Dear Mr. President

Dear President Obama,

My name is Declan West. I am 11 years old and live and travel around the U.S. in a 17 foot van with my mom & my poodle Princess.

Last week I went to a campsite with no phone or internet reception. When my mom and I left we turned on the radio and found out who won the election. I was really upset. I know I have to respect the position but I feel like I can’t respect him. I told my mom, “He hasn’t done anything yet; it’s what he has said that scares me.” She suggested I write to you.

I watched the first presidential debate and Mr. Trump was very rude, he interrupted and interjected while Secretary Clinton was speaking. Going off of what I have heard, he thinks that LGBTQ folk and Mexicans are bad. My Popsie is an American of Mexican descent, so I am scared that he is going to get deported. I identify as queer and I hope I don’t have to pretend that I am straight.

Please do something, anything, to protect the people.

Besides those issues, please try and protect the national parks. I spent my birthday in August at the Grand Canyon and have visited many parks over the summer. I am a nature boy and I want to collect every junior ranger badge from every state and national park. Please don’t let Mr. Trump sell these national treasures off to rich people so they ruin them and replace them with things like oil rigs and resorts. They need to be left alone, not turned into something that we already have enough of.

I hope you get this letter in time otherwise it would be really awkward. Please take this letter into consideration and try to do something about my requests.

Sincerely, Declan aka Ducky

Picture Day for Homeschoolers

I remember the stress picture day used to cause. The very notice used to send me into a flapping tizzy, often dealt with by my completely forgetting about it until the day before… or after. There were at least two years when Ducky went off to school in regular clothes. Ironically enough, those ended up being far better pictures than the ones where I freaked out over putting together a perfect outfit.

Today I went online and plugged in my ten minute reservation to show up in a town a few miles north. We will have pictures taken and posted online for family to peruse and purchase. That’s it. Sweet and simple. 

This is the best idea ever” I thought when I read the invite “Homeschoolers have picture days, who knew?”

We are still brand spanking new to this world of homeschooling, a world that I swore I would never set foot in. I was also, for the record, never going to be a single mom, never going to be a vagabond, never going to medicate my child, and was also never going to “go casual” (wearing nothing but tees and jeans.)

Yeah. You know what they say. I’m not going to say it. I’m just not.

*whisper from the crowd, “Never say never…”*


Teaching at home was something I felt I would not ever be able to do, “We can’t spend that much time together, we will kill each other.” “I can’t be his teacher, I dropped out in the fifth grade.” “I can’t teach math.” “I can’t teach English.” “I can’t afford it.” “I don’t have time.” “I don’t have the self-discipline.” “I am way too scared I will fail him.”

Many of these fears are still present. However, financial woes are greatly lessened when one only needs pay for gas and food. I am also now afforded the luxury of time and therefore am able to give more of myself. The school we have enrolled in helps us get supplies with the state allotted amount of funding Ducky’s entitled to. A brick and mortar school would have claimed these funds and then pooled them as resources for all their students. Now, with the approximately $2200 hundred we get annually I am able to personally tailor programs and curriculum to suit his exact needs.

Our journey seems much brighter than before. For all the times I’ve had to say “No” to points of interest, I can now say “Yes.” Field trips are covered, as are music lessons, sports, summer camps and of course textbooks, online programs, and science kits.

I am in heaven.

Today Ducky has worked on Math, Spanish, Language Arts, & is about to go do “P.E.” with me (walking along the beach for at least 5,000 steps. We will likely play PokemonGo and discuss the pros and cons of desalination for drought conditions. ) I have gone over his draft for his English report (he will have to submit a report every week on anything from articles read online, to books, to field trips.) I am also searching for the best math textbook for sixth graders.

I think this is the most involved I’ve ever been in my child’s education. I have an honest to god syllabus! I have a daily schedule! I have 10,000 emails from the wonderful program we have selected and am about to curl up in the fetal position!

Okay, so it’s a little overwhelming too.

I am taking deep breaths.

I’m also contacting his teacher near daily- oh, yes, we get a teacher, did I mention? She is a rock star and I am giddy at the thought of having guidance from a degreed instructor. I am also slowly exploring which textbooks I will actually need vs. the ones that we want.

But first I am going to hit the van’s teeny tiny closet and pull out Ducky’s lone collared shirt. I will take him for a haircut this afternoon and maybe even let him get lightning bolt fades on the side. We will purchase gel, practice spikes (or perhaps even a fauxhawk,) and talk about background colors.

After all, it is picture day on Friday.

Repairs & Nightmares

Badly shaken right now over a situation I’m still coming to grips with. Like many women who have been bullied, I find myself wondering if things went down exactly like I remember. The second guessing is erased however when I remember that I did not raise my voice, or yell, or scream.

The man I just dealt with did.

I can’t recall a time when an interaction with a business owner resulted in them shouting “get out, get out” (I can’t help but think of the Amityville horror -1979 of course,) and as much as I joke, I’m growing cold as I try to put all this down.

I made an appt. with SoCal RV Doctor in Lake Elsinore on Wednesday of last week explaining that I needed urgent appraisals before heading north. I was promised a quick same day look if I came in Friday morning at 8.

After arriving I had a comprehensive walk-through and felt like I was going to hear back by that afternoon. I called mid-afternoon checking on the status and was told, “we haven’t looked at it yet, we won’t have time today.”

Feeling resigned and frustrated, I agreed to leave my conversion van for the weekend after they promised to look at her “first thing Monday morning.” In my distraction I realized only after they had closed that I was short on my Ducky’s anti-seizure medication.

I showed up first thing Monday to get Ducky’s meds as well as to hopefully address what I was thinking of then as a “miscommunication.” After explaining to the woman staffing the front office why I was there and that it was urgent that I get into my rig (I was very clear what I was there for,) I was made to wait for nearly 20 minutes for someone to let me in to get his meds.

I tried to also deal with the miscommunication but the conversation was circular. My concerns were brushed off, and I felt unheard and very manipulated. I realized after taking Uber back that I likely should have taken the van and left, but was focused on getting back with the medication. I was also still willing to give them a last go due to a positive experience 5 months back with a quick turnaround on an installation of struts on my bench seat.  

Called Monday afternoon (yesterday) & was told “We are looking at it now!” Said they would call me back. They never did. Went in this morning to collect vehicle and leave taking a family member with me for moral support.

The owners meltdown began when I pointed out that if he had that many backed up customers (he had pointed at his folder system along the wall exhorting us to understand that “many of these people have been waiting weeks,”) then he should have said no to my request. He lost his temper saying, “Don’t tell me how to run my business.” I replied I hadn’t been but now that he went there my advice was to work on his C/S skills.

My aunt then addressed the owner as well. First she was trying to express the fact that she was trying to support local businesses. He cut her off. She then tried to further with her disappointment in what was happening. He cut her off.  Finally she said that she was considering contacting the BBB.

It was here that he really lost it.  His voice which had been steadily raising in volume and sarcasm with every interruption, now became a bellow, “so now you are threatening me!? Get out, get out!”

I’m actually relieved because I’d been walking away from previous conversations feeling confused. It’s so nice to know it wasn’t me.

I’ve never seen a businessperson conduct themselves so unprofessionally. I wish I’d checked Yelp first as there are plenty of warnings about this company. For my other #vanlife #rvlife #openroad folk: beware.