The Why Behind Our Journey

Ever since I was a little girl, I had an overwhelming curiosity to know what was just around the corner. Where other girl’s heads contained the names of boy band members or the latest gossip, mine was full of maps and schemes. I remember places, directions, and small details that other people never notice. I’m different and I always have been.

When I was a child, I wished I was more like everybody else. This got worse as I hit middle school. The other girls were so content to talk about boys and excited about their latest mall purchases. I tried. I really did. I never felt like one of them. A cog that didn’t fit. I never felt as excited about homecoming dresses and hairstyles as it appeared I was supposed to as a member of teen suburbia.

I got my first real taste of the giddy excitement that I had seen on my classmates over the years on a trip to Florida. We were on the trip for my sister but that is a tale for another time. Honestly, I felt guilty for this trip being so important to me because it was meant to be hers. Later, I realized that it was hers but it was also all of ours. A child being sick is hard on the whole family. She made a full recovery to grow up to be a lovely young lady that I’m proud to be related to.

We flew into Orlando via Tampa. It was the first time I saw a real palm tree. It was hot. I didn’t know where anything was. I was completely overwhelmed by the newness of it all. There was an excitement inside that I can’t explain. My brain hard at work, making new connections. I was 14 years old and suddenly I understood that look of glee that I saw on the faces of others.

My dad drove us to Daytona Beach. He had lived near there before marrying a single mother and becoming the instant, much-needed father of yours truly. We were only there for half the day before driving back to Orlando. We parked on the beach, the pier in sight, and I stepped foot onto the sand for the first time. I had never experienced such beauty. The clawing beast inside me calmed.  I felt like I had arrived home after being away for a long time. A feeling that was entirely new for me. I had moved so many times already in my short life. I had never felt like I was truly home anywhere. I still feel like that every time I step foot on the beach. It’s like being greeted by an old friend that was just waiting for me to come by.

I came back from that trip a different person. I brought home something that has lasted much, much longer than sun-kissed cheeks. I brought home a wanderlust that has nearly driven me nuts over the years. Who knew that your entire existence could change within the course of a week? From that point forward, I never looked at my beloved maps the same way. I wondered every time we drove anywhere what would happen if we just kept driving. My daydreams were filled with endless miles of road, plane rides, mountains, and beautiful beaches.

I planned to hit the road in a van with my best friend after we graduated but things don’t always go as planned. Instead I fell in love, married a wonderful man, and had a baby right after. My mind shifted into survival mode. I had no idea what I was doing. I read every parenting book I could get my hands on. In my pursuit to give her the most stable life I could, I blocked out those daydreams of living in a van, playing on the beach, and meandering around the globe at my leisure. We traveled as we could for pleasure and work. We had our second daughter. We bought the house in the suburbs near a great hospital when our oldest had some medical problems. That is also a long story for another day. The important part is that she is healthy and happy now.

With the crises of learning to parent and our daughter’s medical issues behind us, that little part of my brain started to hum again. Where would I end up if I just kept driving. We could just move to the beach. Would I be happy in one place? My husband and I began talking about moving, about travel, about our dreams. We added a third daughter to our tiny tribe. I love her in a way that you only love your very last baby. She was the last. The final tribe member until our daughters perhaps add more of their own one day. I knew she was the last one the moment I saw her. Our family suddenly complete. We sucked up all the baby moments we could.

My husband and I talked more about dreams. I played my hand close to my heart, always afraid to say the words and let the beast out. We have a nice life. A nice home. We are very happy. What if he didn’t want to travel? What if he was content right here? Distracted. I was distracted. It clawed again. Constantly, go, go, go. We have a nice life. We take vacations to the beach. I feel at peace when we are going somewhere new.

It was on one of those beach vacations that I showed my hand completely. Not in a dream talk way but in a real way. My husband said we could do it. He said he would follow me anywhere. It’s a nice dream but it doesn’t feel like real talk. It’s vacation talk with vacation husband that wears a straw hat and flip-flops.

We talk about it later at home. He says “We can do anything if we put our minds to it.” We talk about running away. It’s cute, like a little secret we share. It’s not real, just pillow talk between two tired parents in the ‘burbs. Daydreams of being a traveling hippie have re-entered my daily thoughts. I feel like I’m talking about it too much. I try to stop. My husband finally asks why and I tell him because it’s real to me, that it’s everything I have wanted since I was 14 standing on that beach staring into the vast beauty of the ocean. His response…”I’ll follow you anywhere. I mean it. You and the kids are my home.” We sit, in silence, starring each other down. I finally say, “We have a beautiful life.” He responds, “We do. It might not be the right kind of beautiful for us is all.” We sit. My brain running at max capacity.

For those of you that have never sat on the edge, knowing damn good and well you should jump but being so scared about the splat at the bottom that you hang on for an extra second, it’s the scariest moment of your entire life. I tell my husband that I’m completely serious. I want to go as far as we possibly can for as long as we can. I tell him about the quiet voice that has grown to a shriek over the past few years, always Go! Go! Go! The part of me that will never be happy here or possibly anywhere. He understands completely.

We agree to leave by the end of 2020. Just like that, we set invisible things in motion. Setting a date has done something that conspiring in whispered voices never did. We are doing this. We tell our kids. We begin to get a list of things we need to do before we leave in order. We start working on the list, slowly at first, gaining momentum as we go. We tell our families and friends.

We hit a point in March of this year where everything suddenly turned a corner and it was completely real. I am the why behind our journey. I hope everyday that I’m doing the right thing but I know I’m doing it. The daydreamer with the horrible case of wanderlust is finally getting her way. Dream big everyone! It may come true.

 

April 2019 Goals

April Goals

  • Pay off loan #1
  • Pay as much as possible on loan #2
  • Cash flow our trip
  • Major decluttering
  • Family time/Get outside more
  • Continue researching travel trailers and remodeling them

If you read the end of the month review for March, you know that we made some big decisions last month. We have been on a bit of a proverbially high ever since. We hope to bank on that excitement and momentum to make huge strides towards our goals in the next couple months. So much of the ability to achieve a huge, slightly unrealistic goal is the mental belief that one can and will do it. We want to go for big goals this month. We want to really push ourselves harder than we have in ages. We want to pay off loan #1 and put a dent in loan #2. Loan #1 has a balance of almost $1,300. Loan #2 is $2,500. I don’t have the receipts handy to give you the exact number down to the cent like I did when accessing our credit cards online but these numbers are really close.

We are going out-of-town for five days to visit family this month. We are driving and hope to make the full drive in one day. It’s 13 hours on Google maps so with three kids it will take us all day. We have budgeted to cashflow the entire trip. We already paid for our hotel. We just need to cover our food and gas. We are giving ourselves two days to get back home because we didn’t want to take any chances with work.

We hit this point last month where this started to feel real. Until that moment it still felt like a daydream. I’m not sure what pushed it over the line between dream and reality but I’m glad it happened. It has made the idea of decluttering and saving money so much easier. It was hard to see the big picture before that mental shift. It completely changed my entire mindset. Preparing for long-term travel has been extra hard because we are still living a normal daily life full of the normal everyday parts of living in the suburbs with three kids. It felt like I was walking in two worlds that were constantly at odds with each other. This mental shift was exactly what I needed. I’m still stressed out and have too much to do but it feels like all my efforts are pointed in the same direction now. I am anxious to be rid of the physical trappings of our current daily life. We are continuing our decluttering this month.

We have decided not to buy anything unless we truly need it. We will not be buying many things for the next year. Our list of items that we are no longer buying includes toys, games, clothing for our two youngest children, kitchen items, jewelry, and decorations. We are currently not buying lotion, soap, or makeup until we use up the large amount that we already own. When we first began sorting through things, we were shocked by the amount of things that we had.

We are trying to spend more time outdoors and being active as a family because we are dreadfully out of shape for what we are planning in the near future. Hiking miles day after day is something that we couldn’t logically do right now without being completely miserable. We have started going to the park to walk the trails or strolling around our neighborhood a few times a week.

We have spent all of our free time in the evenings researching travel trailers and how to renovate them. We have read about things that commonly go wrong. We have looked at floor plans. We have made a list of our must have items. We will be continuing this until we can narrow down exactly what we are looking for.

It’s another busy month around here. What are you up to? Working on anything? Please leave it in a comment below.

March Goals 2019 – End of Month Review

March Goals

  • Pay off Credit Card #10
  • Pay on Loan
  • Save Money
  • File Our Taxes
  • Continue Decluttering
  • Further my education about homeschooling

We made some huge decisions about our future travel plans this month. It wasn’t on our goal list but we found that our conversations turned to RV and travel trailer options often. We realized that it was something that we were nervous about. We needed to figure it out before we were going to be able to comfortably continue our preparations. I get stressed out by things like this. I feel like they are constantly hanging over me. We talked about nothing else over the course of this month. We finally decided on an SUV and travel trailer. We will be buying a used SUV and an older travel trailer that we can renovate to fit our family needs and personal style. We have a couple of things we need to do before we begin shopping but the endless mental debate I was having with myself into the wee hours has finally ended for now. Making this choice was a huge relief. I can plow through anything if I have a set course but the daunting act of trying to figure out the right choice for something huge and important can leave me spinning in circles for days, or even weeks. Having this behind us, for better or worse, allows me get back on track and work the plan again.

We paid off credit card #10. This was our final credit card! We are so excited to be done with this. Those ten small payments a month have made a huge difference in our snowball. We have a couple loans to pay off and then our focus will change to saving for our travel trailer and SUV. It’s taken a ton of work to get to this point but it’s worth the effort.

We didn’t make much of a difference in the loan. We plan to pay it off by the end of April. We are going on a trip in the beginning of April and prepaid for our hotel this month. We didn’t want to chance not finding a room last-minute that had everything we needed/wanted at a decent price. This was in our budget for April and that will give us some additional funding to go toward this loan.

We have found a few ways to cut down our budget. We went grocery shopping at Aldi last week to see if it’s cheaper and it is on many items. We are working on our personal spending which is still way too high. We still eat out and go for coffee way too often. We spend money on dumb stuff that is not helping us toward our goals. We are seriously considering trying a zero spending challenge for a period of time because it would make a huge difference. It would majorly suck in the short-term but it could potentially save us a small fortune. We may try a week or a month to see what happens.

We just filed our taxes finally. We are getting back a small return that will go straight towards whatever step we are on in our priority list at that time.

Decluttering became a huge focus this month. We have an extra room in our basement that is dedicated to the things that we will be selling. We sort through a closet, a drawer, a shelf, or a box from the basement or garage whenever we have a few minutes. We separate out everything into one of five categories: keep, process, sell, donate, and trash/recycle. We have made it through a decent amount of stuff and took a load to the donation center. We are hoping to be done with going through most of our stuff by the end of May. That begins yard sale season in this area and we plan to have a few this summer. We have a lot of stuff! A lot more stuff than we originally realized!

We learned a little more about homeschooling. I read a few books and many blog posts. I learned about laws in different states. We are considering buying a small house in Indiana to use as a home base. I wanted to read up on homeschooling laws because we currently don’t live there and I didn’t know much about it.

Do you know that moment when you have been working on something for a while and suddenly it gains momentum? That was this month for us. Everything went from something we had been talking about to something that was really happening in our near future. The feel of the dream has changed from a beautiful daydream to a crazy reality. It has changed how we are approaching things. It’s easier to sacrifice for a dream when it starts to feel more real.

How was your month? Anything amazing? Please share below. We love hearing from you!

Amazing Indoor Play Center at Jump & Jack’s in West Chester, Ohio

It was a miserable cold, wet day and I really needed to get the kids out of the house. They were starting to bounce off the walls because they hadn’t been out much recently. We had the whole day off and decided to try somewhere new. I made out a short list of places that I was willing to take them and let the girls pick one. They took their time and looked up pictures online of each option before agreeing on Jump & Jack’s in West Chester, Ohio. West Chester is on the north side of Cincinnati.

It was fairly easy to locate with the help of GPS. I only took one wrong turn. The parking lot is large but it was mostly full when we got there. The kids were quite impressed when we walked in the door. The place is huge! I paid for the girls. Kids under 3 are $4. Kids 3 and up are $8 on weekdays and $10 on Friday nights and weekends. The girls took off their shoes and quickly went on their way. There is an area for shoes and coats at the front.

This is the perfect place to run off all that pent-up winter energy. The girls had so much fun! The main playset is multiple levels of fun. It includes tons of slides, tubes to climb through, obstacle courses, a maze, and small playrooms with one item like a balance beam or large ball.

In the center of the place, there was an interactive game screen on the floor that you play with your feet. Octavia and Isabella enjoyed this. They played with it for a while with some other kids. This is surrounded by tables which is really nice when us old people need a break. They sell drinks and food. Water was $1. They do have a water fountain as well. We didn’t eat there so I can’t tell you anything about their food.

There was a small baby/toddler area. I took Octavia in here for a while to give the big kids a break from helping her through the big play area. She had a good time playing with other kids her age. There are loads of seating and some tables in the room with this play area. It’s in a closed off area so it’s a great way to get away for the noise for a little while.

The back room is full of inflatables including a couple of bounce houses. This area is only open during certain times and they close it for parties. We were lucky enough to be there when it was open. Octavia loved the basic bounce house. It was mainly small kids on that one and the big kids were on the inflatable obstacle course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to Smoothie King after we left. It was right around the corner and sounded great after all the running around. It was super yummy!

Jump & Jack’s Location: 7102 Office Park Drive, West Chester, Ohio 45069

Cutting my Hair for Donation and a New Look

Before

There are not a ton of pictures of me on this blog because I am so often behind the camera but I do have a face. Also, I had a ton of hair! I had been growing it out to donate to a company that makes wigs for kids or women. You should wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner. Dry it completely. Make sure it is dry when you send it because it will mold. Don’t put any product in it.

I love how it turned out! Nicole at The Color Room in Florence, Kentucky cut it. She did an amazing job and was very kind. I would happily see her again. It feels so nice to be rid of the weight of all that hair. My hair is very thick. She separated it into six small ponytails before cutting it. I had brought in a couple of pictures I liked and she helped me decide what would look nice. I am very pleased with the results.

I ended up donating 12 inches. This is my eighth donation. I have donated to Wigs for Kids and Locks of Love in the past. I will be mailing out this donation next week after double checking the qualifications to make sure I mail it to a place that will be able to process mine. Some take gray hair. Some take dyed hair. Some have different length requirements.

I hope this hair helps somebody feel beautiful and brings them joy!