Thursday, January 21, 2010

The ups and downs

We got back from our restful trip to beautiful Jetty Park this past weekend to head back to reality check USA. It seems that our financial situation isn't going to be quite as promising as it once was. We were hoping to be content with merely some free sites in terms of doing a bit of camphosting to keep expenses down but now it is looking like we will be needing to find paid work as unemployment runs out in a few months. We will still be heading out with a small cushion but I honestly don't expect it to last long, even with free camping...and of course you never know when that old boon of rv repairs may be knocking at your door.

Our once leisurely tour of the country will now likely be a quicker straight shot to get to the west coast. We are hoping Riki can get some sort of temporary engineering job out there through the dept of forestry, army corp of engineers or BLM lands. I've said before that even if he started with a volunteer position his personality and experience in his field would quickly warm him to a paid position. After all there were tears and hugs when he was laid off because he was a valued employee. If anything I'm afraid everyone may consider him overqualified. I hope not.

I've been dealing with some sleepless nights over all of this to be quite honest. I don't know how it will all turn out and of course uncertainty of the future is troubling to all of us as human beings. I also realize though that there are no jobs where we are now so moving forward to unknown territory is probably the best thing for us, even if it isn't as leisurely as I had initially expected. We are thinking Oregon right now. Right now we just cross our fingers and see what happens. We are still hoping to leave the state in early February and go from there, making our money stretch as far as we can for as long as we can.

I am a little frustrated about the grocery bill lately, speaking of saving money. I haven't quite figured out yet how to save money and eat healthy without being able to buy bulk or make meals that require lots of cooking time. I've been using up our stash of things like dried beans and potatoes and they take a really long time to cook on the stove which of course uses up propane...or how about casseroles that take an hour to cook? All of these use up energy. I know microwaves are quicker and more energy efficient. We do have one. They just kind of give me the heebie jeebies. I don't care for the way they cook food either. I can't buy a large container of juice because it won't fit in the fridge so I'm buying juice boxes which cost twice as much....and since we cook all of our meals at home that means more dishwashing and more emptying of the greywater tanks. So we are definitely still finding our food niche in here and trying to save money because right now that isn't panning out so well. I'm thinking a solar oven is definitely in order so I can make crockpot type of meals.

On the upside we had a much better week with homeschooling. I feel like this process has forced me to get to know Ellery's learning personality in a way I never did before as simply being a mother and not a teacher. It has been a rocky road for sure but we are figuring out our comfort zone. One day we did our main lesson in his tent outside, another day on the picnic bench...and we are enjoying watercolor painting once a week outside as well. I'm relieved about that one because our dinette really doesn't not fit the painting boards and supplies for all of us adequately. We had a lightbulb moment this week when we were doing some pictures and writing about clocks. I've noticed that he agonizes through his writing, chit chatting in between, getting distracted by what's outside, and just taking forever to write even one line.  He finally told me that I was distracting him by sitting next to him. I asked him if it would help if I left the room and he said it would. So I went in the bedroom to flip through a magazine and I kid you not, he was done with four lines of writing in less than five minutes, lol! We did this again today and it worked. Hey, if I can get some dishes and other chores done while he is working in his main lesson book, even better for me. So we are finding our way. He really enjoyed the block on time this week.  I am hoping to get him a real watch soon, one that isn't digital so he can practice telling time more. We started with 5 times tables to make the connection and then went on to the actual clock. He is also picking up our flute song "In Winter's Depths" although he complained about it in the beginning. I just had to figure out being more laid back about it instead of sitting right next to him and pointing out every mistake. I was hovering...and hovering is bad I have found. Now that I just let him play as I play slowly he is automatically learning the song without any formal kind of instruction.

In the end I think this trip to meet other "roadschoolers" at Jetty Park helped me a lot. I thought that I would be asking all sorts of rv type of questions but I found myself talking more about homeschooling than anything else. I guess that is what I really needed. I found out that most of the rv'ers subscribe to unschooling or at least lean in that direction. It definitely makes sense in a lifestyle where you are constantly traveling and seeing new things. That is an educational experience in and of itself. I have a lot of respect for unschooling and although I'm not personally ready to take that path for a variety of reasons, one being that I think kids need to learn some sense of self discipline and respect for authority, I did bring home a lot of good advice. This week it has helped me to be a lot more laid back and improvisational with our lessons. I have already come a long way from preparing "school at home" and needing things to be exactly by the book or like school was. I think we are on our way to finding what works most of the time anyway....

So our budget may be screwed lol, but at least I'm succeeding on the homeschooling journey so far. After all, the divine isn't cruel enough to make everything screw up at the same time, right?



Heather said...

I hear you about the budget. We are six months into our one year trip and have already dipped into our money we had put aside for when we get back. Now we are trying to come up with some money-making solutions.

I've had similar experiences with cooking and roadschooling, too. After time on the road, I find my daughter starts to ask to learn things like writing. And I let her watch Fetch from PBS and she knows so much science!

To save money, we have camped a lot at Wal Mart. I also recommend couchsurfing. Then you can cook those long, slow meals in someone else's house and they will appreciate it.

In the van we eat canned soup or beans, Mexican tortillas, scrambled eggs, pastas, stir fries (veggies and rice), sausages.


Little House On Wheels said...

Thanks for replying. Good to know we're not alone. I've watched your couchsurfing journey. It sounds great. I'm just weird about privacy and being in other people's houses like that. Now if there was something like that for squatting on land I would be all over it.

Have you thought about workamping at all? We talked about it before and we are heavily revisiting it again. It looks like we may have to stay in one spot 3-6 months but I figure if it is someplace large and expansive like oh, yellowstone national park, that shouldn't be so bad, right?

lesley said...

I am not sure if this would work for your cooking situation or not- but have you considered a pressure cooker? People living on sailboats use them all the time and I think the newer ones are not nearly as scary as the ones from when we were kids. I love the idea of solar cookers and have considred getting or making one for our family. We live on the Alabama Gulf Coast and get lots of sun and it kills me to use our old and inefficient oven, especially in the summertime, so an alternative cooking method is very appealing.

darlahood said...

We are hoping Riki can get some sort of temporary engineering job out there through the dept of forestry, army corp of engineers or BLM lands.

Although I am envious of your trip out west, there's no way in hell I'd take a journey like that just on the hope of a job. That reminds me too much of the Grapes of Wrath. "If we can just make it to California we'll be ok, Ma." Have you seen/read the Grapes of Wrath?

Carolee / Home4ever said...

I would LOVE to take off for a year or so and just travel.

I am envious- except the money part, of course.

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