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!!

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.

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!

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!!)

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.