We've passed 10 months on the road. The sacrifices financially and materially have shown themselves to be anything but sacrifices. Some people say they dream of doing what we have done, and others cannot imagine how we tolerate it all. First, there are 6 of us in under 300 square feet, not to mention the grumpy cat. Even so, laughter far outweighs conflict. Yes, even when children are children and hit new stages, like the ability to argue with a post until the post turns purple and falls over (not mentioning names), or when tired and hungry raises the pitch of a little voice several octaves. That would occur in a house, bus, or igloo. Seven-year-olds will still get whiny when tired, and twelve-year-old boys will still prove every psychologist who ever studied developmental psychology to be nothing but quacks when they suggest refusing to give in or providing consequences for arguing will stop the behavior in all children. This will be true whether in a bus, out on the prairie, or living in a cave. Eh-hem. 'Nuff said. LOL!
What we do have to live with includes things rather easy to survive without, though people don't realize it in today's modern world. No eating out, pretty much ever because not in the budget, nor is a purified diet of organically grown, hand mixed, Asian dumplings with sauce made from a raw young coconut. Dumpy cheap phone service, so no touch screen, Angry Birds, or 4G network. Thrift shop clothing and hand-me-downs. No cable TV (yay!), few DVDs (redbox works), and no bookshelves. Ok, that one would be beyond what many can handle, but books aren't in the budget anyway, so e-readers can provide some public domain classics, and we sometimes read and return books in the exchange libraries found at many RV parks. Honestly, what on that list, besides the Asian dumplings, is necessary?
Some of the things we live without have even shown to be a blessing. We go without a regular paycheck. This means we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to learning to trust God for our future. We left behind our grain storage we had for economic hard times too, which turned out to be a foolish investment when Michael got metabolic syndrome and couldn't handle the carbs, then Mary was diagnosed gluten intolerant. It just goes to show you that sometimes, if you can't make the trust leap yourself, you get pushed! Health care is another one. We couldn't figure out how to pay the outrageous prices, but we are praying for provision to enroll in one of those Christian Health Shares very soon. In the end, we really only need a level of catastrophic coverage because we added up all we spent this year on medical care, including a trip to the emergency room with Mary, as well as Michael's blood-work and meds, and it was FAR less than we'd pay for full coverage on any insurance. So, that has been a life lesson learned.
Well, let's get on to the most obvious benefits, shall we?
First is, of course, is all that gushy family unity stuff. I admit, touchy-feeling is something this family isn't particularly good at, and I can't bring myself to fully go there or my children will look at me like I sprouted 2 heads. We laugh a lot, talk a lot, play music together a lot, and when we get sick of socializing with other people, we go hang out in the bus with the people who are not "other people". I think that covers a whole lot right there.
Friends. Now that's a big one! I've mentioned before the hospitality we've received in the first half of our journey. The second half was no different! We are honored to be welcomed into the home of so many during our travels, including parking the bus at the Farley's house for a whole week, where they gladly let us make our messes, showed us around D.C., and treated it all like we were family.
We left that area and headed to Virginia to meet the Hollmans who invited us to dinner, let me ship packages, and then stuffed my daughters with books to read. Last, but certainly not least, the Knotts family, with their fine North Carolina hospitality, an evening drive in Dolly the Bus, livermush, cheerwine, grits, and wonderful fellowship. Honestly, I don't know that I could have been so welcoming myself. I tended to stress over visitors, when it came to the state of the house, entertaining, or what to feed everyone, so I often avoided it. I'm in awe at the kindness we always receive so far beyond what we have provided. That's the way of things sometimes though, isn't it? We have a Savior who gave what we could never give, and then we are given friends who give us what we could not give ourselves. Fitting lesson there, and quite humbling.
Personal responsibility is one of those unexpected perks. We have planned all year to end our first year with a few days at Disney World. The problem was, of course, that Disney World tickets are very expensive and we are not in a position to buy-now-pay-later on anything. So, we let the kids save with the smaller cuts they'd get from larger playing gigs, and we hunted down busking opportunities.
Busking money is *all* kid money this year, and all of it in the last few months went towards Disney money. Some days it was cold, other days it was hot. Sometimes they were tired, fingers sore, voices weary, but they got in there and played, gathered a crowd, and earned that money! Tickets are now waiting for us in Orlando. We'll go get them on Thursday and Lord willing, meet the Mouse guy next Monday!
Batgirl and an Angry Bird pig had a great time!
This week returned us to the land of palm trees, where we'll stay for the remainder of the winter months. Next week we head to the Orlando area, Disney World, then stick around to get in some heavy practicing Thanksgiving week to prepare our Christmas show. By the end of the month we'll make our journey to Texas, staying in Rockport for a month, then over to the McAllen/Mission area to play some music through March, when we build a new adventure for 2013.