HOW WE BECAME A NOMADIC FAMILY (Part 1)

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Family RV

When Brent and I married in 1998, we had decided ahead of time to take our first year off from outside commitments or even work.  The plan was to just enjoy one another and spend as much time as possible getting to know each other.  The idea grew out of a verse from the Bible:

When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.   (Deuteronomy 24:5)

Our Wedding day

Wedding Day

PITFALL: Then, like now, his heart was often bigger than his wallet, so he did end up doing some odd jobs to keep us sustained.  The romantic idea had some definite pitfalls, but it laid the groundwork for choosing joy early on in our marriage.  At the time, we did not realize that spending that much time together in our first year was forging a bond that would teach us how to live together 24-7. We were making an “as long as we both shall live” kind of bond.

Following graduation from Columbia International University, we had picture-perfect November wedding in Virginia and an  adventurous honeymoon in snowy Vermont. We moved into our first little house.  Brent carried me over the threshold.  That house lasted exactly one week, no joke.  That’s another story.

Ultimately, we decided upon tent camping, rising with the sun, sleeping as it set.  As you might expect from our sunset hours, we were soon expecting our firstborn.   For this newly expectant momma, tent camping quickly lost its appeal.  We packed up Brent’s guitar and  rolled up our tents. We were vegetarians, taking a natural,  herbal-minded approach to life and to my pregnancy.

During a routine prenatal check-up, blood work indicated a positive for Lyme disease. I had probably contracted it during our Vermont Honeymoon.  My ob-gyn suggested we abort the baby in my womb and start again after I treated my body for Lyme.  In her opinion, continuing the pregnancy put me at risk of bringing a baby with special needs into the world.  We promptly removed my records and care from her office.

We believe that all life is always valuable.

It was at this point that we met the owners of a midwifery clinic. We can best describe them as “Christian hippies”.  They were serving the Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities of Lancaster County.   As you might imagine, the fit was perfect.  I learned a lot about midwifery and simple living from the daily interaction from the Amish and life inside a midwifery clinic.  We spent the balance of my pregnancy rooming above the clinic.

Amish Parking

Amish Buggy Parking. The horses are unhitched and resting under trees.

Brent covered our small lodging costs and simple eating by doing construction for the owners of the midwifery clinic.  Brent had just completed a decade in college and grad school. Let`s say he had a significant learning curve; but he tackled it with gusto.  He even cut our large yard with an old-fashioned, human-powered reel mower.

I spent my days making homemade bread, fresh granola and herbal tinctures.

Travel Family

Canning peaches–photo courtesy of Dawn Nolt

Amish Bread

Homemade bread made from freshly ground wheat. Photo courtesy of Dawn Nolt

At the clinic, I helped out with expectant ladies where I could.  My interest in women’s care grew.  Brent and I spent our evenings taking long walks by lantern light, getting to know our Amish neighbors. We enjoyed buying “self-service” raw milk, pastured eggs and organically grown vegetables. We even took an occasional horse and buggy ride.

Amish horses and mules

Amish mules working the fields

One of the greatest life lessons we learned in those days was seeing the beauty of a whole family working together.  Not only did Amish mothers stay at home, but farmer fathers were greatly involved in child-rearing as well.  It was a common sight to see five or six children (including  a couple of toddlers) out  in the fields with father.  We were invited to many meals where the entire family ate together three times a day.  The beauty of an agrarian family, in contrast to the surrounding industrialized world, permanently left its mark on this young couple.  Before our first son was born, we resolved to make family a priority over any other venture in life.

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Brent and Stacey-jean Inion
Brent and Stacey-jean Inion
Brent and Stacey-jean Inion, parents of nine (including four children adopted with special needs), 2014 National Geographic Travelers of the Year and the National Geographic Travelers People's Choice Travelers of the Year. They love to laugh, to read and to explore as a family. The secret to their marital bliss is an early morning cup of freshly brewed coffee before the children awake.

4 Comments

  1. Dawn Nolt says:

    So fascinating, Stacy-Jean, to read your story. I love your approach to life, your mothering skills, your adventure spirit and so much more. You are a gifted woman.

  2. Alyson says:

    Now I’m waiting for part 2! I’ll never forget visiting Lancaster county, a different world. What surprised me the most was a waitress in our motel, she was totally shocked that we didn’t have Amish people in Australia or London. That trip was actually one of the things very high on the list when we left home for nomadic travel, I wanted the boys to experience as many cultures as possible from around the world, I think it will make them better adults with more choices and acceptance for all people ( I hope!).

    • Stacey-jean Inion says:

      What a funny memory. Without travel a person’s world is very small. I agree that exposure to other cultures is one of the greater gifts we can give our children.

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