Monday, February 3, 2014

25 Days to go, and the Deer Head in the RV

Whew! It's all starting to come down to the wire! Not that we're complaining- we finally picked up our new camper Friday, so things are moving in the right direction. We've decided to take the plunge and get rid of our b&m (brick and mortar) home. Exit date (and date we're supposed to start our hosting gig) is February 28th. That's 25 days from now! Scuse me while I go have a panic attack!

Now, we've been living in the RV for 675 days now, so you may think this is no big deal. In some ways, it isn't. By getting a new camper, we've tripled, maybe even quadrupled our living space. But we've had the house to trade out our seasonal clothes and gear, store our tubs of kids' artwork, photos, cards, and other stuff I can't get rid of sentimental items, display the deer head and antique china, and, of course, hold all our furniture. And then there's the barn, for the 12 tubs of Christmas decorations, 2-3 tubs of Halloween stuff, and all the man equipment tools. We've tried to be serious about minimizing, but we have so much junk stuff!

Ok, I'm now sensing a theme here. I'm worried about storage. Yep. Now I feel a little, um, materialistic, for even saying that. We've really pared down the stuff we're keeping. And we have more to do. We're being brutal, I swear. But some stuff you just gotta keep. What about the books from every grade of my kids' elementary school with all their artwork, writing, etc? Don't tell me I can scan it and save the digital copy- NOT the same! Ditto with pictures. Brian wants to mount the deer head in the RV- can you imagine that?
So let's just establish there are some things that are sacred and I'm just saving...somewhere.

Then there's things we don't need in the RV, don't have room for, but I hate to get rid of. I think we've decided our three couches are just going to Goodwill, as well as our two recliners and entertainment center. Part of me worries, "What if we move back into a real house and have no furniture?" Silly, I know. We'll keep the kids' beds, as well as our bedroom suite. We painted the kids' dressers when they were babies, so those have sentimental value,  as do my antique sewing table and what we call the "junk" cabinet, a pine dresser we refinished. We'll keep the coffee tables, as they are nice, and were the first furniture we bought together. Not sure about the kitchen table, desks, and bookshelves yet. We bought the washer about a month before we started full-timing, so it's gotta stay just because it cost so much! The dryer could stay or go- it's not new. Obviously we need a storage unit.

Then there are the small items, like a breadmaker. I don't necessarily need it in the RV, but I love it and don't want to get rid of it. I'm having trouble letting go of little things like the mini crockpot, the deep fryer, blender, etc. I know I don't have room for it all, but I want it. What if I need it? What about the nebulizer or humidifier?

Can you tell I'm feeling a little overwhelmed? We have 25 days to...
- Get old camper cleaned out. Be brutal. Keep good stuff and move to new RV. Clean out old RV and get ready to sell. Fix awning that tore off.
- Go through house. Be brutal. Throw away junk, donate usable stuff. Clean house and yard.
- Rent storage unit. Move keepable stuff there.
- Get new camper 100% set up. Figure out where to put everything.
- Keep homeschooling the kids and working full time.

It will all be worth it. We can do it.  It will all be worth it. We can do it. It will all be worth it. We can do it......

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Happening... We Bought a New Camper

I still don't believe it. The last few months have been full of ups and downs... mostly downs. We've literally been to every camper dealership within a 250 mile radius... I think 23 at last count. We've explored camper after camper after camper, only to find something wrong, or it gets sold, or the salespeople are sleazy, or the price isn't right... We finally found the perfect camper- a 2013  Prime Time Avenger 33 BHS. It had almost everything exactly as we wanted it...double slides in the bunkhouse, a dinette in the bunkhouse for roadschooling, plenty of storage space (super important since we're planning on living in it), a u shaped dinette, real cherry cabinets, heated underbelly, and, most importantly, three slides, and plenty of ROOM!

Coming from a no slide camper, where the kids had to make up the kitchen table and sofa into their beds every night and put them away every morning, it's like a mansion! We decided, oh, back at the beginning of December, this was THE.ONE. Threw away all the lists with columns for slides, bathroom rating, pros and cons, bunkhouse details, price, etc. With the craziness of the holidays, we kinda hem hawed around until the beginning of January trying to get all our ducks in a row and be sure this is what we should do. Finally, a couple weeks ago, we decided to go for it.

We called the RV salesman we'd dealt with. First bad omen- he doesn't remember us- as in has NO clue who Brian is when he calls. (Gee, this makes me think his getting all teary eyed and choked up when we shared with him that we prayed on the way down there to give us a good Christian dealership where we knew we'd be treated right was just an act!) Second bad omen- the camper got picked up by its new owners just the day before. This was a 2013 model, the only one they had left, hence the reason it was in our price range.

So, that was a huge disappointment for us... heartbreaking, even. That loss, coupled with some other ups and downs, really had us questioning what we were doing. Is this really in God's plan for us, or is this whole thing some crazy idea we've concocted in our heads?? After some thought, we decided to pull up our big girl panties and try again. There were two more of the same RVs about the same distance away. We called, and they were willing to match the other dealer's price.

We drove down yesterday to apply for financing and hopefully, buy this one. We talked before we left, and again on the way down there, and again when we were waiting for the salesman to tell us if we were approved. We both really thought that, if it was meant to be, it would happen, and if it didn't happen, it wasn't meant to be. Really, we both thought something would happen and the whole deal would fall through. After 5 hours of paperwork (who knew it took so long to buy an RV? I'd hate to imagine how long it would be if we had to pick out a camper as well.), we are the proud owners of a new camper! It still doesn't seem real- maybe that will happen when we pick it up on Thursday!

We started out camping in a 1978 Layton 16 footer with no space whatsoever. Funny thing was, we camped happily for the entire summer on the outskirts of New 'Awlins, after Hurricane Katrina, while Brian was doing electrical work, with a four year old and a five year old, and LOVED it! After a tornado took the roof off, and we had more water inside the camper than outside, we moved into a 31 foot Jayco. It was perfect for us for years.... really, until we started fulltiming. Then it started mysteriously shrinking as our kids grew. We won't know how to act in a camper with slides and an actual bedroom for the kiddos!

Thank you, Lord...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reflections on 663 days of full time RVing...

Today marks Day 663 of full-time RVing! All within a 60 mile radius. At this point, I wonder- is our dream doable?  I wish I had something exciting to say, reports of all the cool places we've traveled or adventures we've had.  I so enjoy reading other fulltime families' blogs and living vicariously through all the places we dream of taking our family. That, more than anything else, has kept me from posting. Honestly, our absence from our campsite here on the web has been a time of reflection, ups and downs, changes in plans, and questioning if this is what we were meant to do. More than once in the past few months, we've asked ourselves, "Are we crazy?", knowing the answer is probably YES!

So, here's a quick status update- We hosted at "our" park through September, with plans to spend the six months while our park is closed at another park. At the last minute, we realized that the park did not have internet access at our site (which we had been erroneously told it did) and had to cancel. When we went home, we discovered our house had been overrun with mold while we were gone. We decided to park our camper in my MIL's back yard for a while while the mold was being remediated. That was in mid-September. The mold is gone, and we are still here- living in a camper in my MIL's yard. Yep, I know- sounds bat crud crazy, right? We've loved being here with my MIL- it's been amazing, for all of us. The current plan is to get rid of the house, buy a new camper, and head back to the lake in February.

The past 652 days have been great phenomenal, and I wouldn't trade them for the "traditional" lifestyle. We've had many milestones this year- a wonderful summer camping/ hosting at the lake, roadschooled Madison into Beasley Camping Charter School, celebrated Hunter's 13th Birthday and our first Christmas totally in the camper (with a full-size tree, no less), visited every RV dealership in a 400 mile radius in search of the perfect camper. 

Initially, when we felt led to embark on this whole crazy dream, it seemed like we were making a lot more progress toward hitting the road. It seems like our progress has stalled- we've been questioning whether this crazy dream is in God's plan for us. We sure hope it is. Over the summer, our business seemed to be expanding- for a few months, at least. We put the blog on the back burner to deal with growing our business.
Then things slowed down for the business. We were getting some press and media attention about our lifestyle  and the dream. Then things slowed down for the blog- so, instead of working harder, we got overwhelmed and left it on the back burner. I know, not smart. So here is where we are- we still 100% want to continue full time RVing. We would love to hit the road, but are tethered by a sticks and bricks job. We're praying for some guidance- first of all, Is this indeed God's plan for us? Secondly, how (financially) do we make this happen? So, if you are prayer warriors, please consider praying those requests for us.

I've felt let to dust off the blog and try it again. So, expect to hear more from us! We've got some ideas about a non-profit organization related to camping families, as well as some new camping products and resources for roadschooling and homeschooling families. Are we sharing adventures and exploits from across this beautiful nation? Not yet. But maybe someday soon. Do we have plenty to say about the family camping lifestyle? You betcha!
Happy camping!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Camping Tip Tuesday- 10 Tips to Make Your Camping Trip Rock

Howdy, folks, and welcome to Camping Tip Tuesday! (insert big cheesy grin and redneck accent here) How ya'll doin' today?

Let's talk about ways to make your life easier while camping.  Shall we?
Camping Tip 1. First of all, SIMPLIFY. Let me say it again. SIMPLIFY. I know it's fun to bring everything including the kitchen sink (ha ha ha), because "We might need this". I know. Been there, done that, brought 32 pairs of flip flops camping. (Yes. I did. 32. And that doesn't include the sneakers, or water shoes, or slippers.)

And I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, suggesting you come camping with a tent, sleeping bag, and a toothbrush. If that's your cup of tea, my hat's off to you! I like camping with all the comforts of home. But there are some times you can get a little too carried away. We're trying to get AWAY from home, remember?? 

You probably don't need 7 blankets per person (um, again, true story), unless you're camping in Alaska. And, even then, that's probably a bit excessive!

Camping Tip 2. Before you pack it, ask yourself- Is this making my life easier, or harder???

Camping Tip 3. Now, there are, in fact, some seemingly over the top items that are actually quite useful for camping. 
  • A toaster oven. Okay, I know I just told you to simplify. Hear me out. During the summertime, using the big RV oven can seriously heat up a small camper. We store ours in the cabinet under the stove and just open the door to the compartment when the toaster oven is on.If you're tent camping, a toaster oven provides a way to cook other than the campfire. 
  • Bird feeders. You know, the small kind you can hang from a branch. We enjoy so much watching the birds come eat. We try to identify them and imitate their calls using apps. Great fun, I tell you!
  • Over the door hangers with pockets. We use them to store all kinds of small items like jewelry, batteries, etc. 
Camping Tip 4. Utilize every inch of available storage. Milk crates fit perfectly in the underbed storage area and help keep the area organized. We can actually find things under the bed now!

Camping Tip 5. Again, utilize every inch of storage space. Your RV may be different, but our RV has some great usable space above the window valence boxes. It's perfect for storing pill bottles, spices, paper towels, etc. (not during transit, of course). 

Camping Tip 6. Always bring an Easy-Up (or whatever you call a canopy tent). Put it up above the picnic table. In case it rains, you've still got a place to sit around outside and play games, etc. 

Camping Tip 7. Christmas lights make great campsite lights. You can hang them on the awning, wrap 'em around trees, etc. Icicle lights in particular are beautiful. 

Camping Tip 8. Plan your meals before you go, and bring all ingredients, including special spices. Do any prep work you can beforehand. I find it freeing to look at my list and go, "It's Tuesday, we're having hot dogs" than to have to figure out what everyone wants for dinner and what I feel like cooking. Even fulltiming it, having a meal plan takes one thing off my plate, so to speak. 

Camping Tip 9. Reservations, reservations, reservations. Many popular campgrounds will fill up, especially on weekends and holdiays. Check policies for your capground to see if they accept or need reservations. There's nothing worse than packing up all your stuff, being excited to camp, and finding out there's no room in the inn.

Camping Tip 10. Have fun! Plan some new, fun, family activities for your trip! Make Biscuits on a Stick or Smores in a Cone over the campfire. Grab some paper and make Sun Prints or hit the sidewalk for some Fizzy Sidewalk Chalk Paint.  Better yet, play Sardines! No matter what, just have fun!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Family Fun Friday- Water Bottle Bubble Blower- Just right for Earth Day

Looking for an Earth Day Craft? Trying to find a fun, family activity for your next camping trip that's also frugal, and uses recycled materials? Well, this fits the bill! Make a water bottle bubble blower!

You will need:
bubble solution
an empty water bottle
an old sock

Cut the bottom off an empty water bottle. Insert the cut off end into a sock (you may need to trim the scok first, depending on the size.) Remove the lid, dip the sock into the bubble solution, and blow!
Presto- magical bubble snakes!

The best thing about this craft is that pretty much anyone will have water bottles and socks while camping. When the kiddos get bored (HOW does that happen while kids are camping? I mean, seriously, they're outside! Sticks, mud, bugs, nature.... ), grab some dish soap if you don't have bubble solution, and blow away! (It's okay! Dish soap actually makes way more bubbles than regular bubble solution, and I know you've got that in your camping supplies!)

Happy bubble blowing!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Get a FREE email address!

Okay, so we're probably a little too excited about having out own domain name! But, hey, small victories are babysteps in the right direction. Right??

Along with the new domain name, we have decided to offer our readers (that's YOU!) a free email address

Yes, I know- you already have an email address. Who doesn't? I like to have a separate email address for signing up for coupons or free offers. Maybe this would work for you. I also like to have multiple email addresses in case a website is offering a good deal, limited to one per email address (Netflix free trials and free cards are favorites). Just a thought!

Is your name Bob? Bob Camper? Well, you can be!
Or, if you'd like, your new email address can be
And the best part (other than having the most awesome email address ever, that is) is that it's free!

If you're interested, you can click the box at the top right of the page to sign up and to check your email!
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