Sunday, December 24, 2006

One month of being vegan

Like I mentioned in my last post, Kevin and I are going to do one month of being vegan. We have been vegetarian for several years and want to see what it is like being vegan. We will blog that entire month (January) about our feelings and our daily menu as some have been asking what the heck we would eat. As I mentioned before, I don't think it will be that much of a swing as we are just removing dairy and eggs. The egg thing might be a little challenge as it is in so many things so we will get good at reading labels. So here is the link to our blog for those interested in following:

Friday, December 22, 2006


We got dumped on with about 18 inches of snow this week. The kids are in heaven but the roads get so bad. There have been several accidents, some of them fatal. The wind has kicked up so the trees are bare once again. It sure is pretty when the trees are drooping with snow but it never lasts long here.

The last couple of weeks have been so busy between me over-socializing and Kevin having lots of choir performances, many of them 35 miles away. I love to be social and entertain but I seem to overdo it. I am now in disengage mode. I just need to shut down for a while and not have a lot of people around me. I am also having another one of those weeks where I am aching to be on the road. I'm just longing for simplicity right now. I feel like we have gone back to the very thing we were trying to leave behind when we pulled down the Alaska Hwy. in our motorhome. We live a little more simply but I long for REAL simple or as the White family calls it......................BARENAKED. I am going to start with removing anything out of my home that complicates my life more than it does enhance it. I just need to find my center again.

I think what I need is an unschooling conference right now!! I need to be around people who are sweet and gentle to their children, people who embrace the good things in life, people who are loving and tolerant and.....FREE! April is just around the corner right? Life Is Good Conference here we come!!!

Kevin and I are about to experience one month of being vegan. We are both vegetarian but we would like to experience being vegan so we have both agreed to a one month comittment. I am also going to give up my coffee for one month to see if it makes a difference in how I feel. I have been fighting acne on my chin for four years now and I also have TMJ, which can be very painful. Apparently caffeine irritates the TMJ so I am going to see. We are going to blog about our experience on a different blog. I will post the link as soon as I get it started. Our start day is Jan. 1.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Readers Digest Interview With Will Smith

These are a couple of questions from an interview that Readers Digest had with Will Smith. I think he is an unschooler and doesn't even realize it :)

Interviewer: Have you ever thought about going back to college?

Will: The things that have been most valuable to me I did not learn in school. Traditional education is based on facts and figures and passing tests – not on comprehension of the material and its application to your life. Jada and I homeschool our children, because the date of the Boston Tea Party does not matter.

Interviewer: But there are some basics in education that need to be taught.

Will: Of course there are. Reading, writing and arithmetic, because those are the languages of our country.

Interviewer: So, you don’t see any reason to go back to a formal education yourself?

Will: I know how to learn anything I want to learn. I absolutely know that I could learn how to fly the space shuttle because someone else knows how to fly it, and they put it in a book. Give me the book, and I do not need somebody to stand in front of a class.

Interviewer: They put physics in a book, but I know I could never be a physicist.

Will: The first step is you have to say that you can.

Monday, December 04, 2006

busy, busy

Wow, what a busy week!

Wednesday was one of those days that the kids just wanted to experiment all day long! It was great! Calista painted and blew up her volcano. Of course, we couldn't just do it once, we did it over and over until we were out of vinegar. She wanted to know how volcanoes "really" blow up so she checked out a National Geographic video this weekend. Then the kids started playing with cornstarch and water, one of their favorites that we call oobleck. Calista wanted to see what happened when you cooked it, so she made pancakes out of it. We learned that it makes a glue, of sorts. You will notice in the pictures that Calista was too busy to even get dressed, she just wore her jammies all day.

Tristan LOVES to cook so he started getting a bunch of ingredients out to make some things. He had seen someone eating chocolate covered raisins so he thought he would experiment with different ways to make them. They put the raisins in with a bunch of chocolate, in the saucepan, while the chocolate was melting. That didn't work so well but they thought it was pretty tasty. They also made some chocolate chip pancakes. Tristan has been doing quite a bit of experimental cooking lately. One of the things he made last week was eggs with cheese, green onion, and celery, it was actually quite good and we have eaten a lot of them this week. Maybe we will have a chef in the family :)

Calista has been into running businesses. In the last couple of weeks we have had a mail order business, a video rental, a bank, a restaurant, and a coffee shop. She takes it quite seriously, there is no pretending! Cash register, money, adding machine w/receipts, packages that are wrapped and taped, menus, real food, the whole nine yards!

Kevin has 1 1/2 weeks of concerts starting yesterday. They gave a concert at the Anchorage Museum yesterday afternoon. They had the choir lined up the grand staircase overlooking a pool thing. It was a beautiful concert and a beautiful setting. They have two school tours, another concert that is part of a nativity celebration, and three full concerts (three hours long). In between they have rehearsals, including a four hour one! It is amazing to me what these kids do but they love it. I will post pictures soon. I didn't have my camera yesterday but a friend of ours took a bunch so hopefully I will get some this week.

Martin's car is in the shop this week, getting repaired from a hit and run. Since he has to use my vehicle this week we will be able to do some stuff for Christmas. The kids and I are busy making little gifts and we plan on making a gingerbread house this week.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kevin's essay

Kevin, Hope (a friend of Kevin's) and I got to talking about the Green Day song, American Idiot. We had a discussion about being controlled by the media. The following is an essay he wrote that I thought was thought provoking:

Controlled? by the.... Media

The media. Is America controlled by it? Most would say so, and others might argue. But the truth is they do, in a big way. One of the largest ways the media affects adolescents & adults in the US, is by pressuring us into changing our appearance. Perhaps a famous actor or actress has a specific hairstyle the catches the media's attention, if that occurs there is a high chance that will explode into the latest style. But why are we so concerned with it, that we let them control us? The fact of the matter is, everyone wants to be accepted in life, and the media takes advantage of that.

Some other forms of control would be marketing/false marketing ads, (example) where in they convince you to buy something, explaining how great it is, and the reasons you should choose their product over the next. Another example of control would be fear, they instill it in every one of us which causes anticipation of a certain result. And, last but not least, inflating issues. Overstating facts and incidents that have occurred, causing gossip and rumors throughout America. This is the most effective technique, and used more often than any of the previous. This can appear anywhere from PEOPLE magazine, then all the way down to your local newspaper.

In the big scope of things, we may not consciously realize that we are submissing to exactly what they want, but if you look hard enough, you will find that the media attempts to control us in all aspects of our life. All the way from our dressing habits, to the homes we live in. Once you start to realize this is the true, the more you will see it happening day to day... but...

Is this avoidable? That is for you to decide.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Thanksgiving was wonderful and pretty quiet around here. We are used to BIG Thanksgiving gatherings and lots of noise and activity. This year was quieter than usual for sure! Spragues (Martin's sister and family) were sick and Robin and her family celebrated with the in-laws. So it was just Merle and Lois (Martin's parents) and our friends, Kristi and Jeff Hurt and their three kids, Brenden, Maggie, and Lena. Hurts had to leave after a couple of hours because they had some other rounds to make. After they left we watched a special, on the History Channel, about the Mayflower. Lois had an ancestor on that ship who's wife gave birth during the voyage. It was a very interesting program.

It has continued to be rather cold here. Today it was sitting at 9 degrees at our house but it was -1 at my friend Tanya's. I've had the wood stove cranked the last couple of days. I believe it is about 80 degrees in my house................Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Tristan and Calista are busy making "campaign speeches". It never ceases to amaze me the things they come up with and learn through. The two of them have been getting along quite well the last few days. Calista told Tristan today, "When we laugh together it makes me feel really good because it makes me feel like you really like me." Ooohhh!! They are usually at odds with one another so maybe we are turning a new corner here.

The pictures I posted are of the mountains that surround our house. We were on our way home from our errands and pulled over to snap a few. Our home is about 1/2 mile from where we were at.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Unschooling In Action

These are the days that just confirm to me how well unschooling works and how natural learning really is. Calista started a "mail order business" last night and she was having us all mail packages to people. She works on her adding machine and has a cash register when you are ready to "check out". I had a knock on the door while I was doing dishes this morning; a package delivery that I "mailed" last night :). When Tristan woke up, the "mail order business" turned into a video- rental-by-mail business. Tristan decided he was going to be the bank so people could come pull their money out before they paid for the rentals. After a while Tristan says, "Wait a minute, how does the banker make money if the customer puts their money in and makes interest?". So I explained how the bank invests the money so the bank makes more interest than what they are paying the customer.

He wasn't sure how he was going to put that in action as a pretend thing so I suggested that maybe in another area of the house he create a "stock account" and for every dollar that someone puts in his bank he takes a percentage out of the "stock account". That was the best way I knew to do it for pretend.

After a while the two of them started talking about the richest people in the world. Tristan decided that he doesn't really like Donald Trump so he was going to be Bill Gates. He was bragging about all the cars he had and a house made of gold, etc. Calista pipes up and says, "Well, I live in a cottage because I give my money to all the poor people that are hungry!". Way to go Calista!!

It is so fun to sit and listen to the exchange. It so naturally progresses and this is how learning should be. Kevin has been doing a bit out of a curriculum because he wanted to do more like what they do in school. It has been so difficult for me to find a rhythm to it because it is so unnatural. He wants to see what highschool is all about so he thought he would do a curriculum first to work his way into it. It's funny because he says he wants to do it but when we actually do it he has a hard time getting into it too. So much of it is not relevant to his life and it is just NOT natural. When we get into the things that mean something to him it is like a light bulb goes on and he gets excited about it. It will be interesting to see what he thinks of school when he gets there. I have a feeling it won't last very long, but then again, he may love it because he is a very confident kid who knows who he is and doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

So now Calista just came up to my room. She says that my room is now her house because she is using her "cottage" for her store and she needs a little bit bigger of a house. Martin wanted to know if she was still giving her money to the poor and she said, "I'm not giving ALL my money to the poor, but I am giving a lot of it!". Too funny!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Quote for the Day (or maybe a week)

We are not here solely to work and produce, manufacture and market. We are here to listen, contemplate and understand.
Michael Lewin, from an article on The Simple Living Network

REALLY Brrrrr!!

Well, yesterday started off with a nice, strong windstorm (they happen fairly frequently in our area during these winter months). Last night we had some very strong gusts, probably up to 80 mph, as was predicted. It felt like our house was going to fall over! We woke up to the house at 65 degrees because our furnace pilot keeps getting blown out, due to improper installation (yet another project for Martin). No hot water for a shower and, because our stove isn't working properly, we couldn't really start that either. I actually broke down and started one here a few minutes ago and so far not too much smoke in the house. The wind must be blowing in the right direction today :)

I got a phone call that kept me on for a while, during which the kids were fighting in the background. I came upstairs to two big forts that take up my entire living room and quite a bit of mess in the kitchen. When I logged on to my e-mail this is what was in my inbox, from my subscription to Scott Noelles daily groove:

:: Life Is Messy... Get Over It! ::In man's quest to conquer nature, our culture has developed an unhealthy aversion to the natural messiness of life.Heaven forbid you should eat an apple that isn't nice and round and free of bug bites. Those get made into applesauce so we never have to see their messiness!And if our high-tech, Star Trek fantasies were real,we could avoid the messiness of birth and simply"beam" babies out of the womb -- without a drop of blood in sight.Even if you're a "crunchy" parent who's not afraid of nature's messiness, there may be other kinds of messes you abhor, like the messy ways children learn,explore, and process emotions. Or the messy way *you*grow through parenthood.Today, whenever you feel bothered about anything, ask yourself, "What 'messiness' am I resisting?" Are you not allowing your *own* process to be messy?Well, get over it! Life IS messy. :-)Let life's messes remind you how good it is to be ALIVE!

Oh, isn't it funny that we receive exactly what we need, when we need it, when we just open ourselves up to it. Life is messy!! Learning is even messier!! How blessed I am!!!!! I have kids that are creative and love to explore. Kids that know how to cook their own meals and love to experiment. Yes, life is messy but how wonderful it is!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Oh golly, it has been cold here!! For much of this last two weeks it has been sitting around 10 degrees and a bit of wind. It is howling out there right now, and my woodstove was never installed correctly, so I can't start a fire or the wind just blows the smoke in the house. We had a couple of days at 35 degrees and then right back to the cold. I've hardly opened the door today. These are the days I really wish we were still on the road! But, I have to say that our lives are quite full right now so I am not noticing the weather as much as I normally would.

Tristan and I have been working on bird feeders and bird houses; painting and making them "pretty". Him and I decided that we are going to make a bird sanctuary outside our dining room window so we can watch all their activity. Much of it will have to wait until spring but we will at least get the bird feeders out there so the birds will come and feed.

The entire family got involved in a tie-dye project and I think we did pretty good for our first try at it. We did some bags, shirts, and socks. Even Martin got in on it. It was so much fun we need to go find a bunch more white stuff to tie-dye next week!!

Calista had a tea party on Friday. She had Rylee and two other friends and they had a grand time. It is nice to see everyone settling into life in our new home. We have had lots of friends over and everyone seems to be quite happy. Martin is so jovial that you sometimes think we won the lottery when he walks through the door! He REALLY loves his job as a realtor!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

quote for the day

The roads less traveled can be lonely and unpopular....and yet so often I am compelled to choose them.

enjoying my teen

I love and enjoy all three of my children TREMENDOUSLY but, for whatever reason, I am really enjoying the beginning of Kevin's teen years. He puts balance into my life and I just really like being around him right now. He has a really good group of friends too and it is so fun to watch them interact with one another; almost like siblings that get along really well. One of his friends has him as her heroe on her myspace and that really, deeply touched me. He seems to touch people all around him with such positive energy! The following is something I pulled off of his profile on myspace. This is why I like him so much. I like to think I had something to do with it but I think he has taught me more than I've taught him.


"I have fewer friends than most. Quality over quantity, nothing against those that do though. I'd just rather have 5 good friends than 20 aquantences. Not that I don't know people, but I consider friends people I want to get to know well, not people I only know. Doesn't mean I won't befriend you though! I'm easy to talk to, so don't be discouraged! It's me that has the issues talking, hah.I'm an accepting person, or I try to be. I could really care less about what you do. And as long as you don't try to push it on me, then I'll return the favour. I try to find the best in people, and go by that. We all do bad things, we're only human. No one person living on this entire planet can honestly say they are clean of doing anything wrong."


Of course I have to add some pro-unschooling comments too. This was written by a child who has had no formal writing lessons. Hmmmm, how do they learn this stuff? Children were born to learn, it is how God made us. They don't need the coercive methods that is so prevelant in school!! Something else that happened last weekend is that he just finished his six week Youth Court class that ended with a "bar" exam. He got a 97%, which was the highest in the class and only one other child got that score. He has never taken a test in his life! Actually, I take that back, he did take state tests when he was 9 years old. When kids are motivated intrinsically, they can do anything!! I guess that nonsense about having to "prepare" kids for tests, college, and the sorts doesn't apply after all!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Great Day!

Today has been a great day! Yesterday we met some fellow unschoolers; Connie and her daughter, Hannah. We spent the afternoon at their house and were so inspired. Just a great kid-friendly, fun, creative house with fun, creative people living in it, which is exactly what I needed to get my head out of the sand. They have a swing, trapeze, and climbing rope right in the middle of the living room! So guess what we are building this week? You got it! A swing, trapeze, and climbing rope!

We woke up this morning to a little bit of snow on the ground. Winter is officially here! I was surprised at how well I handled it. It actually felt very refreshing. It always makes the air smell and feel really clean. Connie and Hannah came over to our house this afternoon and the girls had a blast. Lots and lots of noise filled our home today!! Tonight we had our puppy class and then we came home and had a snowball fight. All that running and cold air burns the lungs I tell ya but it was fun!! We came in and made homemade hot chocolate and now the kids are watching Smallville (one of their favs).

We ordered, and received, some woodworking books and are going to get started on some projects tomorrow. We also have a sewing project book on the way so we will have plenty to do over the next couple of weeks. Martin almost has Kevin's room and craft area done; we just have to get it mud and taped. It will be so nice to have a craft area that we can leave messes out in. We have lots of projects in mind but all our project stuff is still in boxes waiting for that area to get completed. My sister, Ren, just unpacked their last boxes, after one year of living in Jonesborough so I shouldn't feel so bad :) .

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Last night was one of those AhhhHaaa moments for me. Tristan was beckoning me outside where I thought him and Calista were playing football (at 10:00pm). He had actually been out there showing Calista how to shoot his BB gun. He taught her how to scope it, aim and shoot. She was hitting the cans they had set up every time. He would say, "Calista, be patient, if it takes ten minutes it is okay. Make sure you get your aim and then shoot." She would shoot and hit the cans and Tristan would say, "Good job Calista!! Isn't she good Mom?"

Now, this might not seem like such an AhhhHaaa moment for most of you but for me it was huge!! You see Calista and Tristan are the exact opposites of each other and, consequently, they get very frustrated with each other and spend an incredible amount of time bickering and criticizing. Sometimes I go to bed totally exhausted from it. So to see the two of them being so sweet and patient with each other; encouraging and cheering one another on was HUGE!!! I went to bed with a BIG ole' grin on my face!!!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Betty and Veronica

Calista's bosom buddy, Maija, flew down this weekend to spend some time with Calista. It has been almost one year since they have seen each other so this is pretty special. We dubbed them Betty and Veronica when they were quite young and you can see from the picture why. They have been singing, applying make-up, watching TV, and all the other things girly girls do. We are going neon bowling tonight. Calista is going to feel the void when Maija leaves tomorrow night but, thank goodness, we aren't too far away anymore and can see her pretty often. Her mom is my bosom buddy and she couldn't come this weekend :( so I will be anxious to get up to Fairbanks soon.

Some fellow unschoolers, the barenaked family, were on Nightline last night. They have lived in their motorhome for five years now and they were featured on the show for that reason. I dreamt about being back in the motorhome last night and it is just starting to sink in for me that I am going through a grieving process of sorts. I know that sounds a little much for just moving out of a motorhome but I REALLY love the lifestyle and I am longing for it right now, wishing all my kids were still on board. There are some good things about owning a house but I am quickly discovering that I would much rather be in the motorhome. I refuse to allow discontent to settle in again though so I am choosing to be happy and saving the road living for another day, hopefully not too far in the future. It might work out that we can still keep the house and travel in the motorhome in the winter months so that everyone has what they want. I think we have decided that we will actually try to sell the motorhome and maybe in a year or two buy a bus, which is what we have always wanted. After doing some searching online we are very sure that is what we want to do.

Something else that is really bothering me right now is the over-abundance of STUFF that we have. I went through so much when we left last year and thought I was getting rid of SOOO much but I am finding out it wasn't near enough. When we were in the motorhome we had exactly what we needed and it was so freeing to not have a bunch of stuff to take care of. So, I have decided that every day I am going to get rid of two things. It is easy to part with two things every day and I will do that until I am down to just what I need, and what the kids absolutely think they need. It was so easy to keep focused on the simple life while we were traveling and so easy to get caught up in the not-so-simple-life while living in a house. So I have to constantly remember that I am comitted to living a simple life because it is so much less stressful and so much cheaper!! I want to spend my money building relationships, not decorating a house. Not that there is anything wrong with making your house pretty, I just don't want to get focused on that. There are a lot of better ways I can spend my money, for sure.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

this and that

When I blog I realize how different our lives are now than they were on the road. Doesn't seem quite as exciting! :) I read about my friends that are on the road right now and get a little sad, as I am really missing the lifestyle. My kids are extremely happy though so I am good. My Dad and his wife hit the road a few weeks ago also, in their fifth wheel. They are in Oregon now and seem to be enjoying it as much as we did.

We made it through the first week with new puppies. Pheewwww! This is hard work, I think more tiring than having a baby. Things are going really well. We had a couple small issues come up so I called my "dog lady", Claudia, owner of Better Companion, and got some great advice that has made a difference. The boys start puppy class with them on Oct. 12. We had the puppies together in the same crate and that was causing some issues. She told us to keep them as separate as possible, as much as possible, so they will make a stronger bond with us than with each other. Last night was their first night in separate crates and they were having some separation anxiety. I was up at 5:00 practically rocking Billie to sleep. After 15 minutes of that she calmed right down.

Haven't made it up to Fairbanks yet, to see all my friends there, but hope to in November. Kevin's schedule has tied us down a tad bit. He has choir on Friday and Youth Court on Saturday, and is trying out for a play this week, so it makes it hard to go on weekends. He is bugging me to get a work permit for him so he can get a job and also ready to get his drivers permit. He is growing up fast! I am enjoying this stage of his development tremendously, he is such a joy to be around and has so many interests and passions it is hard to keep up with him sometimes. I love all the stages though, they have all been my favorite.

Tristan is starting to settle in also. The first couple of weeks in the house seemed to be a hard transition for him. Go figure! Sometimes it is hard for me to determine what is going to set him off but transitions are always difficult. Two of his friends knew what neighborhood we had bought a house in so they biked over and spent 1/2 hour searching for a house with a big motorhome in the driveway. They found us and rang the doorbell. Tristan was feeling pretty good that they would spend that much time searching for him. He is taking the puppy care very seriously and I have hardly had to do much with Dante, as he is right on top of it. He was also very excited to find out that our local bowling alley opened back up after being closed for a few months. We all love to bowl, especially Tristan, so we have been spending a bit of time over there. He has been happy to have his drumset back and is getting quite good on those too. Somedays we have to put up with a lot of noise but it is actually good to hear it again.

Calista is keeping fairly busy keeping Rylee entertained and vice versa. Rylee is attending public school so we don't see her as often as normal but enough to suffice Calista. She bought a pretty fancy, working cash register with her PFD (Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend), that us lucky Alaskans get every year (this year is $1100.00). We have had a bowling alley, a store, and a few other things. We are directed to purchase things so she can check us out. She had our friend, Mary, renting bowling shoes and a ball and bowling in her homemade alley, which consisted of cups, plates, and anything else she could find to stack up in a triangle. She even had bumper pads (wall shelves). She is feeling a little left out with the boys getting puppies. She wants a Pomeranian and actually made arrangements to get a puppy from a breeder that has two females ready to breed. I am hoping that the training with Dante and Billie go well enough that I feel up to bringing another one into the home but I am being cautious. She did a good job of "babysitting" a friends Pomeranian and I think it was a good match for her but I don't want to have more than we can handle either.

Martin is as busy as ever. He continues to love the realty thing and is selling a bit of property. Apparently he is really good at the people side of things, according to the those who have seen him in action. He has gotten compliments from clients who are impressed with his knowledge! lol. So far no one has asked how long he has been doing it and he hopes it stays that way. He has been busy trying to get Kevins room completed. We are to the sheetrocking stage now and had a friend offer to do the mudding and taping for us. Yaaaaa!! Martin hates that part of the job! We will have to trade for something else for him. His room should be done in the next week anyway and I am sure Kevin will be glad to have a bed to sleep on again, as he has been sleeping on the couch. I will be glad to have the living room back too!

I have just been trying to get the house in order, which is no easy task having two puppies! I had my "old lady friends" over for lunch on Tuesday. It is nice to be back surrounded by all these wonderful people! My "old lady friends" are some older ladies from church that, for one reason or another, I have bonded with. They are like my adopted mommies. They uplift and encourage me and I am lucky to have them in my life. I am also back to clogging. For those of you who don't know what clogging is, it is a dance that could be likened a little to tapping. The shoes and steps are different but there are some similarities. I didn't get to clog at all while we were traveling and was just itching to get my shoes on again. It is so much fun!!

Again.............................Life is Good!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Well, I feel like I am back to a calm and centered state of being now. I just needed to slow down and take a few breaths. Monday was so beautifu,l and we know that our "warmer", sunny days are slowly coming to an end, so we took advantage of the weather and drove to Talkeetna. We ate lunch at a little Italian/pizza place and then went down to the river and played. My friend Tanya has been making Talkeetna zen gardens so we collected more sand for her gardens and found some pretty rocks to add to them also. Rylee insisted on collecting quite large twigs, which she could barely hold in her arms. She had quite a pile and it took a lot of convincing to get her to leave some of them behind. It was so calming just to be down by the water, relaxing with the kids. It was exactly what I needed and I was fighting a case of the sleepies on the way home.

I met Tanya through the theatre camp that Kevin attended. Her daughter, Sarah, attended also and we just hit it off immediately. It is so good to have a friendship again that has flow and doesn't seem like we are working at it. I feel like I have known her for a very long time and we have been having so much fun. We had Sarah for four days last week, while Tanya went to be with her husband, who was working up in Fairbanks. She brought along their little Pomeranian dog that we babysat too. We had a lot of fun and it was kind of our test to see if a dog would work in our family with Socky (our cat). The cat couldn't of cared less so that was a good thing.

Which brings us to yesterday. Tristan and Kevin have been scanning the internet and newspaper for a puppy. They really wanted to rescue one instead of going through a breeder. Yesterday morning when they checked the Puppy Rescue website there were three of them!! We went and looked at them and ended up coming home with a heeler and a husky mix. Martin and I have been reading up on dog training and behavior because we feel like we have failed a couple of dogs and we really wanted to make this work. So far, so good. The potty training is a lot of work but, surprisingly, I feel quite relaxed about the whole thing. We are pretty determined, as we see this as a lifetime commitment. We love dogs and want a few as permanent family members. To top it off, Socky seems to be fine with it. He is not hanging out with the dogs or anything but hasn't hissed or swatted at them. He is more like, "You little twerps, I think I will go hang out upstairs, thanks."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

beautiful fall!!

What a beautiful week it has been! We went from a soggy summer to an absolutely sunny, beautiful fall. There wasn't a cloud in the sky yesterday which just makes the mountains surrounding us magnificent! Yesterday we walked down to the lake (we have lake access in our neighborhood) and collected things to look at under the microscope. One of the things that we ended up looking at was a piece of Lucky Charms cereal (not from the lake :)). All you could see in the microscope was sugar crystals. The kids were really grossed out. And to think that is the "healthy" part of the cereal.

Last week I was feeling quite stressed and wishing for my life in the motorhome again. Owning a house has its benefits but it is just so much more to keep up than our motorhome. Then I was reading about friends that just hit the road and remembering all the fun times we had and wanting to start all over again. Part of it I'm sure was the chaos that was happening around me. Not only are we still not done unpacking but we are in the middle of a construction project and I was finishing up some painting downstairs so that we wouldn't have to move the hundreds of books we have off the shelf to paint later. The kids were also bickering at a new all time high level. And I also spent a lot of time sulking because I wasn't at the Live and Learn Unschooling conference with the rest of my unschooling tribe! So now the painting is done, the unpacked boxes are neatly in one room, the construction project is coming along, the weather is beautiful, the kids seem to be settling down a little bit and I am not so stressed anymore. Although, I am still sulking about not being at the conference, especially looking at everybody's pictures. :)

Oh, and Martin is starting to sell houses!! He wrote up an offer yesterday and looks like he will be writing two more today so it appears as if we won't be worried about starving, at least not this month! He is really enjoying the realty thing. He makes his coffee in the morning and leaves practically singing and comes home all chipper. I haven't seen him like this in a long time..........actually maybe never. He was able to find a car for himself and we paid $2,000 less than we had budgeted for so we were happy about that. He isn't home much and that has taken some getting used to but seeing him happy makes it all worthwhile. The kids and I have adjusted our schedules a little so we can wait until he is home to eat dinner. We like sitting down at the table as a family for dinner. We sometimes don't sit down until 9:00 so I have been leaving lots of snacks on the kitchen island for the kids to nibble on throughout the day.

Happiness is not a destination it is a method of life. Life is good!!!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Getting settled

Got to catch up on the blogging I see. I will back up to my birthday on August 23. We had been having a ton of rain and some horrible flooding just north of us. I woke up on my birthday to the sun shining; what a wonderful change of scenery. My friend Tanya and her daughter, Sarah, met us at the motorhome so we could go on our favorite hike up the Butte (see photos on our website She brought me a zen garden that she had made out of Talkeetna sand and a rake made out of local branches; too funny! Later that night Robin brought me cozy slippers, that I had been eyeing from a local store in Palmer, and a cake. The night before Martin and Calista brought me a funky purse and a cd player for my car. I have a van that has auto doors but no cd player and I have been wanting one for a while. It was a great day!!

On Thursday we closed on our new house and met the moving vans there early Friday morning. It has been an exhausting week with all the unpacking and in the process we are also building a bedroom for Kevin and doing some painting so we can put the bookshelves in place and not have to worry about taking books off later to paint behind the shelves. I like to save myself the time later. As I was watching all of our stuff get unloaded I was really wishing we could just stay in the motorhome. I saved WAY too much stuff and here I thought I had done so well getting rid of stuff before we left. So I am weeding out more as we unpack. I LOVE my house though and it is nice to have more space again. The kids are really happy and it is especially nice to see my Tristan boy back to his normal, mostly happy self.

The kids have gotten so used to being packed like sardines in the motorhome that they are not liking being spread out at night, all in different areas of the house. We have never had a problem with co-sleeping, since we have done it their entire lives, but Martin and I are really craving alone time so have been encouraging them to sleep somewhere besides our room. One morning I woke up and they were all curled up together in the living room. Another morning they were all in Tristan's cubby hole of a room. And some nights they curl up in our room too since we love having them nearby. I should actually back up and say that it is Tristan and Calista; Kevin is quite independent at 14 years old and does not need us very often and certainly would not sleep with us at night. He would die if I was telling everyone that he needed to sleep with us. He has been very tolerant of the other two curling up with him at night though. We are all adjusting to our new lifestyle quite nicely.

Martin passed his real estate exam and his licensing came in last week. He spent last week going around with Kevin Crozier and some buyers, observing how things are done. He will be on his own this week showing houses. He is really enjoying his new career and is happier than I have seen him in a very long time. He is in Anchorage today trying to find himself a car. It is not easy finding a cheap car that looks decent too. We are determined though and he will find what he is looking for. No car payments for this family!

Yesterday we took advantage of our still sunny weather and hiked up Thunderbird Falls, with our friends Tanya, Allen and Sarah, in search of a letterbox (go to for more info). Unfortunately the letterbox was gone but we had a wonderful hike. It was beautiful out!! The leaves are starting to change and the air is crisp and cool. We are planning a bonfire on Friday to burn up all our moving boxes and scrap wood laying around. Great weather for a bonfire!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Your children are not your children

I just had to share the lyrics to this song that I got off a good friends blog (thanks Karen). The lyrics to this song expresses what shapes our parenting philosophies and what motivates us as parents. It is from Sweet Honey In the Rock, called "On Children" .........................absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and the daughters of lives longing for itself.
They come through you, but they are not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
You can give them your love, but not your thoughts.
They have their own thoughts, they have their own thoughts.
You can house their bodies, but not their souls.
For their souls dwell in a place of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You can strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you.
Strive to be like them, but you cannot make them just like you.

Monday, August 21, 2006

move in day approaching

I'm catching up with e-mail and blogging while Tristan and Calista are playing hide-and-seek in the motorhome, lol. You would be surprised at the hiding places they find in this little box. A little later here we are going to do a round of poker; Tristan's new favorite game.

We are starting to get things organized and cleaned up in the motorhome; getting ready to empty it out into a new house. I am excited to be in a house again as my nesting instincts are strong right now but a little sad to leave my simple motorhome lifestyle. Part of me wants to be on the road still but with five people to consider that just isn't in the stars for us.

Martin has passed his real estate exam and will be working for Kevin Crozier (Remax), as his buyers agent, starting in one week. Our income is probably going to be a lot less than what we are used to so we are going to have to learn to be frugal; a BIG adjustment, especially for the kids but it will be good for us. The office that Martin will be working in has a very nice environment which is a nice change for Martin.

We have had two weeks of solid rain but woke up today with the sun shining. It felt absolutely glorious. It is supposed to start raining again tomorrow so it was short lived for sure! One thing the rain has done for me (and the kids) is force us to get creative inside. We got the polymer clay out and did quite a few projects and I worked on some canvases that were really fun. I feel like my creative genius has come out of the closet and I am really liking her!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

polymer clay projects

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Tristans wish box. My prayer box.

This week has been somewhat of a quiet week. It has been a gray, drizzly week and it kind of makes you feel like hunkering down, which is exactly what we have been doing. I went and bought a bunch of polymer clay and we have been projecting away. We have been mostly covering tins and jars with it but it is quite addicting. The one directly above is Calista's.

I have mostly been blogging about the "surface" things of our lives and not much delving in to the more "inside" things. I thought I would start blogging more about what learning looks like in our family and a little more about the unschooling side of our lives. My sister, Ren, talks a lot about connections and how everything is connected, one thing leading to another. This is what it looked like for us this week...............................We met an individual who was transitioning from male to female and when we got in the car the conversation started out with how you could tell that she used to be male ( facial hair, big hands, and her "adam's apple"). From there it went to why an adam's apple is bigger on a male than a female (yes, it does cause a man's voice to be lower) and then talk about our bodies. That somehow went to talk of calories and what exactly does that measure (approximates the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kg of water by 1 °C.) A lot of our conversations and questions happen in the car which is why I keep a pad of paper handy to jot things down so we can look them up when we get home.

Something that was said in church this week led Kevin to wonder about the Dead Sea and why it is called that (there is no life in the Dead Sea, although scientists have found 11, I think, bacteria that live in the Dead Sea). And how cool is it that there is so much salt in the Dead Sea that you can float! Calista has spent much of the week with her Leap Frog learning her sounds, because she wants to learn how to read. She also wanted me to buy her a couple of workbooks, which she has been working on quite a bit. Her and Rylee have also been playing "store"; buying, selling, and dickering. They add and subtract on the calculator and use the Leap Frog for the cash register.

For me this week it started out designing a myspace site which led me to music, to Reggae (because I love Reggae), to Bob Marley and researching his life (11 kids and some interesting beliefs, a very interesting life), to Jamaica, to forms of government and some world history........................I will let you know where that leads to.

So many think that if you don't coerce a child to do these things that they won't do them on their own but my children (and lots of others) have proven that is not so. My children seem to learn some of these things much later than your public school kids but they are learning them on their own terms and without any coercive methods that are so prevelant in the public school system. They also don't associate learning with a chore. For them learning is all tied up with simply living; you can't be breathing without learning every day, it is an inherent part of our being. Discovering the world around them is fun!!

The other thing that is so fun for me to watch is some of the things that they dive into that public school kids don't have the time for and don't get in school. Kevin spends hours on his computer and it amazes me some of the things that he can do. Some people go to dozens of classes to learn what he has learned simply by tinkering around because he is passionate about it. They are learning the things that are relevant to THEIR lives and not wasting a bunch of time and energy on things that they don't need to know for their lifes journey. I am thankful every day to be living in that kind of FREEDOM.

Off that subject, Kevin is now counting down the days until his 14th birthday. He has two reasons for being so excited; he can get his learners permit to drive and he is able to get a job. He has been wanting to get a job for a while but the government doesn't allow it until 14 so he is ready to go!! He wants to apply at Coldstone Creamery; I think he just wants to be around all that ice cream all day :) ! He loves being a teenager and I just want to scream "STOP!". I have to admit though that I love a lot of things about the kids growing older. We can play with them and do things that we were limited on when they were little. They are fun to just hang out with and not quite so dependent on us. It is much more relaxing than when they were toddlers. Every stage has its blessings I suppose and I can't say any stage was my favorite. My favorite stage is whatever one they are in!!

My favorite quote for the week: Happiness is not a destination, it is a method of life.
This is something that I have learned over this past year and it has brought so much contentment into my life!!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Tristan turns 11

Well, time is marching on. It is hard to take in how old my kids are getting! It just seems like I can't catch my breath sometimes when I think about how it was just yesterday that they were little toddlers learning how to walk and talk. Tristan turned 11 on Tues. and what a great day we had. He is my child that HATES birthday parties; he doesn't like all the attention on him and he doesn't like to think that he is putting people out or that they are having to do something extra on his behalf. So here we were again, not wanting to do anything for his birthday but Mom wanting to make his day so special. I decided that I would set something special up so he didn't feel that all the attention was on him but still felt like it was his special day. A few years ago a friend of Richard's took him flying and he LOVED it so I asked Richard if him or his dad could take him flying and he said that would be great. We planned on going down to our favorite lake spot (just to play) and then have Ernie land on the lake and pick him up.

Last minute Richard told me he didn't think it was going to work out on his actual birthday so we were back at square one. Tristan thought it would be nice to take a couple of friends to H2Oasis, the indoor water park in Anchorage. But no party! We couldn't arrange it on his actual birthday though so I still had to come up with something special for Tues. Tues. morning came and I still hadn't thought of anything so for starters I thought I would make him his favorite dinner. He loves "family" dinners, which means at least five choices of dishes with his family sitting at the dinner table eating together. We made flank steak, chicken, green beans, salad, bread, and potatoes. He was in heaven! He has also been anxiously awaiting the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend, which all residents of Alaska get every year, and is usually around $1000.o0. He really wants an X Box! Instead of making him wait we went and got him one, set it all up and surprised him with that. He really thought he had died and gone to heaven!

I got a phone call at 5:00 from Robin saying that the flying was a go after all. Yeahhh! So we ate dinner and went down to the lake. Tristan had no idea what was going on so it was a great surprise. Ernie buzzed over us, landed, and cruised over to the beach. They cruised over Wasilla a few times and did a touch and go on the lake. When he got out he was so excited, I knew he wasn't going to be sleeping much that night. He exclaimed, "That was AWESOME!!" After his flight we went back to Merle and Lois', Martin's parents, house and sang him happy birthday and had red velvet cake, Tristan's favorite. I get teary just thinking about the day because it worked out so great. We made his day REALLY special, he was so excited and he was happy about not having a "party". I think we are still going to take him and his friends to H2Oasis on Sunday afternoon just to top it all off!!

It still looks like we are going to be able to close on the house August 25, although early occupancy is probably not possible. Martin is busy studying for his real estate test, not feeling overly confident for sure! He takes the test tonight and I hope he passes just so he can relax a little! He has been pretty uptight but I am sure he is going to do fine.

We moved the motorhome over to Lois' and Merles for a few days since we haven't seen them much since we got home. We will be moving to an RV park tomorrow morning. As much as I appreciate my sister for taking us in I just find myself craving my own space, privacy, and alone time with my husband and kids. My kids were really wanting wireless internet too so it was time to move on for a little while.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Back to "school"

Martin got home with all kinds of ideas for a job and all of those doors have been shut. The one that has remained open is an opportunity for him to sell real estate. A friend of ours, who is a broker for Remax, invited Martin to join his team as a buyer agent and Martin has accepted so............................he is back in school. Back to memorizing so he can regurgitate at test time and not use half of what they are shoveling in but it has to be done to get his license so here he sits memorizing away. He is excited for the challenge and I think he is going to be really good at it!! He has the right personality for it and he is a "go-getter".

We also had our home inspection this morning and all went well. There are a few things that need to be addressed but nothing too major. Our closing is set for Aug. 25 but we are hoping to get early occupancy; wish us luck with that! The kids LOVE the house so everyone is waiting with anticipation for move-in day. It is a very unique, cozy house and what I have been dreaming about for a house. It is good that the other house didn't work out!! I am anxious to be able to start having people come hang out with us and living the very relaxed lifestyle that we are used to. I miss our midnight hangouts where we talk about life and our dreams as a family. I miss gathering around the table for family dinners. I miss having wireless internet for our laptops. I miss having my own kitchen. I miss having our projects strung out all over the house and I miss being LOUD!!! I am SO grateful to my sister and her family for putting up with us for so long; I know they live very differently than us and it can't be easy to have our crew bombarding them. Family is a wonderful thing!!!!!

Friday, July 28, 2006!

Well................................we had our home inspection and there were too many issues with the house so we backed out! The good news is that we found another house two days later and our offer was accepted! I am so glad it worked out this way because I am WAY more excited about this house than I was the other one! This is exactly what we have been looking for; cozy, homey, very unique!!! We should be closing by Aug.25 but we will ask for early occupancy with a rental agreement.

Robin and Richard have been off this week so we have been trying to enjoy the outdoors. Our weather has not been too great since we got home, 70 degree highs here and there but mostly cloudy and gray. We hiked the Butte last week; our favorite local hike. We have been playing a lot of badminton in the yard and walking to the lake down the street from Robin. We may go golfing today.

Tristan had a friend over last night and they spent the night out in the motorhome. Tristan came in at 8:45 this morning wondering if anyone was up because he was bored; he hadn't fallen asleep yet!! He may be a little tired today!! It is so exciting to see him making good friends and having a good time. We have our chipper, happy child back!! He has spent the last several days riding back and forth to the lake on his bike with his two friends, Dakota and Caleb and is so excited, which is why he is having trouble sleeping.

Kevin is spending every waking moment with Sarah and Kevin; hardly see him at all. He finished his Theatre Camp and did a performance on Friday night. They did so good! It was a little strange seeing my normally quiet child out there acting! I was getting a little teary watching him and realizing that my toddler is turning into a young man! He is such a good kid, easy to be around and very responsible and mature. We just love hanging out with him. The director came up to me after the play and complimented me on what a great kid he is and how grounded he is. It made me feel good that other people see what I do.

On Saturday night Robyn and John Harris (parents of another child and very involved in Valley Performing Arts) had a casting party at their house for the kids and their parents. We also know Robyn and John from church so it was good to go and get to know them a little better. I think the adults had more fun than the teens!! We met some wonderful people that we really clicked with and had a GREAT time! We spent most of the evening laughing our butts off; it is all those creative, drama people!

Calista and Rylee are still busy doing their thing. They take two hour baths every day playing with their Bratz and the rest of the time either doing crafts or playing outside. We had a church picnic on Sunday and she was reunited with her girlfriend Ella. They were so excited and played for hours!! Ella and her family go to the earlier service so we don't see them every Sunday but we are going to have a tea party soon!

All I can say is that it is good to be home. I have such a different attitude coming back and realize how full my life is here! And the mountains.........................WOW! I never noticed them quite as much as I am now. I do understand why people that visit here are in awe and we get to look at them all the time!! The weather is far from perfect but I am buying some good, warm long johns and lots of warm gear. I am also going to get cross country skis and snow shoes and really embrace winter. It is also good to see my kids happy and really thriving! This is obviously where they belong right now!! Life is Good!!!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Chugging along

Well, things are starting to take shape..............a little bit. The third offer we made on the house we were trying to get got rejected so we decided to move on from that. This last weekend we found another one, a little older but fixable. It was built in 1984 and needs some work but it is all cosmetic so we will finish all of that before we move in. It should only take us about two weeks to get it all done and then we will have a couple more projects to work on as we can. The neighborhood is really nice and it is in a great location close to downtown. We will be closing on that on August 18............yeahhh!!

Martin still hasn't nailed down any kind of job or way to bring in some income. He is starting to get pretty stressed trying to figure it out so he hasn't been sleeping well but I am sure things will come together for him soon. We are still at my sister, Robin's house and will probably be here until we move in to the house.

Kevin has been attending theatre camp at Valley Performing Arts and is having a blast. They will perform for us this Friday as a closing to the camp. He starts Youth Court this fall and is REALLY excited about that. They take a class to learn our court system, take a "Barr Exam", and then are sworn into the court. They try real juvenille cases under the direction of a real judge. I think it will be an awesome experience for him and will look great on his resume!

Tristan has settled right in. He is REALLY enjoying his moments of solitude and sometimes has hours on end that he doesn't want anybody around. It has been good for him and I am seeing my regular happy, cuddly kid again. He has made a couple friends in the neighborhood and went bike riding last night with Dakota, who lives across the street.

Calista and Rylee haven't spent hardly an hour apart since we got home. They have been taking 2-3 hour baths daily (I have really clean girls!!) and playing Polly's and Bratz by the hours. They have also been crafting away. Rylee has been begging to go ice skating so we went yesterday and every five minutes she was saying, "Auntie, this is SO much fun!" I think we will be doing that on a weekly basis!

We celebrated Matt's (my stepbrother) 21st birthday on Saturday and also Nancy's 60th, even though her real birthday is not until Sept. We had a blast launching water balloons and playing other games even if it was pouring down rain. On Sunday we met Dad, Nancy, Matt, his girfriend Miki and her friend Suzie (I think that is her name) in Anchorage for bowling.

Good to be back to all that is familiar. It is good to be surrounded by my bio family and my church family again. It is exciting to start over again with a fresh outlook on life and a changed attitude about living in Alaska. I drive around town and just look at the mountains with a sense of wonder. They are SOOOO BEAUTIFUL and I missed the beauty half the time because I was too busy complaining about the weather. I am anxious to get out and hike those mountains again and Martin and I are talking about getting road bikes and taking that sport up. Life is good!!!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Trying to make lemonade out of lemons

Things seem to be falling apart around us! The transmission went out on the van...................................AGAIN! This is the third time in 13,000 miles, very frustrating. We found a shop in Anchorage that can hopefully fix it right so we borrowed Merle and Lois' truck to tow it in on our dolly. On the way to pick up the van, with the dolly in tow, Martin was in an accident and totaled the dolly. Luckily the truck was fine, just the dolly was destroyed. So now we have a tow truck coming to pick up the van and no way to tow the van with the motorhome.

We also made an offer on a foreclosure, here in Wasilla. It needs a LOT of work but it has a great floorplan. We made a very low offer because of the amount of work it needs and they rejected the offer. So we are back at square one, not finding much of what we are looking for. We are close to renting but afraid to get into a lease when we are so unsure of the future. Martin doesn't yet know what he wants to do to bring income in and things just seem very "up in the air".

I'm not feeling stressed.....................................really! Just kind of going with the flow but feeling like the answers don't seem to be coming to us. I find being in limbo a very hard place to be. I am also finding it hard to "get back into the swing of things" and start LIVING again. Our lives were so full on the trip and now seem a little empty, in that we aren't doing much besides errands and phone calls but, then again, maybe we just need some time to sit and let it all digest for a while.

Meanwhile, Calista is having a grand time with Rylee and glad to be back home. Tristan has made some friends in Robin's neighborhood and seems to be walking lighter on his feet. He is also enjoying the many hours of solitude that he is getting at Robin's, which he was so desperately craving while on the trip. Kevin has settled right in and I think is contemplating moving in with Kevin Sampley (just joking but spends most of his time there right now). He starts Summer Theatre Camp, at Valley Performing Arts, on Monday. He is pretty excited about it and is also planning on trying to get in with Kids Court this fall. I'm feeling like we are meant to be back home and just hope things start falling into place for us.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

We are home!

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted because we haven't had much internet. We drove into Palmer almost two weeks ago, it is hard to believe we have been home for almost two weeks!! It has gone by extremely fast, I am sure because we have been so busy cleaning out the motorhome, looking at houses, and catching up with friends.

We left Rapid City, and our wonderful time with the Buxcels, on Sunday afternoon (June 11) and drove to Deadwood, which is only 45 minutes from the Buxcels. We parked at a KOA there and on Monday morning Karen and the kids drove up to spend the day with us there at the pool. We had so much fun and then we had to say good-bye again. We are determined to talk them into coming up to Alaska next summer!

Kevin and Martin went into downtown Deadwood and checked the place out on Monday (while Tristan, Calista and I were at the pool). On Tuesday we drove up to Polson, MT, just a few short miles from Craig Skinn's lake house on Flathead Lake, with a stop in Helena to have lunch with Lou (Craig's business partner) We stayed there for two nights getting caught up on laundry and planning our drive up the Alaska Highway. On Thursday we went up to Craig's lake house and spent the weekend four-wheeling, sea dooing, hot tubbing, and generally having a GREAT time!!! Craig also took us for a boat tour of part of the lake and some of the houses around it. His daughter, Malorey, gave us a four-wheeling tour of the hills behind their house on the old logging roads. We had a great weekend and it is definitely up at the top of the kids list for best times they had on the trip!!

On Sunday night we decided to go ahead and at least get to the border, which was about 100-150 miles from the lake house. We crossed the border at midnight and then found a rest stop to sleep for the night. Monday morning we started our marathon drive through Canada. We had 2500 miles to go and wanted to drive it in three days! The weather cooperated for us and those three days were absolutely beautiful. Some of the lakes apppeared to be in the Bahamas with their bright aqua colors. The kids were great through that long trek, probably because they were so excited to get home. We pulled into Palmer at 2:00am on Thursday and parked at Martin's parents. Calista said she was going to cry because she was so excited!!

I had some mixed feelings coming into town; feeling like I might regret our decision but when I started seeing the familiar and all my wonderful friends and family it just felt like we did the right thing. Robin met us at one of our favorite spots, Vagabond Blues, for soup and bread on Thursday. Rylee had no idea that we were back so I quietly walked up to her and tapped her on the shoulders and asked, "Do I know you?" She stood there for a bit just staring at me like I was a total stranger! Took a while for it to set in. I have been getting lots of "Auntie, I love you!" and lots and lots of hugs and cuddles!! I think she is afraid that if she lets me out of her sight I may leave again!

We have been going to all our favorite spots and seeing all our friends. Homecoming is great!! I really have felt how much I am loved and was missed and it is great to be back! One of our friends asked me if it felt different or the same and I told him that my attitude was different. It feels good to feel total contentment; something I learned on the trip. Being happy and content is a choice and I have made the choice to simply be happy, life is to short to spend it otherwise!

We have looked at a few houses, trying to decide what to do in that regard. Martin meets with our realtor (and great friend) this morning to make an offer on a foreclosure we found. It needs a LOT of work but it is a great floor plan so we will see what happens with that. If they don't accept our offer we will probably end up renting until we are a little more settled. Martin still doesn't know what he will be doing for income but he has a few things floating in the air, just has to decide which one to grab. We believe things will fall into place the way they are meant to and we are in no big hurry. If we get this house it will actually be good that he is not working because it will give him the time to finish the house so that we will have somewhere to live. Meanwhile, we are at Robin and Richard's camping out until they get sick of us.

This last 6 1/2 months has been quite the experience! We have had our highest highs and our lowest lows and learned so much! This trip won't soon be forgotten! We have learned so much about each other, a lot about ourselves, and seen and experienced things that we thought were only in our dreams. We wish we could have gone longer and seen more but now we have something else to keep our dreams alive. We have decided to keep the motorhome and possibly take a trip every year; focusing on a smaller area each year and in a shorter time period. Thank you to everyone that took us in for a night or two or just a visit. It was so good to see all of you that we hadn't seen in so many years and such a great reminder that the thing that is so important in this life is our relationships with people. We get so caught up in the go, go, go that we forget about people and our relationships with them. We love you all!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Powerful, Positive human beings

I'm laying here beside Tristan, rubbing his back and helping him go back to sleep. He stayed up late and woke up too early and is having trouble falling back asleep. My mind is just full of amazing thoughts about him and what an incredible human being he is.

My mind wanders to a comment that someone made about the unschooling article that was in People magazine a couple of weeks ago, that featured my sister and her family. The comment was that parents need to exert control over their children. Our philosophy is that we are here to keep them safe and to help guide them in their UNIQUE life journey, not to make them what we want them to be.

So, it got me to thinking...............................many of these comments come from far right, conservative Christians, which makes me very sad because I am a Christian and firmly believe at looking towards the example of Christ. The next thought was "Well, if we are to be following the example of Christ then it would do us some good to look at the relationship that he had with his parents", which brings me right back to my philosophy on parenting. Christ had an incredible purpose on this earth, for sure, but you don't read about his parents trying to "control" him. I think that would have lead to disaster for them. Their job was to keep him safe and care for him and then get out of the way and let him do what he was put on this earth to do.

Every single one of us was put on this earth for a purpose also. We are not accidents but planned out and put on this earth for a very unique purpose. My job as a parent is to bring as much joy into my children's life, to keep them safe, and to help guide them in their unique life journey and then get out of the way and let them do what they were put on this earth to do. I don't know exactly what that is for each of them but deep inside they know. THEY ARE POWERFUL, POSITIVE, HUMAN BEINGS!!!

I'm just so amazed as I watch each of them discover what their purpose is in this thing called life and I am so blessed and lucky to be able to walk beside them, for a litte while, as life unfolds for them! Thank you my little ones for bringing so much JOY into my life!!!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Buxcels rock!!!

We just spent the last four days with the Buxcels; a very cool unschooling family that we met at the conference and really clicked with. Karen called me her soul sister today and that is exactly what it feels like. We parked in front of their house for three nights and just hung out, ate good food, had GREAT coffee, and just made ourselves at home. It just feels like we have known them for a lifetime! They live in an older, quaint, adorable house that just felt so homey! It was such a good reminder to me that, in our society, we think we need WAY more than we do. We made a comittment to simplify our lives when we took this trip and it was good to be brought back down to earth and be reminded of that comittment. Thanks Karen!! We love your family!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yesterday we drove into Deadwood and took one of their boys, Saylor, with us. He spent the night and then Karen drove up this morning with her other two boys, Stone and Sage, and hung out at the pool with us all day, at the KOA that we are parked at. Last night we played hide and seek with Saylor and Tristan, which is quite interesting when you only have a small space around your motorhome. It was great to see the places that the boys thought of hiding. The last hiding place was up in a tree near the motorhome ,which Tristan ended up getting stuck in. It took him a little bit but he was able to get down on his own. When it got dark we came in and had popcorn and watched TV.

It was so hard to say goodbye but we are going to try really hard to make it to the conference in September; it all depends on what our financial situation is. We will be moving on to Montana tomorrow and should be home by next Thurs. Seems weird because in many ways it seems like we just left to start our trip and it is already coming to an end.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Hi from Rapid City, SD -- Martin

Heidi told me that it was my turn to blog this week and when your boss speaks I have learned that it is good to listen, so here it is. I started at 2:30 am last night but I was way to sleepy so I had to quit and try again today.

Time is now offically flying "bye" , it is now about gone! It does not seem like we started this trip 6 months ago but you know what they say about time flying when your having fun. Then we look back through all of the pictures and realize that we have done a lot the last six months! We have also seen some real cool things along the way. This trip has definitely been a blessing for us that we will not soon forget.

The last couple of weeks have been a blast! We got to Estes Park in Co. two weeks ago today to visit my sister Becky. As we drove into town I looked over at Heidi and asked her why we were going back to Alaska. She reminded me that it was for our kids but at that moment I did not want to take them into consideration. I had found the place that I was looking for! That small little town that "I" could open up a coffee shop in and live "my" perfect little life in.

Estes Park is located in a bowl at about 8000 feet up in the rockies. It is a town of about 5500 full time residents and 3,000,000 tourist a year. As you drive into town you drop about 300 feet of elevation down to the bottom of the bowl. So as you are driving into town you look out onto a Lake directly in front of you. Off to the left is a beautiful 18 hole golf course and then nestled on the far side of the lake is another 9 hole golf course that butts up to the lake. What an awesome sight! When you get down in the bowl you look up on all sides at snow covered mountain peaks. The beauty is truly breath taking!

As you drive through town you can truly feel the charm of the place. People are happy and very friendly. There is a sidewalk that skirts a river that runs behind the businesses on one side of town. A truly peaceful setting that is calming to the nerves. The down town area is about a 1/2 mile long and is all along one street which is very quaint setting. Shops line both side of the street that, from 8:00am to 9:00pm each day, is busy with activity.

If you continue out of town about 3 miles you enter the Rocky Mountain National Park which is really an awesome sight in itself. The place is teaming with wildlife (We had deer and elk in the motorhome park where we were staying) and there are hundreds of places you can hike and enjoy its tranquility.

So yes, we did do what we set out to do on this trip! We found our little piece of heaven in Estes Park, Co. So now you are wondering why we are still going back to Alaska? That cold land that we left in our rear view mirror 6 months ago. Well those of you that have kids will understand, that sometimes parents do crazy things for there kids. So mark this up to one of those times. Even though it is the place we (Heidi and myself) were looking for, we have found that our kids do not share our dream at this point in time. Since we are a family that works together we are respecting their desire to return to Wasilla, Alaska. Also lets face it, we (Heidi and myself) do miss some things also, our friends being the main thing. So not everything is bad when contemplating our return home.

Also while in Estes Park my Aunt Joyce came up to see us from Colorado Springs. It was nice to see her and spend some time with her. The last time we had seen her was a few years ago. So it was great to have a couple of days with her.

So as we left Estes Park in our rear view mirror after 5 days, there was some sadness about leaving our piece of heaven behind but at the same time we were looking forward to the adventures yet to come, including the journey home.

Next we headed to Grand Junction, Co. to see my sister Lizz and her family. On the way we stopped at Water World, a water park in Denver. Kevin and me had a blast hitting every ride we could. After a day of playing in the water we continued across the state and arrived at 11:00pm in Grand Junction. Along the way we went through a bunch of tunnels, which Tristan got a real kick out of. Each tunnel we went through we had to hold our breath until we got through the tunnel. On one I about passed out as it was over a mile long. That would have been a real good one trying to explain to the police why I wrecked the motorhome. "Well it was like this sir. My son wanted me to hold my breath going through the tunnel and the next thing I know I passed out and wrecked!............................................. Here's my sign." :)

While in Grand Junction we went to Utah to the Arches National Park in Moab. A very cool place but the day we were there it was 100*F out so we did not do much hiking. In Grand Junction we also found an outdoor public pool that we all enjoyed, as the temp both days we went to the pool broke 100*F. The heat was great and will be the one thing we miss in Alaska.

While there we also went to the Mesa Monument above Grand Junction. What a sight! The sun was setting and the red rocks were gleaming in the setting sun. What a sunset! Tristan was in his element climbing on all of the rocks and we got some real good pictures. The next night we all went to the local rodeo in Fruita. When we first got there Tristan and Calista were bored with it but by the time we left we had to coax them out of there. Another new experience that they loved.

We left on wednesday morning for Mount Rushmore and after two days of driving we arrived! On the way we were bored out of our minds by all the wide flat open land called Wyoming. No wonder only 490,000 people live there.....YUK! It was as bad as Kansas in my mind. I know for sure that I'm not a flat lander.

Once we hit the Black Hills in South Dakota things started to change. More trees, hills and rocks. Then we saw the Crazy horse rock carving which is a neat thing but is unfinished at this time. Then onto Mt. Rushmore which was very cool. What an accomplishment! Something everyone should see with their own eyes.

When we left Rushmore we headed to Rapid City, where we are parked right now at John and Karen Buxcel's. The kids are having a blast playing with their kids and it has been nice for Heidi and myself to be able to visit and have some down time to relax. To top it off they like good coffee too! YES! It is so good to be on the west side of the USA!

So we will be here a few days before we head onto Montana and then home to Alaska. I hear the boss calling for the computer so this job is done for now! :)


Thursday, June 08, 2006


This last few days I am feeling SO FRUSTRATED at the judgement, prejudice, and racism that exists in the world!!!! Why is it that some people feel more important, more intelligent, more whatever because of their skin color, their sexuality, their education, their religion, there mental capacity, there............WHATEVER!!!

All of us that exist in this world are connected; we were created by the same God, we are loved UNCONDITIONALLY by the same God, and we all NEED each other whether people realize that or not.

Just a little factoid.......................regardless of what skin color you are..........................your skin color, sexuality, religion, WHATEVER, does not make you more or less intelligent, it does not make you more or less likely to commit a crime, it does not make you more or less likely to make a lot of money, it does NOT make you special!!! And it certainly doesn't determine whether you are a more loving, kind, accepting, non-judgemental individual!!!

For any who say "I'm not prejudice BUT.................". Little tidbit..................YOU ARE!!!!

For any who are prejudice, racist, or judgemental in any way and claim to know the love of Christ, I would encourage you to do some serious reading about Christ and get to know him a little better!!!! Learn a little more about AGAPE love!!

Sorry, just venting!! I just wish there were a little more REAL LOVE in this world and a lot less judgment placed on other people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"You can't cure the world of sorrows, but you can choose to live in joy" I guess that is what I have to do. And to everyone out there.....................I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Estes Park; very cool town

Well, we made it to Estes Park on Friday afternoon after three long days of driving. The minute we drove in we knew this was going to be a place we liked; it just feels good. Cute, quaint town with a LOT of charm, tucked away into the mountains. LOTS of hiking and outdoor activities and not too many people. Now we are having doubts about our decision to go back to Alaska.

Friday night we ordered pizza and went up to a lake and did a little easy hiking. On Saturday Becky, Calista and I drove "down below" (we are up in the moutains and that is what they call the towns at the bottom of the mountain) to get some things from Loveland. Martin and the boys hung out at the motorhome and chilled. We had dinner at Becky's (Martins sister) and played games.

On Sunday we went to a little church service here at the RV Park and then went over to a rock shop and oooed and ahhhed over all the rocks and minerals. Calista and I bought little trees that had been made out of little rocks, Kevin got some carvings, and Tristan got a axe head made out of obsidian. After that we took the kids to this little amusement area and let them ride bumper boats. They got soaking wet so it kind of took the fun out of doing anything else since it was a little cool. We went back to the motorhome to get dry clothes and then back to Becky's for creamed eggs on toast and a round of Pictionary.

Yesterday Martin and I woke up really early, before the kids were even stirring and went and hiked Twin Sisters Peak with Becky. It is a 7 1/2 mile hike round trip and SOOOO worth it!!! We gained 2500 ft of elevation, 11,200 feet at the top!!! It was so beautiful and one of the most fun hikes I have done. My knees were killing me on the way down, but I am not in that great of shape so it wasn't surprising. I made it all the way though!!! I spent the rest of the day resting and then back to Becky's for dinner and Clue.

Tristan and I were needing a down day today so Martin and Calista went with Becky to the other side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Becky had some business over there and they were going to get some ice cream and maybe do a litte hiking. Kevin slept most of the day because he wasn't feeling very well and Tristan and I went and played miniature golf. We also did a lot of lounging today.

We will be here until Thursday and then on to Lizz, Kirk, and Emilee's (Martin's other sister and her husband and daughter). After that we will be headed to Montana.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quick goodbye in Jonesborough and headed west

We had three wonderful days in Jonesborough before we had to say our goodbyes and head west.

Friday was Ren's birthday. We went to the farmers market in the morning for some fresh strawberries and awesome amish cheese and then she had to go on to work. After the farmers market I rushed home and grabbed some kids to go get some birthday presents. Sierra and Jalen were so sweet picking things for their mother; they knew exactly what she would want and were so proud. Jalen picked a stuffed toy skunk and then decided that he wanted it instead. I had to explain to him that it was a day to buy things for mom and he says, "Okay, she can have it." I told Ren she might not be hanging on to it :). After shopping I met her at her work so we could go to dinner, along with Mary and Mary's sister, Ann. We went to Ruby Tuesdays, in the mall, and then did a little shopping afterwards. Then I rushed home to whip up some strawberry trifle with those fresh strawberries. We turned all the lights off and waited for her arrival and jumped out screaming an awful version of happy birthday.

After she opened her gifts and things had calmed down a little some of them went out to jump on the trampoline. I heard some commotion and went out to see what it was all about and got a BIG surprise!!! The yard was twinkling with green lights from the fireflies. We have never seen fireflies so we were in awe of the magic. The kids were out catching them in jars and Calista had accidentally smooshed one in the lid. She stood there with alligator tears streaming down her face crying, "I don't like hurting things." It made me sad for her but it also made my heart swell up to see how much my kids value life, of all living things.

We had to say goodbye on Monday morning and it wasn't easy, knowing that we won't be back for a while. We spent 5 1/2 weeks there before we went to DC and it felt weird leaving, like we lived there.

We made it to Nashville the first night and spent part of the next day at the Opryland hotel. I was there with my mother almost eight years ago so I was feeling a little sadness that day. I was remembering sitting by the fountain eating beignets from the beignet shop with her, Ren, and the kids and I was 7 months pregnant with Calista. I was looking forward to having those again but the beignet shop closed down, bummer!!!

Yesterday we drove to St.Louis and had dinner with Ken and Cherry and her two girls. After dinner they came to the motorhome and shared a glass of wine with us while the kids rollerbladed and rode their bikes around the park.

So today we drove ALL day!!!! We made it to Wakeeney, Kansas. We are out in the middle of nowhere! The last 50-100 miles there were no curves in the road and flat, flat, flat! We will be in Denver tomorow.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Something I forgot to blog about....

I have told this story dozens of times and never blogged about it so I thought I would. Something that we have gotten a kick out of, during the course of this trip, is people's reaction to us being from Alaska. This took the cake though!!!!..........................

We were at Walmart getting our passport pictures done and just visiting with the ladies that work there. One of the gals pipes up and says (in her strong southern accent), "This may sound really stupid but down here they'all call us Americans, what do they call y'all up there?" Shocked, I replied, "Well, we are one of the fifty states you know, so we are Americans." Slightly puzzled looking she says, "Well, I guess I knew that, do they call you eskimos?" Totally unbelievable!! I said, "Well, if you are an eskimo they call you an eskimo!" I am amazed at the ignorance but I guess that Alaska is totally irrelevant to most Tennesseeans!! Martin said that it was all he could do not to say, "HERE IS YOUR SIGN!!"

We have laughed and laughed about it and told the story dozens of times!!!

getting ready to leave the east coast

Kevin and Martin had a great time in DC, they got to see most everything they wanted and it was good for Kevin to have some alone time with Dad. Tristan, Calista and I had the nice quiet day that we were really needing. We left DC Friday morning and drove into Williamsburg. We parked at a nice KOA that has a swimming pool that is opened! The kids spent the evening swimming, they had a blast since the KOA was full of kids!! Apparently the weekends are busy around here because pretty much every space was full until Sunday when things CLEARED out!!

On Saturday we went to Jamestown Settlement, which is a replica of the original Jamestown Settlement, and got to explore what it was like in colonial times. They had replicas of the three ships that originally sailed into Jamestown and lots of historical interpreters to tell us facts and tidbits about that time period. Kevin even got to sword fight (with a stick) and we got to learn about blacksmithing, woodworking, cooking, etc. It made history real which was fun for me.

We then went over the historical Jamestown, which is the actual site of the settlement. There are still some foundations there and they are constantly doing archeological digs at the site.

On Sunday we went to Busch Gardens to get a dose of adrenaline. Martin and the boys live for it but Calista and I have our limits; since Calista and I weren't really up for an adrenaline rushed day we opted out of the roller coasters and did the easy ride while the boys went off and did the crazy ones! We got rained on a bit but it was actually kind of nice because the park was not busy at all.

We were going to leave on Monday but we decided to stay for a down day and hung out at the pool. We cleaned the motorhome and finished laundry (always exciting!!). On Tuesday we decided to go to Virginia Beach; Martin felt like we had to dip our feet in the Atlantic Ocean since we had come this far. While we were on the beach a photographer came over and took a bunch of pictures of the kids and we were able to buy a package of them. She had all the kids laughing ,which we are never able to do in pictures, so we were excited about that. That night we headed towards Asheville and since we didn't leave Virginia Beach until 7:00 or later we ended up driving until 3:00 am, until Martin was so tired he couldn't see straight. We pulled over at a rest stop that didn't allow overnight parking but by that point Martin didn't care because he was going to have an accident at the rate we were going. When we woke up in the morning we realized he had parked in the area where people drive through!!! No one seemed to care that we were there all night so that was good!

We drove the rest of the way into Asheville that morning and parked at a quiet little park there. We were so tired from the night before that we ended up lazing in the motorhome all day recharging. Thursday morning we went to Biltmore Estate, the largest home in America at 127,000 sq. ft.!!!!!!!! It was absolutely amazing, you could spend a week there! We got to go do a wine tasting at the winery and ended up buying some fabulous wine!!! When we were through there we drove up to Jonesborough for a quick visit before heading west again.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Visiting friends

The last week or so has been a bit of a whirlwind! We left DC and headed for West Virginia to see Martins friend, Patrick Sauer. It just happened to be our 15th anniversary that night and Patrick and his wife, Michelle, treated us to dinner at a local restaurant that is in an old historical house downtown. Calista made friends with their 15 year old daughter, Emily who was kind enough to keep Calista entertained for the evening. They also have a 12 year old son with a killer bedroom!! The boys hung out with him and played video games, their favorite thing!

We had a good nights sleep, parked at the end of their driveway, and the next morning went to Harpers Ferry where the Civil War started. All the buildings in downtown Harpers Ferry have information and historical artifacts to look at. We have certainly learned a lot of history on this trip for sure! We said our goodbyes around 5:00 pm and headed toward Towson, Maryland, to visit a highschool friend of mine, Ezra Gollogly. Ezra and I worked on the Alaska Railroad together after our senior year in highschool and hadn't seen each other since our wedding day, fifteen years ago. Funny that our reunion would land a day after our anniversary!

We got into Towson around 7:00 and were able to park at the Masonic Temple right next door to Ezra's house. We ordered pizza for dinner and sat around chit chatting until 10:30 or so. It was a short visit but so nice to see him again. He has an adorable daughter, Mina, that Calista was quite happy to keep entertained. His wife was out of town on business so we didn't get to meet her, which was a bummer, but I am sure we will meet again some day.

The next day we took our time getting going, went and did some grocery shopping, and then drove a little north to Bel Air to visit Curt and Tina Wade, some other friends from Fairbanks. Curt dated one of my good friends in highschool so we spent quite a bit of time together back in those days. Tina and I worked at the Fairbanks Clinic together, before I had Kevin, and her and Curt ended up getting married several years ago and now have two boys who are 7 (Cooper) and 17 months (Hayden). Curt and Tina actually attended highschool together at North Pole High. They got some Maryland crab and we spent the evening cracking crab and visiting. Curt recently bought a Mustang convertible so he let Martin and the boys ride along when he picked up the crab, with the top down. Now I have Martin dreaming about a Mustang again! It was one of the most enjoybable evenings and so good to see them again too. It has been such a privilege to see people that we thought we might never see again.

We left Curt and Tina's around 11:00 and headed to Pennsylvania. Some more Fairbanks friends of ours (Kevin and Claudine Jones and their kids Kyla and Brent) live in Carlisle. We parked at a local campground there as we were needing ammenities by this point. Calista woke up the next morning rather sick with a nice case of pharyngitis. Her throat was pretty nasty and she was running a fever. We stopped by the Jones to say a quick hello and then back to the motorhome to nurse Calista. She spent the next night puking so we couldn't do much the next day either. Tristan hit it off with Brent quite well so I took just him over to their house with me to visit for a couple of hours. That night we took Calista to the hospital because it was looking like strep. Four hours and $225.00 later we were told that she just had pharyngitis. The next morning she woke up all perky and ready to go! We had dinner with the Jones' that night and stayed and visited for a while. Brent and Tristan had a great time playing basketball in the driveway and games on the computer while Kyla played with Calista and showed her a little how to bead. Kyla makes beautiful earrings and, of course, I had to get some!!

The next day (Tuesday, May 9) we went to Hersheys and stalked up on chocolate. It was fun to see how chocolate is made and to get a tour around Hershey; the whole town smells like chocolate! We went back to Carlisle that evening and said our goodbyes. We woke up yesterday morning and drove to Gettysburg. We went to a museum there; the National Cemetery, where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address; and the battlefield, where that battle was fought. Then last night we drove back down to DC. Martin and Kevin had a few more things that they wanted to see before we head to Jamestown so they are in DC today while Tristan, Calista, and myself are taking a down day in the motorhome. It is raining today so it seems fitting anyway!