We are moving to Washington!

so, it’s official.  we are about to settle down!  we have been on the road for almost six months.  we had planned for it to be a little bit longer.  we thought we may travel for a year, possibly more.  but we had an accident with the trailer a month ago.  and sometimes the plans you make for yourself pale in comparison to what God has had planned for you from the beginning.  about our trailer, we were in san francisco, and just a few miles past a big bridge, the axle and studs that the right tires were on just sheared off.  we were stranded on the side of the highway for several hours, praying and trying to get help from so many different sources, until we had to just unhitch and drive away from our sweet little trailer on the side of a major highway.  it was a super frustrating day with various companies saying they couldn’t get us off the highway until one flatbed tow truck driver used every trick he had to get that trailer up on his truck and transport it to the nearest repair shop.  they’ve had to rebuild the whole axle and suspension.  we had everything checked for durability and safety before and along the journey, but sometimes things just happen.  so we’ve been without the trailer for the last month, sleeping on my mama’s floor and talking through endless scenerios; trying to figure out the best plan for our family in the in the midst of our adventure.  we have had quite a bit of inconsistency recently and it has been pretty wearing on us.  we looked into buying another trailer, but truly we wanted to simplify, not buy more!  and plus we still had to fix ours, we couldn’t just leave it on the side of the road.  and we talked about finishing our trip staying in hotels, but that sounded like too much inconsistency for the children.  we haven’t slept much since we started the trip (we sneak a few hours here and there) but having everyone in one room/space really is quite the lesson in patience and being content in any circumstances!  here is some good… we don’t want for much now and our expectations about what a “normal, nice life” could be has really evolved.  when we bought our house and began building a life in southern california five years ago, we realized we had done it without a lot of dreaming and making our “must have” list to go by.  we just figured that when we got pregnant with our second baby, that it was time to buy a house in surburbia that we could barely afford and work a lot and try to be happy.  it just didn’t work for us.  so now that we have been separated from any sort of “real house” for six months with only the bare necessities to live with, we absolutely know that we won’t be filling our future home with stuff just because we have the room to do so.  we will be extrememely intentional about our purchases, and will most likely thrift or build everything we will need, and do it sparingly.  we have loved being so close to one another for storytime and playing and middle of the night snuggling.  but we also miss our sleep!  it’s been all six of us some nights in a double size bed, and most nights atleast four of us.  we already ordered ourselves a new california king size mattress (found a great one on sale on overstock and already have it set to ship)!  we may not have a bed frame or a headboard or a dresser for a while, but we are gonna have a comfy mattress to all pile on to!  i’m pretty excited to be able to have a full size kitchen again too.  i miss cooking!  and we will be in cooler temperatures so we look forward to hunkering down, watching the rain fall, and cooking and baking yummy smelling things in the kitchen.  it’s sure been a challenge to eat healthy while traveling, especially for six people, and one (our little brandon) who is gluten and dairy sensitive.  i want to be able to fuel their little bodies better and grow a lot of our own organic vegetables, have our chickens for eggs and hopefully do some goat milking on our little homestead!  so back to our traveling, yes, a lot of the go-go-go was challenging and soul stretching.  but we all have grown so much.  gracie has matured and really taken a leadership role with her siblings.  she is reading and has loves the little house on the prairie!  we feel a lot of similarities in the emotions the girls feel in the story, it has been a sweet bonding thing for her and i.  she is such an amazing helper and little mama with clementine and mabel.  brandon has changed the most we think.  he used to be so shy and timid and he has grown to be so very brave!  we each have spirit names and his is “brave bear” and he loves to prove it to us every day!  he is a darling one, such a charmer, a protector and a true gentleman to ladies.  clementine is as fiesty as ever.  she is quite the cuddler and likes to be with me nonstop, her and i are pretty much inseparable.  when she watches gracie, though, we see her wanting to be just like her, echoing her every move; they have the most tender little sisterhood.  mabel is already seven months old and crawling everywhere!  she is just a bundle of sweetness.  it is just a blessing to be able to to see their relationships growing so much with one another.  this season of living all in one small space, we believe, has given them the foundation for them to be so close always.  while we know we are ready to settle down for now, we will absolutely travel again, we already have a trip planned in the spring!!!  we are addicted to adventuring!  this past season of life will be forever remembered in our hearts as the happiest times.  these are the days!  on this note, i did want to share that i have often recently felt that it may seem to outsiders that we had “failed” by not finishing the year.  that we needed to keep traveling to show ‘them’ that we really achieved something huge to be proud of!  to prove that we didn’t stop short.  but, donny and i talk about this all the time and feel that we absolutely achieved what we set out for.  we wanted to show our children the country… to have them walk on golden sandy beaches, to run through a field of dandelions and wild flowers, to dip their feet in cold mountain streams, to see wild animals in nature, to climb a redwood tree, to see the stars, to walk through forests and find enchanted meadows, to see glaciers.  we saw all that and more!  we wanted to simplify everything and just have fun together.  we wanted to be close.  we wanted to experience life changing events.  we wanted to see how other people lived and find what would eventually be the place we would call home.  and now we have.

about our house!!  we will be moving to the outskirts of bellingham, washington (all the way up there, almost to canada)!  our previous plans were for us to move to austin, texas at the end of this trip.  but as we traveled, our eyes were opened to the pacific northwest and we just fell in love with it.  never before had we experienced seasons as a family.  we can’t wait!  we still love texas so much and plan to visit often… we already miss the people we were looking forward to calling neighbors, that’s the heartbreaking part.  ya’ll will just have to save us some buttermilk pie and fried okra and great big huge texas sized hugs for when we visit for a few weeks in the spring!  and you know you are always welcome to visit our prouty homestead.

so about our new homestead!!!  we have a few acres surrounding our little house.  lots of apple and cherry trees, one big giant tree in front with a rocking horse and a rope swing, our land backing up to forests and farmland, a big chicken coop, a sunroom/greenhouse along the side of the house, an outdoor bathtub (big enough for all the babies) for bubble baths in the great wide open.  one bedroom for donny and i, one room for the kids (the big kids all still want to share a room!) and a room for our schooling/craft room/happiness room.  donny will have a big workshop and he couldn’t be more excited.  he has lots of things on his list of things he has always wanted to built.   maybe a boat someday.  we will keep things simple.  we will have chickens, and goats, perhaps a few sheep. and a farm dog.  maybe a kitten.  we will all have comfortable beds and the quilts i made them while i was overdue with mabel.  i want one big huge farm table in the kitchen for dinners with people we love who will visit us to share stories over and do lots of projects.  we don’t care about dining chairs much (maybe we will get a picnic table?) but we will surely need a few bookcases for all the vintage schooling books we scored along our journey!  and i may need a lovely quilt cabinet, maybe donny will build it.  i am very very excited to get my sewing machine back out again!  i caught the quilting bug at the tail end of my pregnancy with mabel and i have been looking forward to having a large space to put all our fabrics and supplies out on.  things like that were tough in the trailer.  but with every negative, came a positive.  i didn’t have room or time to sew in the there, but there was never any time lacking in closeness.  we did a lot of reading.  and using our imaginations.  and when we were going crazy inside, we would just bundle up and go on a nature adventure.  even when we were out and about, we were never too far from one another.

we learned what we want out of life.  experiences that shape the soul.  not the aquiring of stuff.  we want our kids to remember that we chose them first.  and that we also chose one another:  donny and i have a love that is deeper and stronger now that when we got married.  we have accepted one another for who we are and there is such a peace there.  we were just existing for so long, partners but not with a love on fire, and now we have that.  our fights are never long and because we have had to work out so many disagreements in a loving tone because of being in front of the children all day and night, every day, we have learned to speak much more kindly.  we have had to sit back and enjoy the unpredictable ride.  to be still, rather than making noise just to fill the space.  i have learned to submit wholeheartedly.  ”in his heart, a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” -proverbs 16:9.  i have had to release control over so much and it has been good practice (for my previously OCD self).  we lived without any personal or private time for a long time.  we learned we can be selfless, but it is very hard to do that while having expectations about things.  like it is better to not expect to get a full night of sleep, most likely it won’t happen and that’s okay.  because that’s just the season of life we are in.  and our babies are healthy and alive and we are lucky and blessed enough to be this close to them at all times.  we know the season will end at some point so we must embrace the now.

we move in one week!  we are taking this next week to gather up all our belongings from this area here and will be praying that our trailer is ready to go for us to hitch up in san francisco on our way up to washington and that it can be a great little guest house for our closest friends that want to visit.  if it isn’t ready this week, we will get her up there somehow the next trip.  either way, we will be able to call our little house up there in bellingham our home by the end of october!  we are going to take the winter to recover.  i will be working here and there but mostly we want to just unwind, we’ve had quite a whirlwind.  we look forward to making memories to our new home and watching the seasons change.  to read by the fireplace, watch for deer out the back, to garden and tend to our land, to cut down our own christmas tree from a forest and decorate with popcorn strings and homemade ornaments.  to play in a rainstorm. we are hoping it may even snow.  we need a good dance party too…  we tried it in the trailer but it sure bounced around a lot and we needed an open dance floor.

we can’t thank you all enough for the prayers sent our way and the stories you have shared with us of hope, wisdom, perseverance and encouragement!!!  we have read every word and i look forward to having some time in this next season of snuggly life to sit down and write a lot of you back from proper thank you letters for your kindness.  if we can share anything with all of you, it is to just go after your dreams!!!  don’t just sit there, waiting for life to be different.  don’t be afraid to show your kids how much they mean to you by making a drastic change towards a happier life.  even if it’s just in starting with something little.  like choosing to play with them instead of playing with your phone for ten minutes.  those will most likely be the most treasured ten minutes of both your days. i tell this to myself all the time too.  it’s a process.  but i am happy to say that things are surely turning out much more beautifully than i ever imagined they could be.

here’s a few photos from an evening of family time up in half moon bay, caifornia.  they took a driftwood teepee as their pirate ship and gracie made her own tiny one.  the girls ran in the ocean and mabel felt the sand on her toes.  brandon tried to figure out how that teepee was made.  we stayed until it was almost dark and we hiked everyone back, sandy and grumbly and cold.  it was hard, and far, carrying two kids each plus various bags and blankets.  but we have these beautiful snippets of memories here.  so grateful for these times.

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Posted in our family adventures, our journey to simplification, our life on the road, Personal Stuff | 70 Comments

The Ford Family, celebrating LIFE (in Montana)!

this family has a beautiful story.  the mama here is my friend, jayme, and we met when she attended my workshop in asheville, NC last year about this same time.  she had just found out that she was expecting baby number two, and we all giggled and talked about that wee babe, even searching an antique store the last day of the workshop for the perfect item for her to photograph, as part of a pregnancy photo series she would do, that would represent the size of her babe at each week of growth inside her belly.  well, time passed, and she soon learned that her baby, who would be named hudson, had a congenital heart defect and would need to have open heart surgery within his first few days of life, followed by more surgeries as he grew.  we all watched and prayed from a distance as jayme gave birth to her sweet boy, and at fourteen days new, he underwent his first of three surgeries.  jayme wrote, “many people never get to meet their heroes, but i gave birth to mine.”  she is as inspirational as they come.  many people would crumble in such a time, but her and her husband, lucas, they made a choice to live.  to live beautifully, without bitterness or fear.  to turn their faces towards the sun and breathe in the good with their little family, no matter how few or many moments they had with this tiny little miracle in their arms.  hudson healed and they were able to take him home, after a long stretch of hospital stays.  and in the brief time between that first surgery and his second (which he already had and did so wonderfully!), the ford family traveled down from canada to meet me in whitefish, montana for a photo session to celebrate life!  to breathe in the mountain air.  to enjoy being outdoors as a family after being in a hospital for months on end.  to just throw up their hands, release the pain, embrace the bliss and truly just capture this time of being grateful for every single second of life.  i am so honored to have been picked to document a chapter of their incredible story.  the time our families spent together there in montana was very short, but a snippet that i will treasure for the rest of my life.  it is so obvious to anyone around them how they take nothing for granted.  they have peace.  their love for one another is true and strong and contagious.  and that wee babe, sweet hudson, though he is little, his eyes are deep and soulful, and you can feel he has a story all his own to tell one day.  i will be waiting patiently to hear it.2 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42  if you are interested in learning more about little hudson and the ford’s story, i highly encourage you to watch this beautiful video made by photographer, vanessa brown, who documented the first few weeks of hudson’s little life up in canada.  it is heartbreaking and spectacular.

Posted in * Family Sessions, * Themed Sessions, Favorite Sessions | 35 Comments

wildflower. mother. wife. believer. artist. farmer. writer. dreamer.

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