We have been doing our research on the nomadic lifestyle. Yes, I said LIFESTYLE. We are not looking at this as an extended vacation. A vacation isn't what we want or need. I would bet most people do not change their lifestyle more than once in their lives. I think it is hard for most to understand the need we have and the need to do this our way. To quote some friends referring to our idea;
Such a contrast to being stuck at home and in the hospitals...
Freedom vs tethering.
Even the people closest to you guys didn't KNOW-know how it felt [Cancer].
Jump and the net will appear. You have this handled.
Living through cancer and near death of a child. Check. RVing across the U.S. Easy.
"There is more to the life God gave us than money, school, church, yards, cars, and even bicycles!"
Read this: http://www.devoesontheroll.blogspot.com/2015/05/top-10-reasons-we-couldnt-wait-to-rv.html We related to almost everything the Devoes Family said in this post. But if you don't read the entire post, here is the last paragraph.
"Ok, so the truth is, we have one chance to do life. My husband and I honestly feel that God was pulling on our hearts to live bigger lives. We were letting our lives pass us by, instead of embracing our opportunities. We could have chosen to stick with our busy life in the suburbs. We could have let fear keep us there, but we knew we were cut out for something different, something more. As we researched this lifestyle, there was no doubt that we wanted on board. It became clear pretty quickly that we were ready to jump into adventure and leave it all behind with no looking back. It was time to enjoy the uniqueness of each day and new place. There was an undeniable pressing on our hearts that this was going to be the next step in life. It was time to risk it all in order to trade it in for this incredible epic adventure of a lifetime! It came down to one simple question, “If we do this and we follow this urge, what’s the worst that can happen?” And with that simple thought, the rest is history."-Devoes Family
As far as Ainsley's health goes we are not going to be putting her at risk. She almost died once, we do not ever want that to happen again. We won't be putting ourselves in a situation where if an emergency comes up we won't have our bases covered. Different hospitals, doctors or ER rooms: Andrea's brain and phone notes have more information then any of the computers and doctors have written down. She remembers that Ainsley is allergic to cephalosporins and penicillin. She informs them before they do any medication. She looks at the IV and the syringe to confirm medication. She knows that the port needle is 3/4, and believe me she tells them there will be no tape if possible. Last hospital visit was horrendous as they didn't have any info in the charts or computer for allergic reactions and Andrea referred to pictures of the rashes and dates, times, and doses given two years prior. So thankfully our bases are covered there. It's in shared notes and in Andrea's head.
For the concerns of riding our bikes to the nearest town, this is because we can and want to. If an emergency came up and we are at a State Park miles from a highway or town then guess what?! WE CALL 911! If we are in a area with no cell phone reception and no near by people. Guess what? We won't go there and put our family in a bad corner. Honestly, this concern has nothing to do with Ainsley's leukemia. And to be honest, putting her in school would subject her to more sickness and germs than anywhere else besides a hospital. Part of the chemo treatment (which is daily Mercaptopurine and weekly Methotrexate) is constantly poisoning the blood to keep the cancer cells from coming back. When chemo is done then the poison is done. Guess who will be feeling much better without a compromised immune system? Seriously read about Methotrexate:
Methotrexate may cause very serious, life-threatening side effects. You should only take methotrexate to treat cancer or certain other conditions that are very severe and that cannot be treated with other medications.
For those concerned about the kid's education. We have found plenty of resources for "Road Schooling." It's home schooling on the road. You can debate with us on the pros and cons. But out of the home schooled people we have met, they have been brilliant, talented, well rounded and have had a perspective on life and society that I want my kids to have, one other beautiful thing is that they have so much acceptance. (Evan F, Arlen F, Tyler S, Melissa V, Fiona B, Edward C. and many more) And socialization is not a problem. (just give George ten minutes of warming up)
Some of the resources we will be using. http://familiesontheroad.com/roadschooling.html, The Montessori Method, https://wandrlymagazine.com/article/roadschooling-101/, http://charlottesiems.com/category/homeschooling
The living in a RV part
If you are concerned with the details in making this life style work then I have some suggested reading. http://www.technomadia.com/excuses/
Technomadia has been the best resource we have found. Really geeky and nerdy in-depth knowledge. This is not an unrealistic fantasy. Watch the video below. It's long. But we have watched and we know the realities.
As far as affording an RV. We will not be going in debt to do so. We are going to get what we can afford. Something like this for less than $10k. We will be selling the stuff we don't need and storing what we can't fit in the RV (memory boxes for kids and artwork). The rest goes towards the new lifestyle.
Yes, there are many expenses that go along with an RV but it's no different than a house. Except this house can have a different front and back yard through out the year.
How are going to have a income to make ends meet? We are working on different ideas. If you read the Technomadia post then you will see there are many options. But guess what they ALL entail. Andrea and I WORKING HARD. Maybe manual labor, maybe it's cleaning camp grounds. Maybe it's a job we can do via the internet. Or maybe all of the above. We won't be getting rich. We will probably be considered (income wise) "poor." But I guarantee you my family will become richer and closer. My kids will have a childhood they will remember. Their expectations of life will be much higher than mine.
For you Bible readers:
"Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'"
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least among you, you did not do for me.'"
I will never feel bad for the generosity we have been shown. We will share that generosity and show it to others. This whole thing will take FAITH. I hope you will have faith along with us.
The comments of support and love have been amazing. And I know that there will always be concerns from those that love and treasure us, I would be the same way. I appreciate everyone and I know this won't be easy. Cancer lane hasn't been easy either. I would like to address a few things that were commented about and clear them up.
Yes, we have HAD to rely on others for money to pay the bills, money to buy time alone, money to buy food for the week, money to buy STUFF. We've been irresponsible at times. We've HAD to HAVE three fundraisers when times were awful and we have applied for help from various organizations to pay house bills and the other fundraisers were done out of people's kind hearts, they contacted US and said "can we do a fundraiser to help you?". I NEVER SAID NO to help! I said, "thank you and yes please".
I struggle daily to stay positive and proactive in this cloud of gloom. So when someone says here is $500 to help you, I use that $500 to pay our family's electric bill for the month or I use $434 to pay the bill and the rest buys Shopkins and Barbies and Superheroes and other bribes so that my daughter will not bite me during a blood work draw or heparin addition to her port. I use it to buy a movie on iTunes or an app on her iPad so that George and Ainsley can relax and be somewhat like normal kids. I used it to pay for George and Ainsley to go to school last year. I use it to buy babysitting time because I seriously go crazy if I don't get to clean my own house or run errands occasionally without children clinging to my legs. I use money to buy snow crab legs and steaks for her during steroids. You know what Chris and I order> usually something to share that is cheap so that Ainsley can have more crab legs. Chris and I have gone on maybe three dates in the past two years, so we aren't wasting it on us. Our fun toys were paid with tax refunds, and mostly we bought used items (sewing/bikes/clothing).
YES, my parents have financially supported us tremendously in many ways throughout this and I feel like a burden. A ginormous 36 year old BURDEN who has to ask for money to afford food and electricity and the amazing overpriced coffee drink. I HATE IT. BUT I still accept their generosity.
I clean their house weekly and they pay me. I use that money for groceries or for my gym fees. I go to the gym so I can be strong physically. I literally have to carry Ainsley around still when her legs are hurting and she weighs 38lbs and is solid. I also love to look good! Looking good makes me feel better about myself and confident. They also paid for me to save my own life and paid for most of my gastric sleeve surgery so I would stop eating everything in sight to deal with my emotional trauma. So, yes, I am that ADULT child getting HELP from her parents and it feels awful. I try and cook for them and say thank you all the time, but it will never feel like enough.
One more thing, if none of this happened and our path was building a Montessori School and me finishing my masters degree then our income would be different. But that path was closed. Chris' income is what we have. The generosity of others has kept us going. The safety net of my parents has saved our asses when I have to pay my own mole removal bills(still paying on) and buy more oatmeal, kale chips, arby's french fries, chili supplies, or lemons. I am sad that I have to ask for help. It makes me sick to not be able to pay off everything all the time. It makes me cringe to not have savings built up. But there are times when I can't work (cleaning houses). There are times when we are stuck inside for days. There are times when I have to think of ways to get through all of this. Many times I've said "lets do a fundraiser to pay off all this stuff" Chris reminds me that we must sacrifice. We must make it work. We must pay off what we can and keep going.
So yes, There it is. We have relied on other people, I hope they never feel taken advantage of because we needed them. I call them my village. My sanity village. We learned living in the hospital that all you need is your family, your village, soap, water, glasses or contacts, food, a good pillow and sleeping space, money to eat/live, and tons of FAITH.
If we had $1,000,000 in our savings then maybe everyone would feel better. But we don't. We don't have any savings left. We spent it all on stuff and bills and toys and pets (that died and were stolen) and life. We have an IRA that we can't touch until we are 55. If we do it will be taxed greatly. We have some in our checking and that is it. We plan on selling what we can to make this happen. And then working our asses off to make the rest of it happen. We plan on having insurance for our children that covers everything. We plan on insurance for the RV and the Stuff. We plan on insurance for ourselves, because chopping off a finger in the woods while doing naked yoga and eating granola could get expensive!
We plan on slowly building our savings up and the kids college fund, but we will have to work to do that. And we will. Maybe my book will make a million, maybe not, no matter what I am writing it.
We almost lost our child. And that is why we are the way we are now. We are trying to LIVE each day thoughtfully, sometimes it doesn't happen, but other days it does. *addition* watching the kids that we have met die (old friends and new) and get more tumors and have to undergo different therapies also contributes to the way we are now.
YES, we will need breaks from each other and the kids and that is why we have friends and acquaintances to visit in almost every state! There was a miracle that happened when Ainsley was living second to second and we will never forget that. We are lucky. We are blessed.
We are the most grateful.
And we try to give back. If someone came up to me and said "hey that shirt is awesome can I have it?" you know what I would give it to them.
So there it is. The rainbow of this difficult decision. The money part. The faith part. The insurance safety part. What happens if Chris or I can't work? Then we head to a place to settle down and work from there. We will provide somehow, someway but we have to LIVE. When Ainsley's treatment is said and done we hope that Chris can still work for OSU remotely, if not then we will make other things happen. We will be back in Oklahoma every three months to do checkups and such for Ains and George.
If this lifestyle is awful for us, guess what? WE WILL BE BACK!!!! If we need rescuing and you're not up for helping us, DO NOT HELP. It's that easy.
But overall, I will never stop accepting people's kindness because I know how good it feels to give. If I am struggling to feed my children, I WILL ASK FOR HELP. If we are stuck and need help, I WILL ASK FOR HELP. If I need someone to cry with, I WILL CALL MY SANITY VILLAGE. If God tells me I am needing help, I WILL ASK FOR HELP.
I know how wonderful it feels to bless others. I have been blessed, my family has been blessed and we try to bless others in whatever way we can. We always try to sow seeds and if you've met my children you've probably walked away with a gift of some sort they are giving souls.
I think Chris covered most of it, but I really wanted to cover the money part. I hope this helps. And if not> email me directly andreamacpeters at gmail.com
Love and hugs to all,