Three… Two… One…

It’s been nearly three months since we moved into our fifth wheel full-time.

It’s been exactly two months since we moved to the preserve that is our first workcamping position.

And it’s been just more than one month since we sold our house, also known as a sticks-and-bricks.

Several have asked how it’s been and what our impression and feelings about it are. To put it one way, we’re already set up with two more workamping assignments at other Florida state parks. We definitely plan to do this for at least another year. But that’s not to say there haven’t been a few of challenges, which we’d like to share if for no other reason than a little perspective.

Cleaning bed sheets is never fun, no matter where you live. However, when you’re in an RV, you’d better be a bit flexible, especially if your bed is positioned so you have no walk-around space or you happen to have bunk beds. (In our case, Mama’s side of the bed is free of stuff, while Papa’s side always has things piled up, and our boys have bunk beds. LOL) This was something we were well aware of when we were part-time RVers, but when you’re full-time and find yourself doing a little bit of gymnastics and a little bit of yoga just to clean and redress beds every two weeks or so, you realize the chore of doing bedding on regular beds really isn’t a big deal. (On the up side, Mama is physically more flexible now!)

We’re proud of how much storage space our rig has, and we’ve downsized a lot, but we’re still finding ourselves getting rid of more and more stuff! Now seriously, this is both a challenge and a blessing. When you have a house with closet space to store those articles of clothes that you’ll wear or fit in to “one day,” you finally realize it’s pointless when you’re in an RV and limited on how many pieces you can keep. Honestly, it’s not all that bad. You start wearing pants and shirts more than once before tossing them into the hamper to get washed…and this is especially true for jeans and shorts. We’ve actually hung up Command hooks and set hooks over closet doors as designated space for those have-worn-once-or-twice-but-it’s-not-dirty-enough-to-wash-but-can’t-got-back-in-the-drawer-or-closet-but-there’s-not-enough-space-to-toss-it-over-a-chair pieces.

The same is true for shoes, books, towels, and keeping extras of whatever. We each started with a couple of pairs of sneakers, waterproof boots, flip-flops, and sandals. We’ve since cut down on sneakers to one pair each because we wear our boots when we’re working or hiking outdoors, and we have slimmed down on the number of flip-flops and sandals we have because it’s definitely better to have the majority of your feet covered with boots or sneakers when walking outside…or we just go barefoot right around the rig. We’ve parted with most books and converted to electronic versions, with the exception of the boys’ school and reference books; we all only have one towel each for drying off after showering and one towel each for the beach or swimming; and we avoid extras of just about everything. If we’re starting to get noticeably low on something, then we’ll get one more since it would be needed in the next day or two, but otherwise you won’t find us with bulk, gallon, or multiples of anything. And that includes school supplies.

Things will never get or stay clean. Nothing. For crying out loud, we have a cordless Dyson vacuum cleaner hanging conveniently by the front door, and no sooner does someone vacuum the floors that there is dirt again. There is no foyer, there is no convenient or clean transition from outside to inside. Leave your shoes outside and you’ll end up with water or some little 4-, 6-, or 8-legged creature in them. Take your shoes off before coming in and your socks will end up either dirty or wet. Things will get — and are — dirty, and that’s simply the nature of…well, nature.

In no way, shape, or form are any of these challenges bad, however. We’ve yet to find a down side to this lifestyle. You have less stuff, you’re forced to be more relaxed and flexible, and you have a bigger appreciation for it all.

We still have not shed a single tear about selling the house. Neither of the boys miss having it or the yard. If they had their way, we wouldn’t even leave this preserve and go to another park. But something tells us they won’t want to leave the next one either…or the one after that…

Mama volunteers more than 20 hours per week, and each of the boys and Papa average 5-10 hours per week. We have everything we could possibly need or want, and we’re truly enjoying this more than we could have imagined.

So how has it been?

Three…two…one…we’re having a blast!

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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!

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.

What If “One Day” Never Comes

Mama and Papa aren’t what-if people and never have been. We don’t want to get to an advanced age only to look back and wish we could’ve, should’ve, or would’ve done something differently.

We also see no benefit in putting off for tomorrow what can be done today.

Or putting off for next month.

Or putting off for next year.

Or putting off until retirement.

We believe planning has its place and we do so when and where appropriate.

There are things we’ve said we’ll do “when we retire” or “when the boys have grown.”

Then in January we had a rude wakeup call when Mama went to the ER and almost didn’t come home.

Now we see no point in waiting, namely for one thing in particular.

And we have decided to finally make the announcement public, after talking about this for years and putting our plan into action for months.

Folks, we’re in the process of purging and downsizing…in preparation for selling our house.

Until now only Mama and Papa’s parents and very few friends and family knew of our plans and that we’d been working on making it happen.

But today — May 1st — we’re ready to let everybody know that we will soon be listing our house on the market after we get some work done on the front and back yards. We’ve already started on the inside.

Oh, and we’re not buying another house for one to two years.

Yup, we’ve decided to go for it and get a little crazy. We’re going to live in our beloved fifth wheel June and our address will be that of whatever campground we’re parked at.

When we went on that three-month road trip last year, no one in our family wanted to come home. We can honestly say we only missed our friends and family, but we didn’t really miss our home.

Yes, there’s stability, familiarity, and monotony in living in a house. Yes, living out of our RV is risky, unusual, and unexpected.

That’s exactly why we all want to do this, and that includes our boys.

They loved not knowing what our new yard and their new playground would be like every time we parked at another campground.

They loved the small quarters of our RV and how close we all became, after we didn’t before know we could grow any closer than we already were.

They loved that they were outside more frequently and that we all went on more adventures.

They loved making new friends in each state and that age and education barriers pretty much vanished.

And since they’re already being homeschooled, the transition will be that much easier and smoother.

Yes, Papa will continue working and for the very company he’s been with and loved for more than 10 years now. We have no intentions to leave the area anytime soon, and we have plenty of camping options throughout this county and those counties nearby. Besides, as much as we travel on weekends anyway, why not simply bring our house along every time?

Our sticks-and-bricks (or S&B) home holds countless memories, and ours was the first family to live in it. This is the first house our boys ever knew, and it was also the location of the only school they’ve ever been to. It will be emotional when we do drive out of our driveway for the last time, and it’s been somewhat emotional as we box up stuff and sell and donate things that helped make our house a home.

But it is just “stuff.” They’re material things, most of which can be replaced down the road. Things that hold sentimental value and that we feel are irreplaceable will be in storage until we decide to settle down once again.

Then there are our amazing neighbors, which are also our friends. We love them dearly and we know we could never again find neighbors as wonderful as they are. Fortunately, we also know that we’ll remain in touch and friends, regardless of where we live.

And whoever moves into our house next will be extremely blessed to have them.

In addition to this being another adventure for us, this is also an opportunity to pay off everything and free ourself from debts. We will be able to save money and could potentially pay cash when we do buy or build a house down the road.

Mama loves poetry and one of her favorites is by Robert Frost, in which he concluded:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.

And then there’s a quote by Mark Twain, popular especially among RVers:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Those by Frost and Twain are excellent advice and have guided Mama and Papa well for more than 15 years.

All four of us want to do this, and Mama and Papa used to say we would do this one day, perhaps in about 15 years or so.

Then we realized “one day” may never come.