A family on the road living fulltime in an RV.

Tag: Rv Living

Why Our Family Stopped Full Time RVing

A few months ago, after four years of full time RVing with our family, we made the very difficult decision to settle down. Settle down. Oh man…I’m still getting used…

A few months ago, after four years of full time RVing with our family, we made the very difficult decision to settle down.

Settle down.

Oh man…I’m still getting used to the idea. I knew settling down would be hard. I didn’t know it would be this hard. Every cell in my gypsy heart still tightens when I look out the window and see the same. view. every. day.

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Did you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books? I’ve been been wishing I could read ahead and see how different choices would affect the boys. Would they end up angry at us always wishing they had a chance to experience “normal” teenage life if we kept full timing in our RV? Or would they look back and say, “Man, my parents were great and knew what was best. I spent most of my life living in an RV seeing all these cool places!”

Alas, all we have is now. And right now a life with more routine and opportunities that come with living in community seems like the best option in our own Choose Your Own Adventure story.

George Washington Birthplace Jr Rangers

We are still struggling with all the changes and if you want to hear more of our reasons for putting the jacks down on our full time RV adventure keep reading. But be warned, I’m still wrestling with my emotions and our choices and at times, I feel like I’m defending our choice from my own inner critic.

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Brent and I so badly wanted to raise our oldest boys out of the box and in the slow lane of full time RVing until it was time for them to take flight on their own. We had so many ideas and plans for our family. During the first three years it seemed possible that they would grow up on the road happy and fulfilled but then they and their needs, particularly Thing 1, started to change. It was gradual but it became clear that full time RVing was no longer the best fit for our family. We were reluctant to admit it because Brent and I enjoyed our life as it was but we knew in our hearts that continuing to full time RV as a family would be…well…selfish. It wasn’t like we had to stay on the road. We weren’t following Brent’s work. We weren’t living in a RV because we were going through hard times. We were doing it because we loved the simplicity of life and it was fun. Crazy fun!

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Change is hard.

For the past year, we felt the wind shifting but we were in denial. We tried to continue on course against the wind hoping that things would return to what they were. However, in the quiet of night, I knew the change I was hoping for wasn’t going to happen. In those silent moments of raw honesty with myself what I wanted, as ridiculous as it sounds, was for the older boys to quit getting older. I wanted them to stay my babies forever and shelter them from life’s hardships. Living in the RV seemed to slow down time and kept them close. Kept them safe.

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Thing 1 and 2 are not the boys they were when our family decided full time RV in 2011. Every day they were and are becoming more men than boys. And every day they have ideas on how they want to live. As hard as it is for Brent and I, we must gradually let go and let them follow their own paths and those paths were limited on the road.

They wanted experiences we couldn’t easily offer them. They wanted to experience school. They wanted to take piano lessons and martial arts classes. Most of all, they wanted friends, a community, who they can spend time with regularly. They were tired of saying “see ya later” without knowing when later might be.

As much as I want it to be, life isn’t about me. (<==This kinda sucks.)

Brothers at Petrified National Forest

In short, we decided to stop RVing full time for love of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Brent and I chose to put our desires on hold for a few years to launch these two amazing young men into the world from a stationary foundation because after many long talks, hard cries (on my part), and prayers we felt settling down was the most loving decision for them. Unfortunately, we can’t read ahead like in the Choose Your Own Adventure books and make a decisions on the best of two outcomes. The thing is we will never know what was the “best” for them because we can’t live two lives and compare. Maybe one day we will wish we would have stayed on the road. Maybe not. It’s impossible to know. All we can do is make the most loving decision based on our present knowledge while considering what we have learned from the past and then hope for the best in the future. In other words, I can’t control everything as much I’d like to. Damn.

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When they are grown men and looking back at their childhoods, our biggest hope is that they know they were loved. An older wiser mom once told me that kids have “fuel tanks” and to make sure it’s filled with love every day because if it’s filled with love they are less likely to look for other things to fill it. Despite all our parental imperfections, baggage, and failures, we want them to know we love them “bigger than the sky times infinity”. We want them to leave home with filled love tanks. Our me-culture may tell us to do what’s best for us and “radical self love” is almost a religion these days. (BTW I’m all for “radical self love” when it’s not at the expense of others.) However, selflessness acted out with pure intentions in regard to the other may not be sexy but it is still and will always be one of the purest forms of love. And one of the hardest. Selflessness doesn’t come easy for me. I usually scoop myself the biggest bowl of ice cream. And take the biggest piece of cake. And tend towards putting my feelings above others.

Not this time.

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The boys are only teenagers once (For their sake…thank God Almighty) and they both wanted more “normal” lives. We’ve tried to convince them that “normal” is overrated 🙂 but no amount of talk was going to change their minds. They wanted to experience normal for themselves.

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Sure we considered the this-is-our-life-and-sorry-it’s-not-what-you-want-but-try-to-appreciate-and-learn-from-it approach. As parents we have that right to make the choices we think our best for our kids and family. The road may be “best” for Brent and I but, God willing, we have many years left as a couple to explore and experience life as we want but the older boys only have few years left as kids. They didn’t want to spend their teenage years living in an RV full time.

Sigh.

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There are so many wonderful things about RVing full time with kids and teens but the fact of the matter is full time RV was beyond amazing when they were younger but RV life could no longer provide for their expanding needs and interests. (Disclaimer: The pursuit of the following activities is a struggle because we are fully aware these actives are a privilege that comes with being middle class and certainly not necessary for a fulfilled life but they are fun, rewarding, and teach their own lessons.)

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Thing 1 Student Talent Show IMC ND

Thing 1 isn’t just good at playing the piano. We recognized he really has a gift as a classical pianist and needed a teacher and real piano if he was going to continue to grow. He could only learn so much online with a keyboard. (Keyboards, even weighted ones, don’t have the same dynamics as grand pianos.) To not recognize and nurture this gift would cause us and him real future regret. This is a special period in life where he has the time to sit and play for hours without adult worries. 

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Thing 2 wanted to spend more time with kids his age, try drama, and would like to eventually take up martial arts again. We also recently discovered since we’ve been stationary, that he has a knack for art. He has been invited to take a high school drawing class as a middle schooler and he had a blast performing in his first play last weekend.

These kinds of activities are difficult to do when you pack up and move every week or two. They require a long term commitment. We could have sat still for months at a time in campgrounds but that isn’t why we bought a house with wheels. And even if we did stay put for months at a time, it wouldn’t address the real issue consistency and friendship. The boys would know that goodbye was just around the corner and that was hard for them.

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Brent and I gave it our best to make full time RVing work for them as teens. We met up with road friends and family regularly. We traveled with other families when the opportunity arose. We spent two winters in the mountains snowboarding. We took Thing 1 to a music camp. We sought out opportunities for Thing 2 to pursue interests like gold panning. We let them have a say in the travel planning. We found online classes when we felt like we couldn’t meet their educational needs. 

Despite our efforts, full time RVing didn’t provide the one thing they craved more than anything which was consistency. Consistent friends. Consistent activities. And even more important, consistent wi-fi. 😉

Telescopes Egle Bay CA

There is only one of Brent and one of me and we couldn’t and didn’t want to be peers, piano teachers, math teachers, art teachers, spiritual mentors, and parents at the same time.  Not only did we feel that we needed more resources and consistency to help them grow into young men, RVing full time was losing some of its luster in their eyes. New places and new things had become mundane to them in a way. There were days they resented packing and days they rolled their eyes at the mention of visiting a national park. We tried to see our full time RV life from their perspective. They have visited every state except Hawaii, many of them multiple times. They have been to over one hundred national parks. I’ve lost count of how many museums they have visited. They’ve been to almost every major city and some of them more than once or twice or even three times. The third time to New Orleans Things 1 and 2 were leading us around the French Quarter! You might think the only thing to do in New Orleans is eat beignets. 😉 

Evening Kayak Fl

The boys certainly don’t dislike traveling (They keep reminding us we haven’t been to Hawaii and asking if there’s a chance we can go to Europe soon.) but they were developing a “been there and done that” attitude and were ready for new challenges, the challenges that come with dealing with teachers other than mom and relationships that are more face to face than virtual. Traveling full time in the RV gave them so many experiences and the life lessons are still unfolding, teaching us even now as we adapt to a stationary life, but there are lessons to learn from living in community as well.

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Stocks Williamsburg VA

I’ll never regret our four years of full time RVing. The education and life experiences the boys received are priceless. The memories are too numerous to count. Our relationships grew in so many ways. We squeezed every last delicious drop out of full time RVing. So far they have been the best four years of our life but I’m hopeful we will seek out new adventures and the lessons we learned we will carry into our new chapter.

The last few months of adjusting to our new life have been hard but we keep remembering that this is a season. The winds of change never stop blowing and it won’t be long until we can pack up the RV and hit the road full time again.

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I remember a year or so ago Thing 1 and I were talking. He was having a hard time wanting both the adventure of RV life and the stability of being stationary. He missed our life in California but at the same time enjoyed our life of travel. It was a conversation we had often as we gauged the boys’ needs to make sure full time RVing was still working for everyone. During this one particular conversation his big brown eyes were contemplative and he asked,

“Mama, do you think someday I’ll be nostalgic for our life on the road?”

His thoughtful question made me smile and I said, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

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Today memories may still be fresh but the bittersweet ache of nostalgia has already set in.

And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Love and Laughter,
Jenn and Brent

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Buying our New Fifth Wheel at Dixie RV

Buying a new RV was a big decision for us. A really big decision. Our old RV was already paid for and it had become our home so we were…

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

Buying a new RV was a big decision for us. A really big decision. Our old RV was already paid for and it had become our home so we were reluctant to part with it. However, our family was in the midst of some changes. Last summer, we found out we were expecting another child. Around the same time we decided to stay on the road indefinately but felt like our preteen and teen needed more personal space so we began our search for a new RV.

After looking at more models of RVs than we could count we found one with a floor plan we loved, the Heartland Gateway 3650BH. Our only hesitation was that it was a brand new model and we had planned to buy used. It would be another year or so before used RVs of this model would start to hit the market. Back and forth we went on whether to buy new or used.

After looking at nearly every bunkhouse fifth wheel on the market, we felt like if we were going to buy used we would basically be getting the same floor plan we already had. The Heartland Gateway was the only RV that had nearly every feature we wanted. Finally, we decided the new RV would give us the extra comfort and space we craved. (You can read more about the features, why we decided to finance it, and watch a video here.)

Dixie RV Hammond

So our search for an RV took a new direction as we started shopping for the Heartland Gateway 3650BH with the features we wanted at a price we could afford. Our search led us to Dixie RV Superstore. One early morning, I couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed and went online again to search for more dealerships carrying the Heartland Gateway line. I came across Dixie RV and they had a lot of Gateway bunkhouses in stock. They also had quite a few with the optional features we wanted. So I sent them an email with an offer. Later that day, we received a phone call from Dixie RV and began the purchasing process.

It was January and Indiana, where we were staying, was being hit by heavy winter storms. We weren’t able to get down to Dixie RV which has locations in Florida and Louisiana for a few weeks so we took care of the paper work to get financing over the phone and by E-mail. Everyone was so nice and helpful. I was particularly nervous that’s my role in the marriage) because we had never purchased a large item brand new. Dixie was able to get us a great rate and our payments ended up being lower than we had budgeted for! I was shocked by how smoothly everything went.

The Gateway with the features we wanted was located in Louisiana so we made plans to go there to pick up our new RV. A few days before we were scheduled to pick it up, Dixie contacted me and said they had found a crack in the bathtub and wanted to make sure it was okay if they switched us to another stock number with the same features. Brent and I were  grateful that they had found the crack in the tub before we got there to pick it up. While the crack would have been covered under warranty, it would have been a hassle to get it fixed. Their thorough inspection saved us time I’m sure.

Dixie RV Superstore Hammond

The day we picked up our RV was exciting. We got there early so we would have plenty of time for the remaining paperwork and to take pictures and video for our blog.

Lifetime RV Warranty

First, we met with the finance department to sign our final loan documents. Regina in finance offered us a few different extended warranty packages but there was never any pressure to buy. We decided to pass and stick with the factory warranty and the Lifetime Warranty that covers a few other major components as long as you keep up on the yearly maintenance.  It is my understanding that the maintenence can be done at different participating dealerships throughout the country. We haven’t used the Lifetime Warranty so we can’t speak of its service but it’s nice knowing we have it.

There was a bit of an unexpected wait to pick up our RV because Dixie had noticed a small chip in the front cap paint and wanted to fix it. A rock had probably hit it while it was being transported from the Heartland factory in Indiana to Louisiana. It didn’t really matter much to us but Dixie wanted to make sure everything was perfect. While we waited we explored the facilities.

Dixie RV Showroom

Of course, the boys wanted to look inside some more RVs. It was nice that we felt welcomed to explore the RVs at leisure inside the large indoor showroom.

Dixie RV Hammond Lot

The outdoor lot is GIGANTIC. If you can’t find an RV to meet your needs here you won’t find one anywhere. It’s always interesting to see the different floor plans and features even if they aren’t what you are looking for.

Dixie RV Hammond Lounge

We spent some time hanging out in the customer lounge.

Camping World Dixie RV Hammond

The customer lounge is attached to a Camping World. Dixie is really a one stop shop for all your RV needs! We made a few purchases for the new rig.

Delivery Pad Dixie RV

Outside there are many service bays and RV pads with electricity for customers to take possession and stay in their new RVs. Dixie even let us stay an extra night so we could drive into New Orleans for a day!

Dixie asked us if we would mind giving a customer testimonial for their YouTube channel while we waited. Dixie has their own video team who produce videos of their inventory and customer testimonials. It was fun way to pass some time by reenacting the buying experience and sharing our story of full time RVing with a family with them.

RV Tour DixieHow to use RV Dixie

Finally that afternoon, we took possession of our new RV, our dream “home”.  Anthony from service led us on walk-through inside and out and taught us Brent how everything worked. After weeks of discussions and searching for a new RV, it was surreal to finally be in it. That night as we went to bed I knew that we had made the right decision and I was thankful that Dixie had helped make the process so smooth.

Dixie RV Superstore Review

Special thanks to our little photographer who helped take pictures!

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Thing Three – Week 1

I had a great first week. I took my first breath of oxygen, saw light, and finally got to stretch my arms and legs. Wow, that felt good. But the…

I had a great first week. I took my first breath of oxygen, saw light, and finally got to stretch my arms and legs. Wow, that felt good. But the best part was meeting my mommy, daddy, and brothers.

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My mommy was the first to hold me after 19 hours of back labor followed and 1.5 hours of pushing. (Sorry mom, I know you wanted me to turn anterior but I just couldn’t.) Her belly was so warm and squishy. I recognized her heartbeat right away. She kept smiling at me and crying. This is us an hour after being born.

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My dad is awesome too. His hands are so big and I feel so secure against his chest. He was right there when I was born, helping mommy sit up. Mommy says Daddy never once left here side while I was being born. She says she could’t have done it without him. I can already tell they make a good team.

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My big brother instantly fell head of over heels in love with me.

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My big big brother was a little more nervous to hold me but he came around and realized I wasn’t going to poop on him. Not yet anyway. He he!

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I’ve spend the majority of my week sleeping with my mommy and daddy. Mommy says her midwife gave her a “21 day rule” which means she can’t do much for three weeks. Mommy also said it’s been “dreamy” to slow down and bond with me. I agree.

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I am one happy camper especially when I’m being held.

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Here I am 4 days old!

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I also took my first car ride. Good thing I liked it. Mommy and daddy say I have a lot of miles ahead of me.

 

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Dear Thing 3,

Welcome to our family. You cast a spell on me the moment your warm slippery body was laid on my belly. We can’t promise to be perfect parents.  In fact, I’ll  let you know ahead of time that, unfortunately,  we’ll fail more times than we will care to admit. What we can promise is that we will always do our best and seek the Lord for guidance and no matter what we will love you bigger than the sky times infinity. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for your life. We look forward to all the adventures we will have as a family and watching God’s plan for your life unfold. We love forever and always.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Dixie-RV-SuperStores

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Our New RV – The Heartland Gateway 3650 BH

After much, literally months of deliberation, and over 8 weeks of living out of bags after selling our old RV, we decided to purchase a brand new fifth wheel. This…

After much, literally months of deliberation, and over 8 weeks of living out of bags after selling our old RV, we decided to purchase a brand new fifth wheel. This is the first time we have ever made a large brand-new purchase. For the last fourteen and a half years of our marriage we’ve always bought used cars and fixer-upper houses. To give you an idea on how hard this decision was for us, it took me over 6 months of research to buy a nice blender and three days of putting it in my online shopping cart only to delete it before I finally hit “check out”.

So why did we decide to go with a new fifth wheel? Two reasons, floor plan and Dixie RV Superstores. We first saw the Heartland Gateway 3650BH in Texas and, despite the hotel-like appearance of the interior, we immediately we fell in love with the floor plan. At the time we still had our old RV and thought there was no way we could buy a new RV so we kept looking at used ones. The Gateway is a new line from Heartland so there weren’t any used ones available. We found a used Cedar Creek Silverback we liked not loved in Michigan but the weather was not cooperating to go pick it up.

A few weeks later while waiting for a break in the nasty weather, we went to the Indianapolis RV show and saw the Heartland Gateway 3650BH again. We walked in and every one of us knew it was a perfect floor plan for our family. We sat in it for about 30 minutes imagining what it would be like to live in it. It had EVERYTHING we wanted: a full size refrigerator,  tons of kitchen counter space, a gas stove and oven, a pantry, a huge bunk room with two slides, a booth dinette (we didn’t want a table and chairs), washer and dryer hook ups (which we decided to use as a place for Brent’s office), a second half bath, and a bathtub in the full bath.  It’s so cute to watch babies play in the tub!

The next morning I got up early and started contacting RV dealerships. I made a few offers and Dixie RV got back to me. Dixie RV was awesome. Not only are the prices on their rigs great, the customer service is phenomenal. (We are going to write a post with video detailing the entire process of buying a new RV from Dixie soon so stayed tuned.)

Anyway, as you may know the weather in the midwest was horrendous so it took us almost two weeks before we could get down to Dixie RV to pick up our new rig. In the meantime, I needed to see my doctor so it was more cost effective for Thing Two and I to fly down to Florida than for us all to drive all the way down and then back up to Dixie in Louisiana. Plus it gave us some special one on one time with the boys. Our family was apart for 10 days which was really hard but eventually we reunited late one night in Pensacola during that crazy ice storm. The next morning we drove to Dixie to pick up our new RV.

Dixie RV Heartland Gateway 3650BH

The Kitchen and Living Room

Residential Fridge Fifth Wheel Heartland Gateway 3650bh

The full size fridge is the most exciting part! It means no more playing tetris after going to the grocery!

Fifthwheel 5 slide Kitchen

Lots of counter space is going to make preparing meals much more enjoyable.

Heartland Gateway 5 slide living room

It’s hard to tell in the picture but there is a lot of open floor space in front of the couches. If we wanted we could comfortably fit a coffee table. Many of the fifth wheels we looked at had an island but then the floor space in the living room felt cramped.

Fifth Wheel Living Room Gateway 3650bh

The Master Bedroom

King Bed Option Fifth Wheel Heartland Gateway

Meow Cow thinks the “king bed” means it was made for him. (He’s on the top right pillow.) Fifth Wheel King Bed Heartland Gateway 3650BH

The washer and dryer hookups are behind the louvered doors. We orginally thought we would install a washer/dryer combo but decided it would be more space effective to use it as Brent’s office.Heartland Gateway Dixie RV

The Full Bathroom

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Full Bathroom

Fifth Wheel Bathtub

Again it’s hard to tell but the bathtub is actually quite large.

The Bunk Room and Half Bath

Fifth Wheel Bunkhouse 5 slide

Fifth Wheel Bunkhouse house five slide Gateway 3650bh

There is a ton of space in the middle of the bunkhouse.

Heartland Gateway 3650BH Half Bath

The half bath taken from the outside door.

As far as renovations and decorating goes, we aren’t sure what we are going to do yet. While we had a blast painting and reupholstering everything in our old rig, we just don’t feel comfortable sanding and painting brand new cabinets or tearing off perfectly good fabric. To be honest, we don’t have the time for a full renovation anyway with the baby on the way. Another reason we decided to go with a new rig. We do know we’ll make new curtains and get a new bedspread. Gold is not our thing. We also have to come up with a solution for the leather couches and headboard because Meow Cow will turn them all into his own personal scratching posts and getting him declawed is not an option. So we may swap out the reclining couch and recover the lounge and headboard with fabric that could easily be removed by a new owner if we decide to sell the rig in the future. Lastly, we are going to build desks spaces for the boys in the bunk room and add another storage cabinet.

So that’s the new RV, a Heartland Gateway 3650BH. We filmed a tour for those of you who prefer video over pictures but haven’t had time to edit it. We’ll  get that posted next week.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Our Backyard: Driftwood Cabana BBQ in La Connor, WA

Sure we love visiting  iconic places like Yellowstone National Park  or Washington DC. But simple “backyard” moments built from driftwood, salty air, laughter, and the smell of bbq are the…

Sure we love visiting  iconic places like Yellowstone National Park  or Washington DC.

But simple “backyard” moments built from driftwood, salty air, laughter, and the smell of bbq are the moments that send my soul soaring. I wouldn’t trade these sort of days for a trip to see the Taj Mahal.

La Connor Thousand Trails WA

Jenn in Fort WA

Climb WA

Raccoon La Connor Thousand Trails WA Standing Raccoon WA

Peek A Boo WA Chillaxin WA Sleepy Black Pug WA   Couch in Fort WA Spider Web WA

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Homeless but Happy and Chicks without Bricks

So we spontaneously sold our RV a week and a half ago. And tried to packed everything into a tiny U-Haul. It seemed appropriate that the sun was setting as…

So we spontaneously sold our RV a week and a half ago.

Little Uhaul big trailer

And tried to packed everything into a tiny U-Haul.

Family on the Road

It seemed appropriate that the sun was setting as we took our last family picture before saying goodbye. This “house” cost a fraction of what our home in California had cost but it was a 1000 times harder to say goodbye. So many memories in such a small space.

New Buyers

We couldn’t be more thrilled with the new owners who share our passion for adventure and simple living. They are planning to take off soon.

Best Friends

We said goodbye to my best friend and her family who had generously let us stay with them for 15 days. She’s special this one. There are not many people who would welcome our family and all four pets for that long and not once make us feel like we were over staying our welcome. And frankly, there’s not many people who I’d want to spend 15 days with in their house. 🙂

A bigger uhaul

Then we left Austin in our slightly bigger U-Haul.

Boys and Beignets in Baton Roughe

Our first stop was Baton Rouge where we had beignets for breakfast. So bad but so good.

Hotel Hopping

Getting all of our stuff and the menagerie into the hotel room was quite the effort. Another reason why I love RVing so much.

Road Trip without the RV

The next day we drove and drove.

Winter Storm Shot

And got to Florida just in time.

Moving into Storage

We stored our stuff until we find a new home.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week. Along with moving to Florida, establishing our new residency, and searching for a doctor to deliver our baby who is due in a few months, I was a contributing writer for a new book!

It’s called Chicks Without Bricks, a compilation of travel stories from other unconventional women and starting today you can pre-order it now through Dec 23 for just $2.99! After that the price goes up to $7.99.

Chicks without Bricks!

Considering our present situation I couldn’t think of a more fitting title.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Sold Our RV!!!!! And RV Makeover Pictures. (Better late than never!)

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the…

There has been a lot of change lately. First, I found out I was pregnant. Whoa!!! Next we visited our hometown, Ventura, CA, after two years of living on the road and decided we wanted to stay on the road. (Our decision to keep our family on the road full time deserves its own post.)

Then Saturday we had stopped for propane on our way out of Austin when I checked my email. In my inbox was a message from a couple who really wanted to see our RV which I had listed on Craigslist a few days before not really thinking I’d get a response. Posting the ad was kinda of a “let’s just see what happens” sort of thing.

Undecided if we should just keep on driving, we sat in the parking lot of the propane place discussing whether I should call the number in the email. My first response was no let’s just keep going. Afterall, we just had 10 wonderful days at our friend’s house and had spent the morning packing, cleaning, and saying our goodbyes. We were ready to move on and get to our next destination, New Orleans. Then Brent said I could call the number and just explain our situation and they could meet us on our way out of town, assuming, of course, they wouldn’t want to do that.

I called the number and the person who answered told me it was the wrong number. I sent an email explaining I tried calling but the number was wrong and we were headed out of Austin. I mentioned if they got the email soon they could call me back. Then we headed on our way.

A few minutes later my phone rang and a woman explained she and her husband were really interested and they could meet us right away. Thirty minutes later, after a mad cleaning spree, we were showing the RV. Thirty minutes later they made an offer.

What?!?!?!

That was Saturday and they couldn’t get a check until Monday or Tuesday so we went back to my best friend’s house. Sunday morning the buyers sent over a deposit. Today, we spent the day trying to pack up all of our stuff into a much too small U-Haul trailer.

Now here we are still in Austin waiting and wondering….what have we done?!?!?!  Yes, we wanted to sell this RV. It’s been on our radar since we found out we were having another baby and deciding to stay on the road. The back bedroom is a little cramped for Thing One and Thing Two. We want a double slide out in their room so they can have their own space to study, create, and play. We’d also love a little more counter space and a second bathroom. If budget wasn’t a limiting factor, we’d also have a washer and dryer, bathtub, and kitchen island. A girl can dream! Right now our priorities are a bigger back bedroom and a space where Brent can work.

BUT…

What’s next? Unless we find a new rig here in Texas in the next few days we are going to head to Florida with our stuff in a U-Haul. We’ll stay at my parent’s place until we find a new home.

AND…

Even though we have wanted a new RV for a few months, I’m still sad. Really sad actually. This RV is our home where created incredible memories and tomorrow we will say goodbye.

I realized this weekend as I was cleaning the RV up getting her ready to go I never shared pictures of our RV redecorating makeover project.

Like most RVs, ours was lacking in decor. If we were going to use our RV for the occasional weekend trip we would have kept our RV interior design as it was but this was our home. Brent and I wanted to feel like we were in our home and not staying at a hotel. So we spent the next month and a half sanding, painting, sewing, and doing some minor remodeling. It was a lot of work but I don’t regret a minute of it.

This was our home and how we brought it to life.

Living/Dining/Kitchen

RV Before Living Room

RV Redecorated Living Room 2

RV Before Bedroom

RV Redecorated Living Room 3

RV Recovered Couch 2

You know you have good friends when they spend 12 hours at your house helping you reupholster your RV couch. I got the fabric for the couch, dinette, and most of the curtain fabric in the LA Garment district, one of the most fun places in LA!

RV Redecorate Kitchen

RV Fruit BasketMeow Cow the Black Cat

Since we have a small fridge I try to buy lots of fruits that will keep at room temperature.

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LEFT: The chandelier was the the last thing to be hung. It was another Ikea purchase from years ago that I had been planning to hang in our house bedroom. I hung it at midnight the night before our “open house“. RIGHT: Small details

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TOP LEFT: Glass bowl from Target that has since cracked. BOTTOM LEFT: School books and a basket to store dish towels. RIGHT: Small vintage globe on loan from my mom. 🙂

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LEFT: Apron hooks from World Market. MIDDLE: Map garland was a gift from a friend who I met for the first time in person when we hit the road. RIGHT: Bird curtains and wall sconce. We painted the metal of the sconce and glued a little trim around the bottom of the shade to give it character.

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LEFT: This is the moulding around the slide. It was covered in the same fabric as the couch. Instead of taking all the fabric off, I took of the wood trim and stapled burlap over the fabric and painted the wood. TOP RIGHT: Key holder from Urban Outfitters. BOTTOM RIGHT: Glass knobs on all the kitchen cabinets. I really liked these because I had the same knobs in a different color in my sticks and bricks kitchen so they felt “homey”.

Bedroom/Office

RV Before Bed

RV London Bridge Headboard

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In place of the headboard we painted with help from another friend a silhouette of the London Bridge. We were engaged in London and that morning after I said “yes” we walked along the Thames River where we took this picture. The quilt was made by my grandmother using an Amy Butler pattern and fabric.

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Across from the bed is our dresser, office, and shower. When we bought the RV there was a sink where the desk is now. We bought an small Ikea sink and put it in the water closet (toilet room).

RV Shower Before

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RV Remodel Curtains

My friend, the same one who helped with the couch, helped me sew (Okay…she did most of the sewing.) new curtains for every window in the RV but these turned out to be my favorite.

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LEFT: I didn’t keep many things from our old house but couldn’t part with this metal cat that I found at a thrift shop. It opens up and I store jewelry in it. RIGHT: The knobs and drawer pulls were on sale at Anthropologie and I love having impressions of nature inside since a big part of this trip is about exploring the outdoors.

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LEFT: When Brent and I met he said, “we fit together like Legos”. For our first Valentine’s Day I made him the “I <3 U” out of Legos because we were too broke to buy each other real gifts. We eventually decided to quite celebrating Valentine’s Day altogether but he still kept my Lego message.  TOP RIGHT: I painted an old mirror white and bought some organizers from Ikea to make a little makeup vanity. RIGHT: It’s true. 🙂

Bathroom

RV Before Toilet

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We didn’t do much to this room except paint and add the the Ikea sink. Changing the sink plumbing was much easier than you would think!

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The photo frames are a mixture of Ikea purchases and painted thrift shop finds.

Bunk Room

RV Before Bunk Room

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Thing One wanted to keep all the cabinetry its original color but we painted the room and made new curtains.

bunkroom

Two years and 48 states later, I never got tired of nor regretted our RV makeover. It made it home.

Now it’s time to say goodbye and move on to a new chapter and another blank canvas.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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More Fun and Friends in Colorado Springs

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an Olympian? Perhaps you’ve imagined yourself standing at the edge of the high dive or kneeling in the starting blocks with an empty track stretched…

Who hasn’t dreamed of being an Olympian?

Perhaps you’ve imagined yourself standing at the edge of the high dive or kneeling in the starting blocks with an empty track stretched out before you.

I don’t want to speak for the boys (Dream big fellows!) but it’s probably safe to say that visiting the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is the closest Brent and I will ever get to being in the Olympics. Even if I can throw a pretty solid side kick.

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No doubt, the best part of our day was getting to see the Martin family again. We met the Martins last Fourth of July when I tweeted them after parking next to their truck on our way to the Boston Pops.

Chapel Airforce Academy Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs Airforce Academy Chapel

Maybe you have never dreamt of being an Olympic Athlete but I bet you wanted to fly a jet after seeing Top Gun?

Yeah, me too.

Our second must-see-spot in Colorado Springs was the Airforce Academy where we learned about the daily life of the cadets. While the visitor center was cool, we’d all agree that the chapel was the best part. That is if you don’t count the falconry club.

O'Dells Colorado Springs

Then two days before we left Colorado Springs I got a text from our dear friends, the O’Dells!!!

Over the winter they had stayed with us in our RV in Breckenridge proving what I already knew: they are, indeed, kindred spirits.

Now they were on their way back home to Minnesota but wanted to stop and see us en route.

Hike Colorado Springs

Buddies Colorado Springs

We hung out. We hiked. Three of the boys slept outside in tent.

Colorado Springs Thing Two

And much too soon we had to say another goodbye.

And then another when we spent our last night (unfortunately we didn’t get a picture) with our longtime friends, the Fields.

Such is a life on wheels.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Ten years in One – Our One Year Nomadiversary

In the days before we left I held folded laundry as if it were an anchor and cried secret tears of fear and doubt. Tonight as I sit at my…

In the days before we left I held folded laundry as if it were an anchor and cried secret tears of fear and doubt.

Tonight as I sit at my computer, a year after leaving home, my fears are not of the unknown but of the known. My fear stems from knowing what it’s like to live the fast paced American way, a life that is too busy to count the freckles on my children’s faces, too busy to watch the sunrise illuminate the changing leaves, too busy to take a friend’s call, and too busy to breathe those big gulps of air that fill every crevice of your lungs and leave you pleading with God to freeze time.

We were there and after 24,717 miles on the “scenic route”, the “fast lane”, especially in southern California where the speed is extra fast, scares me. I’m not afraid of a house without wheels—there are many wonderful things about having a home in a community—I’m afraid of a life without brakes.

This past year we have swam with manatees, canoed with alligators, explored caverns, visited almost 70 National Park sites,  walked in many of the paths that shaped America’s history and numerous other things that I haven’t had time to write about yet but nothing, nothing, compares to the many slow hours with the boys and Brent. When I think back over this year the memories that stand out are cuddling on the couch with schoolbooks while the rain pours outside, sitting around the table as a family for 3 meals a day, and hanging out with my cat but that’s only because he hypnotized me and has nothing to do with being a crazy cat lady. 😉

I feel like I have lived wonderful 10 years in one.

That’s not to say living on the road has been perfect. Raising a preteen in a 300 square foot space is not a fairytale for him or us.

Sitting on the side of the road screaming obscenities fighting in front of the kids is not our proudest moment.

Convincing myself that my 9 year old son won’t get bit by a viper if I let him catch frogs in stream takes the courage and faith of a bungee jumper.

Pulling the boys our of a pit of “quicksand” makes a mess and nearly sent me to the psychiatric ward.

Watching friends go to parties on Facebook makes me feel like a left out 15 year old girl.

Wondering if a payment from a client is going to come through so we can fill our gas tank is not fun.

I still don’t like it (and may even drop a choice word or two) when cans or shoes or mouthwash come crashing out of cabinets onto my face because, for the life of me, I can’t remember that stuff shifts while we are driving.

Putting away groceries in our tiny fridge is like playing a game of Tetris that can’t be won.

I don’t even want to talk about the big black spider I killed in the campground shower this evening.

We have been forced to deal with each other. The good, the bad, and everything, oh yes everything, in between. When you are together all the time in a 300 square foot space there is no sweeping things under the rug. The rug is just too damn small and the dirt just too much. We lost that parental luxury of “pretending not to see” and oh how do I miss it! Problems are always two feet away and retail therapy isn’t an option when your closet rod is already breaking under the weight of too much stuff. I needed my leopard print wedges, damn it!

People always ask me what is the hardest part of living in an RV. Besides trying to convince myself I’m not “living in a van down by the river”, the hardest part is trying to deny the images my children reflect back at me and having no where to hide and no way to deflect the real me. I knew before we moved into a tiny space that I had “stuff to work on” I didn’t realize I was a “real piece of work”. (Okay well maybe I did but I was better at hiding it.)

That is hard.

Yet, it is all worth it and I wouldn’t change a thing except for spider free showers.

While our list of imperfections is great, God’s love is greater.

We may have a moody soon-to-be-teenager but we also have a preteen whose greatest influence right now is not tv or video games but experiencing life outside of the system. Someday when he is confined to a cubicle, he better will think, “I had the coolest parents ever.”

We have an almost 10 year old boy who had gotten to spend countless hours exploring the woods, building fires, fishing, and catching frogs even if it meant his mother had to get an Xanax drip.

While our friends back at home are irreplaceable (You guys know how much I miss you!), we’ve reconnected with old friends all over the country and unexpectedly joined a community of like minded gypsy hearts.

Marriage is 300 square RV is at the same time mundane and magical because there is magic to be found in the mundane. You just have to slow down to see it and when you are stuck in a campground because the gas is almost $5 a gallon you can choose magic or mundane. I didn’t think it possible but a year later I love Brent more than before. I’m certain that someday my heart is just going to burst and, like confetti, be carried away on the wind. Go ahead and gag.

The person reflecting back in the mirror is amazingly even less put together than I once thought but I mysteriously feel more loved than ever before.

I could write so much more about places we have seen, the people we have met, and the freedom that comes with simplicity but that would need a book.

Yes, we have a list of memories as long as the miles we have driven and I wouldn’t trade this year of my life for anything in the world.

And we’re not done. One year wasn’t enough. We still have mountains to ski, highways to drive, states to see, but most of all, memories to make. Memories of boys who are too quickly becoming men and parents who, at heart, refuse to grow old.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

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Remembering Our Backyard in Colonial Beach VA

As a family on the road we see so many wonderful places but you know what? It’s the small things I really want to remember. I want to remember… Each…

As a family on the road we see so many wonderful places but you know what? It’s the small things I really want to remember.

I want to remember…

Each campsite we call home for a few days or weeks.

Reading around a morning campfire before we go to George Washington Birthplace National Monument.

The sweet faces of these five (and Meow Cow whose not allowed out.)

The smell of campfire and the sound of young voices in harmony which is not often enough.

Our little neighbors.

My backyard gyms.

I even want to remember the mundane like laundry.

And amazing soft serve from random ice cream stands in small towns.

especially want to remember Brent bustin’ a move at the Saturday campground shindig.

Love and Laughter,
Jenn

If you enjoyed this post you can follow one of three ways! 1. Sign up to have posts emailed to your inbox. 2. Subscribe to the RSS Feed or 3. “like” Newschool Nomads on Facebook (Just make sure to check subscribe if you want it to show up in your feed.) Simple dimple!

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