Our Story

Welcome to our site! We are Joanne & Steve. After 20+ years working for a city school department and police department, we sold almost everything, bought an RV, and started living on the road with our three children. Joanne homeschools and works online.
What we have chosen is to live life as unencumbered as we possibly can and to spend time with our family, for our family, and as a family.
This website is a record of our travels. But, we also hope to educate, entertain, and inform others about RVing, roadschooling, and the great places we visit in this country.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

data data data

As I delve head-first into full-time homeschooling, it is very difficult to shed the 19 years of public school teaching experience and pedagogy ground into me.  I think once we are traveling (My LORD I have been saying that a long time!), our instructional focus will be based on the history of the area in which we stay.  For now, I am working the basics.

You know; the 3 Rs...


I am lucky.  I have a slew of awesome people to go to for help in any academic, and behavioral, area.  I worked with the best people on the planet, at all 3 schools.  As Ian moves higher into the subject of Mathematics, I will surely be calling on my friends.

Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough to have access to certain websites that have been a Godsend in providing for daily reading skills for the twins.

One of the newest I have begun to use is ixl.com.

It is a pay site, but well worth it.  I used to use it for my class, but, if you are not a member, you can only do so many activities before you are shut off for the day.
I finally decided to buy the subscription...and I am very glad I did.

Like I said, I am fresh from the public school classroom, with all its lovely government interference.  Nothing like it used to be.  It's all about testing and record keeping now.  Which is fine, but it can consume your life.  In no other profession is one person solely responsible for all aspects of the job.  Planning lessons, especially with the extreme influence on differentiated instruction; teaching these lessons; giving formative assessments; recording data from formative assessments; analyzing this data; using the formative assessment data to guide new lessons; giving summative assessments; analyzing summative assessments; meeting with students for conferences; meeting with parents for conferences; oh, and now, joining many committees...all done by the classroom teacher. Not to mention correcting papers, sometimes 4-8 per student, per day.   25 students.  You do the math.

I have only 3 students now, but, the old ghosts haunt me.  I struggle, as always, with the best method to do all of the above.  Not that I have big brother school department breathing down my neck, or cold-hearted mrs city hall threatening my pay for low test scores.  They are my own ghosts.  I have yet to release myself from the grip of the public school chains. I am trying.

But, I digress...back to ixl.com.

It is a website that provides math skills practice from grades pre-K to eighth.  What I like about it is the skills tasks are all aligned to the different 50 state's standards, as well as to the new national Common Core standards.

So, for a teacher, there is a ton of practice with what their current standards are and what their new standards will be (if their state joined the Common Core train).

For parents, it is great as well.  As the new standards are implemented, new terminology will be used, new report cards possibly made.  This site gives an example, just with the slide of a mouse, of all the new (and old) standards.   You don't even need a subscription for that.  So, if Johnny comes home with homework and you have no clue what it is all about, I bet this site will help.

We just began using it a couple of days ago.  But already I see the value, especially, and this is always on my mind, if some day the anti-homeschool police knock on my door due to some nosey-body's complaining (not that I disagree with someone interfering if they believe it is necessary) that my kids aren't in school.  I will have a plethora of data to be used as evidence of teaching and learning.  It also serves to feed the itch I have of uber-organization.

Check it out.


By the way, I have no monetary relationship with this site...unfortunately.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

They Say to Spray is Not OK

Back in October, 2011, about 4-5 months ago, I had a cold.  I was in the midst of a total clean-out as we had a signed purchase & sales and little time left to prepare for the move into the RV.  After a day or two of a stuffed nose and headache, I succumbed to what I KNEW was a mistake, and sprayed Afrin into each of my nostrils.  Ah, the euphoria that comes with that blast of mist entering the nasal cavity and immediately opening the passages to allow that huge rush of air directly to your foggy brain!  The next 11 - 12 hours would be lovely.

That's when the horrific cycle began.  The need for another blast was there, and I willingly took that second squirt.  Just 2 days and I'll be fine.  No problem.  I have been here before and I KNOW not to exceed 3 days, just like the package warns.

Over four months later and I am into my 11th hour of sheer agony.


November was a stressful whirlwind of purging, selling, donating, cleaning, and packing.  I had no time to become a zombie mouth-breather.  I needed a clear head.  Oh, I'd try to go longer, but the urge to spray is so strong, and the relief so intense, it is hard to deny oneself.

As December came and went, and the holiday madness was over, I tried again to mentally prepare for the Big Quit.  That never came.

You see, that once awesome, exhilarating feeling of the blast diminishes in time. By January, the need to use came every 6 hours, sometimes less, sometimes more, and was depressingly unsatisfactory if not completely pointless.

The heavy head, dry mouth, cranial pressure, bloody noses, and lack of smell are all punishment for allowing myself to continue (or even start) using something I knew I shouldn't have.

If you have never been the victim of this product, what happens is, after that lovely 11-12 hours of easy-breathing, you begin to stuff up again; a phenomenon known as rebound congestion.  It happens fairly quickly and without warning, so in order to function, as most of us need to do, that next blast is needed.  What seems like a continuously stuffy, mucous-filled nose, is, in fact, a nose with severely swollen membranes.  So swollen, that breathing in air is impossible.  Trying to go a few hours living with no nose use is very stressful.  It's amazing how much we breathe through our noses.  And when that choice is eliminated, how tremendously awful it is to have to breathe through your mouth.  Each duration becomes increasingly shorter, by minutes, until a week later, you admit you are in the midst of an addiction.

This addiction, and I firmly believe the word addiction applies...

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/addiction: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

is so prevalent, that there are numerous websites devoted to tips and stories about people's years of use and dependancy.  

You know you have a problem when there is a bottle of spray in your pocket book, one in the medicine cabinet, and one in the car.  And when you cannot find any of them, you feel spastic; turning things inside out so you can have that much needed hit.

So, as of 11pm, Friday, February 10, I have been Afrin-free.  It has sucked, (Something my nose can't do.).  But, I think I can say that, even though 11 hours later I still cannot breathe, my head doesn't feel as heavy.  I hope I am not just imagining this.   And I am quite sure I will get absolutely NO sleep tonight.  That's the problem with sleeping with a completely closed nose.  Your mouth dries out and your throat closes, which wakes you up with a start.  You try to blow your nose for relief, but the only outcome is a practically blown-out eardrum.  

The posts I have read by other sufferers vary in recovery-time.  People, some addicted as long as ten years, have taken months to recover. Others, weeks.  Still some, a day or two.  I hope I am in the latter group.


So what DO you do when you cannot breathe?  

Saline spray is your best bet.
Vicks helps, too.
A hot shower.
Oral decongestants.
Drink lots of water to thin out the mucous.
A cold-mist humidifier.

Just NO AFRIN and AFRIN-TYPE nasal sprays.

I had debated writing this, but, if I can stop at least one person from enduring this unhealthy, all-encomapssing, and expensive addiction, it was worth telling.

UPDATE:  As of March 1, 2012, I am completely cured.  For a little over a week now I have not felt any remnants of what will now be known as That Awful Time.  So, hang in there and fight through it if you need to disengage.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Long Lasting Heat and...

In discovering new ways to find hidden space in Eagle, we have purchased the
Black & Decker SDC850 Thermal Coffee Maker.

Black & Decker SDC850 Thermal Coffee Maker

This model has a thermal carafe.  We found it at an awesome price through Amazon.com.  It was cheaper through them than the glass carafe model at Sears.  

We secured it to the underside of the one cabinet we have that has an underside.  It wasn't overly easy.  But, we got it done.


I am bothering writing about this fantastic piece of plastic and metal because I was impressed with one thing...well, two things.

First, I love the blue lights of the buttons.  Very purty at night.

Second, and most impressive, is the fact that when I made coffee at 10pm, it was still steaming in the carafe when I poured a cup at 10am the next day.  Not hot, but warm.  Steve's favorite temp.  
(I like it hot.)

Worth it if you are looking for such an appliance.
And like to keep your coffee hot.
And like more space
And like blue lights.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Collecting Wrenches

All along this "process," "adventure," "crazy head trip," we have had several wrenches thrown into the works.   The sale of the house taking so long and selling for so much less than we wanted it to; the "blessing" of Steve's job carrying us to Connecticut and keeping our travels from really starting; being limited to only a couple of choices of campgrounds at which to anchor Eagle until the Spring thaw takes place.

The latest insertion of torque tool has thrown us into quite a spin.  Just as we were getting used to the quaint village of East Lyme, if not the iron-and-chain restrictiveness of our current address, we find that we need to move onto somewhere new.  The reasons for this turn of events I will describe at a later date.  But, somewhere between March 1 and April 1, we hope to  be packing up Eagle and heading to a new campground.

Now, since we have not been overly thrilled with our current accommodations, you might think that moving to a new place would be fine.  Well, it is.  Except for that wrench thing...

Most campgrounds in this area are closed during the winter months. Which means that most do not open until usually May 1.  Maybe  April 15.
We also need to be as close to Mohegan Sun as possible.

Since we want to leave here by March 1, that limits our options.

We found one campground that would work mile-wise and has a wonderful owner.  The place isn't a resort, but it has great amenities...much, much more than where we are now.  We could move in tomorrow if we wanted to as it has winter sites.  (WHY we didn't see this one in October I have no idea!)

Where's the wrench?  Site size. It is an older campground with bumpy roads and lots and lots of tall, bending trees.  When you drive a Dodge 3500 dually towing a  40-foot, 13' 6"- high-ceiling, 8'-wide fifth-wheel with 4 slides (opening to 14' wide) , you can only fit into so many places.

We came across a newer place, still a good spot for Steve to drive to work every day.  A bit more spacious with a gorgeous lake and plenty of families.  Wrench?  Only 4 sites left, which creates a sense of urgency...AND, they open May 1.   So even if we stay put until April 1, we still have a month in question.

Of course, we could probably stay put until May 1, but as of April 1, Spring rates begin, and hike up considerably.   Wrench.

There's another option we are waiting on...

It's going to be a busy night.  Hope we have a big enough toolbox.