Lots of Awesome: A Peek Into 2019 with the FieldTripGypsies (Episode 127)
I started this post intending to dive straight into our word/theme for the year, with a quick update on what all we've done this year. But it didn't take long to determine this year there was lots of...everything! So join us as we do a tour through 2019..with lots of fun, family, friends, learning, adventures, mishaps and more!
Lots of everything...2019 was a full year!
This got deeper than I expected...
As I started scrolling through our year on Instagram, I was blown away by how much we took in, and it definitely makes me want to do this every year. Going through a recap of what all we did over the year was a pretty incredible process.
You see, December can be a bit of a hard time for me, as I grapple with these elements of my childhood that I loved yet are so vastly different from what I know today. Being a minimalist nomad means our holidays aren't quite the same as what I experienced as a child growing up in the 80s and 90s with a mama who's love language is gift-giving!
So what happens? I get overloaded with work because I juggle so much and the holidays are just busy. I try to navigate the extra work around extra family time as well, with family members coming to visit, friends wanting to connect, and fun things to do. I take on the responsibility and obligation of being the Santa of the family and typically set the bar pretty high for making it meaningful and thoughtful...and don't quite have the bandwidth to pull it off.
Add to this the ups and downs of hormones in this beautiful world of being female (yes, you want to watch your period in two minutes if you'd like to understand the ups and downs I'm talking about). When you talk about overwhelm, doubt, insecurity and frustration...it can all come to a head in December.
Look back to move forward
Every December, we look at what all we want to let go of for the new year, and it raises big questions for me about my work, and if a season has closed on anything I'm doing. It also tends to be the time that my patience for kids just sitting around doing nothing is pretty non-existent. So sometimes, my overwhelm results in me questioning this whole unschooling journey we are on. Well...let's just say actually going back and reflecting on 2019 was just what I needed to remind me to take a deep breath, it's going to be okay, and we've got this.
Sometimes you need to do that. When I coach clients, my main focus is on moving forward, so we don't dwell on the past. Yet when you get lost in doubt or overwhelm, sometimes taking inventory of what you've accomplished in the past is just the boost you need to bring some clarity to where you are now, and better determine where you want to go moving forward.
So here is your walk down 2019 memory lane
with the Field Trip Gypsies...
Lots of firsts:
- Our first time deep-sea fishing (and a valuable lesson learned the hard way on how to not get sea sick)
- First time to visit Meow Wolf and Santa Fe...whoa - it was crazy!
- We took the girls to go roller skating (the first time for Juliet) with their Grammy!
- We also took the girls to their first ever BMX race - and it was the Nationals! Lots of fun to go back to my own childhood memories of growing up with my parents running BMX races.
- First sleepover for our twin niece/nephew, and first time to have six kids sleeping in our RV!
- The girls might have skinny dipped in Lake Mead...
- And they definitely jumped off lots of cliffs into the water at Orange Beach!
- Our niece not only spent the night with us, but became our bonus daughter for two whole weeks!
- We discovered veggie "not dogs" in the lower concessions level at Ikea. Mind blown. They are amazing and cheap!
- We crewed for a hot air balloon two days in a row, and experienced the wonder of the 48th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!
- We finally "Wally-docked" (parked/camped without hookups in a Walmart parking lot). It was our first time...and probably our last. Not our jam!
- We went to Key West and had the original Key Lime Pie...and yes, I think it was hands-down the best ever! And, we finally tried a chocolate dipped frozen key lime pie bar. And WHOA. Delicious!!
- We took the children to a Christmas Eve candlelit service for the first time, and found a perfect sweet church service that gave them a little sample of what it's all like, singing lots of carols, listening to the children's story, going up to take communion together, and the beautiful lighting of the candles - one of my most favorite moments in a church.
- We did an escape room with my parents for the first time, and it was a hit! We had a blast doing it, and, of course...got out in 48 minutes. 😉
Lots of Celebrations and changes:
We said goodby to sweet Gypsy, and made room for Luna!
We sold our truck, "Mr. Shivers", a 2006 Dodge megacab shortbed and replaced him with "Mr Grumbles," a 2007 Dodge Ram longbed with a bench seat front. And boy do we love having a 6th seat!
We bought a new (to us) truck camper topper in Tampa, named her "Bug," made her my workspace and the introvert sanctuary, and then sold her later on this year in Vegas.
Juliet went through some big haircuts this year, first chopping it into a bob in April, and then going full-out pixie in December! She also lost her first two teeth, and got her ears pierced! Unfortunately the piercing didn't last long - although she did a great job taking care of them, a month after piercing she had them out for a day and they grew back together. She isn't quite ready to get them re-pierced just yet.
Speaking of haircuts, Nathan shaved his head!! Three years of growth, and it was time. Unfortunately the longer it grew the thinner it was on top, and it was finally time. We made it a fun family event, trimming everyone's hair and all taking turns cutting and shaving Daddy's hair.
We saw Aladdin in 3D on a date with Ellie, celebrating Nathan's and my birthdays by having some quality time with our middle! We also went back to our beloved City Museum, where Juliet and Ellie rode on their first ferris wheel ride with me! And, we checked off another crazy place to see by visiting Meow Wolf for Ellie's tenth birthday this year.
We celebrated our 15 year anniversary by being tourists in our hometown of Nashville, restaurant hopping with a progressive meal through some of our favorite old places and exploring lots of new ones.
Lots of family, friends & fun:
We both started and ended our year in the Florida Keys visiting with the Fosters, first in their RV, then in their new home on a Catamaran, enjoying an incredible seafood molcajete dish both times! We love the Keys and enjoyed staying further south this year than we ever have. While in FL, we also went out with our family friends from Nashville, who took us out deep sea fishing on their boat in Sarasota!
We had our bi-annual Miller family reunion with some new additions of Sean and little Andre! Our big family now totals 28 when you add in the two serious boyfriends as well!
We not only had the big reunion, but also visited with all four of our brothers, staying with each of them at their places, and having cousins come stay in our rig!
We also visited with 5 of my cousins and six of my aunts and uncles, some of which I haven't seen in ages, including an aunt in Utah and aunt/uncle in Texas that surprised me!
And, on the family note, the girls went deep into art with Katie Kimmel, not only getting to know their soon-to-be aunt, but got to experience making t-shirts with Lorien Stern designs (who welcomed us to her place and showed us all around), painting all kinds of pottery, cooking in a huge pizza oven, and some awesome karaoke and dance party nights!
The Miller family (and all the descendents) have always been big into games - coming from Amish roots, Dutch Blitz has been a family staple for generations and is one of our favorites.
This year while visiting our VA relatives, we found a new game the girls absolutely love - Telestrations.
This game is a riot - it's like Telephone and Pictionary combined, and you alternate either drawing a picture of what a word is or drawing the word that describes the picture, and you end up with all kinds of things - it's not really about drawing skills, as the worse the drawing is, the funnier it all can end up!
Nathan and I went with my parents to a concert at The Caverns, an underground cave converted into an incredible concert hall.
Before we sold Bug, we took some adventures just with the truck topper, camping at Montgomery Bell State Park (which was the first place we ever camped back in October 2016), staying out at Nathan's brother's place in TN, and also taking it to VA and half camping at my aunt/uncle/cousin's places (the kids had their own sleepovers in Bug while we stayed elsewhere).
While we stayed in Nashville for over four months this year, we did small trips from there without our travel trailer to visit family and friends. We did a "baby tour" and visited baby Wells on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina, and babies Aria and Fennec in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We did a quick road trip to Louisville to hang with our friends there and try some crazy good vegan "soul food".
We went to three Fulltime Families rallies this year in Madison, Florida, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Medina Lakes, Texas, and made some new amazing friends as well as deepened the friendship with others.
Lots of learning:
This year Clara really exploded with her crochet skills and has gone way beyond the basics she started with! She's crocheted lots of dragons, purses, hats, headbands, adorable lovies for family members, and is working on a shawl. She could do a recap of just all she's created this year!
We learned that rainbows are always double, and we saw them all over the country (I especially love this one from the Everglades in February!) We biked Shark Valley in the Everglades yet again, making this an ongoing tradition every year.
We finally went and saw the Hermann Royal Lipizzan Stallions from Austria and learned all about their history of coming over from WWII.
We bought a truck camper topper, and in a crazy game of musical campers, we bought it in Tampa, drove it to Madison, used it for a week, then drove it to Ft. Gaines, Ga, left it there, went back to Madison, drove our travel trailer back to Nashville, and then needed to drive back to Ft. Gaines to pick up the truck topper. So Nathan told the girls they would go back down there the week I was gone for SMMW. He gave them $300 and told them to figure out and budget for the trip. He took them to the grocery store and let them have at it while he ate a cup of soup and sat at the deli. They did an amazing job of working together to handle buying groceries and budgeting for gas and meals out, and they rocked it and had an awesome experience with their daddy.
Clara was determined to solve a rubix cube...and she youtubed and taught herself until she solved it! (She and Ellie also learned lots of magic tricks this year!) And...she learned how to hypnotize a chicken after watching a hypnotist and learning all about it!
We loved on lots of puppies and kittens across the country, taking pictures of puppies for our friends, finding a home for a sweet stray kitten, and living on a farm and experiencing a pretty incredible county fair. We learned a ton about the farm life, small towns and big deal county fairs, as well as the hard lessons of animals dying (RIP Poseidon Flare, the best beta fish ever), and not being able to save everybody (but we did find a home for George the cat). We coined a new philosophy for our family; the Compassionate Heart Philosophy.
Nathan tried making hard cider (no bueno), and then perfected ginger beer! He also added sauerkraut as yet another fermented food in our home that the girls love!
Clara especially became fascinated with Egyptians and history, and the kids dove into the docu-series on Netflix, Ancient Aliens and the Pyramid Code. Definitely interesting and prompted all kinds of theories and discussions on what we think about life beyond this planet!
We did a Bob Ross art class for Clara's 12th birthday, and had a great time putting our own spin on our pieces - my version is hanging in our rig now! Clara really shifted this year from a little girl to a beautiful young lady.
Ellie loved watching the "Glow Up" series on Netflix - we binge watched this whole season as well, and at first I wasn't a fan of the surface-y world of fashion and design, however, we all got into seeing the different art representations and challenges for makeup artistry. She has really loved learning about fashion and how to work with what you have to highlight your body as art, and she's definitely improved in her own fashion sense as well as her desire to learn more about techniques and tips for hair and design.
We now have 2 1/2 readers in the house! Clara is solid, Ellie is getting there, and Juliet is really starting to rock it with phonetic writing, so we're getting close! They have done lots of Typsy and Kahn Academy this year and have made lots of progress!
Juliet really enjoyed watching lots of the Rachel and the TreeSchoolers videos. This is an incredible collection of DVDs to help your child learn about so much more than just American Sign Language. They'll also be reading, learning about science, math, and history, and singing songs, etc - it was deemed "too educational" for PBS Kids, and is right up my alley.
I recommend all of the Signing Time collection for anyone who wants to learn signing, as I believe it's one of the best ones out there. And this collection with the Treeschoolers is just awesome for young kids especially.
We toured Dropbox Austin with my friend Jenna, and learned all about how the company works - not only becoming huge fans of Dropbox (as if we weren't already), but also helping our kids see another side of the coin - not everyone needs to be an entrepreneur, and there are some pretty cool companies to work with!
Also while in Austin, we had the privilege of going and speaking during "Entrepreneur Week" at the original Acton Academy that started it all, and meeting the founder in person, Laura Sandefer (if you haven't, check out her amazing book that tells the story - Courage To Grow)
In our quest for trying new things, Clara really wanted to try as many new fruits as she could this year. We went to Robert Is Here fruit stand, and tried so many new fruits...including the incredible Miracle Fruit! We tried sour sop, the black sapote, starfruit, passion fruit, papaya, and tamarind.
Clara became obsessed with Clint's Reptiles and Snake Discovery. She learned all about reptiles, and moved from a leopard gecko to a false water cobra to a ball python to a corn snake as she learned all about the pros and cons and what would make the best pet. And...yet again, all her hard work and research paid off. She ended up adding yet another family member - Niles LouHiss Abner Logsdon the FIRST, called Lou for short.
Nathan got a new mountain bike and Clara moved up to a full suspension mountain bike - we've covered LOTS OF of ground with biking, and learned more about how to take care of our bikes and what our limits are.
Lots of Travel:
Boy did we cover lots of ground! We made it all the way across the country yet again, driving from San Diego all the way down to Key West (and taking a geocache buddy from one side of the country to the other)!
We hit lots of sand dunes - Great Sand Dunes National Park, White Sands National Park, and Monahans Sandhills State Park. And we hiked Zapata Falls...which was a frigid hike in a creek with glacial water, and the drive up to it was no joke!
We spent lots of days in Nashville - 87 days, to be exact, taking road trips without our big rig while we used it as a home base.
We spent 48 days boondocking this year, which means camping with no hookups! No sewer, water, or electric - we would fill our water tanks and use the generator when needed. And we loved it and really enjoyed caravanning with dear friends and seeing such beautiful views.
We stayed at 29 different campgrounds this year. We've learned some travel tips for the future, like saving the campsite maps of the places we come back to and marking down which campsites we like so we know for booking, and making comments in our google calendar on what the wifi is like so we can go back and double check it.
We drove 3 hours out of our way just to go to Biscuit Head in Asheville, NC...and then kept driving all the way to the Smokies to bike 11 miles around Cades Cove with the girls. Cades Cove was a favorite place in our first years of marriage - we'd come almost every weekend to bike, hike and go "hunting" with our cameras (the only way we shoot animals), and the cove was always a magical place to catch the wildlife.
We went to the Balloon Fiesta Fulltime Families rally for the most epic rally we've ever experienced! It was the week before the 48th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, and we had a blast! There were 48 families there, ironically (this number just keeps cropping up for me), and we loved the smaller rally feel and the many awesome opportunities we got with the fiesta...not only in crewing, but that I got to actually go up and fly in a hot air balloon! Check it all out here.
We walked the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Forest, which was truly breathtaking (and so glad to have had Nathan's brother with us for that adventure)!
We stayed at the Skunk Ape Headquarters. Because that is unique. And boy was it ever!! Wasn't quite as elaborate as we'd hoped - it was a bit more hokey...but we did determine the best campground website ever - Trail Lakes knows how to highlight their campground!
Lots of business:
And then there was the stuff that pays for the party - all of my work! This year I definitely stretched myself with my work load, but it was a great year to really start seeing growth with Mama Says Namaste!
This year, I continued VA work with two clients, both of them staying in my wheelhouse of helping them understand and utilize their variations of the DISC Personality Snapshots I also sell on this website.
I flew to Social Media Marketing World for my fourth year and enjoyed lunch with my family and the incredible Chris Ducker yet again this year, and so enjoyed connecting with so many amazing influencers in the world of self-help and positivity.
We hosted the first ever RV Family Conference with my company, Mama Says Namaste, Lets Travel Family and Fulltime Families.
We did a major overhaul on the yard at "the green house" to get it ready for new renters, and, just when we thought we were going to have a vacant house, we got someone in for a minimum of 9 months, and only 2 weeks in between renters!
I was a guest interview on these podcasts:
And I wrote guest blog posts on:
My course, the 90 Day Family Road Trip, was a part of the Ultimate Bundles Travel Package. And, I was a part of three virtual summits: The Mom Conference (for the 3rd year), Fulltime Freedom Week, and the Make Money & RV Virtual Summit...and I made more in affiliate income this year than ever before.
I spent 65+ hours coaching clients 1-1 this year, and learned my "sweet spot" of no more than 4 clients at a time! This year I raised my coaching prices after talking with my own mastermind about upper limit challenges and realizing I was stuck at a price point. The month I shifted my prices to reflect more of the value I was offering, I got more coaching clients that month than I had booked all of the year before!
I realized, so much, the value of collaboration and importance of being available for opportunities. With my work in 48 Days and being present at three Fulltime Families rallies, these two businesses filled my coaching funnel for the year. Sometimes as entrepreneurs we try to go it all alone...and not only can it be isolating and overwhelming, but we might be missing the biggest "acres of diamonds" right around us. Look at the people and businesses you already know, and see how what you are doing benefits them.
When we complete instead of compete, it's amazing what all can happen.
And Lots of "Growth Opportunities"
It wasn't always peachy. We've shared in the past about how our adventures can go awry, and what we do about it. We've had plenty of opportunities this year to be the victim, to get burned out, to react and throw punches...and yet, these same situations made way for new things to become possible, for us to learn valuable lessons, and for us to have some crazy stories to share.
On our way back from Louisville, we hit horrific storms and saw some brutal wrecks. We had only been gone two days, but our trash can was full, and we came back to fruit flies and maggots all over our slide. It spiraled down from there, with the bottom shelf of our fridge falling off and condiments going everywhere, water getting spilled on the floor, and bad tempers and frustration leading to a pretty terrible, horrible, no good very bad night. Thankfully, the sun shone yet again the next day, like it always tends to do.
It wasn't the last of bugs and such. We found one mouse when we were boondocking, but apparently our friend's rig was more fun than ours (our mouse left and took 11 of his friends over, one day at a time, to our besties' rig)! Then, when were were boondocking in the country on a farm, I'm pretty certain we brought at least 200+ flies with us to our next campsite - it was insane!
When we stayed at my brother-in-law's, the girls got such a bad case of chiggers it looked like their whole bodies were covered in chicken pox.
Allergies cropped up - not only due to the weather, but Nathan had a pretty intense reaction to a bee sting, and Ellie has definitely been learning the hard way on what foods don't agree with her. Poor Juliet discovered she is just as allergic to poison ivy as I am, and was covered all over her side, leg and arm from playing hide and seek...in poison ivy. I got a wicked case of it myself as we rolled out of TN...which was a bumpy ride on it's own with my embroidered picture my mother gave me almost breaking our slide and Nathan's continuous brew kombucha he's had since the beginning getting drained all down the sink as we traveled!
On top of all that, it can be difficult to sell RVs anyway, and it's even harder when you're on the road - we spent a good stretch of our summer in limbo, running wherever we thought we found a rig or had a buyer for ours. We found a buyer for our truck topper in Vegas...in early September. It was 115 degrees. And it happened to be labor day weekend, where we couldn't find much that wasn't already booked up at campgrounds. We spent a super hot and miserable week in Vegas and confirmed that we are NOT fans of this city or that heat!
And yet...while all of these were intense, they were incredible growth opportunities that pushed us, stretched us, and helped us get even more clear on the path we want to go on as a family.
And Finally...lots of books!
Reading was such a big part of my childhood. I was a huge bookworm. And yet I have three girls who have all struggled with reading (or having any desire to read), and with our highly active lifestyle, we didn't have much down time to read. This year we wanted to bring in more books to go through together as a family - to inspire us and to just set the example of reading as well.
Here are ten of the books we either read aloud or listened to on Audible as a family this year:
Ellie's People Series - I first read this series when my grandfather (who was raised Amish) gifted me these books back in 1991. I still had the original books and dreamed of one day reading them to my girls. And that's exactly what we did - the girls loved reading the books and learned a ton about the ways of the Amish...which they loved sharing about and "playing Amish" with their friends!
Wrinkle in Time series - I have had so much fun reading this series with my girls. We finally wrapped this up the first of the year in 2019. What a great fantasy series that grapples with some deeper issues, uses big words, and is all around an excellent walk down memory lane of reading it in my own childhood, and now experiencing it again through my children's eyes. This is one of those series where I feel like they get better and better the deeper into the series we go!
Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths - This was what we started with in our religious literacy quest, learning all about Greek mythology. The kids loved this one and have listened to it over and over again. These aren't all rainbows and unicorns - they are pretty brutal stories. The girls aren't really into violence, but they loved the fantasy aspect of it all, and were so inspired that is how our betta fish became Poseidon.
The Word of Promise Audio Bible - by Thomas Nelson - this is a great reading of the Bible that was done really well. Sometimes they can be super cheesy, and this one wasn't. It was, however, a bit too realistic with the sound effects - Judges is brutal. We went through all 89 hours of this, and I'm glad to say we've now read the Bible cover to cover - a huge step in religious literacy. That being said, would I recommend going through the Bible in its entirety with a 6-7 year old? Um, no. It was intense and prompted lots of conversation, but we didn't force the girls to cling to every word. We would talk them through some of the more horrific parts and ask them their perspective on things as well.
The Wonky Donkey - what a hoot to read! This wasn't anything educational, but we had so much fun reading this with cousins and friends. This book became popular due to one hilarious viral video of a Scottish grandma reading it to her grandson, and it's just flat fun to read out loud.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - I so loved this book - and movie - when I was a kid. The girls enjoyed it as well, and it was a quick and fun read to read through the holidays!
The Old Man And The Sea - As we made our way down the Keys, my father-in-law reminded us that Ernest Hemingway's home was down in the Keys. So we quickly read a bio and downloaded this book to listen to on the way down to Key West for the day. We almost finished it...and had about 30 minutes left. So that night, we all walked down to the ocean at Bahia Honda State Park and watched the last full moon of the decade rise over the ocean as we heard Hemingway's tales of the great big fish. It was pretty magical!
Dying To Be Me: my Journey from Cancer to Near Death to True Healing - Incredible, incredible true story - the FAQs at the end are so insightful. Our girls have asked a lot about death as we've lost family members and pets, as well of just their awareness in this world. This book was pretty powerful to change your perceptions on dying and also living a positive life free from fear.
Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World - Why would I put this book under "education?" Because I firmly believe one of the most important things we can impart to our children is how to love. This book is an engaging read for the whole family, and lays out a lifestyle of simply being open to love and give freely. Although it has a Christian foundation and is very Jesus-focused, this isn't just a religious book. It's joy, laughter, love and spreading the good. I happen to know Bob Goff, and he truly lives the life he portrays in this book!
Buddhist Boot Camp - Clearly we were deep into religion this year, learning all about many philosophies and belief systems. Nathan and I loved this little book and the quick stories we could read and discuss together. This is one of those books we love to just keep around and randomly select a section to read aloud.