KelloggShow Family: Lifestyles Of The Rich in Spirit

Lifestyles of the Rich in Spirit
Who are these people who can take photos like this? If I ever found a swing on a beach like this, I'd have a gazillion people climbing me, and the swing would break and we'd all crash!

We all run into two different types of people in life, risk takers, and those who play it safe. The risk takers seize the day, they run taking seemingly uninhibited leaps off the edges of cliffs. They are excited to throw themselves into the unknown – new businesses, new opportunities, new  locations. Those who play it safe, tend to weigh the options and the outcome, they think things through before taking action, and are often prepared for all situations. If I had a penny for everytime we were asked, “How do you do it?” I’d be rich. I’ve written blogs about how we do it financially. I’ve written blogs about how we do it, physically. Today, I want to write about how we do it emotionally.

One of the top Things To Do In Canmore is caving!
Caving Rat’s Nest Cave was super wild fun!

Before we go any further, I should tell you I’m a risk taker of epic proportions. I have been accused of being reckless. Dan is a risk taker, but a more subtle one. Where I literally think, “I want to do that,” and jump; Dan will put much more thought into an action and weigh the pros and cons. After some consideration he will take the risk if 1) the consequence of failure is not life destroying or 2) if the likelihood of success outweighs that of failure.

After a huge fight over a risk that I was willing to take, that he deemed too dangerous, he nixed my plans.  See, I wanted to go as far North in Alaska as the Arctic Ocean.  Now, he did too, but there were a lot of issues to sort out.

First, and most pressing, this was not a drive for the RV, and so we’d be packing 13 people into a Suburban, driving a 16 hour long drive on a dirt road with no services. We’d already popped a truck tire on the dirt road to McCarthy/Kenicott in the middle of almost nowhere. Luckily there was at least a town, Chitina, about 2 hours away, where we found a dude to patch our spare for $45, but still, 16 hours is a huge cry from 2 …

Dan was working on a plan … My plan? Just send it. Pack a cooler, a few spare tires and go. We’ll figure it out if/when something happens. It’a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, let’s not overthink, let’s just do it. 

Dan nixed the plan because What If …

1)  what if the 20 year old truck decided to conk out in the middle of nowhere. Dan would have to walk or hitchhike possibly hundreds of miles and leave us, alone, possibly overnight in the middle of nowhere.

2)  We could not handle, nor would it be safe to drive, 16 hours packed like sardines in a vehicle that seats 8 comfortably.

My counter arguments 1) we are packing, and I am accompanied by a 21 year old male, a 19 year old male and an 18 year old male all who are very skilled at handling firearms … we’d be fine. 2) We can handle anything and we’d be driving crazy slow, because of the crummy road, so risks were low of anything happening

Despite these very compelling counter-points, we did not go to the Arctic Ocean. I may or may not have acted like a petulant child for a few hours (days).

In my defense, I really wanted to go. It was on my bucket list of things to do in Alaska.  I thought it would be an epic experience to swim in the Arctic Ocean with my family. No doubt, most of you would agree with Dan, I even agree with Dan now. I just tend to throw caution to the wind and trust that everything will (eventually) work out. 

Feminist women are probably having a heart attack that my husband had the audacity to take control of a situation and to actually say NO. I can’t say I didn’t have that visceral reaction, at first I hate to be told no. But, after things had settled down and I began thinking more rationally, I began thinking about our life together. Now, everyone who knows me, knows I’m not a PC type of person, I’m not careful with my words and I’m forthright and outspoken about our life, so long as it doesn’t invade areas that should be private. 

I tell you this because what I’m about to say is so not politically acceptable in our society today. In today’s society masculinity and strength in men is outright ridiculed, it’s been deemed toxic. But, I’ll tell you what, men who take care of their families, who provide for and protect their families are good men, desirable men, sexy men. Ladies, I trust my husband. I trust that he has all of our best interests at heart, I trust that he is logical, I trust that he will take care of us, that he’s not an ogre. I married him, I made the conscious choice to make him the father of my children and my lifelong partner … if he’s going to exert his God given right, as head of Household, I’m going to trust him.

I mean, in all honesty, if I was having qualms about doing something, then I know he wouldn’t force me to do anything.

The fact that Dan is responsible financially for our family, weighs heavily on him and he’s not about to risk all he’s accomplished on a whim. But, at the same time, he cares very much about my happiness, because he loves me, and so he will try to make all my dreams come true, even if it means pushing him past his comfort zone in terms of financial risk taking, cuz let’s face it, the risks he is most hesitant to take involve finances and/or our safety. 

It’s so interesting how totaly different perspectives and personalities come together in a marriage to either bind or destroy.

To be completely honest, we are polar opposites. I run spontaneity full speed.  If left to my own devices, I would think nothing through, and unfortunately, walk away the loser more often than not. I have Dan to keep me grounded and winning in most ventures. Whereas Dan has a tendency to get stuck in the development of the plan, rarely getting it off the ground. He has me to urge him to jump. 

We share a positive outlook on life and the ability to stray from the beaten path. Freedom is our ultimate goal. Freedom to choose. To do. To be. This is our most cherished gift outside our family.  We are not cash rich, but we are rich in spirit.

Authenticity

Extended Road Trips are a lesson in roughing it.
Overcoming hardships, is as easy as changing perspective.

Our life may be unconventional and society’s greatest fear (living in a van down by the river), but we live authentically, we live according to our rules … it’s that “freedom to choose” thing that we value so much. So many friends and family are slaves to their jobs, to the upkeep of their homes, the rat race. They are no longer content to keep up with the Jones’, but they have to surpass them. Status is how everyone is judged. At every cocktail party, the age old question, “What do you do?” is lobbed, not out of curiosity, but rather, status. Somehow, we have to get past comparing ourselves to others

I love telling everyone that I’m a wife and mom. It’s not what anyone expects someone to brag about, and they don’t know where to go with it. It’s almost an immediate conversation killer, unless someone pipes in with how many children Dan and I have.  I’ll be honest though, I didn’t always take pride in my life’s work. Being a wife and mom isn’t a very lofty career path in society these days, and I felt intense pressure to be more. But, as I matured and as I started to really learn who I was and what I knew to be important, I became more and more content, more and more driven in my career to set my kids apart and show them what life was really about. 

I know where everyone is these days. Dan and I started out on the expectation highway because we had no clue there was any other way to live. We were sheltered. We were told, high school, college, jobs, marriage, family, retirement. We were told we had to “pay our dues”. We had to struggle and live miserable existenses, going to jobs we hated. We were dismissed when we expressed disappointment with adulthood. It took exhaustion, unease and the feeling of living totally fraudulent existences for us to seek something outside the norm. 

Living our authentic life means living without excuses, going after the things we want and being true to ourselves. It means teaching our kids that the life dictated by society is not the only option. Living for the weekend and two weeks of vacation is not the only way to live.

Thinking Money = Freedom

KelloggShowKids Whitewater Kayaking
Kady did so great following Grady’s lines!

Our family of 14 is massive compared to today’s average of like, 1.4 kids. We take a lot of heat, bullying, and discrimination for having had the nerve to have 12 kids. Like, we are selfish for having so many kids. As if, others who have 1 or 2 deep down inside are jealous that we got to have this many, like we won the big family lottery and they would have had more if not for {insert their grievance here}.

And, while I acknowledge whole heartedly that we have been blessed beyond measure, that God has rained down indescribable gifts upon Dan and I, it aint easy. Having 12 kids means you make massive sacrifices, of such giant proportions, I dare say few can even fathom.  

Finances are always tight … always. But, our mindsets are different in that we believe in the the foundation we are giving our kids, foundations that wouldn’t be possible if we were wealthy.  If we had excess cash, our kids would be spoiled, because that’s who I am. I’d give and give. They wouldn’t have to work jobs they dislike, or buy their own cars, or appreciate the value of struggle.  I don’t think I’d have been able to instill in them the value of the family unit,  something far greater than anything money could buy.

Family is acceptance, family is love, family is support, and family is security. Could you imagine our kids being bullied? Like, who would dare? They walk around with confidence, they are their true authentic selves 100% of every day because they are safe, and free, and so very loved by so many. They know they are capable of anything, they are strong emotionally and physically. They forge their own paths, giving no thought to the continuous beraging of family and “friends”.

“Why aren’t you in college? “

“You need a back up to that life plan. Do you know how hard it is to break into that career?”

“Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation. We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.” ― Fulton J. Sheen

Sure, with our numbers we are better suited for farm life, but alas, we have no land, our ancestors saved nothing for us. So, what do we do? We cram ourselves into a 36’ RV and make it work.

Why? Because it’s fun. It’s given us the ability to see and do things that we never could have imagined doing. My kids, heck our youngest kids, have seen and done more than I did in 38 years of life! It’s also an incredible way to gain an education. Homeschooling is so easy for a traveling family. 

How? Because we take risks. We don’t, typically, overthink things to death. RV’ing sounded amazing, it felt doable, and so we jumped. If it ever stops working, we’ll find something new to keep us pumped for the sunrise every day.

Immune To Public Opinion

Indeed, we are. Ask anyone. We are who we are and, with few exceptions, do not apologize for it.

Yes, we are wild and crazy. We show up to places and wreak havoc, not in a rude way, but not in an unconventional way either. The outdoors is our playground. We climb fences to get the better views, we scale walls to see what’s on the other side, we (gasp) go off trails to forge our own path, we push our limits everywhere, on mountains, rivers…everywhere.

I can’t tell you how many times we have had the police called on us because we are playing. Not once, but 3 separate times, police have showed up to playgrounds because our kids climbed a tree! What has happened to people these days that they call the cops on kids climbing trees?

Once a ranger had a serious talking to with Dan about “the kids running in the woods”. That is not a lie, it really happened. He, too, was angry they climbed trees, but his main concern was the running. I’m going to leave this here … ponder the absurdity.

We’ve been pulled over by state police after a crazy campground host parked his John Deere in front of our RV because we parked in a parking spot at a trail head and he was livid because it was a “big RV”. Dan removed the John Deere and we drove away. LOL.

We let the kids wrestle and post the videos on Youtube. You wouldn’t believe how many people believe wrestling is teaching violent behavior!

I crashed a dirtbike and flew 20 feet or so in the air and we posted that video and the majority of the comments are along the lines of, “Women should be in the kitchen”, “make me a sandwich woman”, “my mom crashed going 185 mph and she didn’t act like such a baby”. They are funny, but so devoid of any humanity, that they are also depraved.

We are often featured in magazines or on TV … the comments are a sad commentary on today’s world. All the commenters do the same exact thing, they follow the same exact paths and they all react very strongly if someone does something very VERY different.

We don’t let it bother us, because we can’t. If we did, we would be paralyzed with fear and we’d live out or days being miserable.

Play By Our Own Rules

Unstoppable people are the happiest.
Evaluate your fear, take chances, turn off the noise … You do You!

What you see is what you get. We are living our lives by our own rules and we share much of  it with whomever is interested. We don’t have a public persona as well as a private one. We are who we are unapologetically. We aren’t perfect, we screw up, make dumb decisions, fight, argue, and generally screw up.  

I am not a domestic goddess, I do my best.  I strive to be a homemaker, a wife and mom. I want to be the one who takes care of my family, raises our children and … well, it’s what I want, but not always what I do. I fail a lot. Not gonna toot my own horn here, but I am a very selfless person. However, I can be so selfless that I crack and become a self-centered little B whose sole intention is to make everyone pay. I also swear a lot. I mean, a lot. I do a good job of censoring when around the elderly and the young, but everyone else, sorry (not sorry). Oh and around priests. I’ve never yet sworn around a priest.

Now, if you were hoping for an accounting of everyone’s down sides, you won’t get it from me, but our true selves shine through on the daily. I just kicked two kids out of the RV for being disrespectful punks … it happens.

We don’t hide from ourselves, but we also are not content with ourselves. We are always trying to grow and improve and that’s kinda what full time travel does for us … it shines a light (sometimes too bright) on our short-comings and our faults. We see them clear as day. Sometimes they are pointed out to us. The other day Dan said to me, in one of my weaker character moments, “I can’t believe a 44 year old woman acts this way.” bwaaaahaaaa! It’s true, it’s true. I’m pretty awesome, but I can royally suck too.

Risks

The Ultimate Snowboarding Gear List is all about functionality and performance.
Throwing Wild Cats off sick jumps is my favorite way to spend the day.

I touched upon this, but seriously, we take what most would could call huge risks. We maintain that driving on highways is the most dangerous thing we do every day, everything else pales in comparison. Entrusting our kids education and safety to anyone other than us, we consider too big a risk to even take. Everything else, is up for debate.

But, it would seem, the rest of the country is fine with handing their kids over to others, but they want mandates and massive regulations on everything from public smoking to guns to how to hike. The United States is not as free as we like to pretend. Around every corner is a group that wants to outlaw something. Around every corner is an ambulance chaser ready and willing to sue anyone for a payout. And so, our kids can’t even run on playgrounds at school any longer because some idiot attorney will sue on behalf of the parents in hopes of winning big money.

Every decision is made with liability in mind. Every decision is made to minimize the ability for an opportunist to sue. As a result, our kids suffer. 

The fun has been squelched and so people like us tend to run into a lot of trouble! One of our Canadian friends told us their 15 year old son noticed how regulated everything in the US was when they started traveling. He said, it’s so ridiculous that you can’t even scooter in a campground. Truth!

Canada, gets a very bad rep from Americans. The whole universal health care, anti-gun philosophy of the majority of her citizens makes people like me cringe. HOWEVER, there are few rules regarding personal safety. It’s almost worth it …

I wondered as we were fishing in the Russian River, with countless other fishermen, and came within 20 feet of a black bear and maybe 100 yards of another, who gets to decide what risks are acceptable and which aren’t? Apparently black bears and grizzlies are a common sight on the river banks in Cooper’s Landing. A friend told of a story where she came face to face with a Grizzly … face to face, y’all.

So, it begs the question, why is this a reasonable risk? Or is it not? Are these fishermen crazy? Insane? The State of Alaska doesn’t think so. The park rangers don’t think so. Obviously all the people fishing down there don’t think so. And, quite frankly, I don’t think so. I think it’s calculated. I think every day every one of us takes risks, we just maybe don’t realize it.

Hop in a car … risk. Walk down the street…risk. Go to College … risk. Walk in a post office…risk. Go to school…risk. Cross the street…risk. Go to work…risk. Unless you stay at home and don’t leave your house, you are always at risk.

Memories Are Our Currency

I Love Homeschooling because I can go to the beach with my family and not have to get an excused absence!
We had a blast at Huntington Beach in November!

Leaving a legacy and being a part of our children’s childhood memories is more important to us than providing them with a car or shipping them off for cool experiences, more than college. Being a part of our kids’ lives, an integral, relative and important part, is more important to us than going to Hawaii for our anniversary or driving a new car or renovating our kitchen.  

We value family more than anything else in this world. We enjoy each other’s company, we know we have each others backs and we have built-in best friends. Dan and I raised our kids to be fun to be around, we raised them to have grit. They are adaptable, adventurous and fun. They don’t complain when we are out doing strenuous, difficult and challenging activities. In fact, they rally and they push each other, it’s awesome to see. They don’t complain when they can’t do something they want to do, they simply figure out a way.

We’ve been in so many outrageous situations and our kids become beast. From Cottonmouths on the Gauley River to snowmobiles catching fire in the back country, we’ve been through so much as a famil. Sometimes we call it the Kellogg Curse. Basically if something can go wrong or made more difficult, it will … that’s the Kellogg curse.  Our motto is, “Nothing is Easy.”  And, yet, we look back on these instances with such fondness. The worst experiences always become the best stories. 

Live, Laugh Love

Authenticity is finding freedom.
This is what freedom looks like to us.

In my humble opinion, in today’s day and age, where women can become men and men can become women, I think individual choices about how one decides to live their lives should be equally above reproach.  To all the naysayers and social justice warriors, we appreciate your concern, really we do, but would appreciate it even more if you kept your sideline quarterbacking to yourselves. It’s insane the vulgarity that goes on online. I’ve never seen anything like it. So much hate, so much inability to cope … makes one wonder if basic life skills are not being taught?

You will never see us in your face regarding your life choices. We would never ever deem ourselves worthy to tell you how we think you should live. Our faith helps guide our morality, but we are led to love, not to shame.

In everyday parenting, in everyday life, I daresay the majority of us have enough trouble raising and leading and educating our own kids. Why can’t we just cheerlead for each other? Instead my social media feed is jam packed with things like photos of mom’s being shamed because they are on their phones while their kids play at the park, or a photo of a car that just sped past the poster, or something as ludicrous as a photo of a guy with a lot of tattoos at a family carnival with the caption, “Looks like someone I’d bring home to spend time with the family.” 

Personally, I think, as a society, we’ve placed too much weight on diversity. I think it’s time to focus on the things that unify us as people. Instead of looking for differences, let’s look for similarities. We are all on the same path. We are all trying to build a little happiness in this very difficult life.

Smile at each other. Encourage each other. Look past the speck in your neighbor’s eye, because no doubt you have a log in your own. Stop pointing fingers, stop discouraging and instead, encourage, love and support. Teach your own children your values, but also to love everyone.

In practice it’s so much easier than hate, than anger. Seriously, it’s gotta suck to always be mad… I mean, imagine the energy it takes to harbor so much hate and anger. If you are going to exert that amount of energy to be angry, why not channel it for good?  This is as much directed at me, the Irish blooded, hot tempered girl that I am, as it is to anyone else. A kind word, a gentle ear goes so much further in promoting change than hatred and cruelty.

KelloggShow Family: How we live our lives.

 

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