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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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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.

SAFE TRAVELS!

Gouda, The Netherlands

How do you pronounce Gouda? We’re day 9 into our trip and I still struggle. I say “HOW-DA”.

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Useful tips: make sure you call your bank to let them know you’re going abroad. I forgot to do this and our credit cards wouldn’t budge. Some shops no longer accept credit cards with a strip on it. But they will accept cash…

While we were here, we took the train to Amsterdam Central station and explored there.  We got on a boat tour and learned a lot about the city.image

Owen loved the canal boat tour ride because it didn’t involve walking. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the rows of bicycles. This is my second visit to Amsterdam. One thing I noticed is that this city isn’t children-friendly. Searching for restrooms are challenging. not only that but my little guy kept getting hit by purses as we crossed streets in crowds. At one point, I look over my shoulder, gripping his hand, I see his head bopping back and forth. But the hard part was yet to come. We experienced second hand smoke at every turn. Not. Fun.

Nevertheless, we came, we conquered. It was only a few hours of discomfort.

A Day Out with Daddy

Olympic Flight Museum

This museum displayed restored aircrafts from World War 2 era. His new friend Dillon invited him along with other homeschool local kids. This was Richard’s department, so he was my photographer and Owen’s guide for the day.

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Later that evening…

Lego Challenge at Olympia Library

Tonight’s theme was build a playground with your group. Owen built a tire swing, a slide and a jungle gym. Here’s everyone looking at their work.

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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.

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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.

Arts & Craft Night

Paper chain garlands, music sheet ornament and wood slice snowflake art.

Paper chain garlands, music sheet ornament and wood slice snowflake art.

Here’s what’s in store for Arts & Crafts night at the shelter next week. I’ll be teaching the kids how to make holiday ornaments. A volunteer donated a tree and it’s up to me and the kids to decorate it. Volunteers have come forward and donated supplies. Warms my heart. It’s all for the kids… Pinterest saved the day again…

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.

A Day at Hogwarts

During the Halloween Boo Bash at the Hands On Children’s museum; I met someone who told me about an upcoming Math Festival at a private school called Annie Wright school.

Annie Wright School in Tacoma looked like Hogwarts!

Annie Wright School in Tacoma looked like Hogwarts!

The school caters to boarding girls 9-12th grade. But it’s also open for boys and girls K-8. The Math Festival was free and we thought it’d be an experience for Owen. Plus, we saw a picture of the school building and we thought it looked like Hogwarts minus Harry Potter characters. Owen agreed that it would be fun to see what Hogwarts looks like. And you all know me, how architecture and creepy buildings fascinate me. We just had to experience it first hand. The math festival was just an excuse, a good excuse.

As you can see from the pictures, Owen had a good time at the math festival. He hopped from table to table. Each table had puzzles, games and problems to solve. Volunteers were there to guide them.

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Our next visit to the school was today, a Fall Visit Day. Owen got to experience what it’s like to attend school the entire day. He attended classes, had recess, lunch break and got to laugh, learn and play with like-minded boys and girls. He was there 8am-3pm

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This is Connor: this gentle and kind young boy was assigned to Owen. Connor, who is also in 5th grade, took Owen under his wing. They attended his math, English, Spanish, drama and music classes.

 

The parents also went on a tour of the campus. We got to ask questions about their programs and their tuition fees and what it included (like field trips to the Grand Canyon and Costa Rica. Air, lodging and food included. Not only that, but laptops are included in the tuition). Impressive.

 

While Owen was enjoying the campus tour, Richard and I went to the movies and saw Fury. (Finally!!). This particular theatre was fun because it had reclining seats. All reservable, by the way, in which we were lucky to get in on Veterans Day watching a war movie. This movie experience is definitely worth repeating.

 

This AMC theatre had reclining seats.

This AMC theatre had reclining seats.

 

Owen had stories to share. I asked him if he thought of me and missed me. He affectionately placed his head on my arm and said ‘no’. His memorable moments: watching Connor and his class practice lines for an upcoming school play, watching them play their violin during music class and meeting the class pet turtle and the turtle’s girlfriend named Jeffrey (a stuffed animal turtle and yes, with a boy name). It was comical listening to Owen tell us about the turtle. He was laughing so hard he couldn’t finish the story.

Owen had a great day at Hogwarts.

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2 Farm Visits in one month

We attended a homeschool field trip to a local farm. Owen and his new friends picked out pumpkins, went on a hay ride, enjoyed the petting zoo and got lost in the corn maze.

October 3, 2014 We attended a homeschool field trip to a local farm. Owen and his new friends picked out pumpkins, went on a hay ride, enjoyed the petting zoo and got lost in the corn maze. While I waited outside the maze, I received a text from Richard asking if Owen was with me. When I said no, he had to go back in the maze to find him. It’s all fun and games until you misplace your kid….

Pioneer Farm 10-12-14

October 12, 2014 This is, by far, the coolest farm/museum I have ever been to! We got to learn about the pioneer days and how the local Native Americans survived winter in Washington. Yes, that’s an outhouse you see in the center. And yes, that was pretty much what I had to endure. (Groaning). Richard and Owen enjoyed the complimentary cookies, hot cider and apple pie.

October 25, 2014 Halloween Boo Bash at Hands On Children's Museum, Downtown Olympia.

October 25, 2014 Halloween Boo Bash at Hands On Children’s Museum, Downtown Olympia.

Random Pictures from Sep 15 – Sep 30, 2014

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I have been curling my hair a lot and Owen noted I looked like a poodle. So I grabbed my little guy and turned him into a mini-me-poodle.

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Nisqually Watershed Festival. Owen is making a birdhouse. I should actually say Richard is making a birdhouse… When we moved out of our house in California, Owen forgot the birdhouse he made from Cub scout that hung in our tree in the backyard. He was forlorn for a long time. But he’s all better now…

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Lately, I have been buying our vegetables from farm stands. I cook whatever is in season (beets and carrots). This is my friend Milenda who shops with me.

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Home school back in session. Richard teaches Math and I teach the *FUN* subjects like History, Geography, Geology, Earth Science and Art. Here are the boys making— ah, I have no idea. Owen was learning geometry shapes.

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This was taken 2 days before we left American Heritage Campground. My neighbor friend Achala gave us grapes from her friend’s garden.

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I love pink-purple skies like these. We were leaving Target and my jaw dropped.

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Believe it or not, I made this painting two years ago from the day I took the above picture.

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We don’t have a lego store nearby 😦 and his magazine subscription stopped coming. For his reward for being such a good boy, we drove 2 hours away to Portland Oregon and went to the mall. He was SO happy!

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My first attempt at baking whole wheat bread. I know, I know…. It came out like a giant muffin. Don’t ask.

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It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…..

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An abandoned barn!

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After my third try, I finally succeeded in baking a normal-looking whole wheat bread. I make it twice a week for the boys…

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This is my friend Lee Ann who I met on a facebook group called Art Abandonment. She is an amazing inspiring gifted artist! You can view her artworks at http://www.horsecreekfinearts.webs.com. Here we are having “ART DAY”.

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Lee Ann and her husband welcomed us into their home in Portland, Oregon. She made us Mediterranean couscous for lunch.

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Owen is enrolled in public school! Just kidding… This was the shuttle bus for the Nisqually Watershed Festival.

All kidding aside, Richard & I started talking about our options in case we decide to stay in Washington. We’re reading up on home school laws in Oregon as well. My best friend Elizabeth in Virginia told us about the school she teaches at. The curriculum is right up our alley. We are looking into Olympia Waldorf School for Owen. We’re keeping our options open. Who knows- we may follow Elizabeth to Virginia! Or live in The Netherlands!