… and – continuing from here

We travelled to Indiana (from Chattanooga) for this reason:  we wanted to meet the Millers.  In person!

I met Jenn Miller almost 2 years ago online.  I can’t even remember how I found her blog… or how I linked up with the Families on the Move Group on Facebook…  but somehow, somewhere along the line… I connected with the Millers.

You know how you sometimes meet people in life who just get you?

Well… that’s how I felt about Jenn.  Right from the beginning, I thought:  “I definitely like this woman!  I think we’d be great friends!  I think that we’d have lots to talk about!”

A bit more about the Millers:  There’s 6 of them.  Jenn and Tony and their four kids (Hannah, Gabriel, Elisha and Ezra)… well – not exactly kids.  Hannah (the eldest) is 17 and Ez (the youngest) is 11.

The Miller family have been living nomadically for years now.  I can’t even count how many countries they’ve visited… how many places they’ve explored.  (Both Jenn and Tony need only their laptops and an internet connection to earn money from anywhere in the world).

I love how they live… and I think their kids are awesome, interesting and very well-adjusted.  I think they’re inspirational family… mostly because they live according to their own rules.  They have stepped politely outside of the Box of Societal Expectations… and they live life on their terms.  Whether it’s cycling through Europe… backpacking through South East Asia… buying a camper van and exploring New Zealand… or building a family homestead on an island in Canada – they follow their dreams… and they live deliberately.

Anyhoo… (I have a lot to say on what it means to live deliberately, but I’ll leave that for another post)…

So – as it turned out… (hooray! hurrah!) – the Miller Family happened to be in the United States at the same time as us…  so we immediately made arrangements to meet.

A few weeks ago, we arrived in Indianapolis… at a pizza restaurant owned by Tony’s parents.

Jenn – I must admit – took me by surprise.  For some reason, I had imagined her as petite (as in: shorter than me). It’s funny how you get an idea (based on photos) on how you think someone actually is… and then when you meet them in the flesh, you realise you were wrong.

For a start – Jenn is tall!  All the Millers are tall… they are a tall-tall family!  And Jenn’s voice also didn’t sound at all how I imagined.  She has a lovely smooth tone to her voice and a far milder accent than what I had anticipated.

Funny how those things stood out:  height and voice.  It threw me a bit.  I had been chatting online with Jenn for many months – and in my head I had this set-in-stone mental picture of who I thought she was… and so, to meet her in-the-flesh initially threw me (surprisingly) off-guard.

And I remember thinking:  “Oh crap!  I’ve probably imagined everything about her completely wrong!  What if this whole meeting-thing turns out to be horribly, horribly awkward!?”

I needn’t have worried.

Jenn in the flesh is still very much Jenn-from-the-blog…  although (heh! heh!)… slightly more potty-mouthed and less-refined… which immediately put me at ease!  And I thought:  “Ah-ha!  I think I’ve met a kindred!”

After some pizza (and an all-too-brief) conversation with the Millers, we checked into a nearby hotel and put our tired offspring to bed.  The weather in Indianapolis was – of course – VERY different to warm Florida and chilly Chattanooga.  Indianapolis was COLD… (and – much to the children’s undiluted glee)… SNOWY!

The following evening, we met the Millers again.  This time – at a Mexican restaurant (I’d happily eat Mexican food every single day!).  More conversation followed… and afterwards, Tony took us all for a drive in the van to see some Christmas lights.

One of the things I really love about the United States in Christmas time is how seriously people take their decorating.  Almost every home has a Christmas tree… and a collection of festive decorations.  Most houses have fairy lights… somewhere.  Many houses are draped from top to toe in fairy lights!  (plus reindeer and Santas on the roof… and wreaths on the front door… and giant, inflatable snow-globes in the font yard…)

It’s a magical thing to see… especially with the snow.

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After the lights… we went back to the pizza shop and had our first-ever experience of eggnog (a must-do American cultural experience).  To be honest – I never liked the sound of that word:  eggnog.  It’s an off-putting word.  It sounds like uncooked egg whites.. mixed with some “nog” (which sounds… I dunno… somewhat dodgy).

The Millers gave us our first eggnog experience – and even had eggnog milkshakes made for us.

Eggnog… let me say… tastes nothing like egg.  Or nog.

I’m still not sure what it tastes like though.  The milkshake-version was divine and I quaffed mine down.

The following day, the Millers were busy… so we took the kids to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.

Can I just say…. “Wow!!”

What an incredible museum for kids!  Their dinosaur section – alone – could have had us educated and entertained for the entire day.  Apart from the life-sized dinosaur skeletons… they had a fascinating lab where you could watch how curators prepared fossils for display at the museum.  Among the (many) dino fossils they had in their possession – there was a huge T-Rex thigh bone (which Joah lovingly stroked)… and the enormous skull of a Triceratops.

Also in the museum was an awesome section on treasures and archeology… there were mirror mazes to crawl through… water dams to build… mini tractors and cranes to operate… a huge, historical carousel to ride… an entire train section to explore (with tracks to build, miniature trains to watch and a huge, old steam engine to climb…)

Here’s a pic or two…

Morgan touching a fossilised T-Rex bone...

Morgan touching a fossilised T-Rex bone…

In the treasures & archeology section, there was a sarcophagus that was a puzzle...

In the treasures & archeology section, there was a sarcophagus that was a puzzle…

If you have kids… and if you ever find yourself in Indianapolis:  visit the Indianapolis Children’s Museum!

Just saying…

After a wonderful day exploring the museum, we had dinner at Chillis… and by the time we had finished, it was snowing.  Lots and lots of snow – falling gracefully and beautifully from the sky.

Since we were fairly close to the hotel, Nick and Morgan decided to walk back to the hotel in the snow.  Joah and I decided to drive.  The two of us rushed upstairs and watched Morgan and Nick approaching from the distance… giggling and chasing… and trying to catch flakes with their tongues.

It was another one of those beautiful moments:  snow-flakes… tongues… excited children… new experiences… always THOSE kinds of things that make my heart the warmest.

The next day, it was time to see the Millers for one last time… and to say good-bye…  🙁

We drove through thick, freshly-fallen snow to Tony’s parents’ home… and the Millers welcomed us inside.

Jenn making snow ice-cream while the kids look on...

Jenn making snow ice-cream while the kids look on…

Snow ice-cream! Yummers!

Snow ice-cream! Yummers!

Hot chocolate, freshly-baked yummies and happy kidlets..

Hot chocolate, freshly-baked yummies and happy kidlets..

There were freshly baked cookies… Canadian hot chocolate… and Jenn even made a bowl of snow ice-cream!  Seriously!  She had put out a bowl outside the night before… and she prepared home-made ice-cream with the freshly fallen snow!  The woman is super-resourceful… she even knits the most divine socks!  Knits!!  And she makes felt!  And then makes things out of felt!

(Since I seriously suck in the departments of cooking / baking / sewing / knitting / crafting / making things)… I tend to get quickly awe-struck by people who demonstrate these skills…

… and don’t get me wrong.  Jenn might be good at all the homebody women’s jobs – but that’s not all she’s made of.   I bet that woman could kill, skin and bottle a moose… and feed a large family for a month on imaginative meals using moose-meat!…

Hmmm….

Also on the morning agenda with the Millers was… (and it had to happen)… a snow fight!  And snowmen… and snow angels…. and all things SNOW!  (It was the perfect snow for the occasion)…

We had loads of fun… racing around… pelting each other with snow… digging walls and mini-fortresses to hide behind…  we loved it!

Here’s some photos of the fun…

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Afterwards… we took our wet, icy selves back indoors… and warmed up with tea.  Hannah brought out her musical instruments (I love this whimsical Creative Creature who travels everywhere with 3 musical instruments and a sketch book in tow… she reminds me of a graceful elf from Lord of the Rings.  I kept imagining her with pointy ears and an Elven crown)…

Soon… there was singing.  And laughing.  And more singing…

I love this photo. It perfectly expresses the casual and relaxed friendship and comfort with our new friends… (look how Joah is comfortably nuzzled between Jenn and Ez!)… LOVE it!

I love this photo. It perfectly expresses the casual and relaxed friendship and comfort with our new friends… (look how Joah is comfortably nuzzled between Jenn and Ez!)… LOVE it!

And then (too soon)… it was time for us to go.

It was too quick and too soon.  I felt I still had so much to say… so much to ask…  so many stories I felt that still needed to be shared.  So much that still needed to be said…

I don’t think this will be the last time we see the Millers (in the flesh)…

But – in the meantime, I shall have to settle with online discussions, social media… and e-mails.

I’m so glad that we got the chance to meet the Millers.  It’s the first time that I’ve met (in-the-flesh) another gasp! nomadic family.  It was nice to feel got.  It was wonderful to be with a family who not only dreams the same kind of dreams as we do… but who LIVES those dreams too…

PS:  Here’s a post from Jenn’s blog about meeting us from her perspective…