Sunday, August 30, 2015


We have had a busy few days. On Friday we finished up in the regular service bay and spent half the day waiting for paperwork so that we could be scheduled in the cabinet, mechanics, and paint bays. We are awaiting a phone call to order us to one of those.  That means that we do not have to report at 7:00 am on Monday. So we get to sleep a little later.

On Friday night we went out to eat at the local steak house with some friends and had a nice meal. Then it was up at 5:00 am on Saturday to get the carpet installed. We also asked Daniel the carpet guy to leave the passenger side sofa unbolted because we were selling it. I was happy to get $200 for it, since it is 6 years old (yet in like-new condition.) I guess we both walked away happy from that deal!

Here are before and after pics of the flooring job, plus the newly empty space where the sofa was.

Those bolts sticking up out of the floor are for adjustment of the slide out, so we can't remove them. I spent a few happy hours planning the features of the cabinet that we will be putting in that spot. We will have someone build it but Bob will customize the insides for me when we are at a campground with a wood shop. We hope to talk with the cabinet builder tomorrow. 

I brought out my spinning wheel today and did a little spinning while I listened to podcasts. A pleasant pastime!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coon Dog Cemetery

Now that we are "in the bays," as it is called here when you have reached your goal of having work being done daily on your rig until all your problems are fixed or you run out of money, I have come to a realization. This is not fun. Oh yes, the people in the campground are very nice, as are the service techs, but oh the up-at-5:00 am days and the scream-inducing boredom of sitting in a waiting room while inane TV shows play for hours in the background is sheer torture.

So today we bugged out for a couple of hours.

Two days ago the "check engine" light on the Honda CR-V came on, so off we drove this morning to Florence, AL  to find a Honda Service Center.

Yes, we fled the Tiffin Service Center waiting room to find the Honda one. Fortunately, the light was a result of our gas cap having been improperly replaced at our last fill up, so it took the tech maybe 60 seconds to diagnose and correct the problem. I didn't even have a chance to check out the waiting room to see if there were doughnuts, it was that fast.

So we went for breakfast at Shoneys, who served us some delightful omelettes. And grits, which I just don't get. But then I'm a Northerner, so that's ok.

On our way back to Tiffin we saw the sign for the Coon Dog Cemetery. Now, everyone who has service work goes to visit the Coon Dog Cemetery, and for a very good reason.

There is really very little to do around here, for miles and miles. So of course we had to see this place!

Only bona-fide, certified, guar-an-teed genuine coon dogs are buried in this cemetery.

We resisted the urge to burn something.
It was a very pretty place, filled with memorials and plastic flowers. People place pennies on the headstones when they visit. And sometimes leashes.

In the background of the third photo you will see an outhouse. Which has not been cleaned out in years, obviously, even though people must keep using it because the contents are almost at the top of the wooden seat. I decided I could wait until we got back to use the facilities.

Progress is being made on our repairs. We have a new faucet in the kitchen, a new shower head and towel racks without rust, latch on the fridge, working surround sound, and a new regulator for the water heater. They also started on the bodywork repairs from our tire blowout last November.

I finished up the two eyeball hats for granddaughters Quinn and Eve, and will mail them out on Thursday.

Tomorrow is another early day. But, yay, we are getting closer to being done!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Tile

We were up bright and early Monday morning to get everything stowed away in preparation for the tile work. Our target was to be at the tile place by 7:00 am, and we were only a few minutes late. Daniel (the tile guy) had suggested we call Best Western to arrange for a room, but when I called I was told that they would not take us with pets unless Tiffin sent us, which was not the case as we were working with an outside contractor. The office here at the campground, however, gave us three places in town at would take us, all B & B's of some sort.

I put in a call to Grandmaw's House and explained our need and that we had a cat and small dog. Esta McKinney told us where the key would be and to come on over. When we arrived we were charmed by the house that we had all to ourselves: three bedrooms, two bathrooms, eat-in kitchen, living room, and sun room. Plus a large private yard and porch. It was simple, clean, and homey. And a bargain at just $50!

I spent the afternoon crocheting two eyeball hats for my granddaughters. I liked the way they came out.
Bob and I relaxed and enjoyed our temporary home, especially the Direct TV signal. Life's little luxuries!

This morning we went to pick up the motorhome. Unfortunately, the carpet had not arrived but the tile looked wonderful. Here are before and after tiling:

Daniel did an excellent job making the transition between the old tile and the new. I'll show another photo when the carpet is in.

We were on our way back to the campground when we got a phone call from Wanda, the scheduler. "Go right into Bay 3," she told us. We had made it to the top of the list.  So the rig went to be worked on and we took the pets into the waiting room again. 

Tomorrow morning we must be up and back in the bay by 7:00. Things are getting done!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


On Friday a friend I had met from Ravelry, Sally, came over to spin on my TurtleMade micro Turkish spindle. We had a nice time getting to know each other and making some yarn. Afterwards she and her husband, Tom, took us to a buffet seafood restaurant in Belmont, MS. $14,95 for all you could eat, including dessert. The buffet featured catfish, frogs legs, fried chicken, fritters, and shrimp. It was yummy! And with several pies to choose from for dessert, no one left hungry.

Saturday morning we had made plans with new friends Skip and Gloria to go to Sparks, a local place that had a very nice breakfast. This was also in Belmont. I may have to dig out some larger clothes, with all the eating out we've been doing! Later in the day Bob and I drove back to Tupelo, MS to Joann Fabrics for yarn to make a couple of hats. My daughter, Emily, saw pictures of eyeball slouch hats and asked me to crochet one for each of her girls. It will be a good project to have for when we are in the service waiting room tomorrow.

We have had a lot of comfortable days with intermittent rain, but that weather pattern appears to have moved on. After some very hard rain last night and this morning the air has dried out and now we have heat. We did expect heat, coming to Alabama in August, though.

All afternoon I have seen one rig after another pulling in to the campground. We are probably just about full now, so people will have to camp in another spot down the road.

Tomorrow Bob and I will be delivering our motorhome to the tile guy, Daniel, for two days. I'll let you know how that goes!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Slideout Floors

Bob spent the morning watching our slideout floor being replaced, while I sat with the pets in the waiting room.  Here is his account of the repairs:

Hello folks.

We rolled into the repair bay at 7 AM and the crew was ready and waiting for us.  They removed some of the interior trim work and pulled out the fridge, couch, and dinette seats to lighten the load and prevent any damage to those items.
Here is the harness wrapped around the slide and attached to the hoist.
The opening is where the connections are for the fridge and slide motors.
Ready to pull out the slide and set it on the padded support braces.
The crew guides it with the hoist into position.
Looking out from the coach at the slide on the supports and the new floor next to it ready to be replaced.
That sure is a big opening. It would be one heck of a window!
The hoist is reattached and the repair is ready to go back in.

The four man crew got the job done in just under four hours.  They all knew exactly what they had to do and barely needed to talk to each other they were so in sync.  Very impressive!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We Tour Tiffin Motorhomes

We were up early today to go to the Tiffin tour, offered Monday through Friday at 9:30 am. Before we left we walked Auggie and ran into our new friend Diane. She told us we could get $20 off our stay here by having the tour guide sign a paper from the campground office as proof we took the tour. Twenty bucks for doing what we were going to do anyway? Heck, yeah! I ran and got the paper and we were off.

The tour started with a brief film about the Tiffin family, and then we went to the plant. Tiffin puts out 60 motorhomes a week, up from fifteen a week in 2008.  The buildings were originally part of a cotton processing plant and have been enlarged. We saw three of the assembly areas: one for cabinet building, one for the chassis, and the third for putting it all together. There's another plant nearby that does the floors and one other that only does paint, but we didn't go to those. This is a big place with a lot of walking. By 10:00 it was getting hot and the buildings were not cooled. I could see why shifts were 6:00 am to 2:30!

Assembling trim.

I was surprised to see red engines! Pretty.

The black and gray water tanks. 

The roof is composed of shaped blocks of styrofoam, which is covered with luan and then aluminum.

Here the cabinets are in but the slide-out is not installed yet. 

The coach is pretty much finished except for paint and final details. 
A 1972 Allegro, from the first year of production.

It has been left in its original condition. Groovy colors, man! 

The dinette is in the back.

I love seeing the old motorhomes! Wouldn't it be fun to have one restored?

After our tour we stopped in again to the steakhouse down the road from the campground for lunch. (I think I'll skip dinner tonight--I am still full!) We returned to the rig and I looked up Sally, a fellow Ravelry member who is at the CG. We had a lot in common and talked for quite a while. Sally and I are going to try and get together for a spindling session. 

Then Bob got a call from Wanda. We are to report to the bay tomorrow to have our front driver's side slideout floor rebuilt. We have emptied all the cookbooks and food from the overhead bins in preparation. Looks like we will be in a waiting room tomorrow morning at 7:00 am. Il bring my spindles and iPad to keep busy. Auggie and K.C. will be waiting with us. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Day Three at Red Bay

This is an interesting place. People are very friendly and everyone has a story. It is easy to strike up conversations with strangers because we all have something in common.

None of us really wants to be here.

We just want to get our repairs and head off to living our lives. It is first come, first served, and some people have been waiting for close to a month.

We talked to Wanda today who told us we were looking at about two weeks before they start work on our repairs which is pretty good, I figure. We could go somewhere else for a week or so but since next week our floors will be done, it's just as easy to stay here and wait.

Today Bob and I drove to Belmont, Mississippi to check out the Walmart. Unfortunately it's only a grocery store version, not a full Walmart. We will survive.

I used my large pressure cooker to make some ribs today. Not as good as Bob's smoked ribs but quite tasty, nonetheless. We are waiting for Daniel the floor installer to come and take measurements. Once that's done we will have a few days to do a little exploring. I'm looking forward to that!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Towels are Finished and Service is Moving Forward

Today was a more relaxing day than yesterday, that's for sure! We had several people stop by our rig today. One was a man whose job it is to check for slide-out floor issues and roof leaks. I heard footsteps on our roof and then there was a knock at the door. "You need to have your slide-out floor replaced, but your roof is fine," he announced as he handed me a piece of paper to stick on the windshield. It was a recall for coaches between 2008 and 2012.

Ok. That wasn't even on our list of worries but I'm glad we are taking care of it!

Then Luke stopped by to go over our list and see what might be covered by our extended warranty. It's his job to contact the warranty people.

Then Norris came in and looked at things, telling us that we were looking at a 2 1/2 week wait before work would start. And he contacted the floor guy, Daniel, for us. Daniel dropped over shortly after that to go over options. We are having the grodey carpet replaced and tile put down in the bedroom, with fresh (nicer quality) carpet where we have to have it.

Between all those visitors I was finishing the last of the weaving on my Bronson Check Dishtowels. I was so excited about them that I washed and dried them and sewed them up. Usually it takes a while before I totally finish a project because the finishing is my least favorite step of the process. Not today!
Those of you on Ravelry may read my detailed project notes here.

After lunch Bob and I drove down the road to check out the local carpet store. I was disappointed we couldn't use a Berber carpet in the motorhome (because Berber will catch on a slide out and cause a "run") but we found a nice thick low pile style we both liked.  We will finalize the deal tomorrow and should have the floor done next week if all goes well.

As Bob and I were walking Auggie tonight we saw a huge rainbow over the campground. Nicest one I've ever seen, I think.
It was a nice end to this busy day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Red Bay, AL

We saw some interesting sights along the way to Red Bay like this long convoy of perhaps fifteen vehicles, all proudly displaying the confederate flag and obviously traveling together. What was it all about? I haven't a clue.
But we made it here! It was a long trip, close to 1,000 miles in three days, but we are officially in line to have service done on our motorhome. We are one of many, unfortunately, so while we have turned in a very long list of  service items and upgrades, we will have to see what we can have done here. We found out that they will not do remodeling, so we'll have to get some of the work done elsewhere.

It's pretty neat seeing so many Tiffins all together in one big campground. We pay $20 a night for full hookups and close proximity to the service bays. Not too bad a price, although there are few luxuries here. No pool, no trees for shade, and no grass. It's supposed to rain all next week so none of that will be missed.

Bob and I celebrated our arrival by going out to eat at a local steakhouse. I had one of the best burgers I've ever had. Great onion rings, too.  Bob had a po' boy with fish that he enjoyed. Our waiter was a local high school math teacher and he and Bob commiserated over the tough jobs that teachers have. I guess teachers have it hard everywhere, and unfortunately get little respect for the job they do.

Tomorrow we will have a meeting with a service person who will give us an idea when we can expect work to start. I hope it won't be too long.

Note to family: we are in Central Time Zone here if you call!

Friday, August 14, 2015

We are in Virginia

We managed to leave pretty much on time this morning, despite a missing hubcap cover and a broken slide out gasket. I called the tire place and they offered to repay us for a new one, so that's good.  It was there before they messed with the tires so perhaps they forgot to put it back?  The slideout gasket has been detached for a while so we can deal with that, too, temporarily. It's a good thing we are heading to the Tiffin plant.

I called Tiffin this morning and they said no problem with coming in on a Sunday afternoon. They will have a spot for us to hookup. But there are a lot of rigs ahead of us for service. Ah well... So much for arriving in August to avoid a line!

Our trip to Virginia was pretty uneventful. We went the same way we did last October, taking 695 E around Baltimore to avoid the tunnel. Vehicles with Propane tanks are not allowed in the tunnel so we must go around, which adds close to 1/2 hour to the trip.

Bob and I were tired by the time we arrived at our campsite in Virginia. Tomorrow's leg will be even longer, almost 400 miles. But we can do it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

New Tires for Bob's Birthday

Bob and I woke up at 7:00 this morning--late for us (well, late for me, anyway!)  Today we were supposed to get out early to the tire place. Rush, rush, rush, and we were ready to roll at 8:30. Poor Bob couldn't even sleep late on his birthday. But we arrived at the tire place and they took us right away.

Bob drove the motorhome into the garage and we were able to stay inside while the tire guys removed the damaged tires, rotated the front tires to the back, and put new tires on the front. I spent the time paying bills, calling Verizon to see if they had a better plan for us (nope,) and chatting on the phone to my sister, Gail, in Texas. The time went quickly and we were home just before noon.

Now we have replaced 4 out of the 6 original tires on the motorhome. Bob checked the "born-on" date on the tires because RV tires can sometimes sit on shelves for years before being installed. Since MH tires have a life of about 5-7 years which starts on the date of manufacture, it is important to check that date. Ours were made in February of 2015 so that's fine. But I've heard of people finding out they had purchased two year old tires. These tires cost $750 each, so you want them to be new!

After getting back, I spent a couple of happy hours weaving on my dishtowels warp. Almost finished! Bob worked on a couple of frames he is assembling for Kristen and me.

Ben came over several times today, once to pop his head inside the door and announce that diamonds and emeralds were very expensive jewels, before running off. Well, that's important information! Rob, who had a migraine for the last couple of days, is feeling much better today.

We have our campground lined up for tomorrow's stop in Virginia. Tomorrow we start traveling again.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

One Year Blogiversary

Today marks one year since I started writing my blog, and I have been surprised at how much I am enjoying writing it. A special thank you to my dear friend, April, who held my hand through setting it up and has encouraged me to continue. And thank you to all my faithful readers!

In one year I have written 271 posts. Not too bad!

This morning Bob and I took a trip to a tire specialty shop where we were told that one of our sets of dually tires needed to be replaced. Ouch! Bye bye $1500. But better to fix it now than to risk another blowout. We will be getting the tires tomorrow since they were not in stock. This pushes our departure south off by one day, but that's ok. And while we were waiting to have the diagnosis done I was finishing reading "The Martian," a book by Andy Weir.  Such a great story! And it's going to be a movie, out this October. I cannot wait to see it. Thanks to my daughter, Kristen, for recommending it.

Besides reading and hanging out with family, I have also been finishing up projects. Here is the Star Wars Stormtrooper I crocheted for Ben.
I've also been working on my dishtowels that are on my loom; hopefully I will be able to finish them soon so I am not moving them around the rig daily as we drive places.

Kristen hosted a "birthday party for Bob/ farewell until next year" party tonight. All the kids pitched in with food and as usual, everyone outdid themselves.  It was all amazing food. I had to take a picture of the chocolate Kahlua cheesecake with fresh raspberries that Kristen baked for Bob. It was fabulous!

I am really full right now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Trip Through NYC

Yesterday I posted details of our proposed route through the New York City area heading south to NJ, a trip that has become somewhat problematic since we are driving a 40' motorhome and are towing a car. Here's the good and the bad about that route.

The good: We avoided the George Washington Bridge, a terror inducing means of getting such a behemoth vehicle through the boroughs of NYC. In a car it's not fun but doable if you have the will and determination to go the fastest route (sometimes, as long as it's not rush hour!) through the city. We also avoided the Garden State Parkway, which while technically is illegal for the MH to be on (a fact that alone will keep me off it now that I know we could get a ticket) also features a lot of traffic and bridges which require us to keep to the middle lane to avoid shearing off our rooftop AC units. At 12' 6" we have gone the whole way and it is technically doable.

The bad: This route takes us 75 miles and over an hour longer to get around the city than using GWB, using this more circuitous route.  We hit little traffic, only being held up a couple of times with traffic crawling for a mile or so. Not bad for this trip. We also left 45 minutes later than my usual target departure time of 9:00 am, which may or may not have affected our overall travel time. 

Bob's review of the route? He reports that he would use it again. It was a long trip, though, at 377 miles and 6 1/2 hours on the road. We did make one stop, for lunch, about 15 minutes.

It was great to see my daughter and her family again, even though it's only been two weeks. Ben was standing outside when we drove up, waving his arms to welcome us. A really nice sight! 
We ate stuffed crust pizza for dinner as we visited and caught up. Indie looks bigger, and was excited to see us.
We tried on his Indiana Jones Halloween costume but it was a little big. Hopefully with a few simple alterations and a bit of growing on his part it will fit come October 31. I'll post a photo then.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Family Party in Rhode Island

Whats better than a family cookout near the ocean on a nice summer day? Nothing! Bob and I picked up Cheryl and George and drove down to Portsmouth, RI for a family day. My sister Wendy and DH Bill have a beautiful home with a water view in one ove the prettiest areas on God's green earth. We sat by the pool and caught up with everyone.
The "sistahs" had fun fixing up the eats while my nephew Stefan goofed off behind us.

Here's a photo of me chillin' with my bro, Jim. 

We didn't want to leave! But at 6:30 we headed back to our snug little home, to get ready for Monday's move back to NJ. We had hoped to spend some time with my nephew and his wife, Eric and Amy, on the way south but schedules did not mesh, unfortunately. Next year!

So we bid a fond farewell to Massachusetts and our New England family. We have enjoyed staying at the Boston Minuteman Campground and would come back here again.

We always dislike going through the NYC area, whether we are driving our MH or just a car. But it takes quite a bit of planning in the MH. This time we have decided to go the following route:

84 S through Hartford, CT
91 S to Meriden, CT
691 W
684 S
I 287 W across Tappan Zee Bridge
NJ Turnpike S

This route will avoid 95 across George Washington Bridge which is a very congested, very scary route through the Boroughs of NYC. We will also be avoiding the Garden State Parkway which, while we have done it, has restrictions against large vehicles. I'm a bunch of nerves the whole way on the GSP.

I'll post tomorrow how this route worked out.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


On Friday my sister Cheryl drove Bob and me into Boston to visit my niece, Lori. It was so nice to see Lori, as it had been two years since we last saw her. We sat outside on her deck and enjoyed her fabulous view.
Before we drove on, Cheryl introduced us to a little cafe and bakery, called Flour, where we had some really yummy sandwiches. I would go back to that restaurant!
Then we headed off to Bunker Hill to meet up with my niece, Pam, her mother Janice, and Khloe.  Bunker Hill is, as you will recall from your history books, the site of a famous Revolutionary War battle. While the patriot militia unfortunately lost that very bloody battle, half of the British troops that fought on Breeds Hill and Bunker Hill were lost as well, and a short time later the Continental Army was formed.  If the patriots had had more ammunition they might have been victorious; when the ammo ran out the militia continued to fight on with rocks, against the bayonets of the British.

We climbed Bunker Hill, but Bob and I declined to attempt the 294 steps to the top of the monument. I did it in my youth with my dad, but my knees are too old now. Cheryl and Khloe went 2/3 of the way up before deciding that was enough climbing!
Bunker Hill Museum is right across the street from the monument so we popped in to learn a little bit more. Then we were off for some fortification, in the form of ice cream.
 It took us a while to get out of Boston and I was really glad my sister was driving! She's used to driving in Boston and it's not the most driver-friendly city I've ever been in. But it was worth it--Boston is one of my favorite cities to visit.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Catch up

I must backtrack just a bit. On Tuesday my sister Cheryl and I spent the day with my niece, Diana, helping her to unpack from her move. It was also Diana's birthday and it was nice to spend it with her. While Bob was dealing with a tornado (see yesterday's blog) I was playing with Khloe and eating lunch at Whole Foods.

Later in the evening, Bob and Cheryl's husband George arrived for dinner, and we went out for a yummy Italian meal. Diana's brother Stefan and his wife Pam joined us, along with Diana's friend, Becca.  Afterwards we had soft serve homemade ice cream from the Cuisinart ice cream maker I had picked up on Saturday. It worked great, and I will make more before turning it over to Kristen.

Yesterday Cheryl and I went to Webs (Yes! Twice in two weeks--how lucky is that!)  We had a fun afternoon, going out to lunch at Amanouz again and spending a couple of delicious hours amongst the yarn and books. I didn't buy much but had a ball.

So I'm finally caught up to Thursday. Bob and I went up to Nashua, NH just over the border, to visit the LLBean outlet store. We spent less than $10 but enjoyed looking at all the bargains anyway. The rest of the day was spent relaxing and reading. The weather has been perfect the last couple of days--high temperatures in the low 80's and low humidity. I love Massachusetts summers.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Hello folks,
Guest blogger Bob here.

We had an exciting day at the RV park yesterday!  Trish was off helping her niece unpack after her move and Auggie and I were hanging out at the motorhome when my cell phone alarm warned of a tornado in the area.  Our RV is surrounded by large trees so I knew we needed to get out.  I scooped up Auggie and headed for the park office as the rain started to pour down.

The thunder and lightning intensified and other RVers and their dogs made their way into the shelter of the office building.  As we hunkered down the cable news station constantly updated the storm track and the hundreds of lightning strikes and the likelihood of a tornado touching down nearby.  These forecasters live for these kind of events and get all tingly and giddy watching their computer images from the safety of their studios, but sitting in the middle of all these trees watching marble sized hail bounce off the cars and roofs as the wind roared was no fun for us.

After almost two hours of sitting and waiting for all the bad weather to pass by we were all anxious to get back to our rigs and see if there were any problems.  However Mother Nature had one last goodbye and a colossal blast of lightning struck nearby and blew out the cable and WIFI connections but spared our electricity connections.

When we were able to get back to the RV it was still in good shape and been spared any damage.  We were lucky!  I hope that is the last kind of that excitement I see for a long time!

Child Discipline

My daughter Kristen has three active boys. Which means she has had to struggle with keeping peace in the house on a daily basis. I noticed when we were visiting at her house that she had a piece of paper hanging in her kitchen with stars on it, and she told me it had changed her life. I could see a real difference in the behavior of the children, so I thought I would share this discussion with you, dear blog reader, in case it might be of some help to you or someone you love.

If you have no children, or know no one who is a parent, you need read no further today.

Me: Kristen, can you tell me details of your star reinforcement system, The Think Before You Speak Program?

Kristen:  You mean my wildly successful program? The one that has cut down bickering and complaining in my house by like 75%?  Because the number one thing that the kids do that drives me crazy is unnecessary bickering, complaining, whining, name calling, and even those huffing noises they make when they’re told to do something.  I hate that noise.

The children are given 6 stars every morning.  1 star = 10 minutes of device time, with the Xbox or iPhone. Anytime they do one of those things listed above, they lose a star. Complaining about the loss of a star will lose them a star and they will be corrected.  Instead of saying “Adaaaaam!!!  Stoooooopppppppppp," they will lose a star and I will tell them what they should have said. They are slowly starting to say the right thing in those situations where they normally would have just started to yell or get upset. 

After dinner, they can cash in their stars.  I set timers, so it’s completely fair.  I have an app on my phone that will run 3 timers at the same time, so I can keep track of everyone’s time at once.  Also, they may cash in 1 star after dinner for dessert if they like.  If they’d rather have the device time, they take that. I find sometimes the kids skip dessert, when normally they would have eaten it just because it was there.  They are only allowed to buy 1 dessert per day, and are not allowed to bargain for anyone else’s dessert.

Me:  What happens to the rest of the day when they lose 6 stars by noon?

Kristen:  That has not happened yet. They always try to save 1 star for dessert, so they’re super careful. I make good desserts. Honestly, if it happened here, they just wouldn’t get dessert and wouldn’t get devices.  That's a huge punishment for them. I have told them that when they’re out of stars, they are in bed for the night, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Me: How about if they act up after device time is done?

Kristen:  If they misbehave after stars are cashed in, they go to bed.

Me: OK, what if they are really bad today? Can you start knocking off tomorrow's stars? Can you save stars for tomorrow?

Kristen:  I don’t dock stars in advance.  I wanted to make a point out of telling them that no matter how awfully they behave today, tomorrow is a new day and they start fresh. Also, stars expire at bedtime. No saving them.

Me: That seems like a good lesson in Mom-love! What was your first week like?

Kristen:  It was a rough first week. A lot of stars were lost.

Me: What if the child does something super-nice? Can they earn stars back?

Kristen: No they can't. I thought about it a lot, but when you behave terribly, like calling someone a name and hurting their feelings, that loss of a star is a record of it.  No matter how good they are later, they hurt someone’s feelings and that can’t be erased. It's kind of like when a kid does something wrong and just says Sorry! and it’s forgiven.  I don’t like that at all.  Sometimes hurt feelings linger and no matter how good they act, they can’t erase what they did. Now, the kids think that rule is really unfair, and they bring it up a lot. I see their point, but I think it helps them to own up to their own behavior.  It's also why loss of stars don’t carry over to the next day.  Yesterday was yesterday, and it was acknowledged. We'll try harder today.

Me:  They still have to apologize?

Kristen:  Oh yes. I mean, i’ve seen kids who think they can do whatever they want because they can throw out a Sorry! afterwards.  It's insincere. 

Me: What's your favorite part of your Think Before You Speak Program?

Kristen:  I get a kick out of when the kids are fighting and I call out “Rob and Ben just lose a star” and it’s dead silence.  You hear nothing but crickets.  I love that they want to argue but don’t.  That's the whole point of the program.

Me: What happens if one child is making an irritating sound and the other one asks politely for quiet, but the sound continues? So the second child yells, notifying Mom in the next room that someone is breaking the rules? Who loses a star?

Kristen:  I prefer no tattling. In this house they'd each lose a star. For not stopping the annoying noise and for yelling. And then I'd just remind them no tattling.  Also, when a star is lost, we talk about how it should have been handled.  "When someone tells you to stop, you stop” is a big rule in this house, because Ben will harass his brothers until they snap and punch him.  So we make a big deal out of saying “Ben would you please stop that” and him stopping right away.  Or else they both lose a star because they both handled the situation the wrong way.

Me:  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Kristen: Yes, it is important to set the rules and not get into a discussion of how they should be changed. You are teaching your children life skills on how to handle a problem.  Give it a month doing it this way and see how it works. It's made a huge difference in my family. 

Monday, August 3, 2015


 Bob and I visited Fruitlands today in Harvard, Mass. It has a fascinating history.

In 1843 Bronson Alcott, along with his wife, Abigail (Abba) and children Anna (11 yrs old,) Louisa (10 yrs old,) Elizabeth (8 yrs old,) and May (3 yrs old) participated in the Fruitlands Experiment. The Alcotts and friend Charles Lane purchased a property in Harvard to prove that their way of life was viable.  They considered themselves Transcendentalists and intended to live off the fruit of the land (hence the name Fruitlands.) Transcendentalism was a social order whose members believed in eating no animal products; no meat, dairy, eggs, honey, butter, or cheese.  They also avoided coffee, tea, molasses, and rice which was processed by slavery practices. They wore no wool which was "stolen from sheep" or leather, nor did they use cotton which was obtained through the exploitation of slaves. They avoided beets, carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables because they "showed a lower nature by growing downward."

Nowadays we know people who are vegans and who avoid products that are obtained through the exploitation of others, and our eyebrows don't even rise. But back in the 1800s this was a radical concept.
It was upon the shoulders of Abba Alcott that the bulk of the work fell.  Although fully in favor of this experiment, she was in charge of the cooking, cleaning, harvesting, and the education of her daughters as Bronson traveled in an attempt to drum up new recruits. While Bronson gave speeches, wore warm boots, and ate in taverns, the Alcott women wore linen on their feet and waited on Charles Lane and his family.

By January of 1844 the food had run out and the Fruitlanders were cold. It was a brutal winter. Lane and his family left the group to join the Shakers, who believed in celibacy, and urged the Alcotts to do the same. When Bronson suggested that his family consider this, Abba took her family and returned to Concord. Bronson followed, but fell into a depression and for two weeks was unable to get out of bed.

We had a nice chat with the docent as we looked at all the treasures in the restored farmhouse.  We saw Louisa May Alcott's artist's box...
...the attic where Louisa and her sisters slept...
...and a weaving paddle hanging by the fire.
I explained to the docent how it worked and she asked if I would like to demonstrate weaving with it when we come back to the area. I told her that I would love that, and will contact the museum next year when we know our plans.

After the farmhouse we walked up the hill to the Shaker Museum, where there was a very nice display of Shaker furniture.
I liked this poster (below) showing where all the Shaker communities were (there are four practicing Shakers left in Maine; three are in their 80's or older and one is a new member in his late 20's) and another one that shows the difference in chair finials so you can identify where your chair was made.

Upstairs we found a rocking chair that belonged to Mother Ann, the woman who founded the Shakers in 1780.  Early Shakers believed 
that Mother Ann was Christ reborn in female form.  It was interesting that her chair was not a traditional Shaker-style but is classic Windsor-style.
Here are some Shaker-woven needlebooks. Just lovely.

I look forward to returning next year.

Later in the day my sister Cheryl picked me up and we went consignment-store shopping.  Even though I didn't buy anything I did find a place where I could sell my little Steiff animals on consignment.  I've been wondering where I could sell them.

I took Bob to Kimball Farm in Westford, MA after dinner, for an ice cream cone.
I used to pass near there every week when I lived in Pepperell and I often stopped for a treat. Kimballs makes their own ice cream and I have never had better.  Be warned, a small cone is HUGE!

Just my kind of place.