Living in an RV with toddlers

What is life like in an RV with toddlers?  Not really a whole lot different from life in a house with toddlers.

You still have no sense of privacy or alone time.  All of my bathroom breaks are accompanied with at least one child at my feet or sticking his fingers or toys under the door.  I can’t cook dinner without someone being underfoot and stuff it getting knocked off the counter.  Life with toddlers is messy.  A beautiful mess.  RV, house, apartment – they don’t care.  At the end of the night if your toddler/baby is safe, fed, and clean they are happy; their needs are being met.  They are adaptable to the environments you put them in.  They watch for cues from -YOU- about how to act.  My kids don’t know that living in an RV is different or may be viewed as ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ by some.  Corbin will gladly tell anybody that will listen about how awesome his loft is or how he has the most amazing pile of dirt right outside his front door to play in with his tractors.  He is proud of who he is and where he lives.  Bubba?  That boy is happy in every situation and does not know a stranger.  He is still so young that he does not even remember days before the RV life.  Living in an RV has really helped to teach me about what is important to my kids.  I have learned that from the abundant amount of toys we still have they only care about a handful of them.  I have learned that they love quality time spent with them more than anything – whether it is going on a bike ride together or just watching them play in the dirt – they love my presence.

How did I prepare for the change?

I really didn’t.  I don’t know if this is something you can prepare for.  It is just something you have to do and learn along the way.  And you have to pray.  A lot.  Of course we talked to our kids as we were packing up the house and explained to them what we were doing and why.  I don’t know exactly what their little minds processed, but they did not seem to traumatized or phased by the move.  We let them both help ‘pack’ and feel like a part of the change.  I tried to keep as much normal for them as possible.  I kept their same bedding from home.  We brought all 3784327 of our stuffed animal friends (because they hit high importance in their world, weigh nothing, and take up no space because they are hidden in Corbin’s loft).  I brought their favorite moo cow picture and hung it in the ‘playroom.’  I brought our game room area rug from the house and put it in the toy-hauler area.  I really thinking that helped keep it normal for them.

photo credit: Bob Dabbelt with TenFive Studios. This is the playroom AND doubles as Wyatt’s bedroom.
Where do your kids sleep in an RV?

Sleeping arrangements actually work like dream for us!  See what I did there – dreamy arrangements haha!  Seriously, my kids sleep fantastic – maybe even better than at home AND Bubba is back to napping everyday (say what?!) – he had kicked that to the curb before moving out of the house, SO this is a HUGE WIN in momma’s book!  So originally the set up back here has another bench and a folding table to create a booth style table.  We removed one bench and replaced it with this AMAZING kids table and chairs (best purchase ever). The other bench as you can see stays in bench form during waking hours and for nap/bedtime we simply roll it down make the bed and viola-Wyatt has a bed!  He loves it.  He has NO trouble sleeping in it and from the nights I have slept with him it really is pretty comfortable.  He was already climbing out of his crib at home prior to the move so the transition from crib to this was easy peasy for him!

photo credit: Bob Dabbelt. Bench seat folded into bed!

Corbin has his own digs in the loft area.  This kid LOVES his loft {so does Wyatt.  We have tried to let them both sleep up there, but it turns into a toddler style all night frat party}.  You can see in the previous picture the ladder hanging – this is the loft access.  We hang it up each morning to prevent doorway blocking and take it down at bedtime.  I was nervous for Corbin to be in the loft initially because of the entrance and him potentially falling out.  This however is never a problem.  It is an ‘L’ shaped loft and he LOVES to sleep in the cave.  I usually I have to crawl up there and dig thru stuffed animals and tractors to find him 😉

photo credit: bob Dabbelt. Corbin perched in his loft and Wyatt digging in the snack bin #shocker
photo credit: Bob Dabbelt. The loft stretches around and the right behind the boys and makes a little cave. That is their favorite spot!
What are some of my ‘must haves’ for camping/full-time RV life with toddlers/babies?

This Phil&Teds highchair earned a 100% in my book.  Easy to clean, compact, lightweight, and attractive.  I cannot recommend this high chair anymore to someone looking for one to have in their RV/camping world – or at home for that matter!  We LOVE it!  We kept is short – meaning we did not add tall leg extenders on it.  We used the toddler chair height and kept tray on it.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

Each boy has one plate, one bowl, one water bottle, and one sippy cup.  I won’t lie.  The search for missing cups has drove me near this end of insane, but we are really on stressing teaching the boys to put stuff in the sink to be washed when they are done and how to keep track of their water bottles.  It’s a learning curve we are all still learning, but I can’t rationalize taking up more space on cups.  We use these and are really happy with them all!  I am looking to ditch the sippy cups and will let you know what my lidded kid safe plan B is once I find a good replacement!

You need an organization system!!!!  We installed an amour/dresser in the toy hauler area for the boys clothes.  They each have half.  I used these collapsible box bins to hold their piggy banks (yes, those made the cut!  Never to early to teach your kids how to save!) and pajamas.  These bottom bins hold underwear and socks.  It is a great system for us and really easy for the kids to know where their stuff is and access it.

photo credit: Bob Dabbelt with TenFivestudios. The amour was added by us and that is where I store the bins mentioned above. The two shelves came mounted with the RV and I use it for cookbook/kid book storage.

As far as toys go, I had originally planned out a toy rotation system.  I was going to trade out bins every couple of weeks for new ones.  I thought this would help keep their toys exciting and fresh to play with!  Reality – that never happened.  Once we were living the daily life I realized they did NOT need 6 bins worth of toys rotated out.  I condensed it down to 2 bins – one for each boy.  We used these bins from home depot and I love them.  They are sturdy and hold up against the rough housing my boys put them through.

Bath time in an RV has been a bit of challenge.  We are all adjusting (momma misses her bathtub :)).  It isn’t {bad} it is just different.  The boys don’t have a tub anymore and showers every night were not our normal at home but are (obviously) our new normal here!  For the sake of storage each boy has one towel.  I originally brought alligator bath toys from home, but ended up tossing them a few weeks in because there is just no space.  I do have foam alphabet letters and numbers that I pull out occasionally for them to play with, but bath time is usually short and sweet around here.  I love this brand of hooded towels from target.

photo credit: Bob Dabbelt with TenFIve Studios. This is the boys half bath located in the toy hauler area of the RV

I have talked about this stroller before, but I am obsessed.  The boys and I go running every morning and it just cant be beat.  It takes up room, but it is worth every square foot.  I store this baby in my car to keep it out of the elements and prevent mildew from growing on it.  If you take the wheels of it, it folds up very compact.  It is very quick to reassemble as well.  I use the belly bar feature on it and the boys and I love it!  I also have this stroller for my single kid days and I love it just as much.  I also store this in my car as well.  I know my car storage is going to need to a blog post of its own after reading this.  HA.  Anyways, the performance of these strollers far outweighs their cost.  Both of them do great when I am out of the trails with them!

My final ‘must have’ outdoor/camping item is this infant/toddler bike seat.  I think my husband may have rolled his eyes and asked me if this was necessary when he saw it in our amazon cart.  My answer was 100% we do (hoping when it arrived it was all i had it talked up to be).  It has surpassed every expectation I had.  I feel so sturdy with Wyatt and HE loves the front seat view and little steering wheel.  He literally thinks he’s driving the bike – haha! If you are bike people {with kids}, this is worth every penny.

 

we have the red one.
photo credit: Bob Dabbelt with TenFIve Studios. ibert seat in action. We LOVE bike rides and this seat makes it all possible – even trail rides!

Is there anything y’all want to know about more in-depth regarding kids and camping and full-time RV life?  Let me know I will be happy to update this post!  I will doing a room tour and discuss sleeping arrangements etc SOON!

*this post contains affiliate links*

XO,

j

FIVE reasons why living in an RV is the better than living in a house

Does the title of this post sound partial?  I don’t mean it to.  I have lived on both sides of the spectrum and both sides will always have pros and cons.  Today I am focusing why living in an RV is better than living in a house.  Grab a cup of coffee and a warm blanket and get ready to open up your mind to a whole new world of possibility.

one.

It creates a whole new level of communication within the family.  I thought Andrew and I were good communicators.  Then we moved out of 3000 sq. foot home into a 350 sq. foot RV……. The learning curve was steep, but I think our communication skills (verbal and nonverbal) have improved drastically.  Something about this adventure has made our family bond insanely strong and I think we are just weaving the threads stronger and tighter between each of us every day that we continue on!

two.

It is an amazing conversation starter.  I LOVE meeting new people and going through the series of what do you do, where are you from questions.  The facial expressions that we get on the daily when we tell people that we live in a state park in an RV are worth this journey alone.  Priceless.  People generally think it is totally awesome or that we are crazy.  Not many people have told us we are crazy to our face (a few have), but I am sure there has been some behind the scenes real talk about our life.  We are ok with that.  It is our life, and it is totally riveting.

three.

Freedom.  Y’all the sense of freedom that comes with living tiny is indescribable.  Financial freedom, time freedom, clutter freedom, the list could go on for days.  It is a breath of fresh air.  We are also just far enough out-of-town that I have developed a new-found freedom in the word ‘no.’  I used to never say no before – never.  It was exhausting.  But this life has given me the freedom to say no and have no regrets.  The time we spend with our people has become just more precious and appreciated.  I have learned how to plan my in town days and become more organized so we can maximize our visits when we are there.  We soak up every minute.  We also love having visitors.  Sharing our new life with our family and friends brings us so much joy!

four.

It is easy.  For the most part RV life is easy.  It is small, so it comes with smaller problems.  Less things to break, less to clean, less to worry about.  It is just easy 🙂

five.

Adventure.  Everyday is an adventure.  Nights at our house consisted of play (90% of days inside play), bath, bed.  Nights in the RV consist of campfires, trail rides, hikes, bug catching, bath, bed.  Not only do my kids sleep better and later but they are living out a wild and adventurous childhood.

I know RV life is not for everybody and the thought of going full-time can be daunting and seem downright crazy.  Open you mind, you never know where the ‘what-if’ might take you in life!

just because this is one of my most favorite pictures ever.

 

XO,

j

 

 

weekend tradition

Family traditions.  There is something so special and magical about traditions.  The smells, the sounds, the tastes – they hold powerful memories that can always carry back in time to when you knew them the most; where they belong.  Traditions help create strong memories and bonds for all who are involved.  One tradition my parents have created for our family every year is to go on a weekend getaway to the JW Marriot Hill Country every year.  I love it.  I love that I know at least one weekend of the Summer is devoted to bringing my family together.  I love watching cousins play, I love watching my parents spend time with all of their grand-kids in one spot, I love making memories with my kids, I love everything about it.  This year was no exception.  One of my highlights of every trip is Saturday after dinner gathering on the lawn and trying to get family pictures of everybody.  It is fun and hilarious and always makes us laugh.  Thank you mom and dad for making this tradition happen.

XO,

j

Enough

“Gratitude makes what we have enough”

I found this plaque before we started this adventure.  Well, before we started living this life.  This motto, I thought, this is a good life motto.  I assumed that it would come easy.  We are living in a tiny space, so I will be grateful and it will be enough.  I was wrong.  I am grateful and it is enough.  But human nature has made it a hard transition.  I am guilty. I have still bought and added things to my life.  The other day at the store I bought two new pairs of shoes.  Why?  I don’t really know.  I returned them both.  This transition has been just that – a transition.  A pruning process.  We are growing and changing because of it.  I am learning to find a balance of what is really important, what I really want out of life.  What really brings me happiness?  I thought I went thru this process already as I packed up the house.  I literally examined everything I owned and tried to determine if it brought me happiness or not.  But the truth is, it is not the things that have brought me happiness in this journey.  It has been sitting by the fire with my husband long after the kids have gone to bed and roasting marshmallows and giggling.  It has been watching my baby learn overnight how to do amazing things because he it outside learning and playing ALL day long.  It has been watching my big boy gain a sense of responsibility as he makes the rounds with daddy every day.

Many of our ‘neighbors’ during the week are retired couples here relaxing for the week/weekend.  I cannot even count how many strangers have come up to Andrew or I and told us how much happiness watching our boys play has brought them.  Each time a specific mishap that they witnessed is what brought them the most joy…..how cute Wyatt looked throwing a tantrum or giving me his side eye…..how awesome Corbin is on his bike {and how he just takes off so fast}….how funny it is to watch their “fights.”  Their highlights were my daily frustrations and it was {is} exactly what I need to hear during this phase of motherhood. We had one lady paint us a picture of the boys chasing bubbles.  It was the sweetest gesture and something we will treasure for a lifetime.

My joy is nothing that I imagined this road would bring – it is 1000 times better.  I am growing as person.  I am learning to trust more and let go.  I don’t know what 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years looks like down the road.  The glorious thing?  I don’t have to!  I am really trying to focus on living in the moment and not worrying so much about the future.  It will unfold how God intends it, and I plan on enjoying the process (and the 1293478 bugs that have become a part of my daily life :))

What brings you the greatest joy in life?

xo,

j

Finally Friday

This week is wrapping up my first full week of cutting down my working hours at the hospital.  I am now a per diem employee meaning I only work one shift per week.  I am SO excited about this and am hoping that it really brings a sense of calm, control, and REST to my life!  My top five favorites this week revolves around the awesome wildlife encounters we have had since staying in the park!

one.

Squirrels.  Tree rats.  “qwua qwua” as bubba yells 20 times a day every time he sees one.  Whatever you wish to call them – they are by far the boys favorite wildlife in the park.  Can you blame them – they dance with us 🙂  Our squirrels got moves.

dancing with the squirrels. He squirrel is by far the boys favorite animal.

two.

The birds.  I have never been a bird lover (actually a bit scared of them due in part of some legitimately angry birds that used to get trapped in my garage and dive bomb me), B U T the birds here y’all – they are phenomenal.  They are beautiful and I love listening to the musical landscape they provide.  I am actually wanting to get a bird feeder.  Does that make me a crazy bird lady?  Better than crazy cat lady?  #birdgirl

Andrew was able to get within 8 feet of this woodpecker and watched him for a good 10 minutes! they even played peek-a-boo

three.

The deer are my favorite.  They are simply beautiful an I LOVE seeing them randomly throughout the day and on my runs.  Our favorite and most memorable deer encounter was not a deer in headlights 😉 BUT when a couple of campers knocked on our door at 10 pm with a baby fawn they had come across in the road.  Yep – we became wildlife rescue that night.  We have since spotted the baby with his momma so mission accomplished.

four.

We share our yard with a small herd of armadillos.  This makes us Texans to the core right?  the little dillos are pretty cute and the boys get a kick out of them.

five.

Across the board our least favorite critter we have run into (on more than occasion) is the snake.  gross.  Hate them – always will.  When we first got here I had bubba in his stroller and Corbs and I were walking down a hiking trail and he would not listen to me and stay in the middle.  I kept telling him there are snakes, stay away from the edge.  Corbin stopped and said “gosh mom, there are NO snakes ok.”  At that very moment about a foot ahead of Corbin I heard the grass rattling and we both looked up and out jumped a giant frog followed by a huge snake chasing him down.  Thank you God for helping me teach my son that mommy is right and there are snakes.  Corbin’s eyes about popped out of his head and he said “MOM THERE ARE SNAKES” #toldyouso

This guy greeted Andrew in the wood pile. no thanks

What is your favorite wildlife?

XO,

j

we are among the rich and famous

We were recently featured in a blog post by The Wandering RV.  Bill reached out to us to contribute to a post he did about why we chose to go full-time in our RV.  Along with 20 other full-timers our story got featured in his post and we are SO pumped to be listed among the elite of the RV world.  We are total newbies, so when a fellow rv-er reached out to us, we totally geeked out.  #nerdalert.  Check it out folks and then make a mental note that you know a famous family 🙂  Thanks Bill!  Let us know when you are in Texas!

I really love how our super awesome Chrismas card photo was used for our photo. #winnning

xo,

j

Friday Favs

one.

Asics gel-nimbus running shoes.  These shoes are like running on clouds.  I don’t love the price tag, but I do love the shoe.  I am getting my booty back in gear and hitting the pavement again and I had worn my old running shoes into the ground.  My boys bought me a new pair for Mothers Day 🙂  If you are in the search for a good pair of running shoes, I highly recommend these

two.

This stroller makes my runs ah-mazing.  Well, as amazing as running while pushing over 100 pounds can be 😉  I almost always have my babies with my on my runs.  This stroller distributes their weight so evenly and it is so smooth and easy to push.  We are limited on storage these days and the easy on/off wheels on this jogger makes it so easy and compact for storage in my car to keep it out of the elements when not in use!

three.

As I was organizing and planning how I wanted everything in the RV I realized the eating situation if folding and unfolding a table at every meal was not the most ideal – especially with the boys.  I went on a hunt for the perfect table and chairs that would withstand all their roughness 🙂  I found this set at Target and instantly fell in love.  It is the perfect fit and super sturdy.  I also love how it is metal, so the table surface doubles as a magnetic learning station as well for their magnetic alphabet letters and numbers!

four.

Picasso tiles magnetic playset are by far one of the coolest inventions ever.  My boys are in love with these and each play session usually lasts a minimum of 30 minutes of complete amazement.  It really pushes their creativity and problem solving skills.  Mommy and Daddy think they are pretty fun to play with as well!

five.

Our carpet in the RV is super low quality and we knew we wanted to preserve it as long as possible.  Andrew had the great idea of getting some runners to place down and I found this one that we love.  It is such a great quality and feels amazing to walk on!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.

xo,

j

Camp Hooper

We had the b.e.s.t. time celebrating our boys at their Camp Hooper birthday party.  The weather was perfect and we felt so blessed by all of our friends and family that came out to celebrate.  This year we did a joint party for the boys and they loved it!  We will be making this a tradition for as long as they let us!  A camping party seemed like the most appropriate theme considering our current life situation 🙂  Corbin’s one request was to have fish on his cake – you got it kid!  My mom made the pinata again this year {one of my most favorite traditions}.  She made pinatas for us as kids, and I always thought I had the coolest mom because she knew how to make a pinata.  I love that my boys now have the coolest pinata making nannie 🙂  Chick-fil-a saved the day with a last minute party tray order (like 0920 order for a 10 am party), shiply’s drive-thru donut holes won over the kids hearts and nana provided some delicious fruit!  My one pintrest inspiration for the party was s’mores trail mix.  I put a box of teddy grahams, a bag of chocolate chips, and a bag of mini marshmallows in a bowl and ta-da.  EASIEST kid loving snack ever.  I pulled some of the kids stuffed animals out of beds and brought our play teepee for decor and viola – perfect camping party!  I have so much fun celebrating birthdays and something about celebrating your babies is just extra special.  I already have a boy filled fun theme planned for next year 😉  What are some of your {easy} favorite party ideas?!

Camp Hooper
cakes, hats, and flashlight party favors = big hit
s’mores pinata is one of my favorites so far!
corbin was totally into the pinata hitting this year. bubba, maybe next year….
it wouldn’t be a 2 year old party without a tantrum
love hate relationship with the bubble machine. they love it, i hate it {such a mess} 🙂
the innocence and joy that a Pinata brings out. I LOVE it!

xo,

j

the day you turned two

My sweet blonde baby boy.  I do not know where the past two years have gone.  They have flown by faster than I can keep up.  You have developed the sweetest (and funniest) personality.  You do not have very many words yet, but you have no problem getting your wants and needs across.  The words you do have are the ones that are most important to you – bar, bike, mama, dada, buhhhhyyyeee, and no.  This takes me back to an important part of you to note.  Bars (like granola bars) are your love language.  Food in general is your full-time love, but bars in particular are the bees knees.  You L O V E to eat.  You love to finish your food and then start stealing others (particularly brothers)  are you really that hungry or do you love getting him riled up?!  We will never know, but you sure can pack away more food than your momma.  I pay for it in diapers J  You are the best cuddler.  Like your brother you love a good back scratch, but you also love to scratch backs.  You are an incredibly happy and laid back kid.   You are always smiling and you find just about anything comical.  You {LOVE} your brother.  You love him big.  He is your best friend, you are his little shadow and will copy everything he does down to demanding band aids on the same spot he has one.  Your heart is filled with the most innocent genuine love and every morning when you see me and daddy you act like we have been apart for a lifetime.  You are fiercely independent and your will as well is a force to be reckoned with (a running theme among you and your brother and daddy).  You love to ride your balance bike and are actually insanely fast and good at it.  You love trucks and cars of all sorts.  You love to dance and theme songs are your main jive.  Paw patrol’s song and the hot chocolate song from polar express really tip your happy scale over into pure uncontrollable joy.  Your hair is so blond its white.  It gets the best curls and your Dad and I refuse to cut it (sorry).  We love you so much bubba.  You were the perfect blonde haired baby our family needed.

birthday cinnamon rolls
you are funny 🙂

xo,

mommy

Living that {un}common life

When we started this journey we knew that we were taking a huge leap of faith.  We knew that we would come across varying opinions from people in every walk of our lives.  We knew that we were about to make our very common life, very uncommon.  God has done nothing but provide from day one.  Given, many times he left us wondering “why” and “are we doing the right thing?”  As the weeks have passed and we are becoming deeper into our journey it is so evident that yes we are doing the right thing and so many times along the way it is not that God was telling us no, he was merely orchestrating his work and a series of events in the timing that it needed to happen.  The opportunity God is giving us now has us so excited thinking how much we are loving this {un}common life.

Almost a year ago now, last June, is when all of this lets go full-time in the RV chatter started.  We did a 2 week trial run in a local RV park to make sure we felt good about our decision (because 2 weeks really gives a glimpse into what real life will look like – am I right 😉  Well, one week in and we decided heck we are wasting time, let’s just do this.  So, we did.  Our realtor was contacted, our house was placed on the market.  We thought we would be sold and closing in a matter of weeks.    We had it all planned out.  We would “hop” around some local state parks because they were so beautiful and we spent so much time there on weekends hiking and taking in all that God’s creation has to offer.  We “planned” to stay at each park for a few months and then go on to the next one.  Silly us.  As we sat around waiting for our house to sell, we actually had some time research into our grand plans.  Wouldn’t you know that you cannot stay in state parks for longer than 14 consecutive nights as a time.  We had little dream bubbles bursting all around us. We sat on the market until the week of Thanksgiving before pulling it off.  Fast forward to late January, we get a call from our realtor on a random Sunday afternoon.  You can read about that here.  By the grace of God our house sold.  You can read about that here.  We settled in at wonderful RV park in Brookshire.  It had a pond with ducks, a playground, a swimming pool, and gravel roads that turned muddy and filled with the biggest puddles when it rained.  The boys were in little boy heaven.  We made friends.  It was a good first home on this journey.  We started getting the itch a few weeks in to be in the woods, for some state park camping time.  I scrounged all the parks close enough that we could maintain our commutes with work and life.  EVERY single site/park was booked every fri/sat night thru June.  Hello boy scout camping season!  We settled on the last week in April and first week in May (sun-fri visits since they were booked fri/sat).  We wanted to be in the woods for both of the boys birthdays so those two weeks worked out perfect.  Plans were already made to go home to the country in between those weeks to celebrate grandma Charlie’s 79th birthday.  It was perfect timing.  We pulled into a big, shaded spot right across from the playground last Sunday afternoon.  The spot directly across from us was vacant and had a park host sign hanging in the front of it.  This immediately caught my attention and got my wheels turning.  After a quick conversation with Andrew and a little google searching our suspicions were confirmed.  There was a park host vacancy at one of our favorite local state parks.  I immediately emailed the Ranger and we met with him Monday morning.  Friday afternoon before we left town we had our final meeting with him and accepted the position at Park Host!  Yeah, I get it.  Much of what makes us excited these days has the majority people just looking at us saying “huh?”  But we are really excited about this opportunity friends!  This means that we get to stay for extended periods of times in the state park (buh-bye 14 night rule) and not only do we get extended stays BUT our stay here is F R E E.  Can we just say Thank you God.  His hands were at complete control and we are feeling his blessings coming down on us for sure.  In exchange for our stay, we are an active presence in the campgrounds.  We are to help enforce park rules as needed, sell ice and firewood if need, help keep the sites clean and free of trash once guests are gone.  All of these duties are so manageable with the kiddos and they are SO excited to have the important job of picking up sticks and litter.  Corbin is already the litter police.  This does not require us to be here 24/7.  We can still go about life, but when we are home we basically keep doing what we usually do (plus sell ice and firewood) and get to stay in this gorgeous park.  We are so excited about this opportunity for us and the boys!  I hope they always remember that time in their lives when they lived in a State Park.  Come visit us!  We will always have a campfire going and an endless supply of s’mores.  We would love visitors 🙂

getting settled
it’s official
these boys are all smiles about the new gig

xo,

j