Sunday, May 29, 2011


Leaving the Manatee Hammock campground was a bit sad.  We'd been there for 4 weeks so we were quite comfortable.  The staff were friendly and so were the other campers.  The location was great!  Pretty much the entire campground was shaded which made evening walks very nice. 

The campground we are at now (in Tampa, FL) is VERY different.  There are all kinds of activities planned each day.  They even provide breakfast and lunch 6 days a week (if you get there at the right time of course).  Trust me when I say, we're paying extra for those services so we plan on using them as much as possible while here.  So far, we've used the pool, done a craft, and jumped on a bungie/trampoline thing (see pics).  (Let me say, lots of fun and quite the workout!)

There are two things about this campground I don't like.  Our campsite is really far from everything.  The pool, bathrooms, laundry, etc are pretty far away.  And it is SO hot here.  We have a thermometer attached to the outside of the camper (in the shade and 5 ft off the ground like you're supposed to) and it's been reading 100 degrees each day.

Because of that, we've decided to cut our time in Tampa a few days shorter than originally planned and head South and West to a campground 1/2 mile from a BEAUTIFUL beach.  There are no planned activities at the new campground, but based on the last campground, I think we'll all be ok with that.  At least we'll be able to get out of the camper for more than 1 hour a day without feeling like we're roasting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What a day!

Yesterday, we changed campgrounds.  Not only did we change campgrounds but we changed coasts (OK, we moved from the East coast of Florida to the West coast of Florida), but they are very different.

Anyway, yesterday was quite a day.  We had a few issues getting the camper packed up to leave (some of the pieces we use while driving were misplaced and we either had to search for them or find something else that would work).  Luckily we found what we needed and we were good to go.

The drive was rather uneventful.  The only problem we had was when we got to the new campground.  The place we are staying is so large (it is affiliated with a sales office, service center, Cracker Barrel, and gas station) that we ended up going to the wrong building initially.  Once we got to the campground we were able to find our space with no problems.  Then the fun began...

We parked the camper, unhitched, and got everything leveled only to find out that we were 1/2 in. too close on the side where the bumpout is (we would have pushed into the pole that holds the electric and water).  That meant we had to undo everything we'd just done and hook up the truck again to move it (for just 1/2 in.)!  ARGGG!!!  Did I mention that our campsite has NO shade and it was close to 90 out when we were doing this?  By the time we had gotten the camper repositioned we were balls of sweat and it was 3:30PM (we got to the campground at 1:30).  Lesson learned:  Make sure to measure and give enough space for the bumpout before unhitching in the future.

Then our daughter complained of an ailment that required medical attention, so I searched for local urgent care centers.  Luckily we found one and were able to get her an antibiotic to help speed her recovery.  I lucked out with this too, because the pharmacy I picked just so happens to GIVE AWAY the antibiotic the doctor prescribed for her.  By the time all that was done it was 5:30PM.  I hadn't eaten since breakfast, Jon hadn't eaten since dinner the night before (I was able to feed the kids lunch during the may-lay of setting up the camper).  In the strip with the store where we got the antibiotic was a Little Ceasar's.  Yeah!  "Pizza!  Pizza!" to my rescue.  I haven't eaten there in YEARS and it was as good as I remember. 

After we got back to the campsite, we inhaled our dinner so that we could make an 8PM movie by the pool (complete with free popcorn).  The kids crashed as soon as we got back to the camper and Jon and I were not far behind.

The day was certainly eventful.  If anything, I think this helped me remember that we are not on vacation.  We are now living out of a camper and "life" will still happen.  I'm just thankful we didn't have a vomiting episode to remind me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Zoo # 7

Yep.  That's right.  Today, the kids and I went to our 7th different zoo.  Today we drove to the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL.  It's what I would consider a smaller zoo.  But what it does, it does well.

The first thing I want to say about this zoo is that it's volunteers are GREAT!  They are knowledgeable, friendly, and seem to be everywhere.  Some of the volunteers are very attached to the animals they work near.  For example, one of the giraffes is being moved to Richmond, VA and the volunteer talking about the giraffes started to choke up when talking about the move.

Another thing about this zoo that I really like is that it has a lot of hands-on areas for the kids.  When we first walked in, there was a woman holding a bearded dragon that the kids were able to pet.  They also have an area where the kids can pet a variety of sea creatures.  And for a small fee, you can buy food to feed various animals around the zoo (giraffes, birds, deer, alligators).  Oh, and they have hand sanitizer in abundance for after your animal encounters.  I came prepared but it's nice to know they thought of it. 

Unfortunately, there was one area that we were not able to take advantage of and that's a small water park.  I heard they had a place where the kids could get wet, but this was more than what I thought it would be so we were not prepared.  I think from now on, I'm going to come prepared just in case (especially in the South).

The beauty of a small zoo is that you don't have to trek across acres and acres to see all the animals.  The animals seemed to have plenty of room, but at the same time I didn't feel like I walked for miles (which some zoos do).

We move to the West side of Florida on Friday where we will visit zoo #8 in the next couple of weeks.  It's so exciting being able to see so many different places!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beach Time!

My family (Karrie's) has always liked the beach.  I remember growing up as a child, sharing beach houses in North Carolina with family friends.  I remember taking one of my high school friends to the beach and having a BLAST in the surf!

Luckily, I ended up marrying someone who also loves being near the water.  I think it's safe to say we like different things about the beach, but at least we are both happy there.  I enjoy the sound of the ocean lapping on the sand and the peace that brings.  I like the sound of kids having fun.  I think it's safe to say the thing Jon enjoys the most is the warmth.  Don't get me wrong, he also enjoys the peace and quiet of the waves too, but he REALLY enjoys warm.

Three years ago, Jon and I went on an anniversary cruise and we both had an opportunity to use a Flow Rider.  I tried "surfing" once and ended up falling not-so-gracefully and decided belly boarding was more my style.  Jon on the other hand, really enjoyed trying to surf.  He even stayed up for a little while. 

As soon as we knew we were going to sty in Florida for a few weeks, we started getting the kids beach toys.  In fact, some of the kid's Christmas gifts were beach toys.  Today, was the first time they got to use them... today we went to Cocoa Beach. 

For those of you who have never been to Florida, the entire drive down 95 from the time you hit Florida, the billboards let you know that Cocoa Beach is the surfing capital of Florida.  Jon has wanted to surf for years, so we did a little research and found out that Cocoa Beach is actually a really good place to learn to surf.  So.... today we rented a surf board for the afternoon so Jon could try to surf. 

He had a great time!  He stood on his second try and he even had a few long runs.  While he was surfing the kids and I were playing in the sand and the surf.  Unfortunately, there were some jelly fish in the water and my daughter got stung pretty good (it left her with what looked like a blister for a couple hours), but it did not deter her from going in the water (she was hyper-vigilant about jelly fish though).

Guess what?  I went surfing too.  Guess what else?  I stood up and had a half-descent run too!  I think it's safe to say the whole family had a GREAT time at the beach today.

With all that fun, we were not without some injuries... my daughter had the jelly fish sting, Karrie ended up with a nasty sand burn (or was it a cut from a shell?), and Jon jammed his toe so badly we had to call it a day a bit earlier than we had hoped.

We are currently trying to decide where we want to live.  The debate is between Texas and Florida.  I am rooting for Florida.  My hope is that surfing will help lean Jon in the same direction.  Oh, and I think we both found something else we enjoy about the beach that we agree upon.  We are both totally stoked to do that again.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Say what?!?

I can't believe that 5 years ago today, I delivered my baby girl!  Time has gone by so quickly...too quickly.  It seems like just yesterday she was celebrating her first Christmas, taking her first steps, and saying her first word.  Now she won't stop moving and won't stop asking questions.  ;-)

It has been such a joy to watch her blossom and grow, both physically and developmentally over the last 5 years.  I am looking forward to the next 5 years, but I really hope they go by a bit slower.  I have so many things I want to cram in, and if time keeps going this fast I won't be able to do everything.

On that note, this week is going to be school-light and fun-heavy.  Let's start cramming.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Anyone who knows me well, knows I like to bake.  And not just so I can eat the fruits of my labors, but because for some inexplicable reason, baking brings me a sense of peace and joy.

Well, the last few weeks in the camper have been a bit rough for me.  You see, I don't have my stand mixer with us (couldn't justify the space or weight).  That means that what I can do is quite limited.  A week or so ago I purchased a package of pre-made cookie dough.  We were all so excited to have fresh baked cookies for dessert.  Unfortunately, the bottoms burned before the tops even cooked all the way.  I ended up finding a way to salvage them but needless to say they were a disappointment.  The up side... the oven is so small I can only cook 6 cookies at a time so I still had plenty more for a later date. 

Being that I love to bake, and my husband loves to eat what I bake, we went in search of the problem.  Luckily it was an easy fix and we were able to bake up the rest of the cookie dough a few days later with no burning.  And today I baked cupcakes in preparation for my daughter's 5th birthday on Sunday (we have plans for tomorrow and I figured that if they didn't turn out, this would give me time to buy some).  Good news!  They turned out pretty good (I had to test one of course to make sure).

At one point, we were thinking of pulling out the oven and putting in a dishwasher.  As much as I love that idea; now that I can bake again...tough decision.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Busy Times are Coming

Yesterday, the kids and I went to the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, FL.  We didn't spend much time in the "arts" section of the museum, but we did spend almost 5 hours in the Children's Museum section;  the primary focus of which was science.   Even though the space was rather small (we've been to smaller and we've been to much bigger as well), they were really able to pack in some excellent quality activities.

I knew from looking on-line that the museum had quite a few things that the kids would like.  In particular, they had a race track where you got to build your own car (we WERE down the street from Daytona International Speedway after all).  Little did I know that the cars were built out of K'Nex.  Anyone that knows my son, knows that he LOVES K'Nex.  He passed up Legos years ago in favor of K'Nex.  We spent most of our time working on building and racing our cars.  It just so happened that the track had space for 3 cars to race each other.

My son's second favorite thing, was an area where they allowed you to build circuits.  It's safe to say that this love came from his father.  I'm sure if he had been there, they would have had a great time in this area.

My daughter's second favorite thing was a pretend play area where you got to make pizzas.  I liked this area, because while my daughter made the pizzas (and I pretended to eat them), my son was the cashier and we worked on making change.

I truly love the idea of Children's Museums.  They are a wonderful way of teaching, while your children are completely clueless to the fact that you are doing so. 

So, why are busy times coming you ask?  Because, while we were at the museum yesterday, I got a family membership which allows our family access to 300 museums across the country for free or steeply discounted.  Can you say busy and fun times are coming?!?!  I can't wait to start taking advantage.  Who knows, maybe we'll end up back in Daytona at some point and we can bring along Daddy to play with the circuits...after all, we are members there now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

3-2-1 Blast off!

Well, we were finally able to see the space shuttle Endeavor launch yesterday (May 16) at 8:56AM.  17 days after we were supposed to see it originally (technically it was delayed 10 days before that even) the shuttle launched into outer space.  Unfortunately, the cloud cover was so low we were only able to see the first 9 seconds or so of it's flight.  It was still an AWESOME experience.  The shuttle was in the clouds long before we heard the roar of it's engines, and of course we could hear it for a long time after it went out of view.  The shear volume and resulting vibration was something like being at a rock concert sitting very close to the speakers.    It even looked to me like the waves (we were watching across the Indian River) even looked to get a little bigger.

What made this experience even more interesting, is that we had a rocket launch to compare it to.  You see, while we were staying at the campground waiting for the shuttle launch to happen, the military shot off a rocket just over the water from us and we were able to see and hear that as well.  It was a little farther away, but it was SO much quieter in comparison.

Oh, and did I mention... the campground we are staying at is booked for Memorial Day weekend so we're going to start a tour of the rest of the Southern portion of the state.  We do have this campground booked again for July 1 - 15.  And there is a early morning rocket launch scheduled for July 14.  And the final shuttle launch (Atlantis) is tentatively scheduled for July 12.  How cool would it be if we are here for both of those too?!?  :-)  The prayers have already begun I assure you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Going to See Jesus

My Grandmother has been sick for quite some time.  Luckily, our travels to Florida had us only 2.5 hours away, so a couple weeks ago we took a day trip to see her.  While there, she slept most of the time, but I'm very happy we went.  You see those times when she was awake were good.  She became conversational (not overly mind you), and she was definitely taking in everything around her.  It just so happened that 2 of my 3 cousins had come the same day, so she was able to see 3 of her 5 grand-kids all in the same place (for the first time in many years).  Shortly after that trip my grandmother started sleeping more and being awake less, so I'm glad we went when we did.

Since that trip, I've been thinking about what I remember most about my grandmother.  It would probably have to be the time spent together when she would tell me stories and poems she had learned when she was in grade school.  I remember that even at the age of 90 she could recite those poems.  (Why did I not get that ability?)  I also remember a portrait she painted of me from a picture taken outside her home.  It used to sit over the piano at my parent's house (the painting is still there but the piano is not).  I hope that once we are settled somewhere, that I can get that painting.  She was quite the artist and I really wish I'd been able to spend more time with her to learn art and sewing from her.

I love you Grandma!  I am happy that you are no longer in pain and that you are now in the arms of Jesus.  You'll be missed.


Today (Thursday) I have been able to experience various kinds of disconnectedness.  For some reason, cell coverage for our carrier is the only one with spotty coverage at the campground we are at.  Today has been worse than normal.  I’m not sure of the reason, but it’s been one of my biggest peeves that I’ve been dealing with since we got here (besides dishes of course).  An example:  My phone let me know I had a new email message, but I can’t actually read the message. For some reason I can get calls, but not data on my cell.   I can also get inbound text messages, but more often than not, I can’t send a reply.

Anyway after being notified that I have an email (which I can’t read on my smart phone), I go to my computer to try to read the message and guess what?   The internet at the campground is not working either so here I am, relegated to writing a venting blog entry in Word, hoping that I will be able to post this tomorrow some time.

I guess, all of this is to say, if you really need to reach me, call.  But don’t leave a message (I probably won’t be able to check voice mail either).

Life in a Camper - Part 2 (Cleaning)

I HATE doing dishes.  I've always hated doing dishes.  When we first got married, we lived in a house that had no dishwasher and no A/C.  Dishes in the summer were TORTURE.  Guess what?  I've pretty much gone back to that life again.  The camper has no dishwasher (but me).  We do have an air conditioner but the vent over the stove is not working right now which means that all the heat from cooking stays in the camper right now so doing dishes in the evening can be a bit rough.

As opposed to when we first got married, I have extra dishes too because I have 2 more people using them.  Not only that, hubby and I are now eating lunch "at home."

The only thing I hate more than dishes is cleaning bathrooms.  Luckily, I now only have one and it is rather small.  A shower, a toilet, a sink with barely any counter space, and a floor that is maybe 25 sq feet.  One bathroom means that it gets used more frequently so I feel obligated to clean it more often, but for some reason that is easier on the psyche than having to do 2 or 3 bathrooms less often.

Something else about camper life (in the South) ... If you wear sandals or flip flops during the day, it is a MUST to wash feet before bed.  If you don't you will be dragging sand into your bed.  At the end of the day, my kids feet are usually black.  If we are pressed for time and I don't want the kids to take a full shower (or in my case I take my shower in the morning), a quick foot washing is a requirement before bed.

Yesterday, we bought an outside "rug" to help try to alleviate some of the sand-into-the-camper problems, but sweeping the floor every night is still a requirement at this point.  Not only does this help with the sand problem, but there is also an ant problem and my kids seem to have problems getting all their food into their mouth.

For those of you have camped, what is your least favorite part to clean?

Monday, May 9, 2011


Well, we started school again this week after taking off essentially two weeks.  Yes, we went to Kennedy Space Center last week and that was educational to say the least.  And when we saw the rocket launch on Saturday, we made sure to explain why it took so long for us to hear it (we never turn down an opportunity to teach if our children ask us a question).  I guess it would be more appropriate to say that today was the first time in 2 weeks that we had "formal" classes.

And what a day of classes it was!  I started a new math program with my son.  I'd been noticing that he's been struggling with a few concepts and I think part of that is because we haven't really been using a curriculum for math.  To that end, I found one for him for second grade and rather than just start him at the second grade level, I'm going to go back a bit and do a "refresher" of sorts to get him up to speed on the system itself.  We made progress on some things and I think this was the most engaged he's been in a long time (and he likes math too).

I've also been working on letter sounds with my daughter for a while now, so today I decided to push her a bit and see what she could do.  I wrote out a few letters (which happen to spell a word) and had her sound them all out.  After a couple of tries she figured out it was the word sat.  Then we moved on to a few rhyming words (cat, bat, fat, rat).  It was awesome to see the "light" turn on with each new word she figured out. 

There is one other "aha" moment I feel I must share.  I've been covering the basics of government with my son and one day while we were in the car (can you say captive audience?) I decided to do a little review.  We were talking about who the president was.  What his responsibilities are.  And how we pay taxes so that the government can provide services to us as well as other people who don't have money.  My 4-YO daughter said "Obama can take some of my money and give it to poor people.  That would be nice."  Then she got quite for about 10 seconds and said, "But wait!  What if I want to buy toys?" 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Life in a Camper

Now that we've been living in less than 200 sq feet for over a week, I think I can offer some insights...

Down side:
1.  Moving around inside the camper can be a bit tight.  If it weren't for the "bump out" in our camper, it would be impossible.
2.  In order to fit into a space this small we had to either store some things or get rid of some things that I wish you had access too (a full-size couch would be nice).  I also wish I had my full-size freezer and additional pantry space.
3.  We miss having a cat.  To help fill the void we've adopted some squirrels that we feed regularly (one has even eaten out of hubby's hand).
4.  We have to have a stash of quarters on hand to do laundry.

Up side:
1.  It doesn't take long to clean.  Another down side... it doesn't take long to get messy either (especially since we are camping on sand).
2.  We've really gotten an opportunity to learn just how much stuff is extraneous and what is necessary.  I've found multiple uses for things just so I wouldn't have to lug around additional items.
3.  We're spending more quality family time.  What else is there to do when you've got no TV?
4.  Traveling around in a camper has given us opportunities to see and do things that we wouldn't have otherwise.  We've also been able to meet some interesting people.  For example, we visited a church last Sunday that had 2 guest speakers.  They were the adult children of a family who was recently featured on ABC's Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  What this family does is wonderful and the kids are amazing in their attitude and support of their parents.  To learn more about them go to

Overall, I would say this has been a very positive experience thus far.  Is it something I would do for an extended period of time?  I'm not sure.  Ask me again in a a few more weeks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Life "On the Road"

We have been out of Virginia for a little over a week and it's strange; so far it feels more like a vacation than a change in our living situation.  Perhaps that's because we haven't done any school (this is a scheduled break for Mommy's sanity).  Perhaps it's because we've been doing so many fun things each day (swimming at the pool, flying kites, playing shuffleboard, etc).  Whatever the case, I'm kind of looking forward to when we settle into a more "normal" schedule.  At the end of each day, I feel so tired and yet I feel like there are so many things I wanted to get done inside the camper to make it more comfortable to live in long-term.

We have settled into a campground across the Indian River from Kennedy Space Center.  It's a local park and is absolutely beautiful.  It is shaded just enough that you don't roast or get too cold.  They also maintain it well and the staff is very helpful.  As of right now we are scheduled to stay for a couple more weeks (so hopefully the launch will actually happen before we leave).  Unfortunately they are already booked for Memorial Day weekend, so we are going to use that as our cue to head over to the west coast of Florida to visit family and friends there for a couple weeks.  We want to come back to this campground at some point, but the final shuttle launch is scheduled for the end of June and they are already booked, so we shall see.

Tomorrow we are off to Kennedy to take the tour and see the shuttle on the launch pad (we are camping 10 miles away which means it looks like a speck on the horizon).  I want the kids to see it up close to help them realize it's magnitude.

So far, life on the road has been relatively uneventful and relaxing.