I few lessons I would like to say I have learned....
Kids - I just bragged on them the other day to all of you. Yesterday, I could not keep them from bickering. For a while, I let the snake have it's head and chalked it up to the fact they are probably getting tired of the hustle and bustle. No matter how much I try to keep them busy, the girls are ready to be home. This trip was too long for them. And I, with little space on board, would not let them bring too many of home's amenities. They are missing their beds, their toys, their friends and their relatives.
Tiny Houses - There are all sorts of shows and books and articles about living in tiny spaces. I wanted on that bandwagon. I loved the minimalist idea. I do not need a bunch of space, I lived in a 300 sq foot apt in college and LOVED it. The tiny house movement boasts less then 300ft and I always thought that I could do it.
Well, I have done it for two weeks. Needless to say it was within 50 sq ft, but I can now affirmatively say that I am ok with my 2400 sq ft home. The kids have plenty of room to run, wrestle and roller skate down stairs. I can still cook and fold laundry in that space. We built a port-a-potty into the design of the van, but there is something to be said for 3-4 people sharing the one open to the rest of the vehicle NOT in a water closet, toilet. You must rearrange everything to get to your next activity. I sleep on the couch we built in here. I must put away all bedding and remnants of bedtime to get my day started at work. This includes my children who sleep on the floor. I cannot work in an untidy area, so all cleaning must be done first in order to be productive.
I am quite accustomed to the dishwasher, laundry room, and even the junk drawer that holds everything from leftover mints from restaurants, nail polish remover, and coupons, to extra phone cords and fish tank filters. It's not that I need "stuff" but it is certainly nice to have available the 2-3 times a year I use it. As it is, I am telling the girls we do not have the extra space for the collection of rock they want. What kind of mother am I?
Paper vs Plastic - I wanted to be so clean and carbon footprint friendly on this trip. For several days I washed the same 6 plastic plates. I brought 6 plastic forks and washed them too until the first night I cooked in the wok. I forgot to bring cooking utensils, so we ate a little plastic that night, as it was cooked into the chicken. :-) You live you learn. We bought metal forks later that night and utensils. A week later I thought it would be a nice treat to have shells and cheese macaroni. Well, when it comes to the dishes, it sucks! The food itself cooked differently at altitude making it more sticky and then the cheese for this type of mac-n-cheese is horrible to remove when conserving water and hand-washing. It ruins the water for anything else. Maybe I should add a cooking vs non cooking.
Working on the Road - This is much harder than ever anticipated. Have you ever seen the Memes with What I Do, What My Mom Thinks I Do, What My Boss Thinks I Do...etc? Well, I feel like I must explain all the time how much I am working. Kristin too, is finding that making time for work and play is tough too.
Campsites and Ice are Ridiculous - We averaged $30 per night on campsites...times 14 starts adding up. We got hotels/motels for the nights that the gents were out for more than 2 nights. The other expense...Ice, holy guacamole. For the next trip I will purchase the Yeti. I harassed Travis to the max before we left telling him how extravagant a purchase a $300 cooler was, but we have purchased 1/3 of that cost in ice alone. I will apologize to him when I ask him if we can make that purchase when this is all over. Joey's father in law boasts ice staying in his Yeti for up to a week.
Nomads - Being nomadic is for the birds. I am pretty sure that people who live this lifestyle are not trying to haul around kids, bicycling gear, and a ton of equipment, but packing up every day or two and moving to set it all up again??? Nope, I am not cut out for that.
Kids - I know, I know. I have already put that up at the top. But I have also learned that I can put work away and fully commit to my kids for an hour or two each day. I told this to Travis this morning. When I was listing off all of these funny negatives which are probably not coming across so funny, he asked me if there was anything positive that I could report I learned. I told him yes. I was so worried about working and taking care of the boys, that when it was time to play with the kids, I wanted to be fully committed to that alone. I was in such a nasty habit of always answering emails and texts as they came through in an effort to be the best at what I do. This really keeps me from being engaged fully with my kids. Travis always does such a good job at playing with the kids, that I did not want him to feel like they were played with any less while he was on the trail. So I decided up front that I would put my phone away and really play when it was time. Know what I found?? I can still get my work done, and that sometimes people have to wait an hour or two for my response. Know what else? I still get the same "Thank you, you're the best" when I do get to respond to them. People never expected an immediate turnaround. When they get it, they are pleasantly surprised and say thank you. when they get the answer 2 hours later...they say thank you. Nobody in life ever laid on their death bed and thought..."I wish I could have just worked a little harder".
Now I do not say this to mean that I will quit responding or even working around the clock. I do thoroughly enjoy the heck out of it. But if someone reading this does take away a piece, it will be that your kids are only young while they are young. Play with them now. Raise them and play with them and teach them now so they will act the way you want them to act later. I have been shocked and amazed at their vocabulary and imagination now that I am taking the time to be present.
As promised, a tie to education coming soon, I am just worried I might learn something else on this trip before it's over. SO you'll have to wait a few more days.
PS...Trav, I need this lift kit