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!

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