Treasure Quest

Have you ever watched Treasure Quest???  It’s one of those amazing shows that my boys watch on the Discovery Channel waiting through those long commercial breaks to see what they uncovered on the bottom of the sea.  You should check it out.

Jacob has been on a non-stop search for treasure around our yard, the park, the baseball park and even all across Georgia and Tennessee on our last trip.  So, I’m sure you can understand my surprise when we are sitting at Tommy’s Paradise Grill {an awesome new local hang out} and he claims to see one of the Odessey crew members.  I’m thinking he’s seeing things as he points to the far end of the umbrella tables…but he wasn’t!


The guys got to speak to Gregory Stemm , the co-founder and CEO of Odessey Marine Exploration!  I won’t even begin to start listing all the amazing treasure they have discovered, but you should stop by their site and check it out for yourself.

Jacob dreams of discovering historical treasure and it was such a thrill for him to meet Mr. Stemm.  He was so nice to stop and take a photo with the guys before leaving and I’m afraid we started to draw a ton of attention his way.  {The photo was taken with my phone, but it’s still pretty good.}

You never know who you might meet just around the corner!

Camping with Young Kids – Travel Tales

Who’s schooling who here?

We had no idea how educational and fun homeschooling would be! I could write a thousand posts about ways that Kim and I have been made better as a direct result of homeschooling our boys. We love it and I really can’t say a single negative word about it.

One of the reasons we started home schooling is because we wanted to be able to travel on short notice, sans crowds. The only way to get away from crowds in the best parts of Florida is to get away while the crowds are busy doing something else, like working, or going to school.

As it turns out, the travel made more of a difference than the rest combined. We didn’t know this going in, it’s just been a wonderful surprise!

I have one skill in particular in mind today. One that travel has taught us in a way that nothing else can. here is the word:


I looked up the word improvise because I thought it would make for some awesome blog post fodder. I was right!

Who knew that there was a musical element to the word? I didn’t! In fact, the real root of the word is more in performing and speaking than I knew. I thought it was more like a mechanical thing, like the time I used a 2-liter coke bottle for a water reservoir on my ’51 Ford Pick-Up. But read this:

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I love the way the musical element changes my thinking on the word. Make music, sing, on the spur of the moment, making use of whatever you have…invent! That is a life skill I want to have and I want to teach!

It makes me think of a Travel Tale! One that I hope encourages anyone who is thinking of staying home for all the various reasons people stay home. The most common of which are that:

  • they think it’s too hard to travel with kids (especially young kids)
  • they think it’s too expensive to travel with kids (or without them!)
  • they don’t know where to go, or what to do.

I think this story illustrates that, if you improvise, you can have an amazing time…right now!

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Mark Twain

Aspen, Colorado – June, 2000

This is going way back! AJ was five and Jacob had just turned two! We flew from Tampa to Denver and rented a Jeep. We had no itinerary, no reservations, nobody to visit, no schedule at all other than a return flight in about a week! That is definitely how we roll and we recommend it highly!

We’ve never thought much about traveling with kids, we just do it and it’s fine. In fact, it blows “fine” out of the water; it’s sublime! Sure we deal with problems on airplanes, and we’ve had our challenges with connecting flights. We’ve had the long road trips with the “I need to pee.” and “are we there yet?”

That’s why we go by motorhome now. But the move to a motorhome was just a slightly better (in some ways) mode of travel. The travel itself is the goal, the transportation is just part of the fun! Bringing the kids and seeing their faces when they see something incredible for the first time is absolutely amazing, every time, even when they get bigger than you! (that is a whole other subject!)

Back to Aspen…

So, we wound our way through a few towns and ended up in Aspen. I think we spent a night on the way, and then we got to Aspen. I had been there once before during ski season and I wanted to see it in summer.

I was also very much looking forward to the extremely rare pleasure of showing Kim some place that I had been and she had not. Her mom is the Travel Agent, not mine.

Aspen was great, but we had a problem. The hotel rooms in Aspen are the ones with the $$$$ next to them in the guide book. We wanted one with the $ or maybe the $$ designation. Not going to happen in Aspen. We found a great room, but it was $300 a night and we had a few nights to go! Not in the budget.

We had to improvise. Here is what we did:


Y’all got a Wal-Mart around here?

Our travels have a long standing relationship with Wal-Mart and this is where it all began. We headed to the local Wal-Mart and made a bee-line for the camping gear!

We had not planned on camping, we had never been camping as a family, we didn’t know what camping areas were nearby but we had a map and we were in the middle of some of the most incredible natural beauty on earth, so we figured we’d find a spot.

We grabbed the essentials, it was all right there. We picked up a huge tent, sleeping bags, pillows, lanterns, folding camp chairs (another lasting love), towels, food, plates…everything. We got everything for about $200.00 and loaded up the Jeep and rolled out searching for adventure.

Cool RV

We couldn’t afford one of these, so we got a tent!

Marble, Colorado

We found that adventure in Marble, Colorado! What an amazing area! Marble is a tiny little town and we followed a mountain dirt road after the pavement ended, heading into the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness Area.

We had already had some fun off-road experiences in Aspen, but these roads were nuts! Just wide enough for the Jeep and a long way down! After a few hair raising minutes, we found our way to a huge and beautiful riverside campsite.

We set-up camp next to the river and had a blast! We roasted marshmallows by a huge campfire and took baths in the icy river water. AJ is still traumatized by the memory! 🙂 We hiked around and did a bunch of exploring by Jeep.

Crystal Mill

The road in was a huge part of the fun and we keep trying to find better and better places to drive off-road, like Moab, Utah. While in the Marble area, we explored deep into the wilderness and saw the much photographed Crystal Mill, near the mountain ghost town of Crystal. Tons to see and do in this area.

We stayed three nights and finally packed-it up! It was a blast and we would recommend it to anyone! You have to get out there, have to leave the pavement and the roadside Motels. Explore, find adventure, improvise!

Visit Monday Memories at Planet M Files for more memorable posts!

I Wish I Learned History Like This!

Jacob's book

Did you know that we are one of “Those Homeschooling Families?” Yes, that’s us!

When we first started homeschooling I bought exactly the books my oldest son would have been using in school that year. I didn’t want him to miss a thing. Well, that was an easy way to stress us both out! We had a stack of textbooks, workbooks, teacher manuals, and more piled up on the table every day. We were doing the same boring stuff, only faster!

Then I started homeschooling two boys with all the books they both needed, and I couldn’t be found behind the mountain of books. For us, it turned out to be a big waste of time and money. I had to change everything a couple months into the school year. Live and learn they say, right?

Now we learn {I learn too!} by reading wonderful books and working off of them. What a concept! All the work relates to a certain time in history and helps to make it more memorable with out memorizing facts.

My son, Jacob, wasn’t that interested in reading for years. Last year he really fell in love with reading all on his own. I guess it was just “his time” to start loving the wonderful world of books. Now I can’t pry a book out of his hands!

Shades of Gray is his latest school book. I think he’ll finish tomorrow, and he spent hours reading it today. Robinson Crusoe was his book of choice at the bookstore a few weeks ago. What’s not to love about that kind of learning? He remembers everything he reads and so does my other son, AJ.

They read on the porch, in their beds on rainy days, at the park, and on the couch. I read to Jacob with him cuddled up next to me…love that!

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This is on one of Jacob’s favorite shirts {his lucky fishing shirt}. Can you believe all these brilliant leaders in history were homeschooled?

Have you ever thought about homeschooling? It has been a blessing to our family in so many ways!

Hooked on Books?

books sign

Are you hooked on books? I know our family is!

With all the reading we do, books can pile up fast and start to take over the house!  This is where Hooked on Books comes to the rescue!  We take in all the books we’ve finished reading and they give us credit for more books!  It’s a win/win situation if I ever saw one!

       books outside

The store is located in Fisherman’s Village, which is built out over the water into Charlotte Harbor. There’s a marina right behind the bookstore and hotel rooms above it. So they get a lot of tourist looking for that perfect book to read by the water.    It’s a wonderful place to shop, eat, or grab a cup of coffee.

Check out this big bag of books that we’ve been collecting.  Time to make a trip to Hooked on Books!     

books bag

Today I drove Jacob up there because the bag was a little on the heavy side. Most of the time the boys go up there on their bikes to trade the books in.  It’s just a couple of blocks from our house.  They do sell new and used books so you can find the latest and greatest at any time.    

books jacob

  The boys have even used the store credit to buy Christmas and birthday gifts.  They love to shop on their own and always find the perfect books for us!  

books inside

Take a look at the inside!  You can do a little people watching and enjoy a cup of tea while sitting in this cozy spot. 

books inside 2

From these seats you can sit and watch the marina traffic, which can be very interesting as people try to park their boats in the slips!

books last photo

Here’s what Jacob found today.  Doesn’t everyone need a book on pirates?  At least we didn’t bring home a whole bag! 

It’s a great way to save money and I feel like we aren’t wasting the books that we’ve read.

Julia at Hooked on Houses is hosting Hooked on Fridays today…go check it out!

Are there any bookstores like this near you?

The Wonder of Music – Daily Thanks

When griping grief the heart doth wound, and doleful dumps the mind opresses, then music, with her silver sound, with speedy help doth lend redress.William Shakespeare

Audience of One
Audience of One

Thank you Lord for music!  We love music in its many forms.  We especially love the music that comes from our two boys.  Both play the piano well and both are learning more every day.  AJ with the guitar, and Jacob on violin.

Just yesterday, Jacob had the most amazing suggestion. He said he should bring his violin to play for Mrs. Mock, a family friend well up in years who is being visited by Hospice daily now.  She loved her concert and even got into the spirit when he started rockin’ “Old McDonald”!

Thank you Lord for music, and for the wonderful heart of a wonderful boy!

1/21/09 Author’s Note:  Mrs. Mock passed away last week.  She died at home in her sleep at the age of 94.

Blessing Tree

I‘d be hard pressed to come up with a family tradition I love more than what we did tonight.  I’m not saying there isn’t one, but right now I can’t think of it.   Tonight, we did the Christmas Tree. 

A Christmas Tree is a pretty special thing no matter how you cut it (hah!), but thanks to the foresight of my amazing bride, our tree has really become an amazing thing!  This is because of the wonderful habit she developed when we were first married: whenever we travel to a new place or even a favorite place for the third or fourth time, we get a Christmas Tree ornament to hang on our tree.  At first I thought it was cool, but now I’m just without words.  Kim, the boys, and I all working around the tree as the boxes are unpacked and every few seconds someone exclaims “Yellowstone!”, “New Zealand!”, “Cabbage Key!”, “Stonehenge!”.  It ends up taking hours because we laugh and tell stories about the trips to all the places we’ve been together.  When the rare “pre-kid” ornament pops up we get the privilege of actually telling the story ourselves rather than having one of the boys tell it (in truth, we’d really rather listen to them tell it…but it is a novel experience).

It is a Blessing Tree and it’s so full!  Kim and I are just like everyone else, we’ve done some things wrong and gotten a few right.  We’ve taken trips before that it later on turned out we might not have actually been able to afford!  But you know what?  At Christmas time when we get around the Blessing Tree and tell stories about trips around the world where we’ve been able to take the “homeschool field trip” to another level it just makes it so clear that the time spent together is priceless and we’re so thankful for it.

I’ve got a bunch to say about how to travel with kids, how to travel on a budget, camping, RV’ing, etc.  Look for more posts about that type of thing and if anyone has any questions or might be heading to one of the destinations we mentioned, let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.

Here are some pictures of a few favorite ornaments and our Blessing Tree!

Have a great Christmas!  – Tim