Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

The boys and I had a good New Year’s Eve ‘party’ despite Tj not being here. The boys had been fighty the day or two before the day, so I drug them all around town NYE shopping here and there. We went to a few Goodwills, and then a game store for Max, and the used bookstore again where I got another couple of missionary books for him as well. My plan is to have him read a book a month since I have a small stockpile of good books for him. I need to make a list of those for future reference. I’ll always regret not keeping a list of books I’ve read over my life…I should start doing that, but really, it’s hard enough keeping up with this blog and homeschooling, etc etc etc.

Back to NYE, we didn’t buy too much but we had a great time looking. We went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings…Max is in love with hot wings these days (though not really hot, he just likes fried chicken) and I’m in love with their fried cheese curds. He wants to go there for his birthday. When we were heading home it wasn’t even dark yet and already the fireworks were starting. We stopped at Wal-Mart on the way and got a few things plus a bottle of sparkling juice. At Dollar Tree Max begged me to buy two martini glasses so we’d have something special to drink our bubbly in and I relented.

It was surprisingly easy to stay up until midnight for all 3 of us. Robin and Dave said it’s cause we were all sugared up, and I’m sure they’re right, we had a hot chocolate chip cookie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate and caramel syrup on it for supper. The fireworks were constant from 9pm till after midnight. When midnight rolled around I poured our drinks and we walked down the street to watch the fireworks. I sat in the hammock a while watching them too…the boys were awed.

I just let Jack sleep with me…I figured it was the best way of insuring he went to sleep relatively quickly so that he’d be ready to get up for church in the morning. He is still so sweet to cuddle with in the bed. If he wasn’t such a smotherer I’d have him sleep with me all the time when Tj wasn’t here, but if I don’t plan ahead and put a body pillow between us he pushes me to the very edge of the bed! Bed hog!!

2 Jan Monday
If you’re gonna be a mom, why not be an excellent mom?! Max said this after I let them drink out of the fancy glasses again.

I said I want to learn how to knit, boys. And Max said you want to knit a boy? You could knit me a brother!

I told Jack to come get in bed and he said, “Actually, sleep this bed please Mama”!!!!

3 Jan Tuesday
When Jack woke up today he said, “Scared ironing board, scared tree. Don’t be scared ironing board. Finished kitchen, finished living room.” After we talked a bit he said, “Hey kitchen, hey cake stand.” He just wakes up talking and talking. I’m assuming this all comes from dreams he’s having. He’s also talking about missing the old house, so I wonder if it’s the Christmas tree that used to be over our front door?

Max and I played Magic: The Gathering and we died laughing over fart cat…which turned out to be a misunderstanding.

Jack’s voice has been a little raspy so I looked at his throat, and then we all looked at each others throats. Then Max said my uvula looks like a nipple!!

We’ve been having some funny days around here: we sleep with the a/c on, turn on the heater until noon, then wear shorts and go swimming in the afternoon.

Jack has been asking to play blue ball storage please…he wants the blue ball with sand in it that’s in storage in GA.

We went to the Witte Museum tonight with the neighbors, it was a lot of fun! I told them we would be happy to go anytime they wanted, but I was surprised when they suggested 4 to 9 p.m. I didn’t remember that that’s when the museum was free. So we did our schoolwork, and Jack and I went to the playground for a while, and then at 3:30 we left. I entered the directions in my phone, but followed them there. They have a new dually and in the parking garage David rolled down his window and asked me how am I looking now? I started laughing and told him he looked great, but I really had no idea what he wanted to know. Then he pointed overhead and he was under the bar telling you how low the ceiling was going to be. Oh! Of course, he wanted to know if he would fit!! That makes sense!

We had a good time at the museum; we saw an exhibit on explorers, and Texas historical artifacts, and the architecture around there was beautiful. There were three trees going up through part of the museum near a brick floor patio area. It was really beautiful there. We stayed there till it was dark and then headed over to Lulu’s, home of the three pound cinnamon roll! When we got there though it was closed! We put our heads together and came up with a second place about half a mile away but we realized it was not in the nicest area when we got there so we drove on.

Sometime during this time a car came up beside me as I was behind David. I thought David must just be hogging a two-lane road, so I moved over a little to the right so the car could be on my left. Come to find out it was a one-lane, and when the light turned green that car just eased its way between me and David! I couldn’t believe he had the nerve to do that. It made me laugh, but Max was already grumbly so he was pretty upset about the whole thing.

It took awhile for them to find a place to park their big dually so we drove around San Antonio for a little bit. The first restaurant we went to had a 1 hour wait, so we crossed the Riverwalk on foot and went Cafe Ole. The meal was pretty good but the fellowship was best of all. Max was fairly sullen through the whole meal, I’ve told him he needs to apologize to the family. I know he was tired and hungry, but that’s no excuse for his behavior.

On the way home I wasn’t planning on following them, but it worked out that way anyway since we live right next door to each other. We were both in the left hand lane to take 87 south when he saw that it wasn’t the correct lane and went straight; I didn’t see it in time and went ahead and turned left and headed north! It probably only added on a couple of extra minutes, and thanks to Google I made it back home just fine. We had a good laugh about it later.

4 Jan Wednesday
Laura and boys came over for lunch. I made mac and cheese in the instant pot and it was a success! The boys played inside for a bit, and then outside. When they started getting too rowdy we headed to the Japanese Tea Garden. It was very pretty, but I’m sure it would be beautiful in the spring.

When we left there they went home and I looked up a McDonald’s playground for Jack. Google said the one near our campground had a pg, but turns out it didn’t. Fortunately Chic-fil-a just a few blocks away did. I was really craving a hot fudge sundae, though!

I went without and drove to CFA. As I was pulling into the parking space Jack was really fussing that he wanted to go to a pg!!! I just about blew a gasket. Here I am bringing him to what he wants and he’s throwing a fit! We had a ‘little talk’ and then we went in. He’s getting harder to take lately. I’m really looking forward to having Tj home and another parent around. Jack can be a really sweet kid, but he’s so frustrating…he wants things, but can’t/won’t tell me what they are…and when he does tell me as often as not it’s with griping, whining, growling, stomping, etc. I understand it must be frustrating being somewhat trapped inside that mind…there’s a lot in there but not all of it makes its way out…but it’s super wearing dealing with the attitude. I’m praying for more patience and understanding lately, and for better ways to facilitate communication between the two of us.

Anyway, we went inside and the boys went to play while I took a break and read on my phone. After a good while we drove back home. I got a hot fudge sundae and sent the boys inside the bus while I ate in the truck. The sad thing is that it didn’t taste as good as I remembered. Guess they’re not my thing anymore. After a while Max came out to tell me that Jack had wet his pants.

5 Jan Thursday
We got Tj from the airport today! Woot!! He came in around lunch so we went to Fatt Boy Burger and Dogs and had burgers, fries and some awesome fried pickles with lots of garlic in the batter. Then we went home and took a nap.

6 Jan Friday
We went to Lulu’s for lunch with neighbors. When I put my name in for a table I asked why since the website said they’re open 24/7 were they closed the other night. The girl told me there were just too many people so they had to shut down for the night. Huh? Whatever.

They said the wait would be about 45 minutes so we told Robin and David we were going to the library, a 2-minute drive away. Laura lent me her library card and we wanted to check out the place. We hadn’t been in there 10 minutes and were texted that our table was ready! I texted Robin and she said they’d just witnessed a fight and were calling the police!

When we got back to Lulu’s they’d given our table away but said we’d get the next one. Robin said they’d gone to the library and seen two dudes whaling on another dude, so they called the cops. After we texted them and they drove around to come back they saw the two dudes walking away! Craziness!

We didn’t wait long at all for the next table, but the wait for the food was forever! They only ordered a cinnamon roll, and we ordered that plus a chicken fried steak for Tj. The cfs was covered in cheese sauce!!! It was heavenly!!!! And so was the cinnamon roll which came out first! We’d just about finished what we were going to eat of the roll when the cfs finally came out. Oh, it was so good. Now I’m hungry!

We had such a good time visiting there…it’s too bad they’re leaving tomorrow!

After we finished eating we parted ways and we went back to the library. I was so amazed and shocked at how many homeless people were in the library! Sleeping on the chairs, camped out on the floor, etc. I thought that at least the kids’ section would be just for kids but there were 10 or so guys milling around there, too. We looked on every floor and picked lots of stuff to check out.

After that we went to Lowes to look for a carpet. I ordered one off of Amazon weeks ago and it never came…Tj finally cancelled it for me. We talked to a guy who worked there about carpets, and then got to talking about places to eat here. As always, there are many more places to eat than there are meals to fill. Sigh.

7 Jan Saturday
I finished crocheting my first dishcloth. Now I need to buy a needle to weave the ends in.

Our neighbors left! I’m so sad. They were such awesome people. I’m grateful we met and hit it off, and had time to do such fun things together.

Later I was taking it easy when Max burst into the bus saying Jack lost his drone!! Max says he put the drone and the controller down in front of our bus and after a while Jack picked it up and flew it. We looked and looked and couldn’t find it. Obviously Jack shouldn’t have flown it, but Max shouldn’t have just left it out there. As we were heading back home giving up on ever finding it I saw some blinking lights under the playground slide! God led me to find it! Woot!

Tonight we finally put together the chocolate bread house and bus. I’m glad to have that monkey off my back!

8 Jan Sunday
Jack got lost at church today! Last Sunday (the first time we went here) Max went into his class. This Sunday Tj said Max should go to class with his own age. Jack had the same teacher as the week prior, and there had been no trouble, so I didn’t think it was a big deal. I took him to the bathroom before I dropped him off, gave the teacher my phone number, and off we went. When church was over we went into the room to get Jack and the teacher started looking for him. After a few seconds I started walking around the room (another movie theater, so stadium seating, not the brightest lighting) calling him. After half a minute Tj and I just headed out to look for him. I went to the arcade (on the left side as you enter the main theater) and Tj headed outside. Yep, he was playing a game, albeit with no money. I took his hand and headed outside to find Tj. When I finally found him and made my way back to the teacher of course she felt awful. I don’t think she should really be held totally responsible, and of course he was found quickly so it’s no big deal…but Jack just lulls you. He was probably fine when Max was in there, and without him he sat in his seat I bet the whole of the class time. So by the time it’s ending the teacher thinks she’s got his number, and that’s when he makes his move. He’s not a runner, he’s a meanderer. He just walks out and heads off to something more fun than waiting around for his parents to come get him.

We had been invited to Laura’s house for pizza for lunch. Tj made salted caramel pie and chocolate caramel pie to take, and we stopped by WM for whipped cream for the top. The preacher called while we were there to try to get in touch with us and apologize after the Jack incident. I told Laura and Joe that they could get lots of points if they acted like they didn’t really know us and just invited us home for lunch after seeing how upset we were with losing Jack.

After delicious homemade pizza and a great visit we left and went shopping for a rug at world market, but they didn’t have any soft enough or the right size. We did buy our supper there, though. Meats and cheeses and crackers. Yum.

9 Jan Monday
We decided to skip school and instead decorated the chocolate bread house.

Then we went to Mission San JosΓ©. We saw flying buttresses, carvings, quatrefoil patterns and the famed β€œRose Window.” We also saw a stairway that had “all 25 risers hand-hewn from a single log and assembled without the use of nails or pegs.”

Then we went to Mission Conception, and then the Alamo. I’m so excited that we’re on this trip! It’s so exciting to read the plaques and see the places so full of history. To think people actually died there defending what they held so dearly. We’re very blessed to be able to do this trip, to live this life.

We walked the Riverwalk and ate at Casa Rio…the oldest restaurant on the Riverwalk…where ducks pecked Tj’s leg! Earlier this day a squirrel brushed his foot crossing between Max and us! Tj’s becoming a regular Cinderella!

10 Jan Tuesday
Today we headed off to the Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg for some climbing. When we were practically there we saw flashing lights and a sign that said the park was closed!! I looked it up on the website and saw this: The park will be closed from 3 p.m. Jan. 8 until 2 p.m. Jan. 13, 2017. Only drawn permitted hunters will be allowed in during these dates. Contact the park for more information. How do you close a rock??!! Jack had been asking for a playground (as he does at least 20 times every day) and we’d been promising him that he’d get to go climb a big rock…ah, well.

Our next (now first) stop was the Nimitz museum. I really enjoy seeing mementos of times past. After a good while there we saw the Japanese Garden of Peace, a gift from the people of Japan in honor of Nimitz.

Next we went on to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Tj hustled us through that one…we could’ve stayed for days and not seen half of it! It was so completely full of information and interesting things. I hated not being able to read everything, but as it was we ate lunch at 3pm!

We went to The Auslander for lunch since our first choice was closed on Tuesdays!!! I had my heart set on a smoked burger, but settled for jagerschnitzel with gravy, cheesy sausage with great mustard, hot potato salad which was sweet and vinegary, yum! mashed potatoes and a roll with tons of butter. We ordered chicken schnitzel for the boys.

After eating we went shopping along Main street, went to the Main Street Park and saw the Christmas pyramid. The boys played on the playground there and I went to a little museum in an old church there. We stopped at a candy shop but the fudge did not look fresh at all so we passed. On the way out of town we stopped to clean out my windshield washer sprayers, but they’re still clogged. Tj ordered Marcos pizza on the way home. We took a couple of wrong turns thanks to Google Maps…San Antonio is the worst place for Google Maps…there are so many times it changes its mind right after I commit to a turn, or the road signs don’t match. I haven’t had any real trouble this whole bus trip getting from place to place, and I sing GM’s praises, but San Antonio needs to get its act together!

11 Jan Wednesday
Our MO these days is wake up when we wake up…I have an alarm at 8 but I usually shut it off before it alarms and take my pill without waking Tj up, then when he wakes up we lounge around a bit reading our phones. After that we plan where we’re going for the day. This worked out ok for here, our first real sights place on our trip, but I think for our future stops we’ll choose our top 3 must-see places in that location before we even get there. Then we can plan the days either there or before we get there based on the weather and Tj’s work schedule.

As we were going to the truck I asked Tj to check out my wiper washer and come to find out there’s a big hole in the tube! We tried taping it but that didn’t work at all. We had some rubber cement so Tj slapped some of that on there and that did the trick! That night he put another coat on there. Hopefully that will hold for a long time.

Then we drove to the AFB to buy tickets. We’d already talked about which tickets to buy, but of course there were a few more places to work out once we got there and saw what was available.

By this time it was getting close to lunch. Even though the boys had had breakfast not too long ago, we knew we couldn’t do all that we wanted before we all needed another meal, so we looked for a restaurant that wouldn’t take too long. Tj saw there was an In-and-Out Burger joint on our way so that’s where we went. He hadn’t eaten there in ages and I’d never been there. It was good…and of course cheese smothered fries are right up my alley!

After filling up we headed on to Natural Bridge Caverns. I always enjoy places like that, and I always forget what it entails with Jack. Fortunately he kept his hyperventilating to a minimum. Of course Tj had him the majority of the time so it might have happened more than I remember. He’s not too bad, but his fear of heights showed up a little too.

After the caverns we went to the maze which was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. We were each given cards and had to find 4 stations to punch the correct letter onto our cards, and then find the exit to get our card punched with the time.

After that was my (and Max’s) favorite: gift shopping! I bought a pair of earrings. I hemmed and hawed a lot, but I’ve been wearing them for several days now and really like them.

On the way home we went to SA Pops…which was closed!!!! The sign said they’re only open on the weekends during the winter. Ugh! As I was grumbling out loud about this happening AGAIN! some guy started walking towards the shop and said he would open it and get us some ice cream if we wanted!! Neither Tj nor I wanted to make him work on a day he’d planned off so we thanked him but left without any.

We went home, sent the boys to play outside, Tj did some work and I made salisbury steak casserole. While we watched another episode of Lost I cooked the end of the chocolate bread dough that has been in our refrigerator since before Christmas!!! I was so glad to wake up the next morning w/o any of us suffering from food poisoning since that dough was so old! πŸ™‚

12 Jan Thursday
Today we went to the mirror maze which was so much fun! It was really hard to tell where the walls were. I blame any running into mirrors on distraction by Jack who was my companion for the maze. I think we’ll probably do more of those in the future if we come across them in our travels. We all loved it, but I constantly had to remind Jack to keep his hands in front of him so he wouldn’t run into the mirrors (again and again)! You’d think once or twice face-planting into a mirror would be enough, but no. It was super strange to really not know if there was a wall right in front of your face or not. Jack’s least favorite part was the times we had to walk over a mirrored floor…that really freaked him out. Tj ended up carrying him through most of them when my usual trick of telling him to sit down and scoot didn’t work.

We walked down the street to use the restroom before our next activity and I almost bought a sugar-skull t-shirt…I really wanted it but they didn’t have my size. We went back and did the laser room activity which I was excited about, but turned out to be a 10′ long rectangular room with lasers shooting across it that you had to avoid. I expected it to be bigger, or more complicated or something. It was fun, but this definitely wasn’t worth the money.

From there we walked to the Riverwalk and took the boat tour. I’d asked Laura if we should do it or if it was cheesy and she said she’d done it 4 times. I guess every tourist thing is cheesy if you think about it…and not cheesy if you enjoy it. We had a good time riding around looking at the scenery, this really is a beautiful place!

Next was the Tower of Americas which we had difficulty walking to because of construction. We ran across a playground which we told the boys we weren’t going to play on, but then the way through it was blocked so we had a play break for 15 minutes or so there. We went on to the tower and Tj and I decided to just walk Jack onto the glass fronted elevator without really warming him up to the idea. This seems to work out better than trying to reason with him. He went on just fine, and when we got to the glass part he started pulling back from the window as he sometimes does, but he didn’t fuss or cry. When we got to the top you could go outside or stay inside and still look over the city. It was so windy outside, and Jack fussed about being up so high and outside that I took him inside. After a while I got a phone call from an RV place and spent a good amount of time talking to them. I got Tj’s attention and continued to work out our reservations for this place, but after she said it was an extra $2.50/day/kid Tj cancelled the reservation. Hopefully we’ll be able to find a better priced place.

After we looked as long as we wanted we went downstairs to the 4D movie included in our ticket price. There were 3 20 minute movies, but the one playing a few minutes after we got down was Rio. I had Jack on my lap because I was so cold in the theater. It turned out to be a good thing for us (but bad for my shins); at every point in the movie when Rio tries to escape or something else exciting happens our seats shook pretty violently and Jack totally lost it! It was kinda funny, but I felt so bad for him…it would be really scary to not understand what was going on! We got the seat-moving seats when we saw Rogue 1 but they barely moved…Jack had his own seat and never flinched during that whole movie. This was very different. I just held him super tight and told him over and over that everything was ok and I was there…but in the end I was glad it was just 20 minutes.

We finally headed back to the truck and off to lunch around 3pm at Mi Tierra Cafe and Panaderia. Tj had been wanting to go to this place, he’d heard they had Christmas decorations year round so we checked it out. He and I shared the fajitas…the steak tasted great! Afterwards we went to their panaderia and bought the largest praline I’d ever seen, and it was awesome! We also got a empanada de limon that was ok, and the boys got a sugar cookie with sprinkles. We saw a street artist outside doing flash-painting…pretty cool. I shopped for a minute to find a sugar-skull t-shirt but these were out of my price range.

In unrelated news I couldn’t remember which brother-in-law it was, but turns out it’s Dan that thinks it’s weird that we use the word visit…going to visit my friends, neighbors, etc. It’s funny that something so common for me is so strange to someone else from the same country.

Max and Tj went to ride go-carts. I’m always happy when they get time together. Jack and I were eating lunch when they came home, and Tj released me for the rest of the day!!!! Mom’s Day Out!!!
As I was leaving our parking spot I called Mom and she had such good things to say. Papa has been in constant pain for 5 solid months, and was building up to that since 2013. Half a week after seeing pain doc he felt so much better he went to church! He even worked outside in the yard with mom for 3 hours!! He’d become a bit of a recluse recently, hardly even getting out of bed at Thanksgiving. I’m so thankful he’s feeling better, and am now praying that this relief is permanent.

I laughed with mom as I shared my route I’d planned on Google Maps: Home Goods, World Market, Goodwill, Goodwill, Lowes, Goodwill, Goodwill, etc. I ended up finding a rug at Home Goods so I took out the Lowes, and I stopped at a Dollar Tree on my way but I still haven’t found that dough scraper I saw in a store in TN…I should’ve bought it there! I had 4 chicken strips with gravy from Wataburger, and stopped at Baskin Robbins for a shake and some ice cream for Tj on the way home. What a great night! I didn’t buy as much as the first time I went Goodwilling here, but I did hit the jackpot with Corelle…7 plates, 2 big bowls and 4 little bowls for $7!! I feel so rich with a bowl for each of us when we eat soup now. Heh.

14 January Saturday
Today was a lazy day. We did a bunch of nothing, then I cut everyone’s hair.

15 January Sunday
I brought Tj to the airport for a couple of weeks of work. It looks like he might sit reserve this whole time in Memphis, which turns out might not be bad because he has a cold!

Max and Samuel had been playing with a boy in the campground named Roland. I’ve seen him a time or two, and heard a bit about him from Robin. A day or two ago Roland gave Max a Lego Ironman robot…Max was so excited! Tj and I are probably gonna make him give it back. Today Roland gave Max a beat-up old iPhone! Max is over the moon! Being a parent isn’t what I thought it would be.

16 January Monday
Nice, typical, boring school day. I’m glad for this after our whirlwind week last week.

I dozed on the bed after school (and fighting with Jack) was done for the day, and when I woke up I had this text from Papa: Russel is missing-Jo doesn’t know where he is. Police are looking for him now. Pray hard

!!!! I called the boys in and we prayed, and then I called Mom. Apparently Russell just took his bike and left. He crossed 92 which is a 4-lane with a turn-lane road. A little ole lady called the cops to tell them Russell was there. When Ted and his brother drove up Russell was just sitting on the porch with the lady and they were just talking like nothing had happened. He was missing about an hour and a half…I know Jo and Ted were out of their minds with worry. I remember a couple of times Jack wandering away on our street in AR…it wasn’t a long street…only 5 houses on a side with a cul-de-sac at the end…but looking for him was panic-inducing. It never ceased to amaze me how many places there suddenly were to hide. And Russell, like Jack, still doesn’t answer when you call his name. Jack is better about it now, and I’m better about telling him to answer when I’m calling. But….Russell was lost 1.5 hours. I just can’t imagine.

That night at supper we started figuring out how much spending money Max had. He’s been wanting to buy a Lego Creator Jet for a month or so now. I haven’t been letting him spend his money…I told him he had to wait till his birthday to see if he got any birthday money…he kept wanting to buy little things here and there and fritter away his money. It’s still hard for him to save. When we did our cyphers and gazintas it came to $54!! He saw the jet at HEB Christmas Eve night for $70. I looked it up on Amazon right then and saw the same jet for $52!!!! You should’ve seen him scream and dance! We ordered it right then! The estimated delivery is from his birthday to a few days later…we’ll see!

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Some last additions to our Memphis restaurant list:
Texas Roadhouse: they had Kids’ Night that night! A woman came over and offered to take our kids to another table to do a craft…that night (right before Thanksgiving) it was just coloring. We let Max go but didn’t think we should send Jack. Our meal came out but we figured Max could eat it at home so we let him continue coloring, we could see the lady’s head 2 booths over. After Jack finished eating we let him go with Max and Tj and I practically had a date. Heh.
Area 55: this is where we ate the first night we got there.
Marco’s Pizza: it was just as good as home.

Since our washer still isn’t working Tj has been taking our clothes to his crash pad to wash them. It’s nice to get it all done without having to go to the laundromat. We’ve ordered the part and I had it sent to Laura’s since Tj won’t get a chance to work on it till we’re there anyway.

14 December Wednesday
Ikea opened today! And Tj had his follow-up ear appointment. The doc says the hole in his ear is healed and his hearing is normal, but it may take another 4-6 weeks for his hearing to return to what it was. It still bugs him a good bit, but what can you do?

After his appointment we took Jack to the Ikea grand opening. I wanted to look at curtains and rugs, and everything else! The childcare is fantastic, but because it was opening day we were only allowed 1 30-minute slot. We impulse bought several things…what fun! We’re gonna have to cut back one of these days! I found a rug I liked the look of, and it was extremely plush! Sadly it was too thick to fit under the couch. As much as I tried I couldn’t make it work, so I had to return it the next day.

17 Dec We packed up and drove to Shreveport, La.

18 December Sunday
What a wonderful day! Like always we were early getting ready to go to church until the last 20 minutes when we were late. We headed out and then I remembered the Mack’s gift so I made a quick u-turn and drove a minute-and-a-half back to the bus and got it. We got to church with 5 minutes to spare and were on time for the boys and our Sunday school classes. I walked in the church door and before I could even ask somebody where Max’s Sunday school class was Mrs Shirley said well there’s Ellen! It was so good to see her! I was so thrilled that she recognized me without even knowing I was coming. We laughed and talked for a little bit and then she pointed us the right way to Max’s class.

Max and Jack were in the same Sunday school class and after we dropped them off we went to ours. When the preacher asked me to introduce us I said that I used to attend this church 16 years ago, and a man in the class said he remembered when I recited Luke 2! When Sunday school was over we went back to church and looked for Mrs Shirley. While she was visiting I saw Mrs Molly and Mr Jim Gulledge. She said she taught me at SMITE, but I didn’t think we did SMITE together. Either way it was ages ago. We sat with Mrs Shirley during the service, and it was good to catch up with her afterward.

After church I called Mr. Mack to let him know we would be about 20 minutes. We stopped at Walmart on the way to get a loaf of french bread. Seeing the Mack’s was just like old times, they haven’t changed a bit. Mrs Mack asked if the boys wanted soup, and said a couple of times that they didn’t have to eat anything they didn’t want to eat, so I gave in and made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Mr Mack said who ever heard of a sandwich without chips, so the boys had chips and grapes to go alongside. Mrs Mack had made a big batch of minestrone soup and cornbread to go along. I’ve never been a cornbread person, but her corn bread was good. I think I’ll have to try to make it. It was so awesome just to sit and visit with them, neither their demeanor nor mannerisms have changed a bit! After lunch we had homemade peach cobbler with Blue Bell ice cream. While I was helping dish that up Mrs Mack had to open her chair/ironing board for Jack to ooh and ahh over. We heard lots of stories about the Mack’s kids and grandkids and exchange students and dinners etc. Afterward, while coffee was brewing, we walked back to see my little apartment. Then Mrs Mack gave me a tour of her house; she has two sewing rooms! I had forgotten that Mr Mack smoked a pipe; the smell wasn’t heavy, but it was familiar. We said our goodbyes and got into the truck and then I remembered I should have taken a picture. We all piled back out and took a couple of good photos in their kitchen.

We drove around Shreveport then looking at the old places; it’s so much fun to see that again, and to show it to the kids. We drove by Mrs Norma’s house, but it seemed obvious from the BBQ pit out on the front walk that she didn’t live there anymore. I’m so sad that we weren’t able to get in touch with her. We went back to the bus and bundled the boys up for them to go play outside till the last bits of daylight were gone. TJ started getting us prepared for tomorrow’s business of registering the truck and getting licenses in Texas. We ordered pizza and put Elf on to watch. One of the pizza options had anchovies on it and I convinced Tj to give it a try…I always wondered if I’d like it. I don’t! The fish taste was too string and just didn’t sync with the pizza to me. I eat them sometimes on crackers…guess I’ll have to stick to them that way. We didn’t tell Max that they were on there and then asked him how he liked the pizza. He said it was really good, and was surprised when we told him. I bet if he hadn’t been watching a movie while eating it he would have noticed.

Another day closer to Christmas!

19 December Monday
On the road at 10 a.m. heading to Livingston. When I got in the truck to go through its routine to set it up for towing I saw that one of the tires was low so that delayed us a bit. TJ check all the tires and filled them all up. He had done the ones on the bus in Memphis before we left, but not the ones on the truck.

Now we’re halfway to Texas, Max is doing his school work and Jack is watching some cartoons. My drawer was falling out of my closet so it was fun trying to get all that taken care of while hurtling down the road.

19-22 Dec
This was such a quick/busy stop with so much to do. We went there to change our residency to Texas, but Tj had a work trip in the middle, so we were a little stressed that it wouldn’t all get done. We arrived in Livingston after lunch so we quickly checked into Escapees and headed off to get the truck inspected. Tj had read that you didn’t need to drive the bus to the inspection place so we left it there. We tried to level it before we left, but we were in a hurry and the site was far from level, so we just plugged in the electricity (to keep the fridge cold) and left. We drove to the inspection place and were told we’d have to bring the bus. Ugh. I called the other place that did RV inspections and it was the same there. The inspection of the truck was so quick so we quickly drove back to the bus and then I took the boys and the paperwork to start the registration process.

Up until the day before we’d been sweating it a little…we had inspections, registration and new licenses to accomplish Monday afternoon after driving the bus there, and then Thursday afternoon when Tj got back from his work trip. How would we get it all done? Then in Shreveport I realized I could do most of it on my own…it just hadn’t occurred to either of us to have me do it…Tj always handled all of this type of paperwork. So I started giving the woman the papers she needed to get our vehicles registered and of course I needed the current registration. I knew it would be a pain so I was mentally prepared for it to take a while. I called Tj to see what he wanted me to do and he needed me to come. Turning into the inspection place the cabinets came open and a corelle plate and two small bowls fell from the upper cabinet and shattered all over the place!!! And in a camper a plate shattering in the kitchen also reaches the bedroom and livingroom. I drove the 5 blocks there, got the paperwork straightened out, swept up some of the glass, moved the kids to the bus and headed back to the registration place.

Oh, yeah, on the way out of the registration place I dropped our marriage license on the sidewalk without knowing it!!! I was so thankful Max saw it and picked it up.

This time at the registration place she said I’d have to have all the paperwork signed by Tj since his name was on the titles. I went over everything with her to make sure the next time I went there I’d be prepared, and then went home.

That night Tj filled out the forms and we signed them, and then we went to Wataburger on our way to drop him off at the airport.

The next day I tackled the registration and won! Finally! So I headed over to the drivers license place, and lost. The last time we changed our residency to Texas life was simple. This time not so much. I had to have a birth certificate and my ss card to prove I was who I say I am. I don’t understand why a recently expired passport isn’t good enough. It’s a photo ID, and proves that I’m a citizen. But whatever. I called Mom and asked her to overnight our stuff after she dug it out of Jo’s basement. I’m so thankful that she’s so willing to help us out!

The next day I went back and got my drivers license and double checked that Tj had all the paperwork he needed to do the same thing. I was assured he did. He didn’t have his ss card but his DD-214 has his number there and is an approved proof.

He flew into town after lunch and we got to the DL place around 2. His clerk wasn’t nearly as helpful as mine had been. Tj got a lecture on how his DD-214 was a copy (it wasn’t) and how the dude could prove it was, and why a copy wasn’t good enough, blah blah blah. When Tj texted me that I told him he had a nicer print in the other folder and that seemed to appease the guy. Then the guy said Tj had to show him where it said he was honorably discharged…like Texas won’t accept dishonorably discharged citizens???!!! Whatever. This guy was obviously on a power trip. Finally Tj got his license and all our work there was done. We got some lunch and went back to the bus.

One of the things that really surprised us was that for both the plates and drivers licenses they just printed us an 8 1/2 by 11″ license! Even in little ole Cabot we got an actual license that day. It’s odd having a big piece of paper as my drivers license. Our real stuff will be mailed to us in a week or two.

20 Dec
When I kept laying in bed after Jack asked for a fried egg sandwich…he finally said who wants make fried egg sandwich???

23 Dec Drove to San Antonio

24 Dec
Saturday We met our neighbors here in the park. I don’t think we’re any closer to the next rig than we ever have been, but it feels closer. Fortunately they seem nice!

We went to see Rogue 1 today…it was great! If A New Hope was a 10 I’d say Rogue 1 was an 8 or 9. I was worried they’d overdo the robot, but it all worked out.

Laura gave me the address of their church, and it’s at the same movie theater! The church is just starting up so it doesn’t have a building yet. We saw Joe as we were leaving the movie. We thought we’d have about an hour between the movie and church, but when we got home we realized we only had 15 minutes till we had to leave!

The service was good, and Jack behaved himself which is saying a lot considering he’d just sat through a 2-hour movie, 3 30-minute car rides and now he had to be quiet and still for church. What a trooper! After the service we went to a hamburger place for supper. Tj and I split the parmesan truffle fries…if we go back there I’m skipping the burger and the nutella/pretzel shake and just getting those fries again! They were amazing!

On the way home we stopped at HEB…it was Christmas Eve night…it was packed!

After we got home we hurriedly put the boys to bed so I could wrap all the presents. I wondered if we’d be able to find them all…stashed as they were around the bus. I think we did.

25 Dec Sunday
We told Max he could wake us up at 7am. He says he awoke at 2am and again at 5. We ended up having to wake Jack up! Silly kid!

I made a big pallet on the floor and we opened our gifts. The boys had a great time. Max was overwhelmed with the laptop. Tj was hesitant about getting it for him for Christmas since it’s really a school thing, but Max’s face as he unwrapped it put all his fears to rest. Max also got a (tiny, like 3″ square) drone, a massive Hershey kiss, a clip-on light for his kindle, a Space Invaders hand-held game, the Magic game (from Grandmom), and $25 from Gran/Pawpaw. Jack got a remote control car (from Grandmom), $25 from G/P (don’t know what I’ll do with that), a train from the train museum, a disco ball, a wubble bubble ball, BB-8 hat, and a BB-8 figure.

We were lazy all day, and then I started our dessert around 3. I wanted to make a red velvet trifle with ganache but my ganache never set! I still don’t know what I did wrong. I wonder if it’s because I used chocolate chips and not bar chocolate…basically it wasn’t quality chocolate though it was name brand. Either way it was in the freezer for a bit before we left, and then in Laura’s fridge while we ate supper and it was just as runny then as when I first made it.

We got to their house around 5. She fixed us beans, cheese dip and fajitas with a slaw to go on the side or on the fajita. We ate outside with a little fire in their pit. Afterward we drank my ganache with the cool whip on top while we played catchphrase. Fun.

26 Dec Monday
As much as I loved hanging out with Laura, having this day to just stay at home was nice. I told Tj not to even fix the washer…he needed a break before he goes on his trip tomorrow, but he insisted, and I’m so thankful!!!!

We lazed around in the morning, and then put some ribs on to cook in the instant pot. Tj then started on the washer. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to start that project right before lunch and he said yes…and he finished it before lunch was ready! It was a Christmas miracle!!! My washer works!!!! I’m listening to the 6th load of wash drying right now. I’m so blessed. I’m so thankful to have a working washer/dryer. I know it’s a silly thing, and going to the laundromat isn’t horrible…I really enjoy it when Tj keeps the boys and I can go and read a book…but it’s so nice not to have to leave the bus to do laundry.

27 Dec Tuesday
It was drizzly today. We got up early to take Tj to the airport. As I drove down our ‘driveway’ I was using the wiper fluid a lot and noticed that they didn’t spray as high as they usually do. As I got to the end and was turning I realized that it was super hard to turn the wheel, my power steering was going out, and then saw that my battery light came on! That worried me. Tj didn’t seem worried at all, but I’m sure that he was just preoccupied with his first day of this new part of his job.

Jack and I dropped him off and I called Mom to see if I could talk to Papa and get some advice on the truck. He was still sleeping, so she and I decided I should go have the battery checked, and she said to ask them to check the alternator as well. I punched Walmart into the GPS and off we went. But I forgot to make sure it wasn’t a neighborhood market! So the first place I went didn’t have an auto center. I quickly found the next nearest place and went there. I was careful this whole time not to stop the truck in case I had trouble starting it again.

Yep, bad battery. I was glad Tj got my txt about the situation before he took off. Even though I was sure he’d tell me just to go ahead and get a new battery it always feels better to talk big-ish decisions over with him. We got a new battery and we were off! I’d been hoping to go Goodwilling and fortunately was only a little delayed.

Jack and I stopped at 3 Goodwills and boy did I make a haul! I bought 10 shirts, 4 skirts, 1 pair of shorts, 1 corelle plate, 1 skillet, and Sequence for Kids that we’ve already played 4 times with Jack. I generally hate shopping for any clothes except skirts, but I was on a roll today!

I want to see the kid…J just said this about the neighbor Max went out to see.

That evening Jack and I walked our trash out to the dumpsters, and then I let him play on the playground a little bit. Our neighbors came by (Dave and Robin) and I talked and talked to them. I think we’re striking up quite the friendship. I hope so, but after tonight….not so sure. After we’d been talking a good while I turned around to check on Jack and saw him pulling his britches up!!!!!!!!!! Oh no!!!! I’m still not sure what bodily functions he actually accomplished, but we made a bee-line home. I went back later with a flashlight and found no evidence. Life is rarely dull with Jack!

28 Dec Wednesday
Laura texted me to see if I wanted to go to a park and of course I said yes. When I glanced at the website it looked like a hiking park. I fixed sandwiches and snacks and we piled into the truck. It was a play park and the boys had a blast. I did too. It’s so much fun catching up with her! It’s so hard to believe we built up such a deep and lasting friendship in under two years.

After staying there a couple of hours she invited me to her house, and since Jack (and Max) have said a few times that they can’t wait to go back to her house I said yes. We only stayed an hour since she had people coming over later.

When we came home we went straight to the bathroom and then changed to go to the pool. I mentioned we were going to our neighbors and they came a little later. The water is heated, but was still a little cold. That made no difference to the boys, they swam till it was dark! I had so much fun chatting with Robin while they swam. Jack got out of the pool twice to go to the bathroom; I’m grateful last night’s playground incident was a one-time-thing (keeping my fingers crossed!!).

29 Dec Thursday
Robin and Dave came over to see the washer/dryer…they’re considering one. They stayed for a good while and we talked about lots of different things. Max and Sam played on M’s computer up in his ‘bedquarters’. I’m so thankful for such good neighbors. I’d been hoping for some friendships on this bus trip, but it just hadn’t happened.

1 Jan Sunday
J slept with me last night. I tried to wake him up before my shower and this is what he said:
Color them yellow.
Color the blue ball.
Push the ironing board.

Went to church with Laura at the movie theater. I told the girl as I was leaving the boys that Jack had DS but it was OK if they were broken up into different small groups…and Max said, “He’ll stay with me.” He really takes care of Jack…despite how much he torments him!

Monday, December 12th, 2016

7 Dec Wednesday We were having a normal day. We were all excited because we were going out to eat steak tonight to celebrate Tj’s checkride. I was filling up the mid and getting ready to go dump and Jack was on his last paper for school. He’d gotten up to fill and drink his water bottle and was fussing a little bit, but I figured it was because of that paper. All of a sudden he threw himself on the floor, and I didn’t think it was just temper. I went to the dinette bench and sat down and pulled him to me so we were eye-to-eye. I was asking him as I did this if he was ok, and if he needed a hug. Right about then I noticed that he’d lost all color in his lips. I yelled to Max to get me a bowl, covered Jack’s mouth, but it was too late! I got a face full of vomit! I was so surprised that it’d splashed on my face and in my hair. A second or two later I yelled again for a bowl and Max was in the background freaking out cause we were blocking all the bowls, but then he found a big cup in the bathroom and got it to me, but it was too late again. I caught some of the 3rd or 4th round, but most of it went all over my favorite shirt and on the floor. Poor Jack! He said a couple of times that he wanted to sleep. I sat him down right there and laid him over and he shut his eyes and seemed to go to sleep right away.

Ugh. Now what to do? I had Max climb behind me into his bed and told him to pull his curtain (thankfully he’s rigged up a curtain recently) because I was going to take off my clothes right there. I got Jack and myself out of our outer clothes and walked J to the shower. When he got in he just sat down…he’s so pathetic when he throws up, poor baby! I washed him and dried him off, and before he was all the way dry he had to go to the bathroom. He was a little more sick there, but not much. I dressed him and put him on my bed with Milo and Otis (his favorite move for the last year) while I showered. He seemed like he would fall asleep, but by the time I finished wiping up the kitchen he seemed back to normal.

I was so bummed to tell Tj that we couldn’t go out, but he ran through Zaxby’s for us…the fried mushrooms were great as always, and he got fried cheese that was also awesome!

The next morning I let Jack have a piece of bread for breakfast. A few hours later he had a cup of milk. At lunch we went out to eat that steak and Jack had a plain cheeseburger, and then ice cream an hour or so later. I know how lucky/blessed we are that he (and Max for that matter) usually are sick all at once, not all through the night. I guess we’ll never know what caused this one.

8 Dec Thursday Jack asked Tj to sing “monkey bird”… Mockingbird. When we asked him to sing it he said, “Let’s hear it, Daddy!”

That night the pipes froze! I’ve been so paranoid about them freezing because of the extreme damage that was done to our house growing up the time Papa forgot to turn off the ice maker and it froze. We came home from church one Sunday morning and as we drove up the driveway you could see a fountain of water pouring out the bricks of the front face of our house!!! I still have the 2″ section of copper pipe that burst.

Anyway, I’ve been stressing and worrying about how to handle things in the bus this winter; reading tons of stuff on the FB forum for fulltiming families. And then this. We knew it would be in the 20’s so we set up the bus accordingly, but when Tj got up at 3am to go to the bathroom he told me there was no water running! Ugh. We turned the propane heater on and let it run 10 minutes or so and then the water started running again! Tj decided we’d run the kitchen faucet all night so he went outside and opened the mid tank so it wouldn’t overflow (again). He ran it at a pretty forceful rate. I think you only need to let it trickle, but I guess the sewer hose could slowly freeze and clog if the water was only at a trickle.

I was so extremely grateful that we haven’t seen any negatives from the freeze, and then yesterday I read that we don’t have as much trouble when they freeze cause the pipes aren’t copper! Oh yeah! What a relief! So now I have a list of what we do if the temps are going to be in the 30’s, and what to do if they’re going to be in the 20’s. The next night it got down to 18 degrees, but we were all set, thankfully! We’d only set the propane (central) heater to 60, and while that was fine for the 30’s, from now on when it’s freezing we’re setting it at 70 degrees.

10 Dec Saturday Of course now that it seems like we know how to take care of our pipes, I found condensation behind our mattress!! Ugh again! I think the great temperature difference between outside and inside combined with the lack of air circulation causes condensation…and not letting it dry out could lead to mold.

I was really discouraged when I saw it and had to deal with it alone (Tj was at the crash pad). Pulling out the mattress to air that area blocks the back bathroom, besides the fact that it’s so heavy and awkward to move that mattress by myself. After a while, though, I figured out I could just rotate the whole thing head to foot and air both places out at once. The head of the mattress would hang over the foot of the bed, not take up too much room, and have enough air circulation to dry out. Pulling it out a few inches would also allow the bed frame at the head to dry out as well.

I’m tired of all the things we have to learn about living in a camper in the winter. I really believe, though, that when we see the Grand Canyon, or Mt. Rushmore, or the mighty redwoods, or the San Andreas Fault it will be all worth it!

Later that day Tj texted me that Jim wanted to go out with the other guys from their class for lunch, and since they carpooled could I pick him up? The boys and I went to get him and bring him to his pad. He changed clothes and brought the boys home while I ran to Kroger for cheese and cokes. We all ate lunch together then at about 2:30.

This definitely had been a season of flexibility for all of us. Tj has been living this life for the last year and a half, but with us all in this tiny place now we’ve really adapted to his lifestyle a good bit. We have weekends when he has off from work…two weeks ago our weekend was Friday and Saturday, and last week it was Thursday and Friday. I really don’t have any concept of what day of the week it is anymore! Without having a church to go to (we have a couple more Sunday’s of worship from our old church left to watch online), and without having friends near to plan and do things with, every day has the potential to be the same! Along with that not having a designated grocery shopping day and not having a large (or even midsize) fridge/freezer/pantry means that I sometimes need to go shopping the same day I actually go, which is kinda a pain. And since the washer is kaput I don’t have a set day to do laundry, so we’re haphazard all around! I miss my planned life of the last several years.

Not only is every week subject to change, every day is as well. I haven’t been sleeping as well since I was worried about the bus, so I’d sometimes start school later, and if it was supposed to rain around lunchtime I make sure the boys got to go outside for as much time as they can in the morning. I’m learning to be flexible, and it’s coming easier now than when we started. But again, when we (hopefully) get to see all those sights it will be all worth it. And really, these are all first world problems.

These last two or three years we’ve taken off the whole month of December, and what a luxury that’s been! This year I know we’ll want to take days off here and there to see the sights, so we’ve been continuing with school every day Tj has work. I’m thinking now that we’ll probably take off about two weeks when we get to Texas…and I guess that’s when we’ll make our chocolate bread house (and/or bus).

11 Dec Sunday Jack drew tables today, and I think he may have drawn them yesterday. I asked him to draw some shapes, so he drew a triangle, a square, and a circle, and then he said “Draw table.” He then drew vertical lines down from each corner. They really looked like tables!

He’s also starting to handle setting his shower water himself. I walk him through it, and sometimes I have to tell him more than once that if it’s too hot to get out of the water. You’d think that would be intuitive, but apparently with Jack it’s not.

He just wants to be a big boy so bad. He always wants to help, which is so sweet and awesome. He rolls his bed up and can put it up. He folds his pj’s and puts them where they go. He can put the mayo on his bread, but it gets everywhere else too. Ah, well, can’t have everything!

12 Dec Jack had his 4th spelling test, and he got all 8 words right!! That’s the first time that’s happened. I just wonder what’s in that little head sometimes. One of his words was ‘are’. When I looked up he’d written ‘er’ and was erasing the ‘e’. Then he wrote an ‘e’ after the ‘r’. He paused, and then he wrote an ‘a’ before the ‘r’. It was laborious but he got it!

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

The night I wrote that last post Max fell out of his bed!! I had my new light-blocking curtains up (well, they’re still not up permanently, but they were temporarily up then), and he was heading to the bathroom, but he was half-asleep, and he fell out of his bed! Poor punk! Fortunately he seems fine.

Also, that day his friend he plays with often asked if he wanted to be her boyfriend! A day or so later she left a note folded up on the wooden play boat asking if he liked her and if he wanted to be her boyfriend. This really irks me. Guess I have to get over it, though. Tj asked him what he thought about it and he said he made that commitment last year, and he would tell her that. I just hate that he’s being pushed that way. Just play and have fun and leave the grown-up things for later. Old lady rant over.

We’ve been watching our old church online since we left, but we found out recently that our pastor is leaving for Boston. I’m so sad, but I understand. When God calls you somewhere you have to go! We’ll probably start going back to a sticks-and-bricks church in another couple of weeks.

Also, in another couple of weeks Tj will be finished with his training and we’ll be out of here! I know he’ll be glad to have that behind him. It’s been much harder than he expected. He already knows how to fly, but I guess going from such a small airline to such a large one brought so much change; so many things for him to learn.

Tj got out of work around lunchtime every day this week, so he would eat lunch here and take supper to the crash pad. His weekend was Friday and Saturday so we went to see Fantastic Beasts Thursday night. Jack was great through to 10 minutes of opening stuff, but then the movie started with a bang and he started saying “I have to go bafroom”… he’s figured out that if he he says that I’ll take him seriously. But I have figured out that he says that to get out of doing something he doesn’t want to do! I pulled him over to me and sat him on my lap and he was fine for the rest of the movie, thankfully. I was bummed about the movie; although it was fun to watch, the graphics were good and I liked the period memorbilia, the storyline was so thin. There were so many times when there was an obvious way out of the trouble and the main character didn’t take it. Max liked it, so I guess that is all that really matters.

I tried to talk Tj into going to Graceland, but he thought that was too much money. I wouldn’t have gone myself except our friends from Spain wanted to go a few years ago. I pestered him a little bit, but we’re on our big bus trip and we have to go do some things…not just sit in our comfy bus all the time! So we went to the Memphis Railroad and Trolley Museum. There was a large model train the boys sat on and had their picture taken, and a Thomas room with a couple of tables with trains for the boys to play with. Tj and I enjoyed reading a lot of the history plaques and seeing all the memorabilia. We bought Jack a train for Christmas there.

After that was lunch at Belly Acres. Tj mixed up my burger order, I wanted one that was half beef half chorizo, but got one with tons of grilled onions and tomatoes on it. It was fine, but the fries were really good and the chocolate shake was exceptional!

From there we went to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, but we ended up not going in because it was crazy expensive for what was there. It was a tiny house and would have cost us $40 to go in. We had remarked on the new parking lot and sod, and I guess that’s where it came from.

We went back to the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid then so we could take a picture of our feet to post on the FB Full-time Families board. I was talking up the elevator ride to Jack and Tj said we should just walk right on the elevator and not give him any choice. It went much better than we expected! Jack sat down in the elevator all the way up, but he didn’t cry or throw a fit. He walked off and then out onto the balcony. He was definitely scared to be out there, but I covered his eyes (a la Mama when she took me on the Space Mountain ride!) and walked him out to the edge. We sat with our feet at the edge of the balcony and took our photo. Jack didn’t try to go back inside, he even played by the building, but he never walked willingly onto the glass floor.

I was hoping we could stay there long enough to go right to the Peabody to see the ducks…just to say we’ve done it, but there was still an hour or so left when we were ready to go. After tooling around inside Bass Pro a bit we went to Aldi…Tj’s been wanting to peruse their aisles a while. We headed to Kroger then for a couple of things, and then went home. I got out at the office to pay for our second month here and get my new Star Wars shirt.

We watched a couple of episodes of Lost and then Tj and I bought some more Christmas presents and more stuff for the bus off of Amazon. Every time I think we’ve about settled in and gotten all we need to live like we want to here we end up buying several more things for the bus. Money pit! But worth it! I’m still so excited that we get to live this adventure. We’re very blessed.

I thought I’d try to list all the places we’ve eaten here in Memphis in case I’ve forgotten to blog about them, these are all I can remember now:
The Lunch Box (awesome BLT with fried bacon!!!!)
Memphis BBQ Co (pretty good ribs and sausage, awesome cheese fritters!!)
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken (great chicken)
Brother Juniper’s (awesome open faced omelet with feta)
Huey’s (decent burger)
Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous (good ribs)
Belly Acres (milkshake heaven!!)

Monday, November 28th, 2016

We planned to all go to Mom’s for Thanksgiving. I keep thinking of it as the last holiday we’ll have together for a very long time. Working for FedEx means Tj’ll be working probably every Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years to come…and he surprisingly had this Thanksgiving off! But not long before the day we were having freezes at night, and we realized just how different it is wintering in a camper vs summering in it. Tj came home and said we needed to talk, and I asked if he was staying behind for Thanksgiving. We both knew it was the best thing for the camper. The bus is now our second special need! I thought we could put antifreeze in and leave it behind, but Tj didn’t think that was best.

The boys and I headed for Mom’s last Tuesday morning. I stopped to get doughnuts, and while there remembered I hadn’t taken Jack to the bathroom! No way I’m starting a 6-hr trip with all bladders not emptied! We ran in after paying at the drive thru, and then we were down the road.

About 5 minutes later I realized that I should have packed the boys’ bikes to keep them occupied at Grand’s. About 10 minutes down the road I realized that though I’d made the boys take their medicines, Max had put the medicine bag back into the bathroom! For Max this isn’t the biggest deal…his nose will itch and he’ll sneeze more, but no biggie. For Jack: his nose will run clear until he gets his meds again. And the last time this happened it took 3 days on the meds for him to dry up. Ugh. 3 days of me constantly wiping and blowing his nose and telling him not to rub it on my bedspread/the couch/my shirt/etc. I pulled over and called Tj and he said I should go on. I threatened to have Max wipe Jack’s nose the whole time and then geared up and got back on the road. Then I remembered that I just hadn’t checked my checklist this morning before I left. I’d also meant to bring some cokes. Fortunately that’s all I forgot.

The trip was uneventful…the boys are great travelers, thankfully. Kel, Eric and Avery came that night, and Jo joined us too. We laughed and talked a ton; it was fun. Jo and her boys came again the next morn after Kel and I had been to the store for my salad (with walnuts, apples, feta and cranberries) and for the fixings for Kel to make 3 large batches of hot fudge sauce for her clients. We had a real spread! Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, bbq beans, corn, dressing, broccoli casserole, marinated veg salad, Mom’s homemade rolls, and Arkansas green beans! It was all so good! We ate and relaxed a bit, then cleaned up so we could make Kel’s fudge sauce. We finished that up and she left around 4:30 (Eric can’t handle traffic). Ted came around 3pm, and after Kel and her gang left Papa felt up to sitting out with us and we had a good time talking some more.

The next day we went to Jo’s so I could get our marriage license from the safe, and then we headed to storage for a few things. I was so excited to find everything on my list…and of course a few extras! Aprons, another comforter, the hammock and hammock chair, whiteboard, legos, my tiny Christmas tree and the countdown calendar Grandmom made us for Christmas. After that we went back to Mom’s and she sewed my blackout curtains. Jo came over with more sewing…Mom took men’s dress shirts and made them into tunics for Jo to wear over leggings.

The next morning Mom and I went to Goodwill while Papa kept the boys; we bought 2 shirts for me and now I have my own tunics! They’re so cute! As soon as she was done the boys and I were out the door heading for home. We made it in time for supper: Tj ordered us a Marco’s pizza and I picked it up since they don’t deliver to us. I made sure Jack took his medicine that night…and surprisingly, I think his nose stopped running the next day!

The next morning we were being lazy. I got up to do something and saw that water was all over the floor! I ran to dump…water overflowed the toilet and wicked all along that side of the bus, then under the rug and under the kitchen table slide-out!!! When I dumped there was just water dripping all under the bus…from several places. I’m so thankful it was all clean water, but still!! I’m also so thankful that it hadn’t been dripping long…an hour or two at most, and that we already had a dehumidifier going. Tj went to the store and got a heat strip for our water hose so we shouldn’t need to run the water anymore.

The Jones were in Memphis that day so we met them for an early supper at the Memphis BBQ Co. The ribs were really good, but the brisket was just ok. We went out for ice cream after, and then they came back to our place for visiting. We put the kids in the bedroom with Max’s game and a movie on for Jack.

Sunday we stayed in bed super late! Then we had lunch at Brother Juniper’s. The open-faced omelet was wonderful! I’d never have thought of putting feta on an omelet but it really worked. We went to the Goodwill bookstore and bought a new book for Jack, a book for Tj, and a Chuck Norris DVD for Papa.

When we came home we dropped the boys off at the playground and Tj off at the bus and I went to buy us groceries. When I came home it was time to watch church because Tj had to leave early for the crash pad. He had really early days these next few days. School is going well for him, but it’s much harder than he anticipated.

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Not a whole lot has happened in the two weeks it’s been since I blogged last. It’s kinda hard to want to blog when every day is the same, but I am thankful for easy-going days. We’ve been doing school and just learning to live in the bus.

Bus: we’ve had freezing nights lately, and that’s a whole new world for us! After 4 or so times I think I’ve figured out what to do to keep things running all night: run the kitchen faucet a tiny amount to keep the pipes from freezing…we’ll buy a pipe heater soon and probably won’t have to run the water during a freeze anymore; open all sink cabinets to allow their pipes access to the warmer room air; put the propane heater on 60 degrees just in case the electric heaters can’t keep up (though they haven’t had a problem so far); electric heater in the front has the dial straight up (though might make it warmer up there tonight…Max says he’s fine during the night but his hands are so cold when he gets up), the heater in the back bathroom has it’s dial about 10 o’clock (I woke up warm a couple of nights. Ugh); leave the bedroom door open and the noisy fan on blowing into our bedroom to circulate air and block sound.

We found out that our mid tank isn’t just black…it’s everything up front…kitchen sink, washer/dryer, front lav and toilet. Max went to use the bathroom 9am Saturday morning and the water level in the toilet was about 1/8″ from the toilet rim!!! God protected us from a run-over!! We were told the mid black was just the toilet, but running the sink all night filled up the tank to overflowing! We’ve had a couple of close calls with that tank…hopefully finally figuring this out will help keep this from happening.

We also got a dehumidifier…word is that winter brings a lot of humidity and that leads to mold growth. Ain’t nobody got time for that!!

Max: the last 5 or so school days he’s finished his school before lunch!! We went to the children’s museum in Memphis last Wednesday to celebrate. I’d forgotten we’d been there before, but it was familiar. Both boys loved the FedEx display where they sent packages up the conveyer belt, through a plane body and out the back. There was a slide there for Jack and Max got to fly a plane. Jack’s favorite was the pneumatic tubes with yarn balls and scarves to put through. We also played outside…basketball, seesaws for 4 people at once, and two zipline type slides, one with a full seat and one with a circle seat to sit on. It was a great day.

Yesterday Max and I put together the wooden motorcycle kit I got at Goodwill before our trip. I had to laugh…I’d started the kit while on our initial drive, but haven’t had time since. Getting back into it was kinda tough, there are so many pieces and the directions just said to match up the numbers, 1 to 1, 2 to 2, etc. I was tediously following the directions, but Max just said I can see from the (only) picture that this piece goes here…I wanted this to be a fun thing for us, not a lesson in following directions, so we did it his way. We only had to dismantle things a couple of times, and only have 3 pieces we don’t know where they go, but it looks magnificent! We had a great time.

Tj’s ear is slowly healing…he can hear out of it, but the sound is not back to normal yet.

Jack is doing well in school, but he’s so hard-headed. Right as we were leaving for this trip my biggest complaint was that reading with him was soooooo frustrating. He knew what to do, but I’m his hostage, and I can’t make him read if he doesn’t want to. That’s no longer the problem, he seems to enjoy reading now, I think he’s understanding more of what he’s reading. It’s still not a wonderful experience all around, but it no longer requires discipline every time. Math (and every other subject) is now the dreaded one. I swear he knows how to preform the ritual of the math problem. Read the problem out loud, mark the correct number of boxes for the first number, mark the correct number of boxes for the second number, count them all together, write down the answer. He knows this. He knows this. But he doesn’t do it. Or, really, he does it sometimes and not others. He isn’t consistent in saying only 1 number when he marks 1 box, and he’s very fond of guessing random numbers and saying them super excitedly as the answer. This too will pass. I know. But I might die before it does.

Well, I need to pack for our Thanksgiving trip tomorrow. We were all going to Mom’s, but with all the craziness with the bus Tj thinks it’s best for him to stay here. I love living in this bus, but I’ll love it even better when we stop having to learn so much.

Almost forgot to say, this morning the radio wouldn’t come on…come to find out the bus battery was almost dead. Tj and I texted back and forth a good bit before remembering to try starting it with the emergency start. Thankfully that worked! It’s always something!

Monday, November 7th, 2016

4 Nov Fri
I slept horribly last night but was out of bed at 8:30am for school. I did a lot of wash today, took a walk, and started a food journal. School went well enough that I was able to take an hour and a half nap, woot!

Tj came home around 4:30 and he’d picked up our new printer! It’s so nice to have one, I’ve drawn many a sheet for Jack to work on and am eagerly anticipating printing out a ton now πŸ™‚ For some reason our internet started working poorly after my nap…Tj had a hard time downloading the driver (or whatever it was he needed) to set up the printer. We finally gave up and went out to eat at Dale’s. I ordered 2 servings of their mashed potatoes with white gravy but I was not impressed…it was a little sweet. When we got back Tj was finally able to get the printer working, then he left for his pad.

I forget exactly what day it was but one day this week we finally figured out how to get Jack to shower by himself…what a blessing! I started off having Max shower first, then having him set up the water temp for Jack and leaving the water on, just not flowing. After a few times getting soaked while trying to start the water flowing I figured out a way to have the shower head at the right height for Jack and angled away from the door opening. Hallelujah!

I’m starting to double up on flonase…my nose is just extra itchy and I’m sneezing a little more. Hopefully this will take care of the problem.

5 Nov Sat
We got out of bed around 10am. Late mornings are so luxurious! Jack and I went to the Goodwill bookstore, then to Shipley’s, then to get cash and to the Salvation Army store where I saw Leslie! We were heading to Goodwill when I saw another thrift store on the way. Out of all those stores and the Goodwill I only bought 1 corelle plate! It was not our day.

We headed to Walmart for groceries (and to buy a buttload of paper for our new printer) when I saw Aldi across the street. I’ve been wanting to get some more of those awesome salami rounds so we stopped in there, and after going through all the aisles I’ve decided I should always go there before Wal-Mart.

We went home and I took the boys to jump at the big pillow at the front of the campground…that thing is kinda fun! We had cereal for supper and watched Lord of the Rings until Tj came home, then he and I watched tons of Parks and Rec. I’m gonna be so sad when we’re finished with that series.

6 Nov Sun
Jack prayed this morning, “Thank you God for this day. Make fried egg sandwich. Cheese on bread. Mayonnaise on bread. I need help mayonnaise on bread please Daddy. Amen”

Our internet’s still wonky so it took forever to dl the sermon; we finally watched it before supper.

We were good Christians today and took a nap πŸ™‚ Nothing much else to say.

7 Nov Mon
No sign of any roaches or any more bugs for that matter, thankfully.

I printed up a storm…found a lot of good stuff for Jack. He still doesn’t seem to ‘understand’ numbers, but he knows how to perform a simple addition problem. He doesn’t always follow the setup I have for him (roll the dice, write the first number plus the second number equals, color the appropriate number of boxes or lay out the appropriate number of coins, count them all together, write the answer), his favorite thing to do is to say in a completely excited voice, “1 plus 5 equals 5!!!” or whatever number strikes his fancy. His handwriting is improving, though. He often has many letters on the line, and usually has the letters of a word grouped together. His reading is still steadily improving, which is wonderful.

Max is doing great in school as well, and Monarch is a lifesaver. He’s getting A’s in 6th grade Bible and 7th grade Language Arts and B’s in 6th grade History/Geography, 6th grade Science and 8th grade Math.

Monday, November 7th, 2016

1 Nov Tue
A few months ago I set an alarm every hour to remind Jack to go to the bathroom. He does pretty well, and hadn’t been having major accidents, but he always has a wet spot in his underwear…it seems like he always pees a bit, stops, and then goes to the bathroom. I hoped that making him go often enough would help with this problem. After a while I changed it to every hour and a half. Today I turned it off. We don’t have enough structure to make that work, and he still has the spots.

Tj finally found me a place for the iPad repair. I called them to find out the price right before I left. It took me about 20 minutes from the phone call to get there, and there was a note on the door saying they’d be back in 15 minutes! Another woman had just read the note and gotten back into her car and left. Jack and I waited, and when I saw him take the sign down we started getting out of the truck. The same woman pulled back into her parking spot at exactly that time and beat me into the store! Ugh! As I was waiting for her to finish talking to the guy I read a note on his counter saying at that time they only took cash! Ugh again! When it was my turn the dude said I could pay when I picked it up, which was great.

We went to get some diatomatious earth for the roach, and then to Wal-Mart for more poison and groceries. While there Jack got a feather duster and was playing with it. I heard him say a few times, “Don’t be scared! It’s feathers! Don’t be scared!” When I was ready to leave that aisle I wanted him to hang up the duster, but he was super resistant. I told him I’d help him, and that we only had to touch the wooden handle, but he was really freaked out by the feathers! I held his hand and made him hang it up, but 2 times as I got the handle on the rod to hang it he jerked his hand back…he was crying so much! I can’t believe how scared he is of this feather duster! If it hadn’t been $7 I would have bought it to have around the house to get him used to it. In the end I had to hang it up myself. Poor scared kid!

We went back to pick up the iPad…with all the trauma of the feather duster I forgot to get cash! I was so annoyed with myself. I was super hungry and close to the iPad store when I figured this out…I counted out all my cash and figured it might be enough to cover it. I asked the guy the cost and he said $117 something, I had $113.75, so I asked him where an ATM was. He said not to worry about the difference πŸ™‚

We got back home and I had cereal for lunch. Jack and I did some school outside at the playground. I mad wonderful roasted veggie sandwiches with goat cheese for supper. Yum!

2 Nov Wed
We got a late start to school today…when Tj moves into his crash pad I’ll be able to get us all up on time in the morning. I don’t see any point in doing that now…Tj will want to sleep in and I’ll be resentful…so I’m enjoying the lazy mornings πŸ™‚

Tj made himself an ENT appointment without a referral today…he’s worried that his hearing loss will affect his job. He was told to start flonase and claritin to clear up his eustachian tube. He called work and it won’t affect training! Hallelujah!

3 Nov Thur

Max finished his lessons by 9:45am!! But he had to redo his lessons on percents…he failed several lessons on that.

The washer is great, but super temperamental. It is really keeping my prayer life straight! Now that Tj completely repaired the drain pump the only problem with it is electrical. It only turns on when it wants to. It seems that if it starts working I can do as many loads in a row as I want, but once I let it rest for a bit or turn it off it wont come on until it’s ready. It never turned on yesterday, but it finally did today so I’ve been doing a bunch of laundry. I saw a few bubbles coming up in the front toilet which is an indicator that the mid needs dumping. It had just started raining, but fortunately it was just a 5-minute downpour, so I got my big umbrella and dumped.

Tj moved out tonight. That sounds so strange! He’s been planning on it for a couple of weeks. He and I both think that it’ll be easier for him to concentrate on his studies away from this tiny place, so he got a crash pad about 5 minutes away. But it was still really strange to see him pack his clothes and toiletries and go.

Tonight was also the first night I remembered the dentist suggested we put socks on Jack’s hands to stop him from sucking his thumb at night. I think he was pretty much stopped from sucking his thumbs, but then he started cutting all these molars, and I hardly ever see him with his thumb in his mouth, but…when we first moved into the bus I’d let Jack sleep in my bed when Tj was working overnight and in the middle of the night many times I’d hear Jack sucking his thumb! I can’t believe I needed the dentist to remind me about socks…that’s what we did with Max when he sucked his thumb at night. The bad thing with Jack is that if he needs to go to the bathroom after I put them on he really can’t. Ugh. I told him we’d put mittens on, and then I called them muppets thinking that that would help him dislike it less, but he still complains and asks for the ‘muffins’ to come off πŸ™‚

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

13 Oct Thur
It’s a gray, rainy day. A great day for hot chocolate and pjs.
I finally figured out what Jack means when he says “di ti ra” = don’t turn around…Shut Up and Dance With Me!!! Tj just got us this song and Jack loves it. πŸ˜€

14 Oct Fri
It’s even more rainy than yesterday. All of us stayed in bed till 9:30. Nice. Now we all have school and work to do. Yesterday or the day before I put the gemiinipad up…Jack has dropped it a couple of times and made the cracks Tj started even worse. Tj’s looking for a place to get the screen fixed, until then Jack can watch Gemiini on my computer or phone. We found out today that there’s no way to download the sessions on my computer so he’s using bandwidth when he watches it there. Ugh. On the other hand I really think Gemiini is helping with his vocabulary! It keeps me on my toes now making new sessions for him every week.

Tj did his own work this morning. I made ravioli and red sauce with salad and Cavendar’s bread for lunch. I just discovered that bread this week, and it’s a big hit!

After lunch we worked on the washer till Tj had to go to work…he took the pump apart 3 times, but the 3rd time was the charm! I did a whole load of clothes without having to move the drain line at all! Hallelujah!! Now we need to get the vent hole drilled in the side of the bus and we’ll be in business. As it is now I can wash but not dry, and with the rain (and just living in a camper in general) the clothes on the drying rack will take at least 24 hours to dry.

For supper we had cookie butter sandwiches for the first time. They were awesome! Tj left for work around 5pm and will get back 1 or 2am. He’s gonna see the hub tonight, and then come home to sleep. Then he’ll try jump seating to ATL where Mom will get him and he’ll drive his car here.

15 Oct Sat
I took Tj to the airport leaving Max in the bus. When I got back home both boys and I went to the fair. It was small, but they gave out free cotton candy!

Then Jack and I left to find him a McDonald’s with a playground. Despite the fact that we’re living at the Ag center now we’re in a good part of town and I couldn’t find any indoor playgrounds! Jack kept saying, “Sorry, Jack, no playgrounds!” so sadly from the back seat. We gave up and had lunch at BK then went to 2 Goodwills. On the way to Wal-Mart I saw a McD’s with a PG! I quickly pulled in. I let him play forever, then bought groceries and went home. Tj came in just a few minutes after me.

16 Oct Sun
We watched our church, and then, though the sermon was on keeping Sunday a day of rest, we set to work installing the dryer vent. We spent a lot of time trying to ensure there were no studs where we were drilling. Tj even drilled 4 or 5 pilot holes. When it was time for the 4″ hole through the outside wall I gathered the boys and we watched. What a dreadful noise! Jack covered his ears and whimpered, and I felt like doing the same! It’s so final drilling a hole through your home! But Tj did great. Of course the hole he drilled was about 1/8th too small, so he had to wiggle the drill a bit so all the vent parts would fit. While he was working on it at one point Max went to the bathroom, and then Tj was blocking the door so I told Max to just clean the bathroom until Tj was finished. Sometimes I have such good ideas πŸ™‚

After we finished the washer/dryer we went to eat at O Charley’s, but I wasn’t impressed with anything we had there. Then we drove around a bit looking for the awesome park there. We went to WM on the way home for a few things, and then watched Lost during supper. After it started I wondered if this was the best show for a pilot’s family to watch! Boy, did Jennifer’s eyes get big when I told her that…she’s the one who lent me the series. Heh. Fortunately Max doesn’t seem bothered by the plane crash stuff…and I’m not sure Jack understands it’s a plane. We made sure to not say the word ‘plane’ at all during the crash scenes.

17 Oct Mon
Today is our 8 week anniversary of living in the bus! I’m so thankful we’re getting to do this. I really hope and pray we can continue on traveling around the US after training is over. But I hope more that I’m thankful for whatever the Lord decides we’ll do.

The boys and I had a picnic a little ways from the bus. It was perfect weather, and we had shade trees. The wind blew the entire time we were there; I love the sound of wind in the trees.

20 Oct Thur
I went to pick up Tj from work so we could leave his car there while we’re in Ar. We’re sitting here at FedEx waiting for TJ to come out and we see two planes take off at one time. Jack was so excited, jumping up and down and yelling. Then he said, “10 FedEx planes please Mama!” like I can make planes fly. :=-)

21 Oct Fri
We woke up and packed up and drove to Petit Jean Mountain. I finished Jennifer’s last book in The Giver series on the drive.

We got there about 1, and it took us about an hour to set up. I made a quick lunch and then we ate around the campfire with the Jones and Huffs. What a great time! It was super sweet to see all 3 Huff boys so excited to see us! We have such great family!

We went to Turtle Rock and the Rock House Cave today. Jack was scared of heights at first, but then he got so into jumping on all the big rocks that he forgot about being scared.

22 Oct Sat
We went to Turtle Rock again while Tj and John watched the game.

I made broccoli with cheese and brought that and rolls to the potluck. Tj scrambled to get his projector and screen all set up since they didn’t ask to use it till right before they wanted it. The Burlesons had their slideshow and gave a little talk about their mission trip.

23 Oct Sun
Tj made his campfire eggs this morning. We ended up not having breakfast till late so we skipped the lunch I had planned. For supper we, the Jones and the Huffs went to the Cabin to eat. Tj and I split the hamburger steak and chicken fried steak with white gravy. I can’t believe I went my whole life without realizing how heavenly white gravy was! Mashed potatoes with white gravy is almost as wonderful as chocolate!

After supper we went back to the bonfire and the kids had smores before the Huffs had to leave. I tried to get Tj and Jp to put all the remaining logs on the fire, but in the end it was best they only put 3/4 of them on there…I was so ready to go to bed before the fire died down. In the end they doused the fire with a bunch of water, and that was pretty fun to see as well.

24 Oct Mon
Jack has a dental appointment, so I had to leave at 10:30 to get there on time. Jack was wonderful at his appointment!! Without much prepping (though I mentioned it to him a couple of times) he was very calm. I had to put him in the chair, and he got antsy waiting for the dentist at the end, but otherwise he was great. The assistant, Beth, even scraped his teeth again!

The dentist (who is only there 2 minutes looking into Jack’s mouth, as opposed to Beth who spends 20 minutes cleaning his teeth) spent a lot of time telling me where we should go on our bus trip. He asked me how long Tj had been in the military and I told him Tj retired at 20. Without missing a beat he said, “So he’s double dipping then”!!!! Whatever! I didn’t miss a beat when I said, “No, he earned that, he put his life at risk during his time in the military and he deserves what he gets.” That dude has a lot of nerve.

After that I went to check on our bill. At the dental desk they told me to go to the main entry and ask about billing there. I did and gave them Jack’s name and they told me they’d call me in a min. We went back to an office and after the lady looked us up in the system she said she couldn’t really tell me anything…I needed to drive 5 minutes away to talk to Patient Accounts. She told me there was a 4-story glass building on the left hand side. Actually, there was a 3-story concrete and glass bldg, but after I passed it and came back I saw a 3-story glass building that sloped down to a 4-story glass building away from the road. I went inside and couldn’t pass through the second set of doors…I was stuck in an entry room with a phone with no handset on the wall. I called the extension and waited on hold. Right after someone picked up and then hung up on me a woman came through the second set of doors and ran into Jack! While I was waiting for the second time on hold a couple came through the door, and then let me in. The woman there at the desk told me where to go, which turned out to be wrong. That woman told me the right place to go to, finally. After a little bit Courtney came out to talk to me, and I’m hoping she’s finally gotten the whole mess straightened out. Apparently our insc was never changed to the retiree dental program, so this visit today was going to be billed to the wrong insc as well.

After all that mess Jack and I drove to Conway and had lunch at David’s with Tj and the Joneses. Leaving there Tj hit a curb and two doors swung open and all my new drawers spilled out. The worst thing that happened was that the fruit basket also fell off the counter and plums and tomatoes went everywhere! Nothing was broken, thankfully. Now we know that the washer (and the tables above it) won’t slide out, that’s good to know!

I stopped to get gas on the way home and then got behind some guy with dining room chairs in the back of his pickup…but they weren’t tied down and one flew out right in front of me!

When I got on the base Tj was backing into our slot. I took over for Max and sent the boys to play at the playground. While Tj set up the bus I went and paid for our stay.

Since we ate so late I left the boys getting supper at 6:40 and went to Jenn’s with tons of laundry. I wanted a shake for supper but McD’s shake machine was broken!! I had to settle for chicken nuggets and french fries. We watched several Call the Midwife and I washed my major laundry: bedspreads and jackets. I’m excited for the bus not to smell like campfire smoke. I got home at 2:45am!

25 Oct Tue
I got up kinda early for having gone to sleep at 3am. Tj went to the dentist and we did school. I did a few loads of laundry in the laundromat since we were in the lot right next to it and I had the quarters. We had Mexican Chicken leftovers and then took a long nap.

I put the hammock up and not long after Tj tore it in half! You could see that the fabric was really worn, though. Max has had many hours of fun in that thing. We sent the boys to the playground and I cut Tj’s hair. We had meatball subs for supper and watched another episode of Lost. Tj decided that he’s no longer taking campground showers. I’d been thinking that, and it’ll make showering Jack much easier. So far we’ve been showering him ourselves, but this way we can just set the temp and walk him through it, just like we used to do at home.

26 Oct Wed
We got up late again, but got ready in time to take Jack to his doctor’s appt for warts. He has them, and the doc says no biggie. We also got flu shots, and Jack didn’t even flinch!!! I was so impressed with him! When we walked from the doctor’s office to the immunizations office I told Jack that he was getting a shot, and then I poked his arm with my fingernail. I did that probably 3 times, and he was awesome! I’m loving his new ability to be cool in formerly stressful situations.

We went back home and got Tj and Max for their immunizations, then we went to meet Damon and Jessica at the Mean Pig. Yum!

We went right back to the base after our 2-hour lunch, and Hooper showed up right away. Tj was on the phone booking me a room πŸ™‚ And I’m writing this from my hotel bed.

I left around 3:45pm and went to Cabot to vote. I went to the library after that and bought some magazines. Kroger was next and I got my free chocolate bar. I went to Goodwill after that and hit the jackpot: black dressy jacket, white skirt, silicone steamer, tiny birdhouses to paint, 3 corelle plates and small cutting boards. Woot!! I went to Tuesday morning next and bought a really cute soap dispenser. I texted Liz next to find out the name of a store, and then I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a ton of chocolate!! I went to Drug Emporium next; I could spend hours in there! I bought cinnamon essential oil and some other fun stuff…can’t wait to get home and play!

I went to Kebab House after that and got the chicken shish plate with hummus. It was good but not great. I left there at 9pm and went to the hotel where I realized I forgot my charger! Fortunately the hotel dude had a brick I could borrow. I watched TV and blogged till midnight.

27 Oct Thur
Woke up at 6:30 for devotions and then reading reading reading!

Check out was at noon so I got ready and left at 11:40. I went straight to Olive Garden and had my usual. From there I went to The Container Store looking for a box for our socks but couldn’t find anything I really liked in my price range. After that I went to a couple of Goodwills and wasn’t as lucky as the day before but did end up buying some bubbles for Jack and a basketball. After that it was time for me to go grocery shopping and back home. What a wonderful vacation! I got home and TJ left about an hour and a half later to go hang out with his guys. He stayed later than usual so after the boys went to bed I got to watch a couple Call the Midwife and then I was about ready to pass out.

28 Oct Fri
Awoke at 9:15!!!! What a great sleep. Since it was so late I skipped breakfast and we had chili and Frito’s for lunch. We packed up and left the campground at 12:45pm to go to EZ Dayze near Memphis.

12:04am Tj just left for the ER…his ear is killing him!! He came down with a cold about 3 weeks ago. He got better for a while, but just before Family Camping he got worse. I’m sure the 3 days of campfires didn’t do him any good…though everyone at camping offered him their remedies for a cold/cough. He seemed fine all day, but a few hours ago he started having more intense pain in his right ear.

29 Oct Sat
He got home at 3am, he’s ruptured his eardrum! The doc gave him antibiotics for the infection he has. Poor sap! We got up and found a pharmacy that opened at 8am so I could go get his prescriptions filled. Because it was so late and he was in such pain he forgot to check to see if there were any 24-hr-pharmacies around. I got his meds and found out he had been automatically enrolled in FedEx’s insc! We just paid out of pocket for this.

I called jellystone and they said to call back in 20 minutes. When I called them again they said our spot was vacant! It was nice to not have to wait the whole day to move in. We moved around 10:30am, plugged in the electricity and left for FedEx family day. It was great! I ate a million cotton candies, we got to see the plane Tj’ll be flying, there were lots of freebees and the boys got to jump a good bit.

When we got back to the bus we pulled out right away and filled our propane tank. We set up and settled in for the night. It’ll be nice to be settled for a while.

30 Oct Sun
Not long after we watched church this morning Jenn texted to see if we’d watched the current week. Our preacher is leaving!! He and his family have been called to be church planters in Boston! You can’t argue with God about where he sends you, but I sure will miss his preaching! They were a great family.

31 Oct Mon
Around 5pm we left for trick or treating with the FedEx who’d had us over to their house. When their kids were tired they left, but we kept on and found the house with full size candy bars! Score!!

By the time we got home the boys were ready to pass out, but as they were showering I saw a roach!!! Ugh!!! Our first gross camping thing. Fortunately it’s a big one which I’ve read usually just comes from outside. Now I’m reading how to deter them and tomorrow I’m buying lots of stuff to do just that!

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

24 Sept Sat
School today was tough. Jack was tough. I’m about at my breaking point. And then I went to Walmart without Max for some groceries and a break. Tj just set up a txt program so Max could let me know if he needed anything. As I was tooling around WM I figured I’d check in on him. He didn’t respond. I continued to text…we tried it out before Tj left so I knew the program worked. I finally texted that I was checking out and would be coming home…but I could tell I would be waiting another 10 minutes to check out, and it’d already been 20 minutes and he hadn’t responded. I finally just pushed my cart to the front, apologized and left. Halfway home he texted me. He’d left his headphones plugged in but off his head so didn’t hear the alert!!! Ugh! We packed up and went to the beach. I told Max I was bringing a book and he’d have to watch Jack.

The rest of the day was good πŸ™‚ We got there around 3:30. I read and picked seashells for crafts later. We saw more weddings, and realized that the protected part of the beach was a turtle nest. A little boy, Taylor, played with Max, and asked if Jack was his special brother. His grandparents said he has a little brother with special needs. Heh.

25 Sept Sun
We picked up Tj from the airport and saw a big bird’s nest on the top of an electrical pole. I smelled some great BBQ on the way there and on the way back we stopped and ate…I had really great brisket and ribs. After we got home we went to Walmart and this time actually bought groceries! We went for a walk later, and then watched Fargo till about 3am!

26 Sept Mon
We got up late and worked on our future trip a little. We ate lunch at home. We wanted to go to the beach and packed for it, but the drizzle didn’t let up so we went shopping instead. I bought a mobile, Max got a flashlight, and we bought a noisy pig for Jack because he was completely enamored of it while we were in the store. By the time he got back to the truck he hated it! I think he just wanted a flashlight! He should learn to talk!!

We went and got some more of that wonderful ice cream, then went home and took a nap. Tj made supper (pasta with spinach and bacon in the instant pot) while I went to WM for a few things we couldn’t find the day before.

27 Sept Tue
There’s not much to say about today. We did school and then Tj, Jack and I went to play tennis. But while there we saw a waterspout! It lasted so long…at least 5-10 minutes.

28 Sept Wed
I did laundry all by myself, it was wonderful! I started reading “The Fault in our Stars” Tj did school with Jack and Max. Then we played tennis a bit. Afterwards we went to have fried shrimp. Tj got the po-boy and now I want a po-boy!

Afterwards we headed to a go-cart place, but saw another spot where all 3 boys went in a hurricane wind machine. At our next stop I rode a go-cart with Jack, then we did bumper boats (where Max completely soaked me!! Mine was the only boat with a long-range sprayer…theirs both had short-range sprayers so I was at a disadvantage), then we rode go-carts again and Jack wanted to ride with Tj. Afterwards we played in the arcade a bit.

We went to Walmart for a bit, then Tj, Jack and I played tennis while Max finished up his school. Then we made popcorn and had a movie night. We watched Bridge to Terebithia. It was good, and not too many chocolate chips (from the indulgent trail mix) ended up in our bed πŸ™‚

29 Sept Thur
Jack has learned to raise his eyebrows lately, and we have laughed a good bit about that. He’s so impressed with himself when he does it! But sadly it seems like bird-eyes are almost gone. I remind him once in a while just to keep it around a little longer.

It was a pretty typical day. We did some school, then had breakfast, the boys went out for a bike ride, Tj did some work, the boys came in and did some school, I made lunch (pasta salad with doritos on top). We had a nap and then went to the beach. We saw a ray, Tj saw a jellyfish in the water and pointed it out to me…fortunatley none of us was stung. As we were leaving a guy told us they were seeing dolphins so we stopped and watched them for a bit.

We went home and showered while Tj looked for a Marcos to deliver. When we found that they wouldn’t we decided to follow Ranger Dave’s advice and we went to Crico’s for pizza. It was excellent!! I’m sorry we went there the last day!

30 Sept Fri
After some school we had pizza toast and salad for lunch. Then we went on a 2.5 hr bike ride where we saw lots of butterflies and a baby alligator. I had meatballs in the crockpot and they were great with mashed potatoes.

1 Oct Sat
It’s 11:15am and we’re buckled down and pulling away from the campground. We got out of bed around 9, and TJ flushed the tanks, the back one twice. We definitely didn’t rush, I fed the kids, washed the dishes and put them up and then we packed up to go. As always there was the usual somebody lost something, this time it was me losing my keys, but it only took a little while to find them. Before I got out of bed I made an appointment to get my haircut! it will have been 11 and a half weeks between cuts. I normally schedule my cuts for every five to six weeks, so I’m looking pretty shaggy now.

2 Oct Sun
We looked last night for a church and found one in Start, Louisiana that we thought would be good. I wanted to take a selfie in front of it but we forgot. We took one inside instead. At some point in the song service all the kids went to the front and Max went down to go to Sunday School with them. Jack sat with us. The sermon was good, about the four important parts of the first church, and how churches today aren’t churches if they don’t incorporate those four points: devoted to the scriptures, to fellowship/sharing, to prayer, and to one other thing.

After church TJ asked if I wanted to go to the po-boy place we’d scouted out. All the reviews made it looks so awesome, they all talked about the gravy and how wonderful it was everyone says to eat it on the fries. The church was half an hour away from our bus and the po-boy place was another 15 minutes. We double-checked to make sure they were open on Sunday, but when we drove up to the joint they were obviously closed. TJ had seen a Mongolian BBQ place on the way and we haven’t eaten at one of those in a long time so that’s where we went. I wondered if my concoction would taste any good, and it was awesome!

We got our leftovers to go and then went to Walmart to buy some bed suspenders: every morning when we get up Tj’s mattress cover is pulled off. Let’s see if this helps. We went straight to the bus after that and made a mad dash to change our clothes as quickly as possible, the drive-thru Safari closes 2 hours after we left the bus so we wanted to be sure and have as much time as we could in there. TJ found the Simpsons clip about discount lion safari and we played that a hundred times. I laughed about it on the 10-minute drive to the safari. I had never been to one of these before and wasn’t sure what all it entails. I pushed for us to go to this but could tell TJ was not enthusiastic about it at all. I prefer my animals on the TV where I don’t have to smell them and I can sit in the air conditioning, but I really thought the boys would enjoy it and thought it would be a good memory. I’m so glad we went!

Tj said he would drive and I was glad for that so that I could spend my time looking at the animals. He was an awesome driver, he went really slow and we had a good time. The first thing we saw was bison and they came right up to our truck! Tj rolled our windows down and the locked them! You should’ve heard the yelling in the truck when we realized that! The bison were so huge I was really worried they would push against our truck with their horns, but they were for the most part pretty gentle. The lady at the desk said if you just drive out there they’ll come to you, they know that you’re going to feed them and that was the case for the most point. There were a couple of scuffles, I forget what animal the bison was pushing away, or maybe two of them got in just a little bit of a fight right there. We moved on and found zebras and donkeys and a couple of them fought each other and one of them kicked the other right at the truck! Before any of that happened Max was all the way in the way back and was really terrified!! I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be to try to feed the animals, but I was glad that by this point TJ would just roll up the window when he wanted them to back off and they would just walk away. They certainly had the strength to break the window or to the car but they didn’t.

Jack was calm as anything just sitting there with his cup of food; he wasn’t very good at feeding them but he wasn’t scared at all. At one point a big old bison had his huge head all the way on Jack’s lap and Jack kept saying thank you, thank you. Tj started rolling up the window and he just pulled his head out! Tj and Jack fed the most animals, but I’m the only one who got licked by two bison! They’re slobber was all over the windows! Max fed a few as well, mostly leaning over Jack to feed them because he was so worried about Jack getting bitten or something. It was kind of funny and sweet. We saw a giraffe and some turtles too, but I forgot to go take better pictures of those after we were finished. We got back with a little bit of time left to go feed the penned animals. Out there they had deer and kangaroos and ostriches. I got to watch a kangaroo dig a hole; I don’t know what he was looking for but he he sure could dig. Jack kept asking to go play on the playground so in the last 10 minutes or so I walked him over there and right next to the playground was a big pen with small cows, goats and big fat pigs.

It was a really cool place to visit, but they could make a killing if they put a car wash nearby. We drove a few miles down the road and got the truck washed. I could only scrape up four quarters because I brought most of my coins in to do school with Jack so we only got a short time on the vacuum, but it’ll do for now. After that we came home and TJ sent the boys to the playground while he started the fire. We had some leftover bacon so he made 50/50 bacon beef burgers. They were awesome! The bugs were so horrible, but the spray I got worked great for me, I think I only have one mosquito bite on my chin because I didn’t want to spray it around my face. TJ said he got eaten up even spraying himself twice. I did some research and we’ve ordered another kind of bug spray. They were just ridiculous, I could feel them bumping around and see them flying all around in the firelight. We sent the boys in to shower and Tj and I stayed out to admire the stars. Even with the fire right there we could see so many more stars than we’ve seen from our backyard. We even saw the Milky Way! One of my big to-dos for this bus trip is to see the Milky Way even more clearly than we saw it tonight. This was a wonderful day.

3 Oct Mon
We packed up and left the park at 11:15am. We got a call as we were leaving for Jellystone but we cancelled that place. We set up the bus and then I left the base at 6pm for girls’ night!!!! Woot! I went to Jen’s, and after about 15 mins we went to get Amy. It was sooooooo good to see my best friends! We ate at Mimi’s, and sadly the boeuf bourguignon wasn’t as good as last time. The madeleines were, though. After eating there we went to Jen’s house and talked, and the watched The Good Place for a while…I enjoyed it…but mostly I enjoyed hanging out with my girls again

4 Oct Tue
Reveille is at 7am, The National Anthem is 4pm and Taps is 8pm. Heh.

Today we worked more on the leak in the gray water tank. I did school with the boys. Normal life.

It’s 9:15pm, my wash is folded and put up, the boys are in bed (reading and playing) and I’m watching Call the Midwife and coloring. Well, now I’m blogging πŸ™‚ Tj’s out with his friends, I hope he’s having a good time!

5 Oct Wed
8:15am I went to get my haircut. It was so good to see Kassie! Then I went shopping at Goodwill and found a bag for M’s stuff. On the way home I picked up sushi at the commissary for me and the boys.

At 4pm we left to drop Max off at Aidan’s to play. We went to church to sign him up and pay for camp. While there we saw Jenn, Hooper and Sara Lu.
We went to Wal-Mart for some returns, and while there Max called to see if he could eat at Aidan’s. We went to David’s for burgers, then to Kroger. We stopped in at Freda’s and had a little visit before visiting with Liz and picking up Max.

6 Oct Thur
We did school and worked more on the leak. Tj had lunch with a friend and then we went to Lowe’s for the stuff to finally fix the leak, and we bought Jack a yard stick which has really come in handy! We went to Walmart and it wasn’t on the list but we bought a little green table which has been so nice for Jack’s school.

At 5:30 we went to check out a Splendide washer/dryer, and then bought it! I can’t wait till it’s installed! We went right from there to Jenn’s at 6:30 for dinner with them and the Huffs. We got home and put the washer in its place at 10:15pm.

7 Oct Friday
Tj had a dentist appointment, then he went to Home Depot for washer stuff. We did school and I cleaned up the disaster of the washer placement. Jack slept till 10am, and I made Max read Jen’s book instead of school. We packed for camp and switched Max’s clothes and the games for more accessibility.

When Tj got home went out for BBQ; those were the best ribs since TJ Ribs!!! We went home, TJ napped and the boys and I shopped around: Dirt cheap (lost Jack for a good minute), Goodwill, Dollar Tree, BX for bamboo πŸ™

While we were driving from store to store, from the backseat directly behind me Max asked, “Mom, do you think if someone gets saved but never does anything good that they’re really saved?” I told him that yes, they were. If they weren’t they wouldn’t be relying on Jesus to save them, but their own actions. I said it was kinda like the thief on the cross…he’d lived a ‘bad’ life, but the last thing he did was ask God to save him, and God said he did. God is the one who saves, not us. I said if we were sincere when we prayed for salvation that God would save us once and for all. Then I didn’t want him to think that he had to ask ‘perfectly’, so I said it’s also like Jack…we could feed him the words to say but that’s not what will save Jack, it’s not a prescribed set of words, but God working in us that saves. I could hear tears in his voice now and he told me he was relieved, because although he said when he got baptized that he wanted to start thinking about what God wants him to do instead of what he wants to do he hadn’t done that at all since then. I told him that as old as I was I still hadn’t figured out how to always think about what God wants. That God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, just for us to strive to be like Him. I asked him what I could do to help him remember to think more often about God’s will and he said to just remind him. I’ve been trying to not shove his own words down his throat so as not to make him regret saying them, but now I have the go-ahead to remind him sometimes. Sweet times with my boy!

We went back to the bus, got Tj and Max’s luggage and brought Max to church to catch the bus for camp. Tj, Jack and I went to Buffalo Wild wings and had their fried cheese curds: amazing! We went home and set up the washer: nothing!! While Tj agonized over that I put together the shoe storage we bought at Home Depot. We watched Parks and Rec and ate half a pack of Oreos.

8 Oct Sat
The washer makes me sad. We worked on it for a bit but can’t get anything but blinking lights. Tj sent an email to the manufacturer.

We took Jack to the park nearby while my pizza dough rose. We sat outside at the picnic table and had pizza, lemon cupcakes and lemon curd. Yum! Then we took a nap and I read Jen’s book, The Giver. I have to give it back to her before we leave, and can keep the other 3 in that series till we come back to AR.

9 Oct Sun
We were out of bed at 7 and got the bus ready to go. We left the base at 8:15am and made it to church at 8:45. It was so fun to see so many friends!! There was a military ministry luncheon that we went to. It was good to really have time to talk to Sara Lu there. Afterwards we just hung out on bus till the campers got back. We said another goodbye to our friends and headed for Memphis at 3pm.

I just remembered a funny story. One of my last days at G-lab A. Noe came up to me out of the blue and asked what my favorite soup was. I said broccoli cheese. She said, oh, well, I’m making Italian Wedding Soup for your going away party. Huh. Thanks?

10 Oct Mon
I started to do a day-in-the-life, but this ended up being a gripe fest!
Tj got up early and got ready for his first day of work. He put Jack in the bed before he left, but Jack never went back to sleep. I read my phone for a little bit at 7:20, and then read a book until the alarm rang at 8.
The washer is still playing its tricks on us, so while I’m working with it I told Max to get down and make Jack a fried egg sandwich. I go to help him a little bit with that and realize the bread crumbs are open and it spilled all over the shelf.
After their breakfast is ready I go to the back to change clothes. During that time I hear Jack spitting up his egg sandwich and Max yelling at him for it.
I go to set up Monarch for Max and realize that the jetpack isn’t on. That takes a few minutes to fix and by that time the boys are getting ready to go on their bike ride. Max realizes the handle to the faucet is broken, and Jack’s toothbrush has fuzz in it which makes him spit and sputter. On me.
9:30 Jack just fought with the soap. Max just fought with his socks.
9:35 I just realized TJ has the bikes in the back of the truck. Max is even more angry about this, so I just sent him to run. I started Jack with gemiinipad again.
9:40 Max starts Spanish so that I can change his Monarch. I start cleaning up the bread spell again.
10 We need some Bible verses on good attitude. So we look them up and we prayed. I felt like praying for others might help our attitudes get better so we prayed for Papa too. About two minutes later Mama texted that he was going to get a CT scan today and that it was a miracle and she was crying like a crybaby so she couldn’t talk to us now!
10:10 I saw that the washer wasn’t blinking anymore and decided to give it a try but it’s a no-go. I’ll unplug it now for a while. I’m going to try it again, and then I’m going to call the manufacturer.
10:34 I send J to the bathroom, and ask Max to be quiet while I make a phone call. I hear Jack fussing in the bathroom so I open the door to check on him before I start the phone call and he’s peed on an empty toilet paper roll. I think we might be taking a nap today.
10:50 I call the manufacturer. Power problem?
11:15 We went for a walk, checked out the laundry area at the campground. Came back, made lunch, Max is still angry. He didn’t eat all his lunch so I put it up for a snack for later.
12:34 I put the boys in bed and I’m gonna read. I ended up snoozing a bit.
2pm I sent Max to do school.
3:20 I turn the generator on and the washer still didn’t work. I plugged the washer into the bottom plug and it worked! I unplug the bus while the generator was on and the washer worked! I couldn’t get it to drain until I put a bucket on the floor and ran the drain line to it. While it was working a cycle I went and plugged the bus back in, and then after a little while I turned the generator off, and it still worked! I haven’t tried starting a brand new cycle with it plugged into the bottom plug yet, I’ll wait till TJ gets home. Jack and I will do school until then.
3:55 This day is not going any better. I told Jack where to write his name on the ‘My Name All Year’ paper and he wrote it right over last month’s name, then angled it down to cover next months name as well.
5:30 Tj home. We talked and then he started on his homework and I made supper: meatloaf, potato salad and corn on the cob.
9pm Boys in bed. We went to bed shortly thereafter. I’m glad Tj loves his new job, but I’m glad this day is over!

11 Oct Tue
Today was a much better day, despite its start. I took Tj to work and J and I went grocery shopping after. After Kroger and Walmart we came back to the bus. M had just had his break (at 10:15), so when he finished his next subject we went to the farmer’s market. If I’d known it was open every day I’d have bought my produce there! We came back and worked on school some, and then I made nachos for lunch.
I hadn’t even made my salad yet when Tj called and said he needed me to pick him up from work in 15-20 mins…they were let out early and were meeting for supper. I was watching a load of wash to note that it only filled the drum when the pipe was held up, and only drained when the pipe was down.
I called the manufacturer later and he thinks the pump has come unplugged. I’m praying that’s the problem and that Tj can help me fix it soon!

12 Oct Wed
I told Jack to get the skillet out so we could make his fried egg sandwich like we do every morning. He started fussing and looking around, heading to the bedroom. I realized he didn’t know what a skillet was, so I said get the pan out and he did it happily. He just doesn’t know to say I don’t know. It never ceases to amaze me the obvious things he still doesn’t know. He’s growing and learning…in the last few weeks he’s almost memorized the months of the year, all of our birth months, the days of the week, etc, but I forgot to point out that we could call that thing a skillet, cast iron skillet, pan, pot and who knows what else!

Mom fail: Yesterday Max asked me for a quiet time and I said no because he hadn’t finished his schoolwork. Today I find out he meant his quiet time with God. Huh. I told him I’ll always allow those πŸ™‚

In the category of words I never thought I’d hear from my son: Max said Jack just almost got run over by a student driver!

When Tj came home we went to the corn maze here. We went on a hayride, too. I know Tj’s tired…but he’s a sweet dad to spend this time with his boys.