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Our family of six just returned from a six month family sabbatical traveling by motorhome around the United States. Keith’s job as a coach/scout with the Chicago Blackhawks combined with our kids competitive travel sports schedules ruled our lives and we wanted to take a time out together and enjoy our beautiful country! It was an amazing experience!
Our family returned home to Arizona two weeks ago after a 6 month motorhome journey around the entire USA. My blog will now be a place for reflection and inspiration based on our experiences from the road!
It takes a lot of determination to follow through with a journey such as ours. People will think you are crazy and will tell you to your face. Others will be so intrigued and look at you through googly eyes. They will make bets on how long you will last and some will give you advice on how they think it should be done. Whatever. Do your thing. It’s your heart. Your family. Your dream. God will bless you through it all if you have the tenacity to make your family sabbatical happen. Just remember you’re talking about a very small portion of your life here. What can feel like an eternity definitely comes to an end. I know because I’m home now. Don’t give up.
Obviously you can plan and plot away and things will happen to alter your course. Weather, breakdowns, sickness and the list goes on. If you aren’t ready to go with the flow, then you’d better stay put. Living as a family of six in basically two rooms for half a year is not what I would call easy. By no means were we roughing it, but by no means was it living as usual. Flexibility is the key to staying sane and happy.
3. A sense of adventure
If you’re going to take a family sabbatical, you might as well get out of your comfort zone once in awhile. I was apprehensive to go ziplining, caving or anything to do with heights, but I put myself in all those situations and survived. I figured if I’m out here doing this then I’d do it to the best of my ability and amuse my kids in the process. I still wouldn’t say I will seek out ziplining excursions in the future but I can at least say I’ve done it. Our kids are adventure junkies so this piece came easy to them!
4. A nest egg
Yes, you will need some money in the bank if you plan to take off around the country in an RV with your loved ones. Things will happen that cause you to spend outside of your planned gas, food, lodging and entertainment budget. We had minor things break on the rig that had to be fixed immediately, causing us repair costs and hotel stays as well. You do not want to be in these situations and then stressed about the money going out to fix the problems either. You’re already tenacious, flexible and adventurous, right? You will make it through anything, but it will just be easier to do so if you have a nest egg set aside for unforeseen mishaps. Do not let money stop you from taking your dream sabbatical though. We met many a family out there living life together with little in their pocket!
5. Willingness to be a team player
This sabbatical is not about you or any individual bearing your same last name. It’s about unity. Yes, you will have to put yourself on the back burner for a bit in the name of the family sabbatical. It’s the point, right? You will wake up some days and look around you and “they” will all still be there. No one is going off to school or work. Your days and nights are spent together. It is a definite adjustment and some days feel amazing while others cause you to want to run screaming into the hills. Luckily, when you are surrounded by nature in the campgrounds it’s always easy to clear your mind and regroup. Many times I had to have talks with myself. “Amy, you got this. This isn’t forever. Embrace the day and the moments you have with your kids as it will be gone tomorrow.” My inner coach really got me through and most likely you’ll have to have talks with yourself too. Your personal time awaits you when you get home. Don’t worry it will be there. My yoga mat still functions and my nail tech is still accepting appointments.
6. A sense of humor
You had better be able to laugh if you take on a family adventure like this. The best times we had were when we were all cracking up about something together. Hearing the kids laughing amongst themselves, in between their quarrels, made it all worthwhile. Laughter is always the best medicine and you will definitely need that prescription along the way!
It never dawned on me that we’d come to a time in our family when the kids would no longer want to participate in tree lighting ceremonies and cookie decorating stations. Of course I knew that Santa always runs it’s course, but I didn’t see the magical part of the holiday coming to an end so fast. What do you do when your kids are teenagers and have no interest in the activities of Christmas past?
I see ads all of the time for local holiday celebrations and they get me excited, if only for a moment, before I wake up to our family reality. No one is going to want to do that anymore. Sigh. This December there is no more coordinating Christmas attire for photos upon Santa’s lap. No more excited helpers decorating the tree with me as Christmas carols play in the background. No more matching Christmas fluffy pajamas. No one’s even noticed that Magic Elf hasn’t shown himself this season. Boy, was all of that fun. But, there’s nothing to fret as everything cutsie Christmas falls by the wayside. It just makes things easier to focus on what Christmas is really about.
One thing we will never outgrow is our belief in Jesus Christ and that we get to celebrate His birth on the special day which we know as Christmas. Of course we all look forward to our Christmas Eve services at our respective churches, but do you go to other events that churches in your area put on this month?
If you live in the Scottsdale area, our family has two favorites happening this weekend where you can celebrate the season within a mile of each other along Shea Blvd!
1. Winter Wonder – Scottsdale Bible Church, 7601 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Scottsdale Bible is our home church and this annual production is always a highlight of our Christmas season. Expect Awe-inspiring music and dance, a 50-piece orchestra, humorous dramatic sketches, a 100-voice choir and a beautiful nativity all in the Christmas tradition at Scottsdale Bible. Admission is free and tickets are not required. Doors will open 30 minutes prior to each performance, with pre-show entertainment for guests.
2. Follow the Star – Chapparal Christian Church 6451 East Shea Blvd. Scottsdale, AZ
We were invited to this wonderfully unique and inspiring event by a friend many years ago. It is a staple tradition for our family and we look forward to it every year!
Follow the Star is a unique outdoor journey to ancient Bethlehem. Join expert guides along the bustling streets of Bethlehem as the story of Christmas unfolds around you. Each journey begins every ten minutes and last approximately 25 minutes. The night begins at 6:30 pm and online reservations are available for the first time. Reservations are for specific, individual time slots. If you have a family, you will need to reserve a ticket for each family member. Of course there are hot drinks and cookies while you wait by the firepits, as this is a popular event! Donations will be accepted to support the church and their work with Family Promise.
I wish you were here with me and could hear all the glorious sounds around my house. It’s the joy of teenage boys playing pick up football in our backyard. The whirring of the sno-cone maker out back as neighborhood girlfriends get back to business as usual like no time has passed between them. Yes, my kids are thrilled to be home and reunited with their buddies. And I have to say, so am I.
It’s our relationships and daily connections that we all missed while we were exploring the country. I’m so grateful for the community of friends that we have here in Arizona. One dear pal brought over a wonderful homemade meal for us to enjoy on the night we arrived home while others stopped by, sent excited texts or called to welcome us home. We have been missed and are loved for sure. But, the material piece of being home feels very overwhelming. It’s not easy transitioning back to a house after living out of two rooms for half a year. And especially doing it during the Christmas season. I honestly don’t know where to begin with all of it. It’s why we had originally planned to stay out on the road through the holiday, but I’m really glad that we are home.
My time now is spent getting us caught up to speed with normal life. Registering the kids in school so they can start back to middle school after the Christmas break. Acquiring all of their sports gear so they can rejoin their respective teams. Doctors, dentist and hair appointments fill our daily calendar this week. My kitchen and I are trying to get to know each other again too. I’m trying to find my inner relaxed camping self and move forward with her at the helm. Slowly but surely everything will fall back into place I’m sure here at home sweet home.