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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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

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

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

 

 

{one} Month

Packing has become a task that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love the walks down memory lane I am having as I come across items that have been stowed away for safe keeping that hold such a good memories with them.  I love that I am able to really sort through things and decide if it brings me joy enough or if we NEED it and if it makes the keep or toss cut. I love the excitement of purging and fresh new starts of new adventures.  I hate seeing how much mindless stuff we have accumulated.  I hate that it seems to multiply right before my eyes.  I feel like packing is the never ending daunting task of my life currently.  I have been staying up late and going through rolls upon rolls of paper and bubble wrap but I still feel like I have barely made an indention.

{enter} 1.5 months later…….. and I was obviously all consumed with packing and ‘surviving’ that I never finished my post about packing let alone given any update on life at all!

Y’all.  It is our one month anniversary (technically one month + one day) but ONE MONTH!  WE MADE IT a month.  Yea, I know what’s one month when we are planning to have this lifestyle for YEARS?  Well, it has been a month, guys.  Actually two.  The hardest months we have had in a really, really, really long time.  I feel as if we have been under spiritual attack to some level.  We have barely been able to come up for air.  We listened to our hearts, we followed our dreams.  Yet, it has just been hard.  We are pushing through, we are stronger than ever, and we are ready to tackle life head on {break or no break}.  We have been hit with string after string of illness.  It has been relentless (downright brutal honestly) and expensive.  It started literally days after we accepted the offer and had a contract placed on our house.  Both of the boys came down with a horrible strand of strep…like 103/104 fevers for a week horrible.  We recovered from that (barely) and then the tummy bug swept thru the house.  We jumped right from the tummy bug into flu A.  Tamiflu rescued us momentarily and then we they boys got croup followed by Flu B.  Andrew and I developed severe head colds (requiring 2 rounds of antibiotics).  I have been battling laryngitis (twice now on the past month) and just finished a 5 day course of steroids for that.  AND just when I thought surely God we are done.  NO.  Andrew ended up in the emergency room early Sunday morning with kidney stones.  He is doing much better (praise God).  AND now I’m really thinking WE MUST BE DONE.  Please pray that we are.  We.  Are.  Tired.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” -Ephesians 6:11

Amidst all the illness and struggles, we managed to pack up our 3000 sq. foot house and move into our 300 sq foot RV.  We had struggles along the way, but we survived.  We did it and boy does it feel good to be done!  We are still organizing and figuring storage (in and out) of the RV out.  We currently have 2 storage units, but we will be condensing that to one very shortly once we get some of the stuff out of our big storage unit that people are purchasing from us.  Our RV storage and organization has come a LONG way since day 1!  I highlight some of that in our RV home tour video below.  I will be doing posts breaking down room by room storage solutions and what we are doing to make it work!  My favorite MUST HAVE and most unexpected used item so far?!  command hooks.  yep.  If you have stock in the command company, you are welcome.  I think I may have doubled your holdings this week alone.  A big thank you for my sister and brother in law for gifting us a giant box of command products when we moved into the RV – you started the trend and it stuck 😉  I’ll highlight how we are using all of our command hooks/strips when I do room tours!

We have already had the opportunity to meet some great full-time families.  One family, The Fulkersons, we started following a year ago when we first thought of drastically changing our lifestyle and moving into our RV.  We found out about their adventures when my sister-in-law bought something from them as they were selling off many of their belongings in order to go full-time.  They happened to be back in our part of town getting some RV repairs done right as we were closing on our house and hitting the RV.  We had the pleasure of enjoying their company quit a few times before they hit the road again.  It was such a blessing to share a common bond with another family doing this, and they had TONS of great advice for us!  We also got SO lucky in our current RV park.  We have the nicest family next to us and they have 2 sweet kiddos.  Their son and Corbin are already buddies!  Jennifer has also been a wealth of knowledge for me as well.  They have been living the RV life for 9+ years!

SOLD
let the adventure begin
the Fulkerson family (minus all the kiddos)

We would love to hear from you!  Let us know what questions you have, what you want us to feature, etc.  Hopefully now that we are getting settled into life and building a routine again I will be able to get back at blogging.  I have missed it!

XO,

j

 

 

And so the Adventure Begins…….

I can hardly believe I am sitting here writing this, but God is good ya’ll.  The past 2 weeks have been a total a complete whirlwind.  From passing strep and the tummy bug to every person in the house to getting a FULL PRICE OFFER on our home.  A full price offer on our home {insert happy dance}.  What makes this SO amazing and really shows us how much God is orchestrating this dream for our family is that our home WAS NOT on the market.  We took it off in November and had NO plans to re-list until mid/end of April.  Needless to say, moving was totally off of our radar.  You bet your bottom dollar we are excited as heck though.  A full price offer on a home off the market.  Well, ok then God.  We will take it and run blindly into whatever journey you are planning for our family.  We are a whole lot excited and little nervous, but here we come.  Yes, 300 square foot camper – get ready.  The Hoopers are hitting the road!  SO, what now?  We have discussed SO many options about which direction this all going to take and we really do not know yet.  Andrews job has taken a lot of unexpected (potentially exciting) turns that he wants to ride out at the moment and I hit my 10 year anniversary with my job in mid June.  So, as of now life will go on as normal.  In a camper.  That is normal, right?  We plan to hop around locally so that we can both stay at our jobs {yay} and the boys stay at their little church school {yay}.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

I am clinging to this truth as we start this journey.  God has it all laid out for us.  I honestly believe this time in our lives will change each of us in way we never imagined – for the better.  I can’t wait to see where we are led and who we meet along the way.  RCR will always be our first home and our forever home in our hearts. We made friends that are family to us on this precious street and we will carry that with us forever.  #faloopers.  A very bittersweet time for sure.  Our 10 day option period has already passed and the inspection went amazing.  We are set to close on March 10th.  Until then, friends, you can find me hiding in between boxes, bubble wrap and a glass of wine 🙂 And so it starts……

xo,

j

Five on Friday – Goals Edition

Hello my loyal blog followers, so basically hi Hubby, mama and steph 😉  I know I have said this before but I am just SO excited for 2017.  I have never felt more driven and empowered before.  I am making goals and actually sticking to them.  right?!  crazy talk.  Here are some tips of things I have been doing to help me stay on top of my goals.

{one}

Be intentional.  Make goals about things you are passionate about.  When you have an internal drive towards something in particular it is going to help drive you externally to achieve these goals.  For me I am being more intentional about saying “NO.”  I feel like one of my weaknesses in life is that I am a people pleaser.  I never say no.  I have started guys and guess what.  I am happier AND I am achieving more of my personal goals.  Just because I don’t go on a playdate everyday doesn’t mean I don’t want to see my friends or that my kids are deprived, but the ones we do go have become more intentional and for that I am thankful.  I have tried to apply this concept to all areas of my life and I truly am pursing my passions on the side this year instead of trying to do it all.

{two}

Make lists.  I know, I know.  This belongs in goal making 101. BUT it just holds so much truth.  When you make a simple bullet point list to lay out your day before you, it forces you to become more intentional with your actions to get through that list.  Put EVERYTHING on there that you want to get to done (quiet time, work out, laundry, make dinner, etc) and prioritize it if you can.  Whatever doesn’t get checked off automatically gets floated to the next days list.  I use the weekly part of my planner for my list making.  I use my monthly part so I can see all my big things laid out at once (DR appointments, when I work, plans with friends, etc).  This has been working SO well with me.  The very first thing on my list every day is my quiet time.  If I achieve nothing else on my list other than spending 5 minutes with the Lord then I will call it a successful day.  And guys, this week, I have been surviving.  Both my kiddos have been sick, so I have missed quiet time twice and gotten nothing else done on my list.  But that’s ok, I still made a list everyday and I moved everything onwards to the next day that I wasn’t able to accomplish the day before.

{three}

Set yourself up for success.  If your goal is to work out at 5 am, sleep in your workout clothes.  If your goal is to wake up and have quiet time with a cup of tea, set everything out before you go to bed so you know its waiting on you in the morning.  Be realistic and help yourself the night before as much as you can.  One thing I have been doing to try to help this is to make sure my dishwasher is empty before I go to bed.  Silly but for me waking up and not having a pile of dishes in the sink automatically makes my day better.  I also have been making kids lunches the night before on school days and what a game changer that is.  I am such a nicer mom on school days when I’m not rushing everyone out the door in a mad frenzy.

{four}

Accountability.  Share your goals with someone.  Put it out there on social media.  Call your best friend and tell them.  Write it down for people in your home to see.  Make yourself accountable somehow.  For me, one of my goals (since like forever) has been to finally lose some of this baby weight.  My neighbor had the same goal.  SO what we did we do?  Made it a family affair.  Husband/wife teams.  We set a start date and end date.  We created a group within a workout app so we can see when the others are working out, we weigh in every Monday morning and send our numbers into the spreadsheet.  It works.  We are having fun with it – right ridge runners??? 😉 and it is holding us all accountable.  Who doesn’t like a little friendly competition.

{five}

Give yourself GRACE.  In all that you do, give yourself grace.  God did not create us to be perfect.  He created us to be good.  Good people, Good stewards of our faith, good husbands/wives, good mothers/fathers.  No where in the Bible has God set up the expectation of perfection, so why would we burden ourselves with that expectation?  It is not possible.  We are human flesh, at the end of the day we will not achieve perfection, it is not within our reach.  So, step back and give yourself grace.  Be kind.  Look at people and smile.  Try your hardest to be the best you can be each day.

I hope to be back on my game with Friday link-ups, but if I fall off the wagon again, it’s ok.  God willing I have MANY MANY more Fridays to live.

 

Enjoy your weekend friends!

xo,

j

Stirring in the Soul

We are officially 9 days into the new year and I have never felt such a stir of emotion in my soul and energy as I have this year.  My clean eating and exercise program is going pretty darn well.  I have not missed one day of my daily devotional {that really is a big deal for me}.  We had a crazy productive first weekend of the year that we will fondly remember as demo weekend.  We are starting preparations on our house in order for it to be at its best market ready self when we re-list our home in April.  We took the train down that ran across Corbin’s ceiling in his room (as much as we thought it was super awesome and fun, some people can’t look past that stuff when buying a house).  We took down extra curtain rods and curtains that made rooms appear smaller.  We smoothed down and spread a huge pile of dirt in the backyard.  Let me clarify – when I see WE I really mean Andrew.  He rocked it this weekend.  I was the moral support and cooker.  I also got all of our christmas taken down and put back into the attic.  My project 333 wardrobe is THIS CLOSE to being complete.  We have a garage sale pile the size of Mt. Rainer {and it feels oh SO good}.  I have a feeling this is just the first layer for me as well.  I am learning a lot about myself. I am very emotional and am having a harder time parting with THINGS than I thought.  EEEEP.  How embarrassing.  Does this make me a stage 1 hoarder?!  Maybe.  Whatever it is I am ok with it.  I am making progress and it is helping me to try to really step back and find the THINGS in my life that bring me joy.  We are collectively trying to make 2017 more about friends and family than THINGS.  Regardless,  I am human and I like things.  I am forever a work in progress.  Amongst all these preparations on the home I feel like Andrew and I have had some MAJOR stirrings in our hearts and souls about where exactly is life leading us?  What does God want us to do with out lives?  80% of your life is spent working and that work needs to glorify HIM.  If you aren’t happy with that work than are you really living life to the fullest potential? Are you really glorifying God every day?  Some serious stirring of the souls going on over here.  What I can say is I have a feeling this “journey” that we started envisioning in our heads 8 short months is going to be drastically and radically different from what we had originally planned out.  Kinda scary – heck yea.  Kinda exciting – oh yea.  Keep coming strong 2017 – we are taking you and all your challenges on.  I’ll leave ya’ll with an awesome poem Andrew wrote in about 10 minutes yesterday.  He has such a talent for this and it amazes me with each poem he writes.  Enjoy.

The Grind

I’m not happy with what I’ve become
Connected all the time
Putting in all the effort
For just the daily grind

Working for someone else
Is not at all fulfilling
And the thought of this long term
Is nothing short of chilling

Voicemails, Texts, and Emails
Never putting down the phone
Sometimes I want to shut it off
And leave myself alone

It’s ingrained in us at an early age
What success can truly be
But today I find myself
Wanting more than the corporate family tree

I’m tired of climbing the ladder
I’m needing some simplicity
It may be unconventional
But I think it’s what’s best for me

It’s great to have the raises
And a promotion here and there
But honestly in the grand scheme of things
I’m not sure I really care

I was able to buy the “things”
That sit in the closet collecting dust
It’s what you’re supposed to do with money
It’s like an unwritten law that you must

Am I being selfish?
Thinking only of myself
Or am I turning the page
On my “book” up on the shelf

Change is a scary thing
And taking risk is just the same
But what I’m doing as of now
Will soon drive me insane

I’m not expecting it to be easy
There will be bumps in the road ahead
But I want to say I’ve lived
Long before I’m dead

The American dream is true
But make it all your own
For you it might be the white picket fence
For others that seed is not yet sown

I’m not sure what mine is yet
That path I’ve yet to pave
But after I become successful
I’m sure it will be all the rave

Success is of course objective
It means different things to all
But you must take that chance in life
Even if you trip and fall

I’m not sure what’s next for me
And I’ll need to take my time
To make a fulfilling career
Outside of the corporate daily grind.

-Andrew L. Hooper

What has you stirring in 2017?  What is driving your happiness?  What change do you want to make in your life?  YOUR destiny is in YOUR hands. God has given you tools and talents in life to be successful.  If we each examine our hearts and souls to find these tools I think every one of us can be living the uncommon life.  The riveted life.  The one life you are given.  I challenge you; listen to your heart.  Chase your dreams.  You are never to old.  I am reading (really re-reading) The Cure for the Uncommon Life by Max Lucado.  It is a Christian based book to help you discover your sweet spot in life.  I am a couple of chapters in and enjoying it so far.  Make it a good week friends and listen to the stirrings in your soul.

xo,

j