Living Outside the Box


This saying has been our motto since we embarked on our journey one and a half years ago. Leaving California where I grew up most of my life wasn’t easy. All my friends and family were there. But our life had been stagnant and our nomadic personalities gave us a nudge. We lived in a great community in our brand new three-bedroom house. I was active in my community as Children’s Activities Coordinator; we had great homeschool friends and my family were nearby. I got Abby-love anytime I needed it.
So why leave all that? There were many reasons but the most important one was Richard’s well-being. Richard had been feeling emotionally overwhelmed at work. My poor husband was on call 24/7. His pager went off while we slept, while we were having dinner, while he was in the shower and worse of all, while we were on vacation. There was no escaping it. He desperately wanted a change in career. And so with that quote in mind, we drastically made a change.
We knew that in order for better things to happen in our lives, we had to live outside the box. Ironically, we are RV-living. This goes against my preferred way of life, of course. I like having space. I like kitchen counter space, roomy bathroom and a nice closet. I liked my King-size bed. When we hit the road, all that went out the window.
Two summers ago, we explored to our heart’s content. At every destination, we visited national parks, went to museums, checked out local libraries and observed the community. We were looking for a good home. We went up through central and northern California and through Oregon. It was quite an experience doing this. Small towns stared and bi-racial couples smiled. We were out of our comfort zone but didn’t let uncharted territories get in our way.
Meanwhile, I missed friends and family. Long distance relationships aren’t for everybody. We lost a few good friends along the way but gained new ones wherever we were. This journey on the road taught me a lot about true friendships. I definitely got in touch with my spirituality more so than ever.
Fast forward to now. As I look at that picture of me at my new job, I realize that I became who I wanted to be. Dreams come true no matter how old you are. I’m in a classroom with children who call me Ms. Pam. I play, I teach, I paint. I give love and I receive. Every time a child calls me ‘teacher’, it’s a constant reminder that I am where I need to be in life. I never would have arrived here if I stayed in my box in the comfort of familiarity and routine.
“If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Thomas Jefferson
I encourage all reading this to never give up on your dreams. It’s okay to say “I will be there someday”. Start slow with changing your routine. Do something you’ve never done and little by little, your goal will unfold. Before you know it, you’re right smack in the middle of it. It took me 16 days to realize it.



Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour

Here’s what we learned:
The original owners first came in the 1800s to Tillamook Oregon to farm crops. Harvest became an issue due to weather. They noticed a part of their uncultivated farm remained green with grass. Their cows were always happy and that became the start of the dairy farm.

The self guided tour of the factory was fascinating. There were plenty of posted information on the history, the cheese-making process and a farmer’s daily schedule.

They offered free cheese samples in which I had to decline because I’m lactose intolerant. There was a gift shop, cafe and small store that featured -you guessed it- tillamook cheese.

Mental Preparation

This is it. This is our last week living in a single family residence, aka a house. A spacious house with room to stretch my arms, legs and sanity.

Don’t get me wrong, trailer-camping for the entire summer in a forest is the place to be; the smell of forest, the aroma of firewood burning, the sound of children playing, the sound of birds, crickets—- you get the picture.

What I’m most worried about is my claustrophobia. I survived it for 4 months last year, so I should be able to withstand a month (or two) living in a confined space, right? I pray to the gods of open space that I’ll be fine.

But just to be on the safe side, I’m preparing myself mentally.

1. If I have to, I’ll use the facility shower. So what if it takes extra effort to pack my toiletries and change of clothes? My goal is to enjoy a hot shower without feeling like the shower walls are closing in on me. Not hitting my elbows and knees in the shower will be a bonus. On that note: I won’t have to cut my hair. I won’t have to worry about clogging the drain. I’ve been growing it out for a year. I want what Rapunzel has.

2. It will be nice to have easy access to my favorite things like my art and my homeschool items. The “office” space in Owen’s room will now house my art and homeschooling items. Last time, I couldn’t get to my acrylics and canvas. I struggled to find an outlet for my creativity. I ended up painting the interior walls of our trailer in many colors and giving it a make over. Something great came out of that(!)

3. As cozy as I made our bedroom with soft beddings, a nice shade of wall color with matching curtains, it didn’t help with my anxiety. I used to wake up not knowing where I was. It’d be pitched black and I felt as if I just ran 5K. (More on that later!) I literally feel like I’m in a coffin. Here’s my solution: I’m taking over the living room! The couch unfolds into a bed. The bathroom is two steps away (literally). There’s elbow and leg room but more importantly, I don’t have a wall 6 inches on either side of my face. There’s room to breathe.

4. Cooking was a bit of a challenge. Just like art, I need counter space to spread out my art supplies; in this case, my ingredients and prep bowls. Well, I’m not a James Beard Award winning chef nor do I run a 2 star Michelin kitchen in this trailer. I have to cut back on a lot of things. It’s time to buy those pre-cut veggies, frozen ones and make simpler meals. Instead of making a vegetarian, a non-vegetarian and a kid-friendly meal, my boys will have to eat what I make (and vice versa). One meal. One pot. The benefit of this is weight loss. The moderation will do wonders for me!

5. Speaking of weight loss; now that we have no choice but to be outdoors. This means bicycle riding daily, walking after dinner and even playing badminton at the grassy area where the farm animals can watch. I’m looking forward to that. I also want to start training to do my first 5K.

In conclusion, I just need to remain positive and keep an open mind. It will be great. It will be a different experience from the last time. Who knows, maybe, this is the last time we’ll ever get to go trailer-camping again. It’s time to activate our motto and start believing it: Life Begins Where Fear Ends.

I think what will help me the most is to remind myself that this is all temporary. It’s not forever. And it’s not all about me. Owen will have a blast and the memories we’re creating is good for our family. Good for our souls.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost…

imageJul 3, 2015 Ocean Shores

Many wonderful things have happened since we closed down this site for our winter hibernation. In brief, I loved seeing the Autumn colors all over Olympia and its neighboring cities. Winter was even better. Yes, it rained and it didn’t bother us much. We hiked in the rain, got our boots muddy and came home to a heated home. We kept ourselves busy in our cave with homeschooling, catching up on (old and ) new TV shows and got to know our adopted city.

Spring came along and our kind landlady told us how beautiful spring in Olympia is, so we decided to extend our hibernation.

We flew to The Netherlands and got to see much-missed family members. Our trip was memorable. We emphasized on culture, history, family and food. Owen got to see where half of him came from.

But now Summer has arrived and it’s time to crawl out of our caves. It’s time to stretch our aching muscles and see what’s in store for us.


Previously on Family In Tow….

We said good bye to dear friends and family.
We said good bye to dear friends and family.
We said goodbye to dear friends and family.
We said goodbye to dear friends and family.


The hardest part was saying goodbye to my niece Abby, who I babysat when she was a baby.
The hardest part was saying goodbye to my niece Abby, who I babysat when she was a baby.












I can’t believe we accomplished so much in 4 months.



On this episode….

Jul 6 icecream break
We thaw out of our hibernation and have ice cream at Port Olympia.
art continues
My style of art has broadened. I’m mixing media and taking all my experience and transferring it to my art.
Jun 2015 106
More importantly, Owen’s home school got more interesting with a more hands-on approach. After learning about algae, moss, kelp among other things, we locate one at the local beach.
I will also continue to volunteer at the Family Support Center. I was honored to be recognized by the governor back in Apr 2015 for my volunteer work.
I will also continue to volunteer at the Family Support Center. I was honored to be recognized by the governor back in Apr 2015 for my volunteer work.











6-20-15 Father's Day (26)
Not All Who Wander Are Lost… – JRR Tolkien

In the middle of July 2015, we’re going trailer-camping for the rest of the summer at our favorite campground at American Heritage Campground.

We have plans to visit family and friends in California in August. Depending on how the job hunt is going, it may just be me and Owen going to CA.

Richard wants to continue living the good life reading under the canopy of trees and marveling at the blanket of stars. Owen wants to hop on his bicycle whenever the mood strikes and explore the trails in the campground. I will  survive living in such close proximity with my boys (again). I like my space but I also love the smell of nature during summer camping. This is when I need all my friends and family to keep me from going insane…

Please write to me using our traveling mailbox. If you don’t have it by now, please send me a message via text, email or facebook and I’ll be happy to share it with you.


Sister in tow

During the week of August 26-30, 2014, my sister Pauline of Aliso Viejo, CA came to see us.

8-26 Seattle with PBD (1)
We stayed overnight at the Marriott. As you can see, we had a room with a view and dancing with joy.
8-26 Seattle with PBD (2)
Sister time, lunch time. Enjoying chowder and company.
8-26 Seattle with PBD (5)
I’m not sure if they sell fish here….
8-26 Seattle with PBD (6)
Exhibit A: Gum
8-26 Seattle with PBD (7)
Chew, chew, chew. Ready to launch.
8-26 Seattle with PBD (8)
Free space spotted!
8-26 Seattle with PBD (9)
She left a piece of her at Gum Alley. (I was grossed out the entire time. Gagging.)
8-27 Biscuit lunch Seattle (1)
We ate at a restaurant that mainly served biscuit. We were seated overlooking the bakery downstairs.
8-27 Biscuit lunch Seattle (2)
While waiting for our order, we watched staff stir, pour, knead and bake. It was very entertaining.
8-27 Biscuit lunch Seattle (10)
Owen’s biscuit and gravy.
8-27 Biscuit lunch Seattle (11)
My sister ordered fried chicken, fried egg over biscuit and gravy. You can’t see it, but it’s on a clear plate.
8-27 Duck tour Seattle (12)
We went on a city tour. This bus went on land and water. A bonus for Owen!


8-27 Duck tour Seattle (4)
I’m afraid of water and being on this lake had me worried.
8-27 Duck tour Seattle (5)
Seattle is something else…
8-27 Duck tour Seattle (6)
That house with the red roof was the one from the movie “Sleepless in Seattle”.
8-27 Duck tour Seattle (8)
Our tour guide had Owen go to the front and patrolled the water while the guide talked to us.

8-27 Duck tour Seattle (9)


8-29 Harbor Day at downtown Olympia (4)
Harbor Day at downtown Olympia.
8-29 Harbor Day at downtown Olympia (8)
I shall call him “mini me”.


8-29 Hike (2)
We went hiking and met a very friendly donkey.
from RR
Here we are stretching before the hike. I love Owen, my photo-bomber.

8-29 Hike (3)

8-29 Hike


Bed & Brkfst babysitting
Richard & I stayed at a B&B for one night. While away, Aunt Pauline babysat Owen. She built him a campfire, made him s’mores and they went on the roof of the trailer. They got to spend quality time together as did Richard & I.


8-26 Seattle with PBD (10)
It was nice seeing my sister.



Gracing us with her presence…

August 26, 2014 Tuesday

My sister Pauline is in town for the week. She arrived today and brought with her plenty of California sun.  After picking her up from the airport, we went straight to business. We walked all over downtown Seattle.

Enjoying a ride on The Great Wheel on Pier 57.
Can you spot the Space Needle? This is the view from inside the Great Wheel.



Sisterly love. Just what I needed!

While the boys are on Pier 57, Pauline and I get lost (in purpose) at Pikes Place Chowder on Post Alley. We had clam chowder, sourdough bread and crab roll. It was really fun just hanging out with my little sister before she gets married in December.



August 28, 2014 Thursday

Today, Richard and I are on an overnight date. We bought burritos from a food truck, stuffed them in my purse and had lunch at the movies! Shhhh, don’t tell them. We saw “Lucy” (Scarlett Johansson) and was blown away. We had a lot to discuss the moment it ended!

Afterwards, we checked into Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast.


This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.
This beautiful Victorian house is very elegant inside and out.

The house has a lot of character and is very still and silent. The owners have homemade cookies for guests. We took a few to take home  to Owen and to pay our babysitter…

While away, my sister babysat Owen. Here’s what she did for him:

Eating s'mores while reading a good book.
She made him s’mores.
She built him a campfire.
She built him a campfire.


She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.
She & Owen went on the roof of our trailer. I just about had a heart attack whenI saw the picture. Look at him, all smiles and unattended.
Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast...
Thumbs up, no one is hurt, having a blast…


She roasted vegetarian sausages.
She roasted vegetarian sausages.
Owen loves Aunt Pauline.
Owen loves Aunt Pauline.

These are a few of my favorite things… (today)

I was chatting with my sister Pauline an hour ago and she asked me “What was your favorite part of today?” I was writing back to her in paragraphs, rambling. I asked her if the 3 items I mentioned should be shared on my blog. I was concerned it may be too personal. She advised me to share, so here I go….

July 17, 2014

Tomorrow is Richard’s birthday and we are staying at the Towneplace Suite Marriott in Medford, OR for two nights. We specifically wanted a suite for the full kitchen. I needed the space to cook several meals that will last a week (hopefully two) as we make our way up northern Oregon next week.

My gift for Richard: home-cooked meals.

While in Medford, we plan to take advantage of the stores, an Asian grocery store to be exact. We’ll visit Barnes & Noble, visit local parks and check out their library. We’re also making a run to Walmart for any RV-needs.

So going back to naming my favorite part(s) of today…..

1. Having a feast at McGrath’s Fish House. As if we were celebrating my birthday, I ordered whatever my taste buds desired.  I had such a great dining experience. It’s been a while since I moaned with a fork in my mouth. I ordered a combination of prawn kebabs, crab cakes and salmon.

2. After our meal, we walked over to Harry & David. Back in California, we know them as “the small store inside the mall that sold popcorn and pears”. But here, it was a size of a Trader Joe’s . There was a section for wine, appetizers for entertaining, the sweet desserts and snacks and finally, the produce. It was one of my favorite part because when we were done picking up items here and there, Owen and I asked Richard to wait for us in the truck. We picked out a few things for his birthday and even had it custom gift-wrapped. Seeing Owen giggle in anticipation was priceless. He couldn’t wait for daddy to see it tomorrow.

Gifts for Richard: chocolate popcorn, pancake mix, chocolate-covered fruits, chocolate bars.
Gifts for Richard: chocolate popcorn, pancake mix, chocolate-covered fruits, chocolate bars.

3. When we got back to the hotel, the boys decided to go swimming and that’s when I put on my apron and put a bandana on my head. I was in counter-space heaven! I made Owen’s Mac-and-Cheese with broccoli and my chicken with mushroom sauce (made from scratch!). I loved being in my element. No TV to distract me, just me, my knife, my stove and the AC on full blast…


On that note: If I can ask anyone reading this to take a moment and be grateful for what you have- the amount of space you have in your kitchen, your bathroom, your privacy. Not that I ever took it for granted, but our (new) way of living now made me realize how easy it is to forget the luxury of space and privacy.

I went from a 3-bedroom house with a loft, 2.5 bath, two story house- to a travel trailer where my elbow hits the shower stall, where my kitchen has limited space and if I seek quiet time, it’d have to be outside somewhere where there’s mosquitoes and the heat.


I am grateful for: My best friend Melissa B. who reminds me that this is all temporary; to cherish the moments with Owen. My art friend Jenny P.  who reminds me that other people have less. My spiritual friend Lee Ann who coaches me along and tells me it’s ok to feel this way, that I will learn to adjust. She’s going through worse yet manages to bring out the positives. I am grateful for my friends who I remain in contact with on a daily/weekly basis for their constant support and encouraging comments on Facebook. A simple comment really makes a big difference in my day, so thank you (you know who you are).  And I’d like to thank the Academy for my sister Pauline, who’s been with me since day 1. (Cue music…)

The truth of  it all, this is my favorite part of today. Counting my blessings. For having Owen and Richard in my life, whether it be in a new-built house or a used-travel trailer. It’s a great life.