Reflecting on the First Week
The kids are sp’loring (Ethan’s word for “exploring”) right now which gives me a few moments to reflect on how this trip is affecting me, as we finish up our first week on the road.
First off, I am loving it! I love being on a new adventure – an adventure I’ve been dreaming of for YEARS. I like being close to my family. I like having Jonathan close to our family.
We learned that two nights is only one day, and one day isn’t enough to be refreshed after travel three long days with little sleep. We learned that it is important to start every day with a time of connection (to each other, to our mission and to God). We learned that at the end of the day, we need to be able to reflect on how things went and how they can be better and to give thanks. We are learning that how you look at challenges makes all the difference. Are they amazing opportunities for experience leading to expertise, or just problems that steal your joy and stay with you?
And not surprisingly, there have been some challenges. I didn’t know what they would be, but I knew we would have them. The most unpleasant ones were the ones that had some sort of deadline attached to them, or that came at the end of a long day, or in the heat of it. I’ve said many times this trip, starting on the first day as we were loading up the last of what we would take with us into the van, “What are we doing? Are we completely crazy?!” Which usually sends me into a deep in the belly chuckle or full on rolling laughter. We ARE totally crazy, and we DEFINITELY don’t know what we are doing! BUT, we’re doing it! We are learning, and I have found that perspective is everything.
Last night, Jonathan and I stayed up after the kids went to bed and washed the dishes. This is a process that is requiring lots of trial and error to figure out how best to do it while camping. I realize that I don’t mind working out the whats and hows, it’s actually kind of fun for me, but the volume of new puzzles to solve is overwhelming, and solving puzzles is not a fun thing for a lot of the older kids. Naomi, Ethan and Aaron are totally gung-ho about trying something new, but where dishes are concerned, it was adding mud to the clean ones. But it’s a teachable moment, and I love teachable moments when there isn’t a time pressure, or I’m in the throws of learning it myself. But this is where I find myself. Last night, in the quiet, just me and Jonathan, I figured out how best to wash those dishes. This morning, it was easy and stress-free to wash dishes with the kiddos. This makes me happy!
Another challenge has been making a single meal for our family. We almost always make enough for a second meal, or the ingredients for a new meal made from the last one (like stir fry for dinner, to become fried rice for breakfast). We have no way to store leftovers safely here, though. Still working on this one, but got it on the second try with breakfast this morning (Norwegian Pancakes)!
A related issue is that food storage is a little tricky. We have a lot of mouths to feed, and with our limited mobility, we have to figure out how to store and keep cold a whole lotta food. I think we’ve got enough places to keep it cold, but boy howdy, is there a lot of food to find places for!
We were in need of setting up our kitchen so the wind wouldn’t blow our fire out on the camp stove. Setting up a supply tent near the kitchen so that our picnic space is free for eating at. That was a success, but I still need to set things up in there so that I can access everything I need easily. It’s too hot for that now, though, so that will wait until after lunch, at least.
Positioning the tents was another thing we had to rework, but I love our new set up. It was no small undertaking to move all that around and required the use of a sawzall and a drill. Still more noisy stuff to do on it, but we wrapped it up with the minimum so as not to disturb the neighbors two nights in a row.
Which reminds me! Our first night in the campground we were rudely awakened by our van alarming. We had no idea where the keys were and couldn’t find them before the van gave up its panic alarm and shut off. Finally found it in Jonathan’s pants pocket which was laying in a safe spot (or so I thought) and had apparently been kicked by someone in our tent trying to stretch out.
Did I mention that our amazing rooftop tent setup means that we have to close everything up in order to go to the store (or anywhere else)? That would also be true for an RV, but an RV wouldn’t fit us, and it limits where you can drive, too. I’m happy with what we have!
Dealing with the heat has been my greatest challenge so far. But I have cayenne for helping my body regulate its temperature, water to keep me hydrated and choosing to sit down and cool off when I need to.
The next challenge I foresee is laundry. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I think this week is going to be easier than last week. There’s still a lot to figure out, but I know I can do it. We can do it! I feel so thankful for what I am learning, what my kids are learning and what our family is learning together. We’ve all been a little (or a lot) overwhelmed by all the changes, but we are adjusting and growing, and as hard as it has been, I am loving it so much! I couldn’t be happier!