Author Archives: Steph

How we road trip without screen time

Our kids have become seasoned long distance travelers over the last 3 and a half years as we have taken nearly ELEVEN 1200+ mile road trips (still not sure what were we thinking).

We knew before we hit the road full-time that we really didn’t want to rely on screen time to occupy their boredom and antsy behavior.  Realizing that it would have been so much easier (for us), if we just turned on a movie or given them an iPad, but we’ve managed to find ways to keep them entertained without it.  So here are some of our hacks for entertaining our kids on the road sans the screens.

Perfect for all the kid things

Perfect for all the kid things

Find a medium size tote and designate it your travel bag.  Then fill it with child entertaining things (ideas below), and ONLY bring said things out to play with on travel days.

Age

Not that you can do much about this, but the two of them getting older and already having so many miles under their belts certainly helps.

Quiet Time

Quiet time after our lunch stop typically leads to nap time, which can be blissful when at home, but near heavenly when in the midst of a multiple day road trip.

Novelty Snacks

Finding snacks that the kids don’t usually get in their everyday lives is a must for us and such a motivator for things we want to do or get done throughout our travels.  Applesauce in a pouch is also a favorite, oh to be a kid again…

Snacks

Buy all the stickers

Amazing how entertained two kids can be with a note pad and stickers.  But, seriously stickers are SO expensive!  Especially the cool ones that ALL the kids want, thanks Disney…  Do not hesitate to clean out the sticker shelves at Dollar Tree.  But, take note that all sticker brands are not created equal, trust me.  Some will tear too easy, some may not stick well, some will be impossible for them to peel from their backing.  However, completely worth it!

Stickers

Reusable things for the win

Wipe clean books/boards and the Melissa and Doug water wow’s are worth every penny.  To get multiple uses from a single purchase is something all parents look for.

Wipe clean

 

 

These things are worth every penny.

 

White board

Mess Free

I will occasionally grit my teeth and purchase the mess free markers and pages.  I still have such a hard time finding these over-priced, single-use coloring pages worth it.  Because my kids hardly get them, they love them, of course.  Which means, despite my logical reason for detesting them, they do hold an entertainment value.

Mess Free

Random things

I usually find various travel activities throughout the year that I put right into our travel tote.  The newness of something they’ve never seen before allows for longer periods of relative peace and quiet!

Random travel activities

Random travel activities

Search and Find books

Search and Find books

Coloring books and various  markers, crayons, and pencils

Coloring books and various markers, crayons, and pencils

Podcasts

We don’t use these much, because we often travel in more remote areas without cell service available.  And I never remember to download episodes before we leave for our trips.  But, here are a few of our favorites.

A few of our favorite kid podcasts

A few of our favorite kid podcasts

Parent interaction

While these games can get SO “old” quickly for us adults, our kids light up when we suggest playing these road trip games.  Here’s a few we play often:

-I spy

-scavenger hunt

-I’m a little animal… or I’m a little machine…

-alphabet game

-counting vehicles (when in rural areas)

-license plate search (when on busy roads)

We do have an iPad now that we have started homeschooling, and have started to integrate it into a few of our long travel days.  They typically each get 20 minutes for their school apps.

So, if you’re looking for some alternatives or variety in your road trip activities, I hope you’ve found these ideas useful.

Happy trails!

 

Amazing Places

We have had the pleasure of visiting some very interesting places over the last six months.  And most have been within half a days drive from our stay in June Lake, California.

We’ve been in the presence of the highest peak and lowest point in the lower 48, the largest (by volume) tree and the largest (by diameter) tree in the world, the oldest known trees in the world, the tallest waterfall in North America, and the tallest trees in the world.  It has been quite an educational experience for all of us!

The highest point in the lower 48!

Mount Whitney, located in the High Sierra Mountains.

Mount Whitney, located in the High Sierra Mountains.

The hottest, driest, and lowest place in the U.S and Western Hemisphere.

Death Valley NP

Badwater Basin

A view of Badwater Basin!

A view of Badwater Basin

The largest known tree by volume.

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park!

The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park

Largest diameter tree.

The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park!

The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park

The oldest known living trees!

Located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California

Located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in California

The tallest waterfall in North America at 2,425 feet!

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park

The world’s tallest trees!

Coastal Redwoods in Humboldt County.

Coastal Redwoods in Humboldt County

Coastal Redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks.

Coastal Redwoods in the Redwood National and State Parks

 

Tim went for a walk

A really long walk on the Pacific Crest Trail is what the summer and fall revolved around for our family.  It has been a memorable experience for all of us, with many priceless lessons learned.  

Our family picture before Tim started his epic journey!

Our family picture before Tim started his epic journey!

Tim set out over a year ago with plans to hike about half of the 2,650 miles of the PCT.  Not really having any idea of what to expect once on the trail, except for what he had gleaned from the copious amounts of reading he had done about the PCT and long distance hiking.  So, we bought gear, made camping reservations for the kids and I, figured out resupply points and approximate dates for meeting up, how to communicate with us while hiking, and countless other logistics in our attempts to reach his goal.  Most of this was done before knowing about the high snowfall year (record setting in places), late snow melt, unforeseen foot problems, near record setting heat waves, wildfires galore, worsening sleep issues, and more homesickness than he had imagined.  

Figuring out the logistics...planning miles, resupply points, alternate routes, etc.

Figuring out the logistics…planning miles, resupply points, alternate routes, etc.

REI, happily accepted much of our time and money!

REI, happily accepted much of our time and money!

The gear, the food, the hours and hours of prep!

The gear, the food, the hours and hours of prep!

One thing Tim has mentioned in hindsight, is that he would have planned this adventure much like how it actually turned out.  Walking half the miles he had planned to, in the same amount of time.  And he would have done more cherry-picking in order to hike “the most scenic” sections of trail during the best time of year!

Walking behind Tunnel Falls.

Walking behind Tunnel Falls.

Views of the magnificent Mt. Hood!

Views of the magnificent Mt. Hood!

The kids and I are so proud of his accomplishments.

The kids and I are so proud of his accomplishments.

Just a walk in the fog-filled woods.

Just a walk in the fog-filled woods.

The beauty of mossy bridges!

The beauty of mossy bridges!

Lessons learned from the trail…

It’s unforgiving on the feet, which slowed him down more than he had anticipated.  He wore out 2 pair of hiking shoes and finished off a pair of hiking boots he picked up from a hiker box.  His feet had blisters on top of blisters in the first 2 weeks on the trail.  In hindsight, he realized that he may not have had these issues had he attempted this venture before his calluses from the steel mill wore off from being a stay-at-home dad.

Epsom salt foot bath after 400 miles of trail under his belt.

Epsom salt foot bath after 400 miles of trail under his belt.

Borrowed boots from the Burney Falls hiker box.

Borrowed boots from the Burney Falls hiker box.

Gorilla tape is superior to duct tape for all things long distance hiking.  This became evident when trying to keep his shoes from tearing up his feet.  And also attempting to keep the corners together of his (very used) tent.

Campsite views of Mt. Jefferson!

Campsite views of Mt. Jefferson!

Water is never hard to come by when hiking in last years “snow”, or as Tim puts it, ice in the mornings and slush by the afternoons.  However, finding the trail is much more difficult in the snow, and worse when you’re one of the first through the area for the season.

Finding the trail in the snow!

Finding the trail in the snow!

All the snow!

All the snow!

Finding a dry place to camp was difficult in the snow!

Finding a dry place to camp was difficult in the snow!

When your already poor sleep quality is exaggerated while on the trail, his reading material helped pass the time.  He was already an avid reader prior to this adventure, so he chose some classics to help pass the time while in the wilderness.

Books that made the trek along the PCT, minus Tom Sawyer: which was left in the hiker box at Burney Falls.

Books that made the trek along the PCT, minus Tom Sawyer: which was left in the hiker box at Burney Falls.

Homesickness was more apparent and at the forefront of much of his thoughts throughout his hike.  He thought seeing the kids and I once a week or so would be enough to keep it at bay; however, it ended up leading to more breaks from the trail.  And these breaks afforded us the opportunity to go on more adventures as a family and to really explore the places we were calling home along the way!  Not to mention, we added six more National Park stamps in the kids passport books.

Resupply trip for dad at Frog Lake.

Resupply trip for Tim at Frog Lake.

Seeing lava fields for the first time at McKenzie Pass!

Seeing lava fields for the first time at McKenzie Pass!

Building walls in Odell Lake!

Building walls in Odell Lake!

Sunset at Odell Lake!

Sunset at Odell Lake!

Camping at Burney Falls!

Camping at Burney Falls!

Exploring Lassen National Park, a beautiful place.

Exploring Lassen National Park, a beautiful place.

I could follow these three for miles!

I could follow these three for miles!

Learning how to purify water with dad!

Learning how to purify water with dad!

Swimming near Indian Falls!

Swimming near Indian Falls!

Learning about gold mining with dad.

Learning about gold mining with dad.

In the end, or maybe even the beginning, Tim knew he had no desire to be a thru-hiker.  After spending the summer and fall on an epic long distance hike he realized the journey was about way more than the amount of miles he walked.  All of the trials and joys he experienced on the trail were very much a part of the adventure.  And what an adventure it has been!

Mt. Jefferson

Mt. Jefferson

Camping amongst the Lava fields, apparently not the most comfortable place to sleep.

Camping amongst the Lava fields, apparently not the most comfortable place to sleep.

Pacific Crest trail, somewhere in Oregon!

Pacific Crest trail, somewhere in Oregon!

Many miles of trail.

Many miles of trail.

The beauty through the wildfire smoke!

The beauty through the wildfire smoke!

Near Lassen Peak

Near Lassen Peak

Water as smooth as glass.

Water as smooth as glass.

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In the midst of Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.

In the midst of Desolation Wilderness near Lake Tahoe.

What can seem like a never ending trail.

What can seem like a never ending trail.

Walking along the saddle of a mountain ridge.

Walking along the saddle of a mountain ridge.

Tim spent many nights sleeping without his tent.

Tim spent many nights sleeping without his tent.

The trail leading toward the high Sierra.

The trail leading toward the high Sierra.

The GPS tracking of Tim's hike.

The GPS tracking of Tim’s hike. Approximately 6 weeks on the trail walking 650 miles!

A tribute…

To papa bear, daddy, dad, Timmy, Tim (all names our kids happily call their dad)

Father’s Day is nearly upon us and Tim’s impending 3-month hike is drawing closer (less than 2 weeks away). I thought it would be the perfect time to give you a glimpse into what life has been like for Tim the last two and a half years. Especially since he will be stepping away from his current role of child-rearing and toward his goal of hiking 1,500 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Our two littles!

Our two littles!

All days are not like this picture above implies; in fact, most days have (many) moments like this picture below.

She is a stubborn, independent, fiery, and driven 3 year old!

She is a stubborn, independent, fiery, and driven 3 year old!

And this one…

A "little" mud never hurt anybody...but it sure is messy!

A “little” mud never hurt anybody…but it sure is messy!

Oh, and this as well…

Wrestling with dad on the beach...

Wrestling with dad on the beach…

And we (my OCD self) can’t forget these moments of messiness…

This picture is why we have 75% less toys ;)

This picture is why we have 75% less toys ;)

Even though the days aren’t perfect or easy, our kids are lucky and blessed to have so much priceless time with their daddy.

They have countless opportunities to go on “adventures” with him during the days while I’m working!

These kids love all kinds of playgrounds.  A favorite past time for all!

These kids love all kinds of playgrounds. A favorite past time for all!

Many trips to the beach with dad during the last 2.5 years!

Many trips to the beach with dad during the last 2.5 years!

Always time for silliness :)

Always time for silliness :)

Although many of his days are filled with laughing, playing, crazy and silly times; his role is always parent first. Because we only have 18 years (if we’re lucky) to foster them from innocent little humans into healthy, “well-adjusted”, compassionate, respectful, independent, motivated, and kind big humans.

Parenting is hard and rarely easy. With the phases of parenting only changing; bringing forth new challenges. Which we try (hard) to accept with grace, because we were all kids once. And Tim has had the “pleasure” of taking the lead with most of these.

He is their leader, teacher of new things, and role model…

The strength of nature to encourage us physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Such a powerful place to be!

The strength of nature to encourage us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Such a powerful place to be!

Fishing with dad...need I say more...

Fishing with dad…need I say more…

Tim is the engineer of the family.  Making sailboats out of our recycling to float in our community pool!

Tim is the engineer of the family. Making sailboats out of our recycling to float in our community pool!

Boys days often include tent camping in the redwoods or on the beach!

Boys days often include tent camping in the redwoods or on the beach!

Tim has successfully potty trained two kiddos...not an easy task for anyone!

Tim has successfully potty trained two kiddos…not an easy task for anyone!

He is their coach…

Not just their coach in soccer, but in life as well!

Not just their coach in soccer, but in life as well!

He is their comfort and cuddle-giver…

Occasionally having to tend to sick kiddos.

Occasionally having to tend to sick kiddos.

He is their steady hand, safety net, and shoulder to ride on…

Always there for his little girl!

Always there for his little girl!

He is their cheerleader and encourager…in our quest to raise brave kids…

Our attempts to raise brave kids is much easier with dad as the stay at home parent!

Our attempts to raise brave kids is much easier with dad as the stay at home parent!

He is our provider, builder, and Mr. fix-it.

Making the kiddos ladders for their bunk beds in the RV.

Making the kiddos ladders for their bunk beds in the RV.

Fixing a flat on the side of the road in New Mexico.  So nice to have a handy husband.

Fixing a flat on the side of the road in New Mexico. So nice to have a handy husband.

He is our dog-walker, groomer, feeder, and caretaker…

Tim's best friends...they would follow him anywhere!

Tim’s best friends…they would follow him anywhere!

He is our driver…and happily takes us from one amazing place to the next…

Tim has chauffeured us and our "home" all over the country in the past 2.5 years.

Tim has chauffeured us and our “home” all over the country in the past 2.5 years.

Tim is a lot of things for our family and we love and appreciate him for all of them.

 

The mountains are calling…

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

To bring you up to speed, we have been traveling and living the full-time RV lifestyle for the last two and a half years.  I have been working various assignments around the country as a travel physical therapist.  And my hubs has taken on the role of stay-at-home dad, head chef, dish-washer, laundry-doer, dog-walker-feeder-caretaker, potty-trainer, swim instructor, and teacher of all things; to name a few.  Without either of us, this journey would not be possible; and certainly, a lot less entertaining.

Photo credit: personal photo edited in Canva app

Photo credit: personal photo edited in Canva app

So when your husband, who has played an integral role in the last two and a half years, mentions (on more than one occasion) he would like to attempt a long distance hike; you jump on board and support the h@&$ out of that goal.  Because, obviously I’ve had the easier job over the past couple years, since I get to leave our “tiny home on wheels” everyday and go to work.

THE GOAL: Attempt a 1,500 mile section-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in ~100 days

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Our current transient lifestyle makes it easier to bring these “crazy” ideas to fruition.  Which also leads to greater flexibility when planning such a monumental feat.  Although preparation is a critical part of this goal, figuring out logistics and making concrete plans has been difficult, because…Mother Nature…she has been here long before us and will be here long after us.  Most of these uncertainties are due to the weather, snow pack, snow melt, miles walked per day, caloric intake/expenditure, unforeseen challenges, etc.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Author unknown Photo credit: Pinterest

I thought I would take a moment to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions and voiced concerns we get from various people we’ve told…

Is Tim going by himself?
Yes, his plan is to hike alone!  He is not afraid of the dark, creepy crawly things, or sleeping outside.  He has been preparing for this adventure for the last year and is looking forward to what the trail has in store for him…physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

What will myself and the kids do without Tim?
Our main purpose will be keeping Tim alive by supplying him with food.  We will be meeting up with him at various trail crossings every five days or so to make sure he has enough calories to make it to the next meet-up.  It should be a pretty adventurous summer and fall, for all of us!

How will Tim protect himself?
Having respect for the wilderness and being aware of his surroundings will certainly come in handy.  That and we’re pretty sure his smell after a few days will deter any predators from wanting him for lunch.  Various other backpacking tips of not cuddling your food at night or sleeping where you eat are also known ways to prevent creatures from visiting.  Oh, AND he will have a Delorme In-reach that can ping his location, provide him with gps maps, text his wife, and send an SOS…so no worries!

Many people, including us, enjoy life indoors with climate controlled environments and food easily attained from the local grocery store.  However, people have lived in and explored the wilderness for centuries.  And they definitely did not have any of our modern day conveniences to make their trek safer.

Dirt paths are usually the best kind of paths.  Photo credit: Pinterest

Dirt paths are usually the best kind of paths. Photo credit: Pinterest

While some people may think we’re crazy (which we may be), many have found our plans to be exciting.  And hopefully this journey will inspire just a few to occasionally live outside their comfort zones.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

John Muir was a wise man!  Photo credit: Pinterest

John Muir was a wise man! Photo credit: PinterestWander

Serving Others

Our service group for the week...Alex, Tim, myself, and Autumn!  Photo credit: one of our amazing ISL staff members

Our service group for the week…Alex, Tim, myself, and Autumn! Photo credit: one of our amazing ISL staff members

It has been nearly six months since Tim and I (and a fellow colleague and new found friend) returned from our physical therapy service trip to Costa Rica.  It has taken me a while to truly process my experience while serving in such a beautiful country.  This process was certainly derailed by my reading of the book, Doing Good Is Simple by Chris Marlow (founder of Help One Now) shortly after returning home.  A book I highly recommend if you’re looking for ways to serve others!  And one that I wish I had read prior to my trip not after…

A simple side and look into service work.  Photo credit: myself

A simple side and look into service work. Photo credit: myself

Prior to leaving (with a vague itinerary), I felt ready for whatever situation we may be placed in while serving there…I was so wrong!  I was guilty of thinking I had the perspective I needed for this trip.  Reading articles, watching videos, talking with others, etc did nothing to prepare me for the emotions that would hit me hard throughout our service project.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Myself and a colleague had the bittersweet pleasure of getting to work at a place called Manos Abiertas.  What a special place this is, and one that will forever be etched on my heart!  This place is so full of life, even amidst an undertow of suffering.  The many stories of suffering were overshadowed by the amazing staff and volunteers, who are caring for some of the most vulnerable children and adults in Costa Rica.  At times, the joy on the residents’ and staffs’ faces were almost palpable, which was inspiring after hearing about the many struggles they endured.  This is the kind of place that can be hard on the heart, but so worth taking your heart to.  A place I truly hope to return to someday!

A place that helped shape my heart.  Photo credit: Manos Abiertas website

A place that helped shape my heart. Photo credit: Manos Abiertas website

Autumn and I with the best translators and ISL staff...Pouchi and Lau

Autumn and I with the best translators and ISL staff…Pouchi and Lau

Autumn and I with the amazing physical therapists at Manos Abiertas...Javier, Gustavo, and Esteban

Autumn and I with the amazing physical therapists at Manos Abiertas…Javier, Gustavo, and Esteban

My trip reflection
It may seem cliche, but hindsight truly is 20/20, especially after a trip like this.  My pre-trip, somewhat naive self learned so much more than bargained for throughout the many eye-opening and heartfelt experiences.  Following this retrospection I’ve discovered three repeating thoughts that will hopefully result in a greater impact during my future adventures, here in the States and abroad.

The first, WHO is the trip impacting?
Prior to the trip, I was looking forward to how I would be able to impact the people I came in contact with during my time there.  However, by the end, I was realizing just how much of an influence they were having on me.  Looking back, the ebb and flow of the relationships I made were very much one of mutual give and take.  And being more aware of this kind of connection and realizing how important this two-sided relationship benefits both, will only add to my future mission experiences.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

The second is, HOW are you impacting the people and the community?
Pondering the ways in which your time and effort will impact the people you are there to serve is something I considered, but didn’t intentionally think about until I was in Costa Rica.  Since I had never traveled outside the US for something like this before, I really had no idea what to expect.  Finding ways to make your service impact more than just the people you directly work with is important.  Encouraging those you connected with to then go out into their community and inspire others is where success is found.

This is what I want to encourage in those I cross paths with.  Photo credit: Pinterest

This is what I want to encourage in those I cross paths with. Photo credit: Pinterest

And lastly, WHAT impact are you leaving behind?
This to me, is by far the most important thing to consider before signing up for a service or mission trip.  Knowing how the organization maintains relationships (long after you’ve come and gone) in the community you’re serving is crucial to the long term benefits of the people living there.  This is one thing I had never really considered until reading countless articles on the ways short-term mission trips and pop-up mission organizations can sometimes be a detriment to the communities visited and how much more an area can flourish with lasting support.  Which is why finding a company that had an established presence in the community was crucial for me.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

I encourage you to take a trip and experience different cultures, hear other languages, and learn about the ways of life outside the safety of your community, it may just be the best thing you could do…at least it has been for me!

Love God, Love People, Serve Others ❤️

Despite the struggles...this lifestyle is still "worth the squeeze!"  Photo credit: Snapped photo edit

RV Living: Worth the Squeeze?

As we are nearing our two year nomadiversary, I reflect back on some of our struggles since starting this crazy wonderful adventure.  We spent the last 6 months back home in Indiana and were asked about our living situation by our friends and family on more than one occasion.  We are used to the way our lifestyle opens up a dialogue with complete strangers we may never see again, but it can be a bit different with people you know and see on a regular basis.  Some people we’ve met and talked with do not completely understand why anyone would willing choose this lifestyle.  And quite frankly, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve wondered the same thing!

I’m sure after previous posts over the last two years and having a glimpse of how great RV living can be, you all want to go out and buy a RV and travel the country. <written in sarcasm text>. This lifestyle is pretty amazing and rather epic, but with that comes the reality that everyday isn’t like this.  We have days that are rough; stuff breaks, things happen, and it’s not always rainbows, butterflies, and unicorns.  I’ll attempt to shed some light on the less than ideal moments one might find themselves in while full-timing in a RV (from personal experience).

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Mechanical Issues

We bought our RV new in the fall of 2014 and hit the road that December.  We had a one year warranty on everything and before we even brought it home, we knew of a few things that needed attention, which were all minor repairs.  Living within 3 hours of the dealer and not actually living in the RV yet, made it fairly easy to have it in the shop for warranty work.  However, once it becomes your home and you’re on the road and you could be over 6 hours from a dealer; makes for a whole new logistical nightmare.  This became evident last summer when our master bedroom slide wouldn’t push out.  We were living in “middle of nowhere” Northern California coast and over 6 hours from a dealer that would need our “home” in the shop for several days…not going to happen.  So, naturally we lived with our slide stuck in for 5 months.  Affording us the opportunity to climb over the bed to do laundry or get to the closets, and lifting the bed to get into our dresser (first world problems, but still an inconvenience)!  When you only have 400 square feet and you lose 12 “very functional” square feet, it can be a struggle.

Now I hold my breath every time we have to push slides in or out

Now I hold my breath every time we have to push slides in or out

Mother Nature

We also had a run in (literally) with Mother Nature last summer, thankfully no one was hurt and fortunately neither was our camper.  We had a perfect and large campsite at the back of the campground on the beach in Westport, CA. Unfortunately, one of our shade trees decided it no longer needed one of its’ very large branches.

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Thankful for the campground crew that came and successfully removed the branch with no damage to the awning our RV.

Thankful for the campground crew that came and successfully removed the branch with no damage to the awning or our RV.

Leaks

The dreaded word in the RV world and rightfully so, they can be difficult to remedy and hard to find the culprit.  We found a wet spot near our washer, and figured that was the problem, unfortunately it was not.  Once everything was dry, we then used caulk on every seam on the outside of our camper near the leak location and voila, no more wet carpet!

Caulk...an RVers "duct tape"

Caulk…an RVers “duct tape”

Tire Blowouts

These are definitely not out of the ordinary for full time RV travel, but somehow we managed to go over 10,000 miles around the country before experiencing one.  Very thankful for a husband that is so mechanically inclined.  His expertise has diverted many disasters over the last two years!

Somewhere in New Mexico

Somewhere in New Mexico

Less is More

We have always said “less is more” when we started talking about this kind of a lifestyle.  I agree with this in nearly every aspect of our lifestyle except, our kitchen counter space, and lack of it!  What I wouldn’t give for just four more square feet some days!

It can get a bit ridiculous when trying to make certain meals

It can get a bit ridiculous when trying to make certain meals

Cleaning

It’s a breeze when you have such a small space; but because of this, you (okay, I) tend to want it constantly clean and picked up.  It has been awesome living on the beaches in California and amongst the beautiful pines of Oregon, but the sand and pine needles that consumed our tiny space was my nemesis.  

Our sandy beach in Westport versus the pine along the Umpqua River in Roseburg

Our sandy beach in Westport versus the pine along the Umpqua River in Roseburg

RV Language

There has also been a learning curve to the RV world lingo.  For example, we are now a FTF (full time family) that sold their S&B (stick and brick home), bought a 5er (5th wheel RV), and now roam the country exploring all that it has to offer.  So, we now live a much simpler life in a 400 square foot, split level ranch on a “basement”, that happens to have wheels!  Perception is everything!  

RV life is slow and simple and amusing, and living this way reminds me to walk gently in these moments without worry or busyness.  It’s a lifestyle we’ve chosen; and sometimes you have to take some bad to have this much good.

Despite the struggles...this lifestyle is still "worth the squeeze!"  Photo credit: Snapped photo edit

Despite the struggles…this lifestyle is still “worth the squeeze!” Photo credit: Snapseed photo editor

Be the change…

It has been a personal goal of mine over the last couple of years to find ways to “lend a hand” and give hope to as many people as possible, while in return, growing into what I hope is an improved version of myself.  While this is certainly not an easy-do-over-night task, it has been, and absolutely will be, worth it in the end.

Striving to make these my "eulogy virtues".

Striving to make these my “eulogy virtues”.

Shifting my thoughts from selfishness to altruism, is part of my ever growing moral bucket list and a definite work in progress.  I would say this intentional living thought process was initiated when I married my favorite person.  It began to evolve once we had kids, and took a drastic hold after going through a very eye-opening and heartbreaking loss in the murky depths of international adoption.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

In the midst of this journey we met some incredible people that are stepping up, taking risks, and showing the love of Jesus to the poorest of poor.  These women and their families are doing amazing work and have started organizations that promote family preservation, health, and education to those that would otherwise not have access to these “basic” needs through monthly or yearly sponsorships.  We have the pleasure of helping a family through A Heart for Korah and a “street kid” through Life Thru EDU.

For the full details of how we moved from a heartbreaking loss to a story of sharing hope see my earlier blog post “Beauty from Ashes”.

http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/beauty-from-ashes/

It is truly a blessing for us to have the opportunity to bring a little hope and love to these “strangers” lives.  We have been able to communicate with our sponsored families through letters, which they impart how grateful they are for our support, but I’m not sure they will ever know just how much they have impacted my life, all while I was attempting to change theirs.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Because we have become passionate toward helping others and looking for more ways to make a greater impact on others, I was drawn to Trades of Hope.

Be a world changer... Photo credit: personal photo from the Hine family farm

Be a world changer…
Photo credit: personal photo from the Hine family farm

Trades of Hope is a company that gives women in poverty an opportunity for a better life, a life that they now feel empowered to change.

These artisans have been rescued from sex slavery, others are single women raising handicapped children, some are in war torn countries, and others have aids and leprosy. These women have never had the chances we’ve had, yet they are just like us in so many ways. They hope and dream of a better life for their families.

Here in the U.S., we are helping by marketing their products through the home and online party model, so they can put food on their table, a roof over their head, receive medical care, and provide an education for their children. We want to tell their stories to the world.

Check out their stories and beautiful products here:

www.mytradesofhope.com/stephaniehine

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

Photo credit: Trades of Hope website

All women really want is to feel strong, loved, dignified, and respected.  And what these artisans create allows them to feel this and when you wear their products, this feeling can trickle into your own heart, mind, and soul (I know it does for me).

A word from Sanskrit and Pali, spoken in India that has no English counterpart.  Considered one of the Four Immeasurables in Buddhism. Photo credit: Pinterest

A word from the Sanskrit and Pali language, spoken in India, that has no English counterpart. Considered one of the Four Immeasurables in Buddhism.
Photo credit: Pinterest

So, after being introduced to what this company stands for, my support of them only grew.  Which is how I decided to become a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope.  I’m able to purchase their beautiful products for myself, give them as gifts, tell others about the artisans, raise awareness, empower women, and most importantly give hope!

This new journey is not a business for me, but an avenue to further my global impact.  I will be donating any and all of my earnings and free products to A Heart for Korah and Life Thru EDU to provide hope and opportunity for others.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Please visit my website www.mytradesofhope.com/stephaniehine for more information on Trades of Hope, to shop, ask a question, book a party with me, or join my team!

For information on A Heart for Korah visit: www.aheartforkorah.com

For information on Life Thru EDU visit: www.lifethruedu.org

 

Be blessed

❤

Salt in the air

As our time on the west coast is nearing an end (at least for the next 6 months), I’m already fearing a future withdraw of the coast and all it has to offer.

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

We have now lived on the west coast for nearly a year, and six of those months have been spent within a five minute walk to the beach.  The affinity I have developed for this place is difficult to describe, but I know it’s more than just the salt in the air.  I have no great literary language, nor am I a writer by any stretch of the word, so trying to put into words the feelings I’ve had living here is nearly impossible.

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

With that said, a word picture of my big feelings for this place would fail miserably.  So…while these pictures do not do it justice, I’ll try to portray some of the beauty that I have become so fond of and the reason it may feel so hard for me to leave!

(Photo credits: myself and an iPhone)

Mendocino coast

Mendocino coast

My daily drive along Highway 1 from Westport to Fort Bragg!

My daily drive to work along Highway 1 from Westport to Fort Bragg!

The view from our campground at Westport Beach

The view from our campground at Westport Beach

The big trees...nothing like the Northern California coast!  The ocean in your front yard and the redwoods in your backyard (photo credit: Tim, my partner in crime)

The big trees…nothing like the Northern California coast! The ocean in your front yard and the redwoods in your backyard (photo credit: Tim, my partner in crime)

A California coast sunset...never gets old!

A California coast sunset…never gets old!

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Along the PCH somewhere between Bodega Bay and Point Arena

Along the PCH somewhere between Bodega Bay and Point Arena

Westport Beach sunset

Westport Beach sunset

A view you will find all over the west coast...photo of a friend we met in Fort Bragg who ran a surf school!

A view you will find all over the west coast…photo of a friend we met in Fort Bragg who ran a surf school!

Footprints in the sand (photo credit: my gypsy soul sister, Autumn Gillen)

Footprints in the sand (photo credit: my gypsy soul sister, Autumn Gillen)

From the beaches of California to the beautiful mountains of Oregon!

From the beaches of California to the beautiful mountains of Oregon!

We spent the last year surrounded by great wineries!  The view from Cooper Ridge tasting room...delightful wine and lovely atmosphere!

We spent the last year surrounded by great wineries! The view from Cooper Ridge tasting room…delightful wine and lovely atmosphere!

Ruestle Winery in Roseburg, Oregon

Ruestle Winery in Roseburg, Oregon

Toketee Falls

Toketee Falls

Tioga Bridge over the Umpqua River

Tioga Bridge over the Umpqua River

Crater Lake...leaves you speechless!

Crater Lake…leaves you speechless!

The Oregon coast

The Oregon coast

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse

The trail leading to the lighthouse

The trail leading to the lighthouse

The Oregon dunes at Honeyman State Park

The Oregon dunes at Honeyman State Park

Back to the California coast...Santa Barbara pier

Back to the California coast…Santa Barbara pier

Palm trees in Santa Barbara

Palm trees in Santa Barbara

The rugged coast along Montaña de Oro State Park

The rugged coast along Montaña de Oro State Park

Wildlife in their natural habitat...the elephant seals of San Simeon

Wildlife in their natural habitat…the elephant seals of San Simeon

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay, California

The native flowers, the harbor, floating sea otters, and as Griffin puts it "our rock"!

The native flowers, the harbor, floating sea otters, and as Griffin puts it “our rock”!

Morro Bay, California...one of the many places we have called home during our travels!

Morro Bay, California…one of the many places we have called home during our travels!

I’m sure it’s difficult to empathize through just these pictures, but the feelings I have with just looking through them is amazing, and habit-forming, and leaves you wanting more!

photo credit: Pinterest

photo credit: Pinterest

Although our journey so far has been wonderful, it has done little to satisfy my wanderlust.  Quite on the contrary, it has only furthered my desire to go and explore more places, connect with more people, learn more things, and to grow myself along the way!

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The “bittersweetness” of finding community while on the road

We never realized how much we missed the “community” feeling that living in the same area can bring, until it wasn’t there.   Having the familiar to lean back on is one thing that can be easily taken for granted, and living in the unfamiliar can shine a light on that.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

We never know exactly what to expect when we get to a new place, even with all of the research we do before hand.   Most of my work assignments have only been 2-3 months, which limits the time to build any kind of lasting relationship with anyone.  However, this time we landed for 5 months.  And finally, after a year on the road, we found that feeling of community in Roseburg, Oregon!

(I have wrote in the past about some of these feelings of community and how we try to find ways to attain them while on the road:

http://satisfyingourwanderlust.com/fostering-a-sense-of-community/)

I’ve thought a lot about what has made this place different from all of the others, and why it was so easy to gain that community feeling.  Reflecting over our time spent here these past few months brings to mind several memories; most of which, involve the many lovely people we’ve met and now call friends.   During this time, I noticed a few differences in how we spent our time in this community compared to the past places we’ve called home.

1. Community Involvement

This has been the biggest difference since being in Roseburg.  We were lucky enough to live only 6 miles from a YMCA and had the luxury of a bike lane along the entire route.  We took advantage of many aspects of the local Y.  Community and member family swims, child watch for the kids during workouts (which Amelia loved), enrolled Griffin in 2-day per week preschool, and Itty Bitty soccer and basketball for Griffin.  These many trips to the Y allowed us to run into several of the same families!  One of these families have left a lasting impression on us and we will cherish the time we got to spend with them.  The Smith family will be lifelong friends.  We were able to share many adventures with them and their two kids; trip to the safari park, ride through the Festival of Lights, couples date, exchanging babysitting services, birthday celebrations, girl’s night out, and play dates with the kids!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Fun at the Safari park with the Smith family!

Beautiful couple

Beautiful couple

Boys and their Legos

Boys and their Legos

BFF's

BFF’s

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

2. Church Family

One of the most challenging things about a new place, is finding a church to call home for the short period we’re there.  The kids and I are regular attenders of a Sunday fellowship, which gives our non-churched stay at home dad/husband a chance to relax without interruptions from the little people.  We feel fortunate to have stumbled into Wellspring Bible Fellowship early in our stay and felt welcomed by everyone.   We found a good fit amongst some great and loving people.  Sunday school, a weekly small group, caroling at local nursing facilities, Christmas drama, and a New Year’s Eve party were a few of the activities we were involved in with our Wellspring friends.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Togetherness in light of tragedy

On October 1st, an event happened in Roseburg that has forever changed this community and affected so many lives.  I have never been so near to or made aware daily of such tragedy.  The mass school shooting at Umpqua Community College definitely added to a closeness within the community.  It is unfortunate that it seemed to take such a tragedy to bring people together regardless of their differences.  The support that the people of Roseburg provided to everyone in the community was heart warming.  There were multiple events and fundraisers and nearly every business that had a marque, showed their support.  #UCCStrong #RoseburgStrong #IAmAChristian

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Looking forward to the next adventure, while having to leave our new friends behind is what makes finding a community on the road so bittersweet!

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest