A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Family on the Road

Why Our Family Stopped Full Time RVing

A few months ago, after four years of full time RVing with our family, we made the very difficult decision to settle down. Settle down. Oh man…I’m still getting used…

A few months ago, after four years of full time RVing with our family, we made the very difficult decision to settle down.

Settle down.

Oh man…I’m still getting used to the idea. I knew settling down would be hard. I didn’t know it would be this hard. Every cell in my gypsy heart still tightens when I look out the window and see the same. view. every. day.

Rocky-MOuntain-NP-Brothers-at-Elevation-CO

Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books? I’ve been been wishing I could read ahead and see how different choices would affect the boys. Would they end up angry at us always wishing they had a chance to experience “normal” teenage life if we kept full timing in our RV? Or would they look back and say, “Man, my parents were great and knew what was best. I spent most of my life living in an RV seeing all these cool places!”

Alas, all we have is now. And right now a life with more routine and opportunities that come with living in community seems like the best option in our own Choose Your Own Adventure story.

George Washington Birthplace Jr Rangers

We are still struggling with all the changes and if you want to hear more of our reasons for putting the jacks down on our full time RV adventure keep reading. But be warned, I’m still wrestling with my emotions and our choices and at times, I feel like I’m defending our choice from my own inner critic.

PicMonkey-Collage-brothers-fly-TX-AK-NC

Brent and I so badly wanted to raise our oldest boys out of the box and in the slow lane of full time RVing until it was time for them to take flight on their own. We had so many ideas and plans for our family. During the first three years it seemed possible that they would grow up on the road happy and fulfilled but then they and their needs, particularly Thing 1, started to change. It was gradual but it became clear that full time RVing was no longer the best fit for our family. We were reluctant to admit it because Brent and I enjoyed our life as it was but we knew in our hearts that continuing to full time RV as a family would be…well…selfish. It wasn’t like we had to stay on the road. We weren’t following Brent’s work. We weren’t living in a RV because we were going through hard times. We were doing it because we loved the simplicity of life and it was fun. Crazy fun!

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Change is hard.

For the past year, we felt the wind shifting but we were in denial. We tried to continue on course against the wind hoping that things would return to what they were. However, in the quiet of night, I knew the change I was hoping for wasn’t going to happen. In those silent moments of raw honesty with myself what I wanted, as ridiculous as it sounds, was for the older boys to quit getting older. I wanted them to stay my babies forever and shelter them from life’s hardships. Living in the RV seemed to slow down time and kept them close. Kept them safe.

Writing-with-Quills

Thing 1 and 2 are not the boys they were when our family decided full time RV in 2011. Every day they were and are becoming more men than boys. And every day they have ideas on how they want to live. As hard as it is for Brent and I, we must gradually let go and let them follow their own paths and those paths were limited on the road.

They wanted experiences we couldn’t easily offer them. They wanted to experience school. They wanted to take piano lessons and martial arts classes. Most of all, they wanted friends, a community, who they can spend time with regularly. They were tired of saying “see ya later” without knowing when later might be.

As much as I want it to be, life isn’t about me. (<==This kinda sucks.)

Brothers at Petrified National Forest

In short, we decided to stop RVing full time for love of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Brent and I chose to put our desires on hold for a few years to launch these two amazing young men into the world from a stationary foundation because after many long talks, hard cries (on my part), and prayers we felt settling down was the most loving decision for them. Unfortunately, we can’t read ahead like in the Choose Your Own Adventure books and make a decisions on the best of two outcomes. The thing is we will never know what was the “best” for them because we can’t live two lives and compare. Maybe one day we will wish we would have stayed on the road. Maybe not. It’s impossible to know. All we can do is make the most loving decision based on our present knowledge while considering what we have learned from the past and then hope for the best in the future. In other words, I can’t control everything as much I’d like to. Damn.

PicMonkey-Collage-More-Brothes-TX-NC-GA

When they are grown men and looking back at their childhoods, our biggest hope is that they know they were loved. An older wiser mom once told me that kids have “fuel tanks” and to make sure it’s filled with love every day because if it’s filled with love they are less likely to look for other things to fill it. Despite all our parental imperfections, baggage, and failures, we want them to know we love them “bigger than the sky times infinity”. We want them to leave home with filled love tanks. Our me-culture may tell us to do what’s best for us and “radical self love” is almost a religion these days. (BTW I’m all for “radical self love” when it’s not at the expense of others.) However, selflessness acted out with pure intentions in regard to the other may not be sexy but it is still and will always be one of the purest forms of love. And one of the hardest. Selflessness doesn’t come easy for me. I usually scoop myself the biggest bowl of ice cream. And take the biggest piece of cake. And tend towards putting my feelings above others.

Not this time.

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The boys are only teenagers once (For their sake…thank God Almighty) and they both wanted more “normal” lives. We’ve tried to convince them that “normal” is overrated 🙂 but no amount of talk was going to change their minds. They wanted to experience normal for themselves.

Brothers-at-Colorado-National-Monument-CO2

Sure we considered the this-is-our-life-and-sorry-it’s-not-what-you-want-but-try-to-appreciate-and-learn-from-it approach. As parents we have that right to make the choices we think our best for our kids and family. The road may be “best” for Brent and I but, God willing, we have many years left as a couple to explore and experience life as we want but the older boys only have few years left as kids. They didn’t want to spend their teenage years living in an RV full time.

Sigh.

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There are so many wonderful things about RVing full time with kids and teens but the fact of the matter is full time RV was beyond amazing when they were younger but RV life could no longer provide for their expanding needs and interests. (Disclaimer: The pursuit of the following activities is a struggle because we are fully aware these actives are a privilege that comes with being middle class and certainly not necessary for a fulfilled life but they are fun, rewarding, and teach their own lessons.)

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Thing 1 Student Talent Show IMC ND

Thing 1 isn’t just good at playing the piano. We recognized he really has a gift as a classical pianist and needed a teacher and real piano if he was going to continue to grow. He could only learn so much online with a keyboard. (Keyboards, even weighted ones, don’t have the same dynamics as grand pianos.) To not recognize and nurture this gift would cause us and him real future regret. This is a special period in life where he has the time to sit and play for hours without adult worries. 

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Thing 2 wanted to spend more time with kids his age, try drama, and would like to eventually take up martial arts again. We also recently discovered since we’ve been stationary, that he has a knack for art. He has been invited to take a high school drawing class as a middle schooler and he had a blast performing in his first play last weekend.

These kinds of activities are difficult to do when you pack up and move every week or two. They require a long term commitment. We could have sat still for months at a time in campgrounds but that isn’t why we bought a house with wheels. And even if we did stay put for months at a time, it wouldn’t address the real issue consistency and friendship. The boys would know that goodbye was just around the corner and that was hard for them.

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Brent and I gave it our best to make full time RVing work for them as teens. We met up with road friends and family regularly. We traveled with other families when the opportunity arose. We spent two winters in the mountains snowboarding. We took Thing 1 to a music camp. We sought out opportunities for Thing 2 to pursue interests like gold panning. We let them have a say in the travel planning. We found online classes when we felt like we couldn’t meet their educational needs. 

Despite our efforts, full time RVing didn’t provide the one thing they craved more than anything which was consistency. Consistent friends. Consistent activities. And even more important, consistent wi-fi. 😉

Telescopes Egle Bay CA

There is only one of Brent and one of me and we couldn’t and didn’t want to be peers, piano teachers, math teachers, art teachers, spiritual mentors, and parents at the same time.  Not only did we feel that we needed more resources and consistency to help them grow into young men, RVing full time was losing some of its luster in their eyes. New places and new things had become mundane to them in a way. There were days they resented packing and days they rolled their eyes at the mention of visiting a national park. We tried to see our full time RV life from their perspective. They have visited every state except Hawaii, many of them multiple times. They have been to over one hundred national parks. I’ve lost count of how many museums they have visited. They’ve been to almost every major city and some of them more than once or twice or even three times. The third time to New Orleans Things 1 and 2 were leading us around the French Quarter! You might think the only thing to do in New Orleans is eat beignets. 😉 

Evening Kayak Fl

The boys certainly don’t dislike traveling (They keep reminding us we haven’t been to Hawaii and asking if there’s a chance we can go to Europe soon.) but they were developing a “been there and done that” attitude and were ready for new challenges, the challenges that come with dealing with teachers other than mom and relationships that are more face to face than virtual. Traveling full time in the RV gave them so many experiences and the life lessons are still unfolding, teaching us even now as we adapt to a stationary life, but there are lessons to learn from living in community as well.

English Ship Replicas Jamestown Settlement

Stocks Williamsburg VA

I’ll never regret our four years of full time RVing. The education and life experiences the boys received are priceless. The memories are too numerous to count. Our relationships grew in so many ways. We squeezed every last delicious drop out of full time RVing. So far they have been the best four years of our life but I’m hopeful we will seek out new adventures and the lessons we learned we will carry into our new chapter.

The last few months of adjusting to our new life have been hard but we keep remembering that this is a season. The winds of change never stop blowing and it won’t be long until we can pack up the RV and hit the road full time again.

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I remember a year or so ago Thing 1 and I were talking. He was having a hard time wanting both the adventure of RV life and the stability of being stationary. He missed our life in California but at the same time enjoyed our life of travel. It was a conversation we had often as we gauged the boys’ needs to make sure full time RVing was still working for everyone. During this one particular conversation his big brown eyes were contemplative and he asked,

“Mama, do you think someday I’ll be nostalgic for our life on the road?”

His thoughtful question made me smile and I said, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

PicMonkey-Collage-brothers-then-and-now

Today memories may still be fresh but the bittersweet ache of nostalgia has already set in.

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

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Used Heartland Gateway 3650BH for Sale

The time has come to sell our beloved RV, a used 2014 Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We searched for months and looked at many RVs before deciding on the Gateway 3650BH….

The time has come to sell our beloved RV, a used 2014 Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We searched for months and looked at many RVs before deciding on the Gateway 3650BH.

Heartland Gateway 3650BH for sale

She was perfect for our family and if we were going to do it again, we’d buy her. Honestly, we have no regrets but now that we are no longer traveling full time, it doesn’t make sense to keep her. Not to mention we no longer fit in our truck now that we are a family of six so if we did want to keep her we’d have to buy another truck. During this next season of our life it doesn’t make sense so we are hoping she’ll go to another family who will love her and have as many or even more adventures that we did!

used Heartland Gateway 3650bh for sale

She’s a very comfortable fifth wheel with 5 slides and thousands of dollars of upgrades including 600 watts of solar & expanded battery bank. We’ve maintained her well and have the preventative maintenance service records. We’ve never had any major problems and the minor ones the come with buying a new rig have been worked out for you. The back bunk room was modified to have a desk and more storage but it could easily be converted back to a third bunk and even a 4th bunk (trundle). Currently, she sleeps 6. We also modified the front closet where the washer and dryer would go. It is now an office/desk space, perfect for people who want to work on the road.

Asking $43,600 OBO. It’s one of the lowest priced Gateway 3650BH on RV Trader and those don’t include all the upgrades. Here is the link to the RV Trader ad.

We are also selling our 2008 diesel Chevy Silverado 3500 HD LTZ 4WD Crew Cab for $27,500 OBO. It comes with an external diese

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Photo Tour

RV-floorplan

The floor plan was the selling point for us. We loved the L-shaped kitchen as opposed to an island because it really opened up the floorspace between the couch and chaise lounge/chairs and the large bunk room was perfect for the kids.

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We love the large living space with plenty of room for everyone.

living-room

It feels more like a small apartment than an RV.

kitchen1

Tons of counter space and the full size residential fridge is awesome for a family.

chairs

We found the stock chaise lounge uncomfortable and unsightly so replaced it with cute comfortable arm chairs. Bonus: the chairs are way lighter than the chaise. The newer model moved the heater to under the chaise so you have to work around the heater if you want to do something else in this space.

couch

We also replaced the stock sofa with a better made and in our opinion better looking sofa.

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Love the king sized bed and bookshelves on each side. The mirrored closet is large. We replaced the stock mattress with a higher quality and more comfortable memory foam mattress. (Note this is an older photo. We also replaced the curtains with patterned black out curtains and got rid of the bedspread. It was thin and scratchy.)

office

In the master bedroom we also built a custom work space with a slide out keyboard tray. Desk could easily be removed and the space could be used for a washer and dryer (the white box are the hookups) or storage.

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The front bathroom has a toilet, sink, tub, shower and plenty of storage.

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The second bedroom has two beds, lots of storage, 2nd half bath, and television.

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We removed the sofa from under the right bed and built more storage and a desk. The storage and desk could easily be removed and converted to a bunk bed and a fourth trundle bed could be added. (That is an option on the Gateways.)

Half-Bath

The half bath has a rear entry door and more storage.

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The solar is great for boondocking and saving money on camp fees without sacrificing comfort. The 600 watts and extra batteries are enough to keep the residential fridge going indefinitely and devices charged.

Here is a list of all the specifications and upgrades.

UPGRADES Heartland Gateway 3650bh

600 W solar with expanded battery bay (six 6-watt golf cart batteries)
Memory foam KING bed (we replaced the stock mattress with a better one)
Residential fridge
JT Strong Arm stabilizing jacks
Replaced the factory tires with higher quality Greenball Towmaster tires (less than a year ago).
Custom curtains (black out curtains in bedrooms)
Newer couch (the stock couch was ugly and falling apart)
Replaced the uncomfortable lounge with 2 arm chairs
Shelves in cabinets (they come as big open cabinets without shelving)

INTERIOR FEATURES

2 Air Conditioners
Washer/Dryer Hookups
Kitchen Dinette: Booth that makes bed
Interior Flooring Type: Carpet / Vinyl
Master Bedroom: King Bed
Number Of Bathrooms: 2 (1 full bath with tub/shower and 1 half bath)
3 Televisions (one in living room, bunkroom, and outdoor kitchen)
DVD Player

EXTERIOR FEATURES

Outdoor Speakers
Large Basement Storage Compartments
Power Awning
Power Leveling Jacks
JT Strong Arm stabilizing jacks
Exterior kitchen with fridge and TV
Outdoor shower

Heartland Gateway 3650 BH SPECIFICATIONS – (Taken from Nada Guides)

Five Slideouts
Length (ft-in / m): 41′ 0” / 12.5
Base Weight (lbs / kg): 12999 / 5896.3
Carrying Capacity (lbs / kg): 2501 / 1134.5
Hitch Weight (lbs / kg): 2020 / 916.3
2 Axles
Air Conditioning (BTUs): 28500
Heater (BTUs): 35000

HOLDING TANKS – (Taken from NADA guides)

Fresh Water Capacity (gal / L): 57 / 215.8
Gray Water Capacity (gal / L): 80 / 302.8
Black Water Capacity (gal / L): 80 / 302.8
Propane Capacity (gal / lbs): 14.2 / 60
Water Heater Tank (gal / L): 10 / 45.4

If you know anyone in the market for a used Heartland Gateway 3650bh feel free to pass this on. We’d appreciate it!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

If you enjoyed this post consider connecting with us! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook  Simple dimple!

Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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Farewell to Full Time RVing with Family

Looking in rearview mirror of the last four years of our full time RV adventures, I see a road littered with memories… The emotional up and downs of going through years…

Family on the Road in RV

Looking in rearview mirror of the last four years of our full time RV adventures, I see a road littered with memories…

PicMonkey Collage Stuff Before the Road

The emotional up and downs of going through years of stuff and young boys sorting through piles of toys pondering what to store and what to give away. Little did we know that they would outgrow them before those boxes would be opened again.

5th Wheel LOOK!

Thing 1’s face at the sight of our new (used) RV being delivered. The RV I had to decide to buy without Brent because he was too busy with work to go look at it!

Downtown Ventura

The lights of Ventura disappearing behind the mountains as we drove north on the 101 exchanging the known for the unknown.

Boys in Tree Houston

Chasing deer, catching frogs, climbing trees, skipping rocks, getting stuck in mud, and building forts.

Father Son Nakomis Beach

Collecting sharks teeth and seashells along the Gulf Coast of Florida.

Brothers at Fredericksburg National Battlefield

A trove of plastic gold Junior Ranger badges earned by once eager little boys who pinned them to their vests with pride.

Jennn Boys Couch RV

Cozy afternoons spent cuddling on the couch.

Family at Capital Washington DC

The history of our country coming to life as we visited places like Jamestown, Boston (where we were evacuated to an under ground tunnel),Philadelphia and Washington DC.

Snowboard Family Epic Mix

Our “epic” four months camping with friends and learning to snowboard in the wildly beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Hike to Delicate Arch Moab

Long and short hikes, steep and flat hikes, wet and dry hikes, hot and cold hikes…each one a stamp on my soul reminding me of the majesty of our Creator.

RV Walmart Calgarly Canada

Overnight stops in parking lots and rest areas where I forgot what was outside our RV windows because family, not a place, is home.

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Two pink lines on a white stick that turned a quiet morning after a long night along the coast of Washington upside down.

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

Searching for and finding the perfect new RV.

PicMonkey Collage pregnancy baby shower FL

A surprise baby shower thrown by a group of wonderful gypsy mamas.

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A baby boy born at home

Thing 1 Piano Alaska

The sound of Thing 1’s keyboard filling the RV.

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The 6000 mile drive from Key West to Alaska with a 6 week old baby.

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Being surrounded by the sublime wild that is Alaska.

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Pulling into campgrounds after dark and waking up to glassy lakes and mountain vistas.

remembering-nigel

A pug who made it to 49 states before giving in to his failing body and saying goodbye in Portland, Oregon.

RV 101

White knuckles and held breath while taking hairpin turns on Highway 1. (Note: don’t take Highway 1 to Fort Bragg if you are towing a 40’ fifth wheel. Take Highway 20 instead. TRUST me.)

friends

Traveling with fellow RVers and the friendships that grew.

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Big brothers bonding with with their little brother.

Snowboard Couple Epic Mix

Snowboarding dates with my love. (How I loved living in a small space with this man.)

Presque Isle Family Bikes OH

Bike rides through forests, down paths, and over desert rocks.

PicMonkey Collage friends 2 RV

The smiling faces of friends, from Washington to Florida and everywhere in between, who graciously opened up their driveways and homes so we could reconnect.

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Games of chess and family movie nights.

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A family who is now complete.

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Swimming with manatees, snorkeling, horseback rides on the beach, campfires, museums, glaciers, sunsets, battlefields, RVing at the beach, amusement parks, detours, breakdowns, gold panning, getting lost, boat rides, mountain ranges, wildlife, small towns, huge cities, a reality show episode, new friends…

I could go on and on about the places we’ve been and the things we’ve done but the last four years have not really been about places and things, they’ve been about simplicity and family.

A picture may be worth a thousand words but even that’s not enough to describe the love we have for our boys.

Brothers Jamestown Settlement VA

Our boys.

Our boys, who in four short years, became young men. Young men who tilt their heads downward to give me a kiss. Our boys who have not only grown in size but in number with the addition of Things 3 and 4.

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Our boys.

They’ve taught us so much about ourselves, sometimes more than we wanted to know. Living in an RV has been challenging at times and every so often I wondered what the hell we were doing but mostly it was amazing. We wouldn’t trade anything for these four years spent exploring the country in the RV with our boys.

There is nothing we wouldn’t do if we knew it was best for them.

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Even give up the life we love so much, our life on the road.

Soon I’ll share the details of why we have chosen to give up RVing with our family full time and later I’ll share what’s next for us but today I’m just going to remember and give thanks for the time we had on the road together.

Thank you for being part of the journey. We hope you stick around as we figure out the next chapter.

PicMonkey Collage first and last family

Love and Laughter (and tears),
Jenn and Brent

If you enjoyed this post consider connecting with us! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook  Simple dimple!

Like food and fitness? Follow along as I film a workout in every state and explore finding a healthy balance on the road at Girl Heroes!

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RVing Full Time with Kids: What homeschool (roadschool) curriculum do you use?

Any homeschooling parent knows the thrill (or dread) of choosing curriculum. Some of us feel like a kid making a Christmas list, spending hours pouring over the hundreds of choices….

Homeschooling Books2

Any homeschooling parent knows the thrill (or dread) of choosing curriculum.

Some of us feel like a kid making a Christmas list, spending hours pouring over the hundreds of choices. Others of us approach the task with terror as if the wrong curriculum will somehow land our precious ones in jail.

Choosing curriculum can be overwhelming to say the least.

For me, there used to be an underlying pressure to choose the “best” curriculum similar to researching and picking the safest car or best vacuum. (<== OCD much?) I may have traded a few months of my life researching curriculum when we first started homeschooling 6 years ago. It seemed like, if I just read every. single. review. and every thread on every homeschooling message board on the entire internet I would find that perfect curriculum and my kids would be on their way to Harvard before their 13th birthdays.

But you know what I’ve learned?

Curriculum does’t really matter all that much.

Whaaat?

Yeah, curriculum really doesn’t’ matter all that much.

Seriously. Homeschooling is about so much more than stuffing our kids with “the right” facts and formulas and meeting “standards”. Who cares if my kid goes to an Ivy League or any school for that matter if he (or me) is a punk or unhappy or sees learning as a chore.

Homeschooling is about developing character.

Homeschooling is about connecting and growing relationships with family and the community.

Homeschooling is about really getting to know your kids…the lovely and not so lovely parts.

Homeschooling about finding and nourishing strengths and addressing weaknesses.

Homeschooling is about learning to love learning.

Homeschooling is about cultivating curiosity.

Homeschooling is about learning to be a self motivated learner instead of spoon-fed.

Homeschooling is about meeting the needs of your child and your family.

Homeschooling is about so much more than curriculum.

That said, one of the questions I get asked most often is, “What curriculum do you use?”

So here it goes… Remember this is what worked for our family in each particular season of life.

Our Homeschool and Roadschool Curriculum List

(The older grade is followed by the younger grade. If only one publisher is listed it means I used it for both boys. For math and grammar I often used the same publisher but different grade levels, i.e. Level 1 and Level 4, but I only listed the one publisher.)

Year 1 – Grades 4 and 1

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After months of research, we decided we wanted to follow the Classical model of eduction. In the beginning, we were going to follow the classical model of education to a T. It would only be a few short years until my kids were reading the Odyssey in Latin. Reality check! It didn’t take long for me to realize that wasn’t going to happen. For the most part, we have stuck with the history cycle and somewhat with the stages of learning but realized we couldn’t, or rather didn’t want to, “do it all”.

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Like falling in love, our first year of homeschooling was a mix giddy excitement and weighing self-doubt.

History/English

Tapestry of Grace

Math

Singapore

Science

Apologia Elementary Series

Grammar (Thing 1 only)

Rod and Staff

Spelling (Thing 1 only)

I cannot remember what we used this year!

Phonics (Thing 2 only)

Hooked on Phonics

Explode the Code

(To this day, teaching Thing 2 to read has been of my most satisfying and rewarding experiences. I’ll never forget those mornings snuggled together on the couch listening to him slowly sound out words and watching the joy on his face when he would get them on his own. He still loves to read and we can’t keep his Kindle filled!)

Handwriting

A Reason For Handwriting

Handwriting without Tears

Co-op

We also joined a homeschool co-op this year and took a mix of classes to compliment what we were learning at home.

Year 2 – Grades 5 and 2

PicMonkey Collage Beacon Hill CA

Our second year of homeschooling, we enrolled the boys in a new a hybrid classical school. It was a fantastic year blending the best of both worlds. The boys were home with us four days a week and went to school three days a week. They got the benefits of a classroom setting, like positive peer pressure (and a teacher who could keep up with Latin) and I got a break. Since I didn’t need to create schedules, choose curriculum, and find social opportunities our homeschool days were even more relaxed. The one thing I would have changed about this year was math. At the time, the school used Saxton which turned out to be a poor fit for both boys. Not only was it boring but it was less advanced than their previous curriculum. When we went back to homeschooling the following year we had to go back a year in Singapore.

Year 3 – Grades 6 and 3

English Ship Replicas Jamestown Settlement Jamestown Settlement Armor

Year 3 was our first year of roadschooling. Like watching a 3D movie for the first time, this was the year where learning came to life as we visited battlefields, swam with manatees, explored cities, experienced caves, imagined life as an American colonial , hiked mountains, stayed on a farm, canoed with alligators, and experienced more in one year than many people experience in a lifetime.

Thing One Port CharlotteFamily Statue of Liberty NYC

We started with the curriculum below but after about six months gave “unschooling” a try before going back to a more scheduled approach. I’m glad we tried unschooling but it didn’t work for us at that point in our lives or perhaps I just didn’t give it time. Another post all together. After our failed unschooling attempt, I added an additional writing program because I wasn’t thrilled with Sonlight or Rod and Staff’s writing components.

Stocks Williamsburg VA

I should add that although we do subjects like spelling and grammar, I consider them “throw away” subjects. (Don’t hate, you grammar Nazis.)  We do enough to understand the concepts but we don’t waste time with unnecessary drilling and extra practice. We would rather the boys spend the time reading or exploring.

Thing 2 Cannon Chickamauga GA

This year we also abandoned book science and took a hands on approach by taking advantage of our travels to national parks and museums. The boys earned over 50 Junior Ranger badges that year. It was also an amazing year for history as we read books like Johnny Tremain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Moccasin Trail and then visited the places in the stories.

Family at Capital Washington DC

History/English

Sonlight

Math

Singapore

Science

National Park Tour, Junior Ranger Programs, and many museums

Grammar

Rod and Staff

Handwriting

Handwriting without Tears (Thing 2 only)

Spelling

Phonetic Zoo by Institute for Excellence in Writing

Writing

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Year 4 – Grades 7 and 4

Junior Rangers Olympic NP WA 1

Our second year of roadschooling was similar to our first year as we continued to explore the United States with the exception of Thing 1’s work. His work was more challenging than the previous year and we began to do some testing. I did not do standardized testing but subject testing so he would learn test taking skills should he need them later down the road. 

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After many years of Singapore math I realized I couldn’t keep up with Thing 1 so began the search for a new math curriculum that required less parental involvement. We tried the Art of Problem Solving which would be amazing for the right kind of kid. It was a horrible fit for us. After a few more weeks of research, I narrowed math down to Math-U-See, Teaching Textbooks, and Life of Fred. Thing 1 looked them over and chose which one he wanted to study. He chose Life of Fred and after two years I can’t say enough good things about it. (The Kahn Academy was used as a supplemental resource for extra practice when needed and not as a stand-alone program.)

Family by Yelllowstone Sign

We decided to start Latin this year but abandoned it about 6 months later. 

Noah and the boys Breck Ski School

A huge highlight of the year was four months in snowboard school at Breckinridge Ski Resort where the boys went from falling down the mountain to riding black diamonds.

History/English

Sonlight

Math

Life of Fred

Singapore

Kahn Academy (Thing 1 and 2)

Science

Apologia General Science

Apologia Elementary Series

Grammar

Rod and Staff

Writing

Institute of Excellence in Writing

Handwriting

Handwriting without Tears (Thing 2)

Spelling

Phonetic Zoo by Institute for Excellence in Writing (Thing 2)

Latin

Getting Started with Latin

Year 5 – Grades 8 and 5

Family 2 Denali The Mountain Alaska

 

Thing 2 Glacier Cruise AlaskaThing 1 Exit Glacier Alaska

The focus for our third year of roadschooling was preparing Thing 1 for high school level work and continue to make learning as fun as possible for Thing 2. Of course, as we traveled we continued to learn through experiences.

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The highlight of our travels this year was visiting our 49th state, Alaska! During the long drive through Canada and Alaska, we listened to many audiobooks like Call of the Wild, White Fang, Hatchet, and Jason’s Gold as we drove through and visited many of the places in the stories. Thing 2 also developed a fascination with gold panning so he spent many hours reading about gold panning and then gave it a try himself near Girdwood and Chicken, Alaska. Roadschooling at its best!!!

History/English

Story of the World

A Variety of Historical Fiction

(I picked books based on the time period we were studying or the places we visited.)

Math

Life of Fred

Singapore

Kahn (Thing 1 and 2)

Science

Apologia Physical Science

Apologia Elementary Series

Grammar

Rod and Staff

Spelling

Phonetic Zoo by Institute for Excellence in Writing (Thing 2 only)

Year 6 – Grades 9 and 6

I can’t believe I’m a mother of a high schooler and we’ve been on this homeschooling journey for six years!

Thing 1 Eagle Falls Tahoe CA

Our fourth year of roadschooling has been a big year for Thing 1. Per his request he wanted a challenging curriculum because wanted to make sure he is “keeping up with school kids”. It has been a struggle for me because, frankly, I see much (not all) of traditional school as a lot of nonsense and wasted time. While we’ve kept up with the core subjects, we’ve allowed plenty of room for freedom to explore, create, and have avoided traditional textbooks and boring assignments. Brent and I have encouraged the boys to think out of box and question the status quo.

Telescopes Egle Bay CA

However, Thing 1 is getting older and we wanted to respect his desire for a more traditional course of study. He has expressed that he wants to go to college and hopefully receive some scholarship money. That means “the game” of test scores and graduation requirements needs to be played to a certain extent. We know there are untraditional ways to gain entrance into college and receive scholarships but we do want to keep as many paths open as possible for him.

Reluctantly, we arranged his course of study to meet traditional future college entrance requirements and enrolled him in a virtual school for a few classes. It was tough transition. First, it was our first experience with the Common Core math standards. As you know, I question any sort of blanket “standards” and the status quo. However, after a year I think the new standards are beneficial in helping kids gain a true understanding of math instead of relying on memorizing formulas. The virtual school math has also been very challenging because, although he has a teacher he “can” go to with questions, he has been responsible for learning the concepts himself and he has had to be accountable to someone other than me. A good thing! For the most part, it has been a valuable experience as he has learned the hard way to manage his time and seek out resources on his own to help him understand concepts. (Unfortunately, his algebra teacher were less than helpful.)

Brothers Snowboard RV 3 CO

As for Thing 2, the goal has continued to be keep learning as fun and interesting as possible. He reads, reads, and reads. He isn’t crazy about math but I’ve insisted that he keep up with “requirements” because math is one subject that is hard to catch up should we decide to stop homeschooling. He, too, enrolled in a virtual school math class and also received an A both semesters. The biggest change for him was more independent learning. The previous 5 years I was more hands on but with Thing 3 in the picture it became increasingly difficult. Thing 2 really stepped up and took initiative to complete assignments on his own.

History/English/Bible

My Father’s World Ancient History and Literature

Mystery of History

Math

Florida Virtual School – Honors Algebra and 6th grade math

Kahn

Science

Tried Florida Virtual School but switched to Apologia Biology

Finished the Apologia Elementary Series
(Thing 2 read every book over the years except Chemistry.)

Grammar

Rod and Staff (Thing 2 only)

Intro to Technology

Florida Virtual School (Thing 1)

Honors Web Design

Florida Virtual School (Thing 1)

Guitar

Florida Virtual School (Thing 2)

So there it is…our curriculum choices over the last 6 years. 

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How I miss our early years of cuddling on the couch while reading stories about pharaohs and pioneers. Even though I tried to be intentional and savor the moments with them, it has all gone by too fast. I wouldn’t trade our early years of homeschooling or the adventures of road schooling for anything. The only thing I would do differently is start homeschooling sooner and not worry so much about picking “the right” curriculum in the beginning because homeschooling is about so much more!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Not All Birds Fly South: RVing in Lake Tahoe

Two and a half years ago if you would have asked me where I wanted to spend winter, I would have quickly said Florida, Southern California, or Arizona. Then I…

Two and a half years ago if you would have asked me where I wanted to spend winter, I would have quickly said Florida, Southern California, or Arizona. Then I spent a winter up in the in the mountains of Colorado and fell in love. Fell in love with snowboarding, the beauty of snowcapped mountains, the coziness of the RV, and, mostly, watching the boys passion and joy for snowboarding take off.

We spent last year in Florida waiting for Thing 3 to arrive. This year we were anxious to get back to mountains and prepared for a three part “Not All Birds Fly South” winter adventure.

IMG_2750PicMonkey Collage Tahoe Hike CA

Lake Tahoe, the second deepest lake in the United States, was the first stop of three.

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new years eve 2015 tahoe ca

Being the exciting adventures we are, we kicked off the New Year with a family game about American history and a bottle sparkling cider. The questions were so hard and the facts so obscure that we could only answer a few of them. I think we’ll stick with Uno. It’s easier and takes up less space.

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Processed with VSCOcam with c3 preset

Thing 1 2 Chairlift Tahoe CA

The boys were excited to explore the different ski resorts using our Epic Passes. They were also excited to be old enough to be dropped off at the mountain after school. This is what I’d call a fun way to get in PE!

PicMonkey Collage Garrett engaged

 

Brent’s brother, Garret, and his girlfriend, Kelly, came up for a few days. The boys and Brent went riding with them one day and Garret asked Kelly to marry him on top of the mountain. Classic “Go big or go home” Garret style.

rv tahoe ca rv tahoe valley campground ca

We had high hopes for lots of snow but no such luck. Aside from the night we drove in (of course!), the temperatures were unseasonably warm and not a single storm passed through during our two week stay.

Brent Thing 3 Tahoe Hike CA

With the warm weather winter hiking was extra fun. One evening, Brent and I hiked a bit on the Tahoe Rim Trail with Thing 3.

PicMonkey Collage Emerald Bay CA

Brent THing 3 Hike Eagle Falls CA

 

Thing 1 Eagle Falls CA

We enjoyed a family hike on Eagle Falls trail. The older boys complained at first, as is customary, but once we were on the trail they went up ahead of us and seemingly forgot we were watching them. It was pure joy seeing them talk and laugh together. These are the moments I wish I could tattoo on my heart.

Thing 1 Eagle Falls Tahoe CA

This guy’s smile has been melting my heart since 2000.

PicMonkey Collage Eagle Falls Hike CA IMG_2011

Truckee CA PicMonkey Collage Truckee CA

We spent and afternoon in Truckee meeting up and having pizza with an old college friend of mine.

Donner Lake CA1

Emigrant Musuem Truckee CA

PicMonkey Collage

After walking downtown Truckee, we headed over Donner Memorial State Park to learn about the Donner Party tragedy because, admit it, learning about people resorting to cannibalism to survive is fascinating.

Brent Thing 3 Instagram IG Lake Tahoe CA

It was a good two weeks and as much as we enjoy the snow, I have to admit I’d kinda like to see Tahoe in the summer and maybe we could swim in instead of walk on the lake!

Lake Tahoe at a Glance:

Where We Stayed:

RV Tahoe Valley CA

  • Tahoe Valley Campground–  The park was quiet (maybe because it’s off season), clean, and a great location within walking distance from stores and restaurants. It was about a 15 minutes drive to Heavenly Ski Resort.

The Highlights:

  • Snowboarding at Heavenly Ski Resort
  • Hiking Eagle Falls Trail in Emerald Bay State Park
  • Donner Memorial State Park
  • Downtown Truckee
  • Driving around the lake for the gorgeous views.

Where We Ate:

  • Best Pies Pizzaria in Truckee – We had the Best Pies Signature Pie and Pizzadilla. Both were really really good! The Pizzadilla is folded up like a quesadilla.
  • Blue Dog Pizza in South Lake Tahoe – I guess we like pizza. Not particularly memorable but certainly good.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Always Time for Thing 3 – Week 12

So mommy got very busy while we were traveling to Alaska and writing for Go RVing. She didn’t have much extra time to write this blog but she’s going to…

So mommy got very busy while we were traveling to Alaska and writing for Go RVing. She didn’t have much extra time to write this blog but she’s going to do her best to catch up now that we are back in the “slow lane”.

Napping Daddy Week 12 Thing 3

Napping with Mommy Thing 3 Week 12

Mommy and daddy may have been busy planning, working, and writing but they were never to busy to take naps with me on the couch.

Dabby and Thing 3 MN

Sometimes daddy even holds me for a little bit while he works. I’m so lucky to have my daddy around all the time.

Meeting Jordan Week 12

After Madison, we went to Minneapolis so I could meet my Uncle Jordan and my cousin.

Odells Week 12

Then we headed north to spend some time with our good friends the O’Dells. My family met them before I was born when they were camping in Savannah, Georgia a few years ago. They’ve been good friends since. They even stayed with my family in the RV in Breckenridge, Colorado!

Family Itasca MN

I visited the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Brent Baby Nomad East Grand Forks MN

There were rest stops and cuddles.

Dad boys Grand Forks ND

We stopped in Grand Forks where I heard my first fireworks.

Baby Nomads 1st 4th of July MN Thing 3 1st 4th Jully MN

Boy those are loud. I’m glad I was in my “kangaroo pouch” on mommy!

North Dakota Week 12 Thing 3

It’s been 12 week since I was born and I’ve already made it to the Geographical Center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota. After this stop I don’t know how anything else will impress me. 😉

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Thing 3 on “Being Cute” – Week 9

Wow, I’m over two months old! Time flies when you are having fun. See how much fun I’m having with my big brother. Oh what’s that? You wanted me to…

Thing 3 Collage Week 9Wow, I’m over two months old!

Time flies when you are having fun.

Thing 2 and  3 Funny Nashville TN

See how much fun I’m having with my big brother.
Oh what’s that?
You wanted me to look at that big black thing you always have in my face?

Thing 3 Bite Lip Nashville TN

Fine, I’ll look.

Thing Three Outside Nashville TN

But just for a minute because that blank sky is much more interesting than you.

 Thing 3 Smile Nashville TN

What do you think of these spit bubbles?
Of course, you think they are cute.
You think anything I do is cute!

 Thing 3 Playing Nashville TN

How cute is this!
I brought my hands near my cheeks.

Thing 3 Camping Nashville TN

And this!
I’m lifting my head even though it’s weighs almost as much as the rest of my body.

Thing 3 in the Drivers Seat week 9

You thought you were being cute when you sat me in the driver’s seat, didn’t you?
Well, I didn’t.

Thing 3 Sleeping Week 9

You think I’m so cute you stare at me even when I’m sleeping.
Wait until 3 a.m.!

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You thought it was cute when I met my uncle for the first time.

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Apparently, my mom and aunt thought it would be cute to do a selfie with me.
How about these cheeks?
Are these cute enough for you?

 Thing 3 Collage Week 9

And this?
Well…this is pretty cute I must admit.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Midnight Whispers, Thing 3 Week 7

Dear Thing 3, Once in a while and every so often you may hear a mysterious whisper. A whisper that speaks more to your heart than to your mind. A…

Dear Thing 3,

Once in a while and every so often you may hear a mysterious whisper. A whisper that speaks more to your heart than to your mind. A whisper so soft yet so loud. The other night in the wee morning hours as I held your little body close to mine, I heard such a whisper and this is what it said.

“He is the answer to prayers you didn’t know you had.”

Then I squeezed you gently, gave you a little kiss on the head, and said a prayer of thanks for your life to the One who whispers.

Romans 8:26-28

Mommy and me week 7

Thing 3 week 7

big eyes thing 3 week 7

Peace love veggie grease week 7

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Thing 3 in the Keys – Week 6

This week I got my first taste of life on the road when we went down to the Florida Keys. We stayed right on the beach and I would get…

This week I got my first taste of life on the road when we went down to the Florida Keys.

Thing 3 Bench Key West FL

Rock a bye baby week 6We stayed right on the beach and I would get rocked to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico.Beach with Mama Week 6Jenn Thing 3 Key West FL

We went to the beach in Key West too.

southernmost Point Key West FL

I went to the Southernmost Point and waited in a long line in the hot sun to get my picture taken next to a big hunk of painted cement. I can tell life on earth is going to be weird.

Brent and Thing 3 Keys Fl

Thing 3 first sunset week 6
I saw my first ocean sunset. That was cool!

Walk with brother week 6

walk with mama week 6

I went on lots of walks.

 natural baby week 6

Little whale suit week 6

I also lay around a lot too.

Meow Cow Thing 3 Week 6

I even cuddled with Meow Cow. I think he is getting used to me.

Thing 1 3 Week 6

I hung out with my big big brother on his bed. I accidentally peed on him again. Oooops!

Window Week 6

My big brother likes to show me the world.

Kiss Thing 3 Wk 6

I’m not sure how I feel about all this “selfies”.Selfie Thing 2 3 week 6

 I guess they are okay.Cuties thing 3 week 6 black and white week 6 All natural baby week 6

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Thing 3, Road-Warrior Training Begins – Week 5

This week started off with an unplanned stop at the shopping mall. My parents were looking for a particular restaurant but didn’t  realize it was in the mall. Everyone was…

This week started off with an unplanned stop at the shopping mall.

Heading into Shopping mall week 5

My parents were looking for a particular restaurant but didn’t  realize it was in the mall. Everyone was too tired and cranky to find something else so we went in. The funny thing was the restaurant had closed. Guess that’s what happens when you trust those little rectangle boxes that my parents seem to think contain the voice of God or something. Ridiculous.

Thing 3 shopping mall week 5

Anyway I wasn’t fond the shopping mall. I couldn’t sleep.

Thing 3 shopping mall can't sleep week 5

I already have a hard time settling down in the evening and this place just made it worse.

chilling with mommy thing 3 week 5

It’s nothing like the peace and quiet of mommy’s arms.

Thing 3 Dr Appt Week 5

I also had a doctor’s appointment. Not crazy about those either but I’m growing a lot.

Thing 3 Passport Card WK 5

I also got my passport card although I don’t remember it at all.

Thing 2 and Thing 3 Week 5 FL

Every morning my big brother comes out to cuddle me. We all lay around with mommy for about 30 minutes. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

First Road Trip Thing 3 FL

Last but not least, I began my road-warrior training. I have some pretty cool mentors. Our first trip went really well. I’ll have to tell you about it next week.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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