right decision and reliving the memories that made our house so very special.

But when the time came and we were sitting in the office, signing all of the closing documents, never the first tear was shed.

Maybe it was because it happened so quickly. We’d only discovered hours earlier that we would be closing that afternoon.

Maybe it was because we could see how happy the new owners were to finally be purchasing the house.

Maybe Mama’s emotional days in the week prior were all she needed to move on.

Or maybe it was the Pink Full Moon and we were the recipients of her energy and influence.

Whatever the reason, it felt amazing and as though we’d been blessed by a miracle.

Never underestimate lunar power. Apparently it has the ability to help accomplish one to two days of paperwork in just a matter of hours, especially when you’re on the brink of starting a whole new chapter in your life.

Embrace it.

Down To a Handful of Days, But Always Hearts Full of Memories

Well, here we are!

In five days we’ll be closing and our house will no longer be ours. It will be passed on to a new family. One with four children. And we’re confident they will make almost as many wonderful memories in our house as we have over the last 11.5 years.

Has it really been that long?!

Mama and Papa graduated from the University of South Florida in the summer of 2006. Before we graduated Papa already had a career lined up, one that moved us from the west coast of Florida to the east coast one week after commencement.

We’d moved one other time since marrying in 2001, but now we were moving to a city we’d never before heard of.

It was a terrifying move for us. All of Mama’s family lived in the Tampa Bay area, mostly in St. Petersburg. Papa had lived in the same area since coming to America from Russia in 1989. We were confident we’d settle down someplace in the same region.

But Papa got an offer we couldn’t refuse, and it was an amazing opportunity for both of us.

So we were packed up and moved into an apartment temporarily, paid for by the company who’d hired Papa, so he could begin his new career and we could look for a house.

In only a matter of weeks we’d found our home, but we kept looking. We’d fallen in love with everything about this house and compared all others to it.

Then Mama’s parents came for a visit and to join us on our house-hunting adventure. Together we looked at a few houses, and her parents kept getting annoyed because we wouldn’t look at each house for long. We’d already found perfection, but they didn’t know what we were comparing all of the other houses to.

So we took them to this house.

And then they understood.

As soon as you entered the foyer you looked through a huge picture window, overlooking the large porch and big backyard, complete with a vast view of one of the county’s largest canals. The kitchen was huge, beautiful, and perfect for entertaining. The large master suite had a huge his-and-hers walk-in closet and an attached bathroom with a gorgeous garden tub and large separate shower. The three other bedrooms were perfect for guests, an office…or kids. Two of those bedrooms shared a hall bathroom, and the last bedroom was in the very rear of the house and had its own nearby bathroom, called a pool bath, that also led to the back yard.

At the time there was no fence, but the neighbors on either side each had fences. Beyond the yard was…nothing. No road, no neighbors. It sloped downward toward the flowing canal, located about 75 yards from the back yard. About another 75 yards on the other side of the water were empty wooded lots and a few houses.

Privacy. And it was perfect.

Immediately, Mama’s parents understood. We again left that house and looked at others. At every house that followed the routine was the same: Mama and her mother walked inside to critique the interior — especially the kitchen — while Papa and his father-in-law walked around the outside, only to find either neighbors that were all around or standing water, which meant breeding grounds for mosquitos and possibly venomous snakes.

The next day the four of us decided we were done looking: we’d found our home. So we returned to the house to see it a third time. Then from the driveway we called the realtors, who were also the owners because they’d had the house built more than nine months prior only so they could sell it…but the house had yet to be lived in. We made them an offer and they accepted.

On September 29, 2006, we closed on our dream home.

And on April 26, 2018, we say farewell.

The emotions are just now starting to settle in. There are only a few boxes remaining and very little left in the garage. As the rooms become emptier, it gets harder on Mama.

No, she doesn’t want to change her mind. Yes, it’s just “stuff.”

But, oh, the memories!

The three additional bedrooms are located on one side of the house. For the first year the front bedroom was our workout room, the middle bedroom was our office, and the back bedroom was a guest room because it had a large closet and virtually its own bathroom, so we treated it like a mother-in-law suite, complete with our chest of drawers and wraught-iron queen bed that we’d had in Tampa.

Mama and Papa love ornate, dark wood furniture, so we puchased a large matching four-poster bed, night stands, and dresser with mirror, as well as a matching dining table-and-chairs and china cabinet set, all from a small local furniture store, where we also purchased two padded high-back bar stools for the bar that separates the kitchen from the family room and an entry table for the foyer. We managed to score a sectional that was marked down because it was a floor sample at another furniture store, followed by a bistro table set for the tiled area near the back sliding door, and then we bought a large dark-wood matching office furniture collection. Papa’s birthday was 1.5 months after we bought the house, so for his birthday we got his then-dream television set: a 61-inch Samsung DLP.

Our house was fully furnished before the end of the year.

Then in October 2007 we found out we’d become parents!

The front bedroom became the nursery at that point. We painted it pale blue and green and put cute removable stickers on the walls. Mama’s parents purchased the nursery furniture for us, with the exception of a rocking chair and matching footstool that Mama wanted for rocking and nursing our new baby.

We welcomed our first son in June 2008.

We celebrated his first birthday in 2009, and shortly after that we decided to have a fence installed because he had started walking and we wanted to put in a small playground. We hired a local company to erect a wooden fence on each side, with wooden gates at the front, and a chain-link fence and gate to the back so we could still get unobstructed views of the canal.

In October 2009 we learned our son would become a big brother!

So the middle bedroom became our new baby’s. Our first son graduated to a toddler bed that was in the shape of a large blue race car and the nursery furniture was transferred to what was the office. Our family was completed with the arrival of our second son in June 2010.

With that, the guest bedroom had to go and became the office. We no longer had a workout or guest room. We were parents!

As our sons grew, we decided we weren’t going to send them to school. The front part of the house had been set up as a split dining- and living-room space, so we eliminated the living-room portion and made the room with the picture window the formal dining room while the other half became a playroom and informal homeschool area.

Soon, both boys outgrew their own beds. M ‘Skiy eventually got the toddler car bed and we purchased a twin bed for D ‘Skiy. Shortly after, the toddler bed became too small and we got a twin bed for M ‘Skiy. More frequently, however, the boys were requesting to either sleep together in one or the others bed or in a sleeping bag on the floor in one or the others room.

Then, only about a year later, the boys begged if they could share a bedroom. They’d apparently talked this through together and said they didn’t like to be separated anymore. So we purchased a full-over-full bunk bed and converted the back bedroom into their combined bedroom, again because it had the larger closet and bigger bathroom. The middle room became their playroom-homeschool room, and we kept D ‘Skiy’s twin bed so the front bedroom became a combined guest-workout area. The office was relocated to the front of the house, where the playroom-homeschool space had been. Also during this time some of our friends were moving out of state and we purchased their large metal swing set, as the boys had outgrown the small plastic one they’d had.

And the setup remained that way longer than it had been anything else. We started formally homeschooling D ‘Skiy in 2014, and in 2016 M ‘Skiy began.

We’d even repurposed their baby furniture! The dresser was placed in their closet and held their clothes. One side of the crib was removed, a piece of laminate was placed on the bottom, and the crib became their art and play table as well as group desk. Portions of the changing table were changed around, some leftover laminate was put in the middle, and that table became D ‘Skiy’s first desk…until he outgrew it and M ‘Skiy took it. The rocking chair and footstool became Mama’s reading chair in the master bedroom.

As the years went on they both outgrew the baby furniture. Their clothes were too large for the nursery dresser to hold both sets of clothes, so each got their own new chest of drawers. The changing-table desk became too small, so it was put to the road and someone picked it up to use for their kids, and then we went to IKEA and purchased each of them a small desk and chair. The crib-turned-table became too low for them to sit at, so it became a standing activity table and stored art supplies, but eventually the boys stopped using it and that, too, was put to the road for someone else to claim.

Over the course of the last year, the twin bed in the front room was sold, as was the elliptical. Then we sold the sectional and our dining room set to a friend of ours. We’d considered selling the bedroom furniture and bunk beds, and we even posted them for sale, but then we decided to hold on to them. We’re also holding on to our sons’ chests, our office furniture, and Mama’s rocking chair and stool.

Most recently we sold the boys’ desks and chairs to another friend, and Mama’s parents bought our lawn equipment, bistro set, and many other items. Yesterday we gave the boys’ full mattresses to one of the park rangers at the preserve we’re currently staying at, and those were the last of the large items.

We are literally down to boxes and miscellaneous odds-and-ends…and sometimes we wonder if it would just be easier at this point to get a few garbage bags, shovel everything into them, and call it a day. The last few and small items are certainly proving the most tedious.

Now all of the bedrooms and bathrooms are empty. We’re leaving the bar stools, LP grill, the boys’ tire swing hanging from the front oak tree, Mama’s back yard fire pit that the boys and Papa built her one Mother’s Day, and Papa’s DLP television for the new owners.

The empty rooms and yards and bare walls that once held family pictures keep tugging at Mama’s heartstrings, especially as memories flash through her mind:

Mama hanging window treatments and shopping for linens and other accessories with her mother, while Papa shopped for a new lawn mower and other items, as well as picking up our new state-of-the-art French-door refrigerator, with his father-in-law, all within days of the house becoming ours.

Hanging lights, fans, and speakers because either there were none or the few included were small and dim.

That mid-morning a nauseated Mama took a pregnancy test and then called Papa at work to tell him the news, in tears of excitement, anxiety, and fear.

The other morning two years later when Mama took a pregnancy test, walked into D ‘Skiy’s room, where Papa had just finished changing his diaper, and decided to make the announcement by picking up their son, giving him a kiss, and asking him loudly enough so Papa could hear, “Are you ready to become a big brother?” which was quickly followed by a gasp from Papa and a group hug full of elation.

The morning Papa got up for work while very-pregnant Mama started to walk out of the bedroom to make his breakfast and lunch for the day when her water broke right in the doorway.

The hundreds of tummy kisses from D ‘Skiy because he was so looking forward to meeting his baby brother.

The middle of the night when Mama started having contractions very close together, so Papa called her OB, who abruptly said we should go to the hospital, despite D ‘Skiy was sleeping soundly in his bed…and remained asleep, even while in the delivery room with Mama as she was delivering his brother.

The sleepless nights Mama and (mostly) Papa spent when our babies refused to sleep or simply wanted to nurse, either out of hunger or comfort.

The first coos, giggles, words, and birthdays.

The crawling on the uncomfortable burbur carpet and hard tile, and the dependency on the furniture to learn to stand and walk.

The scary fevers, vomiting spells, wasp stings, scrapes and bruises, and bumps on the head.

The month M ‘Skiy was in a full-body Spica cast and couldn’t walk, crawl, stand, get wet, or adjust while sleeping, needed help going to the bathroom because he couldn’t use the toilet (only a bed pan and urinal), and could only get occassional sponge baths, followed by another month of him trying to learn how to walk again because his muscles were so atrophied he was unable to do anything with his legs without a walker or other assistance.

The evening cuddles around books for bedtime stories…and the many “just one more” requests.

The plants and trees we’ve adorned the yards with, and the above-ground gardens Papa built for Mama that yielded several seasons of vegetables before the weather got the best of them.

The games of hide-and-seek, Shutes and Ladders, Candy Land, Checkers, Wii, Play Station, Uno, Skip-Bo, scavenger hunts…

The support beam just inside the foyer that marked the heights of each of our sons in green and blue marker since they were babies, now covered over by layers of silver-birch paint.

The chalk trails and roads drawn in the driveway for scooters and cars.

The removal of training wheels from bikes, inline skates with head-to-toe safety gear, pogo sticks, street hockey, and tossing around baseballs and footballs.

The day we had to say good-bye to our aging corgi Cici, the day we welcomed our cat Luna to our family, and the day we had to bury our betta fish Samson.

The boys’ birthday parties, the many playdates, and the backyard get-togethers and barbecues.

The above-ground pool that we had for nearly three years, preceded by other smaller pools, and an inflatable water slide that has been used at least a dozen times, which we now have stored away with the other items we wish to keep and use again.

Our neighbors that have also become our very dear friends, who we love and will miss very much.

And thousands more happy, sad, thrilling, terrifying, and wonderful memories that simply can’t be listed.

Now we can’t help but wonder: Come Thursday, the 26th, will our hand help us hold tissues as we tearfully pass over our keys, or will we jump up and high-five as we officially begin our next big adventure?

It’s a good thing we each have two hands, because we have a feeling it’ll be a bit of both.

Shh… It’s a Best-Kept Secret

Day-use parks are where it’s at!

There. It’s been said. It’s no longer a secret.

Why? Because we wish we would’ve known this before!

But what on Earth are we talking about?!

Well, when Mama first started talking about workamping and camp hosting, we thought the only opportunities were at full-fledged campgrounds. Any type of campground.

We’d never considered day-use parks. But if you think about it, aside from the park rangers and few paid staff, there’s got to be someone else there to help with opening and closing the entrance, picking up litter, keeping trails clean, participating in public events, and so on. You know, all the little nuances.

It takes training and certifications to become a park ranger. Their skill set and dedication are best served preserving the land, educating visitors, and taking care of the bigger picture.

Others should fill in the gaps, so to speak.

We’ve been at St. Sebastian River Preserve for 11 days now. We’re not going to pretend to be experts or veterans at this because this is our first workamping gig.

But we will say this: day-use parks are awesome!

There’s just enough to do to feel like we’re helping out the mission of the state parks, although we wish we could contribute more in some way. We open and close the entrance (in shifts), keep the grounds tidy, make sure trails are safe and clear, man the Visitor Information Center (also in shifts), and so on.

In all honesty, we almost feel like we’re taking advantage of what is provided in exchange for being resident volunteers though.

This place is beautiful, and the park rangers and other volunteers are among some of the nicest and most easy-going folks we’ve ever met. When you’re accustomed to stress, rushing around, dealing with social drama, and such, this just feels too good to be true.

But it is true.

It’s one of the best-kept secrets of workampers and RVers.

But why are we letting the cat out of the bag?

When we first considered workamping, Papa expressed concerns. He works full-time, Mama homeschools and takes care of everyday at-home demands, and he was concerned we — well, namely Mama — would be spread too thin volunteering as workampers.

Papa had every right to be concerned. We’ve been to hundreds of parks and campgrounds. We’ve seen what workampers need to do, and we’re certain what we’ve witnessed barely scratches the surface.

When you volunteer as a workamper at a day-use park, though, your responsibilities are different and certainly appear to be far less stressful.

Workamping options are certainly more expansive than we’d imagined. It’s not exactly what we had imagined.

It’s better.

But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret.

 

Already Ready For Full-Time RVing

We set a “launch date” of April 4th once we’d established when we could move down to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park to begin our camp hosting position.

But we simply couldn’t wait that long, and apparently we weren’t meant to wait!

We needed to finish getting June ready for us to live in her and empty out our house. However, the City of Palm Bay has strict rules against RVs parked in front of a house, even if it’s on your own property, and it doesn’t matter if you’re not in a deed-restricted community, which we are not. We do park June next to the house, where it’s permitted, but she has three slideouts and they can’t be pushed out enough to get the rig move-in ready.

The solution? Camping again!

We decided to book another trip to our favorite local campground, Wickham Park. This would allow us to pile stuff into our vehicles and open up the RV enough that we can pack and prep her appropriately. Plus we’d be close enough to the house and storage unit that we could run to either anytime we needed.

Now, we didn’t intend on not ever returning to the house for any other reason than to clean it out, open it up for inspectors, and so on. We’d planned on camping at Wickham from March 25th through the 30th and then head to Mama’s parents’ house for our regular family Easter weekend, after which we’d head back to the house for three more evenings before relocating to the Preserve and become permanent full-time RVers.

However, Mama’s maternal grandmother unexpectedly passed away on the 26th after prolonged battles with some health issues, and on the 27th Mama’s parents were simultaneously diagnosed with Flu B and needed to be quarantined. Needless to say, our Easter weekend plans needed to change.

We’d considered just going back to the house until our camp hosting position began.

Then we thought about staying a Wickham Park a little longer, which was the preferred choice.

However, no camp sites were available on March 30th, although we could get a reservation at another site from March 31st through April 4th. So we booked that available site and decided we’d treat ourselves to a day at EPCOT after checking out Friday, staying at a different campground someplace in Orlando for the night of March 30th.

The park staff at Wickham kept informing us to call again and again to see if a cancellation had popped up for Friday because it was likely one of the resident Snow Birds would leave before their reservation was up, that way we could just stay. Between Mama and Papa, we checked more than a dozen times but had no luck.

Finally, an hour and a half before we were set to check out that Friday and head to Orlando, Papa called the park office one more time and suddenly their was an available site!

Needless to say, we took it and relocated. And to make it all the better, this site was not only available the night we needed it but also for the remainder of our stay!

(Oh, and we still made it to EPCOT that day.)

We were genuinely ready to just stay in our RV and return to the house only for necessities, although that was certainly not our original plan. Apparently it was in the stars for us to begin our full-time journey a little earlier than intended. This has also given us ample time to finish getting June move-in read.

We were supposed to officially launch April 4th. Our launch date became March 25th!

It’s official now: We’re a full-time RVing family!

Under Contract, Over the Moon

Our house went on the market January 10th, and some unsolicited, inaccurate, and generally negative advice informed us it would take us at least 6 months to sell our house.

Well, it only took 2.5 months!

Mama had been getting antsy and missed camping — and her birthday had just passed — so she booked a brief camping trip to Wickham Park (a local county park with camping) March 16-18. While we were there a couple came to see our house on March 17th.

Then on Monday, March 19th, they made an offer!

We’d had many people look at our house, but this was our first offer, and it was for the asking price plus closing assistance.

After negotiating on the closing portion, a contract was drawn up.

In the week that followed a home inspection took place, followed by a termite inspection. As suspected, everything went fine.

So we’re under contract and the closing date has been set for April 26th.

According to a nursery rhyme, a cow jumped over a moon. Well, stand aside, Cow, because this family is up there too!

There Are No Bullseyes Unless You Take a Shot

One of the holy grails of full-time RVing is being able to successfully clinch a workamping or campground host position at a park. But that can be a challenge if you don’t have any formal experience in either.

Case in point, we really want to give workamping/camp hosting a try. And we were intimidated by the thought that many others vie for such opportunities.

Others with experience.

However, you’ll never get the chance if you don’t get out there and apply.

In January Mama ‘Skiy decided to complete an online application with Florida State Parks for volunteer resident and campground host gigs.

It was a long shot, but she hit the mark.

On Monday — just a couple of weeks later — she received a phone call from a park ranger at St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in Fellsmere, FL, only thirty minutes south of our sticks and bricks. The ranger said she saw her application and asked if she’d be available for a camp hosting position over the summer.

Too good to be true?!

Well, Mama said yes, so they made arrangements to meet the upcoming weekend.

Fast-forward to Saturday. Today. We all drove down to the park to meet with the ranger at 10am to learn more about the job and find out if we are a fit.

It’s safe to say that Mama’s jaws are still sore, she’s been grinning so much ever since!

We were taken on a guided tour of the 22,000+ acres of the preserve, to see where the full hookup resident circle is located, learn where the trail heads are and where they run, get an idea of the land, see the equipment that would be at her disposal, and so on.

And it was perfect!

After touring for more than an hour, we enthusiastically accepted the offer. We’ll begin sometime in April and will live there until possibly August or September.

Mama’s duties will include assisting with tagging and tracking various bird species, cleaning and clearing trails, opening and closing the park gates, helping out in the visitors center, and more.

Her commitment is only 20 hours of service per week, in exchange for us staying on-site at their private and gated full hookup resident camping circle.

This is not only yet another dream-come-true for Mama, who wished she could be a park ranger when she was a child. This is also an incredible volunteer and educational experience for D ‘Skiy and M ‘Skiy, who will be permitted to assist Mama when she works.

On top of that, one of the trails we drove on leads to a county swimming pool, and the huge C-54 canal that separates the north section of the preserve from the south can be fished and is inhabited by manatees.

It’s difficult to say who is most excited about this opportunity: Mama, Papa, the boys, or the ranger we met with today.

We took a chance. We have loads of RVing, traveling, and maintenance experience, but zilch as workampers or camp hosts.

This ranger was happy with what she read in the application, and she was even more enthused when we showed up to our — for lack of a better word — interview and we finally met face-to-face.

Honestly, this was a long shot. It’s no secret that most workampers and camp hosts are retired. We don’t fit the stereotype, but we certainly fit the bill.

Everything is falling in to place for us, and we’re so grateful and blessed.

And now, no matter when the house sells, we already know where we’ll be for the summer.

Bullseye.

Sometimes Bridges Just Burn

If you value a relationship, whether it’s familial or friendly, there are certain things you just don’t do.

If you continue to lie, insult, disregard, and manipulate though, don’t be surprised if the end result is bridges getting burned, especially after years of discussion, warning, and friction.

We are not a mainstream family. We don’t do things considered normal. We’re a bit different and out there, but in no way have our decisions hurt us, our sons, our family members, or our friends.

Our choices are neither right nor wrong. They are our opinions and what has worked for our family unit, and we have had no regrets. We also don’t believe our decisions work for or are a fit for everyone, and we would and have never imposed such on anyone, regardless of our experiences.

No, our sons have never been to school, and that includes daycare and preschool. Studies have shown there’s no benefit of formal or structured education before the age of 6. We’ve had a passion for traveling since our sons were 1 and 3, and Papa’s work schedule gives him 3-day weekends every other week, which we’ve happily taken advantage of. As opposed to daycare or preschool, Mama was able to make the decision to remain a stay-at-home parent as opposed to seeking a career in anthropology, and our travels have taken us all over, from Puerto Rico when our sons were one and three all the way up to Alaska in 2016. This is something we couldn’t have done if the boys had been in school.

Lack of a formal or traditional education does not equate to illiteracy or lack of an education period. Much of what they’ve learned has been hands-on and in-person. We’re talking places and things most only see in books. Even Mama and Papa got to experience and see many things only in books, on TV, and then eventually on the computer. But our boys have seen iguanas climbing ruins in Puerto Rico, an abandoned Florida town that once belonged to a now-extinct religious sect, a blacksmith forging iron objects, views of Mount Rainier from the Space Needle, antelope grazing in prairies, and bull moose sparring in Alaska in books, on TV, on the computer…and in person.

All this and more by the ages of six and eight.

In terms of how Mama educates, we decided a couple of years ago that we didn’t like curriculum and we didn’t want to use a school-at-home method. We researched different types of workbooks until we settled on something all-encompassing and engaging, something that our boys enjoyed, something that covered all primary subjects in an age-appropriate manner. After attempting four other lines of workbooks, we came across Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills. No, it’s not curriculum, but it is a workbook broken up into language arts, reading comprehension, and mathematics. The reading comprehension always covers social studies, science, or literature.

Yet our oldest son was recently cornered and informed that he isn’t being educated, doesn’t have a teacher, can’t read or write, and doesn’t know math. All of these accusations with no questions or quizzing, just a barrage of unsupported insults.

Let’s keep in mind that both of our boys are reading chapter books, are writing complete sentences and short stories, and can solve multiplication and division problems. None of that matters, apparently, because clearly neither are being educated or have a teacher.

Our son was so hurt and upset that he hid and cried.

This isn’t the first time terrible things have been said about our decision to homeschool our sons, although this was the first time something was said directly to one of our sons, and it was under one of the worst circumstances and in one of the most damaging manners possible.

It’s tough enough that many believe kids have to go to a regular school in order to be “socialized,” although when kids are in school they see the same kids that are the same age every day, aren’t permitted to talk or interract freely, and get stuck sitting for hours on end. Our sons have friends that span as young as four on into the teens. Their birthday parties always have many friends, they make new friends nearly every time we travel, and they’re never uncomfortable talking to anyone, regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, race, and so on.

Too many also believe traditional school is some rite of passage, as though a child’s life is incomplete without team sports, bullies, writing assignments, tests, music lessons, science fairs, or dances. What they also don’t realize is that all of these are or can be experienced by homeschoolers as well.

Being educated at home doesn’t turn kids into a recluse. Quite the opposite, homeschoolers are usually more outgoing and well-rounded because barriers and walls are removed. They’re more comfortable with change and challenges, and they tend to adapt to situations easier. Time and again we’re told by strangers that our sons have impeccable manners and are incredibly intelligent, and when we say our boys are homeschooled we’re usually told, “That’s obvious,” and it’s never condescending.

In no way are we saying traditionally-educated kids don’t have manners or aren’t smart, nor are we saying our sons are nicer or smarter. We’re also not saying homeschooling is a fit for everyone or that sending kids to school will damage them. We are, however, tooting our own horn because many do fail to realize how beneficial homeschooling is and can be, simply because this isn’t “normal” or what most families are doing. We tend to be judged harshly, rather than questioned or spoken to first.

And then there’s our decision to sell our house and live in our RV full-time. This is not a permanent deal, but rather a chance to pay down debts, save up money, travel more, and do something a little crazy. We are in a position to be able to do this now, and since tomorrow — let alone reaching retirement age — is never a guarantee, we all want to do this while we can. This was a family decision, not a parental one. Our sons want this as much as we do, if not more. Our home will be mobile, our physical address will change, our experiences will grown, and our yard will constantly be different.

But we’ve been told we will be homeless, are making a mistake, are too young for this, or could potentially ruin our sons’ childhood. This isn’t something we decided to do overnight, nor did we jump into this without years of research and planning. This will give all of us a chance to minimize and better appreciate what we have, spend more time together, and expand our horizons, so to speak. We’ll branch out, move around, and experience things most only dream of. Yes, we’re going from a home of 2,133 square feet to one just under 350 square feet, but we will have what we need and be together. Our boys will still share a bedroom, as well as a half bathroom. We will still have a dining area — both inside and outside, if we so choose — and a couch for sitting, watching TV, and entertaining. Our kitchen is well-equipped and we will be able to cook and eat indoors and outdoors. Mama and Papa will still have their own bedroom, there is still a full-size bathroom with a full-size shower, we will still have a washing machine and dryer, and we have both a front and a back door.

What of this makes us homeless?

And what part of this could hurt, ruin, or potentially deprive our kids and their childhood?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and concerns, but under no circumstance is it okay to insult, spread rumors, tell lies, or speak ill of us, especially when the only thing we’re guilty of is being different. We’ve not hurt anyone, our family is stronger than ever, and our kids are happy and thriving.

If there’s something you don’t understand, ask us or do a little bit of research. The information is out there and it’s free. And we’d be more than happy to answer questions about anything.

Whatever you do, don’t accuse us of something or make an assumption based on personal opinion, not education. And media isn’t an accurate source of information in any way, shape, or form, so don’t even go there. Go straight to the person or family. Ask. Every year hundreds — even thousands — of individuals and families transition to or begin RVing and homeschooling, be it one or the other. Why not us?

Furthermore, don’t be surprised if your actions, behavior, or comments result in bridges getting burned, especially if past decisions and conflicts have already caused it to start swaying and crumbling. We can take only so much before we cut our losses and realize our efforts have been futile.

We’ll just keep on keeping on, happily living our crazy, haphazard, abnormal lives.