Dipping Our Toes in the Water


Cloud Rainbow?! This little gal hung around in the sky for a good long while on Saturday afternoon.


This past weekend is one we had been waiting for impatiently over the past 51 weeks. The Kansas Mammoth Art & Music Festival, imagined by our best gal Tammy Finnell and brought to life in 2018 through a whole host of amazing folks, celebrated it's second anniversary! Given our impending launch into the extreme lifestyle of "Van Living", we figured this would be a perfect test run of our optimistic accommodation theories. :-) If there is one thing I know with absolute certainty, it is that you canNOT jump into a wholly foreign lifestyle without unhealthy amounts of positivity and at least the bones of a plan.


Friday afternoon rolled around and we raced in and out of the house, stocking the van with multi-colored totes and various sized bags of things we 'needed'. HA! The time ticked down and with every item we packed, Alex and I looked at each other with widening eyes. Suddenly, we hit the threshold of insanity and burst out laughing. We can't pack well for 2 days...how are we going to do it for-ev-er?!?!?! Lord, love a duck and save us from ourselves. After loading up the children and every last thing not nailed down, we jumped in and said, "Do we have it all? Well, we have enough!" Down the road we went, packed for a weekend of festival fun and an apocalypse. #same #prepper


Upon arrival, we immediately gave ourselves two points for installing a screen (very DIY) across the wide open back doors because ventilation + bugs = no more ventilation. #byefelicia The current hypothesis is that when we camp for a few days in one spot, we will set up a two man tent for the kiddos to sleep in and we will sleep in the van because space and happy marriages go together. We popped up the tent, raised a canopy and rolled out the gig carpet, deducting one point for forgetting the lantern. We had planned a full-size, memory foam mattress topper as the bed for the girls and luckily it fit into the tent easy peasy lemon squeezy. Two points. With a few tapestries strategically hung for aesthetics and shade, we set out to the main stage for some live music, chairs and drinks in hand. The evening rolled on with a peaceful, easy feeling.

Relaxing to the groovy tunes of The Southwind Coalition on Friday Night

The live music was groovy and the smiles were epidemic. You could feel the joy in the cool, sunset-colored air. When the stage shut down for the night we moved the after-party back to our campsite for a few wee hours of picking and laughing around the bonfire. Night 1: #nailedit #homesweethome

We fell asleep to the wind rustling the cottonwoods high above us and the heady aroma of woodsmoke from the fire. Is this real life?


Day two took Alex back to the farm, unfortunately. That whole, "Make hay while the sun shines," is a real thing. Before he skedaddled, we made our first cup of coffee with our little electric water pot and our coffee press. The bubbling of the water and the warm roasty goodness had me wondering if I was possibly still dreaming. By golly you guys...this crazy adventure might just work. A smooch and a selfie and Alex headed out for the day. The girls and I woke slowly and headed up to the Breakfast on the Bricks for yummy food, window shopping, friends and more live music.

First cup of coffee after the first night spent in the van!!

The afternoon was spent coloring, catching up with friends in the shade and making crafts. It was deliciously slow moving. We caught more music on the main stage and snagged a nap in the van during the heat of it all. Air conditioning = the best 45 minutes of the day. Our sweet birds slayed the aerial circus workshop that they had been living for over the last 364 days. All their dreams have now come true and we have nothing more to offer them except a life in the circus. #goals


Friend extraordinaire, Chandra Doane, sent us down memory lane with LIP SMACKERS, Y'ALL.

Alex flew in hot from the field, we changed clothes and got ready for our show in the van. Every time we realize we can stand up straight INSIDE the van, we give ourselves 5 points. The extended roof is already saving lives around here. Ready to entertain, we headed up to the stage to catch a little Tyler Gregory and get set up.


The next few hours blur together with sweet tunes, high-energy bluegrass, story-telling and laughs. We. Love. What. We. Do. Thank you to each of you for your time and positive compliments after our show. It is our great pleasure to perform for you!

Great snap by the one and only Rickey Ninemire! Thanks for the capture, Friend!

The circus gave the coolest show and Dustin Arbuckle & the Damnations threatened to burn down the house with their on fire performance! If the rain hadn't been looming, we may have danced all night! Alas, the severe weather pushed in and we raced to help our friends get everything taken down and packed away before the storm. Back at camp, the impending rain encouraged us to test our other accommodation ideas. We put away the tent and canopy, rolled up the rug and set up the girls' bed in the 'living room' area of the van. MAGIC. 1,457 points to us! As the rain began, we were tucked up all snug in our beds with a little A/C to thin the summer mugginess clinging to the sheets. Our precious little birds made shadow puppets on the ceiling and I marveled at their delight in themselves and one small flashlight. How lucky are we?

Caught through the window, unaware that we were watching them. Shadow puppets for the win.


There are a million and one details I've left out. We have a list a country-mile wide of ways to do it differently when we REALLY get on the road, more than 20 minutes from the farm. I got all stressed out and rushed and became the 'Momster'. Alex didn't get to do the whole weekend with us and the girls were probably under-fed and over-tired. You know what though? So. So what? Someone asked me if I thought it was a success or a failure, this test-run we did. I found myself comforted by the fact that it was neither. It just WAS. I was present for the small moments that felt good and aware of the molehills I made into mountains and that was encouraging. We gathered so much experience and feel more educated now than a few days ago and to me that's priceless. We do not succeed or fail at everything, but rather FLEX. In anything you do that takes risk or has the ability to go in a way you didn't plan for, it's not fair to try and fit it in a box of success or failure. If you can be flexible and present then you can learn and grow from it and shouldn't that be the goal? Growth and Change? They are only uncomfortable if you try to fit them into a box. Be flexible. Move with them and they will guide you through this journey called life.


17 days until we step off into the promise of the unknown, as ready as we will be.


What a brilliant idea, these Mammoth Festival Shenanigans. Thanks for having us Mama Tammy!


A good morning, indeed!

In the meantime, we try to sell our homeplace and farmground and prepare our hearts for the big rollout on the 27th. Wish us stout coffee and more sleep...until next time!

Amanda Jo



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