I have been meaning to sit down and write something like this ever since we got back from our trip (late June) – but once you get behind on something like this it doesn’t feel right to just skip ahead, but I’m finally giving up on catching up and I’m just going to give an update on where we are now, and sort of what’s brought us here. Probably will be just a lot of reading, and not much for pictures, but its something.
Hmm… maybe I’ll do this in Q&A format – that seems fun.
First off – we didn’t do a great job of updating our blog, but we did pretty good at filling out our trip on TrackMyTour:Â Â Cynanchum
Q: Why haven’t you been on facebook?
We just felt like it was too easy to compare ourselves to others in the FB world, so when we got back we sort of took a break.
I had a time, somewhere in the middle of the trip, that I saw a post of some dad playing baseball with their kids and I immediately started getting down on myself for not playing baseball like that with my kids. Then I realized where I was, what we had been doing as a family for the past X months, and how susceptible I was to this – and how bad I must have been making it for other people that didn’t have the flexibility that we had.
I’m not really anti-facebook, and I do believe that most of the people I know don’t intentionally try to do anything like this – but it has its effect on me anyway.
Q: How was the trip?!?!?
When people ask us this, it’s really hard to answer. This was actually a bit of a stress point when we got back “How are we going to answer that question?” It’s so multi-faceted.
On one hand it was awesome. Of course it was awesome. We got to see things we wouldn’t have seen before, and do things we hadn’t done before. Yellowstone, Kennedy Space Center, camping on the ocean, “living” in the Oregon mountains for 6 weeks, spending time with friends and family we normally rarely have a chance to see, loads of time together with just our family to strengthen our relationships, etc, etc, etc… it was awesome.
On the other hand, camper life is hard. Leaving your friends and family behind is hard. The first few weeks we pretty much had social detox – kids (and us adults) would frequently just get slammed by the sadness of not having people around. Being bored because you don’t have anyone within 100 miles to hang out with is hard. Having to do dishes 3 times a day is hard. Having a camper that went from clean to pigsty in 30mins of not paying attention is hard. Not ever having a place to yourself to go sit and be by yourself is hard. We also moved nearly every weekend – so always being in a new place and not really knowing the area is hard. Finding new places is hard (especially when you are dumb like us and go to Florida in snowbird season with no plan). Blowing out a tire in the middle of New Mexico on a weekend after shop closing time is hard with no one to call up and help you is hard. Leaving an awning open in a torrential rain storm and having it get ripped off the side of the camper when you are just starting and already feel like a rookie at everything, and realizing your dad you are super close with who usually helps you figure things like this out, is 1000 miles away and you are alone is hard.
So yeah – it was awesome and really hard.
Q: How did you grow as a family?
So many ways that we are still learning about. One big one is that it bonded us as a family together. We had to work through tough times, we had to get along, we had to learn that you need to just live with un-ideal situations and make them work. Bonding always seems to happen the most during difficult stuff, and we never in our right mind choose to make the difficult stuff happen – but when you don’t know what you are doing the difficult stuff happens anyway :-).
I think a really astonishing one to me was our capacity as a family. Kayleen and I both really struggle with feeling like we are lazy. The result of this is that we would commit to doing more than we had capacity for, and then feel really, really down about ourselves as people for not being able to do all the things we felt like we should be doing. We would both have semi-“meltdowns” on a reasonably regular basis. Once we got on the trip, and pretty much just had a light schoolwork load, and my job, we were surprised that we STILL felt like really only going and doing something about 1 or 2 nights a week. That was an eyeopener. How in the world did we get to the point of having so many things piled on ourselves and still expect to be healthy and functional?
This next one is a really big one for me, but I always have a hard time explaining it well. I feel like when I owned a house before, there were always expectations of what I should be working on, what I should be fixing, what my yard should look like, what I should be spending my Saturdays doing, etc… and with full-timing I knew that we were so far off from the beaten path that I actually had freedom to decide and not feel that pressure. Every family full-times differently. Everyone has a different number of kids, with different personality mixes, with different bedtime rhythms, etc. Some people have a dedicated space for everyone, some do a “bedtime conversion” and all the sitting areas/tables turn into beds and everyone goes to bed at the same time. Some people buy huge rigs, some buy small rigs, some buy a class A and pull a trailer behind, some buy a pop-up. It’s always different, and you are free to choose what suits and fits your family. It was immensely freeing for me.
For Kayleen, she had different pressures to be careful of. Because we were doing this amazing thing, that means we should be hiking constantly, and enjoying the outdoors, and doing all the things, and visiting all the places nearby, and having this cool pinterest-worthy camper and life we were living. She felt she had to learn to give herself permission to do this our way, and have realistic expectations.
So in summary, we learned to be “us” and kind of what that meant.
I could probably write pages more, but I’ll save that for if anyone wants to have coffee or a beer sometime, or come hang out.
Q: Weren’t you going to go to Alaska?
We originally had plans to spend the end of the summer driving up to Alaska, but if we did that it would mean only being in Michigan for a month or so before heading back out again, and we knew we didn’t want to leave everyone that quickly. So for the time being “Going to Alaska” stays on the bucket list.
Also, strangely, after staying in the Oregon mountains, spending a week in Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP, and a week in Yellowstone…. we felt like we were a little numb to astonishingly beautiful nature and wildlife.
Q: Are you going to keep full-timing?
At this point, we are not. After much discussion with the kids, and between Kayleen and I, we would rather have roots and be close to people we love and live life with them.
Q: Where are you living?Â
We actually just bought a house in NW Grand Rapids, near Leonard and Alpine.
Yup. We are city people now.
Obviously I need to explain this a bit. Hopefully I do an okay job. The reasons are sort of intermixed, so it’s hard to explain them linearly. I keep rewriting these sections, so you might just have to live with a few disorganized blobs.
For one, we lived in a camper for about a year bouncing from campground to campground and having to be flexible with wherever we were at – so we felt like we could live about anywhere. ð
Before we left on our adventure we started going to Gold Avenue church in Grand Rapids. We right away felt like it was a great place for us, and planned on coming back to be a part of it after we got back from our travels.
During the trip we didn’t really have much of a plan, and that was great, but I think we also learned that without a goal we feel very aimless. As a family we are pretty flexible and adaptable, but we don’t naturally have any direction. I don’t think this was a problem in how we did the trip – but I think it was sort of an analogy of a bigger lesson to us.
Do I turn to the left?
Do I turn to the right?
When I turn to the world they gave me this advice
They said boy you just follow your heart
But my heart just led me into my chest
They said follow your nose
But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
And they said boy you just follow your dreams
But my dreams were only misty notions
But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
And the Giver of dreams He’s the one I have chosen
And I will follow Him
So – yeah. We knew we wanted to be part of this church (which is a small, very community-nuturing church) when we came back. We knew we wanted/needed to be a part of close community –Â and we felt like with knowing that, we couldn’t decide to live out in the country – it just felt too incongruous. We started with a plan to find a place to rent, but it ended up making more sense to us to buy something.
So we bought a place. In the city. Not too far from a few of our close friends, and not too far from our church. It’s not our slice of heaven, but it’s not supposed to be. We pray that it will be a place of peace, and that here, and with our community of faith, God would grow us and teach us what we need to be taught. *shrug* Not sure what to say beyond that.
There. You are largely caught up now. There are tons of things I’ve missed or skipped, but if I don’t publish this post tonight it will never get done :-).
I don’t think this is really the end of this blog, we are definitely still some crazy Jasperse – so there will probably be more things here or there to write about.
If you want to know more, just ask us. We love getting to know people, so if you want to reach out and get together sometime please do!
Footnote: I have been getting SO MUCH spam from this blog that I have disabled comments, but if you want to contact us and don’t have our contact information you can use theÂ Contact UsÂ form.