Life In & Out of Arkansas

December 17, 2016 – March 14, 2017
Russellville, Arkansas

Our campsite at my parents’ house.

We arrived in time for my birthday mid-December, and we stayed long enough to see the earliest spring flowers bloom. The daffodils, the fruit trees, the purple henpecked flowers that my Aunt Cheryl says mean that it’s almost time to start mowing the lawn again, and the service berries. My grandma tells me that when the service berries bloom, the cold ground has thawed enough to get all the coffins out of the barn from throughout the winter and finally bury them. Funeral service time – hence the name of the tree, service berry. We were here for a 68 degree Christmas Day with the front door propped open. We were here on more than one night cold enough to freeze some pipes. We were here for a rare, wonderful January snow day, and an 80 degree day in February when we got out our tank tops. We were here for a couple of nights of tornado watches, and lots of chances to hear the Wednesday noon tornado siren test.  It rained on March 1st which locals claim means it will rain 15 days in March. This seemed to hold true, and meant a one day delay in our departure as we waited for the muddy hillside we parked on to dry out enough for our 2WD diesel to back up it successfully to hook up our trailer.

Christmas crafts with Aunt Cheryl.
Setting up the play mobile nativity set.
Learning the family recipe for Christmas cheese balls. The most important step is to “get your hands in it”.
Christmas Eve
We enjoyed many mornings and evenings in front of this fireplace.
Puzzles with Pappy.
A rare Arkansas snow day.
Snow day play.
We roasted hotdogs and s’mores in Mimi & Pappy’s fireplace one evening.


This season of our adventure – this 3 month period of having a “home base” at my parents house – we have begun referring to as Chapter 2. It’s been very different than what we now call Chapter 1, when we spent several months traveling the West Coast & Southwest US. Instead of constant new scenery, we’ve made ourselves comfortable in multiple people’s homes for days at a time. Instead of yet another evening spent packing lunches for national park exploration days, we’ve spent lots of time in conversations around tables cluttered with the aftermath of a delicious meal while kids play in the next room. Instead of experiencing life without the comforts of our community, we’ve spent nearly every single day surrounded by people that we love, hearing about lives and kids and schools and churches. We’ve played music and sung songs; we’ve borrowed jackets and heard new books at bedtime. We have visited grandparents in the nursing home and met the children of childhood friends. We’ve done a lot of things that you take for granted when you live near a lot of family, like go to the grocery store with Mimi and meet her coworkers. With access to Mimi’s kitchen we made things in the oven, even if they bake for a long time, without worrying about using up the propane. We washed things like rugs and quilts that are a pain at laundromats. With access to Pappy’s shop we fixed things that just needed a dab of super glue or JB weld or that one size of alan wrench that we don’t have.

Battleship with Mimi.
Reading with Pappy.
Learning about the layers of the Earth at the Little Rock Discovery Museum.
Enjoying the pizza at Vino’s in Little Rock, where Brad & I went on our first date.
Sitting at the counter where Brad & I had our first date.
Ukulele fun with Charity
Making Valentine Cards with Aunt Cheryl
The girls planted seeds with Aunt Cheryl to get a jump on her garden.
Then there was that fun “Slumber Party” night at Mimi’s where I got this curling iron stuck in Sunny’s hair. It ended with a pair of scissors – not on Sunny’s hair, but snipping every single little plastic prong off of the curling iron…It wasn’t the slumber party experience we were planning, but it was memorable!
Typical Sunny at the library
Coral had her first movie theater experience to see the Lego Batman movie. This is also where Sunny watched her first movie in theater, and that’s possibly true for me as well.
Mimi & Pappy time… This was our picnic spot at the top of Mt. Nebo.
Hanging out and coloring with Great Grandma Johnson.
Coral doing her reading practice with Mauli.
Helping Mimi make breakfast for dinner.
Reading books & playing with dolls from my childhood.
We had a Travel/Camping-themed tea party in Stumbo!
Tea party fun!
We had so much fun having tea in Stumbo!
Aunt Cheryl’s heavenly homemade pound cake.
Teddy Grahams in their sleeping bags, ready to go camping! We also made compass roses out of fruit skewers.
Cookie decorating
Sunny icing her Golden Gate Bridge.
Some of our adventure-themed sugar cookies for our Travel Tea Party – a walrus, San Francisco trolley car, state of Arkansas, a hippo. & ocean waves.
The seldom-seen woodland grandma, emerging from the woods with her teapots.
We ended the tea party with the girls showing off their geography binders and travel journals.
Coral showing her travel journal to Aunt Cheryl.

The trips that we’ve taken to see friends and family from this home base have also been a real treasure.  We’ve visited people that we’ve kept up with closely over the years, and others that we hadn’t spoken with since 2004. We’ve seen little vignettes into the way other families do life – how they make their coffee in the morning, how they put their kids to bed, the type of foods that they eat, and wifi passwords.  These moments have been as long as 10 days, and as brief as a few hours. But getting to sit on the couches of friends, hearing about successes and failures and parenthood, and getting to spend even just a few hours inside these homes has been better than a thousand Facebook posts.  Being almost constantly hosted by other people has been exhausting and sometimes frustrating, and I’m very ready to get back to life out in our RV.  But it’s also been wonderful, and I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.


2 Comment

  1. Aunt Cheryl says: Reply

    I wish we could be neighbors all the time!

  2. Mom says: Reply

    LOVE your song!!

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