I Named Her ‘Gypsy’, Prowler Reno, Pt. 3

gypsy clipart

Isn’t the above picture sweet?  I collect camper porn now on pinterest.com.  It’s a thing.

Also, a couple years ago, I bought THESE pajamas which I named my “Happy Camper Pajamas”…(You should remember this pattern…it may become very important in the reno.  Just sayin’).

happy camper pajamas

And this is what I actually look like when I put them on…

happy camper pajamas2

But I digress…

As promised, I took the “before” pics today.  If you missed the first two installments of my series on renovating my vintage 1976 Prowler RV camper, then you can see them here and here.

The man I bought the trailer from had wanted to gut the trailer and renovate it himself.  He only owned it about a month, he said, and only worked on it one or two times.  All he did was begin the demo process before he decided that he didn’t have the time to do the renovation himself and decided to sell it.

Now, it is yet to be seen if I am crazy or just a little unwell myself.  It probably depends on who you ask…

Anyway, the previous owner did a good job of saving everything for the trailer.  The stove, the refrigerator, the heater, etc. reportedly all work.  We haven’t tested this ourselves yet, but I’m going to believe it for now.  He saved the hubcaps and all the pieces he took out.

There is even the original cushions…wouldn’t want to miss out on that beautiful pattern!!

Why was the color of bodily fluids a popular color scheme in 1976?  Makes me wonder…

 

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 Why was the color of bodily fluids a popular color scheme in 1976?  Makes me wonder…

Anyway, if you look closely (to what may look like rubble  to the naked eye), you may see a stove/oven, hubcaps, a dining table and lots of other stuff that will be taken out and saved for later.

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The stove/oven and exhaust fan is a burgundy color…and it looks like it has never been used on the inside!  Score!

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Double sink and hubcaps and lots of other odds and ends have been saved and can be reused!

But then again…a lot will go.  All the paneling and non-wood wood cabinets and walls will go.  We will take it down to the studs and the outer metal skim and start from there.

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The bathroom will be completely taken out.  Neither sweet hubby nor I want to learn the steps to “empty the black water”.  (That is a camping term for those in the know.  For those not in the know, black water = poo and pee water).

We are both life-long-learners, but there are things we are willing to go our whole lives without knowing, and black water emptying seems to be one we can both heartily agree on.

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This is our bedroom.  This is where the previous owner already started to gut the camper and he even gave us all the chip board that he had already purchased!  (standing in left of picture).  If you look closely, you can see that there are some rotten boards down there that need to be replaced. All the windows work and none are broken!  That’s a win!

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And here is the kitchen area.  We will use this as a template to build our own…probably.

But my sweet hubby said I can’t start on it until he makes a pad for it in the backyard where it will be parked during the reno.  And he has to do that before the neighbors report us.  If you’ve ever seen Breaking Bad, you know what I’m worried about…

 

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And she followed me home! Prowler Reno, pt. 2

So…

it followd

 

On Sunday, my sweet hubby and I made the trip to go pick up my trailer!  If you missed part 1 of my new series where I explain WHY IN THE WORLD I bought a vintage trailer, you can read that here.

This is my excited face when I realized she was actually FOLLOWING ME HOME!!  She wanted to be mine just as much as I wanted her!  Woot!

(Insert my sweet hubby’s unexcited face here.  But I’ll just leave that up to your imagination, cause he really is a long suffering man who doesn’t need his unexcited face splashed all over the Interwebs!)

First I need to disclose that both my sweet hubby and myself are complete novices in the hitching and unhitching a trailer concept.  Seems like it should be straightforward, but no. And unhitching the trailer is even harder than hitching it, BTW!  It’s actually faster to take the entire hitch off of the truck, it turns out.  Just so you know for next time.

But the REALLY hard part is directing the driver of the truck as to how to back the trailer up into your driveway!!  As in YOUR OWN driveway and NOT the neighbor’s yard. Who knew that when you wanted the back of the trailer to go right you have to turn the wheels of the truck left??

Anyway, after some minor setbacks and a trip from Maryland, through Pennsylvania, and back to Delaware, she is here.

And you know that feeling of when you buy furniture from a furniture store and you think that the furniture is going to be a great fit while you’re in the store, but then when you get it home IT SEEMS SO BIG!!!  Well, that is how I feel about the trailer now that it is sitting a little crookedly in my driveway.  Same trailer as before, I just have to stand a little closer to take the picture if I want to stand in my own yard.

I’m losing daylight and also battery power in my phone, so I will take BEFORE pictures of the inside of the trailer tomorrow…stay tuned.

 

What Is She Up To Now?…in which I reno my 1976 Prowler, pt. 1

The most important thing to know at the outset of this project is that I’m 50 and this is my goal for the rest of my life…

what is she up to

I’m not positive that I’ll ever wear clothing resembling this, but I don’t want to rule it out…just sayin’.

My daughter assures me that no one was ever going to say, “What a sweet old lady,” about me anyway, so I’m in the clear there.

Anyway, so this is what I’m up to now…

On Facebook Marketplace I saw THIS…

original ad

(Except, she wasn’t sold yet, I took this picture after…)

And I knew I HAD TO HAVE IT!!

Now, in addition to wanting to be known for being a little eccentric, I also have ALWAYS WANTED TO RENOVATE A CAMPER!!

 wanted to renovate a camper.
I LOVE CAMPING!!!  My parents used to take us camping in a pop-up trailer every summer.  We traveled all the way from Ohio to California one epic summer  That was the summer I went down a water slide for the first time, we drove THROUGH a tree, and we discovered that my little brother and my mom should definitely NOT be allowed to be in canoe together!

Camping always meant playing UNO and making homemade doughnuts and riding bikes and hiking nature trails until we were pock marked with massive mosquito bites and lost track of the day of the week.  It is some of the best memories of my childhood and times I always wanted to recreate with my own kids in my own camper.

I also have an entire page on my Pinterest.com page entitled “Happy Camper Ideas” whereas I have saved all of the pics of campers that have made me wistful and made me laugh…and the ones that made me say, “I can do that!”

So, I arranged with the seller (and with my hubby) to go see on it on a Thursday afternoon.

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And that’s how she became mine.

Stay tuned and follow along.  I’m going to take you through the renovation step by step, and we will find out together whether I am a little bit crazy or a little bit unwell!!

 

How I’m saving my own life right now…on living with Depression

I have a mental illness. It is called Depression.

I’ve probably had it my entire life, according to my doctor, but one day 10 years ago my life detonated and lay in shreds all around my feet…and then those pesky brain chemicals just couldn’t keep up anymore.

Before then, I was a pretty decent ringmaster of the crazy circus that made up my emotional life. I could alternatively hide what I was ashamed of about myself and fake control and happiness in front of others.

But then the worst thing that could happen, did. And my old wine skins burst.

And ever since then I’ve been living with “The Big D”.depression1

My Depression:

Maybe my depression is different than anyone else’s, but it has taken me 10 years to get to this place…where I’m ready to publicly acknowledge and write about my life with depression,

But more importantly, how I’m saving my own life right now.

I’ve always felt very ashamed of and embarrassed about having Depression. I’ve suffered from the stigma associated from it, of course. I’ve weathered well-meaning friends and family saying all the things that well-meaning (but not depressed) people tend to say.

(I liken it to taken divorce advice from someone who has never been divorced, parenting advice from someone who isn’t a parent, or weight loss advice from a skinny person.  All the books and courses in the world will not teach you what it FEELS like to be depressed.  And even how I feel with Depression may not be the same as how you feel.)

I take objection to even the definition of Depression.  They call it a “mood disorder”.  I don’t think of it as a mood that I’m in.  To use the term mood denotes something changing with the whims of the day, or something fleeting, or something insignificant.  Like I’m a hormonal teenager.  Like I’m being immature or cowardly or manipulative.

Instead, I’d call it a “thinking disorder”.  Instead of affecting my lungs or kidneys or another body part, it affects my thinking, which then directs my behavior and mood.  Thinking irrational thoughts IS the disease.  Thinking that you’re worthless, hopeless, replaceable, pointless, and better off dead IS IRRATIONAL and is part of the illness…and it is not the truth.  depression

My depression is being so happy on the inside, but not able talk to people at my daughter’s engagement party, so that people imagine I’m upset.

My depression is having to give myself a pep talk before performing mundane household chores.   And not having the will to give myself the pep talk a lot of days.

My depression is spending too much time on Facebook, watching TV or reading as a means of distracting myself so I do not have to think the thoughts in my own head.

My depression is…for some reason I can’t figure out…feeling like the only place to be is on the floor of my bedroom.  On these particularly awful days, I feel a physical weight in my arms and legs and a palpable exhaustion that makes me prefer to sleep than have to battle through it.  On the floor, I cry a lot and I cry hard and I wish that I could find a dark whole and crawl inside of and simply cease to be.  I call these “Attacks of Depression” because that is what it feels like…an actual assault…and I don’t always know what triggers them. And sometimes I do.

My depression is good days and bad days…sometimes lots of each in a row.

How I’m saving my own life…

First, it’s this…deciding to be transparent and authentic about my depression.  Yes, I’m still embarrassed.  Yes, I’m still worried about how others will react or treat me.  But I’m choosing courage over fear and today, at least, courage is winning.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I texted a friend when I felt an attack coming on because I believed she would pray for me.

Right then.

I was really terrified to text her.   An email would have taken too long to craft and explain.  But a text? Maybe?

“Pray for me, please. Depression is rearing its ugly head and I am feeling paralyzed.”

I was feeling so very vulnerable and afraid.  I really didn’t want to talk at that moment and I was afraid that my phone would ring…

And the dots showed up as she was answering  me.  I could feel my heart quicken…

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A wave of relief washed over me because I knew that somebody knew. And although I was alone, I didn’t feel alone in my pain just then.

And then I left my phone and my computer downstairs and I sat on the floor of my room and cried.  Hard.

But then, a thought that I’d never had before came into my mind.  It was, “You’re not worthless, you have a mental illness that makes you think that you are.”

And my tears slowed as I repeated that sentence over and over to myself.  And soon I was able to pray.  I said, “Dear Heavenly Father, please give me another perspective about myself than what I have about myself right now.”

And I starting thinking about my kids.  I thought about how my kids love me.

And how my husband loves me.

And my mom and dad love me.

And my former students love me.

And my friends love me.

And I started feeling that maybe, even though I don’t always feel it inside myself, that I am lovable because some really fine and wonderful human beings love me.

Lastly, I got up off the floor and I made myself some chicken salad and added some avocado and almonds for some healthy fats, and then I went to sit outside in the sunshine.

And as I sat there, eating a healthy lunch that I made for myself, sitting in the sunshine on a warm afternoon, I felt a feeling of pride…

I just saved my own life today.

I cared for myself.  Yes, I asked for help from a friend and from God, but it was my bravery and humility and action on my own behalf that did it.  I do know how to care for myself, and I feel like I can trust myself to be good to my physical body and my mental health.

I have to be real here.  I have a mental illness and that means I will have more sitting-on-the-floor-of-my-bedroom days in the future.  They will be awful and they will feel like an assault.

But I’ve equipped myself with some new weapons with which to fight…

I can text a friend so that I’m not alone in my pain.

I can pray for a new perspective and courage.

I can remember that I have an illness, and I am a grown up and I can take care of myself. Just like if I was sick with pneumonia or anything else, there is a medical protocol.  I need to visit my doctor, take my medicine, take vitamins, eat well, and move my body.

And just like I wouldn’t get mad at myself for having pneumonia or a kidney infection, I don’t need to beat myself up about having Depression.  I can rest when I need to without feeling guilty or ashamed.

I have to remind myself that this illness is an illness of my thinking.  It goads me to dwell on thoughts that are not true or rational.  I’m not always able to control it, and I’m not always aware that my thoughts are irrational.  The mantra, “You are not ____, you have a mental illness that makes you THINK that you are ___” was a helpful one.  I must have read it somewhere on the Internet once, and it came back to me when I needed it.

I can live with The Big Angry D.  And I can save my own life.  I did it and I can do it again, and again, and again.  And I will.

 

 

 

Why a retired Homeschool Mom is the Best Candidate for Your Job: An open letter to the employers who aren’t paying attention to my resume.

Dear Future Employer:

First, every job posting is the same.  There is a description of the requirements and the qualifications of the ideal candidate.  I understand, my resume and cover letter is a little different, or maybe not different enough?

That’s because I can’t say I what I want to say on them.  So here, I will explain what will make me excellent at any professional job.

It is not because I finished my M.Ed. in one year to earn a new credential.

It is not because I know so much more than anyone else about the content of the position.

It is not because I have so much experience in the field that I am the most obvious choice in the universe.

business-people-represents-globalization-corporate-and-businessm

It is because I was a homeschool mom.

I know that the world of work does not recognize motherhood as a qualifier for professional employment.  Homeschooling does not give me recognition as a highly qualified educator according to the state department of education.

Yet, I submit that being a homeschooling mom is a terrific prerequisite for any job.

Before I began homeschooling, I was a professionally trained teacher.  I was very proud of all I knew about child development and learning theory.  But then my son, the beholder of my heart, when to kindergarten and did not learn the same as the other kids in his class.  I have written about this experience here.

Convinced of my ability to get him “back on track,” I quit my teaching job.  The plan was to help him get caught up and send him back to school in second grade.  However, by grade 4, he was still not reading.

The Ed.D. who tested my son looked at me with concern, even reproach, when he explained my son’s learning disabilities.  Finally he concluded with “I don’t know why you just don’t give up. Your son will never learn to read”.

To that I answered, “You’re wrong.  I will teach him to read.”

Being a mom means that whatever I don’t knowhow to do, I will learn.  When I declared that I would teach my son to read, I wasn’t depending on my professional qualifications as an educator.  I didn’t know the first thing about how to teach students with learning disabilities. It was my love for him that determined that I was going to learn what I needed to learn and do whatever I needed to do.

I read everything I could get my hands on and tried every suggestion I was given.  Progress was painfully gradual.  But as I learned, I adjusted. I came up with some of my own ideas.  I kept what worked and threw out what didn’t until finally he began to read.

Being a mom meant that I would be courageous, tenacious, optimistic, and hopeful. Being a mom meant that I was determined to try again after every setback.  Being a mom means getting into the messy and then cleaning it up.  It means that love wins when nothing else can.

Even though I do not know everything about the position I’m applying for, and although I have never done some of the required duties in a professional setting before, I can guarantee you have never met a more determined learner.

And though I do not have years of experience in your specific requirements, I will not quit after a few setbacks.  I will work until the goal is achieved.  You can trust me to care for the thing that matters to you the most. I will not disappoint you.

Because I gave 17 years to homeschooling my kids – and teaching many other people’s kids, too.

Because I sacrificed my career goals to assure my children could have any future they chose.

And I will never regret it.

But my life isn’t over just because my kids have grown up.  I still have a lot to offer and a lot that I still want to accomplish, but first, I need the professional opportunity.

So look no further.  Hire me.  I’m the candidate you’ve been looking for.

Because  it isn’t the credential or the experience that is the most important element in your search for a great employee.  It is that unquantifiable  x-factor that every employer looks for on the resume and tries to clue in on in the cover letter. My courage, my determination, my creativity, my optimism, my tenacity, my never-give-up-until-the-job-is-done strength of character is what makes me the best candidate.

And I became those things
while being a homeschooling mom.

 

I

Can We Please Say #BlackLivesMatter Already?

I want to edit my post from last year.

Because since then I’ve learned some things…I’ve learned a lot.  And I learned that I was wrong to suggest we should stop saying #BlackLivesMatter.

I sat in front of the evening news last night and cried as I watched a report about a sniper targeting Dallas police, killing 5 and wounding many more.

Even more disturbing is there has been two more Black men murdered by white police this week, one who was simply sitting in the driver’s seat of his car and had been stopped for a burned-out tail light.  His child was sitting in the backseat while his father was killed in front of him.  Horrifying.

When will this end?  When will we say it?  When will we mean it?  Can we please say #BlackLivesMatter already?

I don’t think Caucasian people, like me,  really understand what it is like to experience racism or that we take our white privilege for granted without even realizing we are doing it. I’m only beginning to understand it myself, but I do empathize with people of color and I am passionate about equality and justice. In fact, I’ve completed my graduate degree in the area of Equality, Ethics and Justice in Education.

The only way to heal our nation of this disease of institutional racism, or any problem for that matter, is to finally admit that we do have a problem. We need to have these conversations. We need to stop blaming the victims. We need to stop acting like everything is just fine as it is. We need to stop being offended by every notion that disagrees with our own worldview.

And lastly, could we need to acknowledge #Black Lives Matter already! 

black lives matter

Black. Lives. Matter.

Brown lives matter.  Police lives matter.  Gay lives matter.  Children’s lives matter. People with disabilities lives matter.

But none of these lives will matter until Black Lives Matter.

Really.

Until we realize the beauty and potential and intelligence and talents we are squandering when we devalue and marginalize human beings.

Until we understand that by enjoying our white privilege to the detriment of an entire group of fellow humans, and that by participating in the systems and structures that benefit us, not because of merit, but by the accident of being born with fairer skin, and we speak up to shut down those systems and structures, we will continue to perpetuate this racism.

Long ago, when the Europeans wanted to get rid of and take over land that was inhabited by native peoples, they began calling them “savages.”

The reason to refer to them as savages was because it was easier to kill savages than to kill human beings.

All we do now is redefine our savages. Instead of savages, they are called slaves, or crack whores, or welfare mamas, or criminals. It’s all the same idea. It’s easier to kill or punish or oppress a slave, or a crack whore, or a welfare mama or a criminal than to it is to kill or punish or oppress a human being.

Instead, we need to proclaim #BLACKLIVESMATTER or even #OUR LIVES MATTER
We need to stop dehumanizing and objectifying those who are different than we are and insist that all are referred to as HUMANS.

This is not about being colorblind.  If you are reading that I am advocating colorblindness, then you are misunderstanding me. I think we SHOULD recognize and honor the differences that make us unique and wonderful.

What I am advocating is to stop dehumanizing other human beings and realizing that by acknowledging #BlackLivesMatter we ARE saying that all lives matter.

If we considered all humans human, even those who are different in beliefs, or lifestyle, or gender, or sexual orientation, or income, or race or whatever differentiates us, then we might have a harder time hating them.

If we considered human beings a part of “us” instead of “them,” it might be harder to go into their church buildings and slay them. Or call them names. Or deny basic human rights. Or underfund their schools. Or a host of other indignities that have been carried out either directly and indirectly against people of color in our nation

And it might be harder to fly a flag that is the symbol of their oppression over your state capital building in the guise of honoring history.

The ghastly treatment of Black people in our nation presents to us an opportunity to honestly look at the systemic dysfunction in our nation that allows these acts to be carried out. We need to genuinely evaluate what we are communicating to our young Caucasian men that is somehow promoting these macabre ideals. We need to hold our leaders accountable to promote logical and equitable solutions. Lastly, we need to stop the rhetoric of separation and marginalization of humans into categories of the good “us” as opposed to the undeserving “them,” and recognize that we are all human beings deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Becoming a Teacher

By Lori Michelle

(I’m an award-losing author…and here is yet another edition.  In the attempt to get my writing “out there” I enter contests from time to time, and this is my latest award-losing entry.  But having my own blog means I have my own little forum for growing in my writing.  Hope you enjoy reading about how God taught me about being a REAL teacher.  If you would be so kind as to comment, or ask questions, I’d be so grateful.  Thanks.)

Two months after I graduated college with my BS in Elementary Education, I got my first job.  I became a professional educator, as in I was finally getting paid to do the job for which I received my formal education.

But I didn’t become a teacher until years later.

And my guru in the art of learning would be my own son.

Warren* was a feisty, friendly, full-of-life five-year-old the year we enrolled him in kindergarten.  When I dropped him off at school in the morning, I would watch my little toe headed boy with his yellow jacket and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle backpack bound into the school building without looking back.

After a few weeks, he began to change.  His exuberance and excitement about school diminished. He was overstimulated when came home from school.  He was grumpy and overactive and even sometimes violent towards his little sisters.  I noted the change, but felt it was simply an adjustment to school.

A few months went by and suddenly I began getting phone calls from the teacher concerning his behavior.  Warren had hit a student over the head with his lunchbox.  Warren had pulled down a girl’s pants in the lunch line.  Warren had spent yet another afternoon in the “time out” corner.

I began to wonder to myself, “There must be a pattern here.  There must be a reason.”  So I began marking on the calendar every time I got a call from the teacher or principal.

At the parent-teacher conference, I brought my calendar with me.

The teacher began to show me evidence outlying her concerns for my son.  It was March of his kindergarten year, and Warren could not write his name, much less any other letters of the alphabet.  Warren could not tie his shoes.  Warren spent more time in “time out” than out of it.

I brought out my calendar and pointing to the pattern that had emerged, I asked, “What happens every 10 days?”

The teacher surveyed my notes and exclaimed, “I change out the centers every 10 days!”

So every time my son had finally began to learn a new skill, the centers were changed and he had to start over again.  My son was frustrated.  Even though he was bright, he wasn’t learning at the pace of the other students.  The constant change and struggle to keep up was making him feel defeated and incapable and angry.  He acted out his exasperation the only way his five-year-old emotions knew how.  His behavior was communication…my son had unmet needs and required my advocacy, my voice, and my intervention.

So, I made a radical move.  I quit my job as a professional educator and decided to home educate my son.  That was in 1993 and homeschooling was not yet a “movement.”  At least not in the area of North Carolina where I lived.   (There were only a handful of homeschooling families in our entire county, and my resignation caused quite a ruckus in my church and among my teacher friends…but that’s another story)homeschooling

I said I will only homeschool for a couple years…just until I get him caught up.  After all, I had taught many children to read as a professional educator!  I knew just how to help him!

Except I didn’t.

I tried everything I knew from my years of being a professional educator.  I tried every curriculum or method I could find.

I read to him scads of books on all kinds of topics.  We did science experiments.  We took nature walks.  We spent hours at the library or at the museum.  He spent ages building, inventing, playing, and climbing.  Anything that stimulated his interest, we explored, from rocks to medieval castles to cooking.

Yet, in the fourth grade, my sweet son said to me, “I just want to go to the library and pick out a book and read it!”

Nothing I tried worked to help my sweet, bright, fun-loving, feisty son learn how to read!

I reached out to a Doctor of Education for help.  He performed a full battery of psychological and educational tests on my son.  On the day that I was to find out the results, I arrived full of hope and faith that this man would finally have the answer to my son’s learning difficulties.

In a nondescript room with only a small table between us, the professional educator labeled my son’s learning disabilities one by one.  He attempted to communicate to me the severity of the situation.  I kept asking him what could be done, but obviously, I simply wasn’t grasping the immensity of the problem. He finally burst out, “Your son is NEVER going to read!  Why don’t you just give up?”

I drew in my breath slowly and forced back hot, angry tears.

“Sir,” I began shakily, “I will not give up on him because I am his mother!  You are wrong.

  1. SON. WILL. READ!”

I collected my purse and my papers and I stood to leave.

I became a teacher that day.  I decided that I would do whatever it took to teach my son to read.

And I did.

By the end of 5th grade, Warren could read on the 2nd grade level.  By the end of 7th grade, he was on the 5th grade level.  When Warren was in the 8th grade, he decided he wanted to go back to formal schooling.

He graduated from high school when he was 16, and graduated from college with a B.S in Business at age 19.

Today, he is an Assistant Vice President for a major financial company in New York City.

When Warren went back to school, so did I.  I renewed my teaching credentials and went back to the classroom, too.

But this time, not as a professional educator, but as a teacher.  My years outside of the formal classroom with my son had taught me more about the true nature of education than all of my college courses and years of experience combined.

I now teach special needs children who have difficulty learning in the traditional way.  I believe in them until they can believe in themselves.

I treat my students as if they were my own son or daughter…looking for that unmet need that calls for my advocacy, my voice, and my intervention.  I utilize my knowledge as a professional educator, but I devote my heart as a teacher.