Crabbing and Pony Rides

Today, we all went crabbing-and no one is allowed to be "crabb-Y" (which is not typically the case but I couldn't resist the pun:)

Not sure we can officially call this crabbing since they are not big enough to eat but they sure are fun to catch! 

We got back to the campground just in time for the pony ride. 

Hudson Valley (New York)

Last week we enjoyed spending time at the foot of the Catskill Mountains and in the beauty of the Hudson River Valley.  

Crossing of the Hudson.. 

We spent most of the day at the FDR estate where Franklin D Roosevelt was born, raised his own family and was buried.  On the way over however we had to stop in New Paltz for a true New York Bagel with the most amazing cream cheese EVER!  We also stopped along some beautiful road side overlooks and trails.

This sculpture is a cut out of the Berlin Wall.  

Speaking of freedom from fear… here is a scripture I read just that morning and this was fresh in my mind… 

Anytime FDR had to make a major decision during WWII, we would come back home.  Something amazing standing in front of his home knowing that so many major world events were decided here. 

Outside his home is the rose garden where he was buried.  We spent a lot of time here "smelling the roses".  They reminded me of my Grandma's house growing up. 

This is the backyard of the Vanderbilt mansion just down the road.  

This was the other scripture I just read that morning… I love how God daily connects His Word with everyday life! 

We've been on an electronic "fast" for quite a few days, taking break to delve into old-fashioned fun and family unity. So here is a picture of the youngest three at a pond near the RV.  They spent nearly the entire day there building water villages, docks, miniature people fishing etc.. all out of things they found on the ground (bark, sticks, rocks etc… ).  While they came home really muddy, it was such a normal thing for three boys to enjoy! 

Snapshots of Spring 2015

It's been some time since I've posted anything here, so, even though it's a few days past the official beginning of summer,  I'm just going to give a quick sketch of where we've been this past spring...

In March, after a few months staying at Wagonmaster RV Park in Sanger, TX, we washed down our outdoor stuff, packed it all up and said "see you later"  to all two legged and four legged friends there.  At one point we thought we might settle down near DFW, (so we were headed back to Iowa to get our storage unit in order) but realized later when we got there, God had some other plans for us.  How many times have I said that?

Here is Carissa playing piano before we packed it up.  I taught piano for 15 years… my how my standards how been altered!! 

Traveling through Oklahoma

On the way back to Iowa we made a couple stops near Carthage, MO.  The George Washington Carver National Monument was truly one of the most fascinating National Monuments we've been to.  We know the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, (we've lived and breathed it for the past 3 years on the road) but it's so awesome  to see this lived out in the life of a prominent figure.  Every quote in this exhibit gave all Glory to God.  GWC struggled to get a proper education because he was black, but early in his life he found Christ and he knew that because God created everything in nature, He could certainly teach him anything he needed to know about how nature fits together.  His laboratory  was not in a building but in his daily walks in the woods with God.  His love for people was remarkable. 

Later when we were visiting my parents in Traer, IA my 8th grade teacher from long ago,  gave us a tour of the Historical Museum there. The kids quickly recognized the picture of George Washington Carver and learned that he was a friend of Tama Jim Wilson, the secretary of Agriculture under Woodrow Wilson.  He used to come to Traer to stay with him.  One of the quotes of GWC in the Carthage Monument talked about how education is not the filling of facts but rather piecing together the relationship between the facts.  This was a case in point. 

We also visited the Precious Moments Chapel.  Such a peaceful place. 


A thought for when the kids are grown

So we got to Iowa, and had the goal of cutting our storage unit- basically in half.   It's so nice to live "out of site.. out of mind".  But we still chip away at it and keep reducing every time we go back.  It took a lot of team effort but we did it and moved our stuff to a unit half the size.

It's always fun to find a few treasures of the past.   Jay is looking at his old Hawkeye scrapbook. 

Filing music

Building our new unit


Then we went to help my parents work on cleaning their house out before putting it on the market.  They have done really well cleaning out but there are still some treasures to be found. 

Old spools make great marionettes!

Anyone remember these stained glass kits?  We put them in the oven and had to fumigate the house afterwards.  I'm sure they've made the non-toxic version since the 70s. 

Philip finds an old mower tractor to tinker with. 

Helping Grandpa put away the snow fences. 

Jay made it just in time to watch the Basketball Finals.  We have been TV- free for the past 13 years and LOVE IT but occasionally it is fun to be able to tune in to a game or two. 

Hawkeye baseball team had a great year and Nana took us to see one of the games. 

Jay is a crazy Iowa Hawkeye fan.  He went to the spring game with Nana and enjoyed it immensely. 

He even made up his own spring game for our family (which he did last year too). 

Stephen does not yet  know it is illegal to tackle by hitting with a baseball bat. 

Players are also the halftime entertainment

Johnny opening with the Star Spangled Banner

The spring game players

The boys (and cousins) had so much fun at the spring airsoft war in the 100 acre wood of our friends Ernie and Mindy.  They are already strategizing how to get back to Iowa again next spring. 

Stephen painting his fort in Nana and Papa's woods

Stephen wanted to make sure we had Christmas in the woods before we left

Carissa making jewelry with Nana's friends from China.  We also went to an International Women's Club event featuring food and exhibits from various countries.  It was fascinating for the kids to talk with many of the women there. 

The magician

We got to celebrate our friend, Lark's golden birthday with her. Carissa gave her a gold scarf that she made. 

Watching a tree being removed from the yard. 

A trip to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.  Here we gleaned a lot of interesting facts from this real blacksmith. 

Our family enjoyed celebrating Easter with a Seder Meal, which is so rich in foreshadowing the promised Messiah. 

Philip celebrating his birthday on the same day as his good friend Jeremiah.  We had such a wonderful time with our dear friends the Kerns! 

Philip (and his cousin Caleb) also got surprised with a party at the cousins house and our friends the Atkisons also were able to join us which made it all the sweeter! 

Well- I might get in trouble for putting this picture on, but my parents are good sports.  


The kids and the big rooster

My dad decided it was time to auction off the 530 John Deere.  While being a sentimental sort of day, it was fun to see him with grandchildren as well as hanging out, talking with the farmers.  Something he loves to do.

As my parents move toward getting the house on the market, we are keeping flowers and other things in the family.  Here is the transfer of the rhubarb to Nana and Papa's house. 

Cousins and Iowa City neighbor friends, Margaret and Helen. 

Saying "see you later" again… 

Enjoying one last (possibly) sunset over the acreage I grew up on.  Many evenings through the years, we sat out there and either looked at the sunset or the stars.  

We moved on to the Chicago area and spent precious time with the Fry's and the Burkharts.  We have the most incredible friends who we thank God for all the time! 

I know I don't mention it much but we do have school year round.  We had taken time off to work on the storage unit so now we are back at it.  We try to do a nature walk once a week, wherever we are.  The kids have journals and they sketch something they are unfamiliar with.  They then look it up and record the common and scientific names.  Since we move around so much, it's a great way to see how ecosystems are different in various areas of the country.  We all look forward to this time. 

Time on the  Michigan coast at Lake Michigan

While near Wilmington, OH, we discovered there was an alpaca farm nearby!  The kids missed the alpacas so much down in TX.  A special thanks to Kim KB Alpaca Farm for letting us come over for an afternoon and enjoy her babies! 

And speaking of Alpacas… Do you want to know what this baby alpaca's (cria's) name is… Knabe Kid!  Born on Easter of this year.  Janet and Ken at Wagonmaster named him after the kids.  We can't wait to meet him but here is a picture of a good friend of ours, Gage, feeding him during a recent stay there. 

And here is David's special friend, Kerney whom he played with in Texas nearly every day.  He was surprised to run into them again in Michigan and this wonderful dog still remembered him! 

We've met and reconnected with so many special people on this journey of life.  Really, in the end, isn't that that the only thing that is lasting?  Here are some of the precious people God has given us the honor the know. 

We had the privilege to spend time with Ron, sharing stories of God's incredible greatness and healing in people's lives.  His life is a beautiful reflection of Christ's love. 

These are our friends the Bowsers,  whom we met a couple years ago in Ohio and we had a wonderful time encouraging one another in the faith and making many fun memories.  

We were so blessed by our new friends Bianca, Guy, Gordon and Lillian!!

Sweet time with our family friend Elaine, whom James and I stayed with once as we moved from Iowa to New York 23 years ago.  We had not seen her since and it was such sweet time catching up. 

Our campground neighbors near Cleveland and their birds.  

A week of fun with our great friends, the Mann's… fishing, playing, celebrating birthday and enjoying time together. 

David's 10th birthday

Our second great lake in a month.  Lake Erie

Prepping to head out again.  Philip hooking up the car on the tow unit.  

Following the Clouds 

Good Friends and Fun at Cedar Creek Lake

Recently we had a wonderful three days with our dear friends at their lake house south of Dallas.  They also travel full time and we met them at the Thousand Trails campground near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky a couple years ago.  They have just put this beautiful home up for sale (fully furnished!) so if anyone is interested taking a closer look, leave a comment and we can get you more information.

I stayed in the guest bedroom and this was my view in the morning. 

Texas has had a lot of rain and snow recently so the water levels are much higher now.  Philip spent some time out on the dock fishing.

Our nights were spent playing games and laughing late into the night.  Because it was daylight savings time, the kids like to tell people how they got to stay up until 1:30am.

Lunch at one of our new favorite restaurants... Taco Casa.

Great place for exploring and building bridges with old boards. 

Ice cream social in the treehouse...


Until we met up again....

This picture does not do justice but is more of a memory than a work of art.  The full moon shining on the lake.

Texas Winter

The kiddos couldn't be happier to finally have a snow "storm" to play in here in Texas.  Don't laugh Midwest and Boston friends.  I do miss having a place for wet gear though.

Hoping to build a snowman tomorrow but I'm sure it will be melted by noon.  

Wagonmaster RV and Alpaca Farm

I don't often write campground reviews, but once in awhile, we find a place were things are just right, folks are extra friendly and a word must be spoken.  This fall and winter, we've been staying at the Wagonmaster RV Park in Sanger, TX.  You can check out their website HERE. To all of many our traveling friends out there.. you MUST spend some time here, especially if you love  big Texas sunsets, open breezes,  a down home western feel,  lots of roomy sites, excellent management, very friendly folks, no traffic noise while at the same time being less than a mile from interstate 35, quick access to anything you need including Camping World and propane (which can be delivered), fair priced  laundry  and my favorite part… being on an ALPACA ranch to boot!!  Need I say more?

You see, James is a city guy and I'm a country girl.  With that, comes children who love the city and the country.  Here it's the best of both worlds.  We are not too far from Dallas/FortWorth but yet we feel like we are in the country.  When we first started out two and a half years ago, we often looked for campgrounds with lots of activities for kids, a playground etc.. Quite quickly we learned that lots of activities interrupt our school goals and we are now more likely to look for places with something different and interesting.  This has been it.  Ken and Janet, the owners of the campground are fantastic.  They bought the grounds (as a fixer upper) a few short years ago and have done continual improvements since.  Even in the three months we have been here there there has been a new extension added and there are plans in place for other improvements.  

So here is a snapshot Wagonmaster…. 

Big Beautiful Texas Sunsets (I know you can see the sunset anywhere, but we are perched a bit up on a hill here and it seems you can see forever). 

At 4:30 everyday, you can meet Janet at the front gate and anyone can come and feed the alpacas.  She will tell you all kinds of interesting facts and stories.   They are fascinating and curious animals and very easy to love.  They have all sorts of personalities and stories… as we all do. Most of the time when we are driving in or driving out of the campground, we have to pull over and watch the alpacas.  The kids know all of their personalities and enjoy watching the little ones bounce around on each other.  Alpacas have scooping teeth in the front and chew in the back so you don't have to worry about them biting.  Might tickle a little bit.  

I took these pictures the first time we went out there.  I didn't realize that still three months later, the kids would be begging to get home in time for alpaca feeding each day.  

Janet and Ken have allowed the children to be very involved with the alpacas.  Here, they (and many other people) got to see the birth of a cria (baby alpaca- comes from "creation").  

Sort of cute here… 



This is Honey Money.  Short nose and golden, soft color and a sweet personality. She seems to always have a smile.   Honey Money's Grandfather is Kirwin, who is a very famous champion alpaca from Colorado.  Their fleece is very valuable.  

We didn't see the birth of the next cria (since he was born early in the morning), but this black one is named Johnny Cash. 

The white one in this picture is named Journey.  Journey is only a few months old and considered a yearling.  They have been helping her get used to wearing a halter.

This is one of the guard dogs, Clarabel… doing what she should not… jumping on the fence.  She is still quite young and in training.  When we first came, she was being trained by the older dog, Gus.  If she jumped on us, Gus would bark at her and she would stop.  They now have a wifi system in the fence so both Gus and Clarabel hear a clicking if they get to close to the fence.  These dogs can apparently fight off a whole pack of wolves, since they have 3 layers in their neck to protect them.  In case of danger they will back the alpacas together and defend them  in a ring.  

Did I mention the beautiful sunsets here?

Johnny looking at Honey Money

The older kids adore Journey!

Here is Texas Steele.  The children even got to help in the breeding process.  Here, Philip is bringing Steele (the male) into the pen.  The pregnancy test for alpacas…spitting. :)   If the female spits at the male the next time they are together, she is pregnant.  We are loving all the built in science lessons!   It looks like Emily and Kismet, the mothers of Honey Money and Johnny Cash are pregnant again!  Kids say that the spit smells pretty gross.  But alpacas don't spit much- only when they are really mad…and pregnant.

Something else Wagonmaster has offered that we have have not had elsewhere, are opportunities for the children to earn some cash and put in work... sense of contribution to the community we are in.  Since we came in the fall, there are many horse apple (osage oranges) trees shedding their fruit.  LOTS!  The kids earned 2 cents per apple for picking them up and have done various other  jobs around the grounds.  Considering how many horse apples there were, 2 cents per apple was nothing to sneeze at!   Speaking of built in science lessons, we are learning some interesting facts about horse apples too.  They are known for their ability to repel pests of all sorts.  There is a guy who lives down the road doing research on the many uses for them including pesticides and using the enzymes for many medical purposes.   Our family is very much into herbal remedies and natural treatments for ailments so this is fascinating. 

Another sunset...

Every month that we've been here, there has been a potluck or some type of gathering with a meal.  Here are some pictures from the Thanksgiving dinner.  Complete with all the fix ins' and served on china.  We were far from family this year, so we were so thankful to be able to gather with other travelers and the wonderful people here at Wagonmaster.  There was also a Christmas party. 

It was also Stephen's 4th birthday so there was lots of help with the singing.  

And did I mention the BIG TEXAS SKY and wonderful sunsets?

More Random Snapshots of 2014


Subway (The T)

When James used to work downtown Boston,  I would often meet him at our favorite sandwich shop… Sam Lagrassas.  We were so happy to see it was still there. 

Bromfield Pen shop at downtown crossing.  Some of the children love to write fancy and there's nothing like a fancy pen to go with that. This was one of James' favorite shops in Boston.  

We used to live just a few short blocks from Mt Auburn Cemetery… one of the most peaceful places I've ever known.  I remember taking daily walks there.  Every kind of plant and tree you could imagine and many famous people are buried there. Great place for bird watching.  You can climb up the tower in the center and see forever. And you might just even find your way out if you can figure out the map.  It's a big place and more like an arboretum.  And I always felt walking through the cemetery, a good daily reminder of the brevity of life was a good thing. 

Here is the hospital where Jay and Philip were born

The hospital I used to work at

and the grave of Paul Revere at the Granary Cemetery

And if you ever find yourself in Boston, in an alley that looks like this, you may find a few surprises on the path.

Back Bay of Boston 

This is the neighborhood we lived in when James went to New England Conservatory

Plymouth, MA- the Mayflower replica

Newport, RI

Watch out for the cliffs

Niagara Falls, NY

Our Journey along Lake Erie… 

Taking a much needed traveling break

Kenisee Lake Thousand Trails… We wish we could have stayed longer here.  We had some deadlines for traveling but hope to come through here again someday.  The management, especially Bob, was so helpful to  us when we had some mechanical issues and made a potentially unpleasant situation into a very fun day (at least for mom and the kids).  Thanks to John and Carlene as well!  The whole campground was just gorgeous!  Lots to do. 

Such a gentleman!

The kids liked the fish cleaning station up on the hill which had a pipe to sweep the guts down the hill, back into the water. 

The Mini Golf Judges

Our house being towed away…. 

Daily Life

A homemade game (David made up) of RV Monopoly, complete with Thousand Trails Campground properties, Various RV models and chance/community chest cards with all sorts of money making opportunities and bumps in the road. 

Beautiful sanctuary spots we find at campgrounds along the way… 

Our Kitchen (we cook outside a lot when we can)

New England- Summer 2014

LL Bean in Freeport, ME.  I cropped out the sign next to it which said "Do not climb on boot".  We saw that after the fact… really. 

A New England Delicacy…. Fluffernutters

Lots of Tent Camping

Foxborough Stadium for the die hard Patriots fans of the family

Reconnecting with lots of friends from New England, where we lived for a number of years!  Brian and Pam, Robinson and Linda, Jeff and Robin, Darlene, Tracy, Dana, Lynn, Kaja and all the wonderful playmates the children met, Bob, Tom and the familiar faces at Grace Chapel.  We look forward to next time with come through! 

Meeting new friends on the road

RV Homeschoolers meet-up at Moody Beach, ME

Above Photo by Marissa Mann

These are all families that, just like us,  have left the sticks and bricks life and travel full time in RVs. 

Evening at Footbridge Beach, Oqunquit, ME

Thumb Wresting Tournament- (A very serious sport!),  Rock/paper/scissors tournament, geocaching, crocheting recycled t-shirts, girls and dolls, making "Blueberrries for Sal", sign language class

Scavenger Hunt, daily kickball and basketball, father/son football, water dodgeball

A perfect day at Ogunquit Beach with RV Homechoolers Group. As I was looking through the many pictures I took of this shot, I  noticed for the first time the photo bombing scuba diver in this particular one.   

Building sand castles, flying kites at low tide, water boarding puddles

Big Lobster Boil night

Lots of great kids and lifetime friends

Hiking up Mount Agamenticus.  It's right outside Ogunquit.  It's an easy hike (even younger ones could do it) but gorgeous views at the top.  You can see the white mountains of NH, mountains in VT, Cape Ann to the south, up the Maine coast and of course the ocean.  

Fourth of July Celebration

Family time at windy Wells beach

Nubble Light House

And one of the my favorite memories…when Philip and I when to the beach at 4:30 am to catch a picture of the sunrise.  We were not the only photographers down there. Love, loved LOVED our time in Maine 

May 2014 Pennsylvania

Quakertown, PA

Great fishing.  Kids caught 32 fish one day and cleaned them.  Filled our freezer!

While James worked at the International Trumpet Guild Conference in King of Prussia, PA the kids and I checked out Valley Forge. 

Valley Forge Swearing in of Jr. Rangers


"Brotherly Love" in front of Independence Hall.  Tour was fascinating.

This particular park ranger was extremely knowledgeable and entertaining to the kids. 

The kids were recruited to join the army and learned how to shoot correctly.

We visited the US Mint and learned how money is made.  Pictures are not allowed inside so this is the only picture we got.

Tuckered out at the end of the day.  Stephen sleeping in front of Independence Hall.

I realize that summary did not do justice to all we learned and experienced in our country's history back in May.