The Perfect Family…That’s Us!

I’m not exactly sure what those of you who have never met me & my family think we are really like.  The impersonal aspect of the online world is that we can make people believe (on purpose) whatever our agenda is.  At the same time, I think that by virtue of not sharing everything about ourselves and our families, a false impression might ensue.  Not on purpose, by any means, but because we don’t share all the nitty-gritty of our lives.  After all, who’s interested in the regular everyday events that take place behind our walls?  That would be boring, right?  And nobody wants to be Negative Nelly.

For years I was involved in a homeschooling support group which was predominantly moms who attended.  (Seems dads don’t attend them, much.)  No matter the topic for the evening, most people tended to share their successes rather than their failures.  They were looking for answers, and there was always people willing to dole out their perspective answers.  There wasn’t much negativity at these meetings (opposing views, yes, but not evenings of negativity).  What curriculum worked for particular learning styles? Who were great music instructors? How to get your kid to finish their math?

I didn’t think the women were being unrealistic, painting their lives as wonderful at home when they really weren’t.  I just think we focused on the positive.


Rude kids…of the perfect family.

I had a lady over just once shortly before our big family started to travel.  If I recall, there was some physical interaction between 2 of my kids, like somebody hit the other person in the head or something like that.  I think there was a burst of verbal abuse between siblings. This visiting woman visibly started to relax.  She was relieved to see that my kids weren’t the angels that she had envisioned!  And she excitedly told me so!!

I was quite shocked, actually, and gave a chuckle.  Having never socialized with this lady and her children she had no idea what my household was like until that day I invited her over.

She realized that she had taken all the good things all the women had shared over the months at the homeschool group, and concentrated them into one Perfect-Homeschooling-Mom (that has never ever existed).  She thought I was it…or at least one of a few.

The first winter we were living in our rooftop tents, Laars was still sleeping with Everette & I.  We weren’t aware of it yet, but he was having issues with certain things in his diet, affecting his behavior and probably his brain.  I just knew that some days were much longer and painful than others, and often we could tell the moment he woke up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed.

One of those mornings before we were even out of our tent Laars yelled out, “I HATE YOU!”  Ah, welcome to another long day.

A short while later Pat, a grandma lady who was tenting down by the lake with her hubby but whose car was parked next to our van & tents, said, “I was so happy to hear Laars say ‘I hate you!’ this morning.  Now I know you are just a normal family!

We all have ideas what somebody is like without really getting to know them.  Many people have ideas about what I/we might be like, without necessarily being aware of their own pre-conceived ideas.  How do I know this?  Because more times than I can count somebody has sized me up and down and then said, “I can’t believe you’ve had 9 kids!”  Why??? Because they subconsciously were expecting an obese woman (perhaps in a denim jumper).

So, today I got to thinking that maybe my blog makes it appear that I’m a put-together mama fully engaged in my children’s lives, and that every day my kiddos are abounding in their creativity, confidence and friendliness.

It ain’t so.

From comments over the years I surmise you think:

  • I’m overweight from all the pregnancies
  • I slave in the kitchen making nutritional & scrumptious meals
  • I am well organized (or sloppy as hell) and a hard worker
  • We have a strong marriage
  • Our kids’ clothes are neat and tidy and we have good hygiene
  • We do endless activities and crafts
  • I am well connected with my children’s needs
  • Our children never fight
  • I spend endless hours with my homeschooled children pouring over textbooks and marking their work
  • I am superwoman getting my housework and grocery shopping done
Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love

NOPE!  I mean, Yes I’ve got some extra weight on.  But most of the other statements….nope.

  • I don’t enjoy working in the kitchen most days; I feel accomplished if I make one good healthy meal per day.
  • I am decently organized but I am consistently lazy and a great procrastinator.
  • Everette and I have been together 30 years (end of Aug) but it certainly hasn’t been easy.  Worth it, yes.  Struggles, absolutely.  We have a strong commitment to keep working on it, so that’s worth a whole lot!!
  • Our kids might wear the same clothes for days and their feet might stink.  But they’re happy.
  • I imagine hanging out with the kids all day engaging in games and crafts and science experiments…but I rarely do.
  • The kids yell; some say “I Hate You!” and slam doors.
  • We are allergic to textbooks (just kidding, but we don’t use them on the whole since we find them boring & unengaging) and don’t do busy paperwork so there’s nothing to mark.
  • I’ve never been a duster of the home unless I know company is coming.
  • Everette is the main grocery-shopper for the family and has been for about 13 years or more.

Ok, so now that’s off my chest..I feel better.

Now you know I’m just another mom trying to do my best….well sometimes I don’t even think I’m honestly trying my best.  I’m just existing, making it thru another day.  Doing my own selfish thing while my kids fend for themselves.

But at least now you know what a Perfect Family really looks like!

Wedge of Lime and Robin Egg Blue

We’re settling in for a while.  We live Life on the Whim so we are never quite sure When, Where or How we will be living our lives from one week to the next.  But with my sister now here in the area we’ve decided to settle in a bit more, and we’re welcome to make improvements to our 2 hotel suites.

So we’ve taken the Liberty.

When we came to Hotel Perico the interior walls were ecru, with 2 bedrooms in baby blue.  The suites are naturally pretty dark so we wanted some spunk and color.  We had busied ourselves with sanding and repainting some wood furnishings we already had in our space, or salvaged from the excess of the hotel.

We were already incorporating Robin Egg Blue.  And Fire Engine Red.  Wedge of Lime just didn’t seem quite right for me.

Improvements is “in the eye of the beholder” and nine of us behold things quite differently from one another.  Why on earth I let the 15yo pick the paint…Gosh, I don’t really know.  Except that when I complained to Everette that the newly filled-in-doorway-become-wall in her room had left brown cement-mud all over the other wall making it look like splattered mold, he suggested we paint them before moving two of her sisters into the same room.  And to get a better deal on the paint he wanted me to use the same color elsewhere in the suites so he could buy a 5 gallon bucket.

Maret has artistic flare, and definite ideas of what works and what doesn’t.    As much as I admire her fashion, color-sense and creativity,  I now know that we don’t like the same greens.

Green is my FAVorite color, soothing and serene.

We’ve used greens in various tones in several of the houses we’ve built, and I’ve always been happy with them.  But, Wedge of Lime…a bit too yellow for me…over-powering on big spacious walls.Wedge of Lime

I thought it was a mistake after I sent Everette to the paint store to get that humungous bucket but I forewarned him not to judge.  To just get the paint and be quiet about the whole thing.  He’s had enough experience to know that at first paint on the wall can look atrocious but when its got flooring and fixtures and things put on the walls it can make a huge difference.

So he bought it.  “Does Shrek mean anything to you?” he said while he repeatedly wiped imaginary snot from his nose and flung it on the walls.

Support– Thanks Hon.

We started with the girls room…Danaka and I got the two walls done the first night, so we could move her bed in the next day.  I was getting tired of the renovations, the upheaval, the mess of displaced foodstuffs.  Not to mention I was stretched past my comfort zone:

  • I was working on a guest blog post that needed pics of our ‘home’ but I wanted the reno finished first so our place looked more colorful;
  • we were having a ‘1,000 Days of Travel’ party and I wanted to put together a montage of our travels but only had time to get the first video-of-many done;
  • the internet was a constant nemesis, saying it would take up to 111,050 minutes to load up my video to share with the world….do you realize that’s more than 77 days to load ONE 8 minute video???
  • the kids were doing their second Murder Mystery Dinner and I fell into last minute dinner-rescuer;
  • we were having a BBQ with another big traveling family in a few days;
  • and then the following day Everette and Mitchell were flying north for work.

So we needed the push on…or I would be insane by the time the guys returned from BC, having lived in disarray for an unnecessary month.

In the pic below you can see the wall where there used to be a doorway.  It was filled with brick, then mudded over.  The tiled step was hammered out of there, too.  That’s the room we first applied the Wedge of Lime, but in the pic it looks much more yellow than it really is.

Doorway bricked up, step removed, walls mudded then painted with Wedge of Lime.

Doorway bricked up, step removed, walls mudded then painted with Wedge of Lime.  Three girls and a big dog share the ‘upper patio’.

My sweet husband got a start on the big kitchen project Saturday morning along with Danaka, making it happen to please his slave-driving wife…who was once again suffering from sciatic pain.  And he sent her (ME) off for an hour-long body massage with hot stones while he painted love messages on the kitchen wall.

The long kitchen/bedroom area BEFORE

Two ends of the same space.  Our original kitchen that we added a cabinet to on the floor for more counter space.  But no oven/stove, and the fridge was in the other space which was really the teens bedroom (with no door).

Two ends of the same space. Our original kitchen that we added a cabinet to on the floor for more counter space. But no oven/stove, and the fridge was in the other space which was really the teens bedroom (with no door).

The kitchen (no more bedroom) is long and not the greatest functioning, but we are thrilled with the improvement and the addition of a full-size gas oven/stove!!  These pictures give a much better idea of what the Wedge of Lime really looks like.  Vibrant and Fun!

Our new colorful kitchen.

Our new colorful kitchen.

I LOVE the Robin Egg Blue cabinet and shelves.  We have a larger open space for baking now.  There’s a bit of space at the window we hope to add a narrow bar table and a couple of stools for sitting and looking out to the cobblestone driveway through the shrubs & trees outside our window.

The art, shelves and cabinetry have totally calmed down the Shrek-green and now we are all starting to love the fun of the colors.

Good choice on the color, Maret.  You did well.

What rooms next?  Not sure if we’ll do any more of the green.  We’ll have to think on that one.

We did, however, add some red to the main bathroom.  We had a difficult blue to work with, and I had drawn a blank as to what to do with it.  Until I saw a line-up of spray paint can lids in royal blue, that smokey blue (our fixtures) and bright red.  That gave me the idea and so I just painted the cabinet doors, and a towel rack with the red to add that apple-splash.  So the bathroom is red-white-and-(not navy)-blue.

I distressed the red doors and white boxes to make them look older so I didn't have to repaint the entire box.  Cheat, I know!!

I distressed the red doors and white boxes to make them look older so I didn’t have to repaint the entire box. Cheat, I know!!

Now we have to stay long enough to enjoy this rainbow of colors.  And maybe I can sneak in a bit more of that Robin Egg Blue somewhere.

Worldschoolers Unite: Well, 3 Families Did!

What a hectic weekend….glad that weekends aren’t our only time to socialize.  The laptop lifestyle provides a flexible time schedule….we do actually have to work, but we can adjust our day/week/month to what suits us better. So getting 2 big traveling families together worked out best for a Monday afternoon and we invited our neighbor/friends Mark, Renee and their daughter, E to join us. The Inions have been in this area of Mexico for well over a year, and somehow we never knew it when we were here in early 2014.  But this time around we’ve run into them several times in town, just never got our families all together. With 2 big families you have an instant party.  Inions travel with their 9 children, and we with only 7 of our 9.  So between our 2 families we have enough for a full-fledged baseball game!! But we didn’t.

Stacey Inion with her youngest son, and Mark D.  Everette and Brent manning the BBQ

Stacey Inion with her youngest son, and Mark D.          Everette and Brent manning the BBQ

We had a Barbecue, and some played cards while others played frisbee on the open field.  There was plenty of talk….comforting talk where you are free to share not only your successes but more importantly your struggles without feeling judged for living outside of ‘Normal’.  Ideas were thrown around of how to handle some of our difficulties such as dealing with insurance, tourist visas and mail while you internationally travel.  No judgement, just help and camaraderie. These fearlessly independent world schooling families paused long enough for an afternoon together and a quick photo-shoot.  Before everybody goes on their merry traveling ways. You can check out Stacey’s post here.

What watermarked


Johnson tongue always showing up. Rude group of people. But you can see which parent to blame ;)

pic courtesy of Stacey Inion

pic courtesy of Stacey Inion

1,000 Days of Travel

Hard to keep things straight.  Our big family has been traveling most of the time since Sept 2007, so that’s 2,866 days…

since 2007

but we did move to Sooke (south Vancouver Island) to start a business and stayed 23 months.  So take that off the grand total and…

1,000 Days!!

1,000 Days!!

We’ve made it to ONE THOUSAND DAYS of Travel.

Its been a hectic week, and all my good intentions of putting together a montage of our 1,000 days of travel thru western USA and Mexico didn’t materialize.  I’ve got a bright kitchen now (we’ve been renovating) but the montage didn’t happen until later this afternoon and I only covered the USA in 2012.

But I chuckled as I went over the pictures and videos from not-quite 3 years ago.  I have some pretty silly family members that make me laugh.

And so I hope you’ll get a laugh, too, and enjoy it.  It’s only eight minutes long….but like I said, its only the USA so there’s still all of Mexico yet to come.

Stay Tuned for Baja California, Mexico.

PS  Very Late in posting this since the internet has been atrocious this week/end, even notifying that it would take more than 111,050 minutes to upload.

Eat Dirt and Rescue Birds

I think kids are natural nature lovers.  They would naturally play in the dirt (and many will eat dirt) but in our high-hygiene culture we train it out of them.  Ok, I’m fine with teaching kids to not eat dirt, but lots of people are paranoid of dirt and germs in general.  Hyper hygiene has turned out to be bad for us.

Its never been a problem for our family.  We’ve raised our kids playing in the dirt and being connected with nature.  Our first 2 girls were raised on acreage where we built our log house and later another house.  They played with snakes, washed shrews, climbed trees (beyond my comfort-zone) and watched an injured mouse give birth prematurely to her pups.  Their hands and feet were dirty but their hearts were full of wonder and joy.

The last 7 kids didn’t have the privilege of forested acreage, but they did have space to dig and explore, and have had more of an unconventional upbringing with our travels over the past nearly-8 years.  They, too, have played with snakes, collected ants, kept mice and hermit crabs as pets.  They play in the sand and dirt, creating fairy lands from their imaginations.

Our kids have had the typical flu every couple of years, but for the most part we have a pretty healthy crew.  That’s quite an accomplishment for 11 people not to be bringing sickness home to base camp.  And let me tell you, when base camp gets sick it can literally take 2 months to work its way thru the ranks.  Usually a few people miss it, but just one new patient getting sick every 5 days or so one-at-a-time means we’ve got sickies for 7 weeks or so.  Not Nice!  Although it wasn’t nice at the time, it was good to have all 7 kids get the chicken-pox at basically the same time.  Otherwise, we could have been in quarantine about a kazillion-weeks!!

I personally believe we’re not sick as often as other families for a few reasons:

  • their frequent/constant outdoor play which helps build up their immune systems
  • we predominantly eat whole foods (limit grains and sugars so they aren’t an everyday thing)
  • and from my consistent forgetfulness to remind them to “wash up” before a meal.


So with their outdoor play they find things.  Like rattlesnakes in the swimming pool, and bats hanging in the trees.  And birds that have fallen out of their nests.

Nest builders can be pretty quick, and us humans can be somewhat unobservant.  So how fast those swallows built their nests and laid those eggs above the hotel doorways, I’m not sure.  But before we knew it there were eggs and thus the invisible but obvious No Disturbing Signs went out.

They crapped at our doorstep.  Thankfully, never got our heads.  But they made a mess right where we step.  And pooping in the wind resulted in poop-patterns on our screens.  Thanks a lot!

We occasionally peeked into the nests, but its hard to get a glimpse between how tightly they build those nests under the roofline, and the darting parents desperate for us to keep-on-movin’.

Then one day we heard chirping from the 2 eggs and the busyness increased as the parents had 24-hour delivery service on the go.  And we wondered how long before the birds flew the coop and the poop stopped collecting.

Typically we find babies fallen, or possibly kicked out of the nest.  Is this natures way of eliminating the weaker?  Last year the girls ‘rescued’ a dove, and as diligently as they tried to save it it died.  As did this bird.


One Sunday in rainy season Everette and I sat outside our suite with our morning coffee and there, sitting beside us was a baby bird.  The nest was empty and we found the second baby in the same shrub beside us.

The hotel was busy with people coming and going as it usually is on weekends.  The cobblestone driveway was littered with other young birds trying desperately to take flight.  As far as I know, no babes were run over, and all seemed to disappear by the end of the day.

So I put together a few clips of the progression from eggs to flight, although we didn’t catch them actually in flight.  And now its time to remove the nests from above each of our doors, and clean up the crap.

Until next year.



I Basically Met Michael on His Way Out

One of the greatest things about our big family travel in Mexico has been the fantastic people we meet.  Well, that goes for travel wherever, not just Mexico.  My kids agree, whole-heartedly.

Sure, there’s been some great activities:

but all of the activities are made even better in their memories because of the people they associate with the event.


Staying here at Hotel Perico is good, but it’s made better because of the visitors that stop by and stay awhile!  Over-nighters come and go quickly, but those that stay longer tend to connect with at least somebody in our family.

Our kids are out and about all the time and are often peoples’ first introduction to our family.  Or Everette meets them because he’s cooking supper down at the terraza, or ‘covering’ over at Reception.

Me, I’m often the last to meet them because I have my face attached to a computer. Or my nose is in a book.  Or I’ve fallen asleep while listening to some subliminal audio.  Or I’m cleaning up dog hair or dirty dishes or dishes with dirty dog hair.  I don’t know what happens to my days, but I am 99% Home-Body.

When I finally do my own introductions the person already knows all about me!  It’s creepy, when from my perspective I’m meeting a stranger but from their perspective they already know who I am.   Security HectorToday I met Hector (this is not hotel security…this was outside of the bank) and he already knew that I had 9 kids.  And he says my husband told him that I was beautiful.  Thanks, Everette!!

I’m hopeful they aren’t telling people all our personal secrets….embellishments, possibly, but don’t tell all our secrets!

Well, Michael was one of those guys that basically met all the family except for me for the longest time.  I don’t think we even had a proper introduction, Michael and I.

He would quietly swim some laps at the pool while the kids and I were down there, or he’d say Hi! on his way to the office.  He was quiet, & reserved.  But we really never had a conversation, did we Michael?  Until maybe at your Farewell party where I commented to you that we hadn’t really talked before!!  Weird.

After his initial shock of “this is way out in the boonies and boring”  wore off a bit that first week, he seemed to be more active and engaged with the kids and his surroundings.  It’s totally understandable…Michael comes from NYC.  Not NYC proper, but close-enough, like Manhattan or something like that.  So when he steps out his front door he’s in town.  IN the city.

Not here at Perico!  Here you’re surrounded with space, and green, and a drive into any town of any size, shape or form.  Don’t get me wrong, Perico is a great place.  If it didn’t have plenty of up-sides then we wouldn’t still be here, would we?  But being out of town can be both good and bad, and coming from the Big Apple I can see this being…..remote!

So it was a big adjustment for Michael coming not only to Mexico, but to Perico.

And then getting plunked down in the middle of a loud gang of rainbow-coloured munchkins.  That’s Culture-Shock.

He couldn’t really ignore our kids, because his big-little sister (or should I say older-little, right Layne!?) got Michael and the kids hanging together as she is so good at herself.

Michael is the younger brother of Tina who helps manage the hotel here.  Because Tina welcomes our kids into her world, there was an obvious, mandatory overlapping when Michael arrived.

Tina organized events, like another day at Tobolandia.  They swam or played frisbee out in the field.  There were work projects she initiated to use the available work force…(p.s. did the dog run get finished?)  Some nights I’d go into the back of Reception and find Michael, Tina and the kids zonked, watching movies.

Michael endured some unusual conversations with Laars, I’m sure.  Talks of castles, and rocket ships, and his future inventions.  Michael listened to Laars explain how he was part dog…but Michael wasn’t convinced.  He was most certainly humored, but he wasn’t convinced.  And neither am I.

Anyways, we’re glad you stopped in at Hotel Perico, Michael, and at least our kids got to know you somewhat.  They talk about you, and the time while you were here. All very fondly.

We wish you well in your endeavors in the Big Apple.

Party On!



Pirate Murder Mystery: The Birthday Boy Must Have Done It!

Birthday Boy

An advantage (among many) of having a big family is you have an instant party, an instant baseball team, an instant cast for a theatrical.  Its all dependent on the willingness of participation.

Our Bonnie Lad turned 17 and became a suspect in our family’s first ever Murder Mystery Party. It was a ton of fun had by all, both those involved and the spectators–some of us started as spectators but then got cast into roles on the spot.  Best to Roll with the Punches!Birthday-Teen-Costume










The kids worked for days on creating costumes.  Toveli worked tirelessly on a gown for Gaelyn…the base of which was a down quilt with strips of fabric stitched onto it.  Such creative minds.  But the scene in the left picture was like a forecast of our baby girl getting fitted for a wedding dresses.  I’m not at all ready for that.  Our youngest daughter is only 11…but they’re all growing up so fast its a tad bit scary.

Somebody ‘gave’ Anders a black eye but when Danaka added some purple eyeshadow it was a great improvement.  She’s thankful Tina has taken her to hang out at Live Theatre with her sometimes, picking up little tips here and there.  Coming in handy.

Birthday Tradition

Usually for our family members’ birthdays they get to choose what the main meal is for thFoode day, and what type of dessert they want.  Sometimes they pick an activity, like going to the Guadalajara Zoo.

Mitchell rolled it all into one, wanting Make-Your-Own-Parfaits….meal and dessert all in one dish.  So that’s what we planned, and made Tapioca Pudding since his birthday happened to also be the National Tapioca Pudding Day.

The Murder Mystery

The Spectators

It’s always nice to have somebody available to watch us makes fools of ourselves!  So we had a willing audience….and even several last minute actors.  Like Bob, the one (bottom right) with a spider crawling out (or in) of his nose.  He soon willingly became Captain Hook the Third.


The Plot

Captain Jack Parrot went missing over night and was discovered chained and drowned beneath the boat, a big smile on his face.  Who done it?

The Setting

Amongst creepy crawlies and half-drunk bottles.  We’re introduced to the characters and realize everybody had a reason to wish Captain Jack Parrot dead.











The Characters

Blackbeard-Murder-MysteryBlackbeard was an irritating character who habitually tapped his foot to some unheard music.  He and Jack Parrot were rivals, after the same treasure.  Parrot had taken possession of the treasure and hidden it, infuriating Blackbeard.






Captain William Kidd (who needed a translator, Aunt Jo, to tell his story) was the son of Jack Parrot.  We aren’t sure what his issue was against Jack, but probably some family dysfunction going on there. Murder-Mystery-Captain-Kidd


Murder-Mystery-Nell-BirdNell, as the wife of Jack Parrot, was the beneficiary of his Last Will and Testament, so she had lots to gain by his death.  Besides the fact that she had a rival in the love-department.

Ben Gone was the only one alive now who knew where the treasure was hidden.  He obviously could claim the whole treasure for himself now.


Captain Hook lost both his hand and some money because of Jack Parrot.  Revenge ran deep with him.

I was Kim Hawkins, a young girl disguised and working as a cabin boy.  Jack knew of my identity and threatened to expose me, but I both needed and wanted this way of life.  Under no circumstances could I let him betray me.  (I was the one with the camera, so no picts of me.)

Elizabeth Goose (below left) had fallen off a gang-plank and was saved from drowning by Jack Parrot.  Her admiration for him turned to love, and when he was imprisoned, she visited him and swapped clothes so he could escape (as a lady).  Still married to Nell Bird, Jack didn’t commit to Elizabeth as she had desired and she felt betrayed.Pirates-Girls-Murder-Mystery

Girl Friday (aka Antonia Da Ville, middle pic above) had been abandoned on an island for 5 years by Jack Parrot.  Obviously she had reason to want that man dead.

Ann Bonney (above right) had just recently discovered who her father was, and she was furious of Jack impregnating her mother and abandoning them.











It was down to either Blackbeard….or Jack Parrots wife, Nell Bird.


And the verdict is…..


Should she walk the plank?  Or do we thank her for her contribution to bettering our lives?

Characters cropped


Most of the cast and the organizer, Tree.

**The whole idea behind doing a Murder Mystery is Thanks to the lovely Teresa Leonard who initiated this whole thing.  I have yet to introduce you to “Tree”.  I’ll have to do a post featuring her before she leaves the end of this month.