California, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida!

Wow folks, it’s been over a month since I posted! Sorry not sorry. Let me tell you why!

Last you heard (besides Shanties first race) was our poor Skoolie blowing the transmission and leaving us sideways in the middle of a highway. Once we handed over my left arm and Matts wallet to fix the motor, we parked it in Oklahoma. Matt was a champ and took on a part time job in contracting with my family while I found odd end jobs.

Before we left Florida back in July, I had already committed to doing hair for a wedding for mid October. To keep my word, I packed up Shanti and headed east to fulfill my promise.

Quick pic of the bridal party and their beautiful hair! Such a fun group of lovely women!

This was the beginning of 2 full weeks in the panhandle spending quality time with Gam Gam and MiMi! I know Shanti enjoyed it as much as her grandmas did!

FYI: Gam Gam is my mom in the collage below.

…and Mi Mi is Matts mom in the photos below!

After I wrapped up the time in Florida, we loaded up again and flew all day to land in Sacramento, California. This is where Shanti and I spent another week visiting friends and doing hair. This trip to Folsom was the first since I was only 6 months pregnant. Our little travel love bug! This girl (daughter of Nomads) has been on 12 flights in her 9 months of life!Hair clients, childhood friends and what I call “chosen family” welcomed us with so much love and arms wide open. The story goes… I booked this California trip with Matt coming as well to assist with Shanti, “father-daughter days” as I did hair. With him working and building on the bus in Oklahoma, we decided it’d be more productive if he stayed back and I went alone.

wait, Matt working without a camera? Yep! My amazingly talented husband dove into the dusty world of cabinetry, both professionally and in our bus!

Meanwhile back in Cali, look at these happy & helpful people loving on Shanti!

I had a day off that allowed me to take Shanti to her first gymnastics class! It was Halloween week so the kids got to wear costumes! Fun fact – Her coach Kira is also a long time friend that actually visited us in Barbados! You’d recognize her from the post Visitors… a dozen of them! Another fun fact- This is the same gym that I taught at for 7 years and Matt worked at last year! Click here for the post about Tricks Gymnastics!

Shanti had no fear of going upside down and clearly likes to shake it…. I mean bounce it….rrrr… jump?!

Andrea and Josh, the way you opened your home and handed over the car keys meant so much to me. I felt extremely comfortable and our trip wouldn’t have been the same without your hospitality!

On our flights back to daddy in Oklahoma, we got to meet 2 unforgettable women and a bundle of others. #iplankforpizza (I’m embarrassed to admit I forgot her first name) is a fitness instructor that Shanti immediately connected with. It’s hard not to make a new friend when a small human is literally attempting to sit in your lap.

These flight attendants kidnapped her right away and asked for my phone… they brought her back with a photo of the captain letting her explore!

Dionna from our late night flight was by far the most helpful during our journey. Shanti was showing signs of being tired and I was ready for my pillow and slippers. Not only did Dionna hold Shanti, she had a seat with us and let my little monkey climb all over her while we had some girl chat. She’s one of those women that you can talk too easily and feel like you’ve known for years! It was too dark for a photo but I most definitely see us reconnecting in the future… bus and all!

Speaking of the bus, once Shanti and I got back to Oklahoma with Matt, we packed up and headed to Arkansas to get the floors done!

A huge thank you beyond words and a blog post mention to our cousin Dakota. Not only did he allow us to park our bus on his property, he gave us his room and took on the role of the best Uncle Koda ever! We thank you so much!A little more family time is always wonderful with these lovely people!While we were there, we also took a family day and went to the Gorge near Hot Springs for a walk and mini hike. What a backyard to play in!…back to the bus.

Our cousins (and owners of the recently awarded #1 company O’Bryan Family Flooring) provided us with these beautiful floors!

After 4 months of living between Oklahoma and Arkansas, we headed back to Florida to complete the bus and spend the holidays on the beach!

Next up, our new chapter in Miramar Beach Florida! Photo by my hubby:)

Categories: Accommodations, Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shanti’s first race!

Well actually, her first race was (prenatal) Cinco De Mayo last year, 4 days before I even knew I was pregnant!

Here we are now, she’s almost 8 months old and I’m back at it again, or at least trying too! I’m learning that although I do well with spontaneous adventure and live what some call a “nomad lifestyle”, I’m still very goal oriented. Rather than, “I should start running again.” I succeed much more with “I’ve signed up for a race and now I have to train”. So that’s what I did!

The Oklahoma City Zoo 5k was to raise funds for the Monarch Butterflies. Matt wanted to run with me so this was an ideal choice as strollers were welcome in the course that took us throughout the entire zoo!

Before I continue, I must give a shout out to Velia from V Lala Galleries! The fun pants Shanti and I are wearing are designs straight from her art wall. You can see her other creations by clicking on her website Velialala.com!

Getting ready for the race!

This girl is such a champ! She woke up at 7am as we pulled into the parking lot, got changed in the backseat and was ready to roll with us. I’d like to believe she brought a few extra smiles to the runners as we were all waiting for the gun to go!

…And we’re off!

… And we stop. Matt was ready for the first water station about 200 yards into the 5000 meters. He made sure and confirmed they didn’t serve espresso.

I’m not a huge fan of zoo’s given the whole animal prison feel, but this one had an open layout with an abundance of greenery along the path. We definitely stopped for a a few photo opportunities.

A little over 3 miles later was the finish line! Cheering and high fives welcomed us along with neck medals … one for Shanti too!

After every good run there’s a necessary stretch and maybe a necessary grunt in pain?I wasn’t laughing at you babe… I was laughing with you.

Meanwhile, Shanti’s sharpening her two teeth.We finished up the day with a mini tailgate picnic full of delicious healthy snacks.

Not quite sure when the next family day on foot will be, but I’m sure it’ll be soon!

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Ever seen a bus blocking a highway?

Our time in Arkansas exceeded all expectations! Quality family time with tons of fun, and help with progress on the bus. Perfect! Here’s a wrap of some of the captured moments during our stay in Hot Springs!Now it’s time to drive the beauty to Oklahoma where there’ll be more family, fun and help!

The journey from Arkansas to our new home in Oklahoma is gaged at about 5 1/2 hours. Hahahahaha! That’s in a car, no baby and not one bathroom break… so you can imagine… we had a car with a baby and a momma who drinks a lot of water following a school bus that tops out at 60mph and drops to 15 on inclines. With all of this in mind, we estimated about 7 hours. Driving through the night is always best for Shanti so we chose to leave right after dinner so she could snooze the whole way.

And we’re off! (notice the hanging camper in the window? Thank you O’Bryans!)

In no time, we were 100 miles in and if had to guess, Shanti was peacefully dreaming of playing with her cousins and eating paper (her two most recent favorite things to do).

As the sun began to drop with Matt driving in front of me, we shared this beautiful sunset (via walkie-talkies).

About 150 miles from our new home, Matt mentioned the bus feeling different. We even pulled over to smell and look at the engine. With no apparent problems, we kept on trekking. About 15 miles after he checked it out we were climbing our way up a hill at a whopping 9 mph wondering if this was always going to be the case.

In what seemed to be a moment of seconds, I saw the bus leaving a trail of fluid and heard Matt over the walkie say, “Something’s not right, I’m losing all engine power“. By the time he pulled off onto the shoulder mid-hill (which you always try to avoid in a beast like that!) smoke was barreling out from under it. As my heart sank, I could hear Matts break when he informed me, “This isn’t good babe”.

So it’s in the middle of the night and we’re in between two tiny towns on a back woods highway. Matt quickly got on his phone to find a local tow-truck company that would be willing to attack this challenge. We were so lucky. Not only did he find a company, but the kind owner also owned a school bus and was eager to help!

Here’s a video of Matt attempting to move the bus across the street and into the opposite direction. The towing man suggested we do this since it’d be tricky to make a U-turn with the tow truck and the bus going up hill on a small highway.

Since moving forward clearly didn’t work, Matt put it in reverse to maneuver backward then to turn it down hill. Unfortunately the back wheels caught the lip of the shoulder and he was going nowhere except backwards farther into the ditch! As you can imagine, my stomach was at my feet watching helplessly from afar.

My job while cringing across the street? Keep Shanti safe, warm and peacefully sleeping during this unexpected event. Success!

While we were waiting for the tow, I pulled our car far off the shoulder (even more than the first picture shows) at an angle so I was in no position to be side swiped while aiming my headlights at the bus. This ensured that any vehicle rounding the corner would clearly see the brightly lit bus.

Within an hour the Mighty Mouse of Semi tow trucks showed up!

It was amazing how much power this monster showed when lifting us out and down to the rescue. I recorded it too!By the time we back tracked to the mechanics it was creeping its way to 2:30am. Of course they weren’t going to be open so we went for a cheap hotel, a rest and and early sunrise.

After a nap at Motel 6, we went for a morning bite while we patiently waited for the mechanics to open and take a look at the engine.

Happy baby loving on her daddy at breakfast!

The final verdict brought us gut twisting news… it’s the transmission. Anyone who knows about a busted transmission knows it’s no joke.

Look at our sick girl just sitting there waiting for her surgery.

A few nights in the bus hospital and she’s almost ready to come home!

Here’s Matts silent interpretation of the situation.

Next up, her homecoming and a new backyard!

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Another adventure away from the bus!

In the last post, Skoolie paint job is almost done! we had accomplished a majority of the exterior design. Since then, we have added our surprise addition which is a chocolate chip brown shiplap accent on the sides. It’s a tongue and groove style that went on nicely with some help from amazing, patient, knowledgeable, loving family members. Thank you Reggie, Bryan and Dane!

We got an opportunity to go back to Florida for a visit so we locked up the bus and headed to Miramar Beach! This makes for Shanti’s 3rd airplane ride!

I was able to get all my hair clients in for another round while Matt worked his camera around the area. I absolutely love that we can travel with our careers!

Between the catching up, Shanti got to reconnect with some of her biggest fans. My mom (Gam Gam), was all about getting this little girl in the water and we all loved it! Babies are meant to float, kick and splash!

And of course all that energy spent means for a crash on Gam Gams shoulder. This photo will forever be precious to me.

We stayed with Matts mom (Mi Mi), so there were plenty of snuggles from her as well! The hugs were accompanied by Shanti’s Great Grand parents (Maw Maw & Paw Paw). You’ve seen them in past posts like Shanti meets more family! We also made time for a family brunch!

This is TJ and Erica (she came to visit us in Barbados!) …and Shanti with the photo bomb.

What’s this, an 80’s themed birthday party for Dustin!? Well don’t mind if we do! (Special thanks to Stephanie, safe to assume it wouldn’t of happened without you!)

Look, it’s the couple that gave us the bus!

After the quick Florida visit we were ready to get back to Arkansas. Matt more than me as he really missed our other “baby” – aka the bus.

Matt rode his motorcycle back (with intention to sell it) so Shanti and I took a mother/daughter day of flights! Well actually, night of flights. Look at this sweet little tired girl…. and never mind my mouth piece.

Back home and almost finished up with the exterior! How do we ever repay for the amount of help we’ve received here!? Well you saw the land we’re living on in the post The wheels on the bus… go to Arrrkansas!and this week they’ve rented some heavy machinery to continue the renovation. You don’t have to ask Matt twice to play with big toys!

Meanwhile, Lacie is missing from the photos…. again. In fact, she took all of these photos, as usual. Lacie, I will be doing a full post on just you soon, so get ready!

Next up – a road trip to Oklahoma for more help from family and friends!

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Skoolie paint job is almost done!

How many days does it take to paint a school bus? We don’t know, we’re still not done!

In the last post, Back to the bus!, we had started the process. This included sanding, stripping and cleaning it so we would have a fresh scuffed up surface to begin the painting.

Next, we masked the beast to prevent any paint going where it doesn’t belong and to create clean lines.

Then came brushes and rollers? Nope. We were lucky enough that Bryan just happened to have a paint sprayer! This grey primer you see here helps the final paint adhere to the exterior bus walls. Not gonna lie, I kind of dig the color.

Now she’s ready for a cosmetic makeover, starting with the main color! We chose a rich sandy tone for the neutral base and a vibrant turquoise(ish) color for the accent!

Now we paint!

But first, Peppa the pig! Some of you with amazing memories might recall this buddy of mine from the post Sweet Home Arkansas!

After our beauty was painted we taped off the lines to add our accent tone. There’s no proper name for the actual color but no matter what you call it we, think it’s fabulous!

Oh boy, am I’m excited for you to see what the next addition is!

No hints… sorry not sorry.

I’ll leave you with a glimpse of what we do when the Arkansas sun has won and we put down the paint brushes for some cooling off.

Next up, final work on the exterior!

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Back to the bus!

We wrapped up Vail Colorado with Matts childhood friend Gavin, you saw him in our honeymoon post from 2017. Now he’s officially “Uncle” Gavin! It’s such beautiful country up there! We were sad to leave but excited to get back, with only an overnight stay in Oklahoma we kept on driving. Shanti is such a great traveler! She was either talking to me or snoozin away.

3000 miles in 10 days leads us back to Arkansas where our bus was eagerly waiting for us to return home.

This weeks goals for the bus is to install the floors and start the exterior paint. The flooring is being provided by my families business out of Hot Springs Arkansas. O’Bryan Family Floors is a well known local company that offers quality product with a personal touch. We are so proud to support the family that’s actually let us live on their property in the mean time. You can see our current location by reading The wheels on the bus go to Arkansas!

Painting sounds like a quick task, or at least it did to me, but turns out there are a few steps that make it a 10 day process! I’ll make an entire post about those shenanigans once we’ve completed the challenge.

Before painting, it’s necessary to prepare the surface. We power washed it in order to get rid of any dirt, rust and buildup that would be in the way of sanding it down. Proud to say I got the privilege to attack this task! There’s something extremely gratifying about aiming and firing with force at a beast of a vehicle. This left me with muddy feet, sore shoulders and a natural high… and no pictures of it. Boo.

Meanwhile, Matt was scrubbing down the top to get it ready for the first coat. We’ve picked out the color scheme for the entire bus (to be announced later) but for the top it’s a white silicone based product. We chose this not only for the clean look, but it also seals the roof and helps reflect the sun giving us a cooler interior temperature.

After the prepping we had all of the boys in on the for a Sunday Funday paint day!

Unfortunately the photographer of the day, Lacie Lane, didn’t get in any of the pictures! Next time we’ll get proof she’s there.

The boys finished up at sundown which meant it was time for games, guitar and family… what a perfect way to end the Sunday Funday! We didn’t get too many photos, but here’s a few someone snuck. Clearly a bundle of smiles all night! A HUGE thank you to Bryan, Reggie, Dane, Jessie, Lana and Lacie for the extra hands and amazing energy!! Lub Lub Lub

Next step: Scraping, sanding and another solid wash. Sneak peek!

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Short hold on the bus, it’s time for a wedding!

July 20, 2019 is the wedding day of my little brother Ben. The little brother that some of you may recognize from all of the years on this blog. Here is one of the first pictures I ever posted of him, adorable!…and year after year…

Then my little bro grew up into a young man out of nowhere!

Fast forward even farther and now I’m doing hair for his bride on their big day! What a special event to be a part of, Shanti was pulled down the aisle in a wagon and of course they had Matt as their photographer, here’s a few photos from the day!Ben and Rachel, I wish you all of the happiness and growth a marriage can bring. We love you so much!

Matt and I left the bus back in Arkansas and took our little family on a road trip through Oklahoma on the way to Colorado (that’s where the wedding took place). We’ve really enjoyed the back drop of mountains, rivers and wildlife everywhere! Here are a few snap shots so far, we’re currently in Vail so you’ll get the rest of the journey once we get back “home” to Arkansas.Here’s a typical 6am roadside diaper change in front of a gas station that didn’t have a changing table. Nailed it!

Here we stopped at a park for some fresh air and leg stimulation. She was such a good girl just hanging out while I reorganized the car. Happy to be alive with not a care in the world.

It’s not uncommon for us to stop for Matt to jump on some sort of wheeled apparatus. This day in Vail was his new electric skateboard!

I tease him about showing off but he clearly has bragging rights! You are so talented babe!

I’ll close this post with a video from one of our leg stretching stops in a Delta Colorado!

Fun fact: I was born there:)

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The wheels on the bus go…. to Arrrrrkansas!

As you saw in the previous post, we were making our way from Florida to Arkansas to park it where it’ll be stationed for a majority of the renovation. Along the way, it started overheating whenever we’d go up hills or if the engine was pushed too hard… no good. While letting it cool down in Mobile Alabama, we decided to take it to a diesel specialist who spent hours diagnosing it with an estimate higher than you can imagine or at least more than we wanted to hear.Check out the sign they put on our beauty queen. (It says “this is not trash”). Priceless. So Matt decided to contact Steve (the magical mechanic from back home) to see if there was an alternative. Steve said that it wasn’t hard to fix as long as you had the right tools and instructions. With that said, Matt was willing to park our beast road-side and do it himself! During a phone conversation, we got the most unexpected news, Steve was going to drive all the way to help Matt fix it! Sure it was only a few hours round trip, but would you want to drive that after working all day!? Here we have yet another helping hand willing to contribute to our journey. We’re so grateful! Fast forward through the evening, Matt and Steve got the bus dialed in and it’s ready to roll. 8pm seems like an ideal time to check in for a good nights rest however it’s also the perfect time for Shanti to sleep through the drive, so we decided to skip the bed and keep on trekking.

Our goal was to get to Jackson Mississippi and find a hotel to close our eyes for a few hours so we could continue fresh(ish) onto Arkansas. We accomplished our goal to Jackson however finding a decent hotel with a reasonable price at 4am didn’t pan out. Plan B? Sleep in the bus! We found a gas station with diesel parking and we made it home for an hour nap.

Thank you Matt for capturing this photo even though I was not into it. This will go down in history as our first night in the bus!

We woke up to a beautiful sunrise next to a gorgeous open green field that welcomed us with the faint scent of cow manure. Other than the smell (cough-gag-cough) it was perfect!

We fueled up and headed north. Just a few more hours coasting at an average speed of 50 mp, we arrived to the surprisingly green Arkansas.

Here’s the view of the new location for our new home! It used to be packed full of forest but they’re currently transforming it into a self-sustaining farm with a spring fed pond. How lucky are we!?

Looking outward from the property.

Birds eye view. How amazing is this spot for our bus conversion… Space, privacy, security and family (help hehe)! See our yellow buddy down there?

Thank you cousins for the instant smiles and open arms that welcomed our project. It wouldn’t be the same without you!

Next post, updated bus pics! I can’t wait to show you how far it’s come. Here’s a sneak peek with a sweet video of two of our helpers:)

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We left… turned around… and then left again!

Bus painted? Nope. All seatbelts installed? Not yet. Couch, kitchen, bed, toilet? Not even close. We DO however have it registered, insured and ready to hit the highway legally but only able to sit one person. Because we’re going to tear out the driver seat, it would be a waste of time and money to rig a makeshift passenger seat before we do anything else. With that, we’ve decided that Matt will drive the bus and Shanti and I will follow in our car. This also ensures a reliable set of wheels just in case they’re needed on our first long journey. (I wrote that days before the event below).

The first 600 miles in our new home (currently just the shell) will be going from Miramar Beach Florida to Benton Arkansas. This is where it’ll be parked for a majority of the renovation. For those of you that have been following this blog for years now will recognize the location. You saw it in several past posts including one of my favorites, Sweet home…Arkansas?! And you recently saw the family in our last trip to Oklahoma. Shanti will be surrounded by cousins and we’ll have plenty of helping hands to turn this rig into a beautiful livable space.

These past few weeks have been full preparation, packing and watching Shanti grow so fast! She jumped from 3 month clothing to 6-9 month outfits and she’s only 5 months, geeze kid! For all of you fans, here are some pics of her recent weeks.

Ok back to bus! Day one on the road actually started at 8pm with cooler temperatures and less traffic. 2 hours into our journey and only 50 miles covered our beautiful beast (she’ll be named soon) had overheated. Since we were so close to home, we decided to turn around and have our amazing mechanic friend look at it. Last thing we wanted to do was push it and cause more damage.

The next morning was spent with test drives and engine work before we got the go to hit the road. Although Shanti does best at night since she sleeps the whole way, we were ready to get out of there so a noon departure is what we did!

Unfortunately the engine couldn’t take incline or long distances so every 30 minutes we’d have to pull over to let it cool. This is why it took us 6 hours to cover only 100 miles.

We were taking a break just shy of Mobile Alabama when we found out there was an International Bus specialist just up the road! Since it was 7p on a Sunday night they were obviously closed so we parked the bus at the cheapest hotel for a good nights sleep and early rise. Yes moms, we slept in the hotel, not next to it.

I’m currently writing the last of this post sitting in the hotel room waiting to hear the verdict from Matt who’s at the specialist shop right now. To be perfectly honest with you, although this isn’t what we imagined the first stretch to be like, we’re both keeping a positive attitude. Keeping awareness around that this is an adventure and a journey we signed up for! I think we would be doing a disservice to our spirit if we focused only on the completion of the bus, instead of being totally present while creating these memories. Oh Shanti, you have no idea of the photos and stories that will make up you’re first years of life.

I’ll leave you with her capturing my water bottle. You’re welcome.

Secret news: Coming soon is the launch of our online video channel. Oh boy!

Until then, thank you for reading and following (hint hint- click the button on this page that says “follow” in order to be alerted when there’s a new post).

Happiness to you and yours!

Categories: Baby Talk, Bus life, Travel talk | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Friday Fitness week #13 – Turns Out it’s Tuesday.

I committed to write a post on health and fitness every Friday and so far, I’ve pulled it off. Well that’s about to change. I’m still eager to share with you my thoughts and research findings, however from this point it’s going to be spontaneous Friday’s (Aka – write when I want to).

The rest of this post is simply to encourage you to bring it back to the basics. Get outside and move! Enjoy the fresh air, take off your shoes and get dirt on your feet. Ever heard of “grounding” or “earthing”? To sum it up, it’s connecting with earths natural energy through touch to raise your vibration. For an extended scientific video click here. It always gets me excited when science backs up a “tree-hugging hippie” theory.

When I was I Penang Malaysia , I found a reflexology rock path that combined grounding with pressure points. Imagine starting or ending your day with this!

If not solid ground, find some natural water and get in! When was the last time you jumped in a lake, swam in the ocean or even just walked barefoot through a stream? Here was a “backpackers shower” while I was trekking south in New Zealand !

..and an amazing waterfall in Tobago with Ryan from Barbados!It’s so easy to get wrapped up in daily routines and forget that just outside is a world full of walking paths, singing birds (you don’t hear them unless you listen) and endless things to look at. Seriously friends, things… to… look… at! Not a phone, TV, romance novel, pile of laundry or dishes. Guess what, those dishes will still be there after your walk but the mind-clearing you’d get from the walk would be lost if you didn’t go.

Here is our family last week choosing nature instead of Netflix. Confession: A movie and snacks followed this walk but at least we got it in!

Thought for the day: Instead of hoping your mind will feel better after your body changes, try changing your mind so your body will begin to change.

Your body will follow your thoughts. It listens.

What are you telling it?

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