We just spent a wonderful week camping at La Pine State Park, about 30 minutes south of Bend, OR. This week found us saying things like, “This is really happening!”, and “We’re really doing it!”, and even a couple of times, “Hey, we can fix things!” The campground was pretty remote, so our connectivity was patchy. This was a frustration for Brad who needs the internet to keep working so that he can bankroll this circus. For me it was more of an inconvenience, but maybe good timing so that I can start to wean myself off of constant Facebook peeks and other internet addictions.
The girls had a great first week of homeschooling. The greatest challenge will be for the 2 of them to not be distracted by the other, since a lot of their work is different from each others. And even when they are working on the same thing, they get competitive. So I’m learning that they both do better with their own workspace.
At this campground the girls were quickly initiated into the pee-wee bike gang of 10-15 children who were riding the campground loop at all hours, all in varying degrees of endearing grubbiness. One morning some of the youngest members of the biker gang even woke us up with a knock on the door asking if Sunny & Coral were ready to come outside to ride bikes.
At first it made me nervous to let them bike around the loop by themselves, but once we realized that the members of the gang outnumbered cars in the campground, and how far the range of our collection of walkie-talkies reaches, and how much time they were happy to partake in this activity while we (I) had time to get other things done…it quickly became more appealing. The girls and I spent almost every morning doing school work, and once all was completed they jumped on their bikes and only returned when summoned. Even Coral joined in the excitement and got unbelievably comfortable on her bike for someone who didn’t even have the confidence to ride down our block 2 weeks ago.
We’ve managed to collect 5 walkie-talkies in the last year (the newest & most awesome rechargeable ones as a departure gift from some great friends – Thanks Heidi & Randy!) – but even the other 3 battery eaters worked great in the campground. Usually each of our girls had one, I had one in the camper, and 2 were loaned out to random new friends. Everyone in the entire campground seemed to be on channel 1, and because we couldn’t easily figure out how to change some of them, and because it was hilarious, we chose to stay on Channel 1 all week too. In between “Mom, is lunch ready yet?” and “Mom, Coral hurt her toe and she’s coming to the door for a bandaid.” we would also catch glimpses of all kinds of other family’s conversations. I can’t divulge who is who, as it is a serious, confidential, safety system…but our family radio names have been chosen: Glitter Sparkle, Rainbow Sparkle, Nutella Sparkle, and Beard Sparkle. I was so impressed by what a sweet, protective, and encouraging big sister Sunny was to Coral. A couple of times I got reports over the radio like, “Mom, it’s hard for me to bike with Coral because she is so slow.” But then later I would hear, “Mom, Coral is getting so awesome on her bike. She almost fell but then she caught herself. It was awesome!”. This morning it was, “Mom, Coral is practicing compliments and she just told someone that she liked their blue car. I stayed right with her the whole time, but she did it herself. And then the people laughed. She did great!”
One of my favorite moments all week was hearing Coral & Sunny telling each other “I love you” & giggling together over the walkie-talkies.
One other delight of our week was getting to see 2 wonderful old friends (and 1 new one!) from Wenatchee who are now living in Bend.
We enjoyed an evening walk & dinner in Bend with them early in the week, and then they each separately managed to join us for drinks in the trailer later in the week.
We spent one day at the High Desert Museum which was really fun and educational. The girls took their cameras and travel journals along and had a great time.
Well…let me say that there were great moments, and cranky moments. But over all it was a success, especially since I FINALLY let the girls spend their lemonade stand money at the gift shop, so our day ended on the high-note of choosing souvenirs. (Please appreciate that we all left with souvenirs that actually relate to the place we visited….zero unicorns! Winning!)
So as a first week on our grand adventure, it had some great times and some not so great times. I’m trying to remember that there aren’t necessarily “good days” and “bad days”, but good and bad moments interspersed through all days, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I’m proud of us just for making it through a week and so happy to finally be LIVING IN this dream we’ve had for so long. I’m pleased to already see growth in our girls – fewer fits over all, playing together more kindly, playing more independently, being friendly to new people. And I am really working hard on being patient and loving with the girls and on allowing them to be kids instead of expecting them to act like small adults. I feel like all 4 of us are pushing ourselves to find new ways to manage our moods and manners, and for the most part we enjoy each others company most of the time.
The transition of our family moving into an RV doesn’t seem as challenging a change as the fact that our roles are all very new – Brad as the sole breadwinner, and me as the primary parent, chef, and teacher.
Even though we are now filling more traditional gender roles, it’s a reversal for us and there have been some hiccups. Let’s just say that in a week, we’ve already had hot dogs for dinner twice. But hey…we’re camping, that’s gourmet!
We are also all still very tired. Our entire family is sleeping in an hour or 2 past normal wake up times, but still not feeling rested. We realized a couple of days ago that it’s because we’re all sleeping very restlessly. I’m not sure if it’s the new stresses, the new beds, or the temperature fluctuations, but I hope that we can all start to feel more rested as we adjust to our new environment.
It was also a week of a lot of firsts – our 1st trip to a laundromat, our 1st visit to a dump station, our 1st coyote sighting, and our 1st night of sub-freezing outdoor temps. (yep, our hose froze…)
It was our first week of missing close friends, but making some really sweet new ones. And we learned a lot. I learned that I’ll probably be utilizing more of the campground showers than I anticipated, and I need to find better solutions than caffeine for managing my own daily ups & downs. I learned that anytime we explore a city I need to wear a backpack with SNACKS in it, because just like my sweet neighbor told us, “The only difference between an ordeal & an adventure is your BLOOD SUGAR LEVEL.” Ok, actually he said “attitude”, but in our family it seems to basically be the same thing. Fight the hangriness! We’ve learned very quickly how to more effectively get the inside of our home ready for the earthquake of moving locations as we’ve had the chance to see what DIDN’T survive each trip. And I learned not to open any cabinet doors quickly after transit unless an avalanche of pantry items is what I’m hoping for. This life looks like it’s going to mean more bandaids and fewer showers than I’m used to. (If you know me, you know how shocking that is.) It’s looking like a life with a lot less counter space, but more kid chores. A life with less internet connection, but maybe more family connection.
Last week as we figured out where everything should go in our trailer, Sunny said, “Mom, this trailer is small, but it has a lot of corners.” I hope that we can continue to be delighted by how many things we can pack into our tiny home, and by how many experiences we can pack into our tiny days.