Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Preliminary Expenses

We chose to purchase an older (but not too old) motorhome because we couldn't see the sense in going into debt to buy brand new. Our goal is to simplify here. We looked at C Class RVs but we found that they were lacking storage. They would fit a family of 5 comfortably but not their belongings. We initially hesitated on getting an A Class because I was told we'd need a special endorsement on our CA issue class C license. Turns out, you don't.

So we started scouring craigslist ads to see what we could find. We hoped to keep our expenses under $10k. We wound up finding a 1990 Barth Regal 28' in AZ with 4 bunks and a sofa bed for $8k but since we had never been in a Barth we weren't sure if we'd like it. We were able to find a similar 1990 Barth Regal 31' for $9k 45 min away from us that didn't have bunks. Score! I just planned on going over and seeing if we liked the style and the space knowing full well that it wouldn't work for us because we needed at least one bunk. I toured it and snapped some photos and only listened to the owner with half an ear (because I knew we'd fly to AZ to buy the other one). Well, the joke was on me. Once we finally got more pics of the AZ motorhome I realized that the one I had looked at that only slept 4 was MUCH nicer. Leather seats, wood cabinets, sliding solid wood pocket doors, ceramic toilet, and only 18,000 miles! The other one we were considering only had accordion doors, drapes, 56k miles and not nearly as much storage. So, long story short, we bought the one near us for $8800.

After a deposit and a written agreement, we took it to the mechanics with the agreement that the full price could change if the mechanic found anything major wrong with it. Turns out everything was minimal that needed done and including the complete inspections it totaled out to just under a grand.

The CA DOL was going to be a sore spot for us since we knew we'd be taking it to FL in a couple weeks. CA required taxes to be paid and a title transfer fee. Luckily the registration was current and even though the emissions were tested and passed this year, they could still make us get the emissions checked again. Another potential $150. After a few phone calls I found out that you need to bring the proof of sale, title and new insurance in your name and it is up to the cashier's discretion whether or not you will need to get an emission test. It took Captain 4 hours to complete this (without an appointment) and they didn't even ask for the insurance. But they did finally waive the emission test. Tax was about $675 and title transfer was $15.

Total to date:
Motorhome $8800
Mechanic $1232
Sales tax $675
DOL fee $15
$10,722 = Slightly over our budget

Update 12/6/11:
Add'l Mechanic $682
Gas: CA to FL $1502
3 Motel Nights $242
2 Airplane Tickets $354
New running total: $13,502

Monday, November 14, 2011

Road School Curriculum

Its been challenging to pare down our homeschooling materials to bring with us. Space and gross weight are limited so I need to be selective.

First Grade
Dolche sight words (whole word)
The Reading Lesson (phonetic)
Penmanship (copywork)
First Language Lessons Book 1
Math will be manipulatives, money and time covering patterns, metric system, skip counting, addition, subtraction, fractions, etc. Maybe Singapore Math if she masters the basics.
Science will be the human body, animals and earth science as it relates to America
Social Studies will include mythology, American history and geography plus familial relationships (genealogy)
Art Nature notebooks, sketching from life and crafts that relate to our studies
Music Appreciation, singing
Phys. Ed. will be running a muck, riding bikes, swimming, hiking, jump rope, ballet and other kid activities

Sixth Grade
First Language Lessons Book 3 (finish) & 4
The Writing Book
Big Words for Little Kids
Math-Learn Math Fast book 3 and khanacademy.org for mastery and supplementation plus metric system, verbal math
Science will be earth science, nutrition, physiology
American History & geography, world geography, mythology
Art Nature notebooks, sketching from life and crafts that relate to our studies
Music Appreciation, guitar
Phys. Ed. will be running a muck, riding bikes, swimming, hiking, break-dancing, parkour and other kid activities
Modern Foreign Language-French
Reading List: (mythology) Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan, Illustrated Book of Myths, The Odyssey (retold), The Illiad (retold), Anatopsis, Iris, Messenger, (American history) George Washington's Socks, Under Siege, Children of the Longhouse, Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express, Wintering Well, The Devil's Door, Gold Rush Runaway, The Green Coat, The Last Mission, The Art of Keeping Cool, A Boy at War, plus free choice books. These selections may change, I'd like to have the books relate to what happened in the parts of the country we are touring. That may be too optimistic. If anyone has any other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

Ninth Grade
Vocabulary 1100 Words You Need to Know
Current Events
SAT prep
Math khanacademy.org starting with Geometry and working through Trigonometry plus metric system
Earth Science, Biology, Anatomy and Physiology
Computer Programming/ Game Design
Art Nature notebooks, sketching from life, color study
Music Appreciation, guitar
Phys. Ed. will be running a muck, riding bikes, swimming, hiking, basketball and other kid activities
Modern Foreign Language-Japanese
American History and geography, mythology
Reading List: Suggested High School Reading List & Classics, Jane Goodall, Silent Spring, To the Ends of the Earth, Black Flower, The Fairest Portion of the Globe, The Killer Angels, The Odyssey, The Illiad, Life on the Mississippi, JFK and the Unspeakable, The Story of my Life (part 1), Frederick Douglass, The Oregon Trail, Huckleberry Finn, A Doll's House, Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, The Outsiders, Shades of Gray, Beloved, Invisible Man, plus or minus others I'm sure!

I'm sure this will change :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Initial Plan

We don't really have a complete plan, but we have a tentative plan or rather a sketchy outline for our new lifestyle. We currently live in California and the highly-regulated-extremely-safe-family-friendly city in which we live does not allow one to keep a motorhome so we plan on having hubby and eldest take a cross-country road trip to Florida and keep the rig with relatives until the kids are out of school next June. At that time we'll all be ready to join our new home and have time to do renovations on it and chart our course. This first trip will happen at the end of the November.

Currently the rig is still at the mechanics getting inspected and road ready. We still need to make a trip to the DMV to transfer the title and pay the (absolutely exorbitant) sales tax within the next week.

What about the kids' education you ask?

All three kids are currently in public school and it takes everything in my power not to pull them out early and finish out the year homeschooling. But. I. Won't. I'm not new to homeschooling. Historically I've used it when I felt the schools were failing my kids. I taught eldest, Mr. T, who is very bright, for Pre-K, 1st and 2nd grades so he could work at a challenging pace. I taught Mr. S 3/4 of 4th grade because he was slipping through the cracks of WA schools. I enrolled him for a few months in CA school after we moved so he could make new friends. I haven't formally taught Divagirl yet but she's only just started Kindergarten, that's not to say we haven't done tons of informal teaching.

I plan on "road-schooling" all three year round with generous breaks when needed. I think that works out better in the long run so their brains don't turn to mush over the 3 month summer break.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Road Schooling

As I've mentioned before we'll be roadschooling the kiddos, which is really just a very mobile form of homeschooling.

The biggest challenge will be having enough room for all our materials and still keeping it simple (oh, and not exceeding our gross allowable weight).

This affords us an amazing opportunity to live, walk, and see historical sites and make our American history lessons come alive!

I've been sorting through the materials I have already and trying to simplify things due to the space constraints we will have imposed on us. I have lists on my phone and the computer that detail my ideas and the kids ideas on what they want to study. That's one of my favorite aspects of home schooling, letting the kids have input on things they want to learn. Our methods tend to fall into a classical, eclectic, secular, unschool approach with an emphasis on real-world experience. We teach everything that's mandated by the state we are registered in, but in addition to that we develop our kids minds so that they learn how to learn and can think for themselves while being resourceful and productive members of society.

I plan on posting individual curriculum lists for each kid (first grade, 6th grade and 9th grade).

The kids waffle between being excited about homeschooling again and being sad that they'll miss their friends. I won't miss the colds, bullying, drop-offs and pick-ups, early mornings, packed lunches, acquired bad habits, classroom volunteering, PTA meetings, expensive field trips, state mandated testing, and the peer pressure. I might miss the hour or two of free time I had that really only went to keeping the house clean. With only 200ish square feet of living space, I don't think I'll need 2 hours a day to keep our home clean.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


In an effort to live more simply the inevitable must occur. We have to downsize.

One thing I've noticed in all the homes we've lived in is that no matter the size of the home, it will be full to bursting. We just don't stop accumulating stuff. We have lived in homes that including the basement exceed 4000 SF down to one bedroom apartments of 760 SF. The biggest thing about a house is that we can stockpile our possessions without giving them much thought. We don't have to think critically about every item and say to ourselves: "Do I need this? Is it beautiful? Is it useful?" Instead we can say: "I might need this someday, I'd better hang on to this. I could totally do a project with this...someday." Or my personal favorite: "This hasn't worked in the last 3 houses but it might work for the next one, better keep it."

The trouble is, someday isn't on the calendar. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Nope, no Someday. So I end up with a stockpile of stuff (some organized, some not) to do future crafts but due to the other obligations I have in my life, I never get to it. So all that stuff just ends up leaving me stressed out, feeling unfulfilled and collecting dust.

I am positively giddy about downsizing. I am a packrat. Not a hoarder. I like to keep sentimental items that serve no purpose at all except to make me wax nostalgic. I'm really good at getting rid of other people's stuff. Really Good! But enter into emotional attachment and I freeze, I waver, I fill really big "maybe" boxes. I am looking forward to the time when everything I own serves a purpose, even if that purpose is to make me smile.

In preparation for our road home I've been going through closets rooms and labeling big items with cards that say RV or KEEP or SELL. We plan on getting a POD to store the things we can't part with, putting the things that we need in the RV and selling the rest to start a nest egg for the trip.

Even with as many moves as we've made, we still accumulate stuff. It is so freeing to fill those SELL piles. Simple feels wonderful!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let the fun begin!

Its official. We are the proud owners of our first motorhome, a 1990 Barth Regal 31'. Its a little scary but even more exhilarating thinking that this is really going to happen.

We have always moved from place to place. My parents think I have gypsy blood. Usually hubby's job takes us from one place to another and we just follow obediently and make the best of it. 14 moves in 16 years of marriage. I don't wonder why our friends and family think we are nuts. Now we are choosing to embrace the nomadic lifestyle and live simply but so much more richly while slow traveling across America with the kiddos.

Welcome to our blog, in hopes that you can live vicariously through us and try to keep up with our life if you choose.

Happy trails!