This Life Unlimited

by Madian R., Caviglia-Arivaca Library


Before the pandemic, the Voss family—regular customers at the Cavigilia-Arivaca Library—would frequently join us for in-person programming. We’ve missed them greatly, but we’re grateful we can still see them when they come to pick up their holds, and request more books and movies. 

Today, I want to introduce you to them. They, like all of our customers, mean so much to us. Here is their story…

The family includes Mom and Dad—Natosha and Casey—and their six children! From oldest to youngest—Denalli (13), Grayett (12), Dallie Joe (10), Talla Kaye (9), Ryka (7), and their newborn baby boy, Evitt.

Originally from South Dakota, the Voss family have been full-time road travelers for more than a year now. It all started when their oldest and youngest daughter were diagnosed with a terminal disease, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They decided to give all their kids an opportunity to live a life unlimited, beyond the disease.

Their goal is to visit all 50 states. “A lot of people ask me, ‘How’s vacation?’ For us, it is not vacation, it’s real life on the road,” Natosha said. Since Denalli and Ryka need medical appointments every four months, they bought a house here in Arivaca which will be their home base. So far, they’ve visited 14 states and have 36 to go. Because of the pandemic, their plans were delayed, but they were able to go to Montana to visit family and friends for a few months during the summer. They’re hoping to be back on the road in May. They’ll head towards Maine.

Natosha says, “The kids miss the library and I miss the library. You guys have fun programs! I was not raised going to the library. I thought libraries were dull, so watching my kids get excited makes me so happy!

The Voss children are homeschooled. “The library is a big resource for us,” says Natosha. “The staff welcomed us with open arms. They got them excited about reading and learning. They helped us find their different interests, which takes a load off my shoulders. An example Natosha gave was that Grayett, who is still trying to find what he likes to read, loves reading the series Amulet by Kazu Kabuichi, and the book Here’s Hank: How to Hug an Elephant by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.

Denalli and Dallie Joe aspire to be barrel racers. Denalli says, “We love horses and it looks fun to take those sharp turns.” Dallie Jo adds, “We have all been riding horses with Mom ever since we were babies.”

Maybe the girl’s love of horses explains why Grayett wants to be a horse trainer and Talla Kaye a veterinarian. Ryka, however, wants to be a nail technician. She excitedly shows me her pretty, glittery, multicolor nails. “I like doing arts and crafts! I’ve been making soap and small leather bags.” If Ryka were going to write a book, it would be about how to draw and paint, mermaids, unicorns and narwhals, her favorite creatures.

Recently the girls have asked us for all our books about mermaids. Their favorite so far is the Emily Windsnap, a series by Liz Kessler. Denalli would love to live in Merworld and be a Semi-Mer.

Other favorites are Smile and Ghosts, both by Raina Telgemeier. Natosha says, “I almost cried when one of my daughters showed me a page from Ghosts. It featured a picture of a girl with a feeding tube, just like Denalli and Ryka. We need more normalization of kids with terminal illnesses,” Natosha explained.

All of the siblings enjoy playing outside and watching animated movies together. One of their favorite movies is How to Train Your Dragon. When I told them that it’s based on a book written by Cressida Cowell they didn’t miss a beat and asked me to put it on hold for them. Talla Kaye would love to be like Astrid from the movie. She says, “I like that she stops fights from happening, and she can ride dragons and even fight if she has to!”

When you meet the Voss family, you can’t help but smile. We enjoy talking with the kids as they tell us about their day and what they will do for the rest of the week. Their excitement about reading and learning new things is inspiring. We just hope libraries will still be part of their lives when they grow older.

If you want to get to know them better and follow their journey on the road, you can follow them on Facebook @ThisLifeUNLIMITED, Instagram @this_life_unlimited, and YouTube This Life Unlimited.


The Stonekeeper

How to Hug An Elephant

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Smile

Ghosts

How to Train your Dragon