Moving Into our New Home.

It’s simple. Touch every single thing you own, sort it into a new space, and relax. It’s truly amazing how the things inside the home actually make the home comfortable and friendly. Like today I hung up a few things on existing nails to test spots and couldn’t resist this sweet little flag banner that looks like a huge smile. So, our sweet home is smiling down on us. This will be the first thing the boys see when they go up to their room.

I hugged her tonight when we left for one more night in our bus. We’ve all been sick and fighting to get well again to settle down and live. We are ready to share our lives with this sweet, southern brick home. More pictures to come…



Reflecting on Bus Life.

Days seem a bit longer now. We have our house picked out, but paperwork is being drawn up so slowly. Friday seems a month away just because I know it’s coming soon but I can do nothing to speed it up. Perhaps it is exacerbated by the rain, which I am not complaining about because we need it, but it keeps us locked up.

So, perhaps now is the time to reflect on life in a bus as it will be over all too soon. Our family of four and two dogs will have lived 11 months in a 1998 Prevost bus starting in September of 2011.

These are the ten best things about living in a bus in no certain order.

1. It’s easy to clean! Less space means less time cleaning.

2. The boys have some awesome fort areas in bunks and only two toy totes.

3. I can tell people I live in a bus which always generates lively conversation.

4. Gifts have not been “things” but rather time spent together doing fun “things.”

5. I know we can live with less, because we have.

6. We got to try living in Nashville, before purchasing property and being unsure about it.

7. We have become better conservationists of water. A tank in the bus will empty rather quickly for four people.

8. When we want to travel, we literally have everything we need with us without packing.

9. Weekends have been spent together, out and about. We have had no mowing, no honey do lists.

10. We are in a small space so we are always easily together.


Flat Clay Illustrations.

The library offered a program this afternoon with clay illustrator Susan Eaddy. She was organized and inspiring. First she introduced herself and read the book aloud that she illustrated with an on-screen accompaniment. Then she showed the process of why she became a clay illustrator and how it works. Finally, she offered all the kids a chance to make a clay illustration.

What I particularly enjoyed was her enthusiasm for trial and error. She really conveyed to the children that she was happily challenged by this project. She showed them her missteps and how it all got fixed in the end. Not that anything was particularly wrong or she was ill-equipped, but rather she had a way of showing kids you grow through your project.

The boys got to try their own projects and she went around to each child pointing out their strengths. Working the clay in a flat dimension was very interesting and new. We are used to forming in 3D so this was a fun, fresh idea.



Two weeks have gone by quickly, but things are settling. Since the sale of our home on June 15 we have…

…peeled our 4-year-old off of the floor of our house just after it sold listening to his tears of “but we won’t find another house so great as this one.”

…driven four 10 hour trips to get our items moved, with a few “are we there yets?”

…slept in 2 hotel rooms and swam in one of their pools.

…blown and replaced one trailer tire.

…driven by more than 50 houses to see which would be the best for us in Nashville.

…found one:)

…met the sweet new office kitty.

…met, fed, cared for and helped a new feral kitten with neck burns and worms.

…did not miss our two home school group meet ups in the HOT and witnessed the kids have a mud fight.

…found a sweet new song by Lenka called Everything At Once, emailed my sister about it, and enjoyed her response of “sounds like your life.”

…rented out our only dwelling (our bus) and stayed at the bosses house for a week.

…lived without a computer!

…witnessed my boys get excited about their new house and play with the new neighbor.

…late night talked with my husband about where our furniture will go and how our new house will feel.

…finally picked up my knitting and gotten back to the peace of some free time and





Strawberry Picking

We went strawberry picking a few days ago and what sweetness we have been eating. At our house in Illinois we have a small patch we’ve been nurturing, but we were in Tennessee for peak season and had to indulge. You could actually smell the sugar in the air, I truly mean it. Each boy got a basket to pick. Our youngest gave up with his basket half full, but entertained himself by running up and down the aisles. I intended to make jam, but honestly, we’ve eaten them all. Next year I’ll have to can them the same day.

Illuminating Pond Critters.

We are in streams weekly between our urban and rural locations. We are very fortunate to have waterways that are open to our use and safe to cross. We will see little fish, once in a while something bigger, but recently were taught a really great way to illuminate our findings by local Nashville scientists. Want to see some pond bugs and critters? Grab a bucket, a screen, a white plastic tray and start for your waterway.

First, load your bucket about half full with the pond or stream water. Next, get out your screen. Swish back and forth in the pond or stream quickly and dump your catches into your bucket. Just empty you screen into the bucket. When you’ve done a few passes with your screen, you can start transferring from your bucket to your white plastic tray. Pull out any huge items from the bucket that will get in the way, like huge sticks or leaves and just put them back in the pond. Then slowly transfer your bug finds, little plant bits and whatever goodies to a WHITE plastic tray by pouring slowly from your bucket or using your screen. Include bugs AND plants. Now your kids can really see what lives in the pond without stirring up all of the mud from the bottom. Use wood chopsticks or dowels to slowly stir around in the tray and look for critters. When you are done, return them and try again.

My youngest could do this all day long.

Happy Earth Day From Nashville 2012

Our regular Earth Day activity is to walk up and down our country road a few days the week before Earth Day and pick up trash. The boys and I pick up cans, bottles, and wrappers while bundled up from the annual spring wind. Our youngest will sit in the wagon marked with a tall flag to alert drivers of the youngins, and our oldest will march along, run down ditches, up to the edges of the fields, reach into drainage pipes and more, scouring for trash. We recycle the aluminum cans which the boys get to keep the money from, recycled what we can, and dispose of the rest. The boys are excited by the pile of trash. Secretly my heart is sad because I know this area was cleaned last year by us. However, I know we are doing good. However, now something really amazing has happened, litter isn’t so scary.

I used to walk by trash, ignore bags, step on wrappers until we started this Earth Day tradition. Now, trash isn’t so easy to ignore. It’s just trash, accidentally blown out of someone’s car window, or not. But, all in all, it’s really just something that was purchased, used mere moments by some normal person, and then mistakenly arrived on the ground. So, I started picking up trash every time we were at the park. Who wants a yucky playground for the kids? Then in the parking lot on the way from the store to the car, it’s just a little extra bend. Now, we pick it up everywhere. We’ve done the forest clean ups, but it’s really just become part of our everyday lives. The kids see cans, we pick it up. We see a blowing napkin, we pick it up. We don’t step over the trash, we just pick it up.

We are spending this Earth Day in Nashville, and had the awesome opportunity to visit their celebration today. Would you believe we got to use trash to make art? (Hah- trash was scary, then just trash, now it’s art:) Frist Art Museum had a display out where the children would use “trash” and make an art collage. It was beautiful! Look for it at the Frist Art Museum this May.

Have a Wonderful Earth Day.




A Braided Dandelion Chain.

Today when we were walking I grabbed up a few dandelions to make a dandelion chain I saw in a book. I wasn’t very good at it and the dandelions kept ripping. So, I grabbed up three and started braiding. Success. Here is what I did:

1. Take three dandelions with the longest stems you can find and hold together as tightly as you can at the blooms. Braid the stems a couple of times.









2. Now working backwards braid up to the blooms just to tighten and get a good hold.They are bulky enough that they will hold together while you braid from here.









3. From here just gather new stems and add them in when your stem is short. Lay the bloom and stem on top of the one that is getting too short and keep braiding. Add as you go.









4. To make a crown, keep going until you have the length you like, and then slip the last of the braid in between your very first braided section. Pull until it’s tight.

Making a Rainbow Treasure Hunt.

For school group’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I put together a quick rainbow treasure hunt. You could do this any time of year, of course. The kids really enjoyed it, so I thought I’d share.

Needs: felt or felted sweaters, ribbon, dried beans, silks (Not all are mandatory, don’t skip this fun because you don’t have the right color of something, just substitute).

1. Make bean bags out of felt or felted wool sweaters. Ours were felted sweaters because I had the right scraps on hand. I just drew out a cloud shaped, stitched them together and stuffed them with dried beans. Leave the bottom open for stuffing in the beans. There is no need to flip them inside out. I sized them for children’s hands.

2. Stitch in a ribbon loop when your cloud is stuffed. When you stitch the bottom closed, include a little ribbon loop (see photo with yellow loop at bottom of cloud.)

3. Purchase and precut Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Purple ribbons. I cut them about 12″ long, so I would just use up the whole roll for the 18 clouds I made. This just depends on your needs.

4. Stuff your ribbons in your silks. Get out your silks (or just be creative here, use paper pockets, fabric pockets, whatever you have on hand) and put each pile of precut ribbons in each silk. See photo.

5. Hide. I then hid each color around our outdoor play area.

6. Draw locations on a map with colored dots and let the kid’s go hunting. When they find a color silk, they dig inside, grab one ribbon and attach it to their own cloud. They then leave the rest undisturbed and head out for the next color.

7. Assembled rainbows. When their cloud was done, they could throw it up and have a rainbow all for themselves, and I gave each child a foreign coin because all rainbows need gold.

Have fun treasure hunting.