Athens – Day 3…or is it 2?
Technically, it would be the third night we’ve been here, but do we really count the first night since we were so exhausted when we got here?!
The jet lag had not let go of it’s grip on us, but I can at least say it loosened. None of us were up before 1:00 pm though! With Willow getting sick, we had more laundry than expected this early in the trip and needed to quickly figure out the washer, then venture up to the roof to get it on the drying line. In this weird head of mine, I actually dread doing laundry when I’m at home, but get a little pleasure from it when I leave the states and have to line dry my clothes. Though I had never done it in 45 degree, windy weather on top of a three story roof!
With the chores done, we finally left the house, sometime after 5:00 pm. We called an Uber and drove over to “The Mall”. Yes, that’s what the actual name of it is! I read that it was a four story mall that was the first of it’s kind to be constructed in Greece and one of the largest in Southeastern Europe. Not a bad place to go when sunlight is about to run out and you need to get the kids out of the house!
The mall is huge! We really only went around one floor, and possibly only half of that floor! I forgot how much I love the shopping in Europe! There are so many stores we don’t have in the US that are filled with cute clothes and very inexpensive compared to shopping in the US! The girls always get excited and love to shop in these places!
I’m not sure if it’s common in malls in Europe, since I’ve only visited a couple, but their dining area was nothing like what we have in the malls in Texas! The restaurants are actually nice! Not the crappy choices of nasty Chinese food, baked potatoes or chick-fil-a. Yes, I know how much people like chick-fil-a, but I prefer real food over any kind of fast food.
We sat at a nice gourmet burger place that had a big Lego play area for kids, where Willow was quick to run off to. I’m not sure what I expected, but the burger was actually good and came with a side of truffle mayo and fries. I’ve had burgers in other countries and sometimes they don’t exactly taste like burgers, but these were good!
We left as the mall was closing, heading to the taxi area where we called another Uber. According to the first Uber driver, only taxi drivers can drive for Uber here now. It wasn’t that way at first, but taxi drivers started to feel the pinch from the popularity of Uber and the union of about 60,000 taxi drivers got together and protested. This amazing thing happened and the government listened to the people! They changed the rules for Uber that only taxis can take the calls now. I’m stumped as to why the word union is a bad word in America.
We were waiting in freezing cold for about 10 minutes and the Uber wasn’t there, so I cancelled it, thinking we would just take a regular taxi. The only reason I cared to take the Uber was because I could put in the destination and they would know where we were going, without me messing up the name of the street or confusing the driver more. That’s just one of those security blanket type things I like to use as a crutch when I’m traveling. Unfortunately, when I opened the door of the taxi, he told me no! We had 5 and he would only take 4. Sooo, we called for another Uber and waited even longer! Thankfully the Uber taxi doesn’t seem to mind that we have 5!
After a short day we were back at home, trying to get to bed at a decent hour to get up the next morning and do something in the day. I can’t say we have been really successful at that yet!
Patience is a Virtue…So They Say
Do I Need More Patience?
I was really hoping we would be one of those stories, like I’ve read so often these days, where our house was sold super quickly and we would be able to move on with our plans right away. It almost was! But no such luck. Here we are, four weeks later and I feel like we are starting over again. Probably because we ARE starting over again.
I’ve truly tried to remain patient these last four weeks. I have even just had a conversation with my 16 year old about how it’s just better to be patient when you really want something. To occupy your attention with something else and the time will just pass. So for me, patience hasn’t really been the problem with selling our house. I’ve had moments of being overwhelmed and ready to just get done with all of this, but I’ve managed to stay fairly patient. So why do I feel like we are starting over? We have just removed the listing from the market, redone the pictures and it’s being re-listed today, after being off the market for a few days. Only, we are re-listing with a new agent.
I never realized how stressful a process it would be to sell our home. From all the updating we did to it, all the money we put into it for updates and repairs, staging and getting it ready for market, listing it and then keeping it in model home condition so that we are can run out of the house at a moment’s notice if an appointment was booked to see the house. All of this is very stressful and I can see that stress taking it’s toll on my family. One thing is for sure, we are going to need a vacation when it finally does sell!
Well add to that, the feeling that Shawn and I were having that we just weren’t on the same page as our realtor. From the beginning it felt that way. Though it was about what the house should be listed for, so I thought that should be expected. I felt like it is probably common that people feel like their home should be worth more, and the realtor is there to show them why their expectations are a little high. I have never felt like my expectations where too high or that the price I felt we should be asking was too high. Our home is in a curious situation in that it’s in a housing market that is just exploding right now. The population is expanding every day. When we bought our house here 15 years ago, we moved to the outskirts of a town of about 10,000. In the last 5 years that number has grown to 60,000 and if you count the outskirts, about 80,000. The neighborhood we live in is now closer in due to things growing out this way. What used to be a 8 minute drive to the store is now a 4 minute drive to the new store. We used to be a small neighborhood of about 50 homes and that has more than doubled due to a custom home builder buying land behind our homes and expanding the neighborhood. All of this has, what we consider, skyrocketed the price of homes, property taxes and cost of living here. So if you’re looking to sell your house and move, then it should be great for you financially. Unfortunately for me, we had two homes in my neighborhood sell at the very same time for under market and extremely fast, despite no other houses doing this. This is causing a huge problem for me in that our realtor felt like we should be doing the same thing. Sell low and get it sold fast. To be fair, as she kept pointing out to us, we aren’t a custom home with high end upgrades, which is what is being built all around us now. But to be fair to me, a house on the same street as those houses, which wasn’t a custom home with all the high end upgrades sold for $80,000 more than those only a few months prior, yet I wasn’t being put into the category with that house…only the two lowest selling ones.
Now I would agree that we were over priced if we had gotten no traffic to the house, but that just wasn’t the case. In the first week we received a contract for the full asking price. For unfortunate reasons, that didn’t work. On the second week we had someone come out to view the house twice then ask our realtor if we were “motivated” because they would want to do some upgrades. Her response was we had only been on the market for 13 days. The third week we received two calls of interest. One of them came back twice and were measuring the rooms. In total we had 15 viewings of the house, not including a few from an open house and a parade of realtors. The common opinion of the majority was it was priced well, clean, staged well and nice. For some it was too far out of town, priced too high for one realtor and one didn’t like our cat roaming free in the house during showings. Overall, it was positive feedback. The traffic was there and the interest was there, but nothing was happening. The last one interested was trying to buy at the top of their price range and had not put in an offer, yet we felt like our realtor was doing everything she could to try and talk us into dropping our price, and not just a little. It just felt to us like this was the wrong selling tactic and didn’t sit right with us. It was obvious to us we just weren’t having a meeting of the minds with her and probably wouldn’t. She was determined to sell our house low and fast and we aren’t. So, it was time to find someone who thought more like we did. Nothing personal, but we are talking about the biggest investment we own.
I was already talking to someone else before we even listed the house. Someone who had been selling homes for a lot longer and this wasn’t their first listing ever. Someone who had actually sold a home in my neighborhood before. That had been doing it for so long that it isn’t just about a paycheck anymore. When I didn’t understand our realtors responses to situations that were coming up, I called him to ask him about it and his thoughts were exactly the same as mine, without me even revealing to him what I thought. He gave me his unsolicited opinion without ever asking for anything in return. Simply because we had a mutual friend who had given me his name for a second opinion. So after calling him a couple of times, it just seemed more logical to us to be working with someone who had the same train of thought as we did, rather than fighting with someone through an already stressful process. So we decided to switch realtors in the middle of the game. This meant nearly a week off the market.
So here we go again. Everything is being put back on the market today. We had a nice break of a couple of days without worry of keeping the house in show home condition (though it’s become a habit so it stayed that way anyway) and not needing to worry we may have to run out of the house in a minutes notice. It was so nice!! It will be even nicer once the house sells though, so I’m ready to start it again and will keep all my fingers and toes crossed that we will still get the traffic and the interest, but have someone working for us that believes in what we have and will work to get us the best return possible on our investment.
I’m keeping up the patience!
#toddler #caminobabies #changeyourlife #familyadventures #familytravel #forgetnormal #holidaywithkids #LPkids #sellthehouse #teentravel #toddlertravel #travelwithkids #traveldeeper #worldschoolers #worldschooling #caminobaby #bebrave
When Exactly Does a Journey Begin?
Finding the beginning
One would think that a journey of travel begins once you have reached your travel destination. I’m here to say that is absolutely false. While planning my first Camino I discovered that the journey actually began when I decided to go, then started researching all the plans and travel to get to the Camino de Santiago. There was so much that needed to go into it! Deciding where to start walking, deciding what city to fly into, figuring out which plane, train or bus to catch to get to the starting city, finding where I was going to stay and what places along the way took reservations and which didn’t. I could go on and on! It felt like there was so much to figure out and do!
Life is crazy!
Deciding to switch from homeschooling to worldschooling has been the same. We talked about it a lot, just here and there, as an idea we tossed around for many years. It seemed more like a dream rather than something that could become a reality. When we finally decided to make it a reality it was time to start working on our house, updating it and getting it ready to sell. That was a journey within it’s self! We started to do updates to the house, but our schedules were so busy that it was a couple of years before we actually had time to seriously start working on it. I hired out the hardest work so that it would get finished as quickly as possible, but did the rest myself. Lets just say I have done enough house painting to last me the rest of my life! As it got close to being ready I brought in the realtor. This actually made the deadline I had given us a hard reality. It also brought more stress to the table! There were contractors, paint, repair, daily visits to the hardware store, dealing with teens, dealing with a toddler, the husbands busy schedule that didn’t allow him to help, softball practice, softball games, what’s for lunch?, what’s for dinner?, selling off some stuff, but not too much, storing other things, stagers, photographers and so much more! Working my butt off every single day, I ended up still needing to push the deadline back, but finally it was finished and was ready to go on the market! It felt like the victorious end of something great! In reality, it was just the beginning of the next leg of the journey.
So many emotions
This is the first experience we’ve ever had with selling a house. We bought our home 15 years ago and that’s where we have lived ever since. I felt as though it was just a house and selling it would be the beginning to the next chapter of our lives. That is until we received the first offer. It came only a week after we had the house on the market. I was amazed at how fast it was! They came in at full asking price and weren’t asking anything more than what I was willing to give them. It seemed perfect! We all signed the contract that day! I was so excited! Until my excitement turned to something else, not sure what to call it, maybe fear. Realizing we would be leaving the only home my children have ever known and it would be in 30 days! Would they love the house as we have? There have been so many happy memories here. Would the home enjoy even more great memories? They included a letter with their offer that told us how this was the house of their dreams. They had laid under the stars and talked about all they wanted in a home and THIS was it. They looked forward to raising their little family here and all the wonderful things they would do with it. For me, this was perfect! The letter brought me to tears. I sat with my husband, after a long day of softball, tearing up and talking about how perfect this all was and how it seemed meant to be. At least until 10:00 pm that night when I received the call that the deal was “going sour”. It was their perfect home until they researched the internet options and didn’t like them…..seriously.
Learn some patience
It’s been another week now and I’ve decided I won’t be reading any letters that come with the offers. We have had an inquiry from someone who wanted to do some “upgrades” and wanted to know if we are “motivated sellers”. Since the house has only been on the market for 13 days and priced really well for our area, I can’t say I’m motivated enough to pay for their upgrades. It was probably the best choice for them not to put an offer in. So this journey continues. The one of emotions on a rollercoaster. I get anxious every day for the house to get sold, then remind myself that it will and I just need to be patient. Rather than the planning or the repairs it’s now, when will it get sold, how much will it sell for, is it priced right, will we need to drop the price, getting out of the house on a moments notice so it can be viewed, cleaning it daily and on and on.
The good stuff
If anything is learned from all this, it’s that every experience in your life is a journey. Enjoy the great things about it and learn from the not so great things. I’m just waiting to get to the good stuff now. The planning of the travel and the getting there!
#toddler #caminobabies #changeyourlife #familyadventures #familytravel #forgetnormal #holidaywithkids #LPkids #sellthehouse #teentravel #toddlertravel #travelwithkids #traveldeeper #worldschoolers #worldschooling #caminobaby #bebrave
Where to begin?
Where do you even begin to decide to change your whole life? Leave everything behind and head off into the wild blue yonder? Well first you have to get past the feeling that you are totally crazy to even consider something that is sooo out of normal society. That’s probably the hardest part since I feel like I will be doubting myself throughout this whole journey when it comes to what is “normal”.
The American Dream?
I know most people would see what we have achieved and wonder if we have lost our minds. Isn’t the dream supposed to be to work for that big house in the ‘burbs with the great schools and the super awesome, high paying corporate job? Well we got there and it just didn’t feel like it was all that and a bag of chips. We put all of our time into work for the corporation, raising our kids and crazy amounts of time contributing to our community. It is a fantastic feeling to be a part of this, until it’s not. What were supposed to be the great schools felt like they were just letting our kids down, day after day, rather than educating them. The corporation just seemed to be cutting the benefits over time. The cozy community started exploding with populating and the heart that was once there was lost. Everything that once was just seemed to be fading away, all around the same time. When someone like me, that has been thinking thoughts of world travel for so long see’s all of this coming to a head, it’s only natural to think the time is NOW. Then it’s only a matter of getting the hubby on board!
One Dream, One Couple
My husband, Shawn, is one of the best people I have ever met in my life, other than my mother. He has always been the level headed, logical one. Not to say I’m not level headed or logical, but I have always been more of the dreamer than he is. I have had to desire to move and travel since before I can remember. He has always been the stay in one place forever kind of person. In the 24 years that we have been together we have had one apartment and two houses. The last one we have been in for the last 15 years. So we have defiantly done is staying in one place thing. Over the years I have harassed him so much about moving and traveling. I finally started traveling myself. I started with traveling to Spain and walking the Camino de Santiago by myself. It was the first time I had ever done anything like that on my own! It was scary and awesome all in one, and I was hooked. I then went back to walk again, this time taking my oldest and youngest daughters. It was a totally different experience, but still amazing. My husband, mother, other two daughters and (soon to be) son in law then met us in Europe and we spent two weeks traveling three countries. I was thrilled to have my husband there, hoping he would feel some of the desire I got from travel. It must have worked! A year later we are rolling with the plans to change it all and forget “normal”!
Moving Past Normal
So, now you’re past being normal and have to figure out exactly how you are going to fund this insanity. Most people don’t have so much disposable income that they can just fly off to another country on a whim and travel the world. I know we certainly don’t. There is a great worldschooling community online that is so helpful when it comes to figuring this stuff out, which I looked through frequently. Ultimately we decided the best thing for us was to sell our huge house, downsize and figure it out from there.
As of right now, our plan is to sell the house, buy a 5th wheel to park somewhere, invest our proceeds into some rental property and the girls and I will travel. The hubby will only be able to travel occasionally. Honestly, it makes me happy to take the girls to see new things, but it would make me even more happy for Shawn to be there. Through all the conversations about this we have always discussed the girls and I traveling and Shawn joining us full time after he decides to retire. Despite the fact that he always said he was perfectly happy with this and it made him happy to see us traveling, it did make me feel guilty. Especially if we had decided to sell the house and get an RV that he would be living in alone while we are off seeing the world. Though, if you knew my husband, you would know that being being in an RV and having the freedom to put his time into all his hobbies when ever he wanted to would make him as happy as a clam. So imagine my surprise when he told me he wanted to retire from his job in a year and travel full time! Maybe it’s all the travel shows I watch, maybe it’s the blogs I read him by people who did just that and are surviving better than fine. Which ever it was, his decision surprised me! So now the plan, for today, is to get the RV, the girls and I travel and he will retire in a year. This will give us a year of his income without the amount of bills we have now so that we can save more money. We are still up in the air about the investment property. No doubt we will decide once the house sells.
Here We Go!
So the house is for sale now! It’s all just a waiting game until it sells and I’m going crazy after only a week and a half!
#worldschooling #worldschoolers #familyadventures #traveldeeper #holidaywithkids #mytinyatlas #travelwithkids #familytravel #lpkids #caminobabies #caminobaby #sellthehouse #changeyourlife #forgetnormal #travelteens #teentravel
She Hit Refresh
I can’t believe it’s been a year! A year since I first started this page, with the intention of documenting the journey along the Camino de Santiago. Well life happens and things don’t always turn out the way you planned. Yes, we did walk the Camino! But life did not allow me the energy to blog it everyday.
It was extraordinary though! My oldest daughter, Amber, and I pushed my youngest daughter, Willow, in a jogging stroller across Spain on the Camino de Santiago Frances. Amber had just graduated high school and it was a trip we had talked about for many years. I wasn’t about to let the fact that I had a 16 month old baby get in the way of that! So we decided to take her with us! The journey was racked with pain in so many ways. It was a difficult task to push a baby in a huge stroller up mountains, which wasn’t even the hardest part of it. My daughters boyfriend of two years decided it was a good time to break things off with her, which made for a lot of crying and sobbing throughout the trip. But all of that aside, it was an amazing trip where we met some fantastic people we call friends and memories that will stay with us forever. Despite the hardships of it, I am thinking about doing another with my other daughters! If you were interested in this blog for the Camino with kids, I did post pictures through out our journey on my Facebook page with the same name “Camino Babies”. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/wrightgirls/
So What Next?!!
I currently homeschool my two middle daughters and have been dreaming of world schooling for a couple of years now. We are finally going to make it a reality!! Maybe this fits under the “Are you crazy?!” category also…maybe…possibly…probably!! All I know is I have LOVED the idea of it and apparently many others do too since it’s an actual thing and LOTS of people do it!! So I guess this blog will turn into a little record of our big adventures. We just put our house up for sale and I’ve started to plan what comes next. As of this minute, I’m not sure! So stay tuned! Going back to Europe is high on the list, but I’m just not sure where we will start. I know I will plan another Camino trip in the future, when my husband can go as well.
Are you CRAZY?!
No doubt those are the first thoughts of many people when I told them I would be, not only walking an almost 500 mile pilgrimage across northern Spain, but also taking my 17 month old daughter with me!
If you have not heard of the Camino, let me give you a little background on it. The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. The most popular route is the Camino Frances, which stretches 780 km (nearly 500 miles), from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, France to Santiago. This is the route we will be walking. It is the route I am most familiar with since I walked part of it by myself back in 2012 and have spent a lot of my time researching before I walked and since then. It is the most well known route and has steadily become the most populated route with pilgrims each year.
Over the years I have gotten a lot of different responses from people when I’ve told them about my excursion. Some people cannot even begin to understand why anyone would want to throw on a backpack and walk, day after day, for a month or more. Other’s see it the way I do, as a great adventure and enlightening life experience that is unlike anything we could ever have in our everyday lives. In fact, I think more people must think this way since the Confraternity of Saint James shows the number of pilgrims receiving the Compostela (certificate you get in Santiago for walking a minimum of 100 km) has increased from 2,491 in 1986 to 277,915 in 2016! I am sure there are more than that actually walking, since not everyone who walks receives a Compostela. When I walked in 2012, I did not walk all the way to Santiago, so I did not get a Compostela, yet it is listed that 192,499 people did! That’s a huge increase of pilgrims in just the five years since I walked.
Ok, so a lot of people are into throwing on a backpack and walking a really long distance, but why throw a baby into the mix of blisters, shin splints, snoring pilgrims and long walks?……Why not?! What an amazing life experience for anyone of any age! But ok, if you have to have a reason…
My oldest daughter is 18 and graduating high school this year. She knows the life path she wants to start out on, has made her school plans, living plans, grown up life plans. She went through her school years as a smart girl, working hard to get good grades, find that thing in life she thinks she wants to do with the rest of her life, that she’s interested in and would be good at. I’m a proud momma for sure! With all of that comes a lot of stress and anxiety unlike anything I ever saw or felt when I was growing up. To my surprise, since it is completely unlike her, she decided she wanted to take a gap year. My first thought was, why not utilize some of that time for self reflection and relaxation while also exploring and learning about different cultures?! The fact that I had a toddler only discouraged me a little and only for a brief moment. I knew there were people who had walked with children, even babies before. I had seen it first hand even! When I walked the first time, there was a mother who pushed her two small children in a jogging stroller by herself, and even had their dog in tow! When I had seen this the first time, I thought it was unusual, but that the mother was brave for taking on such an experience by herself. It never crossed my mind that I might, someday, be doing the same thing. I have read blogs and social media posts of many others who had also walked with their children. Some with babies as young as only a few months old! It certainly isn’t impossible to do, so why shouldn’t I be able to do it?!
So here we are, a few months worth of preparation and training and only four days before we begin our adventure! In the next few days, I hope to post some of the experience of preparing for such a trip and then our experiences along the way.