Nomads’ New Year

Happy New Year!

We had such an incredible 2016! It was truly fantastic for each and every one of us on this end. I realize I have been somewhat incognito for some time. Life has been…. busy…. to say the least. End of October we spent much time bouncing from place to place in and around Chicago. November 1st we ended up at my brother’s home. We had made the familial decision that it was best to sell this rig instead of invest in new tires (after the massive blow out), simply because this rig is just not big enough for us. Also, it became abundantly clear in our adventures that having a vehicle and wee bit more storage would be MUCH wiser for the sheer number of people and activities we have going on. So, we needed a place to park it for a few months, allowing us time to sell the RV and invest in a truck/vehicle plus a travel trailer. TT seems the much better route for us.

And…. it just so happened that my brother was in major need of some family support. Our family is quite distant (to say the very least). Last I spoke to my brother was years ago. But I heard from my dad that he was in a tough way. He was laid off, house nearing foreclosure, and mounds of debt if he did not swing things around right quick. House was kinda in shambles when we arrived, but we struck a deal that I’d help him get his house back in shape and help him rent out rooms to build up income to save his house. At the start, we lived in the RV in the driveway for quite some time. Needed to get the house in order before moving in. Eventually we moved into a large back room to the house that has backyard/private entrance. Kids have a fabulous yard, a fun fire pit, and super nice neighborhood and forest preserves to explore. Overall been a great stay.

I’ve helped him rent out some space in his home, he regained his job back (whew!) and he’s at the very very beginning stages of getting back on his feet. I’m working hard on selling our rig for it’s value, and getting the conference up and running! It’s only a few short 6-or-so weeks away! Wowza!

Our hope is to be situated by conference time so that start of March we may set back out once again. And so far, we seem to be on par with that plan! In the meantime, the kids are having fun catching up with Chicago friends and taking a few classes. D got back on the swim team for our period here, K has been working VERY hard on filming projects, and the littles will all start park district classes in the week or two ahead. AND!!!!!! A new puppy has been occupying much of ALL of our time. Meet Mansa. He’s a true sweet pup. 10 weeks old now, but was a xmas present to the kiddos. Super awesome addition to our family!

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So….. the new year had me thinking….

Well…. actually it was the FB posts I had been seeing ALLLLLLLL over the place suggesting that 2016 could go F-itself. I was kinda confused. But really….. the confusion just is mine and mine alone. Yeah, there were clearly some truly crazy wordly woes that happened this past year. Many celebrities died, we had probably one of the craziest presidential elections of all time…. Natural disasters and the like. It was rough on a wordly perspective. Ironically however, our family had one of the best yet. It was such a super-special year full of experiences and personal achievements.

February we hosted our first ever unschooling conference and it was a raging success. By May K had completed a full feature documentary about homeshcooling and hosted a movie premier. We participated in the UWG conference, traveled some more in the summer, including east-coast travels and participation in the Unschoolers Rock the Campground weekend. We furthered beautiful relationships with friends on a farm in Ohio and fell in love with them and their amazing slice of heaven. We explored ideas to move/relocate but then ultimately decided to pick up and hit the road full time on our nomadic adventures. Just before nomadic adventures commenced however, K participated in the 48 Hour Film Festival and won Audience Choice Award (amazeballs!!!!). A first-time trip to Rethinking Everything completely changed our lives for the better. The experience, the adventure, the people…. it nourished us in ways we did not even realize needed nourishing and fostered amazing connections with beings I LONG to see again super-duper soon. We purchased our first RV and had the most “amazing” adventures in the first rig. (And yes, I’m being sarcastic there!) But in all seriousness, I was meant to have that rig to teach me a plethora of things I could not have gathered from any other experiences. So I feel totally blessed to have had the time and experience in our first rig. We had the MOST AMAZING trip to AZ to participate in the Free to Be conference. We happened upon the International Balloon Fiesta in NM and man…. live felt completely altered from there. Upon return we rekindle family relations with my brother which has actually been super duper great. The kids did not know their uncle at all. And, we have been able to spend more getting things on track for the conference (which we are SO excited about due to all of the amazing speakers AND registered participants already!)!!

I’m sure I’m leaving some things out…. mainly due to me not recalling every detail but living in a state of bliss for all that has come our way this past year. It was a really amazing year, and because of this I am super stoked at what 2017 is bound to bring our way! It’s going to be a great one!

I’m closing out with some pics of our near-end-of-year adventures here. Some are likely repeated due to previous blog posts I’ve shared, I’m just thrilled to share them with you! Happy New Year!!!!

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Found It!

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It finally happened for us today! Miracles of all miracles! We have been searching high and low. In Chicago…. Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana….. back to Chicago again. We considered converting buses, drove a few and almost bought one and that fell through due to car dealer negligence (blessing in disguise). We looked at several more and then after seeing an RV we honed in on that as being right route for us. Then…. made an offer outside of our budget simply because I fell in love too quickly and then needed to renig cause going in debt was not what it was about. Since we were going to be on the road anyway figured it’s likely best to check out each state as we roam. Country farms and budgets more accessible seemed the way to go. Having failed appointments, seen the worst of the worst, RVs selling before we even made it to the schedule appointments….. and….. test driving an already converted diesel bus I was not quite sure I was willing to put my most precious beings in, we came back to Chicago empty handed but with one last appointment set for the time being. Figured if this last one were not ‘the’ one, then we had a slew more states to track one down in as we head to Ohio this week and then westward to Phoenix by end of September.

Alas! This was a great fit! The body is in incredible shape. The inside quite vintage and ready for our personalizing. It’s not huge-mongous like I was attempting to avoid, and yet sleeps us all. The mileage under 80K. Within budget so we are officially loan free and can work on rebuilding ourselves financially. The one and only clincher…. minimal storage so I’m about to get crazy-creative. The ultimate small-spacing living challenge is ON! I’m pumped at the challenge at hand and simply relieved this decision has been made in a manner that feels insanely fun, scary, exhilarating and AMAZING all at once!

After purchasing we made it to the DMV for title and plates with just 15 minutes to closing time. All went smoothly without a hitch. Incredible to have been on such an amazing journey and see it to materialize to this magnificent outcome!

We pick her up tomorrow, and say a bittersweet goodbye to our blue bus tomorrow in turn. We get the new-to-us RV cleaned up and ready for packing. Sunday is K’s movie premier and Tuesday our very last beach outing to celebrate C and M’s birthdays… and our departure.

Excitement buzzing all around. I tell ya, we have been so blessed by the immediate friends and community supporting our adventure…. I’m beaming with abundant gratitude for these amazing beings in our lives! We are truly blessed and lucky!

 

 

 

 

 

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Helluva

Yep, that about sums it up!
Helluva day, weekend, week…. you name it. Not in a negative way, thank goodness. But in a “whoa did that just happen?” kinda way.

So…. I think I left off at what all we had been looking at in terms of move-to vehicles. Truthfully, after seeing and driving like the 5th rickety old bus…. and just ONE RV… it was abundantly clear that we need to hone our search. We had a little pow-wow and agreed that the bus was not necessarily our route because we ( me namely) would not like the adventure (the new lifestyle) to be about the bus as a project, but the travel and exposure to the world around us. I was drawn to the class C with the sleeping loft above the drivers cab. This offered enough sleep space for everyone, was small enough for me to maneuver and perfect for the task at hand.

As the weeks wore on however, I was getting a little stressed trying to (a) hone in on one specific/suitable/affordable vehicle and (b) get our twelve year home packed up and move us out by the end of the month. As K’s 48 Hour Film Festival project approached it became even more apparent that I needed to nix the vehicle search for the present moment and get us packed and moved. So two weeks ago, that’s the direction in which we moved.

 

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August 26th through the 28th K participated in the Chicago area 48 Hour Film Festival. Last year’s participation was on a team with others guiding the way, and with that experience at hand, he wanted to lead his own team this year. He signed up under his business name, Saikouba Entertainment, and rallied some friends to help with writing, acting and filming. It was quite a whirlwind of a weekend with everything  that came into play but overall a super amazing experience. He learned a great deal both from the successes and the mistakes and is already gearing up for next year’s festival (not to mention several other festivals he may participate in throughout the year before then). I’m extremely proud of the efforts he put forth and all that he carried away from the weekend. It was a seriously intense project and from what we found out from the first night…. he is the youngest director to enter this festival. Huge kudos to K and team! We look forward to the movie premier this coming weekend back in Chicago!

From the close of that weekend we had the rest of the house to pack up, purge, move, freecycle, sell, store…. you name it. The 72 hours before we locked the door behind us is truly kind of a blur 😉 . I recall lots of phone calls, texts, emails, FB posts, people stopping by. I frankly to remember what was thrown to the curb and what was taken away. All I know is that 5 x 11 storage space is truly packed to the BRIM! Not an inch to move. Had we had our RV (or alternate vehicle) in hand before leaving, we would not have packed likely so much into the storage unit. There is lots crammed in there awaiting a second and third round of purging as we move into the new RV. So that will be a whole other experience to endure. Bracing myself.

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Our last night was bitter sweet. All of our beds had been moved out but one. Rock star C kept me company as we packed up the last of the last. And we all camped on the living room floor on a pile of blankets and pillows. The final day we had three more trips to the storage, packed up, slipped the key under the door and we were OFF!

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We did not find and RV or similar before leaving town. But alas it was time to go. End of month, end of lease, and conference pending. We were venturing off to the Rethinking Everything gathering which we are still truly reeling from. It was such a remarkable time being among this significantly profound group of people. It was right where we needed to be at that very moment in time. So much ahead to still face and settle, and at this very moment in time we could be among the kindest, gentlest, most supportive and abundantly grateful group of people we could have ever met. It was remarkable.

Leaving there Monday we headed to Chattanooga where we were going to look at an RV. I figured, once I got over my stress of the immediate need (or the original thinking that it was an immediate need), it would likely be best to check out RV listings on Craigslist all the way down and back from AL. After all, we were going through several states, many of which would likely have plenty of listings at a price range we could afford! Thus the Chattanooga stop. It was the perfect size RV but it was in really rough shape. Onward…. to a wee bit of bummer. We were hauling to Louisville to see another and just an hour before arrival we get a text that one had sold already.

We stop for dinner, set up two more appointments and think we should just haul but to Cincinnati that way we were right there to see the next two. Welp….. about an hour out from Cincinnati a text….. it’s sold already.

Ergh. Well, at the very least we got to enjoy a very nice hike through Mammoth Cave, and a super cheap pizza buffet. We decide to stay in OH anyway cause we need to see one more in OH tomorrow, and then hopefully, one in Indianapolis. Also, a quick peek online tonight and I revealed there were two more super great listings in the Chicago area! So there are options ahead! We are eager and abundant! Looking forward to finding *the* one so we can begin to feel more settled in this process. The hotel living and eating out WAY too much is getting old. It’s bringing about mama grouchy at that moment, and that means everyone is feeling it. Realizing it has me revamping myself…. but it is going to be SO amazing to finally have something picket out! To get the storage unit purged, *and* to feel we finally have a ‘home’ to settle into! Keep your fingers crossed that we may fall in love with *the* perfect one before pulling back into Chicago!

-xo

 

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Seeking our angel

I slept a whooping 11 hours last night. I needed it, apparently…. big time.

It’s been a long haul the last few weeks. Purging, cleaning, selling, packing, job hunting, travel planning, and….. dealing with 12 years of life here, with six other individuals; some of who are meeting the departure (from this home, not for travel) with a bit of apprehension. To be expected though. It has been a home base for twelve years. Many ups and downs in this home, but primarily…. supreme awesomeness. Bittersweet that the end was met with such a toxic blow as a homicide was discovered in our storage locker. The murder in the building has taken an immense emotional toll on each of us in our own right. A few kids feel this adventure and departure a blessing. A few see it as a mixed blessing. They are eager for the adventure ahead, but they are met with the sadness of this not being home any longer…. and in the same breath, *all* are relieved this will no longer be home. A murder in your home is something so immensely powerful it truly feels an unanswered question as to whether we would ever be able to get passed it and move on. One thing remains certain though… we would not be the people we were intended to be if we stayed, lived through it, and came out the other side the bitter, cynical people I am already seeing us veering towards. So undoubtedly this is a timely departure.

With all of that on my plate, sleeping over 11 hours last night, and having a $#it ton on my to-do list today, I remained kind of paralyzed throughout the day. We need to make a storage run tomorrow. I have a ton more to sell off or we are immensely screwed with not having enough storage space (as I intend for all furniture and sellable stuff to be gone), AND we have tons we were planning to move into a new vehicle that we do not have at the moment…. and may not have till after the first trip or two.

With all of that more thought out, it becomes abundantly apparent that we need a bus or RV immediately. We looked at a bus yesterday and the majority of us like it. It would definitely be a work-in-progress…. unschooling 101 kind of project. But the fun of it all is that we could make it the way we’d like to have it. There are not too many RVs in our remote price range on Craigslist right now. That (the RV route) would be kind of nice too because it would be all set and “all set” is appealing after the last month of ‘getting ready’ for this life change.

Point boils down to we are seeking our angel. There is a person out there that realizes a small personal loan to purchase the vehicle of need will change our lives forever. We are not seeking donation. We are seeking the assistance to be able to handle this big move, with full intent to pay back in full. Without a car loan or rent, utilities, etc. hanging over our heads, we are able to invest fully in repaying our angel.

I have full faith there is someone out there who has it in their heart to assist us. This magical time in our lives is meant  to be with all that we have been through. Abundantly grateful!

 

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Metro

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We are now the proud new tenants of a 5 x 11 x 8 storage unit. This family of seven will be cramming in 14 years of life with kids into this little closet space. Think we can do it!?!? 😉

No furniture, just the essentials. Just the “I just can’t bare to get rid of this” type things. I think we are doing an amazing job of widdeling it all down to next-to-nothing! But the hour glass is dropping! Quickly! Very little time left to accomplish the amazing!

 

 

 

 

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Lemons

lemonToday was a lemon kinda day……

We’ve been on such a high lately it felt like kinda a brief blow. But the most amazing thing came from ‘the blow’ and that was an immediate high!!! Nothin’ is stopping this bucket-list-dream-of-how-life is-supposed-to-be manifest stand in our way.

So…. first off let me be perfectly frank and say we are doing this with literally nothing. We are purging all earthly possessions, both giveaway or selling, and simply dumping. One of the biggest motivations is learning how important life is and not the actual *stuff* in it. That said, my kiddos already have a pretty good grip of this life-fulfilling notion, but even for myself who ‘knows’ it, it’s always good to ‘practice’ it. Let’s face it, sometimes it is far easier said than done. And to practice in life verses in theory is a whole new ballgame… brings on new meanings.

At any rate, another motivation is to expose ourselves to the world around us. We have traveled quite a bit with the kids already but at a pace that was more or less on a timely schedule. Often we could move at our pace, but there were plenty of times we just needed to measure up to someone else’s schedules and/or expectations. So this adventure will take on a whole new beast of it’s own. And for that I am eager and grateful. It feels much more how life is intended (and needing) to be for our troop.

And then, there is the financial factor. We expect that living frugally with little-to-nothing and very little expenses will end up saving money and building us back up to where we prefer/desire to be. We have had a super rough financial go of things since 2010 when SBJ was laid off. We never seemed to fully recover living off of nothing and it seems like this plan will pick us back up again and set us right. This is a very exciting prospect for us as parents who long to provide the best, but also to set up a better future so that SBJ is not working to his grave!

All that said, we had a plan. We are starting this adventure with nothing…. in all sense of the word….. nothing. The plan was to take what little we made from selling all earthly possessions, the sale and pay-off of the van, and then turn around and find an RV suitable enough to take our family on a journey. If a small loan was needed it would not be for much and would not take long to pay off because we would have no overhead bills to deal with, with SBJ’s still full time income.

As it all transpired it seemed we would need a small loan just to tied us over. We could afford something outright by October, or we could aim for the loan now and see what happened.

This morning I woke up to what seemed like a very positive response (via email at least). To be perfectly frank, our credit history is not one lenders will fall in love with, so I was a bit skeptical, but still hopeful. But as I opened my email and began to read other news…. like several things listed on Ebay had not sold and were being relisted…. The person who intended to come pick up an item from a FB garage sale site was no longer coming…. Ebay (and/or PayPal) were holding funds pending from sales I have already completed because I am a new seller and they deem 21 days sufficient time for me to “think about how to be a #1 seller”… or something like that. It was beach day, we needed to pack a few things to ready for our new storage locker tomorrow, and packing over beach did not seem like happy thoughts to me. Not to mention…. there was literally *no* food in the house for breakfast cause…. well…. cause I have just not realized that groceries may possibly be essential this week.

Yea. Whelp. You guessed it…. the bank denied the small loan. I was bummed…. but shockingly I did not (even in the slightest) take it as personally as I typically take things 😉 I was actually a-okay with it. Cause…. well…. when I pondered the game plan a bit more…. there was no reason not afford something very shortly, on our own, without a loan. Come October we could have a very nice selection and take off in style. And since we need to come back to Chicago twice between now and then, then we are not in any way not able to do it in the vehicle we have at this moment! We take our two week vacation to Portland. Then after a week back here, we take another two week vacation to Phoenix. Upon return, we can scour for the RV we deem our dream, and set forth from there!

In fact…. i’m taking that lemon and making even MORE lemonade, because this just leaves one less thing on my plate between now and the end of the month! I can now concentrate purging and moving. Selling and selling. I pocket away and forget about it. It’s a secret stash for our RV. And…. it’s certainly not to say that we aren’t still peeking around 😉 I have an appointment to look at something tomorrow even! I just feel far less pressured about it. We are getting a sense for what we want to move into more permanently by scoping things out. So these little vacations before the ‘full timing’ begins is a real treat! OH…. and the freedom we will have to be widdled aaaallllllllllll the way down to just a few storage boxes!

Excitement continues to mount and I intend to enjoy that lemonade! 😉

 

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