Monday, October 31, 2016

I Am

My friend Kathy posted an "I Am" poem challenge on her blog a few days ago, and I felt like this would be a good exercise for me, as a writer with a serious case of writer's block and as a person who has a tendency to bottle up her feelings.

I Am

I am a nomad and an adventurer.
I wonder where I will go next. 
I hear the world calling my name. 
I see beauty in every corner of the globe. 
I want the freedom to go and to keep on going. 
I am a nomad and an adventurer. 

I pretend I can leave on a whim. 
I feel enamored with locations I have never seen.
I touch the land, the sky, and the sea.
I worry about unchanging scenery. 
I cry when mundanity stretches before me. 
I am a nomad and an adventurer. 

I understand that travel changes me for the better. 
I say life's too short to be lived in one place. 
I dream of having new experiences.
I try to keep a trip on the calendar.
I hope to see more of this amazing world. 
I am a nomad and an adventurer. 

If you want to try your hand at introspection and self-expression, I am including the template for the poem below. I encourage you to think about putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and explore the depths of who you are. Make it a family exercise and a topic for discussion around the dinner table. Try it multiple times, changing your roles each time. Play around with it, and have fun. Keep it private if you want, or be bold and share it in the comments here or in your own public space. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Minimalistic Mindset

A friend asked me to share about how we have adjusted to fixed-location living, particularly with regard to minimalism. Maybe you've been wondering about this, too. (Or, maybe not. Which is cool. Just carry on with your regularly scheduled activities.)

As most of you know, when we were traveling full-time, we lived out of carry-on sized suitcases, filled with appropriate clothing for every season and most occasions and activities. We had what we needed, but there wasn't a great deal of diversity, and items were limited. We mostly loved it, though the girls did dream of variety from time to time. But, because we were moving often and interacting with people we would most likely not see again, many of the social pressures of our outer wrappers disappeared, and we rarely lamented our sparse wardrobes. It was the ultimate in minimalistic living.

By the end of our trip, our travel clothes were in pretty dire need of upgrades, as many of the items were worn out or no longer fit. Plus, we now live in a place with closets and dressers (which was so weird to me when we first moved in!), so the need for extreme minimalism has passed. Truthfully, there has been a fair amount of both rejoicing and weeping at letting go of some of the pieces that went around the world with us. (I still have not replaced my tennis shoes, even though I desperately need to, but I happily said good-bye to a pair of travel pants I was never really in love with)! We have replaced and/or added to our travel gear out of necessity (and social pressure, if I'm really honest), but our closets and drawers are nowhere near filled to capacity. Nor do we want them to be. We all seem to be satisfied with less these days. (Though, I'll admit, the girls are enjoying the increased variety!) And, we all still harbor a wanderlust that makes us stop and consider what is packable and what isn't. We try to be intentional about what we bring into our intentionally small house. And, we try to get rid of items we don't truly love or that don't fit properly.

As far as non-clothing items go, we try to apply the same principles, though, I confess, this seems a little harder to control. There are more toys, beauty products, knick-knacks, and miscellany around than seems necessary (but NOTHING like before our trip). And some of them are here just because they can be, because we simply have the space for them. Despite our best intentions, the clutter still builds up, and I often feel that we have more than we need. And sometimes, I sweep through the house looking for anything we can get rid of. Sure, the kids enjoy having a few more toys, but they still gravitate to simple playthings or create playthings out of whatever is around. Overall, I would say that minimalism has made itself at home in our lives. We recognize the difference between needs and wants, and we think intentionally about our possessions. In my opinion, one of the the great things to come out of our trip is knowing what we need and knowing it is enough.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

First IEA Show

One of the main reasons we chose Flower Mound as a landing place was so Ruth could ride on a competitive IEA team. She has been practicing with the team since late July, and they had their first show today. IEA particularly focuses on riders' abilities, rather than the appearance or breeding of the horses. Riders often have no previous experience with the horses they ride, since the horses are selected randomly by the riders just before they ride. Riders are judged individually, but points are also collected for the team. Ruth looked beautiful, and, though she didn't win any individual prizes, she had a great time, and her team got 2nd overall. This is all new to us, and we all learned a lot and enjoyed the whole experience.

A Farm Zamboni

Our team has a dedicated hair lady. She is awesome!

So proud of this beautiful young lady!

The girls have to line up by height for the draw, because certain horses can't be used for the taller girls. 

First time to enter the show arena

Rooting for rider 120

Ruth and Bowie in the Walk/Trot Class

Ruth and Towne in the Walk/Trot/Canter Class

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

State Fair

Even though Jeff and I both grew up in Texas, neither of us had ever had the opportunity to visit the state fair. Now that we practically live in the fairground's backyard, we really had no excuse not to attend. So, yesterday we declared a school holiday and took the kids down to the fair. We avoided the crowds by going on a weekday and arriving early. We ate as many ridiculously unhealthy things as we could manage, rode rides, played games, and enjoyed gawking at all the sights. We were so thrilled to check off this Bucket List item and experience this truly iconic Texas tradition!

Icons of the fair

The boys had a blast participating in the gigantic bean bag toss! Each had his own technique.

Car Shopping

Obstacle Course

We did not, by any stretch, try all the unhealthy fair foods, but we did try several, including:
corn dogs (of course!), mango-on-a-stick, fried Twinkie, footlong corn dog, footlong hot dog, chicken and waffles, cotton candy, pretzel crusted queso pollo balls, deep-fried, bacon-wrapped chili cheese dog with tots, and fried avocados. 

The little boys tackled the New York, New York funhouse.

And the older kids tried out the swings.

The last hurrah of the day was the log ride, which all the kids thoroughly enjoyed.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sunday Staycation

The nomads are restless, but we are not in a position to travel right now. So, we are invoking Plan B--the Staycation. Yesterday's adventure was a trip down to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful place, and we enjoyed wandering around, taking in the fall colors and participating in lots of fun activities! Afterwards, we had lunch at Off-Site Kitchen, a funky gourmet burger joint in Dallas. We ended the day by carving pumpkins and enjoying "chocolate-covered strawberry shortcake." It was a lovely day, and it really did feel like a mini vacation!

Beautiful fall colors!

Pumpkin Village

Learning about superfoods in the edible garden

A friend from the butterfly garden

Water fun in the children's garden

Gigantic kaleidoscope

Building flowers

Fun in Big D

Off-Site Kitchen

"Pumpkin Lanterns"

"Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Shortcake"

Friday, October 14, 2016

Feel Good Friday: My Happy List

Ten Things I'm Happy About Today

1. Beautiful weather

2. Homemade chicken salad

3. On Guard oil in the diffuser

4. Kids who can entertain themselves

5. A cool science experiment

6. The opportunity to homeschool my kids

7. My wooden utensil collection

8. Date Night

9. Pumpkin Spice Martinis

10. A text from my SIL saying she's coming for a visit

{The truth is, today didn't really feel like the happiest of days. And, I was discouraged because I couldn't come up with a single meaningful thing to post for Feel Good Friday, which kind of felt like a failure and only served to make me feel worse. But then, I realized that the whole point of this weekly segment is to create happiness and positivity. So, I decided that I would take a break from thinking about all the things that could make me unhappy and focus only on the things that could make me HAPPY instead. I'll admit, it took some time to get started on my list. It took even more time to finish the list. It was an exercise in mindfulness, and I was forced to deliberately sift through the data in my brain, passing up the negative thoughts and picking out the positive ones. It wasn't exactly easy, but I'm really glad I did it. I wish I would have taken the time to make the list earlier in the day because I can now see how much I have to be happy about. Negative thoughts tend to build on one another inside my head and can quickly snowball out of control. Making a happy list (in writing!) takes away the momentum of the melancholy and allows my brain to reset. In my opinion, the harder it is to make the list, the more important it is to do it. Do you have a happy list? I would love for you share, if you're willing, because I think we could both benefit from it.} 

Sunday, October 09, 2016


On Friday, we celebrated the first real fall-feeling day with lunch at La Madeleine, a place we never eat at unless the temperature outside requires outerwear. After lunch, I took Clay to the dollar store because he had some birthday money burning a hole in his pocket, and he was dying for some dress-up clothes. He bought up all the boy choices they had and left so very happy. He loves that he can be a ninja-firefighter-chef, while still maintaining his Batman persona. Plus, he has all the weapons. So, don't mess with him.

Weston had a game yesterday, which ended in another Rebel victory. Woohoo! Then, the Aggies managed to give every single one of their supporters a long, slow heart attack but ultimately put another mark in the "W" column. We are all thankful for the bye next week, so we can recover.

Today, we decided to take in some of the local culture by attending the FloMo Food Truck Fest, which was such a great way to spend a beautiful fall day. We enjoyed lobster rolls, BBQ, pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream, along with craft vendors, bouncy houses, live music, and free tchatches.

And the crowning achievement of our weekend was that, after living in this house for two whole months, we finally got some decorative things hung on the walls, put our house numbers up, and got the boys' loft beds delivered and set up. Because we can be regular, normal, non-nomadic people.

Ninja or Ninja Turtle?

#99 with the catch in the endzone for 2!

FloMo Food Truck Fest

New Beds

House Number Helper

My favorite additions to the house

Friday, October 07, 2016

Feel Good Friday: The Boss of Me

Saturday, October 01, 2016

One Year of Go, See, Do

I cannot even believe it, but Monday will mark one year since I published Go, See, Do: A Travel Journal for Kids! To celebrate, Amazon is offering the book at a discount for the entire month of October. (It was $8.95, now it's $6.95.) So, if you have a kid in your life with upcoming travel plans, this would be a great time to snag a copy. I have been pleasantly surprised at the success of the journal, and I'm thrilled to have produced something that so many people are finding useful. If you do happen to purchase the journal, I'd be so grateful if you'd leave a review for it on Amazon. Spread the word to your friends!

Go, See, Do is one year old!