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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂

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 🙂

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 🙂

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. 😀

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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 🙂

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 🙂 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 🙁

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 🙂

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.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

20 Sept We lazed around this morning, and then I made boiled shrimp with corn and potatoes in the instant pot. Tj ate so much breakfast so late he wasn’t hungry for any. We played tangrams for a bit until it was time to take Tj to the airport. On the way home we stopped at goodwill and dirt cheap, and Max found a game for his 3DS for $6; he was thrilled. We went to Walmart to grab a few things and then went to the beach for a bit.

21 Sept We got up at 8 a.m….we really need to break this habit of staying in bed so late! Max did half an hour of school work while Jack did Gemini for 20 minutes, then we made breakfast and ate it. After that little break we did more school and on our next break Max and I decorated thank you notes. I made shrimp salad sandwiches for lunch and they were a hit again. We finished school around 4 o’clock and got to the beach around 5. I originally thought we would go to the beach everyday but now that plan does not excite me. I meant to bring a book today but forgot it so I read something off of my phone. I finally finished Rainbow Six and I’m eager to start one of the eight books! that Kelly gave me. I saw a couple who had an easel set up and wanted to go talk to the artist, but then I saw another couple of beachgoers approach them and talk about it and I didn’t want to bug them so I just left it. The three of us started swimming and just chatting for a bit and then Max asked me what I would do if he got stung by jellyfish. We were talking about that and believe it or not a jellyfish stung me! It got me on the left thigh above my knee, behind both of my knees and on the back of both of my hands. As soon as I realized what it was I tore out of the water telling Max to hurry up and get out because it was a jellyfish. Jack was floating in a shark inner tube so I grabbed one of the fins and just drug him up to the shore. There was a little girl playing there so I yelled up to her parents that I just got stung by a jellyfish. They just looked at me and then a little girl jumped in the water! I couldn’t believe it! When I finally got closer to the parents the Dad calmly said she’d gotten stung by jellyfish earlier today. Once I got things sorted out I laughed and told them I was going to cry like a little girl about getting stung by a jellyfish but that’s kind of hard to do after they told me their little girl got stung and she’s back to playing in the water. They laughed and I laughed and then we started talking about this and that. Come to find out he is a chef and she is an artist they homeschool their girl and they’re here on vacation. It was fun to chat with them for a little while. I did end up going back in the water when the jellyfish sting stop hurting.

22 Sept Today we decided to ride our bikes a little in the morning. The bad thing is since we get up so late it was late morning and it was already pretty hot. We left the house about 10:15, I guess we need to leave closer to 8 if we want to beat the heat! We rode to the mailbox to drop off our thank yous to Miss Amy and then just rode around a bit more. I wanted to ride my bike for exercise, but I just don’t think that’s possible with Jack. It was hard for him to get up the boardwalk, especially when he didn’t really want to. We came back to the bus close to noon and had leftover shrimp salad sandwiches after we all took showers and cooled down. Jack and I took a nap and Max started school. Now Max is finishing up his school and Jack is too. I’m about to go start making pizza for our supper.

23 Sept Jack often wakes up talking. This morning he said basketball…basketball…yes magnet…magnet.

Tonight he asked to go to sleep around 9 p.m.! This boy is worn out.

This is how life is with this nine year old boy with Down Syndrome. I know he’s smart, I know there’s a lot in there, he just hasn’t figured how to get it out yet. One day he will. This morning I came out of the bathroom to find that he’s knocked over a bottle of water because he threw his pj’s up in the air. I’m fussing at him; I thought he knocked over my diffuser for the second time and I’m worried about it breaking. I fuss a little bit and then he starts fussing with grunts and groans. I calm him down and say talk to me, tell me what you want to say. What do you want to say? I say very slowly. He says I want K-LOVE on please. We’re right in the middle of this discipline and he says he wants something completely unrelated. I know it’s funny, but it’s very frustrating that we still deal with things like this several times a day.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

17 Sept Forgot to mention, during the first hour of our trip to Gulf Port TJ chipped his tooth!

18 Sept We went to the church our friends suggested this morning. The preacher asked our boys to help with the offering. He said they would call for us when it was time, and we could see where it was listed on the bulletin. But the song leader was actually the youth pastor, and he introduced the song and said something about the offering and we were unsure if that was the time for the boys go up! We sent Max upfront during the song to ask him if he wanted to take up the offering and and he said yes. Then at the end of this song/offering the pastor said, “Well, I guess that’s the first time we’ve ever taken up an offer without paying for it first!” So apparently the fill-in song leader should have told Max no. After church we went back to the bus and had lunch and then got to the beach around 2. We were there about an hour when it started raining and we came back to the bus.

I worked on the grocery list for a little bit and then went to Walmart by myself. TJ was feeling like burgers so I make sure to get some meat for that. He made some awesome burgers that we all enjoyed.

19 Sept Tj called first thing, about 9 a.m. to see if he could make an appointment for his tooth. The lady said she had an opening at 10 a.m. so we got moving really quickly. I packed some granola bars for the boys and TJ hopped in the shower. I made sure to bring the mattress pad we bought for Max last night because I needed to exchange it for a thinner one. The bed motor wouldn’t compress the 3-inch one enough, so now we have a 2 inch mattress pad.

TJ ended up being about 5 minutes late for his appointment, and it was so far away from the bus that the boys and I needed to find something to do. Just driving around I found a thrift store that we went in, but found nothing we had to have. On the way to Walmart to exchange the mattress we saw a McDonald’s with a playground so we stopped in there for a little bit. I bought the boys some pancakes and each of us a drink. As soon as I paid for it TJ texted me and said they could only file the tooth down a little bit, and that I needed to go right back and get him. So I let the boys play on the playground for about 5 more minutes and then we went to get TJ.

On the way back to the original Walmart we stopped at a putt putt golf to see if it was open and it was so we played 18 holes. After that we went to Tin Top restaurant recommended by John for lunch. We had tuna steak, fried fish, and the Reds. All was great. During the golf game TJ’s phone kept going off with other guys getting notified about their class day. Of course he was pretty antsy to get his email. On the way back to the truck from the restaurant he got his email; indoc starts October 10th. We still don’t know exactly what that means for us since his class date might not start immediately after indoc.

We went to Matt’s Homemade Ice Cream Parlor and I got german chocolate ice cream in a sundae, heavenly! Then we finally went to Walmart to exchange that mattress. We went home and threw all our swimsuits on and headed right to the beach for a few hours. Saw 3 jellyfish, a turtle and some kind of ray in the water!

As soon as we got home from swimming I cut all 3 boys hair, then Max, Jack and I showered in the park’s showers to get all that hair and sand off. We had leftovers for supper and TJ was going to take the trash down to the dumpster afterwards but it started pouring right before we sat down to eat. It’s a good thing he waited! The boys are in bed now and we’re about to watch a show and hit the hay. Tj leaves for work tomorrow, it may be the last time he works for Atlas. He’ll probably give notice in a couple of days! In other news Papa has finally seen a doctor who says he’s seen the kind of pain he’s been experiencing for the last several months and he feels fairly confident that he can help Papa out.

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

8 Sept While watching TV the TV and back A/C went out! Tj was away, but I called him and he was available. He had me check the breakers under the bed. None of them looked flipped but I turned the correct one off and on again and everything worked! He’s my hero!

9 Sept The boys and I packed up school and laundry and went to Kelly’s to do wash. I brought tuna for lunch. I did school with Jack in her living room, and Max set up on the kitchen table where Kelly was also working. We took a break for lunch and watched TV. When school was over Kelly and Max went to get Avery and they played for a little while.

10 Sept (Saturday) We did school today. Wednesday we didn’t have any school so today was a catch-up day. I sat with Max while he wrote a couple of reports, and at the end of the day we went to a park for the boys to play in the water again.

11 Sept Since TJ was still away I found us a church to go to. One of the things that was advertised on the website about the church was a terrific organ and choir, and they didn’t lie. It was a beautiful church and it was awesome to sit there and listen to the wonderful music. One thing I didn’t notice till I was going to sleep Saturday night was that this church said that they have women ministers. I was too tired to find a different church so I made sure that the head pastor was male…I was fairly certain a guy would be preaching Sunday morning. Since we were only going to be going there for one service I let that slide. I’ll be more careful next time.

I found out I had to park in the parking garage and we got there just fine. I saw a man get out of his car and put his blazer on so I felt sure he was going to church, so I asked him if we could follow him in. Finding the church entrance connected to the parking garage wasn’t that hard, I just didn’t feel like walking around and looking for it. That turned out to be a mistake; he would not let us go! I know he was just being nice, he wanted to make sure that we found our seats and everything was okay, but when the service ended he pounced on us again and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I knew we could find our way back to the car no problem, and I had to tell him so at least six times!

We went to Walmart on the way home to pick up a few groceries, and on the way out I saw Heidi (from the campground)! I told her we’d be leaving on Tuesday, and it was a little bit sad that we didn’t get to know them better. Oh well, that’s the way living in the bus is going to go I guess.

12 Sept I left Max in the bus while Jack and I went to get Tj. In general I don’t plan to ever leave him alone, but we had been at the park for 2 weeks, and I was only going to be gone for about 40 minutes, and I wanted him to be able to finish his school work on time today.

I made chicken and potatoes in the instant pot; good but bland. TJ was pretty wiped out so he took a nap right after lunch while the boys and I did school. I think Max might need to be at the desk for school, so Jack and I set up the little white table in the living room with his blanket on the floor as a cushion. It worked pretty well. Max did a pretty good job with his school, he finished all but his report on Mexico, so TJ and I decided to go play some tennis.

This second lesson was much better than the first. I don’t know if I was just tired that day or I was hungry or what, but today we did a little bit better. I set the timer for 30 minutes and the time flew by! Afterwards we went to Cookout for a last hamburger here and it didn’t disappoint. We went back to the bus and worked around a little bit and then went to bed.

13 Sept We left the park around 12:30 p.m. It should take 4 hours or so to get to Mom’s, and another hour to get set up. We’re interested to see if the truck’s battery will be dead or charged when we get there. Max finished his school work around 1:30 today! We are completely caught up with all that he has to do, including all book reports, vocabulary words written and all objectives/goals written. The only thing I haven’t checked, and will try to start checking on Fridays, is that he’s written down every wrong answer correctly in his notebook. We’re a hundred percent caught up on all school work. Yippee kai yay! I’ve let it slide here and there so he could go to parks and play with friends, mostly just the handwriting and the projects, but as of today it’s all done. Whopee! I feel like such a grown up!

Sept 14 Alarm 7:30, went to Mom’s 9ish, waited for they guy to call saying the trailer was on it’s way to the storage unit. Tj called around 11 and again around 3. We went to Jo’s and put the gun safe together and plugged it in. We went to get a few groceries at Walmart, and to look at a foam mattress for Max’s bed. The boys have been roughhousing so much on his Coleman blow-up mattress that now the parts that tie the top and bottom together are coming undone, so he has a big bubble on one side of his mattress and the rest of it is flat. We’re hoping a 3-inch foam mattress will be comfortable enough and will compress enough to fit in the one and a half inch space allotted. If not I guess we get an extra mattress for our bed! Tj got a call at 4:40 saying the truck was an hour out. We dropped Jack off at Mom’s…she bathed both boys and took them to church. We waited in the storage facility for half an hour before the truck showed up around 6:10. Of course by then my BIL couldn’t help us anymore.

The truck with our household goods was packed to 25′, and by the time we left around 9pm we’d cleared 6′. Hopefully we’ll clear all the rest tomorrow! We drove to WM for milk and bread and then back to the bus. About 25 minutes from our site Tj remembered that the gate closed at 10 or 10:30!!! The GPS said we’d get to the bus at 9:58 so he felt we would have plenty of time. And we did.

15 Sept Started unpacking at 10:10, and finished at 8:20pm. It’s my mom’s birthday today and she came and helped us! She’s such an awesome mom!

Of course it was really hard work, and we both worked all day long. We probably stopped three or four times for 10 minutes or so each time to swig Gatorade, and once I folded up a couple of pieces of salami with a piece of cheese and that’s all we had for lunch. I had a handful of almonds 3 or 4 times, but we just wanted to get it all done, and we did. Thank God! My mom didn’t eat anything the whole time she was there! I can’t believe the three of us we’re able to move everything, but we did. Tj pulled more than his share of the load, obviously. I’m so thankful for such a wonderful husband who takes care of me. My dad watched the kids all day which was completely awesome as well. My parents have been such a great help to us this whole time. I’m so thankful to have them.

My mom left around 7 or 7:30. By this point everything was off of the truck, all of the heavy stuff was in the storage unit, and we just had to move all the boxes that we piled up outside of the truck into the storage units. She went through the McDonald’s drive-thru on the way home and when she got home Papa told her to go straight into the shower; she told him she couldn’t even do that, she had to sit down first. She worked her tail off with us today. When we finished up we went to Walmart to buy Max’s mattress but they were all out. Tj had ripped his jeans right at the crotch during the move so he stayed in the truck while I went inside.

When we got to Mom’s both the boys have been bathed and fed and Papa said we should just leave them there for the night, so we did. Mama had already offered that while we were working so I took them up on their offer. I bought mom a little lemon pound cake for her birthday, I wish I had thought to buy her some lemon curd instead, I’m sure that would have been a better gift. On our way home we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru and Tj got a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese for his meal. I was driving and decided to wait for bean dip and ruffles for my supper when we got back to the bus. We threw our stuff down and gathered stuff for a shower right away. I told TJ I wasn’t going to hurry the shower, I just wanted to let lots of water wash lots of dirt away. It felt so good! We slept pretty soundly tonight.

16 Sept Today’s our anniversary! We were pretty lazy and slept in and read our phones a good bit before getting up. Mama texted me at 8 a.m.! saying she had breakfast ready whenever we wanted to get there. I gathered all the laundry and we got there around 11am. Papa had put Max’s new tires on his bike, and in doing so he punctured one of the inner tubes. When TJ got back from buying a new inner tube we all sat down and had brunch. You just can’t beat Mama’s biscuits, bacon, sausage and of course the eggs fried in all the bacon grease! After that I started laundry and Max continued his school work. We hung around there all day. Mama enforced nap time and nobody was complaining, except Jack.

We watched the boys ride their bikes lots and lots on Mom’s driveway. And we met her new neighbors today too. They’re homeschoolers and their dad’s a swim coach. She was a special ed teacher; I may have to pick her brains for help about Jack. 🙂 Around 5 or so TJ started asking what we were eating for supper. We packed all our stuff up and said our goodbyes and thank-yous and headed off to a Mexican restaurant where I had the most amazing cheese and chorizo concoction.

We headed out to get ice cream after that and I got pulled over! I wondered if it was because I got into a right hand turn lane by crossing a solid line, but really the opportunity to drive on the dashed line was so tiny I felt insulted! When the cop came to my door he said it was because our tag light was out. Of course it seemed like he took forever to check my driver’s license, and I couldn’t remember which address of the 40,000 we have now I was supposed to say was our permanent address, but I must have checked out okay, he let me go with just a warning. After he left we went on to the ice cream shop. TJ opened the trunk and the light came on! Figures. We had our ice cream and then saw AutoZone across the street. I got out to open the trunk to make sure the light was on and this time it wouldn’t turn on. Figures. AutoZone closed right as we got there. So now we’re at O’Reilly which closes in an hour. What an adventure! TJ changed out our lights just a minute ago and we are good to go. We would have been pushing it to go to Walmart to get Max’s mattress and get back before curfew so Max slept on the couch tonight.

17 Sept We got on the road about 10:30am. Our planned fuel stop was too close to empty to be comfortable so I searched and found one that’s a little bit closer in LaGrange, Georgia. Hopefully we’ll be at the beach in about 6 hours.

Now that we’ve been driving a few hours we’re getting better gas mileage than the bus estimated, so we’ll go on to our previously scheduled fuel stop in Montgomery. It’ll be just under half way to the beach! Jack keeps asking for “vacation” and “swim all night long” and “swim byself” which makes us laugh.

4:45pm and we just pulled up to the campground to check in. Things got a little hairy there for a minute; right at the last 5 miles their signage was confusing and I was writing what Jack was saying and TJ missed his turn. But it’s all good now.

We set up probably the quickest we ever had and threw on our swimsuits and headed to the beach! We got some good family selfies and Jack got knocked down by giant waves a couple of times. We also saw but didn’t disrupt 2 weddings on the beach, so all was good. We came back to leftover spaghetti and Pioneer Woman’s butter bread. Yum! Now we’re all clean, the boys are in bed, and I’m about to go there myself.