We’re the Box Car Kids. Remember them? Four spunky, resourceful orphaned kids and their dog living in an abandoned train boxcar in the woods? The first book was published in 1924. Fast forward nearly 100 years and that’s us. Only we don’t live in an abandoned train car; until recently we lived in a 38-foot(after 2 years in a 27-foot) travel trailer- Mom, 4 kids (all adopted from China), 2 dogs and a cat. We’re part of history – just another family touched (if you call being drop-kicked into an abyss being touched) by the Great Recession of the 21st Century.

We moved from Colorado where my son (born with a heart defect) could not thrive at the high altitude, to California in 2008.  Unable to sell our 5-bedroom home at the time (this was during the housing bubble melt down) we rented it.  But our renter decided not to pay rent (he believed God had provided him with the home) and in the nearly six months it took for the courts to remove him the bank repossessed it. I became unemployed (twice now)- laid off in the summer of 2009 as part of an ‘overhead reduction’ when the lack of construction and development made environmental permits unnecessary  and again at the end of September 2011 after a brief stint at a temporary job.  Some people (the school system for instance) considered us homeless. I preferred ‘alternatively housed.’ Homeless was the 2 months in the summer of 2009 that we spent living in a tent in various parks and campgrounds.

Eventually we made the very big decision to give up on staying in California, despite the fact that we all love the state.  In the summer of 2012 we packed up our belongings, sold the trailer, and moved to the Midwest where I have family.  We moved into a larger trailer (mobile home) and I returned to school for a teaching certificate. After 2 years as a middle school science teacher I jumped at the opportunity to become a STEM Coach for my school district. While this was progress in some ways it did not include a pay raise so we continue to struggle with making ends meet on a beginning teacher’s salary. Mid 30s isn’t bad for a young single person just out of school but it’s way below the poverty level for a family of 5. Currently (January 2017) my eldest is a sophomore at Indiana University studying Global Sustainability, my middle daughter is a junior in high school and the youngest two are in junior high. I’m doing my best to hang on for another 5 years until they’ve all flown the nest and are off to better things!

This is our story.

Published posts may be revised from time to time.

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27 Responses to About

  1. Heather W says:

    Hi – I have been thinking about this for months and months and I finally went in today to make a paypal donation. I hope you and your family are well, that the goats are well, and that our Indiana weather is treating you right! Happy Holidays from me and my family!

  2. HS @ Our Debt Blog says:

    No pictures? I want to see the kids and the trailer… I clicked on some of the archive links and didn’t see anything…. I was about to make a huge donation but with all the adds and affiliate links this looks more like a scam… I’ll keep my $


    • boxcarkids says:

      There are more photos on Boxcarkids facebook page but I do my best to maintain a level of privacy for my children and do not generally post their photos. And read more recent posts- we are out of the trailer!

  3. R.F. Duvall says:

    Tried to send something from your Amazon wishlist but the order failed because of the lack of a phone number. I’m not asking you for a phone number, but I thought you should be aware of this problem. Next time I’ll send a check. More useful.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks for letting me know – I’ll look into it (I think Amazon.com has my phone connected with my account but maybe I need to connect it with the wish list?).

  4. Mike S. says:

    I was doing a Google search when your site name came up in the search listings and the name of the site immediately got my attention. So, of course I had to come check it out.

    The book your site is named after remains one of my all time favorite stories and has always been a conscious part of my life. I read this book in the early 60’s more than once and it has left an indelible mark that I have no desire to forget about. Normally, I don’t do a lot of commenting on sites but your domain name evoked an emotional response upon seeing it. So for that I had to say thank you for letting me know that others obviously share a sentimental attachment to the book as I do.

    Throughout my years, I have mentioned this book several times during social discussions and based upon the fact others had never heard of the book, I often times wondered if I didn’t imagine the whole story.

    It has probably been close to 45 years at least since I read the book but I still remember little details like the cup that they all shared. Perhaps the most significant thing I remember is the courage it took to continue on being so young and without many of the resources we take for granted daily.

    Throughout my life when things or times seem rough, I usually mentally reference this book and find that it helps me remain grounded in realizing just how blessed my life has been.

    I just ordered two copies from Amazon and plan to give one to my granddaughter, the other, well it’s going to be a refresher course in life for me. A must read for anyone!

    You should provide a link to BoxCar Children on Amazon for those who stumble onto your site as I have and or even do a review of the book itself.

    Mike S.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks Mike. That series – especially the first book – was one of my favorites as well, and when we ended up in a 27-ft travel trailer (our first trailer) I couldn’t avoid seeing the parallels. I always liked spunky, can-do heroes and heroines in my books as a child and read a lot of similar adventure stories but the Box Car Children stood out because unlike Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden and such they were all alone and had no one but themselves to rely upon (at least at first).

  5. mary says:

    If I need to buy something from Amazon, I’d like you to get the affiliate credit, but I’m not sure which of the links to click on (there’s the wishlist, the toy list, and the countdown link). Which one can I use for more general shopping?


  6. Nanetta says:

    It looks like it wasn’t received…. I just said I was so sad you were still struggling and asked if you were interested in moving to Texas.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks Nanetta – I don’t have reliable internet and am not always on the computer to approve comments when they come in.

  7. I just subscribed! lol Why do people think we’re homeless? I have a home, it’s just on wheels – personally I think they’re just jealous! ;D Can’t wait to read more! 🙂

  8. Mark says:

    I think I found your posting originally on Salon.com. I wonder if you have gone back posting other things on that site or other sites?

  9. Johanna says:

    My boyfriend and I are unemployed and live in our 40 ft school bus with 1 dog. We’ve converted the bus into an RV, and founded a non-profit to feed homeless kids. We generally travel nonstop, never staying in a town for more than a week.

    Our money situation is a combination of food stamps and “flying a sign.” That means we stand on the street corner with a cardboard sign asking for help. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t use the money to purchase alcohol or drugs. We gas up the bus and make other improvements, like a propane tank for cooking.

    I understand this fundraising option carries a hefty stigma. But I’m not forcing anyone to donate to our cause. And I’ve never met so many generous people. Also, it gives me more control over our situation–I know that with a little foresight, we can dependably raise the funds we need to get by. I’m not at the mercy of a government benefits program, and I’m not forced into dead-end jobs that stifle my humanity.

    I’m free.

    In case you’re wondering, I know a single mother with several kids of her own who is also “home-free” and does exactly what I do. The generosity of strangers is an amazing thing.

  10. Anna says:

    Oh, there is one more thing I wanted to ask or rather suggest. My husband is half Japanese and we eat alot of Japanese food. One of the recipes (it’s not really a recipe as you will see) we eat frequently is ramen. Here’s the thing though, you put other ingredients with it and don’t use the entire seasoning packet (it’s very high in sodium). When you are boiling the noodles, put an egg in and some soy sauce or hot pepper sauce, and only about half or less than half of the seasoning packet. Sometimes we get noodles at the Asian grocery store but not always as the ramen from the regular store works fine and there many things you can add to it in addition to egg. Carrots, scallions, squash..etc. are great with ramen. Basically, if you have leftover meat, vegges and salad fixins, you can add those too. Just cut up the greens into small strips. It’s very economical and tastes great. My kids like to pick the ingredients for theirs and crack the eggs. Thanks again for your blog – it’s great!

  11. Anna says:

    I just started reading your blog yesterday – wow. You are a very good writer and an amazing Mom. I was raised in a poor (very dysfunctional) family. I was able to move away, go to college and
    graduate school and marry an amazing man. We have 2 boys (ages 11 and 14) and are very happy. I was laid off from my job in May and can relate to alot of your postings regarding the isolation of unemployment, especially if you are a “people person”… which I am. So this has been hard but I try to be positive, especially with the kids. We are still in our home and are current on our mortgage and bills as we have our own business which my husband manages and this does ok most of the time. One of the things I have noticed about your postings is that despite your situation, you seem to have a very happy family -you are a very good Mom. KUDOS to you! It takes alot of courage and resourcefulness to do what you do. I can say that I understand what you are going through but … not really. Maybe insofar as I was laid off but that’s it. Growing up, we were never homeless – we had a roof over our heads. It was a terrible life but not really because of the lack of money. I think your blog is really important for people to see – you are not out there complaining – you are doing something about your situation. As for the comments by your previous co-workers… let them try to be in your sitation for 1 day… they wouldn’t make it. You are not a complainer – you are simply speaking the truth about your situation. If it makes them “uncomfortable”… then maybe they shouldn’t take the time and effort it takes to punch your blog address into their computer and tire their eyes reading. They can watch tv and eat bon bons. That’s probably easier for them anyway. Keep up the good work… and I am going to read your blog daily.

  12. I can’t subscribe to the new blog in my google reader. When I click on your ‘subscribe to feed’ button, Firefox crashes. When I use my subscribe button, it says there’s no feed. I’m still subscribed to your old blog…

  13. Maddie says:

    I have been thinking about you this past year, especially every time I read the site kidsoutandabout.com. It’s written by a stay home/homeschooling mom, and she is paid to do it by the sponsor. You can write circles around her, and you are at least as resourceful in a) finding out what is going on in your community, and b) just making life work out no matter what the situation.

    Check it out. This could be a way you could be there when the kids get off the bus. Please let me know what you think.

    Best wishes,

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks Maddie. There’s something similar here – although I haven’t found it entirely useful as a parent because it doesn’t get updated and the links don’t always work.

  14. Kim says:

    I am very impressed by your writing talents. You should look into short story or feature writing submissions for magazines. (I know that’s a hard thing to think about when you’re just trying to make it day to day). You have a real talent. Send some editors a link to your blog. Continuing to pray for you…

  15. Pam McCormick says:

    Stumbled on your blog from Grace and I think this blog is very good! I like your writing style and the content is riveting.Easy for me to say comfortably situated, VERY employed with multiple jobs.What I absolutely loved in the about you portion was (besides the sarcasm/humor) the living in the travel trailer-Kudos!!! you do what you have to since you chose to have 4 children and are responsible for them and animals.Choices we make….we are not entitled to anything

  16. Fin says:

    Congrats on the new blog…look forward to continued reading of your posts.

    Some of your links are broken e.g. Subscribe and About. As far as I can see this is because the word wordpress slipped out of your hyperlinks.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Thanks – I’m fumbling my way through setting it all up again (one click wasn’t as easy as described!). The first time it only imported half my blog, and of course all the things like themes, links, settings were gone. Having a slow and intermittent internet connection is frustrating! Hopefully we’ll be back on track soon. I’m still trying to figure out how to get links to my old blog to point here.

  17. Lisa says:

    You are an amazingly talented writer. Your sense of humor, faith, and good character shine though your eloquently written blog.

    Thank you for showing me that I need to be thankful, very thankful, for all of my many blessings. Your blessing may actually be the best of all, learning that God’s faithfulness is something you cannot lose despite how tough things appear.

    I’ll pray for your continued strength and a quick end to your “temporary situation”.

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