Roadschooling Update

A few weeks ago I shared my big goal for 2014: we will be embarking on a 12 month roadschooling adventure with our children. Beginning June 2014 we will join the hundreds of families across the USA who are pulling up stakes and traveling in an RV for an extended period of time. During these trips, children are homeschooled with lessons reinforced by hands-on experiences at national parks, museums and other first person experiences. We are over-the-top excited about this and have been working hard all month to inch toward our goal.

It’s a huge goal to be sure.  And some would say a little weird.  But for us, it is just what the doctor ordered.  We are longing to have a time of reconnection with each other and create some lasting memories after having a whirlwind of change and challenges over the past few years.

We.  Need.  This.

My daughter is a tween and was initially a bit apprehensive about our upcoming adventure. After all, at that age the last thing you want to do is leave all your friends behind for an entire year and hang out with your mom, dad and brothers. What a drag!

Since she has always had a huge interest in marine biology, we have spent the month discussing travel destinations that would allow her to explore this passion with hands-on learning. She has decided one of the must-see stops is the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Oregon. As she spends time researching other locations and adding pins to our map of the US, she is becoming more and more excited.

(This is our map, with the pins indicating places we’d like to visit)

In other news, we visited an RV dealership last week. There were a few used models we were interested in and wanted to see them up close. My hubby has been doing some research on how to examine and evaluate used models to be sure they will be able to hold up under such an arduous 12 month journey. He wanted to put his newfound knowledge to the test and this was the perfect opportunity. He crawled under it, poked around, looked at the piping and wiring. He fiddled with things, shook things, pulled and pinched and pressed things. He muttered “hmmmm” and “okay” under his breath a few times. He even took a few photos. I really don’t know what he was doing, but I was totally impressed. I remember thinking “I’m really in good hands here. This guy knows his stuff”.

When we got to the car he grabbed his notepad and began feverishly taking notes. I waited for him to finish, then said “Well, what do you think?” To which he replied, “I have no idea”.

I took a second to figure out what that meant.  Really dude? What about the “hmmm’s” and the photo taking and the poking and the fiddling with the parts?

“I was winging it” was his reply.

We both looked at each other for a minute then burst into hysterical laughter. What a pair of dorks we are.

Gosh, I love that man. He really had me going.

Apparently it’s one thing to read about it and quite another to get your hands in there and do the evaluation. So it goes without saying that we still have some stuff to learn. But that’s okay. After our disastrous first attempt, we have enlisted the help of our neighbor who is a retired RVer. He agreed to accompany us to a few evaluations so he could explain what to look for. Thank goodness for the kindness of others. Because for now we are hopelessly and unapologetically green.

*Sigh*

Side Note: if you’ve never been to an RV dealership before, beware the golf carts. These harmless looking things can go about 147 miles per hour if your salesman has had too many lattes. It can be scarier than the gravity-defying Dare Devil Dive roller coaster ride. I may be exaggerating a little bit. But I’m pretty sure this guy had a death wish and I. am. traumatized.

Another exciting experience this month.

I learned that Kimberly, founder of Fulltime Families also had a special needs child, so I immediately sent her an email asking for her sage advice. I was thrilled to be able to speak with her by phone and get some amazing inside information on roadschooling. It was surreal. I felt an immediate kinship with her because she was once where I am now. Mother of a large family including a special needs child, dreaming of a roadschooling adventure. Only she was doing it.  Not only that, she had made it her career to equip others to do the same.  I felt incredibly inspired and even more determined to see this dream to fruition.  It was an experience I will never forget.

Since Fulltime Families is open to those who are roadschooling and those who are aspiring to, Kimberly and I are discussing the possibility of having me write a column for Fulltime Families magazine. I am so honored and excited to be doing this, and I’ll update you as soon as we have the details ironed out. It’s a great publication for anyone exploring this way of life.

The Nitty Gritty
As for real financial progress toward our goal, here’s where we are:

Goal #1: Be Debt Free
Medical Bills: $8300
Paid Off This Month: $1650
Left To Go: $6650

Goal #2: Increase Passive Income
You may remember that part of our passive income to help fund this trip will come from books I am writing. Today my first book Operation Dinner: How to Plan, Shop and Cook Ahead for Easy Family Meals is nearly finished and ready to go on to the editor. I am so excited about it! In it I share all the dinner tricks and techniques I have refined during my 18 years as a busy mom of five.  It covers all aspects of meal planning, strategic shopping and prepping food ahead to simplify your dinner routine, including tons of recipes!

Goal #3: Pay Cash for a 5th Wheel
We will begin chipping away at this goal after our debt is paid off. For now, we are learning, exploring and testing out different models so we are well informed when the big day arrives.  So far, the well informed part needs a little work.  We are hopelessly green, but we will get there…

So there you have it.  Month #1 has come and gone and we have made a few baby steps toward our goal.  We are thrilled!  Next month I’ll have more exciting news to share as we inch toward our roadschooling adventure.  You can read my first post HERE where I share the details of our dream.

Comments

  1. I love reading about how you are getting to this dream of yours, Lori! And your stories about your husband and the golf cart had me chuckling! I am so hoping that you will find the perfect RV for your family at the perfect price when the time is right.

  2. Love these updates. The story of Matt under the RV and the banter afterwards had me laughing hysterically! I can just see you two! : D Count me in when that book is published.. I’ll be one of the first in line, girlfriend.

    • It was so funny…he is trying so hard to learn all this stuff and be prepared but when it came down to it, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Bless his heart for trying. We are still laughing about it :)

  3. I am so excited for you!!! What brave souls you have for this adventure. You will be making memories that will last a lifetime. I will be praying for your safe travel through your journey, for peace among family members, and joy and laughter to abound!!
    Blessings to you!

  4. Wow! I am in awe of you and your family. I can’t wait to live vicariously through you. Way to go! I saw you mention that you have a child with special needs. I have a sister with special needs and I am also a special education teacher. I work with children who have severe and profound disabilities and autism. I would love to hear more about your little one. If you are passing through Chicago, we would love to host you.
    Be well
    Jen

    • Hi Jenny – We use to live a few hours from Chicago and we miss it very much. It’s one of our favorite places to visit. Would love to stop by and say hello!

      • Hi Lori,
        Please let us know when you will be in Chicago. We would love to meet you.
        Congratulations on all you have accomplished thus far. You and your family are very inspiring.
        I had a financial question ( don’t feel you have to answer if not comfortable). Will you be renting out your home during your road trip or will your budget include a mortgage/ rent plus what is incurred on the trip? How would you go about deciding on a budget for this type of adventure? Obviously, I’m asking because I would love to do this with my family but it seems so difficult.
        Thanks for your advice and for sharing your families adventures with the world. Best, Jenny

        • Hi Jenny – Great question! I think I should address that in a future post! But here’s the in-a-nutshell answer…

          As far as deciding on a reasonable budget for our trip, we found a tool on Families on the Road that gives budgets of other roadschooling families: http://www.familiesontheroad.com/life/budget.php Estimates are from $2,300 – $6,600 per month depending on a lot of factors. We have formulated our own estimates by calling around for rates on camp sites and insurance, and estimating gas and maintenance costs. With our family of seven we are estimating a cost of $5,000 per month. That may be a bit high, but we want to be on the safe side.

          Some roadschoolers who own a home have factored mortgage costs into their trip budgets. Others hire a property manager to handle renting it out and maintaining it while they are away. Since we recently moved from Michigan to Texas, we have not yet committed to buying a home so that part is easy for us. We are not tied to a mortgage, so we won’t have to worry about that.

          Part of our trip involves touring schools across the country to find the best one for our autistic child, so we aren’t sure where we will be living when the trip is over! So we are not concerned about returning to the same house. I wish you the best of luck, this is very do-able if your job is mobile!!!

  5. I urge you to check out Giant Steps in Lisle Il for your child with autism. If you would like more info please email me at cw121@aol.com. This is a therapeutic day school for kids with autism and I was a teacher there.
    Also, take into consideration where each state ranks for services to children and adults with developmental disabilities (this includes autism). Illinois is one of the worst. Michigan and Minnesota are the top two.
    Gotta run…. Kids screaming.
    Jen