Turning Over a New Leaf

I know – it’s cliche! Six months ago today we drove away from New Jersey to head to our new home in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. It was the beginning of a new phase in our life – turning over a new leaf.

bridge near Fiona's school

In two days we will have been in our new home for six months. I must say I’ve enjoyed living here and plan to do so for a while yet. Sometimes the itch to travel comes on and we have to take a long drive. It’s time for one now as a matter of fact. Maybe this weekend.

We have had beautiful weather the whole time and fall is now here. All the trees changed colors and then a couple of very windy days brought down most of the leaves on our trees. However, there are still some beautiful colors to be seen.

fall colors on the trees

I wonder what winter will be like….? Will keep you posted. :)


Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet? Have we reached our final destination? What is up with us you all wonder?

When we left California in 2010 to live a nomadic life, we had no idea how long it would last. Have we landed to put roots down, never to move again? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter.

Life changes. Sometimes we can control the changes; most often we can’t. It’s a journey – one we are continuing to take.

Even though we have a ‘home’ now here in Rice Lake, Wisconsin – we will continue to explore new places. In fact, this coming week we’ll be spending three days in a city we’ve never visited before – Rochester, Minnesota.

I think our life is kind of like this fallen tree.

fallen tree

This evergreen in our front yard fell over in a storm a week or so ago. A tall tree that once fallen extended from the front yard to almost the back of the house. But the roots are still there – the core.

We sort of knocked our tree of life over on purpose back in 2010. But the roots – the core – are still there. They will grow again – though the tree may look different now.

So, what’s life like now here in Rice Lake?

Every day from my kitchen window I’m reminded of Ireland. What?! That’s right. The house next door has this moss growing on the roof and it reminds me of Ireland.

view from  my kitchen window

I get up every morning to here my little girl respond to my “How are you?” with “Happy!” just like she always has. Joel and I get to work together in our little office in the dining room with a view of trees, squirrels, birds and sometimes bunnies. My son, James, is with us. We have good friends and are able to do things for Joel’s mom who lives nearby.

Are we there yet? Where we’re supposed to be? For now, yes! Of course, that may change. So stay tuned…

Morning Tea Routine – A Little Taste of Home

Joel and I are not coffee drinkers usually. We do have a morning cup of tea – every morning. It’s our daily morning routine. It was reinforced in 2005 when we went to Ireland and had Irish breakfast tea every morning. Actually throughout the day. Since we’ve come to Minnesota I’m finding I want tea throughout the day as well. It doesn’t seem to keep me up at night; so why not?

When we started traveling, we kept a few things to travel with. Included was our small blue teapot and our two favorite mugs for tea. The teapot is just the right size to make our two mugs of tea every morning. So wherever we go, we hope to find a tea kettle. Or at least a saucepan to heat water in. Then we find our tea. We used to have a favorite India store back in California where we could get bulk tea fairly inexpensively. Not only is that not convenient any more, we did get a bit tired of it.

Currently we’re drinking Tazo Awake tea. It’s a bit more expensive though. We’re always looking for a good robust tea to drink that’s not too expensive.

So no matter where we are, we have a little taste of home. We can feel right at home every morning drinking our mugs of tea and having our morning chat as is our routine.

What morning routine do you have? When you travel is there something you bring along to make you feel at home and in a routine?

Morning tea routine

Good Friends Make Us Feel at Home

We arrived here in Phoenix Arizona last Saturday to stay with our good friends, Terry & Virgie. We knew they’d make us feel right at home. And they sure have!

Over the past year we’ve been through Phoenix several times and each time we’ve stayed with Terry and Virgie. Our friendship is closer now than when we knew them in the Sacramento area for several years. They are a very loving and warm couple who have opened their hearts to us and Fiona. Joel and Terry could sit all day, talking business, playing music. Virgie and Fiona love to bake together and Virgie and I have had some good chats.

Since we’ve also house sat for them, we’re very comfortable here, know where everything is and how they like it. We’re especially enjoying using the pool every evening since we’re have 100 degree plus days! Fiona really likes swimming at night with the pool light on and looking up at the stars.

Today Virgie leaves on a trip. We’re still here another day or so. But she knows we’ll take good care of Terry and her home and that when she returns we will have left behind a tidy home and extra toilet paper in the guest bathroom.

Yesterday Terry said, “You guys always leave before I’m ready for you to leave!” He admits he’d say that no longer how long we stay. We really enjoy being here and are so glad to know we’re “home” when we come to the Wilson’s place. Thank you!

Six Months Ago Today We Left Home

It was six months ago today, September 30, 2010, that we left ‘home’. We drove away from Roseville California to start living a nomadic lifestyle. What’s it been like? Are we ready to settle down? How’s Fiona doing?

It’s been good. Sure there have been some long days when we’ve been in the van all day and Fiona wants to be in a house with a bed. There have also been other times when she’s said she’s tired of being in a house and wants to get in the van and drive somewhere. Every morning she still gets up and when we ask her how she is, she says “happy”.

We’ve enjoyed meeting new people and meeting in person many that we had only known virtually. Our address book continues to grow with contact information of new acquaintances and business associates.

Are we ready to settle down? No!

Home With Our Second Family

While we’ve been back ‘home’ in Roseville, we’ve been staying with our second family, the Stephens. We want to thank the Stephens family for their generous hospitality. Let me tell you a bit about them and why we call them our second family.

In 2006 just after Fiona turned 2 mommy ended up in the emergency room. Once the doctors used the special scope down my throat to release the HUGE gallstone that had lodged in the bile duct, I developed neucrotic pancreatitis. Basically my pancreas was killing itself. There’s nothing to be done except not to take in anything orally, not even water, and take lots and LOTS of pain medication.

I won’t go into the whole story here. Suffice it to say that I almost died, lived, had numerous complications including anemia, blood clots and two secondary infections and spent from mid-April to the end of July 2006 in the hospital.

Being only 2, Fiona needed someone to care for her. Our older daughter Rachelle was living with us but finishing high school. Though she became second mommy to Fiona, and they are very, VERY close still, Fiona needed more care than Rachelle was able to give daily. And daddy was spending his time either working or being with mommy at the hospital. Then in stepped the Stephens family.

Beth and Kyle are the parents. At the time their 3 children were 12, 14 and 16 (Molly, Kemmer and Ferrin). The oldest had her license and did lots of babysitting so she was often able to drive to pick up Fiona and babysit her. There were times when Fiona spent days, and most nights, with the Stephens. Once mommy was able to have visitors at the hospital, Beth and Ferrin would often bring Fiona to visit mommy.

Their middle child is their only son. Fiona spent so much time with these kids that we know she has Kemmer’s smile. When he graduated high school a couple of years ago, he gave us his graduation photo. Fiona has it in a frame that she carries everywhere with her. Wherever we are, you can ask, and you’ll get to see a picture of Kemmer.

While we’re here visiting now, Molly is a senior in high school and working part-time. She’s spent a lot of time with Fiona the past couple of weeks. Her dad, Kyle, often lets Fiona pick the cartoon they are all going to watch on TV.

And what can I say about Beth? Thank you Beth for all you’ve done for our family. Beth is the sweetest, kindest person ever. It brings tears to my eyes every time I think about how much she did in caring for my little girl when I was so sick. At the time Fiona even called her mommy once in a while. That never bothered me because Beth was a second to our precious little girl.

We aren’t the only ones who think of the Stephens as a second family. We’ve met many who feel the same way because this family has helped so many people. Whenever someone needs a place to stay, the Stephens family opens them with welcome arms. In fact while we’re here, there is another mutual friend who is staying with them as well.

In addition to all of that, when the Stephens found out that we were going to lead a nomadic lifestyle but needed a place to store a few things, they generously offered space to store stuff  at no charge. Anything we don’t have with us in the van as we travel is stored with them.

It sure feels good to be loved by such special people!

Coming Back Home – Where is Home?

Yesterday I read a post at another traveler’s blog discussing where home is. Being a nomad means we have no home in the traditional sense of the word. Our last home was a rental in Roseville California. Now when asked where is home, I answer, here – where we are right now.

Right now, today, home is in Mesa Arizona. Home is where ever my husband and daughter are at. Monday home will be in Roseville California through March 20th. So some may think I’m going back home. Yet California doesn’t feel like home anymore.

When we return to Mesa Arizona on March 21st, it will feel like I’m coming back home. At least for a while. Until we go ‘home’ to Rice Lake Wisconsin where Joel’s mom lives. Joel was born in Wisconsin so he’ll be going home in yet another sense.

Home here in Arizona for the past 7 weeks has been great. Our hosts and friends, the Wilson’s, have made us feel right at home. We all pitch in together to shop, cook, and clean. We enjoy watching movies together at the end of the day. Joel and Terry, both musicians and bass players, loved participating in FAWM during February and creating new songs.

Fiona right now is making peanut butter cookies with Virgie. She loves both Terry and Virgie and they have made her feel very special while we’ve been here.

We’re very grateful to the Wilsons for hosting us these past 7 weeks. We’re happy they want us to come back to house sit in March while they’re on vacation. It will be nice to have a place to ourselves for a couple of weeks in a place where we feel comfortable and AT HOME!

Growing Up and Moving Out

We’ve spent the last three days packing, moving, selling stuff. My two grown children, James and Rachelle, moved into their first apartment. It’s a big step for me to let my children grow up and move out! Though I think I’ve been handling it well and am very proud of them, it’s very emotional also. Sure I’m the one that is going away to travel, leaving them behind. And I know this is going to be a very good thing all around. I’m still allowed to get a bit emotional and cry some.

Especially after James sends an email like this, “Just short and sweet. It’s been exactly 5 years since I moved down. It’s been great. It was definitely for the best, all things considered and done, even the trying and impossibly difficult. Here they could be fought and overcome. Thank you both for the letters I still keep that made me decide to move here to begin with. Enjoy your travels.”

Rachelle is handling it all quite well. She said after their first night away, “I woke up and was a little confused, where am I??, but it only last a second.  It still feels a little weird though! I keep thinking about ‘when I go home’ and then realize I am home!”

I’ll miss seeing them every day. But I know we’ll stay in close touch. I’m proud of you both and wish you both the very best life has to offer!