our first few weeks on the road!

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i can’t believe it’s been three weeks already that the road has been our home.  in some ways it seems like it’s been a year and in other ways it feels like we have just been camping and that we will be back “home” and everything will be “normal” any day now.  except that we don’t have a house to come home to.  it’s surreal.  let me preface this, before i get to the difficult stuff, with the fact that in no way do we regret our decision.  we know that there is so much growth happening in all of us and that the beauty awaits and is already so present in the details.  but, it has been a rough start.  i’ve received so many comments about how perfect and simple and carefree our lives appear to be.  that gives us a good chuckle.  we surely thought that once we were free of all our extra stuff and our mortgage that things would be very simple.  and in some ways, they are.  but in most ways, daily tasks are much more complicated.  one of my favorite movie quotes, which my mama also quoted in her toast to us at our wedding, is from hope floats and it says, “beginnings are usually scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. so when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. and it will.”  and here we are, at the scary beginning, clinging to God’s promises and knowing that all the good stuff in the middle is just around the corner.

so here’s a bit of a summary of life on the road so far.  as for the challenges… with the kids, the logistics are interesting.  we no longer have separate rooms for each child to be able to nap or have quiet time we have to be incredibly intentional about every minute we are in the trailer.  we have only about 150 square feet of living space, so there’s not much room to get out energy when it rains all day, very little room for when we need to cook a meal and even more complicated to keep four busy bodies occupied for when i need to get any work done (thank you to my incredibly thoughtful clients for being patient with me in the process)!  the kids have been handling the transition each in their own ways.  they are more sensitive as a whole and their sleep patterns, being able to feed them healthy food choices and daily schedules have been thrown completely out of whack, making for cranky kids and a very exhausted mommy and daddy.  the long travel days are the hardest for the two littlest ones, because, no matter how much we try to entertain them and comfort them, they just don’t understand why they have to be strapped in for hours on end.  as for the traveling itself, we have learned that when the GPS says our destination is five hours away, that actually means 10 hours in prouty time, thanks to countless potty stops, diaper changes, feedings, gassing up, running out kid energy, getting lost and trying to turn around in impossible locations with a trailer (this list could go on and on).  we have realized we must be more intentional about staying in locations for longer periods of time and not having too many long travel days close together… that is a recipe for a serious amount of stress!  our things are also difficult to keep organized; fitting the basic items for six people into a closet space smaller than just one of our closets we did have back in our house has been challenging to say the least.  our trailer sure has fabulous character, but it is also 60 years old and the cabinets and such are all hanging on by a thread too, making for lots of fun side of the road and middle of the night fixing along the way. we went into this lifestyle a bit naive, with a great big dream and not much in the way of emotional or practical preparation for the adventure.  in the midst of the chaos, though, we all cry, and then laugh, and endlessly try the find the good and continually remind each other why we made this choice.  we know that the stress of getting used to this new normal is only temporary and that anything great is worth going through the trenches for.  donny and i have grown much closer and feel so bonded together as a team.  we absolutely know that we have to be each other’s biggest encourager and helpmate, as the joy of our family is completely dependent upon our attitudes and perspective.  we are being watched by our children at every moment.  we do not have babysitters or anywhere to go to when things feel overwhelming, so we must make the choice to be positive and make every difficult obstacle into a beautiful opportunity of teaching.  every day we fail, but every day i know that God’s grace covers a multitude of sins.  we must choose to be grateful instead of resentful and bitter.  we do see the kids growing closer.  they bicker less and have become so fiercely attached to one another as they spend less time in front of the tv and more time exploring and using their imaginations.  we are spending as much time as possible out in nature and that is when life is the most sweet.

i must say that the good Lord sure works in mysterious ways.  and He is teaching me, over and over, that there is no way i can possibly do this on my own and to just BE STILL and know, that in the midst of me wanting to control so much of this journey, He is the ultimate guide.  i have had countless breakdowns and have felt like i may suffocate at times.  and He is always there, waiting for me, waiting for me to give him the weight off my shoulders and to simply just trust.  at the end of our first week on the road, after several days of constant driving and hours of crying and bad attitudes, i had hit the wall.  it was 8am on a tuesday and i had already been up since 5:00am, in the dark, in an RV park, trying to keep the babies calm and not wake the whole camp.  i was exhausted and mad and just steaming inside.  i had to get out and breathe so i grabbed clementine and we went for a drive, ending up in the most lovely meadow surrounded by redwood trees and a deep fog just beginning to burn off.  we got out and i held her there with her blankie, in the silence and still of the morning just feeling like i could scream.  i buried my head into her neck and just praying to God asking, “why, God?!  did we make the right decision?  calm my heart!  i am flailing, i can’t hear you, i need You!”  and then all of a sudden clem said, “mama!” and i looked up to see a deer and her babies standing only about 20 feet from us, just looking right at us.  the fog was rolling back and it was though they had appeared out of nowhere. we all just stood and stared for a few minutes and in that moment, i can honestly say i had never felt the presence of God so strongly.  i began to cry a loud, breathless, anguished cry, just feeling the weight of the world pour out of me.  i held my girl so tight with my tears rolling down her arms and we both watched the deer turn and disappear into the trees.  He was reminding me that He was there, quietly, just waiting for me.  it’s been a beautiful season of growth and i know that He is surely pruning me for some lovely fruit to come.  thank you endlessly for your prayers and beautiful notes of encouragement along the way.

now for the photographs.  this is a small collection of our favorite highlights so far.  we have been staying in so many off grid type locations and doing so much traveling that i have rarely had wifi, let alone the brainpower or energy to blog until now, but my goal is to really try and blog a summary of our adventures every week.  hoping!  starting off the photos here with our lovely campsite at east lake in central oregon.  we were pretty much the only ones there and it felt so isolated.  we were able to finally breathe deep.

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we’ve brought along all of our favorite records as well as plenty of classic children’s stories on 45s to keep our downtime happy and full. 15

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27he caught his first fish!!!  these are the times that we hoped for while planning this journey!

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33the drive through oregon was truly one of the most breathtaking sights.  we just gasped at the beauty.

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and here we are at the redwoods in henry cowell state park.  our favorite spot in northern california.36

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living in very, very close quarters means bed sharing and priceless moments like these…4142

and here we are in bend, oregon.  i taught a workshop there and then stayed a few extra days to explore.  i’m pretty sure that birch forest stole half my heart when we left.44

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this image of brandon just kills me.  he loves his sisters fiercely and tenderly.47

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one of my favorite images perhaps ever.  this one will be printed big whenever and wherever we land at the end of all of this.54

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this deer met us on the morning of Father’s Day.  such an incredibly special treat to watch him outside our window for hours eating wildflowers and gazing in our direction.  i will forever get goosebumps when i see a deer after this trip.  little visits from God just when we need them.56

such a HUGE highlight was having the honor of THE one and only, ridiculously amazing katie daisy (my favorite illustrator) paint our trailer!!!  dream come true!  not only did it turn out more beautiful than we could have dreamed, but it also made us feel so proud and happy to have this little trailer as our home.  in those times we are resenting the small place and forgetting the goal, we have the flowers reminding us to turn our faces to the sunshine and bloom!  katie shared with me that she feels part of her purpose in her art is to inspire happiness in the world through her paintings and we love that as we drive through towns that so many people turn and wave and smile at us pulling her happy masterpiece! 59

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katie so very sweetly included gracie in the painting.  my little tiny artist was completely blissed out that she was painting alongside such an inspiration!61

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and here’s me, looking totally goofy and about to burst from happiness alongside katie!63

heading farther north towards washington…64

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the nature journaling has been our favorite part so far!  the open road is truly the most spectacular school room!67

a lot of folks asked what we have been doing about trying to eat healthy while traveling.  we have very little room in the trailer and hardly any pantry storage so we have been hitting as many farmers’ markets as possible and picking up lots of fruits and veggies for snacks as well as for green smoothies every morning.  we bought a vitamix before we left specifically for this purpose and it has been so easy to use and clean, as well as the fact that it takes up very little counter space.68

i always have a helper… which makes them much more open to eating what we have made!69

70we snack on various fruits and then have larabars (super healthy and gluten free) on hand at all times when we are hiking or are going to be in the car for long periods of time.

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we have a tabletop cookstove that we pull out of the cabinet when we need to cook.  easy clean up and barely takes up any space.72

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we’ve had lots of rain which means a lot of snuggling and trying to keep the kiddos entertained in a tiny space all day (this can be interesting)!  we have been rewarding the kids for good behavior by treating them to a few dollars allowance when we hit thrift stores along the way.  but the rule is for anything new we bring into the trailer they must donate the same amount of items from their current stash.  this not only helps keep the trailer semi-clutter free but also teaches them to give.76

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silverton, oregon during daisy blooming season…79.5

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85until next week, friends.  :)

Posted in our family adventures, our journey to simplification, our life on the road | 85 Comments

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

thank you.  just thank you.  you people are amazing.  the last month has been quite a beautiful roller coaster for us.  a beautiful, epic, once in a lifetime, award winning movie kind of beautiful.  we have received countless emails from folks around the world sharing their stories with us.  heartbreaking stories along with blissful ones.  but more than anything, people just wanting to live life alongside us as we walk through this adventure.  in a way, we have felt isolated the last few years, putting off friends and activities because of being “too busy” and all the while not knowing when we would be able to surface for air.

one of the most frustrating things to my heart is continually telling my kids “i’m busy, just a minute, honey” and putting them off.  my heart has ached so many nights realizing that i never did give them my attention and had just tried to more keep them occupied.  and so, after years of this kind of a heavy heart, we finally went for it and decided to just leap!  and now for the first time, we are breathing.  in preparing to be out of our house  next week, we have spent pretty much every night the last week going through boxes that we’ve had in storage for years of things from our childhood.  letters, photographs, home videos, drawings and books.  it has been incredibly special.  i’ve sat on the floor of my closet with my hands full of photographs, some of my grandparents from when they were my age, during the war, when they were vibrant and desperately in love.  and photographs of me when i was a child, seeing so much of my own babies in my face.  reminiscing, grieving, with every emotion inside of me just dripping down my face.

we have had to make decisions of what to keep and it has been so eye opening.  so many meaningless things, so much money wasted.  we have our very special things, of course, but from now on we will not buy things just for the sake of buying.  no more buying random stuffed animals from target to keep them busy in the cart or having extras of anything.  we are having to be so very intentional and the children are watching.  they are seeing us choose them over the stuff.  they are surely experiencing the transition in different ways, we have had quite a few days with clingy little ones and tantrums (mostly because our hands have been so busy packing) but in the teaching part of this we are able to explain to them why we are making this life change.  we have talked so much about the fact that we will get to be together and they won’t have to have a babysitter, they won’t have to miss us.  that for at least the next six months, they are 100% our priority.  we have been brainstorming on ways to make the adventure even more fun… we plan to have our own little prouty family ‘adventure scouts’ with challenges and badges and such to keep everyone excited about the new destinations and such.  what’s that saying; that it will not be easy, but it will be absolutely worth it.  it is so true.

we talk about how what made our house a home was not the walls but the people.  and living in the trailer, we will be closer and time spent will be much more quality and with intention at every step.  we have had quite a few people ask us if we are worried about not getting enough alone time with all six of us living in one room and the answer is absolutely not.  we may need to take a breather and a walk alone every now and then but more than anything, we are so excited for this.  our children are never happier than when sharing a room together and here’s the thing… if i found out that one of us was diagnosed with something terminal, i would surely not want my space from any of them!  i would want to savor every single second.  and this is the point of this – the live like every day is our last.  to stop putting off our happy life.  to embrace the people that matter most and create a place for us all to grow closer, to laugh a lot more and to live life alongside of people instead of hiding out.

my oldest, gracie, will get to watch me photograph families along the way, and she will hear their stories too.  she will get to observe me living out my creative passion and being fulfilled as an artist and a woman, being able to share joy while providing for our family and our journey.  i hope she will treasure it all in her heart and pursue her passions wildly.

i am looking forward to sleeping next to my husband every single night.  so often in this house, we separate and work until the wee hours with one of us waking up the other on the couch in the morning.  i miss sleeping beside him.  that’s the good stuff.  and in the mornings the kids only have to walk a few steps to snuggle in to talk with us or tell stories rather than run straight to the television.  so much to look forward to.

so, thank you for embracing us and loving us and praying for us.  thank you for taking time out of your very busy days to encourage us.  we read every word, sometimes more than once.  this community of women, in particular, that i have connected with on instagram and by blogging is something so very special.  you get to see the strings that connect us and how we are all living somewhat parallel lives.  in the quiet of difficult days, you see that someone else gets it.  we aren’t nearly as alone as we thought we were.  i have been so blessed by you all.  our family is eternally grateful.  and we can’t wait to meet some of you along the way.   :)

don’t be afraid to DREAM BIG!

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also, i wanted to share this amazing video with you about a spectacular human being, zach sobiech.  i watched this video of his last days living life to the fullest and haven’t been able to get it off of my heart and mind since.  i don’t often share things like this, but i was so changed by it that i cannot help but share it in hopes that it changes you too.  be prepared for a good cry.

Posted in our journey to simplification, Personal Stuff | 32 Comments

hello, i’m joy!  sunshine chaser, child of God, mama to four & wife to one good man.  we traveled all over looking for a place to call home and we found it.  we live a simple life out in the country with bare toes and happy hearts.

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