I woke up with a pit in my stomach this morning. Only two months left to get everything in order for this big trip. Keith left today and will be driving our new rig back from Florida with our dear friend Craig. Why am I not excited? I mean, I have spent the past few days giddy buying new plasticware, hiking gear and whatnots for the trip.

back of suburban2

A typical Suburban Saturday……….Loaded with hockey, soccer, basketball and baseball gear!

Yesterday I said farewell to my everyday companion for the past 12 years. My trusty black Chevy Suburban. We had to trade it in to get a new towable car, I guess the term is a dinghy. I haven’t even seen the new guy yet. He’s still at the dealer being detailed. I’m told it’s a Buick something or other. Our new (to us) dear dinghy. Good luck holding up to our beloved Suburban of days gone by. You have a tough act to follow Mr. Buick.

Our Suburban had definitely seen it’s days. Food was smashed into every crevice of the thing and remnants of melted crayon could be seen all over too. Scratches and dents marked the entire outside. The tan leather seats were turning grey and the smell was getting harder to mask with Bounty sheets under the seats. I even got so tired of having to drive it during the school days, that I bought myself my own little fiat as an escape.

That SUV was a part of the family though. Too reliable to discard. It took every beating we gave it and kept coming back for more. That suburban housed 4 carseats for years. Not to mention the many strollers to hockey bags. But, it’s gone. And I know he had to go in the name of new adventure, but I’m missing him today.mom and boys carseats

Thanks for the memories. You were swell ‘ol Black Suburban of mine. You will be missed but not forgotten. I will probably need a new version of you when we get back to the mundane. The hockey bags will be calling for you again….

 

Recycling picIt’s tradition. Recycling bottles and cans in California for cash. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve done ever since the kids have been old enough to understand about making money and helping the environment at the same time. Kids of this generation need ways to make a little hard earned cash themselves. It’s important to find opportunities like this for them to earn their own vacation money. It’s not easy at their ages to find ways to do this.

It pays to recycle

Whenever we know we have an upcoming trip over to our Dana Point house, we start saving our bottles in Arizona. We load up the car top carrier and whatever we can fit around our luggage in the back of the Suburban and off we go to Cali. Life lessons take a little crazy effort people…

 

car top carrierunloading bottles

Yes, the kids get a little dirty doing this and the older they get, the less they are into it. They used to go down Laguna Beach picking up bottles all day long because every nickel counted to them. Now they take what we’ve saved in Arizona and are happy with that! This RePlanet is really close to us behind our Ralphs Grocery Store, so it’s nice and convenient.

There are a couple ways to get your money. You can feed each container through one by one and make the amounts shown or you can fill the trash cans with bottles and you get paid by weight. It usually depends on how much we have and how busy it is. Today we did a little of both. You definitely make more by feeding them through, but it also takes a lot more time.

k and a feeding bottle CRV amounts

barrels of bottlesweigh in

Once you’re done, you will get receipts like this that you can turn into the grocery for your hard earned cash. Split between the four kids, it came to about $8 a kid. Not bad for a little time and effort. I know they will be happy spending that in the Laguna Beach candy shop later and we will be happy that we don’t have to hand over any money at the same time!

receiptscash money

We are fast approaching the teen years and our triplets are without cell phones. I know, can you even believe it? What kind of parents are we?

Let’s pause and take a close look at our kids.

Our oldest is all about the social and would not be able to focus on anything else but that device, so he’s out. Not mature enough. 

The middle man probably would rarely look at the thing, but he would most likely lose it in the first week anyway. Not focused enough.

Our third born is completely responsible enough for a phone, but is the one to say, why do I need one anyway? Not interested enough. 

And baby girl just turned 11 and in our book is way too young for such a device. Not old enough.

According to these four, they are the only ones left on the face of the earth without a cell phone. Perfect. They don’t realize this, but this is exactly the point! Don’t you want your family to be different?

Here are 10 Reasons We are Not Getting Our Tweens a Smartphone

1. Smartphones are a privilege

When did our parents allow us the same privileges and material items that they had when we were growing up? Yeah, right.

I find it so interesting that this isn’t the case anymore. What do 12-year-olds need with a cell phone and why are we, as parents, so concerned with being able to be in constant communication with our kids? I think it’s very unhealthy. The boys are away at church camp this weekend and it is very strange to not be able to get ahold of each other. But, it’s okay and I think healthy for all of us to learn to do so.

2. Smartphones hinder delayed gratification

I want my kids to be able to learn to wait for something. Delayed gratification is a good thing. Just because you are turning 13 and because it’s what everyone has and is doing, isn’t a good enough reason. Every child that jumps in the car with us to go anywhere, whips out their phone and mine lean over to assist in playing their game of choice or checking out social media post updates.

It makes me sad that kids don’t even know how to just “be” in the car anymore. I know we are happy when they have these gadgets in hand because it honestly means more quiet time for us, but I also know it can be detrimental. Can you imagine a road trip without a gadget in our child’s hand? We don’t even want to think of it.

3. Smartphones can be a crutch

The other night, baby girl’s bestie was spending the night because it was simply more convenient for all involved. But, she was calling her Mom (who was out to a nice adult dinner) at 10:00 pm saying that she couldn’t sleep and she wanted to go home. Boy do I get that. I remember feeling like that a time or two growing up on sleepovers. The difference is I had no cell phone to call my Mom, so I suffered through.

And you know what? I made it through and learned from it I’m sure. I learned that it wasn’t so bad after all or I learned that I didn’t want to do that again. Lesson learned either way. I love this girl and love her parents even more, so this isn’t a judgment, just an observation of what we are creating and I notice it on a regular basis.

4. Smartphones distract students at school

I was in one of my son’s 6th grade classes and the teacher was having to tell students that they could use their phones to research the project but she would be walking around to make sure no one was texting or using the phone in any other way.

Do teachers today really need one more thing to worry about?

I had to sign a waiver for a different teacher saying if the students could use their phones in class. I signed it and checked the no box. They don’t even have a phone, so of course the answer would be no, right? A few weeks ago, the teacher called to tell me that I was the only one who said no and that I may want to rethink my answer. So she sent back the form again so I could say, Yes, my sons can use someone else’s phone in class. This is crazy to me.

5. Smartphones hinder social relationships

Where we live, ‘dating’ is rampant in middle school. It is very easy to fall into a ‘relationship’ behind texts and social posts. I definitely remember having an eye for boys at this age, so I get it. But, I certainly wasn’t telling ANYONE about it besides my very best friend, who was telling me her deepest secrets at the same time.

We are losing all innocence giving kids too much too soon. My kids need to mature a bit and figure out who they are and become somewhat secure in that before they can handle navigating a relationship over texts and Snapchat.

6. Smartphones should be for working people

Why are we willing to fork out $40 a month or so for kids to have a phone and data plan? We’re not kidding when we ask our kids how they plan to pay for this privilege. We as parents need to make sure we are creating a desire to work toward something in our kids so that they are able to buy the things they want one day.

7. Smartphones prohibit independence

Our kids don’t need phones because everyone around them has one that they can use. This happens a lot. Although, when they try and call from a friend’s phone from the bus or school to try and plan a hangout, I have to remind them that this is why they don’t have their own phone. I don’t want to hear from them. Love them dearly, but we can talk in person when they get home. Musical son has to go into the school office once in a great while to let us know that his lesson got done early or was cancelled so we can come get him.

Can you imagine a child having to go use the school’s landline? Wow. It is possible….Otherwise, our son has to sit outside and just wait……. old school style.

8. Just because we can afford a smartphone, doesn’t mean we need to buy it

Yes, we can absolutely afford phones and family data plans. But, I think this is another powerful message to our kids. Just because we can afford something, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to spend our money on. Our kids have become very aware of people (from friends to the working poor that receive free meals at St. Vincent de Paul where we serve) that don’t have “money”yet have iPhones. They would never be able to observe and question this with their own phone in hand.

9. Smartphone ownership can cause entitlement

Kids should not feel entitled to own any material item. I guess when they are 15 we will be talking about how we’re not buying them cars either…. Before you feel too bad for my tweens, you need to know that they are still very much a part of their iGeneration as they each own an IPAD and have Instagram accounts. One friend advised we do this so the kids could dabble in reality so that they aren’t obsessed with social media and technology when they get to high school. I agree that it is good for our children to begin learning to tread these technological waters, but in moderation.

10. Why do they need a smartphone again?

I know people have absolute reasons for their kids to own phones- having an only child, older siblings who have them or kids who are going back and forth between homes due to divorce. To each his own and only you know your family dynamic. Our family just doesn’t have a good enough reason right now. Turning 13 just isn’t good enough reason for us.

What age do you think is appropriate for buying a child a smartphone?

You’re doing what??

Do you ever shake your head in bewilderment as you look at your family’s weekend calendar? How in the world am I going to get all of these kids to their sports and activities across the valley with Hubby on the road? I sometimes wonder when life made a turn and I became a weeknight and weekend Super Shuttle driver. Maybe this is why we all long for those lazy days of summer where the hours and days are our own.

Keith and I talked years ago about how cool it would be to buy an RV and travel around the United States exploring as a family. Yes, we decided back when, let’s do it. We’ll do it when the boys are headed to 7th grade and baby girl to 6th. Perfect. It’s down the road aways, so nothing to worry about, but it’s a fun dream to have.

Well, the time is here. The boys are finishing up their first year of middle school as our girl is getting close to bidding farewell to elementary school. Do we dare talk of those long ago plans we conjured up? We didn’t really mean it or did we? We’ve never even gone camping as a family. We love traveling and adventure but are we courageous enough to make this dream a reality?

I guess we are. We are going for it. Our family will be giving up life as we know it and traveling across America’s highways in a quest for family bonding and fun along the way. We’re just taking a break from it all. The sports. The homework. The busyness. It will be here I’m sure when we return.

Life is passing us by every day my friends. I know I don’t want any regrets when my kids leave home in what will be here before you know it. I’m not into the I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve but instead I didn’t. I want to live in the now and enjoy these kids while they are still enjoyable!

Plans are in full swing. Our general plan is to leave as soon as the kids get out of school and hit the road. You will be able to follow all of our crazy plans and adventures right here!

Yes, I will be homeschooling (or unschooling is more like it) the kids in some fashion and I have no idea how I’m going to get my hair highlighted along the way. To be honest, the latter makes me a little more nervous!

Tune in to get the good along with the bad, and hopefully be inspired along the way!

 Amy

The biggest question most people have when they hear about the adventure we are about to embark on is “Are you going to homeschool then?” Well, yes, I guess if we’re pulling them out of middle school then looks like I will have to.

Honestly, it overwhelms me to think of finding and sticking to some curriculum. Ugh. That is one main reason we are doing this trip across the US to get away from the mundane of our current every day! To learn through living. Through travel. Now that excites me, not finding some online math curriculum.

I was explaining this to a friend the other night and she said “it’s called unschooling. That’s what you’re looking to do…” Unschooling?! Never heard of it, but sounds right. Yes. I think she hit it right on the head.

From the words of Wikipedia Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child.

Unschooling for a few months anyway? Now the thought of that excites me.