Homework

I was on my evening stroll along the Umpqua River recently when it hit me… we’re soon to be homeless! Truly and honestly without a home, and by choice! What craziness have we embarked upon?

In less than a month we’ll be leaving Roseburg, our city for the last 21 years, and heading off to seek adventures abroad. We decided early on to sell the house and take very little with us. So very little, in fact, that we’re trying to pull this off with only one checked bag between the two of us, and carry on luggage for each of us.

Downsizing forty years of joint accumulation is a daunting task, but we’re determined AND creative. Neither one of us is very attached to “things,” so finding other homes for our treasures isn’t rough on us. Except…for family treasures such as Brian’s artwork, Bethany’s ballet videos, Andrew’s stories, and anything to do with my mom. Thankfully, we have excellent foster homes for our treasures.

My mom’s dishes. I love love love these!

Andrew and Amelia flew up from SoCal, pointed at stuff they wanted, loaded it in a U-Haul and headed back home with some “priceless treasures.” My sister is babysitting my bike and who knows what else. Bethany and family have agreed to be our no-cost “storage unit.” My neice is housing our yard and garden supplies. Craigslist, garage sales and Facebook Marketplace have helped us unload worldly goods while making a bit ‘o cash. Friends have dibs on kitchen supplies, couches, etc.

Andrew and Amelia’s U-Haul of Treasures

Garage sales, Goodwill, friends, family, and the dump. That’s how you whittle 40 years in to 3 bags.

My favorite piece of furniture

We won’t be completely done with our”homework” until the day we pull away from the house with our remaining worldly goods. But each day’s task gets us closer to having that big, huge assignment completed.

Go With Me, Kiddos

Pretend you are going with me 😁. You can only take two bags. One is a bigger one that you check: You give it to an airline worker and they load it in the plane. Your smaller bag goes with you on the plane. What do you take with you? Why did you choose those items? Are there any items you leave behind for someone you trust to take care of?

Your response can be in informative essay form, an illustrated book or whatever creative mode you’d like to share with me.

Teachers… Feel free to share your students’ work. Make sure their names are not on their published work, though.

Until next time…

Go With Me!

Decisions… Decisions…

McMenamins or Brix? Hilton or Embassy Suites? Hike along the Umpqua or up in the mountains? It seems like the simple decisions should be, well… simple. But, Mark and I haven’t been known for making even simple decisions easily. How in the world are we going to make the harder decisions we’re facing with this big leap we’re taking? But first we must ask, why…..

Why?

Why are we dropping everything and leaving the continent? Mark felt like his career was winding down, so this was a good time to retire. We both got the wanderlust of the travel bug. We’re healthy, curious, and want to see how other cultures do this thing called life. On some level, the current political/social climate in the US is a factor. But, we’d be leaving even if the good ole US of A was utopia. Ok, now we know why. But, how are we going to accomplish this lofty ideal?

How?

Spreadsheets, that’s how! Well, Mark and his spreadsheets. He’s crunched the numbers regarding PERS and investments vs. the cost of living overseas. Without giving you more information than is prudent, just know that the “how” is about money outflow vs. income. And, it appears this should work.

Another factor that makes this possible is the sale of our house. That was a particularly hard decision. This home is our favorite in all our 40 years together. I loved our 6 acres in Lookingglass. But, this home is just so us. And, the story behind how we landed this beauty is priceless.

Our Enchanting Abode

Then, there’s this confirmation that we’re on the right track…. A few years back I reconnected via Facebook with a friend I knew a few decades ago. She and her husband wanted to retire soon and move back to Oregon. My friend began chatting with me on Messenger about a specific house they were thinking of buying in Roseburg. I, however, suggested another house–a little brown beauty in the Laurelwood neighborhood!! The rest is history. We signed papers at the title company this week. Welcome home, Julie and Herb!

When?

Much of our discussions and all that spreadsheet work compared retiring this year to future years. Naturally, if we held off and worked a few more years we’d have more per month to play with in retirement. But, that would always be the case. We could keep saying “Let’s work just one more year and we’ll be set”, but never actually do it. Was the “more” worth the wait? We decided not. We wanted to get started!

We fly off the continent on November 7th. Currently, we’re looking at it on a year-by-year basis. We’re giving it a shot for a year and see how we’re doing. We may find we need to reassess how it’s going, but honestly, we’re pretty sure we’ll renew our wanderlust and keep going.

Where?

Where, indeed! We’re spending our first 6 weeks exploring New Zealand in a camper van. We’ll hike, snorkel, be Hobbit geeks (well, at least I will!), and just sit by the side of glacial lakes. Perhaps we’ll fly off to a few “neighboring” south Pacific islands after that.

Next, we’ll visit Australia for a few weeks in January (their summer!). After that, we land in Portugal for 3 months. Then, on to hiking the fells of the Lake District in the UK. Somewhere in there I’ll be flying home for my much needed snuggles and neck hugs with family and friends.

Just in case you were wondering… YES, there were many decisions made involving all of those plans. Which camper van to hire. Where to stay in Keswick. Flights. BnB’s. I developed quite a system for comparing camper vans and BnB’s. Check out the Go With Me Kiddos section at the end of my post to see the graphic organizers.

Sagres Cliffs, Portugal

What?

What do we do about all our worldly goods? Garage sales. Divvy out to family. Goodwill. Craigslist. Thankfully, Mark and I aren’t emotionally attached to “things.” I have strong feelings about anything that has to do with my mom. Her things are going to my kids to babysit for me. I’m taking a few prayer shawls, of course.

When we head to Bethany’s with our loaded Uhaul we won’t have a home, cars, or furniture. We’ll have one checked bag and one carry-on each. This should be interesting. (What the heck are we doing!?)

What do we do about health insurance? There are many viable options for travel and health insurance. I’ve used a few of my teacher graphic organizers to compare companies, prices, and services offered. In general, health insurance and health care is cheaper than any options in the states. It’s mind-boggling, but, we’re getting it figured out.

Who?

Actually there are several “who’s” that are involved in this fabulous world mystery tour of ours. Mark and I, obviously. Family who love and support us. Family members who can’t really talk about all of this without getting teary-eyed. Trust me, this is the kind of adventure that causes one to cry at leaving, but be excited at the same time.

We’ll be meeting up in New Zealand with our fellow traveler friends who are sailing the world. I may have a chance to meet up with a high school friend who lives in Australia. Mark’s hiking buddy and wife will be in the Lake District the same time we are. My friend, Diana, who lives in Portugal, will introduce us to her family.

The “who” follows us all over the world. You should be a “who” who visits us overseas! And if that’s not possible, I hope you continue joining us right here.

5 W’s and an H

Our future blogs will be chock full of who, what, where, when, why and how. Keep in touch and… Go With Me Somewhere.

Go With Me, Kiddos

Hi there, little adventurers. Are decisions easy for you? What if you need to include someone else in your decision? Is it harder then? How do you make good decisions?

You may have seen the 5 W’s and an H in your writing planning. My 4th graders used it for brainstorming narrative writing ideas. It occurred to me, however, that there are often 5 W’s and an H in decision making as well. Try it out.

  1. Draw around your hand.
  2. Write “Who, What, Where, When, Why” on each of your 5 fingers.
  3. Write “How” on your palm.
  4. Now think of something you might need to make a decision about. Things like: Where to have your birthday party. Which sports team to join this school year. Where to go for spring break.
  5. Fill in the information on your hand organizer. Try to get all 6 items filled in. But, don’t stress it if you can’t think of anything for every single section.
  6. Share your ideas with classmates, your teacher, and/or your family. Did this organizer help with your decision?
A Decision Hand with 5 W’s and an H.

Please note that EACH option gets it’s own 5 W’s and an H hand. For instance, if you’re trying to decide where to go for spring break and your choices were the beach, grandma’s and Portland you would make 3 hand graphic organizers. Then, take a look at what jumps out at you. Does one choice have more positives than another? Maybe that’s your final choice.

I invented another graphic organizer I used for deciding which camper van company to rent from. I combined 2-column notes with a T-Chart. Use the picture below to recreate the form. Then try it out on something where there are several options.

Some ideas might be; which pizza place to order from, which type of cell phone or tablet to buy, or where to go for Spring Break. The main ideas (stars) and details (dashes) in the top half (the 2-column notes) are the same for each of the choices you have. For instance, for all of my camper van companies, I was looking at size, price, and fuel/transmission. Remember, each option gets it’s own organizer. For me, I had 5 camper van companies I was comparing. So, I had 5 combo organizers.

Be creative. I bet you can think of a bunch of ideas to problem solve.

I’d love to see your work. Feel free to reply, attaching your work.

Big and little people: Stay tuned….I’m joining Little Passports as an Affiliate. This means I’ll be providing links to their products and earning a small commission on sales made through my blog. In the meantime, take a look at what they offer by visiting their website. Do me a favor, though, and don’t order until you go through the link that will be provided on my next blog or on my Facebook GoWithMe page. They’re an excellent source of learning goodies for kids of all ages.

Teachers! Feel free to share my blog with your colleagues.

Until next time… Go With Me!

“Amazing!”

This is the reaction we usually get when we share with friends and family what our ambitious retirement plans are.

Three years ago we were bitten by the travel bug when we visited London and Paris during Christmas, and then Portugal in the summer. There’s something about visiting other countries…. something intellectually healthy…. something that stretches you… something intriguing enough to repeat that experience again and again.

I’ll admit when hubby said, “Let’s leave the continent. Let’s move to Europe,” I freaked out. I still loved my job as a 4th grade teacher. I have 7 grand kids I need to dote on. My sister. My dad. My kids. My in laws. …

But, as we talked and Mark coaxed me, I caught the vision and we began planning. We agreed to negotiate visits back to the US a few times a year, which made my twitching mom and grandma heart calm down.

Researching how others had done this showed us possibilities. YouTube tours of places beyond our borders made us hungry for adventures. Mark’s number crunching of finances reassured us we wouldn’t be in ruin. It all started to add up and I’m all in. We’re planning to start this crazy fun in November!

I’ll never get rid of the teacher in me. With that in mind, I’m hoping to add an educational piece to each blog (when school starts back up), so educators anywhere can share the learning with their students.

There’s a trainload of people I want to take along with me. So….

Go With Me Somewhere!

Susan Leedom