The Story of Us

The story of us

This is one of my most treasured stories and I love telling it to anybody that will listen.  Rewind to the weekend of January 16, 2009. I was just a young girl at the time with crazy dreams of quitting my job, traveling the world and moving to Colorado with one of my best friends from nursing school {still a pretty awesome dream}.  Literally a few days prior to this weekend my friend and I had actually just purchased tickets to Paris so we could backpack around Europe for six weeks.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  Andrew was in the middle of his senior year at Texas A&M university.  As destiny, or fate, would have it Andrew and I ended up on the same cruise ship that chilly weekend in January.  It was the Carnival Ecstasy cruise liner; straight out of the 70’s with shag carpet and all.  I was there with some girlfriends from nursing school for a bachelorette party and Andrew was there with his family and large group of friends from his small home town.  Before we even had a chance to leave port, Andrew and I crossed paths.  It was a quick interaction of a girl falling in love at first sight.  I spotted him and he spotted me and we made the most intensely awkward eye contact.  A few more episodes of our paths crossing,  it was evident that somebody had to make a move.  Andrew did.  He popped around a corner and made my best friend and I blush (it was so obvious we were staring at them and had no idea he had left and was coming to us).  He introduced himself and gave me the “I hope I see you around later” line 🙂  He did – that night it all went down at the Stripes Disco.  After night of dancing at Stripes Disco and watching a beautiful sunrise from the boat deck made for the most magical and fun weekend.  It was pretty much a done deal.  Two days flew by and I told Andrew on our last day together that he would either the best thing that has ever happened to me or the biggest heartbreak of my life.  I was completely smitten.  We made it back to land and had our first land date which evolved into another whole weekend spent together.  We spent the remainder of Andrew’s semester at school traveling back and fourth at every free moment so that we could be together.  A whirlwind of eight months flew by filled with nothing but love, laughter and adventure.  It all came to the perfect ending with Andrew taking a knee asking me to be his wife.  Saying ‘YES’ was the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Saying Yes has blessed me with the 2 most beautiful boys.  It has been the best adventure of my lifetime so far and I can only imagine where we will end up.  Always and forever team Hooper.

From the moment I met Andrew he is always rhyming, singing, or writing poems.  It was so fitting that our rainy day bike ride 8 years ago today ended with this poem 🙂  Who would have thought a weekend cruise would be a defining moment in time in both of our lives.  9 years ago on January 16th we will have met, 8 years ago today we got engaged, 7 years ago October 2 we got married.  Here is to a lifetime together.

Cruise Girl

It all began on a Carnival Cruise 

For which I had went on to enjoy the booze 

And all of the sudden I saw a girl in the hall 

So beautiful, so stunning, so ridiculously tall 

She caught my eye, and took my breath away 

I thought to myself, could this be the one, could this be the day 

We met on and on, for the first few hours 

Though I never could shake that I was a coward 

So beautiful you stood, you were out of my league 

So I racked my brain, oh how may I intrigue 

With that white long sleeve shirt and that little black vest 

I could feel my heart racing, down deep in my chest 

So I drank up some drinks, to build up my courage 

And wandered around, like I was out on a forage 

I saw you in the middle, with a friend by your side 

Oh great there’s two, this will be an interesting ride 

I downed one more drink, and began walking your way 

I hoped I could do it, I didn’t know what to say 

We had our little convo, it went well so it seemed 

We said see ya around, I thought she is supreme 

 There was something special, something different for sure 

I said time will tell, if only I can endure 

That night at the club, with the dim and black lights 

We had a ball, the place was named stripes 

We partied a lot, and then walked around 

Till the wee hours in the morn, then I laid my head down 

I woke up that morning, thinking will I see her again 

Well duh, were on a ship, in the middle of the ocean 

As the cruise day went on, we talked and shared glances 

We met at stripes that night, and began doing dances 

Then all of the sudden, our lips met together 

Wow this is so awesome, so full of pleasure 

We met every day, and then every night 

Stayed up till the morning, everything felt so right 

Long story short, we then exchanged numbers 

The cruise was now over, and I began to wonder 

Will I met her again, was this just a fling 

I hoped more than ever, I’d hear my phone ring 

Kind of a different way, since on the cruise I didn’t have my phone 

So I sat in my room, waiting patiently alone 

Finally it came; we talked for minutes on end 

When can I see you I asked, well I’m free next weekend 

So I drove down to Houston, what the hell was I thinking 

 I met a girl on the cruise, while I was nonstop drinking 

Was I drunk, Is this real, Am I sure about this, 

I was, I realized, The truth was in the kiss 

The first weekend was great, and it grew more thereafter 

We sat and we smiled, both full of much laughter 

And then hit fast forward, till the time is now and here 

I wouldn’t change one thing, not the laughter or the tears 

JJ, the tall one with those great blue eyes, 

You make me the happiest human alive 

I can’t live without you, o where shall I begin 

 You are my rock, and undoubtedly my best friend 

So now here before you, I drop to one knee 

Janelle Elizabeth Jones, WILL YOU MARRY ME? 

our first “land” date
formal night on the cruise
fresh engagement, a few days after in the country
because it is not official until it is facebook official. I accepted his request 😉
cruise ships

XO,

j

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How do you downsize from a house to an RV

How did I prepare for the downsize?

I really did not prepare. HAHA!  I have always been a “oh it will work out” fly by the seat of my pants, last-minute kinda person.  Not that this has not worked out because it has – but let me help you prepare!  When you are deciding what to take and what not to take make piles – bring, store, sell, trash.  Once you have done that cut your bring pile in half.  I would have personally cut my storage pile in half as well.  (hindsight is 20/20 – our storage unit cost is minimal, but it will take a huge purge once we settle down again).  As far as the ‘bring’ pile, you will quickly learn what you need and what you don’t.  It’s amazing how condensing your belongings into a tiny space allows you to see literally almost everything you own at one time.  I have purged since going full-time and I am currently in the process of purging again.  I had boxes labeled for the movers that I wanted placed in the front of the storage unit, so I could easily access and trade out things as needed (sadly not all of them made it to the front of storage, but I tried).  I had decided on a toy rotation system with bins that I would trade out every 2-3 weeks.

None of that has happened.  Why?!

Less IS More.

I condensed the boys toys down from 6 bins to just 2 that I could easily fit both under the bench seat in the back.  I have gone to storage a handful of times – each one leaving with stuff to GIVE AWAY or with stuff from the RV to put into storage #byejunk.

The less is more mindset is really great with kids too. I’ll be the first to tell you that it is still a process for me – we still have too much kid stuff.  I feel like I am emotionally attached to some of it, and other aspects I am still trying to decide if some things get used enough to constitute a permanent spot in the sacred toy room/bedroom/garage.  It is really stinking hard to downsize from a house to an RV.  I am not going to lie.  In the same breath, though, it is so incredibly freeing and worth every last bit of stress we have endured since we started this process in March.  Each day I learn more about myself, what things drive me nuts, what makes me happy. We are going to The Minimalist speak in November and I am so excited to go and soak up their advice and see what I walk away with.

I just don’t get it.  How can you live in an RV?

I know.  It is really strange and different.  I get it.  But for us, it totally works and is a really fun adventure (now we are just praying that God guides in a direction so that we can hit the road and see this beautiful country).  Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects that we I miss about a house, ahem, my bathtub.  Really at this point that is all I really miss.  Oh, and my pantry.  My house pantry was like house of its own.  I really do miss that space, especially as the boys are eating more – I miss that storage to bulk buy.  Other than that, life in an RV works.  It is was you make it and we have made it a home.

Here is a quick tour of our home and how we do it.  When you first walk into our home you walk straight into our kitchen and living room – a two in one multi-functional space.  😉

From the picture above you can see our loft space, the pantry (black stacked cabinets), and entry in garage area aka playroom, bedroom, etc.  The red, white and blue banner I switch out with the seasons.  I love it.  It is such an easy way for me to add a homey and fun touch!

Kitchen space. You can see our entry here and the steps you see lead to our bathroom/master bedroom.  I use the storage above the couch for my crock-pot, baking pans, pyrex, etc. The one of the far right is my kid/craft/art cabinet.  The big box on the counter top?  Ice maker.  Best.  Investment. Ever.  If you love ice, especially the best chewing and eating ice, buy one.

Baby gate is up in this picture.  This was one of my must-haves when we decided to go full-time.  I needed my space when I was cooking.

A fireplace?  Yes.  I love it.  You can turn it on to look pretty or you can actually use it – it puts off some amazing heat.  I took the baby gate off in this picture, but normally we have the area blocked off so the kids can’t get into kitchen area.  That is a must for me – space is tight and I don’t want little hands grabbing the hot stove or opening the fridge 74584720 times a day.  The storage above the TV we use for big pantry items – cereal, baking goods, and alcohol – because yes.

This, this is our deluxe bathroom suite.  An infinity sink with storage underneath, large walk in shower with removable shower head, and plenty of storage.

Shower.   I miss my tub.

Master room.  There is a king bed in here – we are both tall so it was a must for us.  We upgraded the mattress to memory foam.  I highly recommend ditching the mattresses that come with your RV and upgrading.  Our closet is behind the sliding mirror.  We each have a side.  I am still working on perfecting my wardrobe to a few key versatile pieces.

We installed a washer and dryer right before we went full-time.  I knew with 2 small kids it was a must for me and I have no regrets.  So far it has been worth every penny!.  We did get a couple of area rugs for the carpeted area of our rig to help preserve the carpet.  RV grade carpet is very thin and we immediately noticed wear after only a few weeks of going full-time.

Our garage/play room/bedroom.  I love this space.  L O V E it.  It is so versatile and fun!.  We area actually in the process of remodeling as I write this, so I will post updates once we are done!

Bed folds up to couch during the day!  The growth ruler came from our home and I knew it was something that had to come into the camper with us.  The boys love jumping up and seeing if they are growing big and tall.  We had the curtains custom-made (thanks to our super sweet old next door neighbor for the help!  she has mad sewing skills!) for the windows – originally the RV came with the metal blinds in those windows and it was so going over well with boys.  I also wanted something to make area completely dark for nap times, movies, etc.

We installed this amour for the boys clothes and it works great!  They each have their own side.  The storage shelves came with the RV and I use them as bookcases.  We love books in this family, and I loved having a built-in spot for them!

Boys half bath in the back!  We love this feature so we can keep kids in the kid zone and have some of our own space!

This our home, come visit!

XO,

j

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life after the storm

Harvey.  Oh, Harvey.  I feel like this storm is now a defining moment in the lives of everybody that endured it.  There will be the life before Harvey and the life after Harvey.  I hope that in the days and weeks to come the people continue to find the good in other people and the situation.  I hope they remember how our communities pulled together and loved so well.  I hope they remember the countless hours upon hours of community service that our neighbors have sacrificed in order to rescue and rebuild.  I hope after the pain and fear from the storm continues to subside they can see the blessings brought forth by the storm.  I hope they will always remember that you can’t do life alone, so love your neighbors – all of them; always.  I hope that as houses get rebuilt people not only regain a sense of home and security, but forever cherish how fragile life is and how each new day is truly a blessing.  I hope that my boys never stop playing water rescue with their cars and airplanes and never stop talking about how daddy is out helping people.  When they play they are acting out what they see – and this storm has let them see their daddy in a whole new light.  I hope that as people drive through neighborhoods and see piles and sometimes mountains in people’s front yards they have compassion.  I hope that they remember that even though it is “stuff”- it is someones life.  I hope they remember that among the carpet padding and wood floors there are precious photos, handmade masterpieces from their children, baby books, a child’s favorite toy, great grandmas heirloom china, and so on and so forth.  I hope that they remember that yes ‘stuff’ is replaceable but some of it was not stuff, some of it made up a small piece of their soul, a memory so special, that it can never physically replaced.  I hope that this storm has changed you as it has changed me.  I hope you are walking on the other side a little more broken, but a little more stronger.  I hope that you continue to be the best ‘yes’ you can be to others in need of help or just a hug.  I hope that you continue (or start) to count your blessings every night – you truly honestly never know when life will shift.  I hope that each and every day you tell your loved ones that you love them.  I hope that you show grace to your neighbors, whether it be in traffic or as they work on home repairs – give them grace – we are all just trying to find our new normal.  I hope that if you didn’t already love Texas, Mattress Mack and JJ Watt that you do now. Lastly, I hope that you have a renewed hope – in yourself, in your future, in the world.  Harvey will not be the last storm in your life.  The next storm you endure may or may not be another hurricane.  Maybe it will be loss of a loved one or a job.  Perhaps a big move in life or an emotional roadblock.  Always remember who you are and where you have come from.  Without some rain, you will never have a rainbow.  Pray, endure, grow, change.

Oh Harvey…

You spun up in the gulf, just as quick as it could be,
With a bullseye on the Texas coast, headed straight for my friends and me

All the models showed you growing, and dumping lots of rain,
you’d thought you’d get the best of us, and drive us all insane

As you slowly came ashore, we all watched your true devastation,
You showed us all your strength, but we’ll overcome it without the slightest trepidation

Not the power outage nor the flood, and your wind surely was no match
As we came together as Texans, and the hospitality bug did we catch

Our friends, our family, and neighbors, we are all one in the same,
you won’t break our spirits in the slightest, this is just a part of life’s game

Deep into the night, the volunteers came in droves,
driving our small john boats through the neighborhoods, and all their intricate coves

With a full boat of people, and the 90 HP Mercury chugging along in the flood, it didn’t matter who we were saving, we all came from the same blood

When the times got the toughest, we just looked up to the sky,
and whether it was raining or it was sunny, we smiled without a sigh

All was going to be ok, with all of us on the same team,
we are stitched together like the Texas flag, and we wouldn’t break a seam

Once the flood waters recede, I’m sure you’ll still hear your name,
but it will be because of the great human nature, and not your selfless sought after fame

We are friends helping friends, not asking for anything in reply,
just knowing that if there’s an issue, we just raise our hands into the sky

You see you don’t mess with Texas, we’ll stand up hand to hand,
Like if you were the devil down in Georgia, in the song by the Charlie Daniels Band.

I will give you only one thing, you were a test for us for sure,
but nothing a helping hand, a human heart, and a Texan cannot cure!

God Bless!!!

-Poem by my talented and loving husband, Andrew

On a lighter night, right before Harvey hit I returned from an Epic 2 week road-trip and I cannot wait to share it with you!

XO,

j

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Pray for Texas

I wish I had some great words or truth to speak right now, but I do not.

I am helpless.  I am exhausted.  I am scared.  I do not know what is happening to our great state and to my hometown, Houston.  I do not know why it is happening.  What I do know is we go like to go big in Texas.  And my God, my God,  I pray that none of you or your loved ones ever beat the records that Harvey has created.  I pray that this IS truly an 800 year flood as they are calling it.  My husband is out right now doing boat rescues and the text reports I am getting from him are nothing short of devastating.  This natural disaster is catastrophic friends, it has reached a level that no one could have predicted and it is not over yet.  I do know that there is hope.  I know it is hard to see, and for many a thought that they truly cannot even process right now.  So, with my very last drop of energy I am going to have hope.

I have been {glued} to social media and the news these past few days.  It has probably not been the best for my mentality, but those are my people out there suffering.  They are my family, my co-workers, my neighbors, my best friends.  Most importantly they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are fellow humans and to someone they are a brother, sister, mom/dad, neighbor, best friend, etc.  I have witnessed civilians leaving their families in order to go rescue others.  I have seen shelters created and stocked with items in a matter of hours.  The news has shown me devastation, but sprinkled in with that is hope.  It is showing me hope, not only that flood waters will recede {because they will}, it is showing me hope in all of human kind.  As my sons little show talked about tonight “If God puts someone in your path that needs help, help them.”  Houston is helping each other out.  Neighbors are opening their doors and their hearts.  The souls of Houstonians and surrounding areas are awakened and shining with the light of our Lord and Savior.  We have combined as one and we WILL survive Hurricane Harvey.  Not only will we survive it, we will be S T R O N G E R because of it.  In the truest sense of southern hospitality, you were never welcome Harvey and you showed up anyways.  We tried to play nice and accept your rainfall.  But 11 trillion gallons of rainwater and hundreds of tornado warnings later we showed up too and ultimately we will win, so you can go on and move on now Harvey, the hospitality crew is giving you the boot.  Bye, bye.

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means Christ Jesus.  So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” -1 Peter 5:10
“When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” -Genesis 9:16
I have been waiting for the rainbow pictures to start appearing in my news feed and tonight I saw 2.  We are next my friends.  Hang tight, hold onto hope – Our rainbow is coming!
XO,
J

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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