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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Forest of Ferocious Fungi, Part Deux

It has been less than a week since the mold mania we were exposed to under our bench seat.  The odor had dissipated, so we had thought that the problem may have been solved by our cleaning and drying.  We were ready to put the spore issue to sleep.

So, we were very disappointed to see more cotton candy growing on our bench wall when we took a peek.  That made the decision for us that we would rip out the bench seat to see what was going on.  Frightened we would find an outer wall full of mold, we cautiously removed the bench.

PHEW!  Not as bad as we thought, but, the wood is wet and beyond repair, at least at the bottom of the back.  There was  a spot of black...black mold? Not sure.  The carpet was dry but one area had the same black...which cleaned up fine.

We toyed with the idea of rebuilding the bench, or a least, replacing the parts that were ruined.  But, instead we opted for a new office chair.  Since Jo spends so much time at the computer, it made the most sense.  

Keep an eye out for our friend fungus!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Educational Websites Are Right at Your Fingertips

Today you can find hundreds of quality, trustworthy, educational websites to help compliment or create your homeschool curriculum, or to further support your child with the work they do in school.    We have used most of the sites listed below, some more than others.  We'd love to hear about other sites you use, or how you feel about those listed below.  Hopefully, you find something new here.

Click the titles to visit the websites.
Free sites
These sites are totally free.

Magic Tree House (This site has quizzes and games based on the Magic Tree House books.)

Have Fun Teaching (Thousands of free worksheets and activities for elementary grades.)

PBS Kids (Learning and fun games based on kids' PBS TV shows.)

Sheppard Software (Loads of free online games in all subject areas.)

US History (Lessons and stories about our Country's history.)

Khan Academy (Loads of videos and readable lessons in all subject areas, for lower elementary to adult.)

Mr. Nussbaum Learning & Fun  (Site contains hundreds of games, activities, worksheets, videos, etc for many grades and many subject-areas.)

Math Play (Free online math games from grades 1 through 8.)

Houghton Mifflin Math (The publishing company provides online activities and printable worksheets in math for grades K -6.)

Reading Units  (Teacher-created comprehension questions (online and printable) with activities that go to several popular chapter books.  {There used to be many more but she sells them now on TPT.})

National Geographic Kids  (Games, videos, photos, and more on many topics.)

Pay Sites
These sites require subscriptions.

Discovery Education (Homework help, Video clips and full-length episodes, digital texts.)

Reading A-Z (see also all of Learning A-Z's sites:  Writing A-Z, Raz-Kids, Vocabulary A-Z, Science A-Z, ReadingTutors.  For pay site with some free items.  Hundreds of printable and projectable leveled readers, running records, comprehension tests, and activities.)

IXL (Online timed math practice correlated to each state's standards, and the Common Core, for grades K through 8.  Students receive awards for success. Language Arts is coming soon. Free use for a short period of time to get to see what it offers.)

Brightstorm (Quick, explanatory videos on topics in all subjects.)

Time 4 Writing  (Writing courses with some free lessons embedded)

Tumblebooks  (Many libraries have a link for Tumblebooks where you can access it for free.)

Mango (Many libraries have a link for Mango where you can access it for free.)

Animated Atlas (Using animated maps and narration, US History is explained. Growth of a Nation is a free movie.)

Free with some Pay parts
These sites are free, but also have parts that require subscriptions.

Spelling City  (Parents and teachers can create spelling lists that children can practice using quizzes, teaching lessons, and games.  Subscription adds vocabulary and more game options.)

Starfall (Phonics, rhyming, and reading with colorful animations and enjoyable voices.  Subscription adds math activities.)

Brain Pop (Animated subject-oriented videos provide information and fun.  Subscription provides for all content.  Free allows selected videos.)

Curr Click (A large website with hundreds of homeschool and educational resources.  Online classes and courses are also available.  Some free items and classes, including Lego Club.)

What to Do for Free or on the Cheap in the Houston Area

When you travel full-time, and homeschool three children, you spend a great deal of bandwidth researching free, cheap, and interesting, educational, memorable places to visit. I hope to provide a resource of these places so you can spend your time on better things.  If I get to them, I'll tell you about them.

We are spending some time outside of Houston in the Galveston, TX area.  It's gorgeous and, so far, chock full of lots of great things to do for the kids.

Being the frugal family that we are, we try to find educational opportunities that won't warp the wallet.  We've located a few freebies or reduced-fee choices for family and educational fun. 

Visit the...

Houston Zoo
Free on the First Tuesday of every month: 2pm - close
if you possess a Bank of America account
Sat 10am - 7pm or Sun 10am - 7pm

Houston Children's Museum
Free Thursdays 5pm - 8pm
if you possess a Bank of America account
Say 10 - 6pm or Sun 12 - 6pm (FIRST weekend of the month only: only the account holder gets in for free)

The Museum of Fine Arts; Houston
Free Thursdays 10am - 9pm
if you possess a Bank of America account
Sat 10 - 7pm or Sun 12:15 - 7pm

Houston Museum of Natural History
Free Thursdays 2pm - 5pm

Houston Health Museum
Free Thursdays 2pm - 5pm 
with Ecotarium Card, Free entry anytime.

Weather Museum
Free Thursdays 12pm - 4pm

Buffalo Soldiers Museum
Free Mondays 10am - 5pm

Free Tours:
Mrs. Baird's Bakery
St. Arnold Brewing Company

All the beaches in Galveston have free parking and access to the beaches.  Visit the beach right across from Fort Crockett Seawall Park to see the rock sculptures created by visitors...and create your own.

If books are your thing, get a temporary library card at Rosenberg Library in Galveston and check out their free programs while checking-out a great book.

Take a free ferry ride from Galveston Island to Port Bolivar!  It is a 2.7 mile, 18 minute trip to miles of beaches and small shops.

Visit The Strand in Galveston for shoppes and people watching.   The port of Galveston is there and you may see a cruise ship or two.  Check out La King's Confectionary, Taffy and Fudge Making shop...stand outside the shoppe to watch confections being made from scratch.  You may even get a sample or two!  

Are you a chess fan?  Grab a coffee or daiquiri and play life-size chess in Saengerfest Park, right on The Strand.  

If you are a Bank of America customer, you can gain free access to many museums across the country on the weekends....Museum Visits.

Stay tuned for more things to do in the Houston/Galveston area, as we have only been here a week and a half.

I will be checking in to see if you can get free passes from the library.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Campground Review: Lakeside RV in Livingston. LA

Lakeside Rv Resort
Livingston, Louisiana

We stayed here for one month, December 19 until January 19 of 2013. This just happened to be one of the wettest Januarys on record. It was also a month filled with tornadoes and a night or two of snow in the forecast. 

With this being said, the RV park was wonderful! The park is situated on a lake with a nice foot-path on three sides of the lake. Cement pads are level and approximately 20' wide and have varying lengths. We stayed in site #105, which is a back-in space that abuts one of the "pet areas". Trash was regularly picked up by staff; the office had available, complimentary, fresh brewed coffee. 

As mentioned, we received many inches of rain and the grounds drained very well. I also made note that they had some of the best potable water we have encountered on the road. Although the campground is cable free, many of our neighbors had satellite and our over-the-air reception from Baton Rouge and New Orleans was clear and offered many channels. They also have a "Campers' Lounge" that has satellite TV and is quite comfortable. The laundry facilities were also clean and adequate, as were the restrooms, in which we stayed (women's) during the tornado watches. 

We give this park a rating of 8, due mostly to their location. Not much going on in Livingston and the next town in which to grocery shop (Walker) was not much better. Very dirty, lots of trash, and an email to the parish resulted in a run-around of "new people to town since Katrina and still trying to get it under control."    

Staff was great and if the pool was heated in the winter months they would have received a 9+). An hour and fifteen minutes from New Orleans and about 30 minutes from Baton Rouge.  All-in-all, clean, functional and child friendly.  Oh, and right across the street is a daiquiri bar, with pretty good food.  We paid $520 for the month, including electric, for a lakeside site.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Finding a Forest of Ferocious Fungi

Pardon my alliteration.

This was quite disturbing.

We have a dinette, and under each bench seat is a drawer.   For the past few months, we have stored our Glad-ware in the drawer that abuts the outer wall.  Recently, I noticed mold inside the drawer along the back and outer-wall side of the drawer.  I cleaned it and attributed it to not drying the Glad-ware well enough.  The drawer shuts well and I figured not enough air was getting in...creating a nice, warm, dark, moist environment for mold.  

Paying closer attention to drying the plastic containers better, I thought the problem would rectify itself. But, soon an odor started to permeate from the drawer when opened.     

I opened it up as much as I could and once again saw mold.  Upon emptying the drawer, I could see the mold was all the way to the back, once again.  Now, in their infinite wisdom, Jayco made it impossible to fully remove the drawer as pulling it out all the way causes it to hit the opposite wall stopping any more movement.  

  Using a flashlight and looking through to the area behind the drawer  I was shocked to see a forest of fluffy, cotton-candyesque mold growing.  Grabbing the phillips head, I removed the plywood board under the seat cushion and started cleaning.  

The wood was now dark and slightly warped so I put the heater to task.  

No more storage of possibly-wet items in this drawer.  IF that was actually the issue.  Hoping it was.  But another theory is that moisture from the window just above the bench (which tends to allow rain water in (dripping quite heavily from the awning above) if we don't shut it quickly enough) might be the cause.  Other times, condensation has had that window and wall beaded with water which may have dripped down behind the bench seat.  
The carpet underneath was not wet, which was a relief.  

Considering this RV is a standard set up with dinette on the slide, keep an eye on that area under your bench seat.  And don't use it for plastic containers!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Coffee Syrup. Have YOU Tried it?

You can take the girl out of Rhode Island, but you can't take Rhode Island out of the girl.

I've missed my favorite drink, not having any since we left Connecticut back in October.  You just can't seem to find coffee syrup anywhere outside of New England.  In fact, people have never even heard of coffee milk!  But if you are from Rhode Island, you know it, and most likely, drank it.

Autocrat, (the maker of coffee syrup) is located in Lincoln, RI, and has been making coffee and tea products since 1895.  Coffee syrup was introduced to Rhode Islanders in the 1930s.

The familiar yellow-labeled bottle with the singing red bird boasts 5 ingredients...high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, coffee extract, caramel color, and potassium sorbate.  Not overly healthy and at 100 calories per 2 tablespoons, (before you add your 6-8 oz of milk), not a diet-conscious drink.  

But, that hasn't stopped it from becoming The Official Drink of The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (beating out RI's other favorite...Del's Lemonade.)

However, if you want some, and you aren't within driving distance of a Rhode Island grocery store, you'll have to order them.  That's what my husband just secretly had my mom do for me...thank you to both of them for filling up my traveling home with my favorite drink, (other than red wine, of course).

Coffee Syrup Made it to Texas

Now, if you enjoy the taste of coffee milk, but want something a little healthier, you can always try Dave's Coffee Syrup, also made in Rhode Island, in Charlestown.  Brewed with all natural ingredients and found in local supermarkets such as Dave's and Whole Foods.  
Or you can get it online.  Dave's Coffee

Enjoying some Coffee Milk (and weiners) at Wein-o-Rama in Craaaaaaaaanston right before we hit the road.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Time to Read? Be a Juvenile

I like to read.   Reading is awesome.  Reading is something I thought I'd get to do at least 85.7% times more than I ever was able to do.  It doesn't seem to be turning out that way.  I am just as busy living in a camper as I was living in a large house, working full time.  How is that so?

Besides still not having enough time to read, I tend to read several books at once.  Right now, and for the past two years, I have been reading...

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa  by Eugene Sledge

Helmet for My Pillow  by Robert Leckie

The Science of Jurassic Park and the Lost World: Or, How to Build a Dinosaur  by Rob DeSalle

Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day  by Peter Bentley

I DID manage to finish "The Trilogy"...Ladies, you know.

My newest addition is 

Invincible Microbe: Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure.
     By Jim Murphy and Alison Blank

 Why, you ask?  I am a sucker for a great hardcover book, non-ficiton of course, with a brand new, clean, clear, library plastic cover.  I found it in the Juvenile Nonfiction Section.  I was looking for books on Greek Mythology for Ian (he's into the Riordan Series of Percy Jackson...thank you Cheryl) and came across this book.  I thought, hey, I could finish this. It's probably not SO technical that I need to read some paragraphs twice, or three times, but informative enough that I learn something and enjoy reading it.  

So, that's my new plan..  I will now shop in the Juvenile Non-fiction section of the library.  Once I finish these five books, of course.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013



While walking along a strip of beach in Galveston, we saw several of these odd-looking, tubular, things made of itty-bitty-shell-pieces nested together with some sea foam and sand.  

We thought, perhaps, crab poop?

So, I turned to my new pal, Greg S. Ph. D. of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University.
Apparently, these cool creations are the homes of the polychaete...an annelid, or worm.  
Also Known As The Bristle Worm.

Polychaetes are multi-segmented worms living in all of the world's oceans.  They are about the width of a pencil and move very slowly.  Each segment has four dense clusters of bristles with grips and hooks called chaeta...thus the name 'polychaeta."

These particular worms, which are termed sedentary polychaetes, feed from permanent tubes or burrows.  

Here is A polychaete...maybe not THE polychaete, as there are many varieties. 

Indian Corn, or  a couple of polychaeta and some sea grass?

 Now, if I could just string them and make some jewelry.


I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichmentand for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Galveston Sculptures in Rock

Today we ventured along Seawall Boulevard in Galveston, TX.  We stopped as we passed what seemed to be a mini beach-front Stonehenge.  There is free parking along the street and we stopped across from Fort Crockett Seawall Park where there is a ramp to walk down to the rocky shore.  There we saw what appears to be the latest fad...rock sculptures.  

Visitors to the beach collect the small broken fragments of rock and balance them creatively into fantastic towers and rock formations.  People leave messages scratched into the rocks and drawn on the sand.  Even several roses were left with personal messages.  We had fun traversing the piles of huge boulders and climbing amid the exhibits left by unknown artisans.

Sky-view of the area.

Friday, January 18, 2013

APPS and Internet and Travel

When you move your home from month to month, especially heading to areas to which you have never been, you put trust in others' opinions and what you read on the internet.  We utilize a few tools when we choose a destination and campground.

Our basic rules are that we want to travel no more than 350 - 400 miles each day when we head to a new place.  We choose areas that we are interested in seeing.  We don't want to only drive interstates; we like to get off and take roads that give us something to look at...but, this can have its perils when it comes to low bridges, construction, and sketchy neighborhoods.

Steve does the research on campgrounds, then we talk about them.

RVParkReveiws.com  is his first stop.

Then, there are Google searches to see if anyone has had any issues with the place.

If a campground doesn't have a website, we dismiss it.

When we narrow down the search to a few possibilities, we check out the surrounding areas to see if they are places we'd feel safe.  (Traveling the country brings a slew of dangers, but that's another post.)
Wiki has city and town stats, including salary level and crime.

Often, our choice is a place that is the hub of the places we want to visit, so that driving to sightsee or engage in museums, fairs, parks, etc, isn't a 5 hour project.

Once we make a choice, and hit the road, it's to the iPhones and some great apps that get us through the trip.

               Google Maps                                                                   
RV Park Reviews
What's coming up at the next several exits on the interstate;  food, fuel, lodging, rest stops, rv & truck friendly? 
What are the prices/ locations of fuel where I want to go?
Where is the next  Travel America truck stop?
Where is the next Pilot truck stop?
Route planner, locations, check your points.
Where is the next Love's truck stop?
Trip Advisor: Locate hotels, things to do, and restaurants.
Keep a journal of the trip; get city guides for cities around the world.
Important while traveling...keeping up with the weather.
Radar, alerts, forecasts, etc.
Community-based  traffic and navigation app; talk with others  about traffic, gas prices, construction, and speed traps.

Use this when you head to D.C.
iTrans D.C. Metro
GO NOLA...New Orleans
History Here...find the historical places around you

Other Stuff
Cop Radio: listen to local police radio

Police Scanner: listen to local police radio

See who is living nearby