Wowza 2020

WOW!!!!!! Life has been an absolute blur since my last blog post. I don’t even know where to begin or what to really dive into.

Good news first I guess- We are living in our fifth wheel full time now!!

Not so good news next- We experienced our first hurricane while we were still living in Pensacola. Thank you crazy 2020 for making sure we experienced a hurricane before leaving (insert eye roll here).

Before this, during all of the years we lived in Pensacola, we had only experienced tropical storms. Hurricane Sally hit Pensacola hard and even though she was only a category 2, there was still plenty of destruction and devastation. We were very lucky and did not experience any serious damage. Our fifth wheel had been delivered just a few days before the hurricane hit, so we consider ourselves very lucky that it did not get damaged at all. So many people in the community experienced awful devastation to their homes and belongings, and our heart still hurts for them.

Because of Hurricane Sally, our last week in Pensacola did not go as we had imagined. We didn’t have power returned to the house before we left, so it made emptying the house, attempting to clean it, and moving into the fifth wheel an interesting challenge. Somehow, we were able to pull it off though. My mother in law was extremely helpful with our two kids during those few days. I don’t know if we would have been able to do it without her- so thanks again Jackie!!

Before the hurricane, we had imagined saying goodbye to Pensacola in a much better way… having dinner with friends, playing at the beach, visiting our secret bayou spots, seeing friends for the last time in a while…but we didn’t get to do those things. Once the hurricane hit, we had to shift our priorities. We are planning on returning to the area in 2021, so we will just have to make up for it all then I guess!

So fast forward to now, we are living full time in our fifth wheel in South Eastern PA. Matt and I both grew up here, so we are visiting friends and family and enjoying autumn. Matt is also working at a family business while we’re here which is great! We think we will stay here for a couple of months and then continue traveling.

Our first experience traveling full time felt very busy and overwhelming! So it feels good to be staying put somewhere for a little bit while we get used to tiny life. I will do a more detailed blog post of our first travel experiences soon!

Learning to live minimally

A big part of full time RV life, means living tiny/living minimally. When you’re living in a 34 foot camper with your family, you can only bring so much stuff with you. For some people, this may seem crazy or drastic, but we are SO excited to live with less.

Less clutter. Less cleaning up. Less toys to pick up. Less random little things that you don’t even know why you have. And spending less money on things we don’t actually need. We are also going to be buying things second hand much more frequently. Buying brand new is not always important.

We have been de-cluttering and purging for months and months. We have been fortunate to be able to go through this process slowly and not in a mad rush in a short period of time.

Our process has been pretty simple-
If it won’t fit in the camper- it’s not coming (obviously).
If we haven’t used it in a year, we don’t need it.
If we haven’t worn it in a year, we don’t need it.
If the kids only play with it once a month, they don’t need it.
If it’s been sitting in a drawer and we totally forgot it even existed…we don’t need it!!

And guess what! Guess how many things we have missed after they’re gone. NONE! ZERO! We have not missed anything that we’ve sold or donated. Our kids have not even missed anything. They haven’t even asked where something has gone.


It has been so liberating to go through this process. We very quickly realized how much junk and nonsense we have accumulated over our lives. And that’s all most of it really is…just junk. Just stuff that clutters up our homes.

We have been listening to some enlightening podcasts about living a minimalist lifestyle. This has been very helpful to my husband, who forms emotional attachments and stories to physical things. Getting rid of things has been more difficult for him than for me. I tend to just toss things in the trash without a second thought. Where my husband has to think over it for a while. This is also eye-opening to me.

If I have no problem throwing something in the trash, selling it, or donating it, was it ever really worth the money we spent on it? How much money have we wasted on things that we will just throw in the trash later? As we have been selling items, we have realized how much money we have lost. We have been selling a lot of our things on facebook marketplace and craigslist. You never get the price you bought the item for originally, and if you add up all of that loss…(mind blown)

We are essentially now retraining ourselves in how we want to be consumers.

And not to get all philosophical on you, but why do we feel the need to buy all of these brand new sparkly things anyway?? Our society is SO TRAINED to just spend money, and buy new things. Buy the new model. Upgrade. Keeping up appearances with all of our shiny, new, fancy things. It’s so ridiculous, fake, and superficial.

One category of physical things has been more difficult for us to sort through and pare down. Our sentimental objects, like pictures, or family items have been much more difficult to purge. My mother died when I was just 5 years old, and I have very few items that were hers. So the items that I do have, I am most definitely keeping. My mothers dishes, photographs from my childhood, my baby book, and important letters were just not something I could part with forever. So we are saving about 4 bins of items like this, and are leaving them with trusted friends. But that’s all we’re leaving behind. Everything else we own will be with us.

my mom and I

We do not know how long we will live this nomadic lifestyle. Maybe 6 months, maybe a year, maybe even longer than that. But once we do settle down somewhere we will return to Pensacola to retrieve our sentimental items that we are storing. When we do eventually decide to put down roots again, we will be starting fresh. We will continue our minimalist lifestyle in a new home and new place. We will purchase items that bring true value to our life. We will purchase second hand items. We are learning from our experiences, and will be able to continue living this way.

Making memories with my children and husband is so much more important to me than physical things.

This is what is working for us and our family. This is the life we are choosing to live and what brings us joy. It is most certainly not for everyone, and we are definitely not judging anyone for the way they choose to live their lives! You do you boo boo!!

Kindergarten Roadschool

Do you know what it’s called when you homeschool while living on the road??
Roadschooling!

I have to begin this post by saying I feel SO thankful that we already made the decision to homeschool for kindergarten before this whole Covid, 2020-2021 school year mess began. Since we knew we were going to be transitioning to full time RV life sometime during Dexter’s kindergarten year, we knew it was the right choice for us to just begin the year by homeschooling. We didn’t like the idea of Dexter beginning kindergarten in a traditional school, and then having to remove him part way through the year.

I also feel compelled to say that I do not judge any parent regarding their decisions for the upcoming school year. Every family is SO different, and has different needs. I firmly believe that every parent knows and will make the right decision for their children.

I am a big nerd when it comes to researching and planning. I also used to be an elementary school teacher, so this is all right up my alley. So of course I had to dive into all of the different types of homeschooling to try to find the right one for our family.

Originally we loved the idea of unschooling. Unschooling is basically where you don’t follow any specific curriculum and your child just learns through living. You follow their lead. Follow their passions and interests. We ultimately decided though that we would need a little bit more structure than this.

We also knew that we needed a secular curriculum, that wasn’t based online or on an app. While we are not against educational apps, or programs, the idea of shoving a tablet in our 5 year olds face for hours a day for school, just didn’t appeal to us.

So as our list of needs continued to grow, I started to feel overwhelmed that I wouldn’t find the right fit for us.

Until…

I finally found the perfect curriculum for us! (I honestly think I found it through a facebook homeschoolers group) This curriculum is nature based, secular, allows children to be creative, and encourages them to play and use their imaginations. Blossom and Root checks all of the boxes for us, and we honestly cannot wait to get started with kindergarten now. We will be doing nature studies, literature, STEM activities, composer and artist studies, math, science, and art projects. The creator of Blossom and Root is a mother who is also a former teacher. She believes that play is the work of childhood, and that children should not be forced to sit for hours upon hours doing copy work, or starting at a computer screen. Our views and the way we live our lives aligns with this program so well.

If you too have been searching for a similar program, they are currently running a 30% off sale!

We are also using Wild Math to supplement our math instruction this year. Wild Math helps to build numeracy skills through multi-sensory activities and math play. You are encouraged to do the activities and learning outside! If you know us, that is perfect…my children would literally live outside if I would let them. Wild Math is also currently running a sale of 15% off.

I am also working on a year long plan of additional books and lessons that we will include. I cannot wait to share my ideas with you! We will be reading and studying authors of all different colors, religions, places of origin, gender, sexual orientation, and so on! I am still in the beginning stages of this plan, but I just know it’s going to be amazing.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Bubble boys

Anyone else totally drawing a blank for new activities for your kids lately? After months and months of self isolating because of Covid, I feel like I have used every idea, game, activity, and craft with my kids. More than once.

We’ve resorted to way more TV time than normal, and it is taking a toll on us all. PLUS with the temperature being in the 90’s every single day (and please don’t even talk to me about the humidity) if we play outside during the day, we try to involve water play so the kids don’t get too hot.

So one evening, my awesome husband came up with this great outdoor activity. It keeps our kids entertained for at least an entire HOUR. You only need a few things to throw it together.

bubbles!!

Supplies:
kiddie pool
bubble bath
water
air compressor
some bowls or cups for play

All you do is fill up the kiddie pool with water, a generous pour of bubble bath, and then use the air compressor to create a massive amount of bubbles!

Our kids seriously go nuts for this activity!

Please use caution with your children and an air compressor.

Please let me know if you try this out!

Freerange_5thwheel

Well, the cat’s finally out of the bag…we are going to be a full time RV family!! This dream has been brewing for almost two years now. We have gone back and fourth, been scared, and doubtful, but we know now that it’s the right decision for our family. We’ve gone through all of the thoughts and emotions you could probably think of while trying to figure out how to make this work for us.

When Covid-19 really started to explode in the United States, it was actually the final push we needed to follow our dream. We decided that life is too short, and there is too much of this big beautiful country that we want to see and experience while we can. Our travel bucket list is just too long to sit around and wait for a once a year vacation.

So right now we’re selling/purging as much of our belongings as we can, so we can live tiny. It’s going to be a serious transition for us to live tiny, but we feel soooooo ready for it. We want to live debt free, and live with less stuff cluttered around us. We want to go on adventures, and not be tied down to a life of consumerism. (I am also BEYOND READY to have less home to clean!!)

Another goal of our travels is to find a place that we fall in love with as a family to settle down and put our roots. We grew up in Pennsylvania, and have lived in Pensacola Florida on and off for about 7 years. While we enjoy many parts of both of these places, neither one feels like home anymore. So as we are traveling, we are going to keep our eyes and hearts open to places that call us to plant roots.

We are currently waiting for our fifth wheel to be delivered. Once it is, we will be able to really kick it in to high gear and get on the road!! With the current state of our country, we will have to be flexible with our plans but we are tentatively setting sail in the middle of September.

I will continue to post “crunchy” things as well as traveling and full timing things! I am so excited to share our journey with you!!

We will also be sharing more details of our travels and experiences on instagram @freerange_5thwheel

Camper renovation

My husband and I totally renovated a camper, and it was such an amazing experience. We seriously put our blood, sweat, and tears into it. We spent months and months on this thing (more months than we meant to) and I am so proud of the end result. We originally purchased this camper (a 2006 Keystone Zeppelin), with the intentions of renovating the whole thing and creating a more functional space for our family to do some longer term camping in it. As the renovation went on, we realized that this camper would not be big enough to fit our needs as a family, and we decided that we would have to sell it. I was sad that we wouldn’t get to test out our newly renovated camper, but it was such a fun experience. We learned SO MUCH, and we actually can’t wait to do this again.

We thought we knew what we were doing when we bought this thing, but wowzers, we did not. The guy who sold it to us, seemed super nice and forthcoming. He even gave us a cover, and a bunch of other random camper things for free. We excitedly walked around the exterior, and interior. We thought we checked out everything we needed to, and felt confident that we were getting a great deal! Woo-hoo!

J/K

After a more thorough examination when we got home…we found out that there had been a LEAK!! The leak was in the slide out (we now know that this is very common, and that we should have checked before purchasing) and we felt like we had been lied to. There was rotten wood that had to be taken care of before we could do anything else. So my super handy, and awesome husband figured it all out (after hours of obsessive research) and was able to fix it.

PHEW!!

Of course we ran into more hiccups- this camper is 14 years old! But we watched videos, read blogs, and worked hard. After about 6 months of work, we sold the Keystone Zeppelin in just a matter of days.

We transformed the front of the camper into a much more spacious room. We dreamed it would be a great place for our kids to play and spread out.

My favorite part of our renovation was the bathroom. I sadly dont have a before photo, but it was bad. It was yellow and made you feel like that little green/vomiting emoji face. The after is definetly the heart eyes emoji.

My (green) smoothie recipe

Please don’t let the (green) part of this smoothie scare you away. I promise you won’t even taste the green. Promise for reals.

This smoothie has been my go to breakfast for about 3 weeks now. I have been switching my diet to a plant based, whole foods diet during these 3 weeks. I have been working with a health coach, and I have been feeling amazing. My energy is back, which is huge for me. Before this diet change, I was beginning to think that maybe it was just normal to always be tired. I’m a stay at home mom of two wild boys, I’m supposed to be exhausted all the time…right? NOPE. I used to need at least one afternoon coffee a day just to make it through. I haven’t had/needed ONE afternoon coffee since starting this new way of eating. For me, that’s huge!

So I begin every day with this smoothie. It’s full of plant based energy, simple to make, filling, and most of all healthy. I normally feel full for about 3 hours after drinking this.

This smoothie is filled with antioxidants, fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and SO many important vitamins your body needs.

It’s also kid approved! Both of my boys love this smoothie, and are always asking for sips.

Ingredients:
2 frozen bananas (important-freeze them for at least 12 hours, and spotty bananas are best)
2 medjool dates (cut out the pit, and soak the dates in warm water for at least 5 minutes)
1 big handful of fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 or 2 tablespoons peanut butter (depending on your preferences)
1 small splash of vanilla
a large splash of plant milk (I prefer almond or oat)

Directions:
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. I like to start on a lower setting, and work my way up to the highest. You might also need to scrape down any ingredients stuck on the sides, or to add more plant milk.

Now enjoy!!

Please let me know if you make this smoothie, because I would love to know what you think!

Guess who’s back?!

Hi, it’s me!

After taking way too much time (over a year!) from my blog, I am back and back with vengeance. I created this blog as a way to do something for *myself* and maybe share some helpful knowledge to others along the way. I began to feel like I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to it, and slowly let it fall to the bottom of my priorities.

You know how it goes…laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, keeping two tiny humans alive…it starts to feel overwhelming, right? Well add a sprinkle of covid-19, and being locked in your house for MONTHS ON END, and it’s enough to make a SAHM go crazy. So I’ve decided to bring back my blog, so I can feel like I have a little something of my own right now (insert gasp here). Being creative for my blog brings me joy, and we all need a little bit more of that right now!

Life has been heavy lately. Like seriously heavy. My family and I are doing our best to learn, listen, grow, and evolve. We are having difficult conversations, and coming to some uncomfortable realizations. My husband and I are committed to raising our children to be allies to marginalized communities. I may not always say or do the right thing, and that’s okay. I am learning and willing to admit that I have a long way to go.

Graphic designers share illustrations in support of Black Lives Matter

So get ready for lots of new posts from me! Some crunchy, some not so much! I have recently gotten into some photography, which I can’t wait to share with you. I also have been cooking up a plant based/vegan storm. We also have some exciting things planned as a family, that I am beyond excited to spill the beans about.

I would absolutely love to hear any blog or content ideas you may have!! Please let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas for me!

The BEST honey balsamic dressing recipe

I am a huge fan of making things yourself at home when you can. Its not realistic to expect to be able to make everything from scratch…you would never have time to do anything else! Making one or two things at home is a great place to start, and will give you some confidence that you can be a crunchy mama! Some super easy things to start with are granola, popsicles, and salad dressing.

When you make things from scratch, you know exactly what you’re eating. There are no hidden ingredients, preservatives, or toxins. Processed foods are filled with toxins that can are linked to adhd, ulcers, weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer. Those are things I want to avoid for myself and my family, so I make a conscious effort to feed my family healthy, whole, organic foods.

Salad dressings you buy at the store are normally filled with extra sugar, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, and more unwanted ingredients.
Sodium benzoate is a commonly added to salad dressings and other condiments as a preservative. In several studies, sodium benzoate has been linked to increased rates of ADHD.

Removing all processed foods from your diet is unrealistic, but you can make small, healthy changes every day!

I know that sometimes processed salad dressings may seem convenient, but my honey balsamic dressing takes just minutes to throw together and tastes amaaaaazing.

You can also save money making things at home! For this salad dressing, I always have these ingredients on hand, so I don’t have to spend any extra money.

This is by far my favorite salad dressing. I actually crave salads with this dressing. (Like your mouth watering kind of craving)

This dressing has local raw honey, and raw garlic. Both are AMAZING for your health!

All you do, is add the following ingredients together in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake! This recipe makes about 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons local honey
  • 2 teaspoons mustard (dijon or grey pupon)
  • 1 clove of garlic- crushed
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake until combined, and enjoy!!

Please let me know if you make this dressing and what you think of it!

Are you washing yourself in chemicals?

Soap is supposed to help keep us clean and healthy, right?

Trick question, because it depends on what kind of soap you’re using.

Antibacterial soap may not be healthy for us. “In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the use of 19 chemicals used in antiseptic products. These include triclosan used in antibacterial liquid soaps (as well as toothpastes, body washes and some cosmetics) and triclocarban used in hand soaps. Some evidence suggests that these two chemicals can disrupt hormone cycles and cause muscle weakness.”

These chemicals have also been linked to infertility.

Some studies also suggest that the use of antibacterial soap reduces the amount of good bacteria we have in and on our bodies. We need our good bacteria!

Please do yourself a favor and check what’s in your soap!! You will be shocked to see what you may be using to “clean” your body.

Our family loves and trusts Dr. Bronner’s soaps. We have been using this soap for years, and seriously love it.

Their castile soap is concentrated, and can be diluted and used for cleaning pretty much everything in your home. I love finding products that are healthy for my family that I can use in multiple ways around the home. We have used Dr. Bronner’s castile soap for mopping, our hands, our bodies in the shower, and dishes.

My love for their Organic Sugar Soap is seriously strong. It’s what we are currently using for handsoap at all of our sinks, and we are also using it for washing our kids in the bath. This soap uses fair trade and organic sugar plus organic white grape juice keeps hands-face-body-hair clean and nourished.

Their soap is very “green” and the ingredients are safe, clean, and organic.

They also have tons of other clean and nontoxic products that I can’t wait to try!