Hammock Sleeping

About a month ago, the girls and I switched from our beds to hammocks.  This spring I went on several backpack trips, and I discovered I love sleeping in a hammock.  Then the kids and I took a week long primitive camping trip, and we all took to sleeping in the trees like the Greeks over 2000 years ago.  We loved it.

When we got home and had to sleep in our beds, we were not happy.  Some of us decided sleeping outside in the trees was preferred.  With several thunderstorms looming, I spent the better part of a day researching how we could hang our hammocks inside.  I was a little leery since the RV walls are constructed differently.  After lots of researching, I came to the conclusion we had to do the old trial and error method.  I bought eye bolts and hung the hammocks.  Then I picked the child who weighted the least, and cheered them on as they cautiously crawled into the hammock.  YEAH! It held!  We tried the next one, and so on until we had all tried them out.  Nobody came crashing to the floor, and the eyebolts only caused minor creaking from the walls. There have even been times when the twins crawl into my hammock and cuddle - three of us hanging from those two little eyebolts in these RV walls - quite an accomplishment if you ask me.

I feel like I am sleeping better, and the research done by the Swiss, confirms my experience.  The study showed the participants fell asleep faster, slept deeper, and helped alleviate pressure point pain.  Separate sleep studies show that by getting quality sleep we are better readers, have more energy, and have increased learning abilities.  Plus it is just fun.  The gentle swaying brings back memories of easy, lazy days, and today, it was nice to take my "bed" outside for a beautiful Fall nap.


Autumn Family Tradition

As autumn is blowing in strong, the children remind me of a Fall family tradition. 
One Fall, while living in our stick and brick (S&B), we had an abundance of apples.  We had a pantry lined with jars of applesauce and slice apples, a freezer full of apple pie filling, and best of all – canning memories with the besties.  (Oh, it is easy to pine for those days). On that Fall day, which seems like so many moons ago, I began thumbing through the 70’s Better Home and Garden Cookbook, and came upon Apple Fritters.  Who knew this recipe/ritual would become a pivotal turning point on the Trochesset wheel? 

For weeks now, Maia has been reminding me, like a cold gusty Autumn wind, that it is Apple Fritter time.  So, this morning we officially ushered in the Mabon season with these yummy little puffball donuts.  They did not disappoint. 

Because of some dietary changes we have made in our diets, we made them gluten, dairy, and “sugar” free.  We used Pamela’s gluten free flour, chai seed egg substitute, and Agave syrup.  Although I would still not consider this a health food, I feel this recipe is better for our digestive system.  The flour substitute is an equal flour for flour.  The chia seed is three tablespoons water and two tablespoons ground chia seeds mixed together to form and egg like liquid. And the Agave is an equal sweetener to sugar.  Walla – Vegan, Gluten-free Apple Fritters!

I also think because of our dietary changes, and not eating sweets on a regular basis, today we enjoyed these little treats so much more.  If you do choose to try these, be careful, they might turn into a forever kind of thing. 


The World is Our Schoolyard

There have been people who believe the world is the best teacher since the beginning of humankind. They are called Explores, Crusaders, Pirates, Roma, Nomads, and many other names. Always on the fringes of society, these are the people who push through fears with courage and hope. 

These are our people.

The parks have become our schoolyard again. The kids bring their stories to life - today Peter Pan with an environmental ethos.

Soon we leave our summer home (Coralville lake), and the winds blow us southward. For now, we savor these empty parks and cool breezes. 


Happy 14th Birthday Hanna

September 6th
Today Hanna turns 14. Hanna celebrates with a huge smile on her face, and talks about all the cool things a 14-year-old gets to do – mainly getting her permit.

My heart begins to hurt. Tears well up in my eyes.  Hanna is not ready to get her permit, and no, I am not just being an over protective mom.  Trauma.  That is why I hurt. Trauma Hanna had no choice in.  Trauma shadows everything she does.

Recently Hanna’s special needs doctor sent us to the Endocrinologist, at my request, to see where Hanna’s hormones are based on her peers.  We got the test results back, and, much like my mommy instinct suggested, Hanna’s hormones and bones are delayed.  The doctor had blood work, and a hand bone x-ray done, which all came back with the same internal age – 10.  This only confirmed that academically she is on track at the 5th/6th grade level.  So even though we are celebrating Hanna’s 14th birthday earth side, Hanna really is more compatible with 10 year olds.

So it begins, well-meaning friends and family will ask, “How old are you now”? and my insides will cringe.  I know the judgmental side glances are coming because “she doesn’t act like a 14 year old”.  Instead of celebrating her milestones, they assume things about her not being developmentally appropriate.  I get it but it still hurts, and I am angry.  I am angry at the adults in her foundational years who failed to keep her safe, who failed to help her thrive, who created this trauma.  I am ANGRY and SAD!!!!!  I could digress here on how our social system has failed, and all the problems with generational trauma, and our mental health system, and how all these things make so ANGRY also but I will spare that for now.  Right now, I am just sad and angry for my beautiful Hanna.  My beautiful, strong, loving, warm, friendly, happy Hanna.

The good news is that Hanna is resilient, and easily finds happiness, and has learned to grow through her trauma.  The good news is that the “whole package” Hanna is developing steadily, and by the time she is 25 or 30 she will be just like her peers, maybe even taller according to the Endocrinologist.  The good news is that Hanna is surrounded by family, every day, that accepts her for who she is right now – not how she should be.  In fact, our lifestyle choice has actually set her up beautifully to grow, and flourish at her own pace.  The good news is that Hanna has people in her life who understand trauma.

Trauma also means when Hanna does hit those special milestones, we celebrate with more cheer and emotions. So even though I am angry and sad now, I know we have lots to celebrate now and in the future.


We're Still Alive

Somewhere in the time travel worm we lost a year, or gained a year depending on how you look at it.  I like to think we gained a year.  So, what happened? 
Well, it started with the failure of our laptop, and then our IPad got shattered (with 7 tiny hands, go figure), and it just became so labor intensive to type everything out on my phone. I continued to keep most everyone updated via the wonderful book of faces but now I feel a yearning to start our blog back up.  We got a new laptop, and there are so many more things I want to say than the space Facebook will give me.
I am going to start regularly setting aside time to write again, and we have a whole years worth of stories to catch up on.  See you down the tails.


Apocalypse Ready

People ask me all the time about the kids education. Our school doesn't look like anything they can relate with. Some people say our schooling style is untraditional; however, I would disagree. Our school is probably more traditional than the current system, and I truely believe our learning is a much better learning model For us. Traditionally, if we are talking over hundreds of years, kids learned by watching and working with adults. This sitting them in a building with a bunch of their peers, to learn math and science and writing from books is a relatively new concept. And here is where I start to digress - let me get back on topic, being apocalypse ready.

I see our, the Trochesset Tribe, learning or education, kind of like preparing for the apocalypse. While I am saying this jokingly, I am also a bit serious (not about the apocalypse). What skills would my precious babies need to survive?

One, they would need people skills. They would need to be able to communicate their wants and needs with each other, and strangers. They would need to know how to deal with people who are not on the up and up. They would need to quickly assess if someone was foe or friend. So, these are the people skills we work on every day. How to pick up on others body language, and how to honor our initial gut feelings. They learn how to work as a team, yet know when it is sometimes best to work alone.
They will also need to know how cook; how to sustain themselves nutritionally. We teach them that their body is a temple, and they need to take care of that temple. Listen to what their body is intuitively telling them. When are we hungry or tired. Knowing the difference between a good burn and a hurt. They learn science everyday. From dissecting a snake to watching the birds fly. They learn about their bodies because we talk about them. They learn how to find pecans, and crack them, and know that acorns eat'n raw may be good for a squirrel but not for us.
They need to know how to make their own clothes. Learning to knit, crochet, and sew. Make designs that express their personality, and are still utilitarian. Learn how to knit a cast net, so they could catch their own fish if necessary. They learn animal husbandry by caring for the sheep, and watching the shearing, and then washing, and carding the wool. They see the cotton in the fields and learn how to spin it into string, which can be woven or stretched.
Creating a shelter is also important. They learn that a home doesn't have to be the huge house on the hill - home is so much more, and it doesn't have to be very big. They learn how to be happy with what they have, and that material things do not make us who we are.
They learn what it takes to survive in an unpredictable world.
They learn that sometimes, when they are really, really scared, sucking it up, and stepping out with courage they feel the best.
They learn how to survive.
They are apocalypse ready.


We Have Arrived

Biloxi, home sweet home!

At least for the next couple months.

We got in about three weeks ago. I haven't had much writing time because we are liv'n it up. I am finding as the kids get older, I have less time to myself, and most of the time I love it. We are engaged in learning together, every waking moment, and it is so much fun. Right now, at this very moment, they are all enjoying some much needed quiet time, and I have a few things rolling around in my head I wanted to get jotted down.

Today we spent the morning at the beautiful Biloxi front beach. We are currently staying at Keesler AFB famcamp, which is just right up from the sparkling waters. I love this camp because it is so close to everything.

We were previously camping at Davis Bayou, in the Gulf Coast National Seashore, at Ocean Springs. We said hello to Alli the alligator, and even talked with JJ, the park ranger, who remembered us from last year. Our voyage to Davis Bayou has become an annual thing.

One the road from Iowa to Biloxi, we went through St. Louis, and down to Nashville. We stayed at Camp Walmart in Troy, Mo, and then Stayed the weekend at Rend Lake, Illiniois. We really enjoy the COE campgrounds, and the Gun Creek campground at Rend Lake had the most amazing sunsets we have seen since Arizona. We stayed a couple days there, and then headed out to Nashville. Near Nashville we stayed in two COE parks right on the rive or what they call the Cheatham Lake area, which were postcard picture perfect. I would recommend them to everyone, Harpth Bridge and Lock A.

From Nashville, we hit another camp Walmart in Alabama, and then cruised into Biloxi the next day. When we first got here, we went to a fantastic boondocking spot right on the Beach - Treasure Bay Casino Parking Lot. I love this place. Treasure Bay use to have this really cool pirate ship floating out in the bay, which was its casino, but when hurricane Katrina came through it leveled the place. The casino retreated into the landside space where the hotel used to be. Now there is just an empty, broken-up, parking lot were locals come to fish. We parked there for two nights. It is kinda nice because John, who is a late nighter, can go roam the casino, and stretch his legs, while we sleep. And did I mention it is free, and right on the beach!

Life is great! Hopefully we will get settled into a routine now, and I can get some much needed writing done.

Hugs to you all, and we will see down the trail!