Good Clean Fun

I get asked a lot, "What do your kids learn at 'school' if you don't have a curriculum?" and I often say things like, life, or how to get along, or some other ambiguous answer. We pretty much use the unschooling method of teaching - every waking hour is a teaching moment, so I am often teaching every minute of every day; no summer vacations here.

Today the children learned quite a lot as I sat back and watched their ingenuity. Pictures speak a thousand words.

A day in the life of the Trochesset Tribe.

And believe it or not - the car and the kids were clean by the end of the afternoon.

Now what do you think they learned?



Successful Trip

For those of you who know me well, this is not new news, but I am not the most organized person. I am a work in progress and for the most part I am progressing :) I use to pride myself in being a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl; however, I have found with 7 kids, and on the rare occasion when I have planned ahead things go so much better.

I am always trying to read the latest organizational book but I recently came across an olde but goody. Getting Things Done by David Allen, and it makes a lot of sense, and best of all - it is working. I started implementing it before we left on our annual camp gathering (PSG), and we are half-way though the week and I can honestly say this book has made our week go soooooo much smoother.

To start with, it has made me make some goals like what did I want to get out of the event. So, I sat down with John before hand and we each came up with our "If I can do _______ then I will have had a successful PSG". I was so surprised at how this simple step made me think differently about how I prepared and packed for the trip.

John said he wanted to be able to drum, as much as possible, at the bonfire circle, and I made sure I geared things for him to have late nights and quiet mornings (well, as much as one can with 7 little ones in a 24 foot trailer).

My goals were for the kids to have fun, make new friends, and have healthy meals without a lot of cooking, and I did a lot of baking ahead of time, prepped all the veggies, and had a meal plan in place. Then I made sure we set up a nice safe yard area in front where the kids could play, hang out, and I could keep an eye on them.

And now at the end of the trip, I can report John got to drum every night, the kids met some great new friends (and so did I), and we are all still smiling at the end of the week. There might be something to this organizational stuff, and although I did not inherit my moms organization gene this old dog is learning some new tricks.



Nice Shirt

Things have been pretty quiet around here; except for the occasional day trip, we have been sticking pretty close to home. We are keeping busy with yard work on our 40 acres, and just trying to maintain some sense of balance as we fill our calendars with therapy appointments for Ciara, Juice Plus workshops, and swim lessons; you know, that fun summer stuff.

On our recent day trip to Davenport, which is a little over an hour away, we set off early in the morning, so we could make all our big city stops. We needed to stop by Thompson's RV for some lights, and a new screen door handle, and then on to SAM's to get supplies for the month.

The trip started out pretty typical with us running about an hour behind my intended ETA, so we stopped by Taco Bell to get a bean burrito to calm the 7 tummy tigers in the back of the Tahoe. We decided to stop by Thompson's on the way home, which later would prove to be a poor choice, and drove straight to SAM's.

We loaded all the kids in two carts leaving little room for the goods we were about to get, and proceeded to the bathrooms. The bathroom is always the first and last place we visit whenever we go into a store as a group. I think the bathroom break is two fold - it allows the kids to acclimate to being out in public, and eliminates the, "I need to go potty" half way through the store.

We proceeded down the isles, strolling at a leisurely pace, and having as pleasant a time as we could with 7 kids present. Then as we turned the last isle in the back, Freya silently and effortlessly puked her burrito all over John. He managed to make it to a strategically positioned trash can for the second round but that was little help for his already soiled shirt. I then rushed to the cart to grab the damp wash rag I carry in the diaper bag only to realise, no one grabbed the diaper bag from the Tahoe.

After engaging my critical thinking skills, I began to gently remove her dress and pat the puke off her skin with the remaining clean areas of the dress. All this as the occasional shopper passed us silently staring as they tried to figure out what was going on. Finally crisis management was successfully implemented and now on to the exit mission.

John took Freya, and some of the other kids out to the Tahoe, while I quickly wrapped up with an immediate check out. When I arrived to the Tahoe, John was handsomely baring his chest, and Freya was trying to get comfortable enough to sleep. I climbed into the back of the Tahoe and snuggled her as best I could as John drove back home.

As we approached Thompson's, we had to figure out what John was going to do for a shirt, or just go shirtless. The end decision was priceless.

We pulled into Thompson's, John got out, I stripped off my salmon coloured shirt with flowers and gathered shoulders, and John strutted into the store leaving me in my bra snuggling our sick little girl. Once inside he gave the nice sales lady the disclaimer and proceeded with his purchase.

The rest of the trip was uneventful, except for the aroma of half digested burrito for the hour trip home.



Looking for Volunteer Places

I just spent the last three hours looking for volunteer spots were we could shack up. I would love to get the one at Jewels Cave in SD this summer, or maybe Cowpens SC this fall. But the best would be Fairbanks or The San Pedro House near Sierra Vista AZ for the winter. Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Here is the write up :)

We are a family of 9 and would love to volunteer at your park; please don't let our numbers scare you - you actually get more helpers this way.


We are a full time RVing family looking to help out wherever is needed. Between us we have lots of skills, and love helping out. We are very active and like to keep busy.


John is a retired Air Force helicopter mechanic and an all around handy man. John is also very friendly and has never met a stranger.


Christine is also ex-military (electrician on helicopters), writing professor, horticulture hobbyist, and road schooling mama. She loves helping out wherever is needed, especially with kids.


We also know a lot about yard maintenance, as we own a 40 acre hobby farm in Iowa, so we are no strangers to mowing, weed eating, and trail maintenance, and have been known to wrestled a few chickens, goats, and horses in that time.


Hanna is the oldest, 10, and is a huge helper. She is great at cleaning up trails and trash, and an animal lover. She prefers to spend her time outside in nature. Hanna also has her fathers gift for making friends easily.


Lexi, 7, and loves to clean. She cleans things top to bottom, and also loves to organise. She is our go to person when something needs to be categorised, or sorted. She is also very personable and a people pleaser.


Maia, 6, is a free spirit and loves anything active or artsy. She enjoys keeping her world clean, and recycling what she finds. Maia is adventurous and passionate about her environment.


Johnny (4), Ciara (5), and the Twins (2) are still young and growing into good helpers but need constant supervision; however, they are active and adventurous, and we don't let their age slow us down.


We are looking for a place where we can park our 26 foot trailer in exchange for volunteer services.


We all enjoy working, but would need one adult to stay with the children at all times - meaning John and Christine would not be able to work the same hours. Ideally we would like jobs where the older kids could help out too, they love feeling useful.


We understand that our family is not for everyone but if you think we might have possibilities for your park, please call or email us. We are game for just about anything.


You can check out our blog at www.7RamblingKids.com to meet our family.


Thanks so much for reading about us, Christine Trochesset



Garden Canyon and Ft. Huachuca Canyon

The sycamore trees stood naked against the dark rock mountains during the spring equinox while we enjoyed the spring like weather.

Dad, John and kids near the trail.

Garden Canyon is accessible from Fort Huachuca, and is a beautiful canyon with several trails branching off it from easy to advanced hikers. This area is also a famous birdwatching spot, as it is home to the illusive Mexican Spotted Owl.

We locked the vehicles into 4 wheel drive and took off for the mountain tail/road. After driving about halfway up the mountain, the road started to get a little soft, so we got out and walked a bit. With the sun shining on our faces, we explored nature while walking the trail.

Magical Stream just off Garden Canyon Trail.

At one point we ventured a bit off the trail into a magical creek bed. The mountain columbines where just poking through the earth, and the water was ice cold. We didn't stray too far though because we found a mountain lion tracks in the claylike trail; we didn't know how long the track had been there and didn't want to find out. The twins would have made a sumptuous snack.

We then went back down the tail to eat our spring equinox inspired lunch, colorful hardboiled eggs turned into egg salad tortilla wraps with pickles and apples.

Hanna with her dyed eggs.

On the next day, Mom and I decided to take a couple of the kids up the other canyon located on post, called Ft. Huachuca canyon, which was just a magical.

Mom and girls trekking ahead.

This hike was actually on an off-road trail, and we only hiked about halfway up but it was just a breathtaking. There were more rocks and sycamore trees here, and the whole hike was not near as steep. With a gradual ascend, the hiking was easy and enjoyable. There was more open area here and even little platues of grassy areas.

We hiked for about an hour at a slow pace and then headed back down. Along the way the kids built little rock houses for others to discover. It was a great day.




Fort Huachuca

After winding around on roads that run neither east or west nor north or south, we found a very nice camp host who went out of her way to get us a great spot next to the playground and a community pavilion right out our door, which we took over. The kids had a great time at the famcamp on post.

Not only was our site wonderful but there was so much to do at Fort Huachuca - even if you are not present or prior military you can get on base and visit the Buffalo Museum and hike the canyons.

Monkeying around.

The kids spent their mornings and evenings monkeying around on the equipment as I enjoyed drinking a nice cup of coffee or wine.

One day Mom and I took the three older kids to the Buffalo Museum, which was interesting for all of us. Mom had been several times, and still found interesting things she had missed. The girls liked all the lifelike replicas like the talking general who greeted us when we entered the building. I enjoyed reading the history about the buffalo soldiers and piecing history together from what we had learned at the missions, and big bend national park.

Civilians can get on post by stopping at the visitors center at the main entrance and declaring where they are going, and this extra step is well worth it to enjoy the museum and canyons that are located on base.

We also met a really neat couple - Andy and Preston. They are also have a blog, which you can check out. Can't wait to meet up with them again, so we can spend more time together.

Fort Huachuca is also in a great location to explore out from it. The post sits at the base of the mountains and there are enough day trips within an hour from it to keep a person busy for weeks.

As the kids say, "This is a redo".



Mt. Lemmon

Mt. Lemmon was on my list of things to do but with three days left to our stay it looked like we were not going to make it. I had scratched it off, and moved it to the "Something we will do the next time we are in Tucson" list.
Then, at one o'clock in the afternoon, mom came over, and we decided to go for it. My mom and I packed the kids in, leaving John and Ciara at home, and headed for the mountain. It was 92 degrees when we left the base.
Mt. Lemmon from one of the lookout spots.
I was a bit nervous about driving, since I am a scaredy cat when it comes to heights; however, mom and I made a deal that she would tell me when not to look, which work pretty well except when she forgot to tell me.
Don't Look!
Two hours later, we arrived at the top of the mountain and it was 53 degrees with snow everywhere. The kids actually got out and threw snowballs at each other. It would not actually take someone two hours to get to the top but we stopped at almost all the scenic pullovers, and scoped out a couple campgrounds along the way, with the first one, Molino Basin being our favorite.

HooDoo Rock Formations or as we seen then - Mom & Babies
At the top of mountain, sits a cute little resort type of town, and we had two wonderful cookies at the pizza an cookie cafe, The Cookie Cabin. We sat and enjoyed good food and good company.
Two HUGE cookies at The Cookie Cabin.

The Cookie Tester - Quality Assurance - they passed.

There is also a ski resort, Ski Valley, and the kids were able to play in the snow and we had a fun snowball fight. 

Before the snowball fight.

From the ski valley resort.

 We decided that we had to go home at some point, and I really wanted to get off the curvy mountain road before before dark. We were actually able to watch the sun set as we neared the base of Mt. Lemon.
The sunset on the rocks behind us.
And we were not the only ones enjoying the sunset on the mountain.  As we were coming down, we spotted several groups repelling or climbing the rock formations.
Those people on top are crazy but what a view.
Mt. Lemon ended up being on of the best days of our trip to Tucson, even though we spent most of the time in the vehicle. I think it was the first real day mom and spent together without the kids interrupting constantly. We also laughed so hard I almost peed myself several times. It was a real Thelma and Louise kinda day, and there were moments when I thought we were going over the edge.

Pictures are thanks to my mom - Kathy Schnedler.


Reid Zoo

The Tucson zoo is the perfect size for kids of all ages, and the activities they have are pretty awesome.

One of the most memorable areas for us is the elephant area. The Reid zoo has a nice area set aside for the elephants, and an interesting zoo keepers presentation, as well as an interactive educational area. The favorite for all the kids seems to be the wall mounted elephant butt. The butt is pressure sensitive, so when it is hit in different areas, the butt makes different elephant noises - we laughed and carried on with that butt for quite some time, and the twins had to be dragged away from it.

There is also the other typical exhibits with a learning building in the middle of them. In this building the kids get to see monkeys up close, draw marine wildlife, and pet a few small domestic animals. There are wonderful stations set up for the kids to sit and reflect on what they are observing.

We spent the whole day at the zoo, which was surprising because I really thought the little ones wouldn't last much past lunch time. But because there are plenty of spaces created for them to stop and relax along the route, we were able to keep them engaged the entire time.

Also an added bonus we enjoyed were the key stations along the way. When we checked in at the gate, we got a key for two dollars, which we can use over and over at the zoo. Then as we walked the route, there were station boxes where we inserted the key, and a recorded message from a zoo keeper talked about the given animal. It was interesting because the information wasn't just the facts about the species but was personalised to the specific animal we were observing. Well worth the extra bucks. The Reid zoo is also on our Niabi zoo reciprocal list, so we got our whole family in for FREE.



Sabino Canyon

As we acclimate ourselves to the area, we are learning a few tricks, which I am sure the Native Americans have known for centuries. One of the things we are learning is that the canyons are the place to be on warm days. For one, they have shade either on one side or the other for most of the day. For two, there is usually a lot more vegetation, and in this case, trees, to take cover from. And finally, usually there is a spring to cool off in - our favorite.

So, on one of the hottest days of the month, we scheduled our trip up Sabino Canyon, and enjoyed the escape from the typical Tucson desert.

The nice thing about Sabino is you pay one price for the tram, and you can ride it as many times, up or down, the canyon, and it has 9 stops along the way to get off and on. We ended up riding all the way up and then road it back down to a picnic area, which there are several different ones along the way.

The picnic area we chose had a wonderful "beach" area for the kids to play in the water. We actually spent hours at this stop, just enjoying the beauty of the area and the kids at best.

We then meandered down the canyon at our own place. Some of us moving faster than others, so we split up and agreed to meet at the bottom when we were all done.

My party played in the creek at another spot and then rode the tram back up the canyon for one final trip. One thing nice about the tram is that on the way up the driver narrates about the local beauty, and then on the way down he/she doeesn't talk to let us enjoy the ride. Although, we were not too quiet; as we met up with some people from Lynchburg, PA and had a wonderful conversation about their state, which we hope to visit in the fall.

Finally, as we wound down for the day, we met up at the bottom, and strolled through the air conditioned visitor center to learn some history about the place we had seen.

Even though the initial fee to get all nine of us into the canyon was a bit pricey, when it is divided out for a whole days entertainment it makes the trip quite reasonable. We packed out lunch, water, and beverages, so the tram was our only expense. The only thing we would have changed about the visit was to pack our the kids swimsuits :)



Arizona Sonora Desert Museum

We LOVE this place!

In fact, we enjoy it so much that we got a family membership, which is actually a really economic thing to do if you plan on going several times, or you have more than 4 adults going at the same time. Our whole family gets in for free, we get three free guest passes, 2 free coffee and tea every trip, and 10% off items in the gift shop - what a deal!

This place is a zoo, aquarium, garden, museum, and art gallery all rolled into one, and we can honestly say we have enjoyed every aspect of this wonderful place.

We have gone to the educational programs; where Hanna got to be a participant in learning how to figure out a tortoises age. There is also a rapture program twice a day, and the raptures of the desert fly and perch right next to the audience.

We have seen hummingbirds building their tiny little nests, and the itsy bitsy babies peeping for food from mom in the hummingbird atrium. There are several different bird atriums, and the older kids love walking through them; however, the twins are scared to death of the birds, especially big ones like herons, cranes, and ravens.

We have eaten lunches on the ramada walkways, which stretch out over an amazing view of the valley, and in the nice outside cafe area.

They have also built a cave with a bat display where the kids can try on gigantic bat ears, and outside the cave, we have searched for gems and other rocks in a rock mining display. Then we walk a little ways down the path to uncovered bones in the archaeological dig area.

Just so much here for all the ages and more than enough stuff to do for several trips. I could go on and on about everything the kids have seen and learned here.

And did I mention, "We LOVE this place!



A Bunch of Stuffed Animals

A.K.A The International Wildlife Museum (IWM)

On a cold and cloudy day, which is rare in Tucson, we decided we would spend the day inside. We all loaded up, drove over Gates Pass to the IWM. This place was on my list of things to do, and we were waiting for just this sort of day. The IWM is on our list of reciprocal museums with our membership from the Putnum, so we all got in for free.

When we walked into the lobby, we were greeted by a pet-able wild boar, which the kids loved. The museum is really kid friendly, as they have lots of animals set up just for the kids to touch and inspect.

There are themed rooms like:

  1. The insect room, which has drawers and drawers of butterflies and beetles for the kids to pull out and closely look at.
  2. There is a fossil and bones collections, were the kids could actually handle the skulls, and even see how they cast missing bones to complete an entire animal.
  3. A room dedicated to the history of Smokey the Bear, and wildfires, explaining the benefits and negatives.
  4. A room with a mountain in the center, and wild sheep and goats all over it.
  5. And a miscellaneous room with couches and chairs to sit and let the kids explore.
  6. Oh, and I almost forgot - a cave like room with night creatures.

There is also a little theatre where a different nature type movie is played at the top of every hour. It also has the typical gift shop, and a nice little cafe with a little kids nook equipped with a DVD player and books.

There was a lot to do, and the older kids, including myself, could have easily spent several days here exploring; we even talked about how cool it would be to spend the night with the animals. However, the twins and Ciara were making it difficult for others in the museum to enjoy themselves, so we wrapped it up after about three hours. One man was not quite so nice about expressing his irritation stating, "This is a museum, and the kids should be quieter". Which I nicely replied, "I am sorry they are bothering you, we will move ahead of you a bit". But I was thinking, How else are they suppose to learn to appreciate museums if they don't learn while they are young, and they have just as much right to be here as you - wear some earplugs if you want silence.

Then, we opened the doors to leave and were greeted with snow! The perfect way to end our adventure or begin the next one :)