The Sights Unseen

Sensenig Family RV Adventures


October 02, 2013

We are in Texas…for now

It’s been a few weeks since I updated, so I’ll try to give you a synopsis of everything that has occurred since we left Alabama.

We traveled through Mississippi and Louisiana before landing in Livingston, TX. While there, we were able to get our car registered, yay! and get a few library cards. We stayed at the Escapees campground. This is also where we receive our mail, so it was nice to be able to be close to what we consider our place of residence and get to know the area a bit.

Our new TX tags!

Our new TX tags!

After about a week in Livingston, we moved on to Lake Conroe, which was about 30-45 miles North of Houston, TX. We had a great time getting to know the area as well as some new friends. I had joined a facebook group for Texas unschoolers and through them, found the Houston group. What a great group of awesome people! We made many new friends at a Not Back to School Party in Katy, TX and then at a gathering at Lake Conroe. Lovely, lovely people!

Lake Conroe Meetup

Lake Conroe Meetup

Some other sights while in the Houston area:

Hannah making some windchimes

Hannah making some windchimes

At Candy Cane Park in Conroe, TX

At Candy Cane Park in Conroe, TX

Sunset behind a busy street in Conroe

Sunset behind a busy street in Conroe

Sunset at Lake Conroe

Sunset at Lake Conroe

Hannah really gets into her photography!

Hannah really gets into her photography!

Hannah taking in the view

Hannah taking in the view

We also celebrated Dylan’s 21st  birthday in the Houston area. It started off at a party and the plan was to take him to a certain restaurant in The Woodlands, but traffic and a Maroon 5/Kelly Clarkson concert put a slight damper on those plans. So, we went out the following night to restaurant of his choice. So hard to believe that my baby is 21 years old! _DSC0003

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Dylan is very happy with his new tardis mug!

Dylan is very happy with his new Tardis mug!

We left Lake Conroe and stayed at Colorado River, which was in Columbus, TX. Not much there, but a really nice campground and we did get some Texas BBQ, so Steve was happy!

Lots of deer at the campground in Columbus

Lots of deer at the campground in Columbus

We found a great local farm that sold raw milk and cheese, so we took a trip there (about 30 miles) and picked up a few cartons. It was so nice to be able to drink raw milk again! Thanks Michelle and Stacy for the recommendation!

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Our next stop was Medina Lake, which is just outside of San Antonio, TX. The plan was to stay here for a few weeks, but it looks like we’ll be heading East for a concert that Steve was asked to play in PA. It is a definite change in direction for us, but we’re excited to be able to see friends and family again, at least for a short time! Looking forward to enjoying the journey of traveling and taking the time to savor the moments we have with the ones that are in our lives at this moment.

Sunset at Medina Lake Thousand Trails

Sunset at Medina Lake Thousand Trails

This guy likes to get up close and personal

This guy likes to get up close and personal

Cactus spotting!

Cactus spotting!

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Thanks for joining us on this journey! I’ll update again as soon as I can!

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 06, 2013

Horseback Riding in TN

Since about a year ago, about a day after Hannah’s 6th birthday, Hannah told told me that she wanted to learn to ride a horse. First, it was to become a singing cowgirl, then she wanted to teach other kids to ride horses on her own farm….now, she has ditched the farm idea for now, but has really been wanting to ride a horse.

I was finally able to find someone in TN that she could learn from and it was well worth the wait. We found Blue Ridge Riding Academy in Piney Flats, TN, which is about 30 minutes from where we are staying. Ms. Vicki is simply amazing. She is so attentive and aware of Hannah’s specific needs,  making her feel safe and secure and we couldn’t be happier.

One happy girl before her lesson

One happy girl before her lesson

Hannah telling Jasper to back up

Hannah telling Jasper to back up

Getting ready to mount the horse

Getting ready to mount the horse

Riding inside the barn

Riding inside the barn

After her riding lesson, she groomed Jasper and ended her session. It was definitely a great first lesson! Ms. Vicki, Hannah and Jasper make a perfect match!

If you are looking for lessons for your child, I would HIGHLY recommend Blue Ridge Riding Academy. Wonderful, wonderful find!!

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

 

 

 

June 23, 2013

What’s Happening in East Tennessee

Hannah has been taking gymnastics in Kingsport, TN and we decided to visit Warrior’s Path State Park, while we were in the area after one of her lessons. This is a beautiful park that has an amazing playground. It was built with kids all of abilities in mind and is called a boundless playground. The theme of the park is based on the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and you are able to experience the story as you walk through the park. There are audio recordings of the story with visual representation and braille is also used for those that are visually impaired. There is also a sensory garden and a guide to find native plants. Along with the playground itself, a treehouse, disc golf and a stream running through the park, it makes it a favorite place to come play.

The Entrance to the playground area

The Entrance to the playground area

The wardrobe

The wardrobe

sensory garden

sensory garden

Tumnus' Cave

Tumnus’ Cave

A new friend joined Hannah

A new friend joined Hannah

The Beavers' House

The Beavers’ House

Native Plants

Native Plants

The plants are labeled so you know what you are looking for

The plants are labeled so you know what you are looking for

View of the playground

View of the playground

At the RV park, Hannah is really enjoying the pool being open. We go just about every day and she is becoming an amazing swimmer. We are working on freestyle now, but she mostly just enjoys being in the water, especially if she is able to play with friends.

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We had the opportunity to visit another park in Bristol, TN called Steele Creek Park. Hannah requested to visit the nature center there and we hung out a while and enjoyed as much time as we could. It’s a great park that we love and the view of the lake is absolutely stunning.

Don't you agree?

Don’t you agree?

Inside the nature center

Inside the nature center

Butterfly Garden

Butterfly Garden

Paddle Boats

Paddle Boats

On the train ride

On the train ride

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The amphitheater

The amphitheater

Dylan had the opportunity to do some pet sitting for some friends in Abingdon, VA. These are the dogs that he took care of last fall and he was super excited to do it again. Of course, Hannah wanted to help him take care of them 😉 Thanks to Susan for letting us use your trampoline while we were there….much fun was had!

The Dog Whisperer

The Dog Whisperer

Hannah sang songs to the dogs that she wrote for them on the spot....too cute!

Hannah sang songs to the dogs that she wrote for them on the spot….too cute!

We had some beautiful weather, with a beautiful view!

We had some beautiful weather, with a beautiful view!

Trampoline fun!

Trampoline fun!

So, there you have a wrap up of what we have been up to lately. There’s more to write, but I’ll leave it for another post!

Thanks for reading!

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

June 11, 2013

Bristol Public Library

I want to share a bit about where we spend much of our time while we are in East TN and SW VA. I’ve talked about how much Hannah loves to be with other kids. As far as options for finding friends and spending quality time with them, we can plan play dates with friends, but that can’t always be an option every day. So, we have outdoor play areas, indoor play areas, museums, finding friends at the campground or visiting the Bristol Public Library.

We turn to the library often and are so in love with it.

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Here are our reasons for loving the library:

1) It is so very welcoming. The children’s section is actually separated from the rest of the library. When you enter, it feels like you are walking into a very fun, open place for play, reading, connecting and activities.

2) It is a magical place. Hannah can find a book on just about anything in this special library. Whether she wants to explore fairy tales, dinosaurs, cats, castles, princesses or possums, she can find it there. And not just the books…there are games and other items to encourage her to explore those things that interest her and the space to create lots of imaginative play. And Dylan can go to the lower level of the library and find what he is looking for….and space to read on his own there, or join us in the children’s section.

3) Activities. Story time. American Girl Book Club. Summer Reading Program. All of these things draw our kiddos in. It is a place to connect with others and create friendships based on play and interests of similarity. A place to learn and grow and just be.

4) Resources. If I see and hear of an interest that my kids have, I can spend my time at the library finding things that will help them explore those interests further. Reference books, books on tape/cd, videos, games, computer access, magazines and helpful librarians that have become our friends.

5) Citrus. The bird that talks to us as we enter the library and helps our kids engage in speaking to and caring for animals.

6) Caterpillar Crawl. An actual walk through Downtown Bristol TN/VA to discover certain characters from Eric Carle‘s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, to tell the story of this wonderful book.

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Currently, the library has just begun their Summer Reading Program. We joined them this evening for story time, which included a few stories about gardens, digging and gnomes; an art activity of creating their own gnome and a gnome home….and eating mud, dirt and worms. Really…it was just pudding, oreos and gummy worms. The kids LOVED it!

Tomorrow, we will join them for another story time and the movie, Gnomeo and Juliet.

I am sure that there is more to tell about this library and all they have to offer, but I will finish by saying this:

It is a place that my children constantly ask to go visit. That tells me that it is offering them something that makes their heart happy and their imagination and creativity blossom and grow.

That is worth more than gold to me.

Many thanks to the Bristol Public Library for all that they offer my family and many others that walk through their doors.

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

6 Month Nomadiversary

Pretty unbelievable that we have been traveling in our RV and living in it for six months. We have been through some dramatic ups and downs during this time, but the ups definitely outweigh the downs, by a long shot.

We have been through 16 states (some of which we were able to enjoy, some we just passed through) and we have seen incredible sights and experienced some amazing things along the way. The ones that stand out in my mind: Southern Oregon (we will be back, Oregon!); sunset on the Pacific Ocean in Ventura, CA; Grand Canyon; meeting up with new friends (by accident) in Flagstaff, AZ; sunset in North Little Rock, AR; hearing Hannah tell us when we entered Texas, ‘this is the place I was born to be!’; Northern and Central Florida, meeting our solid community of traveling families and now being among family and friends in TN.

We have no plans of stopping this journey anytime soon. We are already planning our next departure in August and looking forward to what that brings us as a family. So many opportunities lie before us and we are excited to grasp whatever the future holds for us.

We have a quote that is hanging in our RV that reads:

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. LIVE the life you’ve imagined.”  Thoreau

And that is exactly what we will continue to do.

Thanks for joining us as we LIVE our dreams.

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Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

January 10, 2013

Traveling and Living

Being able to travel and be together as a family is certainly a dream come true for us. We love spending time together in close quarters and we love being able to experience life together. Dream.come.true.

Being able to do these things does require us to work in some capacity, otherwise this life on the road thing will come to a complete halt. We all have gifts and talents to offer, but finding that balance and also be able to manage some frequent play time takes some skill and planning. And some time to reflect on what is most important.

Things of importance have changed over the past few months. You don’t need as many ‘things’ when you are focused on spending quality time with the ones you love.  Attending events and social gatherings changes as well. When we can’t all go as a family, then it’s not as important. Spending time with other families that prioritize their time with their children becomes incredibly attractive in forming relationships. So, in order to make those things priority, the bringing-home-the-bacon thing needs to come fairly easily and without spending long hours away from each other.

We’re still trying to figure all this out and it will probably take us a bit of time before we get in a groove, but at the moment we are focusing on Steve’s software program, My Homeschool Transcripts (in which I help him with the social media side of things..and maybe some homeschool conferences in our future) and of course, other software programming and  pursuing music in any way we can.

As far as our plans at the moment, we are still in East Tennessee, but heading to a wedding this weekend in the NC mountains. Then, we’ll be making our way to Florida to spend time with lots of other families traveling and living on the road together. We are SO excited to be able to travel again….especially now that we are moving toward warmer weather! I can see lots of sunshine in our future 🙂

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

December 20, 2012

House Concert

We started the day getting prepared to leave for a house concert in Chester County, PA where Steve was playing piano. While we were waiting I snapped a few pics of Grandmom and PopPop’s Christmas decorations.

On the drive out to the concert, we were able to show Hannah and Dylan the location of the house where Steve grew up. It was such a beautiful drive there, but what a view when we arrived at our destination! One of the most beautiful places I have seen in PA, for sure.

Judy (the host of the concert) introducing Steve to the crowd of attendees

Hannah enjoyed a wonderful play area themed with everything Narnia!

Steve and his former piano teacher

Hannah and her new friend, Victoria.

Our animal-loving kiddos

Hannah’s gingerbread girl

Tonight was spent making cookies and listening to music. In fact, Steve’s sister Joyce came over to practice some music for a program that they are doing together on Sunday. It was quite soothing to Hannah’s ears.

A special thank you goes out to GrandMom and PopPop for all their help today! We wouldn’t have wanted to do this with out you!!

Looking forward to more fun times tomorrow! Stay tuned 🙂

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

December 18, 2012

Forever Friends

In the adoption world, there is a certain language that you begin to take on, certain phrases that pertain to the journey you are about to embark upon. As your child is approaching the moment when they will be coming into your home for good, you become their ‘forever family’. How great a phrase this is….it gives your child the verbal affirmation that they belong to your family and will never again have to worry about moving to another family. They are part of your family, forever.

I am finding this to be true of certain friends, our ‘forever friends’. Those friends that are there for you no matter the distance or time apart. Complete acceptance and love. We are fortunate enough to have many friends such as these!!

As we returned to East Tennessee from our 2 week road trip, we had the opportunity to meet up with our friends, The Greenes. Always the gracious hosts…a fun time was had by all!

Here we are parked in front of their house. We look kinda big parked on their little street!

Ali and Hannah….Forever Friends 🙂

Yummy cake and coffee

A new bear for Hannah (that she has now affectionately called ‘Minty’) and a really cool guitar pick that I am dying to put some beads around!

My guys

Climbing trees in the backyard

Amy and me…Forever Friends

Thank you, Greene Family….we love you!!

About 2 years ago, as we were dreaming of purchasing an RV and living on the road full-time, we were also thinking that if we were to achieve that dream while Steve was still working at Barter, we had a location in mind that we would like stay for awhile, until we were free to travel. We placed, alongside our RV, a picture of Lakeview RV Park in Bristol, TN. We were able to finally stay there….even though it was a shorter stay than we thought it would be 2 years ago (we stayed for 2 nights), it was nice to see that part of the dream a reality as well.

Roasting marshmallows by the campfire

Our little tree that has yet to be decorated, but fits quite nicely in our home

The next day was spent gathering things from the storage unit and realizing that there will be many things that we will just not be able to take with us in the RV….so I see even more purging in our future!

Then, off to Mountain City, TN for Steve’s concert at Heritage Hall….life on the road!

Beauty and Blessing Awaits,

Christy

Reflection

So, I’m sitting here on the floor of our apartment embracing the last moments of our last night living in our apartment.

It has been enjoyable, this time in Southwest VA. We have endured some disappointments, sorrows and heartbreaks, but thankfully there have been many more accomplishments and joys to outweigh anything negative of our time here. We have made some friendships that I know will not be separated by distance, those friendships that remain no matter what the circumstances. I am so thankful for those friends. Without really knowing it, they have renewed my faith in authenticity and love…no judgments or rejection to be found here and for that I can’t thank them enough.

I have been able to take place in opportunities and connections that enabled me to help others in their journey, whether it through parenting or learning or a little of both. This makes me happy…to help someone else find a bit of joy hidden in them and discover and embrace that joy in their children.

My husband and my children have been able to pursue the things that they love. Music, Art, Dance, Play….these have all been part of our days and evenings. Who  wouldn’t love to experience these elements each and every day? We are so blessed to be surrounded by the opportunities that we have…So, so blessed.

But it’s time to move on and experience something different. Or, at least in a different place. It has been calling us for quite some time. Ever since we took that trip in 2010 to PA and back in a week, in an RV, we were so hooked. And we weren’t sure when it would come to pass, but we knew it would.

And when situation after situation kept pointing us closer and closer to our goal, we still didn’t know how in the world this was going to come together. But together it has come!

Each time the obstacles come, we trust. Trust in the One that loves us and wants to give us the things that we desire.

So, here we are, about to embark on the biggest journey and challenge we have had to face together. By this time tomorrow night, we will be awaiting our flight to pick up our RV, our new home.

We welcome you to join us on this journey. And remember you have a journey of your own. Whatever your passion, desire, love is calling you to do….Trust and it will come.

Beauty and Blessing Awaits…

Christy

Lemonade Anyone?

It’s 4pm and I hear a voice coming from the bathroom saying, “I have the best idea, ever!”, ’cause we all know, that’s where all the best ideas come to us! Out walks my daughter and she proceeds to tell me her plan…

“Let’s make a lemonade stand, Mommy!”

“Right now, honey?”

“Yes Mommy, right now!”

So, I’m thinking of all the things that would need to take place before a lemonade stand could happen. I managed to help her get a table in front of our townhouse with some instant lemonade, some cups and a cup for money. But we really don’t have that much traffic come by our place, so her customers ended up being me, her dad and her brother.

She didn’t seem satisfied with this, so I asked why she wanted a lemonade stand and she said,

“I want to make some money so I can help pay for the RV.”

Wow…our little entrepreneur.

In my conditioned brain, I am thinking of the many ways that this is NOT going to work. Weather conditions, limited amount of people around, etc., etc., etc… But I pushed that voice aside and decided to support her in this passion and do whatever I needed to do to help her make this goal happen.

So, I talked her into planning in the evening and actually having the lemonade stand the next morning (after the mailman comes and the residents are going to check their mail). We made the poster ( I just happened to have some extra poster board), made the freshly juiced lemonade, some Halloween themed muffins and prepared everything for the following morning.

She awoke with plans to immediately have the lemonade sale. We set out the table with everything that we prepared and she was ready to go. It was a bit chilly, but very soon warmed up, so the weather was not even an issue.

She started doubting herself.

“What if people don’t come?”

“What if they don’t like my lemonade?”

“I believe in you, honey. You planned this well and they will come.”

And they did. She had 2 customers after about 10 minutes of waiting and was just ecstatic.

” I can’t believe I had 2 customers!”

A few minutes later, another came and then another.

“Wow, this is so awesome, Mommy! I want to have at least 2 more customers, because that’s how old I am. 6.”

And she had 2 more customers.

When it came apparent that we had saturated the market there in our parking lot, I suggested we pack up and head back inside. She looked at the money she made and counted it. The total was $6.75. She looked at me and said,

“Will this help buy the RV, Mommy?”

“Absolutely, sweetheart. But why don’t you hold onto that money for the next time you want to do a lemonade stand? Okay?”

“Okay Mommy. Mommy? Thank you for helping me. You are the best Mommy I ever had.”

“And there is no place I’d rather be than helping you, sweetheart.”

My lesson for the day. Always listen to my children’s desires and passions and treat them as I would treat my own.

There were so many lessons in  today’s activity. Yes, we learned math, we counted, we learned about marketing a product, we learned communication skills and taking on a plan to run a business. We read, we used our creative abilities to create an atmosphere that would encourage a product to be sold.

But there was so much more….we met people that we had never met before. A man that came to buy some lemonade and muffins invited us over to his porch to see his Halloween tree. My daughter suddenly proclaimed, as she is speaking to strangers that are asking her questions, “I think my shyness just left me!” And most of all, she was so proud of herself for accomplishing this goal and was so happy that I was a part of her passion.

No job, no career, no other pursuit I can ever have, will replace what I felt today. Completely and totally content being Hannah’s mommy. There is nothing on earth more rewarding than being there for my children, watching them succeed at accomplishing an idea and seeing their joy overflow.

Nothing.