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.

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Socialization. (We got this)

We’ve been staying more local, mainly focusing on Owen’s academic and social life. There are many stereotypes on homeschooled kids; socialization is one of them. His social life is different from someone who attends a public or a private school, but it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Don’t feel sorry for him nor treat him any different. He makes friends his own way and let’s leave it at that. If you worry about his socialization, please don’t.

Owen has a healthy social life; he is exposed to children of all ages, different cultural backgrounds, kids in all walks of life. When Owen meets a like-minded individual, they become friends for life. He has meaningful and loving friendships with penpals and friends.

I think Owen used to be a knight in his past life. Here he is with friend Jake having a sword fight. Jake and his mom Jeannie Pierce live 1 hour away but the distance doesn't stop us from visits. Owen found his big brother in Jake, just what he always wanted.
I think Owen used to be a knight in his past life. Here he is with friend Jake having a sword fight. Jake lives 1 hour away but the distance doesn’t stop us from visits. Owen found his big brother in Jake, just what he always wanted.
Owen met Dillon at the homeschool workshop held at Hands on Children's museum. They learned about optical illusion. Dillon gave Owen his email address so they can keep in touch. I met his mom Kim and she will be inviting us to homeschool meet ups soon. Here they are driving a police car without their license.
Owen met Dillon at the homeschool workshop held at Hands on Children’s museum. They learned about optical illusion. Dillon gave Owen his email address so they can keep in touch. Here they are driving a police car without their license.
Homeschool kids go on field trips, too. But in smaller groups.
Homeschool kids go on field trips, too. They’re not kept in basements or closets. They wear funny hats but they’re normal as can be.
My homeschooled son plays with kids of all ages and size. He has a heart for little ones.
Owen plays with kids of all ages and height. He has a heart for little ones.
Girls, boys, toddlers? No problem! If Owen likes you, he'll play with you.
Girls, boys, toddlers? No problem! If Owen likes you, he’ll play with you.
Hanging out with like-minded kids.
Hanging out with like-minded kids.
Jacob from our old neighborhood regularly facetime Owen.
Jacob from our old neighborhood regularly facetime Owen. All they do is giggle and laugh.
Nov 2014 017
Owen’s array of friends are not all homeschooled. He is taught to accept people for who they are.

So, as you can see, there’s no reason to worry. We got this.

Owen’s New Classroom

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I found a volunteer opportunity here at a family support center (a homeless shelter). It’s specifically for families, providing them shelter and resources to help them get back on their feet.

For additional info: http://www.fscss.org

I was looking to do something to keep myself busy and at the same time, expand Owen’s homeschooling. This is the place where I can teach him what humanitarianism is.

I attended a volunteer training a few weeks ago for a host/greeter. It’s basically babysitting the front desk for 2 hours. I was supposed to sign up on the schedule but have been dodging their email because I didn’t want to do it. So hard to say no to such a good cause.

Finally, I wrote back and gave them an honest reply. I said it’s not what I had in mind for me and my son. I wanted to be more hands-on and use my talent. I explained that my personality type required me to be on the move constantly. Sitting at a desk at a quiet environment with nothing to do will be torture for me (& Owen). I asked the coordinator to please keep me in mind should she need help in other areas.

My honesty paid off because she wrote back and asked me what I had in mind. I proudly talked about my experience as a children’s event coordinator & host; providing arts & craft activities for the kids, hosting Lego nights, etc. this is where I would excel, I told her. I also emphasized that my son will be with me.

She wrote me back right away and Gave me two good news. One, she said its a family-friendly atmosphere and Owen is welcome to be with me.  Second, she had wanted to implement an arts and craft activity at the center on a regular basis. She asked me to come in to meet with her to collaborate.

The center is not like a homeless shelter you’ve seen in the movies. It looks and feels more like a center. It’s a place where I’d be comfortable hanging around with Owen, to be honest. They have offices there for the coordinators and an open lobby where the front desk is situated that overlooks the common area. The common area has a business corner, a TV/living area and a children’s section where I’ll be.

Our meeting was Monday and it went very well. I will be the center’s volunteer Arts & Craft teacher! Katherine the coordinator and I bounced off some ideas. We are going to have a sign up sheet to determine how many will attend. We’re also going to allow them to tell us what kind of activities they’d like to do. More importantly, we’re going to let parents sign up as helpers. Our first activity is decorating holiday-themed cookies.

Like I did at my community back in California, I will be taking pictures of the kids and creating collages and displaying their masterpieces and highlighting them on a bulletin board at the center. Starting January 2015, I will be volunteering twice a month. The best part is: Owen will be involved and meet children of different backgrounds. His humanitarian training starts here. The second best part is: I get to teach kids art and give them a sense of pride towards their creations.

Moral of my story: my goal was met when I started with being honest.

What I learned: My God-given talent is going to be used to make a difference in a child’s life, starting with my son’s.

Mt Shasta

In support of Owen’s homeschooling and our education on the go mentality, my good friend from La Grande Oregon created this informational article. Thank you Lee Ann Forrester!

7-10-14 Hedge Creek Falls 007

Mt. Shasta is a steep-sided stratovolcano peak, 4,317 m (14,162 ft) high, at the southern tip of Cascade Range about 97 km (60 mi) north of Redding, CA . It was discovered in 1827. It still has a sulfur spring near the summit. It is the largest of the Cascade Range volcanoes. Mount Shasta contains 5 glaciers and 4 distinct overlapping cones. Mt. Rainier in Washington State is the only volcano higher in the Cascade Range. The mountain’s glaciers hold the headwaters of the Sacramento River.

Shasta formed on the remnants of an older volcano that collapsed around 300,000-500,000 years ago. The collapse of that older volcano caused one of the largest landslides known to have happened on earth, covering 170 miles of the Shasta Valley. Black Butte and Shastina were built about 11,000 yag. In more recent times eruptions have happened out of vents on the volcano’s summit and upper east flank. The USGS believes that the volcano last erupted within a period of the last 200-300 years. By looking at the eruptions through geological records it is believed that Shasta averages at least on eruption every 800 to 600 years. Seismic activity on the mountain has been low in recent time.

Humans were first known to be in the area about 7000 yag and by 5000 yag there was a large human habitation of the surrounding area. Europeans first made contact in the 1820s. The tribes at that time were Shasta, Okwanuchu, Modoc, Achomawi, Atsugew, Karuk, Kalmath, Wintu and Uana tribes. The eruption of Shasta in historic times happened in 1786. The first substantiated sighting of Mount Shasta by those of European descent was Peter Skene Ogdon of the Hudson Bay Company in 1826.Shasta became a major landmark on the Siskiyou Trail. The trail was an ancient trade route for Native Americans between the Central Valley of California and the Pacific Northwest. The Union Pacific built in the area of the trail and now I-5 closely follows it. John Muir summated the peak in 1877. He survived a blizzard on Shasta by lying in a hot spring near the summit.

Mt. Shasta is considered a spiritual landmark by several Native American tribes. The Klamath Tribes believe that Shasta holds the spirit of Skell, the spirit of the above world. They believe that Skell fought with the Spirit of the Below World Llao who lives within Mount Mazama home to Crater Lake.

Non Native legends hold that an advanced continent of Lemuria lay beneat the volcano. Mt Shasta is a center for New Age beliefs today.

1. Do you remember what a stratovolcano is?
2. Can you find the names of the 5 main glaciers on Shasta?
3. What could possibly explain the fight between Skell and Llao? (geologically)

 

MEMORABLE MOMENTS during our stay at Dunsmuir and Mt Shasta area.

Memorable moments: Owen riding his bike around the campground.
Memorable moments: Owen riding his bike around the campground.
7-11 Dunsmuir
Memorable Moments: Swimming on a hot day at Dunsmuir Community Pool.

 

Memorable Moments: Discovering a waterfall and a cavern at Hedge Creek Falls.
Memorable Moments: Discovering a waterfall and a cavern at Hedge Creek Falls.

 

 

Sell what—? and buy what?

April 23, 2014
written by Pam
Richard came home after work and presented a proposal. He was inspired by this homeschooling family who went on a bike trip along the west coast. It took the family 3 years to go from Alaska to South America. Richard knew there was no way I’d travel by bicycle, so he tweaked the plan. How about we travel in an RV, he asks.

We start talking about the possibilities. How about we take our lives on the road, he asks. I stopped breathing when he added, “No house and job to tie us down.”

The idea of taking Owen’s education on-the-go is brilliant. You can’t go wrong with that. Thumbs up for me. Selling the house and our belongings and becoming minimalist put butterflies in my stomach. I want to throw up, to be honest. Intriguing yes, but possible?

Roaming around U.S. and Canada in our RV with only our essential things scares the living daylight out of me. I need my TV. I need to see Jeff Probst on Survivor and Tom Collichio on Top Chef. I need my treadmill, my music, my art, my own space, my circle of best friends and my niece Abby.

This will take some time getting used to, but the plan is appealing to me. It fits my (our) personality. Since we got married in 2001, we’ve always been nomads. We moved every year, never finding a place to settle, not even now in our 2 yr old 3 bdrm, 2.5 bath house in a growing community.

I’ll be honest, I am not immediately on board with Richard’s plan. It would be a drastic change in our lives.

A wise friend of mine by the name of Taz Velardes always told me: if you are having trouble deciding, get a piece of paper and list down the pros and cons. To help me sort out my thoughts, we listed the pros and cons.

PROS

  • Freedom: no routine
  • life experience
  • memories
  • happiness
  • soul searching
  • once in a lifetime opportunity
  • meet new people
  • learn cultures
  • sight-seeing
  • visit friends/family living outside California
  • explore country, learn about each state
  • hotel stays for days I need to feel “normal”
  • minimalist lifestyle, less possessions=less worries
  • volunteer opportunity
  • nurture creativity with photography, journaling, art
  • share our adventure with family and friends through blogging
  • hike anywhere at any time

CONS

  • Let go of all possessions
  • limited contact with family and friends
  • Limited privacy
  • Financial outcome unknown

It’s clear that our pros outweighed the cons.